Friday, January 30, 2015

Selling a Not Endangered Species

The Washington Post and other news sources are reporting that the National Park Service is trumpeting the fact that a game camera has taken a couple of pictures of a "Sierra Nevada" red fox in Yosemite National Park

One thing not said is that red fox can be seen all over California, and there is no way to know, short of genetic testing, if the fox seen was actually a "Sierra Nevada" red fox.

It might very well be true.

But even if it is, so what?

You see, the Sierra Nevada red fox is not a species, but a sub-species.

A sub-species, by definition, is not a species.

The Sierra red fox is only "rare" today because the rise in the number of coyotes, absent the presence of wolves, means that fox numbers have plummeted in certain areas like Yosemite, while at the same time eastern red fox have invaded great swaths of California.

Sierra Nevada red fox do not consider themselves a separate species from regular red fox. They freely interbreed with "regular" red fox, a fact that has blurred the created-by-man notion that there is something unique and special to be "saved."

Now, to be clear, this is an old debate between "splitters" and "lumpers," but I have to say that the lumpers have it about right for the most part, and we know this because the critters themselves do not salute these subspecies distinctions very often.

What is driving the taxonomic elevation of sub-species is not sound science, but politics and the fame and grant money that comes from proclaiming even a subspecies rare.

A classic example is the northern spotted owl.

No such species.

The northern spotted owl is a sub-species of the very common spotted owl which breeds pretty much everywhere across the west and into northern Mexico. And even if we rise one level higher to the "true" species level (spotted owl), we find things are still a bit shaky! You see, spotted owls interbreed pretty freely with barred owls. So while it is very clear that northern spotted owls are not a species at all, one could argue that barred owls and spotted owls are essentially the same species to the point that the birds themselves are happy to admit it!

The push to elevate the northern spotted owl and the Sierra Nevada red fox to iconic status has a lot to do with politics.

Environmentalists seeking to protect old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest used the existence of a putative sub-species of spotted owl (and the lack of science-based education among the American masses) to push for forest protection.  

"Save the Spotted Owl" became a rallying cry, and knee-jerk reporters and direct mail responders never seemed to notice that spotted owls could be found everywhere. Tragically, to my way of thinking, the environmental movement did not seem to think saving old growth forests for their own sake was a powerful enough argument. I think it is. Save the damn forest! But let us not go down the road of lying-about-science for convenience sake, eh? There is only trouble down that path!

The Sierra Nevada red fox was elevated to iconic status when the Humane Society of the U.S. pushed to ban the use of leghold traps in California.

In a state where deer and pig are hunted hard, where cars kills scores of thousands of raccoons on the highway every month, where mountain lion and bear invade backyards, where coyotes are shot without thought, and where the state systematically kills hundreds of thousands of perfectly health dogs and cats every year, the anti-trapping groups did not think they had a very persuasive case to ban leghold traps.

They needed something else.

And once again, as with the spotted owl, they reached past sound science in order to elevate a sub-species to "endangered" level, even though there are more red fox in California today than at any time in the last 4,000 years.

In fact, there are now so many red fox in California, over such a wide range, that their presence is actually a very real threat to REAL endangered species -- ground nesting birds on the coast.

And so, the National Audubon Society suited up and sued the Humane Society of the U.S. in court to allow the use of leghold traps to protect real endangered species.

And guess what?  The National Audubon Society won.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Nevada red fox is still getting press.  And the fact that there are more red fox in California than ever before, is not. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

GoDaddy Wins the Internet with Superbowl Troll of Budweiser, Puppy Peddlers, and Crap Web Sites

Back in January of 2014, Budweiser, the stale, pale ale with the foam on the bottom, put out a Super Bowl ad featuring a golden retriever puppy.

I had several problems with the ad.

The first was the "puppy adoptions" sign. 

That's an expensive and permanent sign, and those dogs are NOT being "adopted" -- they are pure bred dogs being SOLD. Nothing wrong with that, but do not piss on my leg and tell me it's raining.

When you are selling pure breed retrievers (the most common pure breed, so no points for free thinking there Budweiser shill-meister), you are not in the ADOPTION business, but in the cash-and-carry business. 

The word "adoption" here is cynical marketing malarkey designed to "dog wash" this ad from the stigma that is now attached to breeding pedigree dogs.

The second problem I had with the ad is that this stupid blonde lady seems to have a lot of trouble keeping her dogs watched and in a pen. This is supposed to be cute. It's not. It's reckless endangerment.

My third problem with this ad is that it is incoherent, both as a story and as a marketing vehicle. What is it saying? What is the product? Are they selling horses? Puppies? White bread romance between model-perfect people in a dream-like setting?

This ad has NOTHING to do with the product it is selling. It's bad story with a forgettable label slapped on at the end. In short, pure crap, stem to stern.

In response to this ad, and to win the internet, the folks at Go Daddy mocked the entire puppy mill and puppy-peddler industry -- and even took a swipe at the folks who put up crap web sites selling malarkey. And did they nail the fact that no one who drinks Budweiser can seem to keep a dog safe and on their property? Yes they did!

This ad is perfect in every way -- it trolls Budweiser, it trolls the stupid people without humor who do not understand that it is a straight stab in the eye to internet puppy peddlers and crap web sites foisted on a gullible public by the same -- and it got GoDaddy tons of FREE publicity with the had-to-be-expected backlash . Win, win, win.

