Friday, May 25, 2018

A Weird Wolf Shot In Montana

Is this a Werewolf? A genetic freak of a regular wolf? A diseased animal? A cross with a dog? A combination of all, or some, of those things? The BBC story is here and the Montana Fish and Game press release is here.

A Fox Watches Me Leave for Work

A red fox gives me the stink eye as I head off to work. I took this picture with my iPhone.

Death to Fascists

Your father and grandfather were anti-fascist.

This how the Italians took care of their fascist problem.

The fascist dictator Benito Mussolini abandoned his wife and children and tried to flee to Switzerland with his mistress and a small entourage of loyalists. 

He was captured and shot by free Italians at Lake Como on April 28, 1945.

On April 29th, Mussolini's body, and that of his mistress and several of his key followers, were loaded into a van and moved south to Milan where the corpses were dumped on the ground in the Piazzale Loreto.

After being kicked and spat upon by the Italian people, the bodies were hung upside down by their ankles from the roof of a gutted Esso gas station, and then the bodies were stoned from below by a massive mob of anti-fascist civilians.

Mussolini and his followers were later buried in an unmarked grave, but a decade later his body was returned to his second wife, whom he had abandoned for his mistress.

Dog Training Done Right

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Rabbit Meets a Fox Who Meets a Bald Eagle

A red fox kit at San Juan Island National Historical Park off the coast of Washington caught a rabbit, but then a Bald Eagle tried to steal the rabbit. The fox was not going to give up, however, and held on, but in the end the airborne fox came plummeting back to earth. The eagle flew away with the rabbit, and the fox kit bounced back up, no worse for wear. Photographer Kevin Ebi captured the whole thing on video.

Wing Practice on the Nest

Two of the baby Bald Eagles practicing with their wings on the nest.

Little Kim Has Already Beat Trump

This is the new White House Military Office coin for the upcoming Trump Kim Jong Un summit.

The North Korean dictator is referred to as "Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un."

This is being produced by the US Government at taxpayer expense, and I have looked around and nothing like it has ever been produced. It's as if North Korea were running the White House, along with the Russians, the Chinese, and the Persian Gulf oil states.

Murder by Can Opener: How Pet Owners Kill Dogs

In the church parking lot the other night, a woman I know asked me how her dog looked. She was pleased it had lost a little bit of weight, but in truth I could not see much difference.

To be charitable, let me say that the dog had a beautiful red coat that was as sleek as a seal, and it had the kind of massive cinder-block head that proclaimed its origins: a Lab-Pit bull cross as docile as any dog you could possibly hope to find.

I liked this dog, but it was fat -- really fat -- and I told the woman it still needed to lose between 15 and 20 pounds. She was crushed.

In truth, a lot of dogs in America are fat, and so too are a lot of Americans. For all the hand-wringing we are hearing about poisons in dog food, the number one killer and maimer of dogs in this country is the can opener.

Pfizer is now selling a drug to combat canine obesity (I kid you not) but in truth the problem is almost never the dog's genetic fault.

Behind every fat adult dog is a weak human who cannot say "no," or who cannot control others in the household who insist on stepping in to give the dog a treat.

In the latter case the issue is simply making a big damn deal out of it if other people feed your dog without asking your permission. People in your house should fear crossing the line every bit as much as I feared touching my father's trombone as a child. Humans can be taught to leave well enough alone. I can assure you that no man goes into a woman's purse without permission more than once. Feeding a dog should never be a community responsibility -- one person has to have absolute ownership and and authority over what, and how much, the dog eats.

More often than not, however, the reason a dog is fat is not that other people are feeding it but that that the owner thinks that every time he or she eats a meal, the dog must also get a bite or two. Look at those eyes!

But that's not the end of it, is it? The dog also gets to lick the plates, and maybe the kitchen bowls. The dog also gets a little canned food mixed in with his dry food as "a little treat." Anything that falls on the kitchen floor the dog is allowed to have. Plus there's the biscuit the dog gets every night before it goes to bed....

Add it all up, and you have a LOT of calories going into that dog.

And, more often then not, you also have a dog that will die many years sooner than it should, often after having spent the last half of its life lethargic, and more often than not with joint problems.

Unseen are the same kind of diseases that stalk overweight humans: heart disease and clogged arteries, fatty liver disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

A lot of people -- including some veterinarians -- do not really know what the correct weight is for a dog.

Here's the answer: If you cannot easily feel your dog's ribs, it is too fat.

And I don't mean you should have to dig into the flesh to feel those ribs -- you should be able to run your hands down the side of a dog and feel at least three or four of them without even trying.

