Friday, October 24, 2014

Great Migrations



Whales, shark, tuna, seals, and turtles migrate across and around the oceans.

Pronghorn, Bison, Elk, and Bear migrate up and down and across the American west.

Squid and ocean invertebrates migrate up and down in the water column, from day to night and back again.

Ducks, geese, hawks, cranes, storks, robins, shearwaters, and even hummingbirds and penguins, migrate vast distances around the globe.

Elephants, zebra, wildebeest, and gazelles migrate hundreds, even thousands of miles, and some predators migrate with them.

Some butterflies, and a great number of dragonflies, migrate long distances and even travel across oceans.

The world is pulsing with life.  

Even earthworms rise to feed above ground, and plunge below at night.

The entire planet is a ball seething with life.

Dog Training


Over 200 "Likes" In a Week


Terrierman's Daily Dose now has a Twitter Feed and a Facebook Page which are automatically populated from the blog.  The Facebook page got over 200 "likes' in its first week.  Thanks and please share!

Prison Planet Dogs


So many dogs these days live "prison planet" lives.

What do I mean by this?

Think about the life of a dog, but flip it around and make it about a child.

Suppose a small boy or girl, age three months, is brought to live alone in a cave tied to a large fenced yard.

He shares the cave and yard with five or six dogs, but other than that, he only communicates with other people on those brief occasions when he is allowed to leave the yard and can actually interact with them.

Will this boy learn the language of humans with so little contact in such truncated circumstances?

What will this child act like? This adult? This old man?

When we talk about poor socialization among dogs, we tend to mean dogs that are overly fearful or aggressive towards other dogs and other people.

But poor socialization just as often expresses itself in another way -- dogs that are SO in need of canine contact, and so inarticulate in "dog speak" that, when put before other dogs, they are like long-term foreign prison camp survivors swarming over their liberators, crying and laughing, pawing at their pockets and kissing their feet as they try to get their cracked vocal chords to work again and remember the word for "thank you" in their almost-forgotten mother tongue.

And these are men who were captured as adults, and after only a few years as captives!

Now imagine how bad it might be if you were taken to a prison planet -- a suburban home -- as a child and left to communicate with no one but the wolves.

Would you ever be able to communicate with the wolves as well as they communicate with each other?  And how well would you be able to communicate with other people ?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Kennel Club Is Not Full of Evil People... It is Full of People Desperately Seeking Social Status


A segment from a post I wrote in 2005:


The Kennel Club is a huge money-making bureaucracy dependent upon selling people on the "exclusivity" of a closed registry and a scrap of paper that says a dog is a "pure breed". So long as people are willing to buy Kennel Club registered dogs that have predictably higher chances of serious physical impairments than cross-bred dogs, the Kennel Club (and Kennel Club breeders) have little motivation to change the way they do business.

Let me hasten to say that the Kennel Club is not filled with evil people intent on doing harm to dogs. It is, in fact, filled with regular people who are different from the rest of the world only in the degree, and the way, they seek ego-gratification and are status-seeking.


This last point is import: the Kennel Club is not primarily about dogs. Dogs do not care about ribbons, pedigrees, titles, and points. These are human obsessions. The reason a human will drive several hundred miles and stand around all day waiting for 10 minutes in the ring is not because of the dog, but because the human needs that ribbon, that title, and that little bit of extra status that comes from a win.


Each to his own, but let us be honest about what dog shows are about -- they are about ribbons for people. The dogs themselves could not give a damn.


It is unfair to fault individual breeders and breed clubs for the failures of the Kennel Club, as these smaller units are powerless to change the larger whole.


Breed clubs are small and largely impotent by design. Because the Kennel Club does not require breeders, pet owners, or even show ring ribbon-chasers to join a breed club as a condition of registration, these entities remain small, underfunded, and unrepresentative.


Breed clubs, like dog shows themselves, are also steeped in internecine politics and dominated by big breeders and people who over-value "conformation."


It is only by conforming to the AKC system for decades that anyone can hope to move up in the AKC hierarchy -- a situation that guarantees intellectual and bureaucratic inbreeding.
In the end, the AKC is a closed registry in every sense of that word. It continues to embrace the failed genetic theories of Victorian England because it is incapable of serious reform within the Club itself. 

Cats are Selfish, Unfeeling, Environmentally Harmful Creatures -- and That's the Opinion of a Fan


Researchers say cats are "selfish, unfeeling, environmentally harmful creatures". A bit harsh, but also a bit hard to argue with. As the folks at Vox note,
Compared to dogs, scientists have found, cats don't seem to have the same sort of emotional attachment to their owners, and show genuine affection far less often than you might think. Further, they're an environmental disaster, killing literally billions of birds in the US every year — many of them from endangered species.

Most alarmingly (and as explained in this 2012 Atlantic article), there's compelling evidence that a parasite often found in cat feces can subtly change people's personalities over time, increasing rates of neuroticism, schizophrenia, and perhaps even suicide.

In other words, research is telling us that cats are selfish, unfeeling, environmentally devastating creatures. If you need to convince someone not to get a cat, here's the research you need to show them.

