Friday, February 16, 2018

Shakespeare at the Xerox Machine

In King Lear, William Shakespeare makes a list of the hierarchy of dogs:

Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim
Hound or spaniel, brach or lym,
Or bobtail tike or trundle-tail

A near-identical list appears in Macbeth.

It turns out, however, that the source for this list may be a book by George North entitled A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels written in 1576.

The apparent plagiarism was discovered thanks to anti-plagiarism software commonly used to check up on college and high school student essays.

Related Links

** Shakespeare's Polar Bear
** Shakespeare in the Park

A Communist Disinformation Factory

I see 16 indictments against Russian election-hackers have come down

Are these part of the 17 that I pointed to back in November

I would not bet against it.

As for the idea that there was a factory out there somewhere cranking out right-wing disinformation, I saw that back in 2014, and suggested to a friend, retired from the intelligence community, that there was probably communist money behind it.


Dear D---:

As you know, I have repeatedly wondered where do all the right wing nonsense emails come from.

I truly wondered if the Chinese communists were cranking them out to make the country weaker. I have challenged you to consider that possibility.

Now, I am afraid to say, it turns out that I am almost right.

Read this piece on Jonathan Turley's blog, complete with ads.

Did I not ask, again and again, where these streams of crazy, fact-free emails were coming from?

I said there had to be a factory somewhere.

And there is.

In China.

And why not? The Koch Brothers don't actually believe in American workers paid an American wage in America.

Who you think is gonna run for your team in 2016?

Getting a bit thin on the other bench when Mittens Romney and Jeb Bush are the top tier.

Clowns on the Sofa at Crufts

A pair of know-nothings.

Twitter informs me that Clare Balding and Alan Carr will be doing color commentary at Crufts this year.


Neither one of them knows a single thing about dogs.

Once again it seems that the primary (only?) requirement of a dog show announcer is that they be gay and know nothing about dogs.

"Oh he’s a comedian and she did some sport 30 years ago? And both are gay stereotypes? Perfect!”

Gay and ignorant IS the requirement?  The only requirement?  Really?

As I wrote back in 2006, when reviewing the movie Best in Show:

The thread that holds the tapestry of characters together in Best in Show is not dogs, so much as the recognition that many of the people that attend dog shows seem to be "working out" their issues through the world of dogs. We laugh at the joke because it is so often true, and everyone in the audience knows it and "gets it."

A repeated theme in the movie is dysfunction -- sexual dysfunction, social dysfunction, and emotional dysfunction.

The fact that many dogs show obsessives are driven by a hole in their soul, and that that they seek to fill this hole through the surrogacy of dogs and dog shows is faced head on.

Many of the "normal" people that frequent dog shows are slightly odd, and more than a handful seem to be trying to compensate for the absence of children in their lives by dressing up their dogs, dancing with their dogs, or -- as in this case -- singing to them. Frustrated maternal instincts from both straight and gay couples are worn on the sleeve for anyone who takes the time to look for them.

A recurring theme in Best in Show is the large number of openly gay and closeted gay people that can be found at dog shows. In the clip below, a sad and powerful story is told in a single line: "I asked my ex-wife ... who's that?" The painful laughs that follow are triggered because almost everyone familiar with dog shows knows a character who fits the story. This is a story about lost lives.

Following the success of Best in Show, Bravo-TV did a "reality" show knock-off of the movie. It says quite a lot that they had no problem finding a ready cast of real people to populate their series: Showdog Moms & Dads.

In this series, a cast of "real dog show people" were followed around to canine events across the country including
a woman with no kids who freely admitted to displacing her maternal instincts on to her German Shepherds; a married man (and former AKC judge) who came off as a closeted version of Liberace; two screaming queens and their Toy Fox Terrier; a woman whose relationship with her Weimeraner appeared to be much stronger than her relationship with either her husband or reality, and; a "normal" person who was a single-mom and dog trainer trying to raise her son in a dog show world -- and with dog trainer commands.

One of the things you will NEVER hear at a dog show is the true history of any breed, or the list of genetic defects that have been exacerbated by closed registries.

And yet what a thing it would be to hear the truth!

What a breath of fresh air it would be to hear:

The German Shepherd was never much of a herding dog and is almost never found herding today. A herding German Shepherd with a commercial flock of sheep -- ha-ha -- what a notion! In fact this dog is a relatively new breed, created around 1900. Today the genetic stock of this dog is so racked by chronic hip dysplasia that many lines of German shepherds can barely walk. Anyone with an ounce of sense stays away from show lines today, and imports their dogs from working stock overseas.

The Bull Dog would be properly introduced as:

A game dog once used to catch stock for altering or slaughter, the bull dog was reduced in stature and mutated by intentionally breeding in achondroplastic dwarfism, which is why the legs on these dogs are so bent they can barely walk. The pressed-in-face means the dogs have chronic breathing problems, while the digestive tract is so wrecked that these dogs pass more gas than a Mexican restaurant. You will learn to light matches with a bull dog!