If you have a smooth-coated adult dog like a pointer or a smooth-coated Jack Russell, you should be able to see at least two or three ribs when the dog breathes after a a short run.

Rest assured that no one who reads dog-oriented web sites and books is ever going to have a dog that is too thin. People who sign up for canine list-servs, buy books on dogs, and read pet columns in the newspaper are much more likely to feed their dogs to death than they are to run their dogs even a pound or two too light.

How do you get the weight off a fat dog? Simple: stop feeding it so much.

Portion control IS weight control.

Step one to getting a fat dog down to the right weight is to cut out ALL canned dog food, all treats, and all table scraps. When you cook or eat your own meals, the dog should always be put outside, in a crate, or in another room on the other side of the house. Do not confuse your meal time with your dog's meal time.

Feed your dog a decent dry bagged kibble like Purina or Pedigree (brands hardly matter, no matter what anyone says), and measure it out carefully. Do not heap up when you measure, and do not give treats of any kind. Have some discipline for God's sake!

My recommendation is to feed your dog two small meals twice a day with a small leather chew in the morning to help clean the teeth and give the dog's stomach something to work on during the day.

How much food should you feed? Simple: Feed your dog LESS than the amount the dog food manufacturer recommends on the label.

Remember that the dog food company wants to sell you more food, therefore the label is basically setting out a maximum food intake, not necessarily the correct one. If you live on a farm and the dog is running around a lot as it follows you from field to field on a tractor, that dog food label might be perfect. But if your dog spends almost its entire life sleeping in a sunny spot at the end of the driveway or curled up on the sofa, as most American dogs do, the "recommended" food amount on the label is going to lead to an overweight dog. If your dog is fat it is being over-served. Feed it less; it cannot get simpler than that.

Another tip is to feed your dog according to the weight your dog should be, not to the weight it is now. You would think this is obvious, but it's not to all people. If you feed your overweight 20-pound dog the amount of food the label says a 20-pound dog needs, you will never get a healthy 12-pound dog out of the equation.

Along with portion control, try to increase the amount of exercise your dog gets by walking it, roller blading with it, bicycling with it, or teaching it to retrieve a ball, Frisbee or stick.

Instead of buying love from your dog with food, take time to brush your dog's coat, to brush the dog's teeth, to walk it around the block, or to toss it a ball. Most dog's want attention every bit as much (or more) than they want food.

If you are teaching your adult dog obedience or a few simple tricks, feed the dog only when it is being worked. If you do this, you will find, rather quickly, that a hungry dog is a smart dog.

If you want to boost any dog's intelligence quotient by 50 points, simple don't feed it for a day and see how well it performs the next. Stupid dogs can be made geniuses overnight by simply skipping meals for 24-hours. Amazing, but true.

No dog will ever suffer from missing an occasional day's worth of feeding. In fact, with small dogs, it is so hard to keep them at a proper weight that skipping a meal once in a while is almost required to maintain them in shape.

Finally, remember that ALL fat dogs are ugly, but that almost all dogs at the correct weight (or a bit under) look much better and live longer.

Your dog is not responsible for its own weight -- you are. A certain amount of responsibility comes with an opposable thumb. Live up to it by running your dog on the light side.

Field Weeds: Poke Weed

American Goldfinch on mature pokeweed in late-June.

Poke Weed (often written as "pokeweed") is found from Maine to Minnesota and from Florida to Texas. It grows along roadsides and is an especially common weed in the hedgerows where we work our terriers.

The name Poke Weed comes from the Virginia Indian word for the plant -- "pokon" -- which in turn was derived from the Indian word "pak" which means blood. In pre-Colonial times "Pokon" was the term used for any red-juiced plant used as a stain or dye, and today Pokeweed is sometimes called "stain berry," poke berry," or "stain weed".

Though a mature pokeweed plant is the size of a small tree, the thick stems are hollow and very easy to cut. The berries are eaten by raccoon, possums and birds, but the roots are poisonous to pigs and other animals that try to root them up and eat them.

Pokeweed is usually confined to waste areas, but a tall mature plant is an indication that the soil has not been disturbed for three our four years, as it takes about that long for the roots to grow enough to support a full-grown plant which will stand about 7 feet tall or more.

Derivatives of the lowly pokeweed have been found to contain an antiviral protein that could be the most effective agent yet to inhibit HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP) inhibits HIV from replicating in human cells. PAP also inhibits replication of the herpes simplex virus, among others.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Petco and the GOP Try to Help Puppy Mills

Puppy mill puppies sold at Petland with AKC endorsement.
The Hill newspaper reports:

The House is moving to take up legislation that would reauthorize spending on agricultural and nutritional programs. As it did during the last farm bill debate in 2013, the House included an amendment in the bill from GOP Rep. Steve King (Iowa) that would prevent states from creating laws that would regulate “agriculture products” manufactured or offered for sale in other states.