Now, before folks start sending me hate mail (delete!) you should know that the person doing this research is Daniel Mills, a veterinary researcher at the UK's University of Lincoln, and a confirmed cat lover.

But he is also a rational objective scientist and knows a problem species when he sees one.

What about cats that purr, or which rub up against their owner? They are not signs of affection. The former is what a cat does when it is manipulating people into feeding it, the latter what it does with trees when it is scent-marking.

And what about the billions of wild animals they kill every year, and the sometimes-fatal brain disease they carry to humans? Read the whole article!

Click to enlarge.

A Matter of (Good) Breeding


Clicking around the interwebs (did I mention that there's now a Facebook and Twitter account associated with this blog?), I came across a link to a book scheduled to come out next year. From Amazon.com:
So-called “purebreds” are the mainstay of the dog industry, and social critic Michael Brandow argues that these aren’t markers of time-honored traditions but rather commercial inventions of the nineteenth century that were marketed as status symbols to a growing middle class. Combining social history and consumer studies with sharp commentary, this book reveals the sordid history of the dog industry and shows how our brand-name pets pay the price with devastatingly poor health.
Ordered! 

The Thagomizer

A million years ago, the great cartoonist Gary Larson produced this cartoon:

Displaying

That cartoon was so successful in the rarified world of morphological descriptions of paleontological specimens, that this happened:


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ben Bradlee, a Lion, Roars at a Circus Flak

Ben Bradlee was editor of The Washington Post, my local newspaper, from 1968 to 1991.

He came in when the town was just starting an epic rise, and he stepped down from the Post just before the rise of the Internet shot that paper, and the entire news industry, to hell.

Part of good living is having good timing in your profession, and as a newspaper man, Ben Bradlee's was perfect.

The man was a lion with balls the size of mangoes and a wit as sharp as a straight razor. He did not suffer fools well, and so was rarely surrounded by them.

And did he like flaks? No, not much.  The above letter to a circus public relations man (for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus), is a masterpiece!

What Americans Need to Know About Ebola in Dogs



Not a single damn thing.  There is no evidence dogs can even carry ebola, and there have only been three ebola cases in America (one brought from overseas).  

As one wag pointed out, Taylor Swift fans kill more Americans every week than ebola has in the last 100 years!

Remember, the thing that REALLY kills Americans and their dogs is Dihydrogen Monoxide and bumble bees.  

And, as always, beware of the cows.

That said, because Ebola is not much of a threat to Americans, is no reason not to remember what is happening right now in West Africa.  Ebola is a very serious threat in that part of the world.  

I suspect we will contain this contagion, and hopefully it will be a wake up call about the need to be more forward-thinking about epidemics in this increasingly inter-connected world.  God help us all if this warning is not heeded.

Big Dollar Savings on a Drug That Should be in Every Veterinary and Home Medical Kit

If there's one antibiotic you want to have in your home health and veterinary kit, it's doxycycline.  It's the thing you use to treat Lyme and also a key component to treating heartworm, and it's not bad for flesh wounds .

If terrorists ever spread Anthrax or the Bubonic Plague, it's the stuff you will want to have in your refrigerator. It's also useful to treat malaria if you happen to be in some backwater tropical cesspit where that's a reasonable concern.

For the record, let's go over the basics when it comes to antibiotics: you do NOT dose with antibiotics for viruses, you must know what you are dosing for, and you must give the proper dosage and stay on antibiotics for the proper length of time.

One more basic: I do not give medical device about dogs or people beyond whatever general information I post on this blog. If you send me an email asking me a question about dosage or illness, I will NOT answer back.


That said, I do have a few real-life flesh and blood friends who have written me about the high cost of doxycycline, and the extreme price rise of this drug in recent years has even hit the newspapers. As The Los Angles Times reported in an article entitled, When a Drug Costs 30 Times What It Once Did:

Diane Shattuck filled a prescription in December for a generic antibiotic called doxycycline. With insurance, she paid $4.30 for 60 pills at a CVS store in Orange.

She returned at the end of February to refill her prescription. This time, she was told her cost for the drug would be about $165.

"It was bizarre," Shattuck, 73, told me. "And no one at CVS could explain why the price was so high."

I can. It's called pharmaceutical company price-gouging.

Price-gouging is a core business-plan fraud, and has been prevalent in the world of generic drugs for many years. It was only reigned in when whistleblowers, using anti-fraud legislation, went after nearly every drug manufacturer in the U.S., and many operating overseas as well.

Apparently, a new industry-wide price-gouging scheme has hit.  As The Wall Street Journal reports:

A recent analysis, for instance, found that half of all generics sold through retailers became more expensive over the past 12 months. And prices paid by pharmacies more than doubled for one out of 11 generics. In some cases, price hikes exceeded 1,000% and even topped 17,000%.

Price-gouging on doxycycline has reached astounding heights thanks to manufacturer collusion in the marketplace. A recent press release from Senator Bernie Sanders informs us that:

Doxycycline Hyclate, cost $20 last year for a bottle of 500 tablets. By April, the price was $1,849.