The heads on these dogs are so enormous that almost all the dogs are born caesarian, and in fact this dog would be extinct within 10 years if it were not for veterinarians helping these little mutants into the world.

Notice that nice little pig tail? That is a source of chronic skin infection, and most of the dogs in the ring today will have their tails completely cut off after they are retired from performance -- a way of making it easier to keep this breed after a show ring career.

Crufts, of course, is a sad joke.  If you want to be reminded of that just look at the dog they put up as a working dog last year.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Origins, Schisms, and the True Church of Work

For all practical purposes, the story of American terrier work begins in 1971 with Patricia Adams Lent, who founded the American Working Terrier Association to promote working terriers and dachshunds.

The American Working Terrier Association (AWTA) was, and is, a modest organization with about 100 members last I looked. It has no headquarters or paid staff, and produces a simple newsletter four times a year. Its web site has no information about actual hunting or wildlife, and is focused almost entirely on go-to-ground trials.

That said, AWTA is an important organization in the history of American working terriers, not only because it was the first "club" devoted to the sport, but also because Ms. Lent invented go-to-ground trials, and the basic set of rules governing them.

Since 1971, go-to-ground trials have served as a kind of "on ramp" for actual field work. The basic AWTA format has been widely copied, first by the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (1976) and then by the American Kennel Club (1994).

The origin of the American go-to-ground tunnel can be found in the artificial fox earths first constructed in the UK in the 1920s, but which came into their own in the 1950s and 60s with the collapse of so many ancient rabbit warrens under the onslaught of myxomatosis.

Artificial earths are generally constructed of two parallel rows of brick stacked three bricks high and topped by overlapping slates, or out of 9-inch clay or concrete drainage pipe laid end-to-end. The result is a very spacious and dry fox earth. If sited within 200 feet of a water source (it does not have to be large), far from residences, and on the edge of fields and small woods, the chance of a fox taking up residence is excellent.

The first artificial fox earths were constructed in order to guarantee that a fox could be found on hunt day, and to encourage fox to run along known courses away from roadways. That said, they also found favor because they proved easy locations for a terrier to bolt a fox from. Even an overlarge dog could negotiate the straight or gently curving unobstructed nine-inch pipes of an artificial earth.

The go-to-ground tunnels devised by Patricia Adams Lent were constructed of wood instead of stone, brick or clay pipe, but were equally commodious, measuring 9 inches on each side with a bare dirt floor for drainage and traction.

From the beginning, AWTA's goal was to be inclusive. Scottish Terriers with enormous chests were encouraged to join AWTA, as were owners of West Highland Whites, Cairns, Norfolks, Norwiches, Border Terriers, Fox Terriers, Lakelands, Welsh Terriers, and Bedlingtons. All were welcome, with the simple goal of having a little fun with the dogs, and perhaps giving American Kennel Club terrier owners some small idea of what actual terrier work was about.

In AWTA trials, wooden den "liners" are sunk into a trench in the ground. The tunnels are up to 35 feet long with a series of right-angle turns, false dens and exits. The “quarry” at the end of the tunnel is a pair of "feeder" lab rats safely protected behind wooden bars and wire mesh. The rats are not only not harmed, but after 100 years of breeding for docility, some lab rats have been know to go to sleep!

Without a doubt, go-to-ground trials have been a huge hit with American terrier owners. The interior dimensions of the den liners -- 81 inches square -- means even over-large terriers are able to negotiate them with ease. With nothing but a caged rat to face as "quarry," the safety of dogs is guaranteed, and since the dogs only have to bay or dig at the quarry for 90-seconds, most dogs end up qualifying for at least an entry-level certificate or ribbon.

Though the die-hard hunter may sneer, the increasing popularity of go-to-ground terrier trials is a welcome thing, for it has brought more people a little closer to real terrier work.

Owners of dogs that do well in go-to-ground trials should take pride in their dog’s achievements. Like all sports that emulate real work (lumber jack contests, bird dog trials, and sheep dog trials, to name a few), a go-to-ground trial is both harder and easier than its real-world cousin.

A dog that will exit a 30-foot tunnel backwards in just 90 seconds and on a single command (a requirement for earning an AKC Senior Earthdog certificate) is a dog that has been trained to a fairly high degree of proficiency.

Having said that, it should be stressed that a go-to-ground trial has little relationship to true hunting. In the field dogs are not rewarded for speed. In fact, if a hunt terrier were to charge down a real earth like it were a go-to-ground tunnel it would quickly run into quarry capable of inflicting real damage.

In addition, in a real hunting situation a dog must do a great deal more than “work” the quarry for 90 seconds! A good working dog will stick to the task for as long as it can hear people moving about overhead – whether that is 15 minutes or three hours.

And nose?  There is not much of a test for that at an AWTA trial!

