Saturday, February 18, 2017

Look Who Showed Up in a Field Magazine Tweet!

Two of the four dogs in this tweet from The Field magazine are my wee psychos. A link to the gallery of terrier pics from The Field magazine web site can be found here

Faulkner's Feist

I find that some paragraphs need shattering.

A case in point is this one from William Faulkner's The Bear in which he writes of the little bear-hunting terrier named Lion, the chief protagonist of the story.

The words are all Faulkner, but the carriage returns are my own.

Apologies if the addition of space to the text is an irritation, but this is such an intricate piece of work done in such dense rhetorical wood,  that I fear the good bits may get lost if presented too quickly as a whole.

..[A]nd a little dog,

nameless and mongrel and many-fathered,


yet weighing less than six pounds,

who couldn't be dangerous

because there was nothing anywhere much smaller,

not fierce

because that would have been called just noise,

not humble

because it was already too near the ground to genuflect,

and not proud

because it would not have been close enough

for anyone to discern what was casting that shadow,

and which didn't even know it was not going to heaven

since they had already decided it had no immortal soul,

so that all it could be was brave

even though they would probably call that too

just noise.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Car Jacking: The Continuing Crisis

Raccoon Hitches a Ride on the Restaurant Truck

This raccoon hitched a ride from Rosslyn to Falls Church, Virginia (my house is located between the two points) this morning.

He got off when the driver was notified, was looked over by an animal control officer, and then was released to go on his way.

The War on Cats to Save a Species

The Heath Hen lost the war and is now extinct thanks to hunting, fire, disease, feral cats, fox, and development.

In the end, they killed cats in droves to protect the birds, as this gibbet suggests, but still they kept coming until the Heath Hen was no more.

But is that all of the story? I argue it is not. The Heath Hen, after all, was not a species, but a subspecies of the Greater Prairie Chicken, which still exists. If anyone wants to "reintroduce" the Heath Hen back to Massachusetts, or any of the states with scrubby heath barrens along the North American coast from New Hampshire to northern Virginia, all they have to do is have the right habitat and cover free of feral cats, fox, dogs, hawks, coyotes, bobcats, and other predators. Good luck!

Fish on Friday

In Iraqi Kurdistan, a restaurant called ‘Trump Fish" has opened offering bottom-feeder common carp prepared in traditional Kurdish style. The fish are freshly caught from the nearby Duhok reservoir and slowly baked near an open fire for over 1.5 hours before being served whole.

Long and Low and Dry as a Bone

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Kennel Club Horse Show

Let's Do to Horses What We Did to Shepherds

One of my friends in the U.K. has bird-dogged me to a Belgium blog at which the German Shepherd dog has been morphed from what it once looked like to what it looks like now in the show ring.

See below.

The blog's clever author then went on to morph a horse to show what that animal would look like if we did to horses what we have done to German Shepherds.

See below.

Anyone want to be a Jockey on this one?

Pass It On

Trump is Burning

How fast has it come undone??  Obama is still on VACATION.

This so-called "President," who did not win the popular vote, and who Time magazine has painted as a Pinocchio easily manipulated by Steve Bannon, is being openly mocked by world leaders even as the leadership of his own party is curling away in abject terror.

Millions of people have already taken to the streets in protest, and Congressional phone lines are ringing off the hook to the point that the phones are being unplugged.

Members of Congress from both parties are terrified to hold meetings in their districts -- Republicans because they cannot defended the indefensible, and Democrats because they have not yet physically set the White House on fire.

Trump's immediate staff is worried they will lose their jobs within the month, while Trump's National Security Advisor has been fired, and three close associates are under investigation for possible treason.

At least 20 national security agencies are investigating the Trump Administration for bribery, conflicts, and manipulation by foreign agents and banks, while the CIA and FBI say they are finding everything that they can check in the infamous "British Dossier" is coming up true,  Rumors swirl that the Russians have both video and audio tape of Trump with prostitutes, and that this tape is from multiple locations on multiple dates. The specificity of this charge, and the fact that is comes from MI-5, is frightening.

The burn rate and trajectory here is like nothing we have ever seen.  It is unsustainable, and rather than slow down, the vortex of dysfunction seems to be speeding up, with Trump's poll numbers in free fall, and the actionable lies stacking up like cord wood.