Really? I had seen prices like that quoted, but I also know that we live in a very large and interconnected world and that making generic drugs is not too complicated or a closely held secret.

A quick Google and I found a 500-capsule bottle of 100-mg Doxycycline Hyclate, labeled for fish, available for less than $65 without a prescription.

Yes, that's a heck of a lot more expensive than it used to be, but its not $1,849!  It's not even $349 for 100 100-mg capsules, which is the price over at Dr. Foster's.

Now, two points. This is a DOG site. I am not giving medical advice for humans. To the extent I am giving any general medical advice at all, it's for dogs and specifically for working terriers.

That said, fish antibiotics are quite pure. Think about it. It does not take much for fish in a tank to belly over. They are very susceptible to contaminants, and a lot of fish are very expensive. Compared to a Discus, a canary in a coal mine can take a heck of a lot of abuse!

My point is that I do not worry too much about quality control when it comes to fish antibiotics.

In a world in which dogs eat their own poop, and the FDA has a rat-turd standard for peanut butter, a pus-standard for fish, and an insect-filth standard for black pepper, I am not too worried about contaminants in fish antibiotics.

Are antibiotics made in India, China, Thailand, and Malaysia safe? As safe as any. The simple truth is that about 80 percent of the precursor chemicals used in ALL drugs come from China and India (there is almost no FDA-oversight of any plant anywhere), and about 40 percent of the ready-made generic drugs sold in this country are made in Indian and China as well.

If you think you have only taken made-in-America, FDA-inspected drugs, you are wrong. And yet, I do not worry too much, even though I know quite a bit about very real manufacturing and quality-control problems in this arena. The reason for this is that antibiotic are not extremely dose-sensitive. If a pill or capsule is 10 percent sub-strength, or 10 percent super-potent, proper dosing should more than cover that wobble in quality without any concern at all.

So, to put a point on it, if you are looking to stock up on doxycycline for your veterinary kit, go ahead and hit ebay and pick up a 500-count bottle labeled for fish. Pill, capsule, and caplet antibiotics will keep for 10 years past their expiration date. Stock up and never worry about price or availability again -- or at least not for a decade!

Killing Off Ocean Predators

Sharks Fins Drying | source
Scientists analyzing more than 200 published food records from all over the world, which included more than 3,000 ocean species, have concluded that in the 20th century humans reduced the biomass of predatory fishes by more than two thirds and that most of this alarming decline has occurred since the 1970s.
Many of these predatory fish species are known to be in trouble. The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species considers 12 percent of grouper, 11 percent of tuna and billfish and 24 percent of shark and ray species to be threatened with extinction.

An Ancient Breed of Dog?




Genetic research has given legs to something most canine historians knew was true: most breeds are not very old, never mind what Kennel Club breed enthusiast may claim. The supposedly "ancient" Ibizan hound and Pharaoh hound, for example, turn out to have been made up within the last 100 years or so -- no doubt bred to look like the drawings and sculptures of sleek, slender-necked canines with pointy ears and long snouts that were seen on the Pharonic tombs whose disovery were all the rage at the time of Carter. As for the Norwegian elkhound, which supposedly dated back to Viking dogs, it turns out to have originated no farther back than the past few hundred years.

Using 96 distinct patterns in the genes called "microsatellites," genetic researchers compared dogs within breeds, and breeds with one another. In the May 21, 2004 issue of the journal Science, the team concluded that almost every breed was surprisingly distinct genetically. A few suprising gleanings:

  • Ancient dogs included a very motley assortment of dogs found all over the world: the Alaskan malamute, the Siberian husky, the Samoyed, basenji, Saluki, Afghan, Lhasa apso, Pekingese, Shar-Pei, Shih Tzu and Akita.

  • German shepherds, which might have been expected to be in the either the ancient group (due to their resemblance to wolves) or the herding group were found to actually be more closely related to to mastiff-type dogs, such as the bull mastiff, the bulldog and the Rottweiler.

  • Herding dogs, included such obvious members as the collie and the sheepdog, but also the greyhound.

  • Terriers and scent-tracking hounds, such as spaniels and setters and were deemed to be of relatively recent European origin. This should hardly surprise anyone -- almost all of the terrier "breeds" were created after 1800 and most after 1860 and the beginnings of the Kennel Club and livestock shows. For a detailed pictorial history of terriers, see A Pictorial History of Terriers.

Misto


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fakes, Frauds & Pretenders in the Animal Kingdom


Over at Aeon, they tell us about how about fakes, frauds and pretenders in the animal kingdom might inform us about fraudsters in the world of humans:
It’s the friend who betrays you, the lover living a secret life, the job applicant with the fabricated résumé, or the sham sales pitch too good to resist. From the time humans learnt to co‑operate, we also learnt to deceive each other. For deception to be effective, individuals must hide their true intentions. But deception is hardly limited to humans. There is a never-ending arms race between the deceiver and the deceived among most living things.