As the good folks over at Entrepreneur note,
It is a great spot, as ads go. It plays on emotion and overplayed themes (Anheuser-Busch tends to lose puppies all the time), and then flips the script to give the audience something entirely unexpected. It is funny. It is parody. And it is effective.

But GoDaddy was put through the mill over it because animal-rights groups found it an offensive promotion of puppy mills and backyard breeders. So it took down the ad and made its appropriate mea culpas. The company that first caught our attention by having women in bikinis soap up cars with their ample breasts doesn't want to be in the position where it might offend.

Meanwhile, over at "Kickstarter" there is a campaign for a card game called Exploding Kittens, which has raised north of $4.5 million with over 116,000 backers (and still 21 days to go!). No protests there. Why? Because cats.

Of course, if you are looking for a great Super Bowl commercial that was never intended to be shown on TV, but was intended to be seen by many, it's hard to beat this one:

A Short History of Vaccines

The idea of vaccinations to prevent disease dates back to 1796. In that year Edward Jenner, a British physician, noted that dairymaids who had caught cowpox (a minor disease), could not catch smallpox (an often fatal disease in humans).

Jenner took infected matter from the hand of Sarah Nelmes, a local dairymaid who had become infected with cowpox, and inserted this ooze into the cut arm of James Phipps, a healthy eight-year-old boy. The boy then caught cowpox.

Forty-eight days later Jenner injected smallpox matter into the boy. Miraculously, it had no effect. This was the first recorded vaccination.

The term "vaccine" is a reference to the origin of vaccination. "Vacca" is the Latin word for cow.

The term "vaccination" is now generalized to refer to any germ, disease, or injection given to people to prevent a more serious disease from striking the individual.

A few key dates in the history of vaccination:
  • 1798 Smallpox
  • 1885 Rabies
  • 1897 Plague
  • 1923 Diphtheria
  • 1926 Pertussis
  • 1927 Tuberculosis (BCG)
  • 1927 Tetanus
  • 1935 Yellow Fever
  • 1950-1962 Distemper vaccine created and improved upon
  • 1955 Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV)
  • 1962 Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)
  • 1964 Measles
  • 1967 Mumps
  • 1970 Rubella
  • 1978 - Parvovirus vaccine for dogs using feline panleukopenia vaccine, later improved on with dedicated canine vaccine.
  • 1981 Hepatitis B

It was not until after World War II
that a reliable vaccine for distemper was developed and made available to the public. Prior to this time, distemper would sweep through breeding kennels and wipe out litter after litter of puppies.

Ironically, one way distemper got into the kennels was through dog shows, where judges and spectators would transmit the virus from one dog to another as they moved through the show petting puppies and adult dogs alike.

A Failure of Communication

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What We Do Today Preserves Tomorrow

A repost from June 2005.

The hunting community has given a LOT of serious thought to ethical hunting and perhaps this is a topic over-due for discussion in the arena of working terriers.

As the folks at Boone and Crockett note:
"We live in a democracy where in the rules by which we live are determined by majority vote. For those who value hunting, it is fortunate that the majority of the population who do not hunt tolerate or accept hunting. If hunting is to survive to be practiced by future generations, we must preserve, enhance, and protect the image of hunting, hunters, and land stewards as a positive force in wildlife conservation."

Every person will come to their own place when it comes to ethical hunting. I do not like canned bird shoots, for example, while others may find nothing wrong with them. Each to his own.

I broach the topic of ethical hunting, not so we reach the same place, but so people will think about this topic a bit more. How do we represent our sport? How do we do right by the dogs and by the quarry?

As stewards for a type of hunting that is hundreds of years old, how do we make sure terrier work is passed down, intact, to the next generation?

There should always be respect for honest differences of opinion, of course, but opinion should be grounded in thought and information.

I am always amazed that so few people in the U.S. know the history of hunting and wildlife management in this country. A small start at education can be had by visiting the "Fair Chase" web site which notes that:

"As hunters and land managers, we are in the 'image business' - even more so now than at the turn of the century when 'fair chase' was proposed as the underlying foundation for hunter ethics. For sportsmen to continue to be the dominant force in setting wildlife resource policies we must, and foremost understand our role as conservationists. We should take pride in accomplishments and recognize, and assume the responsibilities that have been passed to us by our hunting forefathers. If we don't stand up for wildlife and its habitats, who will? We are, in the end, a 'band of brothers and sisters' in that what we do individually affects us all."

Standing up for wildlife and habitats is not something we hear much about in the terrier world for some reason. Perhaps knowledge of quarry and habitats is what is missing.

Perhaps it is what should be added.

I am always amazed to find hunters
who have never taken the time to learn about the animals they hunt. For these people, terrier work is not a commune with nature, but a proxy for dog fighting or a paper certificate. A deer is nothing but a target and a trophy. A duck is just a feathered clay pigeon.

The true hunter knows the difference between a rat and a raccoon, a squirrel and a fox, a groundhog and a possum. They know what each animal eats, how often they breed, their population densities in various habitats, and their natural mortality rates.

A true hunter knows that you cannot hunt out all the rats on a dairy farm or shoot out all the squirrels in a 200-acre oak woods, but that you can knock all the raccoon or fox off a farm in a single weekend.

