Friday, December 19, 2014

Lots of Dominance in Wolves, and Even More in Dogs


There is nothing quite as amusing as the young person with a single Labrador Retriever weighing in on the notion of dominance in dogs and wolves. Not that he has ever had a group of dogs himself, you understand, and not that has even seen a wolf or even read the actual work of the wolf biologist he is quoting. His or her objection is not based on actual experience with dogs or wolves, you see. It's all about philosophy.

It's all a laugh riot of course. Expertise deried from Wikipedia and regurgitated articles from The Bark or some other glossy for the pet trade.

In the real world, of course, there are real wolves and real wolf experts, same as there are real packs of dogs and real dog experts.

Wolf experts will tell you that dominance shapes every aspect of wolf life, from mating to communication, from vocalization to who squats to pee.

And, as I have noted and shown with data and video tape clips of the largest wild wolf pack in the world, battles over dominance are among the leading natural causes of wolf death in the wild.

But are wolves more centered on dominance than dogs?

Not according to the most recent study comparing the two in a perfect parallel.

As Virginia Morell notes in a recent article in Science magazine, wolves seem to be more programmed to cooperate than dogs. While wolves cooperate, dogs submit to more dominant dogs.
For dog lovers, comparative psychologists Friederike Range and Zsófia Virányi have an unsettling conclusion. Many researchers think that as humans domesticated wolves, they selected for a cooperative nature, resulting in animals keen to pitch in on tasks with humans. But when the two scientists at the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna studied lab-raised dog and wolf packs, they found that wolves were the tolerant, cooperative ones. The dogs, in contrast, formed strict, linear dominance hierarchies that demand obedience from subordinates, Range explained last week at the Animal Behavior Society meeting at Princeton University. As wolves became dogs, she thinks, they were bred for the ability to follow orders and to be dependent on human masters.

Range and Virányi developed their new portrayal of dogs and wolves by giving a series of tests to socialized packs of mixed-breed dogs and wolves, four packs of each species, containing anywhere from two to six animals each. The scientists raised all the animals from about 10 days old at the Wolf Science Center in Game Park Ernstbrunn, Austria, living with them 24 hours a day until they were introduced to pack life, so that they were accustomed to humans.

Range and her colleagues tested the dogs’ and wolves’ tolerance for their fellow pack members with a mealtime challenge. The researchers paired a high-ranking dog with a low-ranking pack buddy and set out a bowl of food, then gave the same challenge to a pair of wolves. In every matchup, “the higher ranking dog monopolized the food,” Range told the meeting. “But in the wolf tests, both high- and low-ranking animals had access” and were able to chow down at the same time. At times, the more dominant wolves were “mildly aggressive toward their subordinates, but a lower ranking dog won’t even try” when paired with a top dog, Range said. “They don’t dare to challenge.”

Range and Virányi suspect that the relationship between dogs and humans is hierarchical, with humans as top dogs, rather than cooperative, as in wolf packs. The notion of “dog-human cooperation” needs to be reconsidered, Range said, as well as “the hypotheses that domestication enhanced dogs’ cooperative abilities.” Instead, our ancestors bred dogs for obedience and dependency. “It’s not about having a common goal,” Range said. “It’s about being with us, but without conflict. We tell them something, and they obey.”
Whoops! It seems the hand of man has not been selecting for "cooperation" as the theorists have so-oft opine, but for submission.

This will, no doubt, be very unsettling for some, and result in a new flurry of words, shading, explanation, and revisionist back-peddling. This is to be expected. It's pretty rare for folks to toss own their frames when presented with new facts, and much more common to toss out the facts, even if they come from the house organ of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The good news, however is that what people "believe " and parrot hardly matters.  As Neil DeGrasse Tyson has noted, what 's great about science is that it's true whether you "believe" in it or not! "Perspective" and "philosophy" do not enter into the picture when it comes to reality.

Ayn Rand Reviews Children's Movies


Over at The New Yorker, Mallory Ortberg imagines Ayn Rand (aka Alisa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, aka Ann O'Connoras a children's movie critic. A sample:
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
An industrious young woman neglects to charge for her housekeeping services and is rightly exploited for her naïveté. She dies without ever having sought her own happiness as the highest moral aim. I did not finish watching this movie, finding it impossible to sympathize with the main character. —No stars. 
“Bambi”
The biggest and the strongest are the fittest to rule. This is the way things have always been. —Four stars.

“Old Yeller” A farm animal ceases to be useful and is disposed of humanely. A valuable lesson for children. —Four stars.

“Lady and the Tramp”
A ridiculous movie. What could a restaurant owner possibly have to gain by giving away a perfectly good meal to dogs, when he could sell it at a reasonable price to human beings? A dog cannot pay for spaghetti, and payment is the only honest way to express appreciation for value. —One star.

“101 Dalmatians”
 A wealthy woman attempts to do her impoverished school friend Anita a favor by purchasing some of her many dogs and putting them to sensible use. Her generosity is repulsed at every turn, and Anita foolishly and irresponsibly begins acquiring even more animals, none of which are used to make a practical winter coat. Altruism is pointless. So are dogs. A cat is a far more sensible pet. A cat is objectively valuable. —No stars.

“Babe”
Another pig farmer fails to do his job. —No stars.
Ayn Rand, of course, was nothing more than an angry, broken, dried-up old self-centered sociopath and who wrote several barely-readable books which have become the darlings of people who think greed and brutality need a cheering section. If you ever wonder what the children in Lord of the Flies might become when grown up, just look for anyone reading or citing Ayn Rand.



What's fantastic, but true, is that the chain-smoking Rand died of lung cancer and nearly broke, secretly supported by Social Security and Medicare benefits she acquired under a name no one actually knew her as -- Ann O'Connor.

Pathetic? No less so than every other aspect of her life and belief system. 

This Is How Your Problems Sound

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Was That a Wild Mountain Lion Killed in Kentucky?

Source
A 125-pound male mountain lion was killed by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife authorities in a residential areas of Bourbon County on Monday.

There is a decent chance
this is NOT an escaped animal, but a wild lion. If so, this will be the first wild Mountain Lion seen in Kentucky in well over 150 years.