In the world of parasitic fakes, it seems there are different methods of operation:
In humans, short-term deception might involve simple lies or a slick-looking website. When financial fraudsters perpetrate superficial or short-term deception, they usually extract everything they can at once: in most online or phone swindles, once an account number is obtained, the money is quickly gone. Whether a virus or a boiler-room stock scammer, most short-term predators are scattershot, moving from location to location and reaching hundreds or thousands of potential victims in a day.

This approach is so crude that many of us have become more cautious with time, in essence developing immunity to short-term deceptions because we can detect them on the fly. Previous exposure to a certain type of predator often leaves communities better prepared to fight off the attack. This type of defence can be seen among lizards previously exposed to predatory snakes. Although a few will fall prey, a substantial number are likely to avoid the hunt, fight off the infection, or resist the fraudulent scam.

Long-term deceptions, on the other hand, are integrated, complex and behaviourally based. Often perpetrated by collaborative networks or co-conspirators, they are far more difficult to resist. For instance, there are species of beetles that deceive termites into believing they are one of them. Although the cost is minor to the termites, they unknowingly share resources with lazy beetles: an example of sustained and complex long-term deception.
So, what can society do to make itself more resilient to fakes, frauds and pretenders?
What I suggest is literally a deception vaccine. Just as we receive inoculations against physical infections, so too we should try to inoculate ourselves against deception and fraud. By constantly exposing individuals to harmless and weakened versions of deception, we might be able to build up the social antibodies necessary for individuals to recognise predatory deception when they encounter it.

In short, bad scams found out and foiled tend to train society to look for better scams, a bit like a bumbling lion who blows his cover helps to train gazelle and warthogs to look for the techniques of stealthier and smarter lions.

 Once Bitten Twice Shy by Great White. And the name of the lead singer? Jack Russell!

Plants Celebrate When Predators Kill Herbivores


Large predators shape the plant life of the African savannah, and no doubt everywhere else too; As Scientific American reports:
The impala – an African antelope – eats grasses and trees and is itself eaten by wild dogs and leopards. Impala often munch on a tree called the acacia. Some acacia have thorns, and some don’t. The researchers found that the impala – perhaps not surprisingly – prefer thorn-free acacia. Also, the animals avoid woody areas where predators are more likely to hide. And as a result, the thorn-free, vulnerable acacia are more plentiful in woody areas with plenty of predators. But the thorny acacia are more numerous on the open savannah, where they need to defend themselves. The study is in the journal Science.

Dog Book Ends

Cast iron, terrier bookends. $85

Monday, October 20, 2014

Two Pooped Pups


Darwin and Austin take a break. It was like an inside dog park at my mother's house yesterday.

How to Set -- and Release = a Conibear Trap


Mountain and an old Conibear trap found at the entrance to a sette the dogs entered.

Let's begin with the most important thing: Conibear traps kill a lot of dogs and cats, and they can take your fingers off.

To repeat: Conibear traps can easily kill a small dog and cat and maim you.

Read that again. Do it once more. Got it? Good!

Now for some knowledge. Did you know that Conibear traps were invented by the animal rights folks as an alternative to the far safer leghold trap?

True!

Conibear traps were first designed by Frank Conibear in the 1950s in Canada, and were the first substantive improvement in traps since the leghold trap was invented in 1823.

The development of this type of trap was paid for by an animal rights group, and the trap was designed to kill very fast. This sure-kill trap design was subsequently approved by the International Humane Society.

Ironically, because this type of trap kills almost instantly, and is very difficulty to release even if you are standing right there when it fires off, this trap is a very serious threat to cats and small dogs which might otherwise be unharmed if entangled in a modern leghold trap or a snare.

In my opinion, a Conibear should only be used in a water set on muskrat (#110 Conibear) or beaver (#330 Conibear) or in a tree set for coon. If you are looking to get rid of a nuisance raccoon, consider a cuff-type trap (sometimes called an egg trap) as there is zero by-catch with these devices.

Having said my peace about Conibear traps, if you have a groundhog problem they are a very good fix, especially if the problem is in a location where there are no cats and small dogs around (do not presume -- know).

The right sized Conibear trap for groundhog is the same used on raccoon and fox -- a #220. The setup is described below, with the trap fixed to a stake right at the burrow entrance.

There is no cheaper source for traps than ebay; just make sure the things are not rusted, have good springs, etc.




A simple dirt den set, as shown above, is very easy with a Conibear, but it is not as safe as it might be.

To improve on safety for small dogs and cats, rig up a "bucket set" or "pipe set" as pictured below.

This is a simple #220 Conibear inside a square plastic bucket or PVC pipe, with slots for the the spring ears, as shown.



For groundhog, cut both ends off the bucket so that the groundhog has to exit his den through the bucket, with the trap close to the dirt side of the hole and dirt mounded up around it to keep the bucket in place, and the light out.

To see how the trap is set up in a round paint bucket (and how safety can further be improved by putting the bucket up a tree if you are trapping raccoon), click here).