An ethical hunter does not bleed the land white.

A smart hunter thinks twice before dispatching a fox or a raccoon. Is it really necessary to terminate this animal? What harm is this animal really doing? If it is a nuisance animal for some reason, make dispatch swift and offer no apologies. But think it through. A released raccoon and fox can be hunted again. If the animal is not a true pest, releasing it is more than good ethics -- it is also good hunting.

A lot of ethical hunting is just good manners -- close fences you open, don't trespass, fill holes you dig in the fields, park out of the way, don't rut the fields, and keep a low profile.

Ethical hunting is mostly about respect -- respect for the farm and the farmers, respect for the crops and the livestock, and even respect for people that do not hunt (waving a bloody shirt is no way to preserve hunting).

Respect extends to dogs and quarry. Respect for the dogs means that you work to reduce the incidence of injury to the animal. Once you get down to the quarry and it can be reached, you pull the terrier and do the job YOU are supposed to do which is swift dispatch or quick release.

A seriously injured dog is not treated as a "red badge of courage" but as a failure of either the dog or the digger to work in a sustainable manner. Routine injury is not a sustainable way to hunt -- and the goal of the serious digger is to hunt next week as well as this.

Respect for the quarry means you dispatch it as quickly and humanely as possible, and if pictures are taken for posterity, they are tasteful. Remember that killing the enemy is part of war, but displaying disrespectful pictures of the dead and wounded is a war crime. There is a lesson there, and the ethical hunter gets it.

An ethical hunter is the opposite of the slob hunter. The slob hunter drives his truck down the middle of the field and mows down the hedgerow. He leaves gates open and drives into the 7-Eleven with a bleeding doe in full view in the back of his pickup truck. The slob hunter does not know the difference between a gray fox and a red fox, and does not spend more than 30 minutes tracking his gut-shot deer.

Ethical hunters tend to be better hunters than slob hunters for the same reason that people who handicap themselves in golf tend to be better players than people who want a "gimme" at every hole.

I am happy to report that ethical hunting is on the ascendancy in the U.S. As wildlife has roared back from the edge of extinction and finding game has become easier, more and more people are affirming the hunting experience by turning to black powder and bow. When Colorado decided to ban hunting bear over bait (steel drums filled with jelly donuts and pizza), bear hunting increased because it was no longer seen as "slob shooting" but real hunting that required wood craft and skill.

Those that fish will understand. When we were five years old our fathers or grandfathers took us to a stocked trout pond and we were guaranteed a catch (paid per pound). A few years later we were mad fishermen killing everything we caught. As over-enthusiastic youth, we used live bait, tail-snagged fish during Spring runs, and bought packages of hooks with multiple barbs.

As we got better at fishing, most of us turned to catch-and-release and artificial lures. The best of us crushed the barbs off our hooks. We may have turned to fly fishing. No one bought a fish finder.

There is nothing wrong with killing -- it part of hunting, but as we get older and better at wood-craft we realize that killing is not hunting in and of itself. We do not say a slaughterhouse worker is hunting, though we say a man who returns without a buck has been out hunting hard and "better luck tomorrow".

Those of us who love this land and the creatures on it recognize that hunting is a necessary part of game management and an important economic and political engine protecting America's wild places and farms. That said, we also need to recognize that just as it is important to protect the land and the streams, so too is it important to instill in the next generation a sense of hunting history and hunting ethics, and a sense of decorum when dealing with the non-hunting public.

It is sad, but true, that honorable minority communities are often scandalized and victimized by ugly and criminal elements within their midst. That is true for immigrant communities and racial minorities, but it also true for hunters.

It has been said that a minority community knows it has come of age when the worst acts of a few can no longer be used to characterize the larger whole. The good news is that we may be there with hunting in general. It remains to be seen whether we will get there with terrier work in particular.

The Circle of Life

Double click to enlarge.

Adopt or Not?

Some stories are best told without words.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Drone at White House Freaks Out Secret Service

How could they NOT have seen it coming?

The Secret Service and the White House are freaking out because a small toy drone landed on the lawn of the White House.

Back in 2012 I predicted much worse was coming down the pike:
How hard would it be to put a small gun on a drone and fly it into forest or field... or through a window for assassination purposes? Not hard, I can assure you. Sure it would probably be a one-shot deal (blow back and all), but you can bet that little problem will be fixed soon enough.

Imagine a world with everyone flying cheap drones with guns on them. The possibilities for extortion, murder, and mayhem are legion, and so too will be the desire and rationalizations of the police, and others, who are likely to use them to invade privacy and snoop in all kinds of ways now unimaginable.

Thorstein Veblen on Canine Monstrosities

In 1899, Thorstein Veblen published a book
entitled The Theory of the Leisure Class, in which he coined the term "conspicuous consumption."

Veblen's thesis was that America was aping feudal Europe (and England in particular) by separating itself into low-caste people who did the manual labor and trade work, and the "leisure class" who owned the land, preached the sermons, ruled the military, owned the factories, and never got their hands dirty.

In this country, for instance, leisure-class tastes are to some extent shaped on usages and habits which prevail, or which are apprehended to prevail, among the leisure class of Great Britain.

“Conspicuous consumption" was important because flaunting spending without any sensible purpose, was how you demonstrated that you were not a member of the working or "productive class" but were in fact part of the "leisure class" or "predator class."