The core problem is Trump himself.  He is a sociopath and a malignant narcissist who has surrounded himself with people so eager to have their 15-seconds of fame, that they are willing to sell America to the Russians, poison our rivers, and see thousands of American go bankrupt and die from lack of health care.

America will not put up with it. We will have our nation back, and it will be sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Pretenders and Fantasists at Westminster

What you see, in the picture above, is true inbred thinking.

This German Shepherd -- the winner of the Westminster Dog Show -- is standing on its own hock -- a serious structural defect caused by a deformed back and hip structure.

This is a herding dog, that has never seen a sheep, being celebrated by people who have spent a lifetime ruining dogs, and who have never once wondered why the U.S. Secret Service will not use a U.S.-bred German Shepherd to do anything.

Max von Stephanitz suspected it might come to this.  Over a hundred years ago, the creator of the German Shepherd wrote:

"The breeding of Shepherd dogs must be the breeding of working dogs, this must always be the aim or we shall cease to produce working dogs.

In contradistinction to working and utility breeding is "sport" breeding, which produces a temporary advance but is always followed by deterioration, for it is not done for the sake of the DOG, nor does it make him more useful, it is done for the vanity of the breeder and the subsequent purchaser."

Of course, the deterioration of the German Shepherd was assured as soon as the dog was pulled into the show ring.  Look at the skeletal differences between true herding dogs and the wrecked American German Shepherd Dog.

Master Race to the Bottom

German Shepherd wins Westminster.  #PresidentSteveBannon so proud! #WestminsterDogShow

The Police State of North Dakota

All of Native American history in one photo.

New Kennel Club Standard: Dog Must Be Able To Actually Stand Without Assisstance

GSD bitch Cruaghaire Catoria was best of breed at Crufts in 2016.

No, this is not a joke. From the folks at Crufts:

With effect from 1 August 2016, the Characteristics clause of the Kennel Club Breed Standard for the German Shepherd Dog has been changed as follows (new wording is inside the asterixes):

Characteristics: Versatile working dog, balanced and free from exaggeration. ***Must be capable of standing comfortably and calmly, freely and unsupported in any way, in structural balance, whilst both rear pasterns are vertical.*** Attentive, alert, resilient and tireless with keen scenting ability.

This is being touted at DogWorld as "KC imposes tough measures," which pretty much summarizes what is wrong with the entire mind set of the show dog world. Requiring a top show dog to be able to actually stand without support is a "tough" standard!

But guess what? The show dog people are bawling about it. Again, from Dog World:
The German Shepherd judge at Crufts 2018 is having second thoughts about the appointment following the Kennel Club’s shake-up of the breed.

Nikki Farley – who is WUSV/GSD League British Regional Group chairman – said she was not sure that the KC could ‘break its contract’ with her that way.

“I have a contract and letters from them and nowhere there does it say anything about having to re-sit an examination,” she said.

“So I need to look at more detailed information and think very seriously about it.

“What the KC has done is horrible, but it hasn’t really surprised me.”

I have said it in the past,
and I will repeat it here:  It's time to shut down the Kennel Club.

It is the Kennel Club that mandates that dogs be bred in a closed registry system in which increasing levels of inbreeding are the inevitable byproduct.

It is the Kennel Club that green lights the standards which select for defect and which means that most members of some breeds suffer their whole lives.

It is the Kennel Club that credentials judges who have no idea of what they are doing because they know nothing about working dogs or even the basics of anatomy.

It is the Kennel Club that gives show dogs zero points for health, zero points for work, and zero points for temperament.

It is the Kennel Club that allows puppy mill dogs to be registered

It is the Kennel Club that refuses to allow any breed club to mandate health tests as a requirement for registration.

It is the Kennel Club that refuses to allow any breed club to mandate working tests as a requirement for registration.

It is the Kennel Club that refuses to allow any breed club to delay registration until a dog is an adult and is actually proven to look like the breed it is supposed to be.

The Kennel Club is not same faceless entity; it is run by people with names, and it time those people were brought up on charges for systematic abuse of man's best friend.

To be clear, what has occurred to dogs is real abuse, and it has not been an "accident" but part of a systematic and regimented plan that has predictably led to millions of dogs in long-term pain, early death, and endless misery.

It's time to shut it down.