A wild Mountain Lion was shot and killed in Chicago some years back -- it had migrated out of the Black Hill of South Dakota to Wisconsin, and then Illinois.

Another wild Mountain Lion, also from the Black Hills of South Dakota, was hit and killed by an SUV in Connecticut back in 2011.

A wild Mountain Lion was confirmed to be in Iowa earlier this year and other populations are know to be in Nebraska and Indiana.

As with previous long-distance traveling Mountain Lions, the Kentucky lion was a young male -- the kind that are driven out and forced to find new territory on their own.

It could be weeks before DNA analysis positively identifies the origin of this animal, but officials say it looks to be in such good shape they doubt it traveled far. That said, how many missing backyard Mountain Lions could there be in Kentucky? If this is an escaped animal, someone is likely to end up talking pretty quickly.

The map below is from National Geographic, and shows known Mountain Lion migrations.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bring the Gain and the Pain, and Bring the Change



OK, not actually pain.


Discomfort.

As a very interesting article in The New Yorker notes, people have been voluntarily putting themselves in knots since before Jason tied himself to the mast to avoid the call of the Siren.

People, it seems, will voluntarily limit their options and even increase their discomfort in order to help "fence themselves off" from doing the wrong thing. For example, people will actually pay the same price for a smaller portion, knowing the smaller proportion will help prevent them from gaining weight.

The best systems, however, seem to come with a mixed load of benefits and penalties. An example: the IRA or Individual Retirement Account:

True business success may require a better mixture of wins and losses. Consider perhaps the most successful self-punishment scheme in American history — the government’s Individual Retirement Account program, under which people can invest money in retirement funds before taxes (the win), but face penalties if they withdraw the money before retirement age (the potential loss). To date, Americans have put trillions of dollars into I.R.A.s, and only a minority have made early withdrawals — one study found that between 2004 and 2005, only four per cent of adults between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-eight whose families had I.R.A.s did so.

The Original Sin Was Going Vegetarian


SeaWorld Continues to Tank

Source
SeaWorld profits have tanked since the film Blackfish exposed the way wild Orcas are killed, captured, forced into small enclosed pools, deprived of natural feeding and social behaviors, and then sometimes live up to their "Killer Whale" moniker  when they "turn" on their human trainers.

Now SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchison has been pushed down the food chain to Vice President, even as 300 workers have been laid off.

SeaWorld is not admitting their financial difficulties are due to the black eye they have received from Blackfish, but everyone else seems able to connect the dots.

SeaWorld's biggest problem right now is that it does not seem to have a sound business model without Orcas and other ocean mammal acts (beluga whales, dolphins, porpoises, sea lions, seals).

When McDonald's faced blow back from the movie "Super Size Me" and its exposé of the negative health consequences of eating an all-jumbo McDonald's diet all the time, that company had already launched an “Eat Smart, Be Active” salads, fruits, and yogurt option, and it quickly did more to publicize than out whole moving to phase out all "super sized" fries, drinks and meals.

SeaWorld does not seem to have a similar option.

A bigger tank for the Orcas is not going to cut the mustard, and everyone knows it. Orcas are used to swimming in pods of 5 to 50 animals over vast sections of ocean. No tank in the world can provide that.

If Seaworld ditches the Orcas, will small white beluga whales and dolphin and sea lion acts be enough for people to drive long distances in order to plunk down jaw-dropping admissions fees?

Probably not.

A "Killer Whale" Act could compete (just barely) in the era of iPhones, NetFlix and 24-hour a day nature videos and news, but dolphins leaping through hoola hoops and seals that will clap and wave for a herring? Probably not.


Christmas is Older Than Jesus?



Christmas is older than Jesus?

Yes, it's true.

In fact, it's older than Judaism as well.

Surely, you did not think the world began with Moses or Jesus? Dinosaurs once roamed your back yard. I promise you this is true.

Winter Solstice, January 21th, is the the darkest day of the year, and Winter Solstice is celebrated as the beginning of the return, or rebirth, of the Sun.

In short, December 21st is the beginning of the REAL New Year, and it pretty much always has been celebrated as such.

The Roman holiday held at this time of year was called Saturnalia, and it lasted from December 17th to the 24th, with the Winter Solstice itself being (incorrectly) celebrated on December 25th (Sol Invictus) after Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar in 45 B.C.

Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is the halfway point between the true Winter Solstice (December 21) and March 21 (the Spring or Vernal Equinox).

It is not an accident that February 2nd is also 40 days after Christ was born, as in Hebrew tradition mothers were required to purify their children in the temple 40 days after giving birth.

February 2nd then is not only Groundhog Day, but also the "Feast of the Presentation" otherwise known as Candlemas. In the ancient Pagan world, Groundhog Day was known as Imbolc.

So where did the holiday we know as "Groundhog Day" come from? For that story, read the previous blog posts on that topic.

Bottom Line: Today is a great day to celebrate "that old time religion" by going out into field and forest with the dogs.

And yes, all you New Age Pagans should feel perfectly free to call it Festivus.

In fact, please do!



Seinfeld - The Festivus Story

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bubble Netting off the Coast of Alaska



Humpback whales feeding on fish off the coast of Alaska.

The whales are using a "bubble net" in which their exhaled breath is used to drive a shoal of herring into a concentration, which is then attacked by at least a dozen whales coming in from all sides. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Are Useful Tools Ever Out of Date?



I got a letter from AARP the other day.

They wanted me to join. I am 50.

I wanted to scrawl on the envelope, NOT DEAD YET!

When I turn on the radio, the songs of my youth (such as Led Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad) are now on "the Oldies" station."

Oldies?

Perhaps.

Now to be clear I listen to new music -- a lot of it. And I will also venture that we have more great musicians alive right now than we have ever had in the history of the world.

But "new" does not always mean better. Sometimes it does, but not always. I am pretty sure the work of Little Wayne will be forgotten long before that of Mozart, Armstrong, Sinatra, and Springsteen.

Of course, a lot of times, the "NEW" is simply the OLD in a new wrapper.

The kids call this "sampling" which sounds so much better than plagiarism.

And, of course, it is not new is it?

When Leonard Bernstein pitched Westside Story, he pitched it short: "It's Romeo and Juliet with Puerto Ricans in New York."