When casting about for perfect examples of conspicuous consumption, Veblen cites yachts, racing horses, country estates, and pedigree dogs ruined by show ring pretenders.

The dog has advantages in the way of uselessness as well as in special gifts of temperament. He is often spoken of, in an eminent sense, as the friend of man, and his intelligence and fidelity are praised. The meaning of this is that the dog is man's servant and that he has the gift of an unquestioning subservience and a slave's quickness in guessing his master's mood. Coupled with these traits, which fit him well for the relation of status — and which must for the present purpose be set down as serviceable traits —the dog has some characteristics which are of a more equivocal aesthetic value. He is the filthiest of the domestic animals in his person and the nastiest in his habits. For this he makes up is a servile, fawning attitude towards his master, and a readiness to inflict damage and discomfort on all else. The dog, then, commends himself to our favor by affording play to our propensity for mastery, and as he is also an item of expense, and commonly serves no industrial purpose, he holds a well-assured place in men's regard as a thing of good repute.

The dog is at the same time associated in our imagination with the chase — a meritorious employment and an expression of the honorable predatory impulse. Standing on this vantage ground, whatever beauty of form and motion and whatever commendable mental traits he may possess are conventionally acknowledged and magnified. 

And even those varieties of the dog which have been bred into grotesque deformity by the dog-fancier are in good faith accounted beautiful by many.

These varieties of dogs — and the like is true of other fancy-bred animals — are rated and graded in aesthetic value somewhat in proportion to the degree of grotesqueness and instability of the particular fashion which the deformity takes in the given case.

For the purpose in hand, this differential utility on the ground of grotesqueness and instability of structure is reducible to terms of a greater scarcity and consequent expense.

The commercial value of canine monstrosities, such as the prevailing styles of pet dogs both for men's and women's use, rests on their high cost of production, and their value to their owners lies chiefly in their utility as items of conspicuous consumption.

Indirectly, through reflection upon their honorific expensiveness, a social worth is imputed to them; and so, by an easy substitution of words and ideas, they come to be admired and reputed beautiful.

Since any attention bestowed upon these animals is in no sense gainful or useful, it is also reputable; and since the habit of giving them attention is consequently not deprecated, it may grow into an habitual attachment of great tenacity and of a most benevolent character. So that in the affection bestowed on pet animals the canon of expensiveness is present more or less remotely as a norm which guides and shapes the sentiment and the selection of its object.

Of course, one does not actually have to be rich to insinuate yourself into the upper class.

If you are an elementary school teacher from Peoria, or an accountant from Westchester, you can simply buy a pedigree dog and spend your weekends campaigning the animal at shows.

As I noted in post written over a decade ago,

In short, the attraction of dog shows was that people who themselves were as common as a turnip top could now fancy that they were among the social elite. They did not have to have real knowledge of animals, or have an important job or title or large estate -- they just had to purchase a dog from a "reputable" show breeder and put on airs.

Or as one character in Best in Show put it, "make Fern City proud!"

The Mighty Hunter

This is the Prince of Wales, 
son of Queen Victoria, and later Edward VII, hunting a "wild" Chillingham bull at Chillingham Castle in 1879. This seems to be a serious photo, as laughable as it appears.  For the record, these "wild" cattle have been fed hay in winter for at least 300 years, are housed in a fenced area of half a square mile (365 acres), and have been a tourist attraction for as long as anyone can remember. Not even feral; just ill-tempered

When Edward died in 1910, his terrier, Caesar, led the procession, and the dog's likeness is part of Edward's tomb at St. George's Chapel.

Git Your Science-based Dog Theory

Open access until February 6th to Behavioural Processes, New Directions in Canine Behavior, (Vol 110, Pages 1-13):

Coffee and Provocation

Best Dog Toy?
That's the claim for this one. Comment from the commentaria?

Nothing But Net and Mycroft Holme

When Kareem Abdul Jabbar writes a book about Mycroft Holmes, you KNOW it will be epic. Kareem is actually brilliant and a TRUE fan. Pre-order now!

Net Time, Remember Who Lied Last Time
Everything the Republicans said about Obama has been a lie. Economy roaring back, deficits down, auto production up, less war, more peace, more people with healthcare than ever, housing prices back to where they were, Osama bin Laden still dead, and everyone still has their guns and their dogs.

Will the Supremes Kill the GOP?
The Supreme Court could cost the GOP 3 million southern white voters and change the face of politics forever.

Shirts More Expensive Than Mink
Two hundred years ago, it took 479 hours worth of labor to make a shirt (spinning, weaving, sewing), or $3,472.75 at $7.25/hour.

Here Comes the Sun
The solar industry is creating jobs 20 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy.

Good News Out of India
India's endangered tiger population is up 58% since 2006.

Breast Feeding Banned at Breast Feeding Summit
One more thing I could not possibly make up.

Fifteen E-Things I Am Grateful For
None of these things existed when I was 35 years old.
1. Google.
2. Email
3. Amazon and Amazon prime.
4. Apple phone and camera
5. Ebay
6. PayPal
7. Instant messaging
8. Archive dot org
9. Youtube
10. Pandora and the other music sites
11. Voice to text technology
12. Netflix
13. GPS and turn by turn technology
14. JPG photo files
15. Hypertext markup language

Amazing Drone Video of an Alaskan Fishing Camp

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Morally Bankrupt RSPCA

The RSPCA in the U.K. continues to demonstrate that it has completely lost its way.