Among other things, that amendment would essentially preempt state and local laws already enacted that aim to prevent puppy mills from selling sick or abused dogs.

The Humane Society and other animal protection organizations, including the Animal Welfare Institute, are mobilizing to keep the King amendment out of the final package, which will have to be agreed upon by the House and Senate.

“We certainly are horrified about what [the] King [amendment] would mean for so many things, so we’re working hard to not having it lined up at the end of the process,” said Nancy Blaney, the director of government affairs at the Animal Welfare Institute.

King’s amendment didn’t make it into the final farm bill in 2013, and the legislation being worked on by the Senate now is likely to be vastly different from what the lower chamber is considering.

The Steve King pro-puppy mill bill is being pushed by Petco, Petland, and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), all new clients of the lobbying firm Federal Advocates. PetSmart is also a lobbying client of Federal Advocates, but it is not clear if they support the King bill.

Petland has a special relationship with the American Kennel Club, as I have reported in the past.

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council is being run by Ed SayreS, a former head of the ASPCA which paid millions of dollars to settled a RICO racketeering law suit involving their direct mail mill operation.

The US Department of Agriculture is the federal agency responsible for regulating commercial breeding operations on the federal level through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, but they are poorly funded and are incompetent at their job.

Steve King is perhaps the most extreme member of the US House of Representatives and he has, in the past, advocated for laws to green-light dog fighting and selling dog and cat meat.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Coffee and Provocation

Dogs on Dope
Police dogs are overdosing from Fentanyl which is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin; so deadly that just a few inhaled grains can cause an overdose.

How Did Leprosy Get to the UK?
Red squirrels may have brought leprosy to Britain more than 1,000 years ago.

A Lot Goes In... and Out 
Hippos poop so much that sometimes all the fish die

A Fungus Among Us
The lethal chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) that is wiping out amphibians around the world hails from the southernmost tip of Korea and seems to have first appeared around 1900.

Pretty Plucked Up
In 2013, police busted a meat packing plant in China that was selling 20 tons of chicken and cow meat slaughtered in 1967. Read that date again: 1967. The meat, mostly chicken feet, tripe, and cow esophagus imported from Vietnam,. had been treated with hydrogen peroxide to make it look presentable in markets and stores.

We See You Kodak
Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975 but hid the invention because they it would jeopardize photographic film sales.

Lab Dog to Lap Dog?
Eight states have passed "Beagle Freedom" laws requiring institutions to offer healthy cats and dogs used for research up for adoption. The states: Minnesota, Connecticut, Nevada, California, Illinois, New York, Maryland, and Delaware.

Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe
It's not just an insult -- it's a bird.

100 Percent
One hundreds percent of the electricity in Iceland comes from renewable sources, and the country is now capturing CO2, mixing it with water, and injecting it underground where it combines with basalt and is permanently trapped underground.

Trouble, the Terrier That Started It All

My mother in Kansas with the prick-eared terrier called "Trouble" which started an unbroken chain of terriers in this family that now goes back 80 years.

Mrs. Jack Russell and Her Dog

The picture above is Penelope Incledon Bury, aka "Mrs Jack Russell".

She married the Reverend John Russell in 1826, and they had two sons, only one of which survived.

The dog pictured to the left of Mrs. Russell is presumably one of her husband's. If that is the case, it is the only photograph that I know of one of the Reverends dogs.

It should be said that Russell was apparently a bit of a dog dealer, and that many terriers and hounds passed through his hands.

Russell gave up his hounds at least twice due to poverty -- he did not have a kennel of terriers in the end as some have suggested. At the end of his life there were only four old arthritic terriers named "Rags", "Sly", "Fuss" and "Tinker".

Get Rich Raising Chickens!

Wow! What a great idea! Meat and eggs! And everyone loves to eat chicken and eggs. A chicken will lay about 5 eggs a week, or 250 eggs a year. Do the math! You can become a millionaire raising chickens -- just look at Frank Purdue. What could go wrong? Nothing!

Just look at how this one lone girl raises 15,000 chickens indoors and all by herself while wearing a perfect white apron and high heels. You can do it too!

