Thursday, August 21, 2014

Profile of Dog Trainer Martin Deeley

Dog trainer Martin Deeley gets a nice profile in the Orlando, Florida city magazine.

Congrats Martin!

Ripped from the Pages of Earthdog History

Because the world is a dodgey place where old content can disappear and become very hard to find later on, I am "ripping and stripping" this old content from the vaults over at Sports Illustrated describing one of the first American Working Terrier Association meet ups in the Castkills of New York in 1974, not too far from where Misto was born.

Patricia Adams Lent is featured, of course, as well my old friend Teddy Moritz and we even have a Jack Russell from "Mrs. H. L. Crawford III of Gladstone, N.J." That would be, of course, Ailsa Crawford who later founded the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America in 1976. Today it is the largest Jack Russell Terrier Club in the world. Enjoy!

They Really Smell a Rat 

As a test of their mettle, terriers are scored on how fast they get at a pair of caged rats, and on the rumpus they raise going down the drain

BY ROBERT H. BOYLE :: Originally Posted: May 5, 1975

An unusual event occurred at a place with an unlikely name in upstate New York last Saturday. The event was a trial of the American Working Terrier Association; the place, Toad Farm in Germantown, the country residence of Hal Davis, commercial photographer, classic car collector and terrier enthusiast.

The trial was open to all terrier breeds and dachshunds small enough to enter a nine-inch drain constructed of plywood and pine planks and buried in a field. Having entered the drain, or "gone to earth" in terrier terminology, a dog was then expected to show his (or her) mettle by barking, growling, digging, whining or biting at the cage protecting the live quarry, a pair of hooded rats, a black-and-white laboratory strain selected because of its superior squeaking, hyperactive scuttling and compelling aroma—at least to terriers.

Given the chilling winds that swept down from the Catskills across the Hudson after two days of soaking rain, the crowd was understandably small, perhaps a couple of dozen handlers and spectators at best, but all were keen to applaud the muffled barks, yelps, howls and other atavistic sounds that emanated from beneath the turf. They looked like a scrambled computer listing of subscribers to Vogue, The Journal of Wildlife Management and Partisan Review, and their dialogue might have come from a script written by Lyndon Johnson and Evelyn Waugh.

One owner was Garth Gillan, a longhaired, bearded associate professor of philosophy from Southern Illinois University and breeder of hunting Norwich terriers, and there was at least one other professor on hand, John Jeanneney, a historian at Long Island's Hofstra University, who ran, with some success, wire-haired dachshunds of German stock that are used to hunt wild boar in the old country.

Presiding over the trial was Patricia Adams Lent of Penn Yan, N.Y., a private-school English teacher, breeder of milking shorthorn cattle and lakeland and cairn terriers and prime mover in the American Working Terrier Association, which she helped found in 1971. She is also the author of Sport with Terriers, not simply the standard reference but the only book on the subject. A sensible-boots sort, Mrs. Lent wore jeans, a blue windbreaker and a brooch with the AWTA crest (crossed pick and shovel surmounted by a quartered shield with three rats passant, a fox and woodchuck couchant and a muskrat, tête à bas), and she addressed one and all in suitably down-to-earth fashion. Ecologically, poisons for vermin were "no good short range or long range," Mrs. Lent said, but for a farmer, terriers were ideal for killing rats, opossum, skunks and other marauders of henhouse and barn.

The first class to be run at Toad Farm was the novice, group A for puppies, group B for dogs older than a year. The drain or artificial earth for this test was only 10 feet long, and the handler was to carry the entry to a blue flag set eight paces from the opening. Upon a signal from the judge, the handler was to set the dog down. "Start using a command," Mrs. Lent advised newcomers. "It can be, 'Go get 'em.' We had a woman who came to a trial, and she said, 'Kill!' " There was laughter. Mrs. Lent continued. "A man who came to the trial at Woodstock, Vt. last year said, 'Get the Germans!' " More laughter. At another trial a man with a cairn terrier that wasn't doing well said to Mrs. Lent, "Gee, he does so much better when he is out hunting." Mrs. Lent asked, "What do you do then?" With that, the man flopped on the ground, stuck his head in the drain and started barking.

To lure the dogs into the earth, the den master at the trial, Mrs. Teddy Moritz, a New Jersey game biologist, dipped a long stick in a bucket containing mink scent and swabbed the earth as if it were some giant sore throat. "We were unable to get muskrat scent today," Mrs. Lent announced. "If the dog smells mink, goes in and says, 'Hmm, rat,' it really doesn't make any difference." Each novice dog was given a minute by stopwatch to reach the caged quarry, for a maximum of 50 points; then another 50 points for working the caged rats for a minimum of 30 seconds. Points were deducted for verbal encouragement, but some handlers urged their dogs on anyway so they would get the idea of going to ground. The first novice puppy, Drossel von Mossbach, an 11-month-old dachshund bitch handled by Professor Jeanneney, immediately went to ground upon release, popped out, went back in, popped out again and then returned to reach the cage within the required minute. She then barked for 30 seconds, winning a first-place trophy with 100 points.

Outstanding in the Novice B was a 6-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Hamilton Kipper, owned and handled by Mrs. H. L. Crawford III of Gladstone, N.J. Kipper was typical of this very aggressive breed which has extraordinary In status in both the U.S., where it is relatively unknown, and the British Isles, where it is very popular.

Looking somewhat like a stumpy-legged fox terrier, the Jack Russell is named after a 19th-century sporting parson who originated the breed, and it has become a dog of legend, supposedly able to leap a six-foot fence at a single bound and fearlessly pursue fox or badger in the depths of a lair. Mrs. Crawford cautioned onlookers not to touch Kipper should he stray their way, but the temptation (or threat) never arose as he speedily went to ground.