Monday, February 13, 2017

At Westminster, Health and Work Get ZERO Points

The logo of the Westminster Dog Show features a pointer, but don't let that fool you, as honest field work is counted for ZERO points at Westminster.

 Health and temperament also get ZERO points at Westminster.

Westminster is NOT about breeding better dogs;  it's about propping up an artificial market in dogs with closed registries, potted fictional histories, and sniffing pretensions.

John Quincy Adams, Dog Delivery Man

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Darwin Day

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

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Coffee and Provocation

Don't Give Us Any New Ideas
A group of chimpanzees conspired, killed, and cannibalized an abusive former leader.

The Back  Yard Lions of Los Angeles
What do you do when the neighborhood wildlife eats your pet Alpaca?

Amazon Fire Tablet for $40
This is how I watch TV when the wife is watching something else.

Meat Eating Plants
How did some plants evolve to eat meat?

A Robo Barista?
Yep, it's come to that.

The Mango Mussolini's Paid Applauders
Donald Trump and his spokes-liars say over 3 million protesters were "paid." That's a total and transparent lie from a lying liar. But what's not a lie is that BogusPOTUS launched his presidential campaign in front of an "audience" of actors paid $50/each to wear campaign shirts and cheer wildly, and he brought a version of this paid cheering section with him into the presidency, bringing along staffers to applaud at key moments during his press conferences and other appearances, such as his disastrous speech in front of the CIA. Paid applauders is such an old scam, it has a name: a claque.

Massive Mayan Roads Found
In Guatemala, scientists have found a system of superhighways that once connected pyramidal complexes, which means the Maya civilization can be said to rival that of the Romans.

One for the Truck, the Car, the Pack
A 3-pack of Smith & Wesson black Tanto Tactical Knifes for $23.

Vincent Van Gogh's Terriermen

Vincent van Gogh painted this scene in 1889 and titled it "Two Diggers Among Trees," but it could just as well have been called The Terriermen.  Today, it is located in the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan.

Public Lands are a Public Good: Protect Them

America’s 640 million acres of national public lands -- including our national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands -- provide hunting and fishing opportunities to millions of Americans. They represent the uniquely American values of freedom and adventure that are the envy of the world.

Public lands need to remain federal public lands. Why? Simple: Individual states do not have the ability to shoulder enormous costs associated with fighting wildfires, maintaining roads and trails, eradicating invasive species, and conducting habitat restoration on millions of acres. Without the money to maintain public lands, states would sell off vast chunks of land, at bargain rates, to the highest bidders, which would include billionaires who would close access, and foreign corporations that would strip America's lands for private profits parked overseas.

If You Kill Me, You Better Kill the Dogs Too

Because revenge is a bitch.

Christmas Ferns in the Woods

I found a nice lay up of Christmas Ferns (Polystichum acrostichoides) while walking in the woods last weekend. Christmas Ferns tolerate a wide range of water conditions, from dry to moist, and are evergreen. They lie pancake flat like this in the winter.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Resist the Assault on Public Lands

We Will Build the Fence, and Rabbits Will Pay for It!

"We will build the fence, and the rabbits will pay for it!”

Christina's World

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth, 1948

From the Discover magazine blog comes this note about the secret sadness behind this iconic painting:"

In 1896, at the early age of three, Anna Christina Olson had trouble walking. Her balance was off, she walked with a notably unusual waddle even for a toddler, and her mother crafted knee pads to buffer her tumbles. These difficulties of gait and balance would worsen as she aged, a progressive deterioration of function, causing the girl to lose strength first in her legs and then eventually in her arms and hands before she became nearly immobile. In 1919, during her mid-20s, she reluctantly agreed to spend one fruitless week in Boston City Hospital as an inpatient. They failed to diagnose her, offering the uninspiring prescription that she “just go on living as [she had] always done”.

Christina never used a wheelchair, preferring to crawl around her home, a 16-room farmhouse and its massive grounds in Cushing, Maine. Andrew Wyeth would describe her “crawling like a crab over the New England shore,” using the remaining strength in her shoulders and hips to pitch herself forward. She is captured in this precise pose, mid-crawl up a hill, in Wyeth’s painting.

We Will Build a Fence and the Dingos Will Pay For It

When You Come Home Early

Caught in the act.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Goodbye Hans Rosling, and Thanks!