The organization is now advertising for a new CEO after three top managers quit last year. Note that that RSPCA continues to look for banker and advertising types -- their ad for the top position does not mention care or concern for domestic or wild animals at all as a job requirement.

Now the RSPCA, which is still rolling in money, and pays its top managers jaw-dropping sums, is about to close Putney Animal Hospital and three other London clinics which were once featured on a TV show called "Animal Hospital".

The RSPCA is trying to insinuate that the closings have something to do with the fact that the TV show was introduced and narrated by pedophile Rolph Harris, but of course that is ridiculous. Putney was there before TV even existed!

The simple truth is that the RSPCA is closing the hospital because the national RSPCA has never been about helping animals at all.  It's all about direct mail and street-side charity muggers and national campaigns against farming and hunting of any kind.

Countryside Alliance chair Tim Bonner gets it exactly right when he says:
This is in an inevitable consequence of pursuing a politicised agenda that has alienated so many of its supporters.

It has a choice where to cut. Closures suggest it is again prioritising politics and prosecution over caring for animals on the front line.

Meanwhile, the national RSPCA
continues to do almost nothing for dogs and cats. As I noted in a previous post :
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.

Of course the gullible and the naive in the U.K. continue to get confused by the federated nature of the RSPCA, not understanding that the local organizations get nearly nothing from national, and that it is national that collects all the big dollars while the locals do all the work and remain cash-starved.

You could bomb the national RSPCA off its foundations and it would be no loss, and perhaps a massive gain, to the real needs of dogs, cats and wildlife in the U.K.

Making Two Light Trailing Leashes for the Pups

A Good Piece of Kit

The Mini-Educator from E-collar Technologies is a good bit of kit, and over on his web site Lou Castle does a very good job of teaching how to train a dog to "velcro" to you, how to get a solid recall, and how to "bomb proof" to make sure your dog "gets it" all the time.

The Mini-Educator is small enough for a a very small dog like Moxie or even a Chihuahua, as can be seen below.

With a small dog, training solely with food rewards is particularly problematic if you want to avoid obesity.  Th veterinarian dog owner in the interview, below, knows that obesity is the number one health issue facing dogs.


Prince Of Wales

This was taken about 1911 shows Edward Prince Of Wales, and a terrier we would now call a Jack Russell, on board the HMS 'Hindustan'.

Red-tailed Hawk Versus Squirrel

A National Geographic clip.

If you see a hawk sulking in the hedgerow this time of year in the Eastern U.S., it's almost certainly a red-tail living off of squirrels, rabbits, possums, mice, and rats.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

First We Kill All the Rats

The dried out carcass of a poisoned rat.
I have written may times about the role of rats and feral cats, pigs and goats in causing extinctions of endemic birds on  Pacific Islands. See Rat Poison and Wildlife Conservation, Poisoning Lord Howe Island.

If you are intent on restoring a species of birds, bug, tortoises, or lizards on an island, Job One is to eradicate the non-indigenous vermin, and rats and cats top the list.

A good example:  Because of an aggressive rat-eradication program on the Galapagos island of Pinzon, Pinzon tortoises are successfully breeding for the first time in 150 years!  Marvelous!

Darwin Before

I've been storing photos to a server and found this screen shot of Darwin the dog that now lives with my mother. He's in the lap of luxury now!

Woven Rug From Tibet

The skin of your enemy or the skin of a Yeti with mange? Either explanation would do.

Baltimore Area Code

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Penalty for Theft is Amputation in Islam

In the Koran, THIS is the punishment for theft of web content. 

Apparently a web site out of Egypt
 is stealing the entire blog content of numerous people. I was notified of this yesterday.  If you are not reading this at then this is stolen content.

Google has been notified and no doubt this will be sorted in short order.

Because ALL my posts are being stolen entire, including family photos, all text, etc., this post will be stolen too. With that in mind I would like to note that:

Theft is Haraam (forbidden) according to the Quran, Sunnah [sayings of Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) ] and Ijmaa’ (scholarly consensus). Allaah, the Most Exalted, has condemned this action and decreed an appropriate punishment for it. The Hadd [i.e. the legal punishment prescribed by the Sharee'ah (Islamic law)] for a thief is to cut off the thief's hand. Allaah Almighty Says in the Noble Quran (what means): “[As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they earned [i.e. committed] as a deterrent [punishment] from Allaah. And Allaah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” [Quran 5:38]

Egypt does not operate
under Sharia law, but all countries operate under the laws of common decency and common sense. All countries prohibit theft. All religions -- Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism -- count it as a sin with serious punishment attached.

This is not the first time content has been stolen from this blog. As in the past, this instance is an example of someone with low morality, and low creative and intellectual capacity, who no doubt is also terribly lazy. It's simply too hard for this person to learn about, or think of, anything anyone would want to know about or read about. And so he or she slaps up a bit of code and steals.

Thieves will always be with us, same as roaches and rats. It is why the words of Mohammed and Moses ring as true today as they ever have.

And it is exactly because we will always have vermin that we need verminators to seek out and destroy the vermin.