Whatever breed worked, Jack Russell, cairn, Bedlington or Border, Mrs. Lent was ready at the wooden lift-up lid at the end of the earth to offer either cooing words to a pup—"What's in there? Oh, rats! Look at those rats! Nice girl!"—or up-to-the-second commentary to onlookers on the status of the rats—"They're moving around. They're swell!" Howard Cosell should do so well.

During the luncheon break there was a discussion of the possible use of terriers to control rats in city slums where they have been known to gnaw infants to death in their cribs. A good working terrier would not only kill rats quickly—the alltime record belongs to Jenny Lind, an English bull terrier bitch which in 1853 dispatched 800 rats in an hour and a half in The Beehive, a Liverpool pub—but give hope to ghetto dwellers that they could change their environment for the better.

After lunch dogs in the Open class went to work. The handler was allowed only one command once the dog was set down, and the dog had to run a 30-foot earth against the stopwatch. Drossel, the 11-month-old dachshund bitch, and Car-la, a 10-year-old wire-hair dachshund also owned by Jeanneney, both earned the Certificate of Gameness, as did Hamilton Kipper and Leo, a 9-year-old Jack Russell handled by the host, Hal Davis. Davis had bought Leo as a pup in Wales for $25 while on a photographic assignment. Leo shot in the drain at once, and he was so reluctant to leave the caged rats that Davis, flat on his stomach, had to try several times to extract him from the earth. Finally Leo deigned to emerge.

The top class of all, the Certificate, was next. Awards in this class are given only to dogs that score 100%, and should several dogs in one breed do so, only the dog with the quickest time to quarry wins. As ever, Mrs. Lent was to the point. Of an Australian terrier that came to the blue flag, she said: "Good luck. The last couple of trials she's really blown it." The Aussie blew it again, not even going to ground. Four dogs won the Highest Scoring in Breed Award: Mrs. Lent's cairn, Taffy; Sally Robson's lakeland, MacDougall; Jeanneney's Drossel; and Davis' Leo, who beat out Hamilton Kipper. Indeed, Leo made it to the rats in only seven seconds, the second-fastest time in AWTA history.

The meeting at Toad Farm was the second of the year, and other trials are scheduled across the country from Maine to California. Although the AWTA now has members coast to coast (and in Australia, Argentina, England and Canada as well), it is not affiliated with the American Kennel Club. As an association statement puts it, "It is still much too soon to consider such a move." What is important, Mrs. Lent emphasized, is that "people now want to get out and do something with their dogs, and we think this is a healthy kind of thing."

Down, boy. Down, boy.

The RSPCA's Home for a (Very Short) Life Campaign

It turns out that the RSPCA's "home for life" campaign should more accurately be called the "home for a very short life" campaign.

As The Guardian notes:
An RSPCA ad campaign that offered to care for pets if their owner dies has escaped a ban, despite the charity admitting that almost one in five animals in the scheme are put down.

And these are the animals they kill AFTER you have gone to the RSPCA to have them write them ino your will. Imagine if you had not done that!

As The Guardian notes:

The RSPCA said that its ads did not give a cast-iron guarantee that a new home would be found; instead phrases such as "do all we can" and "we'll try our very best" were used.

It added that some animals were not able to be rehomed because of health problems, or because they had an "unsound or aggressive temperament". There were also legislative barriers regarding certain breeds such as pit bull terriers.

And, as we have found out, the RSPCA's "try our very best" is pretty much a miserable "not try at all."

We've heard all this before, haven't we?

It's called killing for convenience.

The way you end up killing one out of three animals brought to you (or more!) is that you do what HSUS and PETA and Battersea do, which is you wave a wand and define the problem away. Older animal?  It has 'health problems" has has to be put down.  Staffie or working dog?  It has "temperament issues" and has to be put down. Somehow it just works out -- a miracle really -- that the RSPCA always has a few cages open and extra money lying around and people with time on their hands.  You see it's all about good management.  Rehoming an older cat or dog or a breed like a Staffie might take two weeks of work and actually cost staff and money doing home checks and advertising.  But killing it?  Two minutes and two pounds, and you never have to think about (or feed or clean up after) that animal again.


Home for Life?  Oh yes, and such a short life it may end up being.  Now, how much are you going to be writing out to the RSPCA in your will?

Oh, you do do not have a will?  Not a problem.  We have an entire DEPARTMENT that provides FREE will services.  That department is a terrific lie factory.  For example, right at the top we tell you:
If you decide to leave us a gift in your Will it means that when an animal needs us in the future we will be here to help them, or even save their life.

Complete bullshit, of course.  

The national RSPCA is out of the rehoming business and the national RSPCA, who will benefit from your legacy gift rehomes no more than 600 dogs a year.  You think yours will be one?  Good luck with that!

So how much can we put you down for?

Oh and no worries.  After you are dead, we will shift the tax burden for what you give to the RSPCA on to your family so they will actually get less.  So heads we win, and tails they lose.

And if you give us your property so that wildlife has a local sanctuary?  Be advised we may sell it and bulldoze it to the ground for housing.  You are dead.  What do you care?  Well-heeled lawyers need to get paid for suing the mounted hunts, and never mind of four out of five of those cases are lost.  RSPCA lawyers still get paid, even when they fail!

Now much can we put you down for?

Know Your Parasites!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Fundraising Scam that is the RSPCA


The RSPCA cannot sue, because they know the headline is true.

Let's start with a few simple points

  • ALL of the really big  national "humane" organizations are scams.