When Steven Spielberg was trying to raise money for his first real movie, he said: "It's Moby Dick.... but with a shark."

When Francis Ford Coppola pitched "Apocalypse Now" he did not waste a lot of time: "It's Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness ... in Vietnam."

So what am I to make of all these folks claiming to be "new and improved" dog trainers? These are the folks ripping off 80-year old techniques which are derived from 150-year old techniques, which were lifted from stuff stolen from the folks who built the pyramids.

I am all for this "new" stuff. But I am not for tossing out the "old" stuff either. You see, it's all the same thing!

But of course this may come as new information to the fuzzy thinkers and instant experts.

Take the anonymous coward who showed up the other day to say he or she thought Cesar Millan's methods were "outdated."

Eh? What? What are his methods?

And what are his methods to do WHAT?

Does this person think Millan is training dogs? He is not.

Does this person think non-associative habituation is outdated? It's not.

Does this person think operant conditional extinction is outdated? It is not.

Does this person think a leash is outdated? It's not.

Does this person think exercise is outdated? It's not.

Does this person think consequences are outdated? They aren't.

Does this person think walking a dog is outdated? It's not.

Does this person think clarifying the point that dogs are not children is outdated? It's not.

Does this person think showing affection for dogs is outdated? It's not.

Does this person think the notion that a dog trainer has to be calm is outdated? It's not.

Does this person think the idea that a dog trainer has to send clear and well-timed signals is outdated? It's not.

So what is "the method" that is outdated? And what is that method being used for again?

This is a genuine question.

I hear people saying "Millan's methods are outdated" but no one seems to know what that means in the context of what he actually does, which is RE-habilitating dogs.

Instead, what I hear are anonymous cowards who are willing to "fence fighting" but stand as complete punks, ignorants or fools if that fence is removed.

And so they keep the fence up! No names. No email addresses.

When you tell me so little, you tell me so much!

Of course, along with the anonymous cowards, the zombies and the trolls, you have the parrots. These are the folks who repeat whatever they just heard on a board, or who regurgitate whatever they just read in a book, never once subjecting the idea to rationale thought, research, or field experience.

Parrots are the folks who write all-breed books and who read them and believe them.

They may squawk a lot, but their brains are the size of a shelled walnut, and they are incapable of original though or use of tools. Most spend their entire lives never leaving their cage.

And then there are the folks who actually do things. And guess what? The most successful of these use tools, both old and new, as they find them, and as they need them.

And so, in the world of working terriers we use tools and techniques straight out of the Middle Ages.

But we also use electronic locating collars in order to locate the dogs under ground. And we use plastic water bottles and, if the need arises, a veterinary staple gun and antibiotics.

Tools are not completely the same from one place to the next, either.

In the U.K., they do not use posthole diggers as the ground is a bit softer. When a UK terrierman comes over here, however, he figures out he may have a use for this "new" tool!

What? Not all geography is the same? True! But tell no one.

And not all dogs and dog problems are the same either.

But mum's the word. Tell no one.

As for my old tools, I try to keep them well-oiled.

A few years back I realized I could not scrunch down into a hole like I used to, and so now I go to the gym a couple of times a week just to keep things moving.

I have replaced a rivet or two in my shovel heads, I have replaced a few handles on my posthole diggers, I have patched a cracked locator box, swapped out some leather collars, replaced a badly frayed pack, and buried a dog or two.

But I still dig on my dogs the way it has been done for over four hundred years. I am not so vain as to think that because I invented a cheap game snare I invented digging on the dogs.

The world did not begin the day I was born!

-
A repost from 2010.

Freshwater Killer Whales



Catfish grab pigeons off the bank
, just as killer whales will grab seals off the beach along one stretch of the coast of Argentina.

Friday, December 12, 2014

God Loves GMO and Mother Nature Proves It


God loves trans-species genetic modification of organisms (GMOs) and, in fact, has used it to create some of the most successful and common plants and animals on earth. As Aeon magazine notes:

Scientists have known for many decades that prokaryotes such as bacteria and other microorganisms – which lack a protective nucleus enveloping their DNA – swap genetic material with each other all the time. Researchers have also documented countless cases of viruses shuttling their genes into the genomes of animals, including our own.

What has become increasingly clear in the past 10 years is that this liberal genetic exchange is definitely not limited to the DNA of the microscopic world. It likewise happens to genes that belong to animals, fungi and plants, collectively known as eukaryotes because they boast nuclei in their cells. The ancient communion between ferns and hornworts is the latest in a series of newly discovered examples of horizontal gene transfer: when DNA passes from one organism to another generally unrelated one, rather than moving ‘vertically’ from parent to child. In fact, horizontal gene transfer has happened between all kinds of living things throughout the history of life on the planet not just between species, but also between different kingdoms of life. Bacterial genes end up in plants; fungal genes wind up in animals; snake and frog genes find their way into cows and bats. It seems that the genome of just about every modern species is something of a mosaic constructed with genes borrowed from many different forms of life…

…. Researchers have now discovered so many examples of gene transfer between species and kingdoms of life – with many more surely to come – that they have to adjust their understanding of how evolution works. Standard evolutionary theory does not account for the possibility of complex organisms suddenly acquiring genes from other species, let alone how those foreign genes might change a creature for better or worse. Think of it this way: if the genomes of living species are flowers on different branches of the great evolutionary tree of life, horizontal gene transfer is a subversive wind whipping pollen from one part of the tree to another….