If you are trapping anything, you will need a trapping license and your traps need to be tagged, and there may be other restrictions as well, especially on Conibears. See your state wildlife agency or Department of Natural Resources web site for more details. Do it right!

Never trap near a road or path, never use bait with a ground set Conibear, and remember that barns and outbuildings attract cats as well as raccoons and groundhogs.

Since we're about to enter trapping season, those who do not trap but who take dogs out into the woods should know how to get their dogs out of a trap if it comes to that. Click here for simple instructions.

The previous link was cited by The Anchorage Daily News who went on to use it to develop the very nice graphic, below, on how to get your dog out of a Conibear trap. Remember, that if there are no safety catches on the trap itself (there generally are), your shoelaces are a tool that is always with you in the woods!


.

A World of Prey and Predators



These are Blacktip sharks
, just south of here in North Carolina, feeding on a school of Bluefish. Blacktips are found all over the world, and migrate north to south with the seasons.

Coffee and Provocation


The Continuing Crisis
Farmers are switching from tobacco to chick peas for hummus.

It Was Not Tony Soprano, Honest
A 22-year old hiker was apparently killed by a black bear in New Jersey near West Milford.

Can Rats Run a Hedge Fund?
Michael Marcovici’s Rat Trader describes the training of laboratory rats to trade in foreign exchange and commodity futures markets. Marcovici says the rats “outperformed some of the world’s leading human fund managers.” The rats were trained to press a red or green button to give buy or sell signals, after listening to ticker tape movements represented as sounds. If they called the market right they were fed, if they called it wrong they got a small electric shock. Male and female rats performed equally well. The second generation of rattraders, cross-bred from the best performers in the first generation, appeared to have even better performance, although this is a preliminary result.

Solar as Ubiquitous as Cell Phones?
The Washington Post notes that:  "In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones. McKinsey & Company noted that the handsets were heavy, batteries didn’t last long, coverage was patchy, and the cost per minute was exorbitant. It predicted that in 20 years the total market size would be about 900,000 units, and advised AT&T to pull out. McKinsey was wrong, of course. There were more than 100 million cellular phones in use 2000; there are billions now. Costs have fallen so far that even the poor — all over world — can afford a cellular phone. The experts are saying the same about solar energy now. They note that after decades of development, solar power hardly supplies 1 percent of the world’s energy needs. They say that solar is inefficient, too expensive to install, and unreliable, and will fail without government subsidies. They too are wrong. Solar will be as ubiquitous as cellular phones are. Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs. Energy usage will keep increasing, so this is a moving target. But, by Kurzweil’s estimates, inexpensive renewable sources will provide more energy than the world needs in less than 20 years. Even then, we will be using only one part in 10,000 of the sunlight that falls on the Earth.

Win Turbines vs. Cats
One kills about 300,000 birds a year, the other about 3,000,000,000.  Guess which one we feed?

Stupid on a Stick
An astonishing 64 percent of Americans cannot name the three branches of government.

Flatter Than Kansas?
Kansas is not flatter than a pancake.  In fact, Kansas is not even the flattest state. Six other states are flatter, including Florida. Illinois, North Dakota, Louisiana, Minnesota, Delaware,

Smarter Mice?
We can make smarter mice by putting a single human gene in their brain.  Should we be doing this?

Basement Man Cave
For Walter Mitty who wishes he had a cabin in the Maine woods.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cracking Tired Chestnuts About Form and Function


Red fox taxidermy mannequins. There is no red fox taxidermy mannequin anywhere in the world that has a chest span of greater than 14 inches.


At the side of every show ring, there is always some well-dressed individual talking about "the standard" and how "form follows function."

It all sounds good, of course -- wonderful rhetorical chestnuts -- but it's pretty much nonsense.

I mean think about it. A working dachshund is a great little animal in the field and does the same work as a terrier, but it does not look like a terrier, does it?

By the same token, a Patterdale Terrier does not look too much like a Jack Russell, which does not look too much like a Border Terrier. Smooth coats and rough do equally well in the field, as do coats of black or white, red or brown, or any combination in between. A folded ear is the same as a prick ear, a black nose the same as a liver-colored nose. Every working earth dog breed has a different head shape, and many have different tails as well. A perfect scissors bite is not necessary for work.

So when people say "form follows function," what the hell are they talking about?

Let us hope they are not talking about movement. Movement is one of those words show people toss around with a wink and a nod as if they have the secret knowledge of a wine connoisseur.

It is pure bunk. "Movement" may be important to a greyhound, a pulling dog, or even a border collie, but it is not much of a concern as it relates to a working terrier. So long as a dog can walk well, and has decent muscle mass, it can work fine. Hocks in or out hardly matters a whit.

Which is not to say that movement is irrelevant to terrier work. In fact, it is critical. But the important movement is .... wait for it .... an owner that will move off the couch, and move out of the car, and move into a hedgerow, and move a lot of dirt while digging down to a dog that is in full voice with rising adrenaline. That's the only important part of movement that matters. After you have done that a few dozen times, you will know a little more about movement, and terriers in particular.