The top article is about an automated, rotating chicken egg facility in Japan from the April 1960 edition of Popular Mechanics. The ad is from the July 1952 edition of Popular Mechanics, and article at bottom is from the January 1937 edition of Popular Science.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Attack Terrier

Early American Coyote Coursing Dogs

Nice to See a Deal

I got my mail order glasses in. They cost just $31.20 a pair with free delivery and a nice hard case from I would do it again!

It was 64 Years Ago Today

Today is the 64th Anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, a 1954 ruling that helped us move closer toward living up to our American ideals.

As the sign below makes clear, however, segregation did not end overnight and, in fact continues to this day in too many of our churches, school lunch rooms, and neighborhoods.

Non-Extinct Terriers & Other Mysteries

Many of the terrier breeds that people now lament the "extinction" of never actually existed except in the minds of Victorian picture book makers.

In "The Welsh Terrier Leads the Way," Bardi McLennan recounts the relatively recent origins of the Welsh Terrier.

"In 1800 there were only 15 designated breeds of dogs, and 50 years later there were only 50."

That is of ALL dogs, not just terriers. As late as 1850, a lot of breeds were still not very distinct and several "breeds" were known by different names. For example, in 1851, the Yorkshire Terrier was also known as "the broken-haired scotch terrier." Only in 1870 was a Yorkshire Terrier firmly designated as a breed and breed name. Before then litter mates were often shown in different breed categories -- a situation that occurred with the first prize-winning Jack Russell, which had previously won shows as a "white Lakeland."

The Welsh Terrier and Old English Black and Tan terriers were the same dog -- a type of rough-stock Lakeland dog used in Wales and in the North. These dogs had a fair amount of variation in terms of size and shape, but generally had more color than the "white foxing terriers" preferred in the South.

These rough-coated terriers existed without too much conformity in name or shape (as they still do in the working terrier community in the U.K.), but conformity and a brand name were essential characteristics of Kennel Club registration, and an intrepid history (however fanciful) certainly did not hurt sales.

With the rise of dog shows in the 1860s, the race was on to give every odd-looking dog a name and "improve" them, and terriers were at the top of the list.

One group of Kennel Club breeders decided to embrace a rather ponderous name and an incredible assertion for the brown and black dogs.  They were, they asserted, "the root stock" of all terriers in the British Isles, and they were to be called the "Old English Broken-Haired Black and Tan."

The assertion that these dogs were the root stock of all terriers in the UK is rather laughable -- no one know what the "root stock" was, and in any case there probably was no single "tap root," but instead a fine net of "rootlets" that spread far and wide and included a lot of dogs that were not terriers at all -- dachshunds, whippets, beagles, and lap dogs, for example.

In any case, the Welsh were somewhat outraged to have the English bring down a few of "their" dogs and claim they were an "Old English" anything. These were Welsh dogs, and the Welshmen moved quickly to establish that fact. The Welsh got organized quickly, and in 1884 they held the first dog show with classes just for Welsh Terriers in Pwllheli, North Wales with 90 dogs in attendance -- a rather impressive opening shot in this little "terrier war."

For their part, proponents of the "Old English Black and Tan" moniker could not seem to coalesce into a real club; in fact they could not even agree on a name for their supposedly "Old English" breed. Some called it the Old English Broken-Haired Black and Tan Terrier, some the Old English Wire Haired Black and Tan, some the Broken-Haired Black and Tan, and some just "Black and Tan" -- a color-descriptive name that had been used about as often as "white dog" or "yellow hound".

Whatever they might have called the dogs, this new Kennel Club "breed" was in fact a put-up job comprised of a mix of terrier types and they had difficulty breeding true.

In 1885 a survey of the winning dogs in the ring found that all of them were, in fact, first generation dogs, i.e. not Black and Tans out of Black and Tan sires and dams, but Black and Tans produced out of crosses with other breeds. For example, the winner of the first show in 1884 was a dog named Crib that was a cross between a blue-black rough terrier and a famous smooth fox terrier owned by L.P.C. Ashley called Corinthian.

In 1885, the Kennel Club took a Solomonic approach to the name and breed standard for the dog, featuring both dogs at their 1885 show. On April 5, 1887, however, because the English could not get organized, they were dropped from Kennel Club listings, and the new "Welsh Terrier" breed was born, perhaps propelled forward in popularity a bit by the rise of David Lloyd George, the son of a Welsh cobbler, who himself has risen from humble origins to stand should-to-shoulder with the gentry.

The "Black and Tan" terrier is not the only breed that either never existed (or still exists today, depending on how you look at it).

At the same time that one faction was pushing for the introduction of the "Old English Black and Tan Terrier" another faction was pushing for the introduction of the "English White" terrier which, it should be said, has nothing to do with the old English White molosser dog used as a butcher's dog 150 years earlier.