… In the mid-2000s, Feschotte and his colleagues noticed some unusual patterns among the sequenced genomes of various mammals. Again and again, the lineage of certain DNA segments failed to align with established evolutionary relationships. They would find, for example, nearly identical sequences of DNA in mice and rats, but not in squirrels; and the same sequence would turn up in nocturnal primates known as bushbabies, but not in other primate species. It was highly unlikely that mice, rats and bushbabies had independently evolved the exact same chunk of DNA. Further complicating things, these puckish strings of DNA were not in the same position on the same chromosome in different species, as you would expect if they had been inherited the traditional way – rather, their locations were highly variable…

…. How does one little piece of DNA get into all those distantly related creatures living in such different places – animals that likely never even encountered one another, let alone mated? It probably enlists the help of organisms that have mastered the art of hitchhiking: ticks. …

… Sometimes, parasites transfer far more than a single gene into the genomes of their hosts. Like many insects, the fruit fly species Drosophila ananassae is home to parasitic bacteria known as wolbachia, typically found in an insect’s sex organs. Through a series of gene sequencing studies, scientists have confirmed that the wolbachia species living inside D ananassae has shuttled not just one, but all of its 1,206 genes into the fruit fly’s DNA. Consider this: insects are collectively the most numerous animals on the planet; wolbachia infects between 25 and 70 per cent of all insect species, and it’s probable that wolbachia has successfully completed such genetic mergers in far more than fruit flies. Think of the quintillions of insects in the world – all those buzzing, bristling, bug-eyed creatures. At their very core, most of them might not be individual organisms but at least two beasts in one….

Shake any branch on the tree of life and another astonishing case of interspecies gene transfer will fall at your feet. Bdelloid rotifers – tiny translucent animals that look something like sea slugs – have constructed a whopping eight per cent of their genome using genes from bacteria, fungi and plants. Fish living in icy seawater have traded genes coding for antifreeze proteins. Gargantuan-blossomed rafflesia have exchanged genes with the plants they parasitise. And in Japan, some people’s gut bacteria have stolen seaweed-digesting genes from ocean bacteria lingering on raw seaweed salads.

GMO is older than written history.

Dog Fancy Is DEAD For All the Right Reasons


Dog Fancy and Cat Fancy Magazines are going the way of slide rules and cigars -- into the dust bin of history -- and they are going there for all the right reasons.

The two monthlies are on the edge of their 45th and 50th anniversaries respectively, but will be gone by January.

This is not a story about how the high cost of postage, printing and paper is killing off another publication unable to compete in the era of cell phones and Amazon Prime. Yes, there's that too. But the core story is really about a seismic change in pet culture in the United States -- the same seismic shift that is killing off the American Kennel Club.

As New York magazine notes in a piece focused solely on the Cat Fancy side of the story:
To understand the seismic shift in cat culture, you can start by picking apart Cat Fancy's name. It used to be much more than a whimsical reference to the enjoyment of felines. When the magazine launched in 1965, animal lovers were very familiar with something called "the cat fancy." The term referred to a connoisseur-like approach to cats: following professional cat shows, maintaining directories of cat breeders, and recognizing the importance of purebred bloodlines.

"Back then, the people who had all the knowledge tended to be the people who were showing cats, breeding cats, everything like that," said Melissa Kauffman, senior editorial director for I-5. Cat Fancy's innovation was to take that knowledge — and its attendant attitude toward cats — to a nationwide audience. "They did cover some of the topics that Cat Fancy covers today, but it was more about things like show information." There were long indexes of breeders, in-depth analyses of different breeds, and impassioned letters from opinionated cat owners (including, in one memorable instance, Ayn Rand).

.... Nevertheless, readers of Cat Fancy in its early decades would likely be aghast at the shape of today's cat passions. Modern feline icons like Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub are mutts with genetic deformities. They wouldn't have made it past the front door at a Golden Age cat show. And their many public appearances are filled with fans who would disdain anyone who gets a cat from a breeder rather than a shelter.

Dog Fancy
and Cat Fancy will be replaced
by glossy high-end publications called Dogster and Catster, which are to be print analogs to two already-existing web sites. The two new print magazines will alternate their monthly publication runs, with 6-issues of each coming out over the course of a year.

Presumably these two new publications will be institutions that reflect a new ethos. But will they survive in this digital era? It will be tough. Paper is so dead there are almost no street-level distribution points any more, and at a time of fiscal austerity who is subscribing for print information that they can get online for free?.

That said, what sank Dog Fancy and Cat Fancy was not Google, list-servs and chat rooms, but the fact that America no longer gravitates to deformed, diseased, and dysfunctional dogs and cats that have been inbred to failure.

The death of the dog show is part of the same tectonic shift that has crumbled Dog Fancy and Cat Fancy.  

And can the demise of the AKC be far behind? Not according to my sources, which say AKC registrations are now just a hair over 400,000 a year, down from over 1.5 million in 1992.




To be clear, Americans own more dogs than ever before.

It is not dogs that Americans are rejecting, it is pure bred dogs and pure bred dog breeders selling contrived histories, sniffing pretensions, and diseased and deformed dogs unfit for the most basic of function.

The canine population in the U.S. is about 75 million dogs.

Every year about 7 million new dogs are acquired to replace those that die from disease, old age or accident.

Of these 7 million new dogs, approximately 53 percent are crossbreeds or mongrels, and approximately 47 percent are "pure breeds".

To put a number on it, that works out to be approximately 3,710,000 dogs of mixed ancestry, and approximately 3,290,000 dogs that are pure breed.

AKC registrations are down to under 450,000, which means they account for less than 14 percent of all pure bred dogs acquired every year, and less than 6.5 percent of ALL dogs acquired.

So where does this leave the AKC?

Not well. The organization has tried to make money in the world of veterinary referral kickbacks and insurance sales kickbacks and in selling defective AKC-branded goods made in China.

They have doubled-down on puppy mill registrations, going so far as to discount pet store registrations and to create an entire computer program for puppy mill sales to pet stores, even as they invite the owners of puppy mills into their booth at Westminster.

Now they are selling their email lists to lick-and-stick dog food companies who contract out the manufacture of their dog food to third parties in foreign countries (Canada). That's a fast way to jump from the pan into the fire!

And is the United Kennel Club doing any better?

Not a bit. The same social trend away from pure bred dogs has prevented this registry from growing beyond its second-cousin status, and since the UKC is almost exactly like the AKC (no required health tests, no required genetic tests, green-light to puppy mill sales, green-light to incest, etc.) it holds no moral high ground when it comes to canine welfare.

But is any of this bad for dogs?

Not a bit! In fact, it is all GOOD for dogs.

Let us all celebrate dogs AND the demise of Kennel Club registries founded on the broken and misguided eugenics theories of the late 19th and early-20th centuries.

Progress is being made!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Planet of the Apes With Dogs?