We hear a great deal of nodding nonsense from folks who talk a good game about "protecting" their breed. But protect it from what? And by what right or qualification do these people think they are particularly well chosen to protect the bred? And what do they intend to protect it with?

In almost every case they are people who do not dig, and who seek to "protect" the terrier with nothing but a scrap of paper proclaiming a show dog "up to the standard."

And who do these people hope to protect the breed from? Why, show ring breeders, of course!

It is all laughable nonsense. And it becomes nonsense on stilts when people begin to talk about "the standard" as if it were a sacred text delivered to Moses on the Mount.

In fact, is there anything standard about "the standard?" I defy you to find a single canine standard that is more than 20 years old that has not been changed at least once.

And then there is the little matter that the standard is not the same from one country to another, or one registry to another. So what is so "standard" about the standard?

Ironically, what is NOT part of any standard in the UK or the US, is a requirement that the dog actually be a proven worker in the field. That, apparently is not "the standard." That function is not required for the rosette. A black nose, is a "Yes," but working a dozen fox, raccoon, badger, or groundhog in the field, is a "No."

The one issue of any importance in "the standard" as it relates to "form follows function," is chest size. Yet on this point, "the standard" is awfully vague, isn't it?

We are told a chest span is a man's hands. Yes, but whose hands? We do not measure a house in cubits, so why are we measuring dogs in "hand spans"? Who but the puppy peddler profits by keeping chest measurements this vague?

The Germans are not so coy and facile about chest size. A standard working dachshund (a "Teckel" in German) has a chest of just under 14 inches. The measurement is precise -- 35 cm -- and it reflects the chest size of the average red fox. The Germans are not ones to shave dice when it comes to working dogs.

It is interesting that the same 14" chest size is named not only by fox biologists, but also by such terriermen as Barry Jones, Ken James, and Eddie Chapman. In fact, if any one thing separates the digger from the rosette chaser, it's clarity on chest size.

The rosette chaser is always a bit vague about what a "span" actually means. A digger knows it means his fingers better well overlap, and if he is working fox in a natural fox-dug earth, it is best if his fingers overlap by more than one joint!

And so we come back to the real meaning of "form follows function" as used by academics in the dog world.

For these folks the "form" being referred to seems to be a paper form showing the pedigree of the animal being displayed. And "the function" is either the rosette from a show judge, or the cash to be gotten from a prospective dog-buyer.

Form follows function, indeed!.

Wild Persimmons


I found these wild persimmons while out training with the dogs today.  A nice find.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Two Pups


Misto and Moxie on a foot bridge this morning.

Moxie just turned 6 months, and is 10.5 inches tall, while Misto is two weeks younger and about  half an inch shorter. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Screams of Death From a Field of Broccoli?


Researchers from the University of Missouri
have found that plants hear, and react, to the sound of eating caterpillars but ignore the sound of wind.

What's that mean?  It means that plants are sentient.  They feel fear, which means they feel pain.

And guess what?

Plant actually "scream," of a sort, when attacked.

Researchers at the Institute for Applied Physics at the University of Bonn in Germany, found that plants give off ethylene gas when even the sound of attack from bugs and other destructive invaders is played. When super-sensitive laser probes were placed on the plants, and ethylene gas production was registered as a sound, plant "noises" were heard to rise to a piercing screech.  And it did not take a lot of destruction to illicit a cry of pain from a plant -- even a tiny insect bite could generate increased ethylene gas production and a sound effect.

"The more a plant is subjected to stress, the louder the signal," said Dr Frank Kühnemann.

What does this mean for vegetarians who gobble down a head of lettuce and who proclaim that a rat is a pig is a dog is a child -- or that the death of a common marmot is the same as the death of an endangered elephant?

It's going to be a problem!

PeTA's own Ingrid Newkirk starts off her post proclaiming "a rat is a pig, is a dog, is a boy," by quoting Mark Twain:
“It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.”
But if plants can be said to react to the sound of destruction by signaling distress, how can Ms. Newkirk continue to eat?


If we are to blur the lines
between rats and children, why is this same blurring not appropriate for the difference between a carrot, a bit of broccoli, or a field of wheat and a rat?

Under her own logic, a carrot is a rat, is a pig, is a dog, is a boy.

And of course, we have not even started with bacteria, fungus, nematodes, and worms.  All of these living animals can actually be trained to perform.  These are not just reactive animals that scream every bit as much a clump of broccoli -- they can actually plan as Charles Darwin himself showed.

They are all living and very sentient things.


And yet the simple act of plowing a field for a vegan diet approved by PeTA kills hundreds, if not thousands.  This is direct murder at the hand of man.

If all plants and all animals are equal, is it not better to shoot the largest wild animal one can find once or twice a year, rather than kill millions of animals and plants a season in order to fill the pot?


In a Lake of Wolves, the Sheep Shudder



Nature is red in tooth, claw, and fin
.

You protect habitat.  

You control hunting with seasons and bag takes.

But you will never stop one animal from ripping another to bits and eating it while it is still alive and screaming.