The real division street between go-to-ground and earthwork, however, is size. And the real problem with a go-to-ground trial is not that it teaches a dog to go too fast down a tunnel (dogs generally understand the difference between fake liners and real earth), but that it suggests to terrier owners that any dog that can go down a cavernous go-to-ground tunnel is a dog “suitable for work.”

To its credit, the American Working Terrier Association recognizes the difference between a go-to-ground tunnel and real earth work, and implicitly underscores this difference in its rules for earning a Working Certificate.

AWTA rules note that a terrier or dachshund can earn a working certificate on woodchuck, fox, raccoon, badger, or an “aggressive possum” found in a natural earth, but that “this does not include work in a drain or otherwise man-made earth.”

In short, a drain is not a close proxy for a natural earth, and terriers that are too large to work a natural earth do not meet the requirements of a working terrier.

The American Working Terrier Association issues Certificates of Gameness to dogs qualifying at their artificial den trials. Working Certificates are awarded to dogs that work groundhog, fox, raccoon, possum, or badger in a natural den provided that at least one AWTA member is there as a witness. AWTA also issues a Hunting Certificate to a dog that hunts regularly over a period of a year.
Eddie Chapman and Ailsa Crawford

Six years after the American Working Terrier Association was created, Mrs. Ailsa Crawford, one of the first Jack Russell Terrier breeders in the U.S., founded the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA)

Ms. Crawford and the early founders of the Jack Russell Terrier Club put a lot of thought into structuring the JRTCA so that work remained front and center. Towards that end, the club decided that its highest award -- the "bronze medallion" -- would not go to show dogs, but to working dogs that had demonstrated their ability in the field by working at least three of six types of American quarry -- red fox, Gray fox, raccoon, groundhog, possum, and badger -- in front of a JRTCA-certified field judge.

In the show ring the JRTCA decided to ban professional handlers as it was thought this would keep the shows fun and less important than the essential element of work.

Instead of mandating the kind of narrow conformation ranges demanded by the Kennel Club for their terrier breeds, the JRTCA divided the diverse world of the Jack Russell Terrier into three coat types (smooth, broken and rough), and two sizes (10 inches tall to 12.5 inches tall, and 12.5 inches tall to 15 inches tall).

"Different horses for different courses" became a watch word, with overt recognition that the world of working terriers required dogs able to work different quarry in different earths, and in different climates.

Unlike the Kennel Club, the JRTCA also decided to keep their registry an "open" registry so that new blood might be infused at times. At the same time, the Club discouraged inbreeding and eventually restricted line breeding to a set percentage.

To balance off an open-registry with the desire to keep Jack Russell-type dogs looking like Jack Russells, the JRTCA decided not to allow dogs to be registered at birth or to register entire litters. Instead, each dog would be photographed from each side and the front, and admitted to the registry on their own merit, and as an adult. In addition, each dog had to be measured for height and chest span.

What this meant is that at the time of registration, the height and chest measurement of an adult dog could be recorded. Over time, both height and chest size could be tracked through pedigrees -- an essential element of breeding correctly-sized working terriers.

The JRTCA was not shy about their rationale for these rules: they openly and emphatically opposed Kennel Club registration, maintaining that time had show that dogs brought into the Kennel Club quickly grew too big and often lost other essential working attributes such as nose, voice, and prey drive.

Today the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America is the largest Jack Russell Terrier club and registry in the world, and its Annual National Trial attracts approximately 1,200 Jack Russell terriers from all over the U.S. and Canada.

The JRTCA's small professional staff cranks out a solid bi-monthly magazine that is 80-100 pages long, holds a regular schedule of dog shows, and sells deben locator collars, fox nets, and a host of other items ranging from hats and jackets to coffee cups.

The web site of the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America is packed with well-presented information.

Perhaps the most important service work of the JRTCA are the ads that the Club routinely runs in all-breed publications warning people that Jack Russell Terriers are not a dog for everyone, are primarily a hunting dog, and are not like the cute dogs seen on TV.

Sometime in the last 1990s, following the appearance of Jack Russell Terriers in a host of TV and Hollywood productions ranging from "Wishbone" and "Frasier" to "My Dog Skip" and "The Mask," the American Kennel Club decided to add the Jack Russell Terrier to its roles.

As they had previously done with the Border Collie, the AKC ignored the strong opposition of the large existing breed club, and quietly assembled a new club of show-ring breeders to serve as their stalking horse.

The "Jack Russell Terrier Breeders Association" (later called the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America, and now called the "Parson Russell Terrier Association of America") petitioned for the admission of the Jack Russell Terrier into the Kennel Club and, despite the objections of the JRTCA, the breed was admitted in January of 2001.

The admission of the Jack Russell Terrier into the American Kennel Club was a contentious affair, with the JRTCA standing firm on its long-held rule that no dog could be dual-registered.

What this meant is that breeders had to chose whether to remain in the JRTCA or to "get in early" with the AKC before they closed their registry.