In fact this new dog was really a toy breed created by crossing a small smooth-coated white foxing terrier with some sort of lap dog, which left the resulting progeny with a propensity towards deafness and a bulging "apple head" like that of many modern Chihuahuas.

Both the "Black and Tan" terrier and the "English White" terrier live on in the fevered minds of the breed-obsessed thanks to a book by Vero Shaw entitled "The Illustrated Book of the Dog."

Printed in 1881, right in the middle of the "terrier wars," this book contains about 100 chromo-lithograph plates and engravings of dog breeds that were being put forth as distinct entities at that time. Shaw rather optimistically included the "Black and Tan" as well as the "English White," betting that the political machinations of English Kennel Club dog breeders would prevail.

He was wrong, which is how two "ancient" breeds of terriers, that in fact never exited, managed to appear on the scene for less than 20 years and then disappear altogether.

Skim Milk as Cream

In the wonderful libretto of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, there is a pretty good line:

Things are seldom what they seem,
skim milk masquerades as cream,
Highlows pass as patent leathers;
Jackdaws strut in peacock's feathers.

Isn't that the truth!

Am I alone in noting that a lot of people who claim to know a great deal about dogs never seem to actually take their dogs out into the field? Their dogs are always too young or too old, and -- oh! -- their aching back just went out as well.

For these folks, the "too cold" season rolls into the "too wet" season, and then "baby season" followed by "had to go to a dog show," followed by "too hot" and "the ground is too hard," followed by "too wet" and then "too cold" again.

For some of these characters, year after year goes by and there is never a report or picture of an actual dig in the field. Lots of dog shows, of course. Lot of puppies. Lots of talk about pedigrees, and structure, and "movement," and theories of breeding, but apparently no actual digging in the field. Some of these folks can conjugate canine pedigrees as if they were reading out of the "begats" sections of the Bible, but don't ask them for a picture or date of their last dig!

Which would be no big deal, if these folks simply stopped insisting they had workings dogs and were "protecting" a working breed. They do not, and they are not!

And no, work is NOT killing a rat on the breezeway or a possum out by the carport.

Of course skim milk masquerading as cream is not unique to terrier work, is it? I am told there are whole tribes of hawkers who parade their birds around on their fist, but have never flown a bird free from its creance.

There are expert sailors that have never left the bar stool, lawyers that have never tried a case in court, architects that have never put up 20 sheets of drywall, and race car drivers that cannot change the oil on their own cars.

Priests and nuns seem to have no compunction at all about lecturing the world about sex and birth control, while politicians who send their own kids to private school seem to be certified experts on how much money it takes to run a public version of the same.

And, in truth, sometimes it makes no difference. A cubic zirconium ring is no worse than a real diamond, as far as I can tell.

Ditto for an expensive-looking bottle of wine that remains uncorked.

Only when something is used, does its true nature reveal itself.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Lexicon of Tom Wolfe

The Atlantic has a nice piece on author Tom Wolfe, who died earlier this week at the age of 88.

Wolfe’s contributions to the English language go far beyond the most obvious catchphrases that he popularized. The Oxford English Dictionary includes about 150 quotations from Wolfe’s writings, and in many cases, he is the earliest known source for words and phrases that have worked their way into the lexicon.

The Atlantic notes that Wolfe's book The Right Stuff introduced

The Right Stuff also helped popularize some expressions that were previously known only in aviation and aeronautics circles. One is push the envelope, meaning “to approach or go beyond the current limits of performance,” which the OED notes had appeared in the magazine Aviation Week & Space Technology a year before Wolfe brought it to a mainstream audience. Another is screw the pooch, meaning “to make a (disastrous) mistake,” which Wolfe famously used in recounting Virgil “Gus” Grissom’s botched splashdown after becoming the second American in space. The movie version reinforced the notion that Grissom had screwed the pooch, though the malfunction was likely not the astronaut’s fault.

The term "screw the pooch," we are told, originates from an earlier phrase: "feed the dog" or "fuck the dog" or "walk the dog" which meant loafing or procrastinating.

The Missing Part of a Cairn Terrier

I like Cairn Terriers. When my brother called me to ask what kind of terrier he should get as a pet for himself and his three children, I recommended a Cairn. It was a good choice, and the dog and his family are ecstatically bonded.

That said, if someone asked me to recommend a working terrier, a Cairn would be far down the list.

The reason is not an obvious defect in the dog. A Cairn is a handsome and sturdy animal. Though some have over-large chests, many small bitches are well-built for work.

So what’s the problem? I am afraid it is at the other end of the leash!