I just learned that Hans Rosling died this morning, surrounded by his family. I am gutted.  It was pancreatic cancer.

Han Rosling was a powerful, fact-filled, and humorous voice of optimism; the kind of thing we need now than ever.  His Gap Minder web site unveiling the beauty of statistics as moving musical notes rather than static tones.

Long time readers of this blog are encouraged to review a few of the times he was featured on this blog and to visit the Gap Minder web site as well.  Goodbye Hans -- you were loved and will be missed.  You made a real difference.

Trump Decides to Enable Animal Abuse

National Geographic
has come out swinging
over the Trump Administration's decision to hide online records of animal welfare violations, a move that will "rob journalists, investigators, and the public of timely information and takes pressure off abusers."

Two weeks into the Trump Administration, thousands of documents detailing animal welfare violations nationwide have been removed from the website of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has been posting them publicly for decades. These are the inspection records and annual reports for every commercial animal facility in the U.S.—including zoos, breeders, factory farms, and laboratories.

These records have revealed many cases of abuse and mistreatment of animals, incidents that, if the reports had not been publicly posted, would likely have remained hidden. This action plunges journalists, animal welfare organizations, and the public at large into the dark about animal welfare at facilities across the country. The records document violations of the Animal Welfare Act, the federal law that regulates treatment of animals used for research and exhibition. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which has maintained the online database, cites privacy concerns as justification for the removal.

Critics question that reasoning. The agency has long redacted sensitive information from these records, and commercial facilities do not necessarily have the same right to privacy as private individuals. “The citizens of the United States deserve to see that information,” says Dan Ashe, head of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He says the USDA's removal of records is “not in the interest of credible, legitimate animal care facilities. What [the action] does is it erodes public confidence, because when people see something like that, they're inclined, rightfully, to think that the government is trying to shield something from their view.”

Dystopian Novels Now Top Sellers

Dystopian novels (the opposite of utopian) are now top sellers on Amazon. Top titles include Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  Not yet rising, as it is not yet written, is my terrier-based hunting guide to the Terror Planet.

From Comedy to Reality

This is MURPHY BROWN in 1995. We thought this was comedy.

Switzerland Second

Monday, February 06, 2017

Standing Tough for America

I wonder what Cry Baby Trump is going to say and tweet about this?  Snowflake!

Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch suited up to support American values and tradition, and they were not alone.

A tech-heavy collection of nearly 100 companies filed an amicus curiae brief against the Trump administration’s "Muslim ban" executive order, calling it “unlawful.” The letter is a rare coordinated effort by a group of rivals including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Uber, and Lyft.

Bobcat Filmed up the Street

This bobcat was filmed up the street yesterday.

Revolution Underground

Anthony J. Martin's book, "The Evolution Underground" is to be released tomorrow. Not yet terrierman approved, but I have to say it sounds like my cup of tea and coffee. For sale on Amazon.

What is the best way to survive when the going gets tough? Hiding underground. From penguins to dinosaurs, trilobites, and humans, Anthony Martin reveals the subterranean secret of survival.

Humans have “gone underground” for survival for thousands of years, from underground cities in Turkey to Cold War–era bunkers. But our burrowing roots go back to the very beginnings of animal life on earth. Without burrowing, the planet would be very different today. Many animal lineages alive now—including our own—only survived a cataclysmic meteorite strike 65 million years ago because they went underground. On a grander scale, the chemistry of the planet itself had already been transformed many millions of years earlier by the first animal burrows, which altered whole ecosystems. Every day we walk on an earth filled with an under-ground wilderness teeming with life. Most of this life stays hidden, yet these animals and their subterranean homes are ubiquitous, ranging from the deep sea to mountains, from the equator to the poles. Burrows are a refuge from predators, a safe home for raising young, or a tool to ambush prey. Burrows also protect animals against all types of natural disasters: fires, droughts, storms, meteorites, global warmings—and coolings. In a book filled with spectacularly diverse fauna, acclaimed paleontologist and ichnologist Anthony Martin reveals this fascinating, hidden world that will continue to influence and transform life on this planet.

Click here to read a previous post on this blog about the architecture of burrows from one who has dug on a few!

Bone Cancer in Dogs

First, the good news:  most people are not buying breeds with a high prevalence of bone cancer, i.e. osteo sarcoma.