Some of the breeders that chose the AKC did so because they thought they could then sell their puppies for more money, others were eager to be the "big fish in a small pond" at the beginning of a new AKC breed registry. Still others were anxious to attend more dog shows,.

Whatever the reason, the Kennel Club required that the Jack Russell Terrier breed description be narrower than that of the JRTCA. The goal of a Kennel Club breed description is to craft a narrow "standard" -- the wide variance in size, coat, and look allowed and encouraged in the world of working terriers would not do.

The American Kennel Club breed standard stipulated that an AKC Jack Russell terrier could not be under 12 inches in height nor over 15 inches in height, and further stipulated that "ideal" dog was 14 inches tall and the ideal bitch was 13" tall.

Ironically, this breed description effectively eliminated about 40% of all the American dogs that had actually worked red fox in the U.S.

More importantly, this narrow standard eliminated the small dogs necessary to "size down" a breed -- something absolutely necessary in order to keep working terriers small enough to work.

Of course the American Kennel Club has never been interested in working terriers and the breed club they created has shown no interest in work either.

Under continuing pressure from the working Jack Russell Terrier community in England and the U.S., the British and American Kennel Clubs decided to jettison the "Jack Russell Terrier" name to more easily identify the non-working show ring dog they favored.

Now called the "Parson Russell Terrier," the AKC dog is quickly getting too big in the chest to work -- though not many dogs are actually taken out into the field to try.  For more on the convolunted and contrived history here, see: A Wrench That Doesn't Fit.

After just three years in the Kennel Club, the "Parson Russell Terrier Club" tried to modify the show ring standard so that the dog no longer had to be spanned. In fact, many Kennel Club judges do not know how to span a terrier and many do not do it as a consequence.

In 2001, the United Kennel Club started an "earth work" program modeled after that of the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America. The UKC working terrier program remained small, with relatively few judges, it did not grow rapidly, and it has now been consigned to the scrap heap of history since it did not turn a quick and ready profit (the UKC is for-profit and privately held by a single individual).

In 2005, The Kennel Club in the UK 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 did not follow the U.K Kennel Club in changing the standard, instead choosing, in 2012,  to create another breed of dog called the "Russell Terrier" which they said "originated" in the United Kingdom, but which 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. As with the AKC Parson Russell terrier, almost no dogs are ever found in the field.

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 people chasing ribbons.

Westminster Wrecks the Fox Terrier

"No working terrier has ever been created
by the Kennel Club, but every working
terrier breed that has been drawn in,
has been destroyed there."

People who care about working terriers are generally dismissive of the Kennel Club, for the simple reason that they know what the Kennel Club has done, through either omission or commission, to the working terriers they care about.

The simple fact is that no working terrier has ever been created by the Kennel Club, but every working terrier breed that has been drawn in, has been destroyed there.

The Reverend John Russell noted the negative impact of dog shows on working terriers -- he judged only one show (when he was a very old man), and he swore he would never do it again!

Though the destruction of working terriers started with the Allied Terrier Shows run by Charles Crufts in the U.K. (Crufts was a dog food salesman who never even owned a dog himself!), the Americans quickly got into the game as well.

A quick historical tour of "Best in Show" winners at the Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York City suggests the intense attention given to terriers at the turn of the 20th Century.

  • The first "Best in Show" winner at Westminster in New York City was in 1907. This first "Best in Show" winner was a smooth fox terrier that looked a little bit like today's Jack Russell.

  • Fox terriers won again in 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1937 and 1942.

  • A Sealyham (another working breed ruined by the show ring) won in 1924, 1927 and 1936.

  • Airedales made Best in Show in 1912, 1919, 1920, 1933, and 1936.

  • A bull terrier went Best In Show in 1918, and a Welsh Terrier in 1944.

As you can see, almost all the early winners were terriers, and most of them were fox terriers.

It was during this period that the face of the fox terrier was elongated and the chest enlarged by show ring breeders.

Prior to World War II, if you were really intent on wining the top award at a dog show, you went into fox terriers.

Probably no breed could have survived such intense attention without being wrecked by fad, and the fox terrier certainly did not.

A popular line of rhetoric within the Kennel Club crowd is that individual breeders ruin the dogs, not the Kennel Club itself. This rhetoric is designed to absolve the Kennel Club of its responsibility for the genetic decline of working dogs.

In fact, the rules and selection bias of the Kennel Club are a very large part of the problem -- every much a part of the problem as individual breeders (who have no power to reform the Kennel Club itself).

The genetic destruction of working dogs begins with the fact that the Kennel Club mandates that each breed club "close" its registry after an initial influx of "pure bred" dogs.

In fact most breed clubs start with a very small base of dogs, and then move to close breed roles as quickly as possible in order to create economic value for the breeders that are "in" the club.

A closed genetic registry results in increasing levels of inbreeding and increased concentrations of genetic faults.

In fact, Kennel Club dogs are so deeply inbred and rich with genetic defects that mapping the genome of Kennel Club dogs was one of the first tasks undertaken by genetic scientists eager to crack the human genetic code in order to eradicate diseases.