It seems there's a Hungarian version of Planet of the Apes with non-pedigree dogs playing the role of the apes.

  

Think of it as "Rise of the Mutts" against the pedigreed mutants and the ribbon chasers.  The movie is entitled Fehér Isten (White God).  The release date in the U.S. is March 27, 2015.


Here's the descripton:
Winner of the Prize Un Certain Regard Award at this year’s Cannes Festival, Kornel Mundruczo’s newest film is a story of the indignities visited upon animals by their supposed “human superiors,” but it’s also an brutal, beautiful metaphor for the political and cultural tensions sweeping contemporary Europe. When young Lili is forced to give up her beloved dog Hagen, because it’s mixed-breed heritage is deemed ‘unfit’ by The State, she and the dog begin a dangerous journey back towards each other. At the same time, all the unwanted, unloved and so-called ‘unfit’ dogs rise up under a new leader, Hagen, the one-time housepet who has learned all too well how to bite the hands that beats him...

GMO or IUD?


Thanks to vaccines, the human race lives past 30, and thanks to GMO foods we can feed all the people that result without hammering the land.

Don't want GMO?  Then embrace long-term effective family planning, starting with yourself. Nothing lasts longer or is more effective than voluntary surgical sterilization.

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!


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Poisons and Pits With Xenophone


From On Hunting by Xenophone, written in 400 B.C.

Lions, leopards, lynxes, panthers, bears and all other such game are to be captured in foreign countries — about Mount Pangaeus and Cittus beyond Macedonia; or again, in Nysa beyond Syria, and upon other mountains suited to the breeding of large game. In the mountains, owing to the difficulty of the ground some of these animals are captured by means of poison — the drug aconite — which the hunters throw down for them, taking care to mix it with the favorite food of the wild best, near pools and drinking-places or wherever else they are likely to pay visits. Others of them, as they descend into the plains at night, may be cut off by parties mounted upon horseback and well armed, and so captured, but not without causing considerable danger to their captors. In some cases the custom is to construct large circular pits of some depth, leaving a single pillar of earth in the center, on the top of which at nightfall they set a goat fast-bound, and hedge the pit about with timber, so as to prevent the wild beasts seeing over, and without a portal of admission. What happens then is this: the wild beasts, hearing the bleating in the night, keep scampering round the barrier, and finding no passage, leap over it, and are caught.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Misto


About 10 pounds at 7 months. A real hide on this dog.

Moxie

She weighs 8 pounds at over 7 months.

The Real John Russell and His Terriers


Sawrey Gilpin, A Huntsman with Hounds Foxhunting


I got a call earlier this week from someone trying to assemble (or dissect) the history of how the U.K. Kennel Club (i.e. The Kennel Club) managed to add the "Parson Russell Terrier" to its roles approximately 100 years after the Reverend John Russell himself had died.

Good question!

Well, first of all, let's ground ourselves in a few basics (and reality) just a little bit.

The first point is that white fox-working terriers predate the Reverend John Russell. Remember that the young Russell bought Trump from a milkman who had her tied to a string tied to his cart. Or so the legend goes.

The picture, at top, is by painter Sawrey Gilpin, who was born in Cumbria in 1722, and died in 1803, some years before the Reverend John Russell ever acquired his famous first terrier, Trump. Gilpin was a painter that specialize in painting animals, particularly horses, cattle and dogs.

I bring this up, not only to show that riding hounds to fox was already being practiced before John Russell arrived on the scene, but to point out the little dog, to the right, that is featured in another Gilpin painting.

The dog in this picture is a terrier by the name of "Pitch," who was owned by Colonel Thornton.

The painting was done in 1790, and you will note that this is the very model of the (undocked) white fox-working terrier we know today as the Jack Russell Terrier, complete with spot above the tail, and split-head markings.

Let us also remember that not only did Russell buy the bitch without ever seeing her work, he seemed to have no trouble finding another suitable white-bodied fox-working terrier to mate her with.

In fact, this rather cavalier pickup of dogs seems to have been Russell's way of doing business his whole life. His financial fortunes were such that he had to sell off his hounds several times, and the notion that he kept a strain of line-bred terriers descended from Trump is nonsense -- he took dogs as offered, kept them if they worked, and moved them along as needed -- and money was certainly a pressing need throughout much of Russell's life.

No doubt Russell tried to breed the best dogs he could find, but in those early days of the mounted hunts, dogs were a practical matter. In the era before dog shows, telephones and the Internet, there was no fame or fortune to be found in working terriers.

Most of what is said about Russell's dogs is pure nonsense. The famous picture of Trump, for example, was painted more than 40 year after the dog had died, and it was painted by someone that had never seen the original animal at all. Russell said the painting was “a good likeness” but in fact he may have been trying to be polite, as the painting was commissioned by Edward VII (then Prince of Wales) who befriended Russell in his old age, and had the painting done as an homage to the old man (it hangs today at Sandringham).

Russell's real claim to fame is that he had the good fortune of living his entire life during the period in which mounted fox hunting became popularized in the U.K. Though primarily a houndsman, Russell had a fondness for terriers, as did his wife Penelope (a picture of her with a terrier is at right), and his terriers were known to be generally good workers of the right sort.

Russell had been hunting with terriers for about 40 years when the first dog show in Great Britain was held in 1859. That same year, Charles Darwin's book "The Origin of Species" was published.

It should be said that Darwin's famous book and dogs shows themselves have a common root stock -- the agricultural stock shows that began with Robert Bakewell at the very end of the 18th Century.

Prior to Bakewell, animals were free to chose their own mates. Bakewell was the first person to show that by selecting and controlling for sires (through fencing, or enclosure) breeds of farm stock could be rapidly improved or even created.

It was Bakewell's work with sire selection and controlled breeding of farm stock which Erasmus Darwin -- Charles Darwin's father -- pointed out to his son as perhaps being a driving force in the shaping of the natural world.

With publication of The Origin of Species in 1859, Victorian England became besotted by natural history studies. Massive bird egg, butterfly and beetle collections were started, and keeping a small menagerie of exotic birds was far from uncommon.

Dogs, of course, were always the thing to own, and this natural trend was perhaps tweaked by Queen Victoria who herself was an avid dog collector, and whose approval of the Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals transformed it from the SPCA to the RSPCA.