  • NONE of them do what you think they do, which is spend most of their money helping dogs and cats.

I have reported on the Humane Society of the U.S., the ASPCA and PETA in the past (see search  box, top right)

Today, let's talk specifically about the RSPCA;  the "Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals".

To begin, let me say that ALL of the numbers I am going to give you today are out of the RSPCA's 2013 Trustees Report which is a rather amazing lie factory in its own right... but more on that in a second.

For starters, how much MONEY does the RSPCA bring in every year? 

The RSPCA brought in £121.2 MILLION in 2013 (page 19), which is equal to $202 million US dollars for a country that has a population about one-fifth that of the United States
To scale it up to U.S. levels, the RSPCA is taking in over $1 billion dollars a year.

Please note that this fabulous sum is only money raised by the national RSPCA.

Money raised by about three-quarters of the "branches" is reported and accounted for separately, as these are legally separate organizations that receive very little money from the national organization.  

To be precise, less than 6 percent of the money that goes to fund the national RSPCA is remitted back to the branches where more than three-fourths of the work is done (p. 17

Those familiar with the Humane Society of the U.S. know the scam -- get people to THINK that by giving money to the national organization, they are somehow helping local dogs and cats.

It's a complete lie for the most part.

As I will show you in a minute,
more than  half the money you give to the national RSPCA in response to a direct mail solicitation goes to fund more direct mail letters.

Less than 3 percent of what you give to the national RSPCA will go back to help the local "branch" that is doing all the work (such as it is).

So of the
£121.2 million collected in 2013, how many DOGS did the RSPCA actually "rehome"?

Not very many.

The RSPCA tells us they rehomed just 11,073 dogs in 2013 (page 8), but even this fantastically low number is a lie. 

If you read the widow line at the top of page 9 of the "Trustees Report," you discover the truth buried in the text.
The split of rehoming by activity was branches 77 percent, national centres 19 percent and other initiatives four percent.

Right.  So over 80 percent of the "rehoming" work cited is NOT being done by the national RSPCA.

To put  a point on it, the RSPCA is ONLY putting money collected by the national RSPCA on its financial balance sheet, while it is claiming ALL of the work done by its branches even though it gives very little money to those branches.

So how many dogs does the national RSPCA really rehome?

If the split for dogs is the same as for all the other "rehomed" animals (and why would it not be?), then the national RSPCA placed less than 600 dogs in 2013, despite taking in the U.S. equivalent of over $200 million (121.2 million pounds sterling). 

Despite this fantastic imbalance between money coming in and rehoming work being done, the RSPCA has the temerity to tell its donors, on page 8, that:

The overwhelming numbers of animals needing homes in England and Wales has meant that the RSPCA, like many other animal organisations, is having to make very difficult choices... In 2013 the numbers of homeless dogs (165)... that had to be euthanased, as there were insufficient spaces available in our centres ... [t]he numbers of cats (526) rose slightly by three percent. The problem of finding sufficient space for homeless animals is one faced by all animal welfare organisations....Charities have a responsibility to ensure that animals do not languish in centres for long periods.

Right. So there it is.

But this is not euthanasia it it? The word euthanasia means something, and it does NOT mean "killing for convenience" as the RSPCA admits it is doing here.

Apparently "rehoming" less than 600 dogs a year was such a burden on the RSPCA, despite their £121 million income, that they could not find space or time for another 165 healthy dogs, and so they had to kill them.

The RSPCA has always played this game where the national organization pockets the Big Money while the starved branches are left to do the work. This is the SAME FRAUD that the Humane Society of the U.S. does. 

That said, in the past the RSPCA was a little more transparent about it. 

In 2005, I cut out the graphic, below, from the RSPCA Trustee's Report. As you can see, back then the "national establishments" rehomed 3,841 dogs, and the "branch establishments" rehomed 14,654 dogs.


In 2010, however, the national RSPCA decided
it was getting out of the dog rehoming business and so, starting that year, RSPCA's national rehoming numbers plummeted (see subtext in newspaper headline graphic at the top of this post).

But while the national RSPCA was no long looking to rehome dogs (they said they did not have enough money!), it continued to kill dogs and only reported on the dogs killed by the national RSPCA.  

In short, the numerator and the denominator no longer referred to the same thing.  

And so while the RSPCA's "rehoming" numbers are inflated by branch work, the reported "euthanasia" numbers are not similarly inflated. 

But that is not the end of the hokum perpetrated by the RSPCA.  

Notice the graph on page 9 where we are told that approximately 7,000 dogs have been killed >due to "vet medical or legal necessity." 

What does that mean? 

Was there a court order?  

Perhaps we can see a bit of veterinary paper that tells us the medical issue requiring euthanasia for each animal? 

Of course, it's all bunk. The RSPCA, like the well-heeled Battersea shelter in London, is killing perfectly healthy dogs for convenience. Many of these dogs are Staffie crosses that no one wants.  A quick "temperament test" (see link) assembled and judged by incompetents is rigged to make it all happen, with one-third of the dogs at Battersea going to the ovens.

What makes the thing ridiculous is not the killing; it's the lying.

The RSPCA is rolling in money. 

Killing healthy dogs is a choice.  

The RSPCA needs to tell the public that it is choosing to kill dogs because it has decided that "saving" broiler chickens is a better use of their donor funds.

The RSPCA should tell their donors that instead of chasing puppy mills, they have decided to go after the mounted hunts, and never mind if the RSPCA actually kills more wildlife (35,000 animals a year) than the mounted hunts ever did before the ban!

Of course, the RSPCA would fold up if they told the truth, and so they paper over the lies.