If you are looking for the gene associated with genetic deafness, it is rather hard trait to find in a random-bred human, cat or chimpanzee, but thanks to Kennel Club inbreeding, there are entire lines of deaf dogs, with deafness common to 25% or more of all puppies from some breeds. Genetic defects associated with ataxia, cataracts, dysplasia, and dwarfism are similarly easy to find by simply comparing one breed, or line of dogs, with another.

Along with a requirement that breed registries be closed, the Kennel Club rejects the notion that there should be a morphological continuum within the world of dogs.

In fact, "speciation" of dogs based on looks alone is what the Kennel Club is all about.

Under Kennel Club rules and "standards," a Cairn terrier cannot look too much like a Norwich terrier, which cannot look too much like a Norfolk terrier, which cannot look too much like a Border terrier, which cannot look too much like a Fell terrier, which cannot look too much like a Welsh terrier, which cannot look too much like a Lakeland terrier, which cannot look too much like a Fox terrier, which cannot look too much like a "Parson Russell" terrier (the non-hunting, show-ring version of the Jack Russell Terrier).

The show ring is all about "breeds," and all about differentiating one breed from another.

In the world of the working terrier, of course, the fox or raccoon or groundhog does not care too much what breed the dog is! In fact, the fox or raccoon cannot even see the dog it faces underground, as there is no light inside a den pipe.

What the fox cares about is whether the dog can actually reach it at the back of the sette.

The good news (at least as far as the fox is concerned!) is that a Kennel Club dog often cannot get very close to the quarry . The reason for this? A Kennel Club dog is likely to have too big a chest.

The overlarge chests you find on so many Kennel Club terriers are a byproduct of putting too much emphasis on head shape and size. By requiring all the terriers to be morphologically distinct from each other, the Kennel Club puts tremendous emphasis on heads.

People who do not dig much (if at all) imagine that a big head is important to work. In fact, it really is not; most small cross-bred working terriers have heads big enough to do the job, and are well-enough shaped to boot.

An over-emphasis on terrier head size almost invariably leads to a larger chest size on the dog -- a bigger chest size is needed to counterbalance the larger head, since one is attached to the other.

A large chest size, in turn, results in a dog that cannot easily get to ground in a tight naturally-dug earth.

The end result is what we see in the Kennel Club show ring today -- transvestite terriers. These dogs may LOOK like they can do the part (and they are so eager!), but when push comes to shove, most of them lack the essential equipment to do the job, whether that is chest size, nose, voice, brain, or a game and gritty character.

A perfect example is the "Best in Show" winner at Westminster yesterday.

The winning wire fox terrier has a coat as puffy as a poodle, has a tail that looks like it was added after the fact with a hot glue gun, and has a chest as deep as the keel of a war ship.  The eye are small and better suited to a ferret, the head is narrow and long, leaving for a weak jaw and a nose buried in fur.  The dog's back is too short for it to turn around in most dirt dens.

And, of course, the dog has never worked at all, and never will. 

This is a dog judged by a woman in an evening gown who knows nothing at at all about terriers, and led on a string leash by a man as heavy and out of shape as Chris Christie.

Compare and contrast with the dogs at top, back before the show ring wrecked the fox terrier.

The fox terrier is a working dog?  Not in this country, and not for the last 100 years.

Skim milk is sold as cream and nowhere is that more true than at the AKC.

Big Dick Was Loved

But It's a Working Dog

Organic and Grain Free for Fluffy!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Norfolk Terrier Is a Nice Pet Dog

This dog, Winston, won the terrier group.

This is a generally healthy breed, without exaggeration.

Created as a pet, it’s a fine little dog.

Not every breed is a basket case full of contrived histories and pretension: the Norfolk is not.

This dog's origin are well known. During the late nineteenth century some of the undergraduates at Cambridge University bought small terrier dogs from a dog dealer named Charles (Doggy) Lawrence. These small terriers, generally red or black-and-tan in color, were popular pets and were sometimes known as Trumpington Terriers -- the name of the street in Cambridge where so many students lived.

Just prior to World War I, a Norwich huntsman introduced the short-legged terriers to the USA, calling them the "Jones Terrier" after Frank Jones who was a breeder in England who exporting a lot of dogs to America at the time.

In 1932 the dog was pulled into the American Kennel Club as the "Norwich Terrier," and a drop-eared version of this same dog was declared a "new breed" and labeled a "Norfolk Terrier" in 1979.  The dog entered the show ring at Westminster that very same year.

Satan Was Well Loved

At Westiminster: A Joke Elevated to Punch Line

This is what the AKC put up as a WORKING dog at Westminster?

Working at WHAT? This dog has never so much as seen a chicken. It can barely cross a lawn.

This is a rare breed because it doesn’t work. Dogs that work are never rare.

Modern Sussex Spaniels descend from only 7 dogs and have over 40 percent rates of hip dysplasia.