Darwin's work and theories were expanded upon by his cousin, Sir Francis Galton. Galton was the founder of the modern field of statistics, the inventor of fingerprint identification, and the creator of the first silent dog whistle. More importantly to this discussion, he was also the founder of study and experimentation we know as eugenics.

Galton's eugenics theories argued that species and breeds could be created and improved upon ad nauseum by selecting for defined characteristics.

To put it simply, this was Darwin' theory of evolution put into hyper-drive. The notion that overly close or tight breeding might result in a rise in inherited defects or seriously deficient animals was unimagined; evolution was thought to be a one-way street, and by breeding "best to the best," man would simply improve and speed up what Mother Nature had already started.

That was the theory.

It was a theory warmly embraced by The Kennel Club, which was founded in 1873, and which was deeply influenced by Galton's work.

The Kennel Club's thesis was a simple one: Create a visual standard for a breed, accept into a closed registry only those dogs that conformed to that standard, and then encourage the breeding of "the best to the best" of these "pure bred" dogs through a program of prize-awarding conformation shows.

Like most new organizations, The Kennel Club began on somewhat shaky legs, and sought to promote itself by trying to associate itself with "names" and money as quickly as possible. The Reverend John Russell had no money, but at age 78 he was one of the grand old men of mounted fox hunting, and well-loved by all. Who better than Russell to judge the fox terrier class at one of the first dogs shows?

Russell was no doubt flattered by The Kennel Club's solicitous offer, and he warmly agreed to judge the Crystal Palace show. Very old, and quite broken financially, Russell had been forced to give up his hounds two years earlier (1871). Perhaps here was a way to keep a hand in with the dogs? Apparently, however, Russell did not much like what he saw in The Kennel Club ring, for he never agreed to judge a Kennel Club show again, and he refused to let his own dogs be registered.

Later, Russell described the Kennel Club terriers he saw as being a bit like hot house roses: "True terriers [my own dogs] were, but differing from the present show dogs as the wild eglantine differs from a garden rose."



1877 dog show



In 1883, John Russell died at the age of 88. After his funeral, the few remaining dogs he had with him at Black Torrington (four very old terriers by the name of "Rags", "Sly", "Fuss" and "Tinker") were given away.

On the day of his funeral, his old sermons and other papers were found blowing around in the farm yard. Little or no self-authored record of Reverend John Russell survives to the present day.

In 1893, Rawdon Lee, Kennel Editor of "The Field" magazine, published Modern Dogs and noted the absence of Devon terriers on the show ring bench:

"There appears a semblance of strangeness that the wire-haired terriers from Devonshire have not been more used for show bench purposes, and by all accounts some of them were as good in looks as they had on many occasions proved in deeds. Those owned by the Rev. John Russell acquired a world-wide reputation, yet we look in vain for many remnants of the strain in the Stud Books, and the county of broad acres [the north] has once again distanced the southern one in the race for money. But, although the generous clerical sportsman occasionally consented to judge terriers at some of the local shows in the West, he was not much of a believer in such exhibitions. So far as dogs, and horses too, were concerned, with him it was 'handsome is that handsome does,' and so long as it did its work properly, one short leg and three long ones was no eye-sore in any terrier by the late Rev. John Russell."

Lee went on to note that the best working dogs, even in his day, were not found in the Kennel Club:

"As a matter of fact, those [terriers] best adapted for hard work either with foxhounds or otterhounds are cross-bred, hardy dogs, specially trained for the purpose, although many of the 'pedigree' animals will do similar duty to the best of their ability, but their 'pedigree' and no doubt inbreeding to a certain extent, has made them constitutionally and generally weaker than their less blue-blooded cousins."

Finally, to put a cap on it, Lee wrote:

"I have known a man act as a judge of fox terriers who had never bred one in his life, had never seen a fox in front of hounds, had never seen a terrier go to ground ... had not even seen a terrier chase a rabbit."

Only 20 years had passed since the founding of The Kennel Club, but already the death knell was being sounded for the fox terrier.

How was this possible? The short answer is that at the time Rawdon Lee was writing, The Kennel Club was undergoing a "terrier craze."

Why was this? One can only guess, but I would venture to say that terriers then, as now, fit both practical and psychological needs.

On the practical side, they are small, easy-to-keep dogs. On the psychological side, they are active dogs and not too "girly" for a man or active woman to own.

Fox terriers, in particular, have a pretension to field sports about them, and they particularly appealed to those that sought to associate themselves with the money, romance and aristocracy of the mounted hunts.

In fact, the first breed-specific publication was the Fox Terrier Chronicle, which tracked the comings and goings of Kennel Club shows as if they were High Society.

Special dog shows were started just to showcase terriers, and in 1886, a dog food salesman by the name of Charles Cruft took over the Allied Terrier Club Show at the Royal Aquarium at Westminster, with an eye towards making it a cash venture. This terrier show became the first formal Cruft's Show" when it was booked into the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington in 1891.

In 1884, the American Kennel Club was started, and the terrier craze that had begun in the U.K. swept into the United States as well. Some small indication of this strength of this craze suggested by looking at the history of the Westminster Dog Show which awarded its first "best in show" award in 1907. The first winner was a fox terrier. A fox terrier won again in 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1915, 1916, and 1917.

It was into this terrier-besotted world that Arthur Heinemann stepped -- a young man with an interest in badger digging. Heinemann was born in 1871, the year that John Russell gave up his hounds for the last time, and he was only 12 year old when the Reverend John Russell died.

Heinemann became interested in badger digging when he was in his 20s, and in 1894, he create the Devon and Somerset Badger Digging Club -- a small regional club composed of similar like-minded friends.

Where did Heinemann get his dogs? Not from John Russell.

As noted earlier, Russell gave up hunting the year Heinemann was born, and he died when Heinemann was only 12 years old. Heinemann and Russell never met.

Getting a working terrier was not much of a problem in any case. As noted earlier, white-bodied fox-working dogs were far from uncommon even in Russell's youth, and by the 1880s they were a fixture in the Kennel Club, and cross-bred types were to be found all over the countryside.