From the smallest insect to the largest mammal and reptile, this is the way of the world, and it always has been.

The Life Count on One Hay Bale


I have walked a lot of fields at different times of the year, as have all of us who hunt.

The frozen wind-swept tundra of January breaks to the bright green grass of April, the rapacious thorns of August, and the impenetrable thickets of October.

As the vegetation rises, changes, and subsides, and as different grasses, forbs, fruits, and nuts come into season and decay, different birds, insects, and large and small mammals move across the land.

Falconer Matt Mullenix was pondering the difference between a Louisiana hay field standing tall and uncut, versus one mowed and bundled, and postulated a cost count:
One hay bale equals one rabbit, two rails, four doves, half a dozen blackbirds, a dozen sparrows, two dozen cotton rats, twenty five leopard frogs, and ten thousand Arthropoda. 
That sounds about right for his neck of the woods.

In our area we would trade cotton rats for field mice and voles, and we would lose the leopard frog for a few garter snakes, with a groundhog tossed on top for every five bales, a raccoon for every 50 bales, a deer for every 75 bales, and a fox for every 100.

Fields edged with forest hold best, and hedgerows bordered by soy on one side and corn on the other hold the most, and it's always a good thing when water is nearby.

But does a plowed or mowed field ever hold as much as those that are left to run riot for 10 months of the year?  Not in my experience.

Now On Twitter and Facebook


Terrierman's Daily Dose now has a Twitter Feed and a Facebook Page. These are automatically populated from the blog.

For those of you who Tweet and Facebook, please "like" them and share away!

True Blue LIES from Blue Buffalo

True Blue LIES
Purina's Pet Food Honesty web site has a nice letter up about the fact that Blue Buffalo was caught lying... again:

ST. LOUIS, MO, October 15, 2014 - Last night, Blue Buffalo publicly revealed facts that prove the central allegations in our false advertising lawsuit against them. Contrary to prior assurances, for the first time Blue Buffalo has had to admit that ingredients from at least one of their suppliers contain poultry by-product meal. Click here for link. This is despite the fact that Blue Buffalo has repeatedly stated – in their TV commercials, their advertising, and to consumers on their website – that they never use this ingredient.

Blue Buffalo admits this is “unacceptable” and it is, but Blue Buffalo is not being as “transparent” as they claim. Remarkably, it was Purina – not Blue Buffalo – that unearthed the truth through its scientific testing and, more recently, from documents it obtained through the legal process from one of Blue Buffalo’s ingredient suppliers. Without Purina’s filing of this lawsuit, the truth would still be untold. Blue Buffalo’s approach since May was to deny everything – until Blue Buffalo was forced to admit it was wrong. Changing your story only after the facts are revealed is not transparency.

What is the real truth here? Blue’s Chairman, Bill Bishop, repeatedly told their pet parents, “I can assure you that we’ve never purchased one kernel of corn or one ounce of poultry by-product meal.” Why isn’t Blue Buffalo telling pet parents now that Wilbur Ellis is the same supplier that Bill Bishop blamed for ingredient problems in years past? Click here for link.

Why does Blue Buffalo always have someone else to blame? Remember Blue Buffalo’s angry protests, their countersuit against Purina, their charges of a “smear campaign,” their claims of “voodoo science”? Those are tactics, not truth.

The truth is that this is not someone else’s problem, it is Blue Buffalo’s problem. It is Blue Buffalo’s responsibility to know what is in their products. Amazingly, Blue Buffalo’s Chairman has publicly stated: “Slap on a good label, come up with a slogan, and off you go.” It is this cavalier attitude that is the problem -- an attitude that led Blue Buffalo to make irresponsible allegations of a “smear campaign” against Purina instead of promptly determining the facts. These facts show that there never was any smear campaign. If Blue Buffalo’s latest version of their story is to be believed, Purina knew more about Blue Buffalo’s ingredient suppliers than Blue Buffalo did.

About a month ago, Purina expanded its false advertising lawsuit against Blue Buffalo, noting that: [N]ew testing shows Blue Buffalo's “LifeSource Bits” actually have lower levels of some key nutrients than their standard kibble.​ ​In​ our​ amended complaint, ​we also make public the results of earlier independent testing that revealed the presence of poultry by-product meals, grains and corn in some of Blue Buffalo’s best-selling products.

Read the press release here, and the second amended complaint here.

I've called Blue Buffalo howling liars in the past, and time has certainly borne that out.

This is a company built on marketing fabrications, fancy packaging, and disinformation pumped out to gullible low-information pet owners.

And to be clear, this is what so much pet food marketing is about these days.

Lies and disinformation have been picked up, magnified, and echoed by anti-science hysteria-based websites and books proclaiming they are going to give folks "the truth about pet food."

Nonsense.

Not once has any book or web site devoted to dog food  EVER given "the truth" about pet food, because the truth is that NO dog food has ever been proven better than any other. 

None. 

Ever.  

You can't build an entire book or web site about dog food around that simple sentence.

As always, feed your dogs whatever you want, but as a general rule feed less.