Truth be told, the Cairn Terrier is a dog created in the show ring, and it has never rolled very far from that tree, and is almost never found in the field today.

The first Cairn Terrier appeared on the Kennel Club scene in 1909, when a Mrs, Campbell marched into a ring at Crufts with what she described as a “short-haired Skye Terrier.”

The taxonomic battle that ensued revolved around whether a “real” Skye Terrier was long-coated or not, and whether a short-haired dog was “defective” or not.

There is no reason to re-fight this linguistic mudsling. Suffice it to say that the battle was resolved in 1910 when a “new” (but allegedly old) breed was named a “Cairn Terrier” and given its own class at Crufts, and in the Kennel Club.

The battle between the two factions of Skye Terrier owners was not fought between men who owned shovels and digging bars and hunted fox and otter in the field. Like so many Kennel Club fights, this battle was between matrons and old men who claimed that someone (somewhere) had once owned a short- or long-coated version of the dog.

Some members of these factions claimed their father or grandfather had worked their version of the dog – and perhaps they did, though we have more evidence for the existence of the Yetti and the Lochness Monster (pictures!) than we do that this breed ever worked.

Whatever the truth about some antecedent of the Cairn Terrier and Skye terrier having seen true field work sometime in the distant past, it is a true fact that neither breed has seen much, if any, work since enlisted on the Kennel Club roles almost 100 years ago.

There is no question why this is so for the Skye Terrier – a dog with an over-long coat which seems better suited for mopping the floor than working its way through a hedgerow.

The Cairn Terrier, on the other hand, seems to have the basic physical requirements needed for work. Sure, some dogs are big in the chest, but some smaller dogs seem right sized. The coat is generally fine, if a little long for serious brush and mud.

So is there some other defect? Is there a weakness of noise or voice? Is there a timidity of character that becomes pronounced when the dog faces something larger than a rat?

Perhaps. In truth, however, the real problem is as likely to reside up the leash as down.

The most important requirement of a working terrier is not found in a Kennel Club conformation standard; it is having an owner that will take it out in the field and give it the opportunity to work. This, above all, appears to be the missing part of a Cairn Terrier.

In the world of the Cairn Terrier, there seems to be no shortage of people that will drive across three states in order to win a rosette, but few if any that will brave the winds of winter to find a fox. Own a locator collar? Treat a ripped muzzle? Dig down four feet through frozen soil and marl? Surely you are joking! A Cairn Terrier owner cannot imagine his or her little dog (much less themselves!) doing such work. Fantasy ends where a whipping wind and a sharp shovel begins.

The result of this missing part of the Cairn Terrier, is that today’s dogs must make do with the work they are given: scouring the kitchen floor for lost cookie dough, chasing squirrels in the back yard, catching a stray rat or possum by the wood shed (brave dog!) or perhaps attending an AKC go-to-ground trial.

Like so many Kennel Club breeds, this is one that "once was" or "used to be, if it ever was."

No matter. They are nice enough dogs and excellent pets. When people who have no interest in working their dog ask me to recommend a small dog for their family, a Cairn Terrier generally makes the list. I am glad to have a nice dog to recommend that is not a working breed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

No Emotional Support Goats?

American Airlines bans emotional support goats, hedgehogs, and sugar gliders from flights. Suzanne Boda, American’s Senior Vice President in Los Angeles said past "incidents" regarding support animals as the airline's reason for the new restrictions.

Broken People and Their Broken Dogs

This is a real person who talks like this, and breeds dogs that look like this.

They call this an “American Bully.”

Like American Cheese, it is the worst.

The Swifts Materialize

Swifts -- By Ted Hughes, 1976

Fifteenth of May. Cherry blossom. The swifts
Materialize at the tip of a long scream
Of needle. ‘Look! They’re back! Look!’ And they’re gone
On a steep

Controlled scream of skid
Round the house-end and away under the cherries. Gone.
Suddenly flickering in sky summit, three or four together,
Gnat-whisp frail, and hover-searching, and listening

For air-chills – are they too early? With a bowing
Power-thrust to left, then to right, then a flicker they
Tilt into a slide, a tremble for balance,
Then a lashing down disappearance

Behind elms.
They’ve made it again,
Which means the globe’s still working, the Creation’s
Still waking refreshed, our summer’s
Still all to come ---
And here they are, here they are again
Erupting across yard stones
Shrapnel-scatter terror. Frog-gapers,
Speedway goggles, international mobsters --

A bolas of three or four wire screams
Jockeying across each other
On their switchback wheel of death.
They swat past, hard-fletched

Veer on the hard air, toss up over the roof,
And are gone again. Their mole-dark labouring,
Their lunatic limber scramming frenzy
And their whirling blades

Sparkle out into blue --
Not ours any more.
Rats ransacked their nests so now they shun us.
Round luckier houses now
They crowd their evening dirt-track meetings,

Racing their discords, screaming as if speed-burned,
Head-height, clipping the doorway
With their leaden velocity and their butterfly lightness,
Their too much power, their arrow-thwack into the eaves.