The bad news is that bone cancer is quite common in greyhounds and many extra large breeds.

Nationwide Pet Insurance, 
formerly VPI, aka NationwideDVM, has produced a nice new study on the prevalance of Osteosarcoma in dogs. Check it out!

Bottom line: "the most reliable predictor of a higher prevalence of osteosarcoma is the size and/or breed of a dog."   Thanks to Gina Spadafori for sending this to me -- nice work from Nationwide!

A Skein of Geese, a Sign of Hope

This skein of Canada Geese flew past me yesterday -- a reminder that what was lost has largely been regained.

It is hard to describe the destruction of American wildlife between 1850 and 1900.

By 1850 all the Elk had been shot out in the East, the Forest Bison pushed into complete extinction, the Wolf extirpated from everywhere in the East but the Maine woods.

Between 1850 and 1900 the great herds of Plains Bison were cut down to within a few hundred animals of extinction, White Tail Deer and Wild Turkey were virtually extirpated along most of the Atlantic seaboard, geese and ducks of every type were slaughtered in dizzying numbers by shrapnel fired from cannon used by market hunters, and the beaver had simply vanished from every state East of Ohio. The Carolina Parakeet and Passenger Pigeon were gone, as was the Eskimo Curlew -- birds which once numbered in the millions.

The turn around in American wildlife populations began with passage of the Lacey Act in 1907, which banned market hunting.

A critical turn around in the fortunes of wild geese and duck occurred in 1935 when live decoys -- wild birds that had been trapped and made flightless with pinned or clipped wings -- was made illegal.

It looked like the ban on live decoys had come too late for some species, however. One of those species was the Giant Canada Goose which was thought to be extinct -- or nearly extinct -- in the wild.

The good news is that while there were almost no wild Canada Geese left, captive decoy goose populations still existed. With the 1935 ban on the use of decoy geese, most of these animals were released into marshes and onto ponds. Unable to fly, many of these animals quickly fell prey to fox and dogs, but some managed to grow back their feathers or live long enough to reproduce.

During World War II and into the 1950s, the descendants of once-captive Giant Canada Geese slowly multiplied in remote marshes and isolated ponds. While a natural recovery seemed to be occurring, these descendants of once-captive geese were largely non-migratory since, after three or four generations in captivity prior to 1935, they no longer had any "lead geese" to show them the way North.

In the 1960s the Giant Canada Geese population remained so low across the U.S. that it was considered extirpated in most states and near-extinct in the wild. In order to prevent extinction, a systematic effort was made to captive-raise Giant Canada Geese and introduce small flocks back into areas where they had once existed.

The introduction of Canada Geese was a phenomenal success. Absent hunting and disease, small flocks of Canada Geese grew by 10 to 20 percent percent a year -- a population doubling time of just 3 to 7 years time.

In a relatively short period of time, states saw a phenomenal growth in their Giant Canada Goose populations. Ohio, to cite on example, began with just 20 captive-raised birds in 1956, but by 2002 had a population of over 140,000 birds. Today almost all the geese you see in the Eastern U.S,. and Midwest are Giant Canada Geese.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the current resident Giant Canada Goose population of the U.S. at 4 million birds and growing rapidly, with a small number of truly migratory Giant Canada Geese still found in the mid-Atlantic flyway.

Giant Canada Geese have also been introduced into other parts of the world, most notably Europe, where they are also thriving.

The "goose problem" today is not extinction but an over-abundance of geese in areas where heavy population densities may inconvenience golfers and cause eutrophication of farm ponds.

A boom in geese populations, however is not too bad a problem as problems go, and it has certainly been a benefit for fox which frequently raid Canada Goose nests in order to feed rapidly growing kits.

The rise of Canada Geese has also created a boom in sport hunting which now pumps hundreds of millions of dollars a year into rural economies. No one has benefited more from the demise of commercial market hunting than the sport hunter.

With the demise of market hunting, and with the assistance of capable wildlife managers, the Giant Canada Goose has returned, as has the wild turkey, the beaver, the bison, the elk, white tail deer, alligator and even the wolf. Truly, these are the good old days.


What's the Matter With the Terriers?