Allah, the Most Exalted, has condemned theft and decreed that the appropriate punishment for it be amputation. This is the word of God. Who am I to disagree?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Bert Gripton's Dogs

This post recycled from November 2004.

Bert Gripton is one of the few legendary terriermen who was not known for breeding dogs, but for working them. He had a small pack of working terriers and whippets, and was terrierman to the Albrighton Foxhounds. His father was a gamekeeper on the Aqualate estate in Staffordshire near the Shropshire border.

Gripton was a die-hard digger who specialized in badger, but he also hunted otter (he took the last legal otter in the UK), and fox. Phil Drabble, author Of Pedigree Unknown, from which the above picture is lifted, said that Gripton "could, and did, catch Fox with greater certainty than the hounds."

I mention all this because I was moving some files to thumb drive and "the cloud" recently, and one of them was of the picture, above.

The dogs, seen above, were true working hunt terriers from a true working man, and look how incredibly different they look from the nonworking or one-and-done dogs we see today.

Bert Gripton appears to have kept a pack of very small dogs. This is not surprising -- the more people dig, the more they seem to value a small dog able to get up to the quarry and to manuever around and with it. Brian Nuttal notes of Gripton's terriers: "No one called them Jack Russells in those days, just white hunt terriers."

The dogs in the picture, above, defy all the picture box angulations you see featured on the pretender sites and in the show dog books.  Square bodied?  Capable of running with the horses and the hounds? Cat feet?

Pure nonsense.

The only requirement of a working terrier is that it can get underground and have the heart of a lion. And can it scent as well as a beagle?  Yes, that would be good too!  The rest is balderdash.

Phil Drabble explained Gripton's technique for removing a fox:

"Quite often it was the fox's grinning mask which came into view, in which case there is an effective trick that requires supreme confidence and dexterity approaching sleight of hand. Hold a bit of stick, as thick as your thumb, and about a foot long, and wave it rapidly across the fox's mask, within reach of his jaws. The reaction is reflex and certain. He bites the stick in a vice-like grip. That is the exact split second when it is safe to shoot out the other hand to grab him by the scruff of the neck. It takes more cool nerve that I possess, but it was one of Bert Gripton's star performances."

I bet it was, but if you want cool nerve, try removing a fox from a fox net by yourself! You start at the back, and with your THIRD hand you.... Well, good luck!

Record Numbers in the Hedge

This is a repost from 2007. See side bar to this blog to order this, and other designs, on T-shirts, etc. All money goes to support terrier rescue.

AMERICA IS BLESSED with many kinds of quarry
that can be worked by terriers year round: groundhog, raccoon, red fox, possum, gray fox, and badger.

Most terrier quarry is at record levels of abundance, and most folks in the Eastern U.S. and Midwest live within a half hour of excellent hunting opportunities.

Groundhog populations, for example, are much higher now than they were in Colonial times when most of the Eastern U.S. and Midwest was forested. Red fox, of course, is an import, while raccoon populations today are 15 to 20 times larger than they were in the 1930s.

In the U.K. wildlife in the hedge is also doing remarkably well and is at record levels.

Red fox populations, for example, now appear to be at the limits of biological density, with the Mammal Society estimating the late-December fox population to be stable at about 250,000, with about 14% of this population in urban locations.

In the Spring, of course, the fox population of the U.K. soars, with the addition of about 425,000 fox kits, but large numbers of these cubs subsequently die from disease or starvation, while later in the year fox numbers are also thinned by vehicle impact (estimated at 100,000 a year), shooting (estimated at 80,000 a year) and hunting with dogs (estimated at about 20,000 a year in 2004 before the so-called "ban" went into effect). In his excellent book "Running with the Foxes," wildlife biologist David MacDonald has noted that "foxhunting is of minor significance to foxes in particular, or amongst wildlife issues generally."

Red fox population growth, U.K., 1961-2000

As for badger, the Mammal Society reports that there are now more badger in the U.K. than red fox -- an astounding thing considering that red fox are now so common as to be seen as a bit of an urban plague in the U.K.

British badger populations also appears to be at their biological limits, with little or no growth in numbers in recent years, and mortality accomplished chiefly by disease, starvation, vehicle impacts. In addition, DEFRA -- the Department of Environment, Farms and Rural Affairs -- routinely gasses thousands of badgers a year (and has been doing so for more than 30 years) in an effort to eradicate the animals from areas where bovine tuberculosis is a worry.

Terrier Complaints

Older Pic of Younger Me

Yes, I had hair once. Still have the wife! Married 32 years. Might work out.

Pups Hoping for a Cheerio

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Boy Is Growing Up

I think Misto just entered puberty. I found this tacked up inside his crate.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Working Dachshund?

Stoned Animals

In another forum, I posted a picture of Datura found in copious amounts in the fields on Monday.
Anyone up for some astral projection? Datura. Out of body experiences available everyday in Maryland and Virginia fields. Don't blame me if you lose some tiles on re-entry. Smoking toad skins is a better buzz. 

The question came up: why do animals eat it? Accident? Thrill seeking?