The RSPCA Trustees report is packed with numbers which tell us very little.

For example, we are told how many times the national RSPCA answers the phone (1.3 million pickups), but we are not told the salary of their chief executive officer (£160,000 pounds or the U.S. equivalent of $267,000).

We are told the RSPCA received 153,770 "complaints of alleged cruelty," but oddly enough actual cruelty seems to be pretty uncommon, as only 1,388 court cases were won, and very few dogs or cats were actually taken in and rehomed!


In fact, aside from answering the phone to chat and sending people out for call-outs where civilians impersonate police offices, the REAL business of the RSPCA seems to be collecting road-kill.  

The RSPCA Trustees Report tells us that 245,590 animals were "collected/signed over/seized" which sounds like a heroic thing until you realize that 200,000 of these animals are not living dogs or cats and that a signficant number are dead or road-injured wild animals.

Of course, all of these numbers about "rehoming" and "collection" are fiddle-faddle designed to obfuscate. 

The simple truth is that, no matter how you count it, damn few dogs and cats are rehomed by the RSPA, and the vast majority of the RSPCA's revenue stream is spent on things that produce few tangible results.

For example, the RSPA spent almost £40 million on their "inspectorate" which wrote out 77,000 "improvement notices" at a cost of over £512 ($856) per scrap of paper. 

Looked at another way, the "inpectorate," and the legal folks that follow up behind them, spent over £46.7 million winning all of 1,388 successful prosecutions, or over £33,645 ($56,000) per "win."

To be clear, the "win" in most of these cases came with a living animal being seized and killed by the RSPCA, and a defendant who paid a few hundred pound fine when he or she lost.

The animal is dead
and the RSPCA pays an average of £33,645 to levy a £1,000 fine?

How is that a success in anyone's eyes?

And how is that the RSPCA gets away with it?  

The answer to this last question is actually pretty simple.

Sentimental elderly British dog and cat owners have left vast sums of money to the RSPCA in their wills.

The dead do not read "Trustee Reports" with a weather eye, and so the RSPCA has ended up accountable to almost no one.

Let's looks at the numbers again.

Of the £121.million raised in 2013, £62 million was bequest  or "legacy" income.

This sum dwarfs the £42.9 million that came in as simple donations and contributions.

But, of course, there is more to be said about those "donations and contributions."

Let's look at the RSPCA's fundraising operation. How efficient is it?

Answer:  Not very!

In fact, the majority of the money that people give to the RSPCA in response to direct mail letters, telephone calls, or sidewalk begging appeals does not actually go to help dogs, cats, or any other animal.

It goes to fund more pieces of  direct mail, more telephone solicitations, and more sidewalk charity beggars.

The RSPCA's own numbers show that £19 million was spent on direct fundraising to raise that £42.9 million that came in as donations and contributions.  When you add in the other fundraising bits disguised as "Campaigns" (£1.7m), "Education" (£1.4m), "Governance costs" (£1.2m), "Communication" (£0.7m), and "Publications" (£0.7m), you quickly discover that more than half of all the money you give to the RSPCA in the mail, or after being hit up on the telephone or sidewalk, goes to fund more begging.

Sometime the subterfuge is comical.  Take, for example, "education."  If you look into this program you find that part of that campaign consists of getting high school students to analyze RSPCA direct mail packages and write them free copy!

Nowhere in this lesson module, of course, are students directed to ask how £121.3 million pounds is managed to rehome fewer than 600 dogs a year.

God forbid anyone asks or reports on that!

NEXT UP in our multi-part tour of the RSPCA:  A Look at Their Leadership.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

You Want a Doxin?

Doxin. Rhymes with toxin.

All You Got Is Sharks? You Don't Know Jack

Coffee and Provocation

If Lassie Is Your Savior, You Are Dead
Apparently, DreamWorks entertainment is banking on stunts with a many-generations removed transvestite collie to turn their economic fortunes around.  Good luck with that!

What the Yogurt?
If you are one of those people who think Australian Shepherds come from Australia, and that "Russell Terriers" originated there too, then you will be AMAZED to learn where Greek, Asian, Swiss, Icelandic, French, and Bulgarian, Yogurt comes from!

Start the Banana Boycott NOW
Chiquita banana is the next scum-sucking tax traitor of a major corporation looking to run overseas to avoid paying responsible taxes here in America. Start the boycott on Chiquita NOW and send a message to EVERY corporation.

If You SEE Something, FILM Something
Nothing will end police abuse faster than cellphone camera-filming. Meanwhile, if you wonder how America's news outlets might cover the recent police killing of an unarmed civilian in Ferguson, Missouri if something like that occurred overseas, here's your fun read of the day.

SeaWorld is Toast
The Pequod, from Moby Dick, was not the only ship sunk by a whale. SeaWorld is going down too, with a 33% plunge in its stock and a 4.3 pecent decline in attendance
in the first half of this year.  In response, SeaWorld says it is going to build a bigger aquarium tank torture pen for its killer whales, proving they have no other business plan other than doubling down on killer whale acts.

Fish and Wildlife Service Idiocy
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is
 moving to force the sterilization of an endangered species it is trying to save. The reason, says the Fish and Wildlife Service, is that simply breeding more tortoises won't save the species if not enough is done to improve and protect natural habitat and address threats in the wild.  In short, they need the tortoises to teeter on the edge of extinction because the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service cannot articulate a better reason to preserve land, and never mind the millions of acres of desert already preserved by the Bureau of Land Management. Assistant field supervisor for the Fish &Wildlife Service in Nevada told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that it can be "a really difficult issue" to explain to people. I bet!