Expensive, useless, congenitally broken, and inbred.

Good job breeders!

And good job AKC, showing your continued contempt for work while insulting your financial base.

How many Labrador or Golden Retrievers have ever won Westminster?


And what percent of AKC dogs do those two breeds alone represent? About 25 percent, last I looked.

And the AKC wonders why it is augering into the ground with a registration collapse from 1.5 million a year to 400,000?  No wonder here!

Dogs Deserve More

It is a bitter irony that a dog’s life is measured by one man and a man’s life is measured by many dogs. Dog deserves more and man deserves less.
     —Wyoming Wildlife magazine, December 2017

Found at Mouthful of Feathers

But the AKC Said It's a Working Dog!

Entrenched Kansas Racism

"Kansas is not anxious to open up the doors of democracy
and let a dog get elected Governor.

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas election officials are putting the brakes on a dog's campaign for governor.

KWCH-TV reports that Terran Woolley, of Hutchinson, decided to file the paperwork over the weekend for his 3-year-old pooch, Angus, to run for the state's top office after reading stories about six teenage candidates.

The teens entered the race after learning Kansas doesn't have an age requirement, something lawmakers are seeking to change.

Angus is a type of hunting dog called a wire-haired Vizsla. Woolley figured Angus would need to run as a Republican. He described Angus as a "caring, nurturing individual who cares about the best for humanity and all creatures other than squirrels."

But the Kansas Secretary of State's office says man's best friend is not capable of serving the responsibilities required of the governor.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ugh, a Pug at Westminster

From the Associated Press comes this squib about breed blindness in the face of shocking deformity and early death:

Biggie the pug has taken the toy group at the Westminster dog show. Always popular at Madison Square Garden, this little guy was a crowd favorite, drawing a shout of "Go, Biggie!" as he strutted around the ring.

Handler Esteban Farias says pugs are wonderful, fun and loyal. Plus, he says this breed has another endearing trait.

"They snore," he said.

Farias says Biggie has filled a void in his life after a previous pug pal suddenly died during a routine walk.

"We have a little friend up in heaven, Mr. Rumble, who helped us win," he said.

Right. They snore.

You mean they have a lifetime problem with a compromised breathing system due to intentionally breeding a dog without a nose?

And Mr. Rumble? He was born in 2014, rushed to a championship before 8 months old, was best of breed at Westminster last year, and was dead before age 4.

Nice work breeders!

Coffee and Provocation

The Dogs of New York
From The New York Times comes an analysis of every dog registration in New York City: "New York’s dogs are as varied as its people, and their numbers can be just as telling. They can be a cipher for understanding gentrification, and sometimes predicting it — when the designer pups arrive, rising home prices may not be far behind. They become part of the identity of a neighborhood, and their shifting numbers, rising or falling, can say much about its future."

Paleolithic People Cared for Sick Dog
Ancient people cared for a sick, domesticated pup for weeks on end before it died of distemper about 14,000 years ago.

Dr. Dirt Will Save Us All
One gram of soil contains at least 1,000 bacterial species, and scientists are now mining those species to find new antibiotics. Sean Brady and colleagues at Rockefeller University in New York City have turned up a new family of dirt-living antibiotics called ‘malacidins’ which can kill pathogen resistant to vancomycin, one of the antibiotics of last resort. When applied to the skin of rats, the new antibiotics sterilized wounds infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Wood Tougher Than Steel
Genius engineers at the University of Maryland have found a way to make wood as tough as steel, as light as titanium, and far cheaper than Carbon fiber.

The Lions Would Like Dessert Now
Lions in South Africa's Kruger National Park ate a suspected poacher over the weekend. "It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions," Limpopo police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe said. "They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains." Police found a hunting rifle and ammo near the body.

Trump Kills a Gun Company
The Remington gun company is filing for bankruptcy. It seems that With Trump in office, fewer people are buying guns because they don’t fear new firearms controls. It seems gun owners don't really fear the possibility that communist Russians might control the government or that a fascist police state might rise up here in America. In fact, that's exactly what Trump voters support!

Escapism Meets Reality
A couple who sold everything for an adventurous life on a sailboat had it sink, with everything they owned on board, just two days later. "Their former home sits capsized, within sight of the bars and restaurants. Their belongings floated off to who knows where. Before they abandoned ship, Walsh grabbed their social security cards, some cash, his ID and her phone — and Remy, their 2-year-old Pug. They have no jobs, no savings and nowhere to go. 'I sold everything I had to do this,' Broadwell said, 'and I lost everything in a matter of 20 minutes.'"

Americans Use a LOT of Antibiotics on the Farm
Livestock raised for food in the US are dosed with five times as much antibiotic medicine as farm animals in the UK. The difference in rates of dosage rises to at least nine times as much in the case of cattle raised for beef.

A New Invasive Species In Virginia
The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma delicatula, at a stone yard in Frederick County near Winchester.