In his book IntoxicationRonald K. Siegel notes that many animals like to get stoned.
After sampling the numbing nectar of certain orchids, bees drop to the ground in a temporary stupor, then weave back for more. Birds gorge themselves on inebriating berries, then fly with reckless abandon. Cats eagerly sniff aromatic “pleasure” plants, then play with imaginary objects. Cows that browse special range weeds will twitch, shake, and stumble back to the plants for more. Elephants purposely get drunk off fermented fruits. Snacks of “magic mushrooms” cause monkeys to sit with their heads in their hands in a posture reminiscent of Rodin’s Thinker. The pursuit of intoxication by animals seems as purposeless as it is passionate. Many animals engage these plants, or their manufactured allies, despite the danger of toxic or poisonous effects.

Ok.  But why do some animals like to get stoned? And the short answer is for the same reason people do -- they over-indulge either by mistake or because it feels goods.

Of course, for the most part over-indulgence is maladaptive behavior.

The waxwing drunk on berry juice is just waiting to be picked off by a hawk, the cow stoned on opium poppies is just waiting to be mauled by a dog.

Still, the lure of anesthesia and the excitement of transcendence is a powerful call.  Plus, if the police show up, you can say you made a mistake or were "over-served."  That worked for W.C. Fields!

What the Hell Is Corn Glutten Meal?

What the hell is corn gluten meal, a reader asks. She has seen that it was the #2 ingredient in Purina Pro Plan, the dog food that the late four-time Iditarod winner Susan Butcher fed her dogs.

Ah, corn gluten. Sends a shiver down the spine, doesn't it? I mean look at those two words, sitting side by side.

Corn. "Everyone" knows corn is crap, and never mind if it a key ingredient in every sled dog diet, and never mind if this food has been tested to the outer edge, and proven to be a fine food for dogs, and that there is not one longitudinal peer-reviewed feed trial that says otherwise.

And then there is the word "gluten," with its echo of Chinese toxic dog food.

Wasn't it rice gluten that killed all those dogs? No? Well, no matter. Gluten is bad anyway. Pretty sure about that!

And to prove it, they guickly Google and come up with this little gem: that corn gluten meal can be used as a "natural" herbicide on lawns. An herbicide. They run screaming into the woods. Except that it's not an herbicide -- it's a pre-emergent, and it works by preventing sprouting seeds from developing side roots, which may make young plants susceptible to dehydration if the soil gets dry. For this stuff to work at all, you have to put down 20 pounds of it on 1,000 square feet, and it's not cheap. And it's also not toxic. In fact, it is so non-toxic, that the EPA has made it exempt from all registration requirements -- the same as water.

OK, but why is it being used in dog food?

Simple: because it has been shown to be an effective protein ingredient when paired with other nutriets. As Greg Aldrich, PhD notes on the Pet Food Industry web site:

Why is corn gluten meal used in petfoods? Most of the available CGM [corn gluten meal] contains 60% protein. Thus, it serves a purpose as an economical high-protein ingredient. On a cost-per-unit protein basis, CGM costs about 10% less than petfood-grade poultry by-product meal, but about 20% more than soybean meal. It is a reasonable source of methionine, but low in lysine and arginine. Because of this, CGM is typically paired or complemented with another protein source. Additionally, when compared to other proteins, CGM has a low level of ash.

OK, but I still want to see chicken as the primary ingredient in my dog food.

Fine. Go for it. Your dog will be fine with lots of chicken. But, as Aldrich notes, putting chicken first in ingredient packaging is mostly a gimmick, not sound science:

Chicken as the first ingredient on the ingredient panel of a dry extruded kibble has become more commonplace in the past several years. Why chicken? It is likely because of its popularity and ready supply rather than anything nutritionally unique or special about chicken. Beef, lamb, fish and other meats could be interchanged in this discussion just as easily.

The bigger issue is whether formulating a dry petfood to make a meat the first ingredient on the panel is only a marketing ploy or if it truly imparts some enhancement to nutrition and quality. The cynic will profess that it's all about marketing.

Of course, there is some real truth to the notion that the consumer is going to perceive that a food that is "made with real meat" or has "chicken as the first ingredient" is a higher quality product. And as our marketing brethren are eager to remind us, in the market perception is reality.

Aldrich goes on:
It might not seem intuitive, but to begin answering this question we need to determine exactly what constitutes chicken. The best place to look is the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) manual wherein chicken, or rather poultry, is defined as "the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts of whole carcasses of poultry or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails."

Though one might deduce that chicken meal and chicken by-product meal, since they are derived from chicken, would count toward "chicken" as the first ingredient, according to this definition and the labeling rules they don't. It's got to be the real un-rendered chicken.

However, that doesn't mean that it is the pieces and parts that you find in the grocery store. Purchasing chicken for petfood applications occurs primarily in the same supply chain as that of "hot dog or nugget meats."

This chicken is sometimes derived from hand trimming, but more frequently from mechanical separation operations in which the bones have been mechanically removed from the lean. This latter procedure also removes the soft material from the marrow of the bone, which can be high in fat.

The resulting chicken is then either chilled or frozen into blocks. Use in petfood requires that it be brought to a temperature just below freezing, but in a state that can be pumped, a condition that often requires the use of steam.

From the definition, one might think that chicken is all muscle and/or meat. The real ingredient, though, comes with a great deal of water, fat and some incidental bone.

There is also no regulation on the nutrient composition of this chicken, so depending on the materials being deboned and the amount of steam it takes to pump the material, it can vary widely. It is often in the range of 65-70% moisture, with protein around 12-15%, however, and a minimum fat around 10% (though the level of fat can be higher).