Deep Thoughts From the Dog

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Scotland's Panama Canal

One hundred years ago today, the first ship passed through the brand-new, U.S.-built Panama Canal and now, a century later, Panama owns the canal outright and is one of the most prosperous nations in Central America.

It's a grand story, but it should be a Scottish story.

You see, back in 1698, the brain trust of Scotland hatched a plan; they would raise money from everyone in the country with two coins to press together, and then they would dig a Panama Canal to the Pacific and control the world.

It was a bold idea, and quick as you can pour a pint the money was raised as part of the "Darien Scheme".

Suffice it to say that things did not go according to plan!

Though the Scheme was backed by between a quarter and half of all the money circulating in Scotland at the time, it floundered under poor planning, disease, food shortage, and a lack of any real desire for goods from the other side of the world.


When the whole thing went bust, nobles, landowners, town councils, and ordinary tradespeople were left ruined.

What to do? 

Why, simple enough: sell yourself to the English for the price of a massive economic bailout!

That bailout was called the "Act of Union,"
and was completed in 1707, joining the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland (previously separate states with separate legislatures and one monarch, but the potential for two monarchs) into a single, united kingdom called "Great Britain".

And what is the legacy of all this today?  

Well, a referendum on whether Scotland should be free again will take place on September 18, 2014, a month from now.

The referendum question, as recommended by the Electoral Commission, is: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" 

Or, in short, should Scotland be Scotland again, as it was before some half-wit greedy Scottish drunks decided to dig a Panama Canal almost 400 years ago?

We shall see what is said at the time of election, but at the moment the vote for independence does not look good.

The RSPCA Needs To Be Put Down

The RSPCA begs in the streets and misrepresents in their direct mail, and then its "officers" put on uniforms to look like cops.  In fact, these charlatans have no police powers, are not allowed on your property without your permission, and they kill over half the dogs and cats they come in contact with.
As I have noted in the past, the RSPCA in the U.K. is a massive money-grubbing charity that pisses away almost every dollar given to it, even as its workers put on store-bought uniforms and act as if they are police operating in an iron-bloc country.

The Daily Mail has looked into it and discovered it's all true:

There are many theories as to why the charity acts as it does. But the main problem seems to be the type of people now running it — who include extreme animal rights activists.

Take Dr Richard Ryder, a former director of the militant Political Animal Lobby, who is a member of the RSPCA’s ruling council. He has suggested that animals are morally identical to human beings so should never be used for food, clothing — or enjoyment. He thinks people who disagree are guilty of ‘speciesism’, which he compares to racism and sexism.

Since February, the RSPCA has been rudderless — following the resignation of chief executive Gavin Grant due to ill health. It is the only charity that brings private prosecutions. All others, including the NSPCC and RSPB, have given up, since the formation of the CPS in 1986.

Crucially, the RSPCA was forced to instigate an independent review of its prosecutions policy last year following intense criticism, including from the Attorney General. A report on the review was due this spring. There is still no sign of it.

All of this is a great shame because when the charity sticks to the core principles it was founded on — to help animals in need — it does very popular work.

...Critics say the downturn started when the RSPCA began wading into political controversies, such as fox hunting and the badger cull, and because of the row over its prosecutions policy.

The latest accounts posted by the RSPCA show cash receipts down from £112.4 million in 2012 to £105.4 million in 2013. The cash from legacies was down £5.7 million, while individual gifts fell by £1.2 million. Money from membership fees fell from £590,000 to £556,000.

Sara-Lise Howe, a barrister who has defended pet owners in recent court cases, is in no doubt that urgent action is needed. ‘We are seeing the criminalisation of innocent pet owners,’ she says.

‘From the moment the investigators arrive on the doorstep, the owners are treated as criminals, and their rights ignored. ‘The police wouldn’t be able to get access like this.

‘The RSPCA comes to the door on the basis that it is helping, but then starts gathering evidence without telling householders they have the right to tell the inspector to leave.’

As a result, the Byrnes family, Dilys Hadley and countless others who’ve had their beloved pets summarily put down, are left wishing they’d simply slammed the door when the inspector came calling.

Pink Houses and Ironweed

Ain't that America
Something to see, baby
Ain't that America
Home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses
For you and me.

   -- Pink Houses, John Mellencamp

I took these pictures today at Lilypons, Maryland, where I picked up a few fish (why not?) and a new pump for the pond. I've dug a few groundhogs here in the past, back when there was a 96-year old fellow working on the place. He's gone now, but he loved my dogs.

The Lilypons business is for sale for $2.6 million.  It's been in the same family for the entire 30 years or more that I have been going there.

The weed at top, and above, is ironweed, which is any of several purple-flowered plants in theVernonia genus. Ironweed is among our most beautiful wild flowers, but a sure sign that you are in the wrong area for terrier work. The reason: Iron weed is almost always found in very wet areas -- areas that even if dry right at that moment, are wet often enough to be places where no self-respecting den-dwelling animal will set up shop.

Iron weed blooms in July and August, and often has large numbers of butterflies flitting about from flower to flower. One of the most common butterflies associated with ironweed is the American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) for whom it serves as a larval host.

In late fall, the stems of this plant will get rust colored -- the source of the name. The plant itself stands waist to shoulder height and has leaves very much like a Viburnum, another plant often called a "butterfly bush".

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Westminster Winning Terrier Is, Predictably, Dead

The Scottish Terrier that was the 2010 Westminster "Best in Show" winner is, predictably, dead at age nine. No word on cause of death yet, but it does not appear to be suicide as there was no note. Most likely cancer or some other genetic disease made all too common due to the inbreeding required in the American Kennel Club's closed registry system.