The Snow in the Wizard of Oz
Was made of asbestos.

"Dogs First" Means Health First

Back in 2009, ABC News' Nightline TV show interviewed me talking about the flat-faced dogs of Westminster. Listen to what the Bulldog owner says right at the beginning!

A Parade of Mutants

Going Full Tonto

As a liberal American who opposes black-face racist schticks, I am offended.

As an American terrier man who mocks the "Wind the Willows" ethos of the Brits, and who is not much on TV "presenters," I am amused.

Next Generation Police Dogs

Monday, February 12, 2018

Some of the Best White Water in the World

The Roaring Potomac River. Some of the best white water in the world is right here in Washington, D.C.

Darwin Day

DARWIN appeared on my toast this morning, and it turns out it's DARWIN DAY, his birthday. Mysterious!

The Darwin Day Song!

Happy Darwin Day!

Today is DARWIN DAY, the birthday of our hero, Charles Darwin.

Happy birthday Chuck D.!

The Mules and Canal Boats of an Earlier Era

The little rest stall seen in the center photo, is where the C&O Canal tow path mules are temporarily placed on the turn around after they have pulled the canal boats in summer. The canal boats are mothballed in winter, as can be seen in the top photo.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Holy Grail in Wildlife Transmitters

The folks at Cornell University have almost achieved the Holy Grail of wildlife tracking transmitters: a very small solar-powered wildlife tracker that never needs a battery and that can uplink to a satellite.

The first part of the problem is fixed, and the second half of the problem is now getting wildlife tech's full attention:

Cornell researchers have created a solar wildlife tag, an innovation that solves key challenges in bird-tracking devices: how to make them lightweight and long-lasting.

Batteries that power wildlife trackers make them too heavy for small bird species and limit the lifespan of such devices. By going solar and using efficient chips that coordinate processes to transmit a signal, the new tags weigh less than a gram.

“We got rid of the battery entirely,” said David Winkler, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, who led the development of the solar tags through a bioengineering development group on campus called TABER (Technology for Animal Biology and Environmental Research). “These are the first really small, totally solar-powered wildlife tags.”

Michael Lanzone, CEO of Cellular Tracking Technologies (CTT), signed a licensing agreement with the Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell University last summer and is now commercially producing the trackers, called Life Tags. A patent is also in the works.

Using 3-D printed harnesses developed by TABER and CTT, Life Tags can be permanently attached to birds without discomfort or hindrance, allowing researchers to track small birds over the course of their lifetimes. Ornithologists may now gather invaluable data on migration routes and dispersal, the movement from a young bird’s natal site to where it first breeds. The data promise to reveal valuable information about dispersal patterns, a life event that is poorly understood even though it affects every aspect of a species’ population biology, Winkler said.

One challenge of the small solar tags is they lack the power to connect with a satellite, which limits their range to just a mile or two. “That places the burden on you to get a receiver near your bird, by putting receiver stations in places where you think the birds will collect, a roost site or a migratory concentration point,” Winkler said.

To address this issue, Winkler and Lanzone and colleagues are testing a concept of using larger birds to track smaller birds, the first trial of which they are calling “VultureNet.” Turkey vultures with a battery-run receiver tuned to the frequency of the Life Tags will share air space and migration routes with smaller birds, such as tree swallows or sanderlings, that ornithologists want to study.

When the bigger bird flies within a mile of a swallow fitted with a Life Tag, it will transmit the tags ID along with GPS location and time to a satellite or cellular tower, enabling researchers to collect data remotely. “We want to do this in habitats around the world,” Winkler said.

Winkler and Lanzone are already planning an AlbatrossNet, to distribute receivers in the open ocean. Among other projects, they are also working with a colleague in Canada to design a tag and harness for eared grebes, an aquatic diving bird, and with colleagues in Monterey Bay, California, to design a Life Tag for sea otters.

Related Posts
** A Wildlife Transmitter Beats an Arrow In the Neck
** A Single Transmitter Made a World of Difference
** GPS Tracking for Hawks

Punch Magazine Predicted the Future in 1906

Click to enlarge. 

In 1906, Punch magazine predicted that people would be able to use “wireless telegraphs” to read sport results, news, or messages while ignoring each other in the park.

In the picture, the man is reading sport news and the woman is receiving an “amatory message”.

"Wireless," of course, is nothing more than radio signals, and your cell phone uses those to make telephone calls, send pictures and messages, access the internet, and even watch video.

Properly understood, a cell phone is simply a walkie-talkie with access to the bandwidth that was once reserved for the military.  In short, Punch nailed it!

Gathering Wool

The dogs are little black dots on the edge.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The High Cost of a Wild Animal Bite

If you occasionally handle wild animals, as I do, it's a game of Russian Roulette. If you do very much of this, you will eventually get bit even if you are careful. And if you get bit, you have to decide what to do. Do you wash it out and treat it like a knife wound, or do you go "Oh my God, it could be RABIES" and rush to the the nearest hospital or doctor for a full rabies work up?