How much chicken is in a dog food where the primary listed ingredient is chicken?

Not as much as you think!
So, how much chicken might it actually take to reach the top [ingredient listing on the label]? In general, chicken must occupy around 15% of the formula to go ahead of the other ingredients. From a formulation standpoint this isn't too big an issue, though it does require that the other ingredients compensate accordingly; namely, that the number (but not the content) of protein meals and grains are increased.

The bigger challenge is in the processing. The trick is to manage the elevated moisture and fat from fresh chicken in the conditioning cylinder or extruder so to achieve uniform mixing and cooking. It is only in the last 15-20 years that engineering of extruders and facilities, advances in computerized process controls and improvements in sanitation and meat handling equipment have been able to reach these levels.

One might assume that having this much chicken in the formula would contribute a substantial amount of protein to the diet. However, in most instances chicken adds less than 10% of the dietary protein.

Surprisingly, it may contribute more than 15% of the dietary fat. While this lower protein contribution might seem disappointing, the abundance of fat may help explain why high chicken formulas are more palatable for both dogs and cats.

In short, chicken is fine in dog food, and it may increase palatibility or digestabiltiy, but it's on the margin not the main.

And what about potatoes in dog food -- the newest dog food fad? Adrich writes:
Potato protein is an ingredient just emerging in the petfood and feed market. This ingredient has an opportunity for application in ultra-high protein products as an alternative to rice protein or corn gluten meal especially in elimination diets. Information on its nutrient availability in dogs or cats is limited; but, it's probably only a matter of time before this is rectified.... in a study with dogs, potato flour was reported to have a similar starch digestibility (>99%), and resulted in similar stool scores as cereal grains, although other nutrients (e.g., protein) were slightly less digestible (Murray, et al., 1999).

California Water Priorities

California has been going through a multi-year drought that a recent study says is the "worst in 1,200 years", Nobody knows exactly when things will return to normal -- if ever -- but it will take many years of above normal rain to fix the current water deficit.

Meanwhile, the least utilitarian of California agriculture continued to suck the state dry.

Just look at this graph showing water consumed by California almonds, pistachios and walnuts that are grown for overseas export. California is, literally, exporting its most valuable resource as a nearly-useless luxury commodity for foreigners.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Coffee and Provocation

Can Dogs Tell Us About Human Migration?
I doubt it, but the claim is being suggested.

What Canine Athletes Are More Likely to Get Injured?

Border collies top the preliminary list for agility injuries.  Considering the crappy way this "study" was done, I am not sure anything was actually learned.

Very Popular Sire Selection
A single Holstein bull sired over 500,000.  And you thought you were a stud!

The Arc of a Dog's Tail
From PubMed:  "Dogs with a wide angle of wag and dogs kept in kennels were at significantly higher risk of sustaining a tail injury. Dogs with docked tails were significantly less likely to sustain a tail injury.”

The Effect of Body Cameras Worn by Police
Violence against civilians falls like a rock.  No surprise!  

BitCoin Is Toast
The value of a currency backed by nothing and created by no one has fallen from $1,130 per unit in December 2013 to less than $200 today.

The Wee Ones

Misto tips the scale at 11.9 pounds, Moxie at 8.75 pounds. Real hole dogs. Misto is very strong for his size, while Moxie is as game as any terrier I have ever seen. I will have to watch her to make sure she does not get over her head!

Mining Ancient Knowledge With the Internet

This thin little book was published in the U.S. in 1873, the same year the Kennel Club was created in the U.K. In 1873, it sold for $1.

Today, more than 150 years later, it's an electronic Kindle down load available from Amazon for 99 cents or FREE (and at a better quality) from

What's interesting here is that while the information is good, it is a bit all over, incomplete, and with strange bits tossed on top. Pugs, Bulldogs, Italian Greyhounds, and King Charles Spaniels included in a book on terriers?

One clue to the creation of this book is that it was published simultaneously with another book, by the same author, on cock fighting (game cocks).

As I noted some time back,
The Victorian age was one in which there was a tremendous unleashing of knowledge to the common public.

This came with the advent of cheap pulp paper and steel engravings for illustration -- a move that forever changed the world of dogs, among other things.

Even earlier I had note that:
Out of this first Golden Age of Information came a Victorian fascination with nature, the rise of farm stock shows, and Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

It is hard to overstate how important cheap paper and movable type were to the spread of scientific inquiry and the explosion of controlled breeding experiments occurring at this time.

Suffice it to say that from before recorded history, until the publication of British Quadrupeds in 1837, fewer than 20 breeds of dogs were recognized in Great Britain.

Of course, that was about to change!

By 1837, Charles Darwin had returned from his voyage around the world, and in 1859 The Origin of Species was published.

That same year, the first dog show was held on Newcastle-on-Tyne.

Within 15 years, the Kennel Club had been formed, and just 20 years after that, it had closed its registry to cross-breeding.
One wonders whether Ed James was a genuine dog and game bird man, or whether he was more like Henry Walsh (Stonehenge) -- a man who picked up and copied from everyone and put out slgiht rewrites of their work as his own.

Who knows!

What is certain is that for 99 cents this is a very interesting little book with good advice (for its time) on flea and lice control, as well as canine trick training (it's all about rewards).  A hat tip to David Ambler for posting this fine to Facebook.