Every year a first-fling, nearly flying
Misfit flopped in our yard,
Groggily somersaulting to get airborne.
He bat-crawled on his tiny useless feet, tangling his flails

Like a broken toy, and shrieking thinly
Till I tossed him up — then suddenly he flowed away under
His bowed shoulders of enormous swimming power,
Slid away along levels wobbling

On the fine wire they have reduced life to,
And crashed among the raspberries.
Then followed fiery hospital hours
In a kitchen. The moustached goblin savage

Nested in a scarf. The bright blank
Blind, like an angel, to my meat-crumbs and flies.
Then eyelids resting. Wasted clingers curled.
The inevitable balsa death.
Finally burial
For the husk
Of my little Apollo --

The charred scream
Folded in its huge power.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Frank Sinatra Died 20 Years Ago Today

Frank Sinatra died 20 years ago today, but he will live forever.

The letter, above, was sent to columnist Mike Royko. Frank writes:

You prove, without a doubt, that I have ever punched an elderly drunk or elderly anybody, you can pick up $100,000.

I will allow you to pull my “hairpiece’; if it moves, I will give you another $100,000; if it does not, I punch you in the mouth. How about it?”

Frank Sinatra: An American original.

The Thirst for Freedom Cannot Be Quenched

Earlier today Israeli forces shot this man dead. Fadi Abu Saleh was one just one of 55 Palestinian protesters killed yesterday by Israeli forces.

When a legless man without a weapon will fight with only stones and a sling, you cannot defeat him, for 100 will rise to take his place.

As Patrick Henry put it when speaking at the second Virginia convention at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia in 1775:

“What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!

I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Those who will fight will, in the end, always win.

Mother and Child

Spaceship Earth: A Metaphor?

David Brower was one of America's great environmental organizers, shepherding the Sierra Club to greatness, and creating a host of other organizations: Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters, Earth Island Institute, and the North Cascades Conservation Council.

In 2000, a few months before David Brower's death, philanthropist Brian Maxwell commissioned a giant sculpture to commemorate the man.

The sculpture was to be of a giant blue globe referencing the "Spaceship Earth" that Brower so often evoked during his talks.

Maxwell commissioned Finnish American artist Eino Romppanen (Commonly known only as "Eino") to create the piece.

Eino decided to make the piece from Brazilian Blue Quartzite which is three times harder than marble.

The final globe was completed in 2006 and is made of 88 individual pieces of Brazilian Quartzite bonded together, with a bronze David Brower striding across the top. 

The completed sculpture weighs 350,000 pounds, is 15-feet across, and is  bonded together with a special polyepoxide.

Eino said the sculpture would last 1,000 years.

It fell apart in two months.

Eino reassembled the sculpture, which seems to have suffered an adhesive failure, in November of 2007.

The sculpture now resides at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, adjacent to the Social Science building.

David Brower fighting from inside a broken Spaceship Earth.

Hair of the Dog

I don't drink, but I admire the marketing.

"Blender's Dog," seen above, is about $70 a bottle.

The picture, below, is ready for an advertisement but was actually taken by Enno N. and shows the covers of The Season's End, which is a collection of short pieces by those who dig and run dogs. The dog on the bottom right is my old girl, Pearl.

Minding the Eaglets

The nest is so large that the two babies, now as large as the parents, can disappear inside. why Mom perches on the edge.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Another Old Picture From an Album

Lars Bjorn Larson and Anna Karine Faa Larson

Yesterday I showed you a picture of one of my maternal great grandfathers, Ingvald Andreas Fischer, who was born in Norway.

Now a little about his wife.

Ingvald A. Fischer married Emma Larson who was born in 1875 in Minnesota, and died in 1960 (aged 84–85). She is buried in the Halstad Lutheran South Cemetery in Halstad, Norman County, Minnesota.

Emma Larson's parents (my great, great grandparents) were Lars Bjorn Larson (1846 - 1921), who was born January 18, 1846 in Rogaland Norway, and Anna Karine Faa Larson (1852 - 1909), who was born in LaSalle County, Illinois on May 12, 1852.