Back in 2010, of course, I could see this long dark train coming.  No, I am not a clairvoyant -- all you have to do is read the breed health surveys!

Since 2010, AKC registrations have continued to sink like a stone even as more Americans than ever before own dogs.

It is not dogs that Americans are rejecting; it is broken, sick and diseased dogs bred within a closed registry system by those who pray at the alter of failed 19th Century eugenics theories.

Trash-basket theories make basket-case dogs.

Meanwhile, over in the U.K., a shelter-rescue Jack Russell terrier just died at the age of 23.

No Kennel Club ribbons for that one, of course.  She was "of pedigree unknown"!

Fox With Infrared Camera Without Flash

My old Moultrie game camera appears to be dying and so I ordered off for a new one (they do not make my old model any more) and it turns out the new camera only takes infrared pictures. Whoops!  Ah well. It was a very low-cost camera, and a smaller, no-flash camera has its place in my kit, so no harm. 

These are the first pictures taken in the back yard near the gold fish pond --  a new location for a camera set up.  I still need to order another color camera, but this low-cost infrared job might be a good one to hide low near remote fox dens in the Spring.  Plus it takes movies.  That might  be interesting!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Who Supplied the Hound of the Baskervilles?

In the Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles, we learn the origin of the enormous dog kept on the moor by John Baskerville:

"The dog he bought in London from Ross and Mangles, the dealers in Fulham Road. It was the strongest and most savage in their possession. He brought it down by the North Devon line and walked a great distance over the moor so as to get it home without exciting any remarks."
. . . . . . . . . - From The Hound of the Baskervilles

So the dog was acquired from a dog dealer.

But who was this dog dealer?

Ross and Mangles did not actually exist, at least, not under that name.

Yet there were Victorian-era dog dealers, and one shop in particular was the likely spark for "Ross and Mangles," as it was the most notorious source for fighting dogs in all of England.

The yard in question was originally owned by Ben White a famous provider of pit-fighting dogs whose premises were located in Kensal New Town, an Irish part of the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, just a few miles from the Fulham Road address cited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

This area of London is also cheek-to-jowl next to Notting Hill, and in The Hound of the Baskervilles, we are told that the criminal ‘Seldon’ is also known as "the Notting Hill murderer."

It was Ben White who provided the pit fighting dogs that were used in the famous lion baiting spectacle put on by menagerie-owner George Wombwell. This tragic bit of sadistic money-grubbing resulted in the maiming and death of six dogs, and sparked such outrage it eventually led to an 1835 Act of Parliament which banned animal fighting altogether.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle not only knew of Wombell's lions, he even mentions Wombell in one his stories!

In 1835, the very same year that Parliament passed the ban on dog and animal fighting, Ben White died and his apprentice, Bill George, bought the business from White's widow.

But what exactly was this business now that dog fighting had been made illegal?

Clearly, Bill George would have to reinvent it if he was to stay afloat and inside the law.

Bill George had spent 10 years as White's apprentice before taking over the business, and he was a natural promoter. One of his first acts was to rename White's modest house and bulldog yard "The Canine Castle."

Bill George's bulldog yard was featured in Punch.

Now, with a mere name change, Bill George had established that his dogs had an aristocratic and storied provenance. Perfect!

The next job was to create a segmented market for his dogs by breeding three distinct types of bulldogs, as well as offering up a variety of lurchers, hounds, terriers and lap dogs for every sort of pet-dog customer that might cross his threshold.

The largest of the "bulldogs" offered by Bill George were animals descended from Spanish Mastiffs and Alaunts which Bill George imported and bred.  Few people had the money and space to feed such a dog, but there was always a steady demand for an imposing beast, and Bill George was more than willing to fill the demand.  A massive bandog would have been the kind of animal John Baskerville sought out in order to help him put a claim on the family fortune in The Hound of the Baskerville's.

The second type of bulldog sold by Bill George were "English Bulldogs." These were not sold as fighting dogs, but as companion animals, and they were created by crossing old fighting dogs with Chinese Pugs. The resulting animals had flatter faces, shorter legs, and heavier bodies than the old pit fighters -- and they also tended to have fawn colored bodies and pig tails to boot.

A third type of dog was also in evidence. These "Toy Bulldogs" were the runts and rejects created as a by-product of bulldog-pug crosses.  It was hard to pass off these dogs as "English" bulldogs, so Bill George and other dog dealers of the era took a page from the rat-catcher and dog dealer Jack Black, and found a steady market for their cast-offs in France, where they served as the foundation stock for the "French Bulldog."

Bill George died in 1881, and the character of Sherlock Holmes first appeared in print in 1887, but the actions taking place in the Holmes stories are supposed to have taken place earlier, so Bill George would have been a contemporary of the fictional Holmes.

Bill George's dog yard was sufficiently famous that it was visited by Charles Dickens and featured in Punch. Artist George Cruikshank who did illustrations for Punch, also did illustrations for Dickens' Oliver Twist, and Bill Sykes' dog, "Bulls Eye," was modeled on dogs seen in Bill George's yard.

The bottom line: While the "Ross and Mangles" dog yard was a fiction, a real-world analog did exist at the "Canine Castle" of Ben White and Bill George. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle not only knew of this yard, but he sited the "Ross and Mangles" yard only a few miles from the real Canine Castle, and made a further allusion to the location when he made Seldon the "Notting Hill murderer."

Cutting Sign in the World of Dogs

Reposted from 2011

Cutting sign.   That's what they call it along the U.S.-Mexico border.  You might know it as tracking, but of course, it's more than reading tracks on a dusty road, isn't it? 