I have faced that predicament and written about it, but now Vox lays out the financial consequences of rushing to a doctor.

[T]he drug that prevents rabies from spreading to the brain can cost more than $10,000 in the United States. In some cases I reviewed, hospitals charged more than six times what the identical drug would cost in the UK.

Insurance plans will often negotiate down those charges, but even those lower prices are still multiples higher than what patients pay in our peer countries, such as Canada or England.

“Rabies treatment is more expensive in the United States, as are many medical treatments, because we don’t have price controls,” says Charles Rupprecht, a biomedical consultant who previously ran the rabies control program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Emergency rooms, meanwhile, can exacerbate the pricing problem.

ERs typically are the only locations where patients can find the lifesaving treatment. And they charge significant “facility fees” to anyone who walks through their doors to seek treatment — including patients seeking a rabies vaccine.

Because rabies treatments includes a series of four shots delivered over two weeks — all at separate appointments — those costs can add up quickly.

“I have to go to the ER to get the drug, and each time I walk in the door, that is a $250 copayment just to start,” says Lisa Peterson, who went through rabies treatment in Utah in 2016 after being bitten by a raccoon. The public health department told her the only place she could get the injection was at the local emergency department.

She is still paying off her bills for the treatment — about $4,500 in total — with $100 a month. She still has about $600 to go, from emergency room visits that happened in the fall of 2016.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

A Race of Mutant Americans is Taking Over Europe

Self-cloning mutant crayfish from America
are taking over Europe's lakes, rivers, and streams and have now even reached Africa.

The six-inch-long marbled crayfish is a species that did not exist just 25 years ago. It appears to be a mutation of the Slough Crayfish, Procambarus fallax, which lives only in the tributaries of the Satilla River in Florida and Georgia.

Scooped up for the aquarium trade, a mutation seems to have occurred about 25 years ago enabling the crayfish to produce asexually.

All marbled crayfish are female.

The Marbled Crayfish has now been declared a species in its own right -- Procambarus virginalis. Slough Crayfish and Marbled Crayfish can produce no young together; this is a true species separation, albeit, where one is self-fertilizing clone.

Big Cat Terrorizes Scotland

From The Washington Post:

Police received an unusual and frantic call Saturday night about a wild animal on the loose in a village farm in northeast Scotland. The caller, a farm owner in the village of Hatton, told the Scottish Sun that he was having a housewarming party with his girlfriend and friends that night. He spotted the “tiger” when he went out to check on his pregnant cows.

“I got the fright of my life,” Bruce Grubb said, adding later: “I was worried it was going to eat all my cows before police managed to shoot it.”

Authorities contacted the nearest wildlife park to make sure no animals had escaped. Armed officers arrived at the scene, and a 45-minute standoff ensued, Police Scotland said. Photos posted on social media show the orange predator sitting on the ground in between cow pens.

Read the rest of the story at this link... and even more about the The Black Beast of Inkeberrow.

Related Posts:

** Big Cat Sighting in the UK Proves REAL
** Terrier of the Tiger Tower
** What Kills Sheep?
** When Lions Were in Sewers & Men Were Terriers
** P.T. Barnum and the Beastiaries of the Imagination
** Beast of Dartmoor is Caught
** Fantasy Creatures and Halloween
** Who Supplied the Hound of the Baskervilles?

Curiosity Kills the Rat

Rat hunting, 1850.

One of the many diseases harboured by rats is toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis is a major livestock disease and is a serious problem for humans. In the U.S., it is said that toxoplasmosis causes more congenital abnormalities than rubella, syphilis and herpes combined.

The Toxoplasma gondii parasite (a protozoan) passes from rats to cats to humans. It has long been known that toxoplasmosis changes rat behavior and makes them more susceptible to predation by domestic cats, which are the parasite's definitive host.

Dr. David Macdonald's team from the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford looked into how toxoplasmosis effects rat behaviour. They found that compared with healthy rats, infected rats were more active (and hence more prone to cat predation), more curious (even approaching humans), and more likely to overcome their innate fear of cat odour. Some infected rats even preferred areas scented with predator odors!

Obviously, a disease that makes rats lose fear of predators must have some adaptive benefit for the microrganism. And it does. Since infected rats are more likely to be killed by cats, the Toxoplasma cunningly helps move itself on to its final cat host.

Ironically, curiosity kills the rat, not the cat.

In most other respects, rats infected by Toxoplasma behave normally. They are not totally deranged and their social status within their warrens is unchanged. However, infected rats are less phobic of novel foods and are also more easily trapped. So, in addition to tempting fate with respect to predation, these unfortunate rats are also more susceptible to control measures.

Toxoplasmosis is very rarely carried by dogs. It is theoretically possible for a dog to get toxoplasmosis, but this is so rare (only occuring in dogs with seriously compromised immune systems that are already fighting off some other type of disease) that dogs are not considered a vector.
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