Anna Karine Faa Lason died
in 1909 at age 56 in Halstad, Norman County, Minnesota, and she is buried in the Halstad Lutheran South Cemetery in Norman County, Minnesota.

Lars B. Larson remarried to Betsey Blom Larson in 1909. Betsey Blom Larons was born May 22, 1858 in Illinois and she died July 10, 1915 at aged 57 and she is buried in the Halstad Lutheran South Cemetery in Norman County, Minnesota.

The family of Lars Larson and Anna Karine Faa Larson (my great, great grandparents) can be seen below.

Lars B. Larson died on July 2, 1921
at age 75 in Halstad, Norman County, Minnesota, and he is buried in the Halstad Lutheran South Cemetery in Halstad, Norman County, Minnesota.

Both Ingvald Andreas Fischer and Emma Larson Fischer are buried in the Halstad Lutheran South Cemetery in Halstad, Norman County, Minnesota.

Haltad, Minnesota was founded in 1884 by a Norwegian immigrant by the name of Ole Halstad, with a station on the Great Northern Railway. Today Halstad has a population of about 620 people, and its motto is "The way rural America is supposed to be."

What's amazing to me is how this small town in Minnesota -- Halstad -- was created by a Norwegian immigrant to attract more Norwegian immigrants and how, once settled, a lot of folks did not stray very far.

Esther Fischer, my grandmother, was one of those to break out. She came south to Augusta, Kansas to work as a lab technician following a newspaper advertisement for the job. There she met my grandfather, who was born on a farm in Longton, Kansas (population 564) in 1900, and who moved to Augusta, Kansas to be a "still operator" at the Mobile Oil refinery which was opened after they began pumping crude oil in Butler County in 1915.  Working at that same small town Kansas refinery, and living only 6 and a half  blocks away from my mother, was Barack Obama's grandfather and mother.

My mother met my father at the University of Kansas where he had somehow migrated after graduating from Princeton.

My father did not get to Princeton from a finishing school. In fact, my father was born in the poorest town in America, Pineville, Kentucky, the son of a drunk who abandoned his family.  His mother had serious curvature of the spine and she made what little money that came in as a book keeper at a bakery.  My father ran away from home at 14, eventually made his way to Washington, D.C. and joined the Air Force where he got his GED.  He applied to the 10 best universities in the world, and they all turned him down except for Princeton which took him in, I suppose, as an Appalachian affirmative action case. After graduating from Princeton my dad got a Fulbright scholarship to Lille, France.  By the time he got his act together at the end of that year, all the best schools had already filled their teaching assistant slots except the University of Kansas where he went, met my mother, and waited to hear from the U.S. Foreign Service to which he had he applied.  He was eventually accepted, he proposed to my mother, and the rest is history.

The day after my folks were married, the small town girl from Augusta, Kansas (population 5,000) and the high school dropout from Pineville, Kentucky (population 1,700) went to Syria to live, and from thereafter they moved to, and lived in, Iran, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Mali, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria.  They went everywhere, from Sweden to Bulawayo, from Machu Pichu to Petra, from Alaska to the Amazon, from Maine to Japan, from the Sahara Desert to the rainforests of South America.

But that, as they say, is another tale....

How Will Smith Became the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Friday, May 11, 2018

An Old Picture From a Photo Album

My mother owns this Harry Potter-looking photo album, which came from her mother's side of the family. This

In the picture below is my great grandfather Ingvald Andreas Fischer and his wife Emma, with their three kids: Ray, Buddy, and my grandmother (the baby) Esther.

Esther Fischer married Robert Edgar Dunlop of Augusta and Longton, Kansas and they had my mom, Sandra Dunlop Burns, who in turn married my father, David Mitchell Burns of Pineville, Kentucky. They, in turn, had two sons, David and myself.

Ingvald Andreas Fischer was born in Norway.  His Baptism and Birth record (born November 5, 1867) from Fet Church, Akershus, Norway is appended below. He may never have seen these records himself -- they come from a very digitized and modern Norway.

Ingvald Andreas Fischer died April 10, 1949 at the age of 81 in Cass County, North Dakota (i.e. Fargo). 

He is buried in the Halstad Lutheran South Cemetery in Halstad, Norman County, Minnesota, which is just a short distance north of Fargo. A picture of his pink granite gravestone can be seen below.

Halstad, Minnesota is right on the border between Minnesota and North Dakota, and the town had a population of 597 in the 2010 Census. The township was founded in 1879, and was named for Ole Halstad, a pioneer farmer from Norway. The city was platted in 1883, and incorporated as a village on February 13, 1893. The town's motto today: "The way rural America is supposed to be."