Obesity is the PRIMARY nutritional problem in dogs. A very high energy and hard working dog (that's not a dog that jogs two miles a day with you!) may need more fat in its diet, but most dogs do fine on regular supermarket kibble made from a company that makes it own food and has a long track record of production. Several companies fit that bill. Blue Buffalo is NOT one of them.

Will Blue Buffalo dog food poison your dog?

Nope.

It's perfectly fine high-cost crap made by a group of proven charlatans, incompetents, and liars.

If you want to waste your money supporting that kind of business because you think America needs more of that, go right ahead.  It's still a free country.

New York City Rats Carry New Diseases



Lab cultures from rats caught in four Manhattan buildings and a park surprised pathologists.

Diseases never seen before, anywhere, were found.

Fish on Friday

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Your Daily Dose of Irony

Red Cross demonstration during 1918 influenza epidemic.Click to enlarge.

A foreigner brings Ebola to the U.S. on Columbus Day, and we are such precious little things that we miss the irony.

Support the Ban -- I Do


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Blue Buffalo Poops Again

In the middle of a major lawsuit in which Purina is suing Blue Buffalo claiming Blue Buffalo uses by-products in their foods, Blue Buffalo has come out and admitted that it is true.

Again. 

Yes, that's right; this is the second time that Blue Buffalo has peddled lies and whined it's not their fault, but someone else's. This time they tell us:

Blue Buffalo has recently learned from Wilbur-Ellis, a major U.S. Company that supplies ingredients to us and many other well-known brands of pet foods, that a Texas pet food ingredient processing plant they own had mislabeled some of the ingredients they shipped to their customers. So while their customers were ordering and paying for 100% chicken meal, at times they were receiving shipments that contained poultry by-product meal.”

Since this Wilbur-Ellis plant was the source of some of our chicken meal, we may have received some of these mislabeled shipments, and there likely are numerous other pet food companies who also received these mislabeled ingredients. The FDA has been informed of this situation, and you may rest assured that this mislabeling poses no health, safety or nutrition issue. And while this is comforting, since the health and well-being of our dogs and cats comes before anything else, the fact that any Blue Buffalo food could include a mislabeled ingredient is totally unacceptable. As a result, we have stopped doing business with this plant.
Well blow me down! Suddenly, when Blue Buffalo dog food is actually proven to contain poultry by-product meal, they tell us that poultry by-product meal "poses no health, safety or nutrition issue." 

Still laughing.

And, of course, it doesn't. That's the point. 

Every single thing that Blue Buffalo has ever said about their own dog food and everyone else's is pure Blue Buffalo-crap.

As I said in a previous post entitled Is Blue Buffalo a Howling Liar?

Before it's all over, the world is going to know what really comes out of a Blue Buffalo. Hint: it's soft and warm and squishes between your toes.

When the day is done, I hope Purina owns this company.

In the interim, stay that hell away from liars, frauds, fakes, pretenders, slanderers, and lick-and-stick marketing clowns.

Or, as I said it plainly back in August:

The folks who make Blue Buffalo think you are an idiot, and if you are buying their dog food, you are proving them right.

Word to the wise is sufficient.

Substitution Costs In Dog Breeding


One of the reasons working dogs and show dogs have generally separated into two very different breeds is that it is almost impossible to breed "top of the line" performers in two arenas at once, and that is especially true for a slow-breeder (any large mammal) and one that has a small gene pool (all show dogs).

JBS Haldane pointed this out about 50 years ago when he was writing about "substitution costs" faced by breeders. This is now known as "Haldane's Dilemma."

Haldane, along with Sewall Wright (of COI or Wright's Coefficient of Inbreedining fame) and Ronald Fischer more or less created the math we still use to today when looking at population genetics.

Yes, you can try to "shoot for the middle" in terms of two or more characteristics, but the results, for the most part, will not be top-of-the-line in either arena unless you are selecting for hundreds, or even thousands of years, which no one has done in the world of dogs.

It should be said that Haldane may have inflated the true cost of substitution -- a point he made himself.  Nonetheless, there is very little doubt that a cost is there, and it is large and is most easily addressed by either having massive amounts of time, or really large populations, or very rapid breeding (as in mice and rats), none of which we have in the world of show dogs.

For a related post, see Islands of Wolves, Rats, Lions and Dogs.

Catching an African Rock Python



Ignore the title; this is not an Anaconda
, but an African Rock Python.  Posting this for Nate, as I said there was video!

The Ebola Dog of Dallas

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel belonging to Nina Pham, the U.S. nurse now infected with Ebola (she says she is doing OK), will be quarantined for 21 days, according to the Dallas Office of Emergency Management.  The dog, named Bentley, will be checked daily.  

Not much is known about Ebola in domestic animals, and it may be that dogs, cats and other common household critters are immune. It's also possible that they might be carriers but are themselves immune, as fruit bats are.  I will bet the former rather than the latter, but we shall see.

The latest news is that a second nurse at the same hospital has come down with Ebola.  And guess what?  After she was sick, she flew on an airplane with 132 passengers from all over!