Along the border, they are not just looking for tracks in the dirt -- they are also looking for haircuts from other countries, bell bottoms that have been out of style in the U.S. for decades, and dress shoes worn in the desert or on slaughter house work floors.

If a Border Patrol officer asks a simple question, the answer may reveal whether the person answering comes from Texas, Mexico, El Salvador, or parts father South, East, West or North.

Of course, you can cut sign anywhere; all it takes is an ability to notice details and ask what they mean.  You will never be Sherlock Holmes (who is?) but you might get good at gleaning a larger meaning from the presence, or absence, of small things.

Watch the men and women in line in front of you at the store. Look at fingernails, jewelry, logos on clothes, tattoos, any reading material they might hold, and what they are buying.   Look at shoes.

Remember, a lot is facade or aspiration.  Learn to cut sign as you go through life, and you will have a better understanding of what kind of people you are talking to, where they are coming from, and where they are going.

And don't always look for something.   Look for the absence of things as well.  Listen for silence.  

Imagine what it is like to wear the clothes of the person across the aisle from you -- to move in that body, to come from where that person has just come, and to be going where that person is going. 

Now you are starting to cut sign.

This post is about sign-cutting in the world of dogs. It's not that hard to do, but you have to pay attention.

The easy stuff is what you can see.  If you see someone walking an extreme breed beset with chronic health problems, you know something important.   There is no need to say anything -- just file it away in your brain.   This is the kind of person that bought a mutant for amusement, and never mind the misery, disease or early death that comes with that kind of dog.

Ditto if you see a person walking a dog on a retractable string leash, or you see someone walking a dog in a harness meant for draft horses.   This is a person that has never read a single book on dog training.  You do not have to say anything.  Simply notice it and remember what it means.

But what about the dogs and people you cannot see?

For example, what about the breeder who claims they have working dogs, but who has no pictures of those dogs in the field and who does not appear to hunt or herd themselves?  Danger Will Robinson! Danger! A date that starts with a lie is a marriage likely to end in divorce!

How about the lady who claims to be an expert in wolves, but who lives in Britain, a country without any wild wolves at all?   A small question should rise in your brain. 

How about a person on a list-serv or blog that will not use their real name or even name their own breed? Why take such people seriously? 

Suppose someone tells you they "disagree with Cesar Millan's methods." Really? All of them? And what "methods" are those? Ask for a simple citation, and you get back a rapidly evaporating vapor trail.  The person in question has never actually read one of Millan's books or seen more than a video clip.

And then there is the self-styled expert on every animal under the sun, domestic and wild, from tropical fish to iguanas, from horses and parrots to dogs and cats. An instant expert thanks to Wikipedia.

So how can you spot the folks driving a little faster than their headlights?

One simple method is to ask blind questions that sound innocent and unimportant, but which illuminate quite a lot if answered the wrong way.  You can learn a lot by asking the right questions and thin-slicing the answers you get back.

If someone claims to be an expert in a working breed and claims that coat or nose color is important, they have told you a lot.   If they do not work their own dogs, they have told you a lot.   If they do not know the true history of their own breed, they have told you a lot.

If a dog trainer is too dogmatic, they have told you a lot.  There are more ways to train a dog than there are to skin a cat, and every dog is as unique as the person holding the leash. A good trainer recognizes that, and has a variety of options and methods at their disposal.

At the veterinarian's office, your vet is revealing a lot if they try to revaccinate your adult dog for distemper every year, or if they try to sell you heartworm "preventative" when it's 20 degrees outside. 

And if you keep coming back to that vet, you are telling them quite a lot as well.

If a person claims a choke chain is a horror, that's a good sign they do not own one, and have never used one.  Ditto for a modern e-collar. 

Of course everyone makes a mistake or phrases something poorly from time to time.   Ignore that.  A typo does not ruin a book any more than a popped button ruins a shirt. 

What you are looking for are not small things with small meanings, but small things with large meanings. 

Is the self-styled "dog food expert" recommending a brand that has never seen a feed trial and which is made in a factory the company does not own, in a location they will not disclose?  A small caution there! 

If you board your dog with your veterinarian do they try to tag on a charge for an "extra" walk despite the fact that there is no yard, and no one has ever been seen walking a dog more than 10 feet from the building?  A caution there!

These are the obvious things.   A little research will turn up more cautions -- self-styled "dog experts" who are barely out of college, and others who have yet to bury their first dog.  Experts who got into "their" breed just three years ago, and who are now quite certain they are the font of all human knowledge.

Heads up!   Do not jump to conclusions too quickly, and try to be charitable.  We all have character flaws and we all make mistakes and we all drive faster than our headlights at times. 

That said, if you file things away long enough, you will start to see patterns in both nature and in society, and you will be able to put those patterns and observation to good use.

Cutting sign is something we unconsciously do all the time, but if we make a decision to consciously do it -- we can learn a lot about people -- and dogs -- very quickly.


Coffee, Culture, Canines... and Mycroft Holmes

If you know someone drinks a lot of coffee and owns two or three pet dogs, it's a safe bet they are white.

I mention this because I once started a talk about dogs by observing that nearly everyone in the room was white.

How did I know that?

I had not, after all, spoken to this group before and I was, in fact, not even a member of the Association.  I had asked no one about the demographics of the room.

I just knew.

I knew because pet dogs are a particular affliction of white Europeans.

Not all dog owners are white, of course, and not all white folks own dogs, but the balance of probabilities, as Mycroft might say to Sherlock, leans that way.  In the big list of Stuff White People Like, dogs come in at #53 of 136.  Coffee comes in at #1. 

And so I started my presentation:

Look around.