In a piece entitled "Talking to the Terriers at the Westminster Dog Show," Oliver Roeder, over at the political and statistics blog 538 writes:

The American Kennel Club, which is the governing body for dog shows and whose membership includes Westminster, tallies the most popular breeds in the country each year, going back to 1935. This data is based on purebred dog registrations with the club, which says it registers nearly 1 million dogs each year. (There are something like 80 million dogs owned in the U.S.) [In the mid-20th century,] many of the all-star terrier breeds began to decline.

This fall from prominence has affected more than the multi-champion terrier breeds. The Dandie Dinmont, the Skye, the Kerry Blue, the Bedlington, the Welsh, the standard Manchester, the Australian and the Lakeland have all seen significant declines in popularity, as well.

For some terrier breeds, the situation is existential. In 2011, a campaign was launched to save the Sealyham terrier — winner of four Westminster Best in Shows and once the dog of choice of King George V, Cary Grant and Elizabeth Taylor — from extinction. “If we can save the rhino or tiger, we can surely save this useful and charming breed of dog,” the British magazine Country Life wrote.

If this sounds like you might have heard it before, it's because you have: I reviewed the data for Westminster some years back, and explained how the Fox Terrier got ruined:

[A]lmost all the early [Westminster] winners were terriers, and most of them were Fox Terriers.

It was during this period of time 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 got into Fox Terriers.

Probably no breed could have survived such intent attention without being wrecked by fad.

The Fox Terrier certainly did not.

Today, Fox Terriers are not found working in the field because, with few exceptions, their chests are too big to get to ground in a tight earth.

In 1990 the U.K. Kennel Club admitted on to its roles a dog they called the "Parson Jack Russell Terrier," a name just invented for the occassion.

The dog was, in fact, nothing more than a Jack Russell Terrier -- the unimproved Fox Terrier that had existed prior to the Kennel Club's creation.

In 1999 The Kennel Club changed the name of the dog to the "Parson Russell Terrier," (another name invented whole-cloth by Kennel Club theorists) to distinguish the Kennel Club dog from working Jack Russell Terriers still found in the field.

Today, Parson Russell Terriers, in both the U.K and the U.S. are rarely found at work in the field.

Why? Simple because once again their chests have grown too large.

I expanded on this post a few years later in a post entitled The Transvestite Terriers of Westminster.
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.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

A Parade of Mutants at Westminster

Last year, the editorial board at USA Today
took a look at what the American Kennel Club was up to, and they were not supportive:

As the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show moves to its final round Tuesday, a TV audience of dog lovers can watch the best in breeds strut their stuff, striving to show that perfect championship form. And while the public will see many lovely, healthy dogs in the ring, some breeds have paid a high price — a wide array of medical problems, even difficulty breathing or moving — in the pursuit of human-designed breed “standards.”

In some cases, beauty, as dictated by breed clubs, has trumped health, and dogs are suffering unnecessarily.

No breed better illustrates this tragic descent than the once-proud English bulldog, whose short, flattened face makes breathing and cooling down difficult, while its massive head, large even in puppies, makes natural birth all but impossible. Bulldogs often require cesarean sections.

... The pug and Pekingese, toy breeds with big eyes and protruding eyeballs, suffer from eye problems, in addition to sharing the bulldog’s breathing troubles. Breeds with deep wrinkles, such as the bloodhound and shar-pei, suffer from skin infections.

Many German shepherds have poor gait and movement. The dogue de Bordeaux (recall the lovable, slobbering giant that was Tom Hanks’ dog in Turner & Hooch) is similarly at higher risk for skin problems and lameness.

And the list goes on.

While the vast majority of pedigree dog owners do not compete in shows, the ideals set in the ring influence what owners want. And perhaps some breeds with the most severe problems are victims of their own success. The bulldog has risen in the ranks to become America’s fourth most popular breed. The German shepherd is No. 2. Success leaves little motive to change — except, of course, for the dogs' welfare.

There Are No Winners at Westminster; Only Losers

Let's be clear that there are no winners at the Westminster Dog Show -- only losers.

The losers are both the dogs and the people.

A Reasonable Conjecture

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Scouting on A Bright Cold Day

Misto checked dens with me today. I keep track of den locations using the Pinbox app. All of these dens, but one, are groundhog dens. A fox was seen above ground, mousing along a swale full of unmowed tall grass.