As noted earlier, Russell himself did not keep a pure line of dogs, and was a bit of a dog dealer himself. By the time of Russell's death, almost anyone could have said they owned a dog descended from Russell's stock. Since Russell did not register his own dogs, and no pedigree charts survived his death (if they existed at all), who was to say otherwise? Anyone that wanted to make a claim that they had dogs descended from John Russell was free to do so -- and a few did so.

One of those people was Annie Rawl Harris, who was Kennelmaid to Squire Nicholas Snow of Oare and a relative of Will Rawl, John Russell's kennel man.

Did Annie Harris have direct descendants of John Russell's dogs? Of course. Who didn't?

As Dan Russell (the pen name of Exmoor hunt terrierman Gerald Jones) once observed in an interview with Eddie Chapman,

"John Russell was very much a dog dealer, as well as a breeder. He would buy or scrounge any terrier he thought looked like work, make it and sell it on. He always went each year to Scorrier House in Cornwall for a stay. They had their own strain of Fox Terrier there called the Scorrier terrier, which was reputed to be bred pure for over 200 years, and on leaving he would take on any terriers they didn't want."

And so we come to it: Not only were John Russell's type of dogs not unique to the Parson, he was not shy about selling them off and buying more terrier stock to breed back in. Any small white-bodied dog in the West Country could claim (perhaps legitimately) that it was descended from John Russell's own dogs.

Perhaps here is a good time to point out that Arthur Heinemann's terrier club was called the Devon and Somerset Badger Digging Club. His hound pack (acquired in 1902) was the Cheriton Otterhounds.

Badger. Otter.

The point here is that Heinemann was not chasing fox -- he was digging badger with terriers, and chasing otters with hounds and terriers. This is a point glossed over by some, but it is not insignificant, as chest size is far less of a concern when working badger and otter, than it is with fox.

In any case, in 1914 the Devon and Somerset Badger Digging Club changed its name to "The Parson Russell Terrier Club."

Why the name change? Well, to be blunt, and to use the words of his friend Dan Russell (aka Gerald Jones), Heinemann was a bit of a dog dealer who “sold a hell of a lot of dogs," both in the U.K. and overseas. He and his friend Annie Rawl Harris found that if they branded and sold their dogs as "Jack Russell Terriers" they sold better.

Why did they sell better? Well, to put it simply, no one wanted a Kennel Club Fox Terrier!

As Rawdon Lee had observed, the best working terriers were not Kennel Club dogs -- they were cross-bred dogs or dogs that were found far outside of the show ring. While the Reverend John Russell had called his own dogs fox terriers, and Rawdon Lee was still calling them fox terriers 10 years after Russell's death, by the turn of the Twentieth Century, a new name for working dogs was needed.

And that name was NOT the "Parson Russell" Terrier." It was the "Jack Russell" terrier. That was what Robert Leighton called them in his 1910 book, Dogs and All About Them, and it was the term increasingly being used in the working terrier community as well.

For evidence of this we need only turn to Jocelyn Lucas's Hunt and Working Terriers, written between 1927 and 1930, and published in 1931.

At the back of this book, Lucas lists more than 100 mounted hunts in the U.K. and details the types of terriers they themselves say they used in the field.

This was a period when the name of the dog was in transition. I say transition, because the word "fox terrier" is used in the list about as much as "Jack Russell," and other phrases appear as well, such as "white hunt terriers" and "Devonshire working terrier." In a listing of over 100 mounted hunts, however, not one claims to be working a "Parson Russell Terrier," and most of the time the word "fox terrier" is carefully proceeded by the words "cross," "cross bred," "non-pedigree," or even "mongrel."

In short, whatever a working terrier was been called in Heinemann's era, it was never called a "Parson Russell Terrier." The confusion arises, perhaps because Heinemann's badger digging Club was renamed, in 1912, the Parson Russell Terrier Badger Digging Club. The dog, however, was always called a Jack Russell Terrier. A club is not a dog.

Arthur Heinemann died in 1930 from pneumonia after coursing his lurchers in the rain (and falling through the ice on a pond), but Annie Rawl Harris continued selling Jack Russells and maintained the Parson Russell Terrier Club until it dissolved just before the Second World War.

Again, to quote Dan Russell from his own book Jack Russell and His Terriers:

"[Mrs. Harris] very quickly took the place of Heinemann as the arbiter of the Russell type terriers and she carried on breeding the type of terrier Heinemann had loved. In her heyday, she had some 50 puppies out to walk each year. She sent her stock all over the world. Her method of breeding was to use only dogs and bitches of proven gameness."

After War World War II, England seemed to get along perfectly fine without a Parson Russell Terrier Club. In fact, the 1950s, 60s and 70s were the Golden Age of terrier work in the U.K., as the weekend was invented (a product of the union movement), and it was now easier to get out to the countryside than ever before.

Add into the equation was the rise of distemper vaccines which prevented massive kennel loss, and the advent of antibiotics which helped prevent occasional gashes and wounds from getting infected, and it was truly the best of times.

Though myxomatosis arrived in the 1950s and devastated many ancient rabbit warrens throughout the U.K, the decline in rabbit populations was offset somewhat by a ban on the use of leghold traps (gins).

All through the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the fox population rose (see graph at left), and with it the chance of finding a bit of sport with the terriers in the countryside.

In 1974, the Jack Russell Terrier Club of Great Britain was founded "to promote and preserve the working terrier known as the Jack Russell".

In 1976, its U.S. analog was created -- the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA).

Both clubs have prospered and stuck to their original mission, and today the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America remains the largest Jack Russell terrier clubs in the world.

With an increase in the popularity of the Jack Russell terrier in Great Britain and the U.S., a push was initiated in 1983 to pull the Jack Russell into The Kennel Club. In 1990 this was finally done with representatives from several smaller Jack Russell Clubs meeting to draw up a conformation "standard" that called for a dog standing 12-15 inches at the withers.

It is claimed that this Kennel Club Standard was adopted from one originally written by Arthur Heinemann, but no evidence to support this claim has ever been presented so far as I know.

Dan Russell, who hunted with Heinemann and knew him well, says Heinemann did not value a large dog.