How many people in this room are non-white? A strange question, eh? You thought this session was about dogs, didn’t you?

The point is that for most of the world, this discussion is strange. In much of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, dogs are not allowed indoors. Who lets an animal indoors that may have fleas and ticks, and that may eat its own feces? Who allows such an animal on the bed? Who lets it lick a child in the face? No one!

So, to put a point on it, this obsession with dogs that we have is, for the most part, a European cultural affliction. Most of the world, believe it or not, does not have this affliction.

So I am odd, and you are odd, and we are odd together!

What we think about dogs is shaped by culture, which in turn is shaped by economics, history, religion and even geography.

So, this love affair with dogs that we share is a bit strange to those that may come from a different culture and a different place, that have a different religious background, or who might be somewhere else on the economic ladder.

So did I close by noting that the coffee pot was out the back door and on the left?


But I could have.

The Adventures of Wassup Holmes

The story is told
of the time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle left a railway station in Paris and hailed a taxi. When a taxi pulled up, he got in and was about to tell the taxi driver where he wanted to go, when the driver asked, “Where can I take you, Mr. Doyle?”

Doyle was surprised that the taxi driver recognized him, and asked whether he knew him by sight.

“No sir, I’ve never seen you before.”

Doyle was puzzled and asked what made him think he was Conan Doyle.

“This morning’s paper,” he said, “had a story about you being on vacation in Marseilles. This is the taxi stand where people who return from Marseilles always come to. Your skin color tells me you’ve been on vacation. The ink spot on your right index finger suggests to me that you’re a writer. Your clothing is very English, and not French. Adding up all those pieces of information, I deduced that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

“This is truly amazing,” Doyle replied. “You are a real life counterpart to my fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes.”

“There is one other thing,” the driver said. “What’s that?”

“Your name is on the front of your suitcase.”

Humor in Uniform

An article from The Duffelbag
Veteran Working Dog Has Trouble Marketing Skills To Local Employers

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – If every dog has his day, Rusty’s could sure come soon.

According to sources, the Belgian Malinois – recently home from his last of six deployments overseas – has found it particularly challenging to find a market for the skills he learned as a military working dog.

“Turns out biting, growling, and launching into violent Pavlovian fits just aren’t valued skills in today’s workplace,” Rusty said. “I meet employers, tell them about my experience on the battlefield – I think it’s going great, and then they just sit there and look at me like I’m some sort of animal. Like they totally can’t relate.”...

While Rusty says he’s proud of his service and will stay on the lookout for jobs opening up, the series of disappointments has left him anxious about what peace will mean for him and dogs like him who served.

“I’ll probably wind up on the streets eating out of a dumpster,” Rusty said. “Or under a picnic table, right off the ground. Whatever I can find, honestly. I’ll eat grass and cat poop. And Lord knows I’m not above handouts.”

“Christ, I love food,” he added, salivating and spinning around three times. “Food, food, food.”

The Stupid is Strong on the Internet

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pit Bulls In the River

A slightly modified tale:

One summer in the village, the people gathered for a picnic. As they shared food and conversation, someone noticed a Pit Bull in the river, struggling and yelling. The dog was going to drown!

Someone rushed to save the dog. Then, they noticed another yowling Pit Bull in the river, and they rushed in to pull that dog out. Soon, more dogs were seen drowning in the river, and the townspeople were pulling them out as fast as they could. It took great effort, and they began to organize their activities in order to save the Pit Bulls as they came down the river. As everyone else was busy in the rescue efforts to save the dogs, two of the townspeople started to run up the shore of the river.

“Where are you going?” shouted one of the rescuers. “We need you here to help us save these dogs!”

“We are going upstream to stop whoever is throwing them in!”

And who is throwing them In?

Not Pit Bull haters. Pit Bull lovers.

Almost a million Pit Bulls a year are being killed in animal shelters across the U.S.

All of these dogs were bred by people who said they loved Pit Bulls.

All of these dogs were bought or acquired as puppies by people who said they loved Pit Bulls.

And almost all of these dogs were relenquished to the pound or "shelter" when their owners found out that an adult Pit Bull comes with a lot of responsibility.

Pit Bulls are not being pushed into the river by breed specific laws.

Cities that do not have such laws are killing dogs wholesale.

In fact, some of the cities with the lowest Pit Bull kill rates are cities that have banned the dogs, such as Denver.

Others, like San Francisco, have not banned Pit Bulls but have seen a marked decline in Pit Bull euthanasias after implementing a mandatory Pit Bull sterilization law coupled to free Pit Bull spay-neuter programs.

One thing is clear: Pit Bulls have breed specific problems.

Perhaps their biggest problem is that so many Pit Bull breeders and owners are young, irresponsible adults who have unstable lives and who are acquiring their first dog -- a Pit Bull -- for much the same reason that they might acquire a big-bore motorcycle, a sports car, or a "hummer".

Is it an accident that Pit Bull owners are much more likely to have problems with the law than the average dog owner? I don't think so, and neither does Stanley Coren.

The responsible people who are adoping Pit Bulls from shelters deserve unending applause for their efforts.

But have no illusion: the good work they do will never be enough so long as so many people stand silent while so many people breed Pit Bulls, and so many others are acquiring puppies from these breeders only to "thrown them in the river" in just a year's time.

Pit Bulls have a breed specfic problem.

At what point, do we begin to recognize that these dogs need a breed specific solution?

At what point do we say we are sick and tired of killing nearly a million Pit Bulls a year?

At what point do we agree that if we want something different, we need to do something different?

At what point do we run up the river bank, and start at least talking about all those people who are throwing the dogs in the river?