"As I remember it, and I am going back now sixty years or more, his main Badger dogs were about 12". He always said there was nothing a good fourteen inch terrier could do that a good eleven inch terrier couldn't do better. But it must be remembered he was referring to Badger digging in his own part of the West Country. His smaller terriers could maneuver so much better in the large drawn out pipes of a badger set, they depended on their voice to keep the badger cornered for the diggers to hear, not brute force as some people seem to think. They were clever, game baying terriers, nothing more. Some of his best workers were no more than ten inches."

In his own book, "Jack Russell and His Terriers," written in 1979, before The Kennel Club controversy, Dan Russell quotes Heinemann directly:

"We are very much opposed to the modern show terrier and his type. Once you begin to breed it for show type, you lose the working qualities upon which you pride those terriers. I have been, I might say, the protagonist of the terrier bred for sport as against the terrier bred for show. I have no interest in cup hunting."

What Reverand John Russell or Arthur Heinemann wanted for the dogs, or what they actually used in the field, however, mattered not a whit to the Kennel Club.

In 1990 the Kennel Club admitted on to its roles a dog they called the "Parson Jack Russell Terrier," a name just invented for the occasion. In 1999 The Kennel Club changed the name to the "Parson Russell Terrier," another name invented whole cloth by Kennel Club theorists.

The American Kennel Club followed the U.K. Kennel Club in embracing both the 12-15 inch standard and in embracing the various invented names and name changes.

In 2005, The Kennel Club added a bit more confusion to the story by changing the standard for the dog they were now calling the Parson Russell Terrier, extending it to encompass dogs ranging from 10 to 15 inches tall at the shoulders.

The American Kennel Club has not followed the U.K Kennel Club in changing the standard, instead chosing to simply create another breed of dog (now in its Foundation Stock Service) called the "Russell Terrier."

The breed description of this dog claims it "originated" in the United Kingdom, but that it was "developed" in Australia -- a country which John Russell never so much as visited, which had no Jack Russells at all until the very late 1960s, and where the dog in question remains a pet and show dog that never sees a moment's work. The AKC "Russell terrier" standard calls for a dog standing 10-12 inches tall at the shoulder.

How to sort it all out then?

I think simplicity is best. In my opinion, there are only two types of terriers in the world: those that work, and those that don't. The white ones that work are called Jack Russell Terriers, and they are called that out of respect for the working standard that the Reverend John Russell himself honored throughout his life. Many of these white-bodied working terriers are not registered, but neither were any of the Reverend's own dogs.

What are we to make of the Kennel Club dogs? Simple: None of them are Jack Russell terriers.

They are not Jack Russells in name, nor are they Jack Russell terriers in terms of performing regular honest work.

They are simply another white terrier being combed out, powdered, and fussed over by Kennel Club matrons.

So is there any place where the Parson Russell theorists and the practical working Jack Russell people might find common ground?

Oddly enough there is, though it is an area generally overlooked by the show ring crowd, and one they will no doubt surpress as time goes by.

The issue is chest size.

Barry Jones, a professional terrierman to the Cotswold Foxhounds in Andovers Ford, and a former Chairman and President of the Fell and Moorland Working Terrier Club, and the founding Chairman of the National Working Terrier Federation, was also a founding member of the Parson Russell Terrier Club. He warned the club to keep its eye on chest size, noting that:

"The chest is, without doubt, the determining factor as to whether a terrier may follow its intended quarry underground. Too large and he/she is of little use for underground work, for no matter how determined the terrier may be, this physical setback will not be overcome in the nearly-tight situations it will encounter in working foxes. It may be thought the fox is a large animal - to the casual observer it would appear so. However, the bone structure of the fox is finer than that of a terrier, plus it has a loose-fitting, profuse pelt which lends itself to flexibility.

I have not encountered a fox which could not be spanned at 14 inches circumference - this within a weight range of 10 lbs to 24 lbs, on average 300 foxes spanned a year. You may not wish to work your terrier. However, there is a Standard to be attained, and spannability is a must in the Parson Russell Terrier. "

Eddie Chapman, a working Devon hunt terrierman for more than 30 years, agrees that 14 inches is the maximum chest size for a fox. In The Working Jack Russell Terrier, he writes:

"I am a small man and have reasonably small hands, but in more than 20 years in which I have handled well over 1,000 foxes, I have never handled a full grown fox which came anywhere near the span of my hands. The biggest I can remember was a South Hereford fox that was one and a half inches smaller than my hand span, and that without my squeezing him. It therefore follows that if I can pick up a dog and just span him with a squeeze, then the dog cannot get to the fox in a tight place and a dog that cannot get to a fox cannot be considered a Jack Russell. Either you are breeding a terrier suitable to work fox or, if he is too big to get to a fox, you are just breeding for looks. This is, of course, what happened to the pedigree Fox Terrier and look where that has got him!"

What is the future of the Jack Russell Terrier? The same as it has always been: as a working terrier in the hands of owners that will actually take it out to work it. Such people have always been rare. They were rare in John Russell's day, they were rare in Arthur Heinemann's day, and they are just as rare today.

As for the "Parson Russell" terrier and the "Russell" terrier they are completely interchangeable with every other terrier on the Kennel Club's roles. These dogs have no claim to history, and they have no future as honest workers. They stand as a complete rejection of every value ever held by John Russell and Arthur Heinemann, both of whom rejected Kennel Club registration and valued their own dogs based on performance in the field rather than Kennel Club points in the ring.

The good news is that with the name changes, no one will now confuse these Kennel Club dogs with the real Jack Russell Terrier.
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This is a repost from 2007.
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Footnotes:

  • It should be said that Dan Russell (i.e. Gerald Jones) was himself terrierman for the Exmoor, Enfield Chace, and Old Berks hunts, and knew more than a bit about what was needed in a working dog.
  • Annie Rawl Harris was, for a time, housekeeper for Henry Williamson who wrote the book "Tarka the Otter."
  • The Scorrier terrier is associated with the Williams family and the Four Burrow Hunt.
  • The quotes in this piece come from the various books cited (and often pictured). For those that want a visual presentation of the history of working terriers, see A Pictorial History of Terriers; Their Politics & Their Place on the www.terrierman.com web site.
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East Meets West