Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Hercules Beetle Larvae to Terrarium

After watching the development of this Hercules Beetle from larvae to adult on YouTube (cool video, check it out), and after catching a few Eastern Hercules Beetles that have flown into my own house over the years, I decided to order off for two Eastern Hercules Beetle larvae (Dynastes tityus) to raise up in a home terrarium. 

The larvae were very easy to order from Bugs In Cyberspace, and since I already had an empty and BIG glass terrarium, and an open bag of rotting hardwood wood mulch, the cost and effort was low.  

The larvae are now safely housed in a deep bed of well-watered mulch, and there is not much to do now but make sure they don't dry out (the terrarium has a glass lid), and wait a year or so.  I will plant something small on top of the larva, with maybe a little sign saying "future site of Hercules Plantation".

I do not know the sex ratio of Hercules Beetles, but  assuming it's even, the two larvae I have now should give me a 75% chance of getting at least one male.

Now With Interchangeable Body Parts

A Bentley for Falconry

Bentley introduced a falconry-themed Bentayga model car earlier this month. From the Bentley website comes this description:

“The Bentayga Falconry is just one expression of our capabilities, showcasing how our skilled craftspeople can devise and execute elegant bespoke solutions to compliment any lifestyle or hobby — from falconry and fly fishing to anything that you are passionate about.”

The Bentayga Falconry comes with two removable perches for your bird of prey; one in the trunk, and another between the front seats.

Terrierman believes Bentley need a Benayga Terrier Work, and I am even willing to write hysterically funny copy for it, as I have old-school Bentley experience.

The picture, below, is myself as a child, with family, in Morocco with our 1937 Bentley 4 1/4 Litre H-J. Mulliner Pillarless Saloon, Chassis Number B163JY.  And yes, that's a terrier.

Every Article by Stanley Coren

Dog Training Your Children

Old School Locator Collars

I don't think too many people are still digging with these old school Deben locator collars, but I am. The trick with the old school "knocker" collars is to understand that they were made defective, with a wire nearly exposed on the outer casing. These collars were, literally, designed to short out after a year or two. By taking brand new collars and covering them with JB Weld Epoxy to bury that wire, and by putting a rubber compression gasket on the cap, and by taping the collars well, I have managed to get a thousand digs out of these collars. I have slide tags on all the collars in  case a dog gets lost and found (that's not happened yet), and the small red collars are more collars with slide tags that I make all visiting dogs wear (an entirely different kind of locator collar).

Hunting Out of a Ford C-Max Hybird

When I traded in the 15-mpg Ford Explorer for the 40 mpg C-Max hybrid, I wondered if the dogs and gear would fit all right.

It's not a bit too roomy, but I can get the dogs, tools, and even a folding bike inside for a day in the field. All good!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Documenting Trump's Failing Brain

From StatNews comes this alarming
investigative look into Donald Trump's collapsing cognition:

Research has shown that changes in speaking style can result from cognitive decline. STAT therefore asked experts in neurolinguistics and cognitive assessment, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists, to compare Trump’s speech from decades ago to that in 2017; they all agreed there had been a deterioration, and some said it could reflect changes in the health of Trump’s brain.

In interviews Trump gave in the 1980s and 1990s (with Tom Brokaw, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, Charlie Rose, and others), he spoke articulately, used sophisticated vocabulary, inserted dependent clauses into his sentences without losing his train of thought, and strung together sentences into a polished paragraph, which — and this is no mean feat — would have scanned just fine in print. This was so even when reporters asked tough questions about, for instance, his divorce, his brush with bankruptcy, and why he doesn’t build housing for working-class Americans.

Trump fluently peppered his answers with words and phrases such as “subsided,” “inclination,” “discredited,” “sparring session,” and “a certain innate intelligence.” He tossed off well-turned sentences such as, “It could have been a contentious route,” and, “These are the only casinos in the United States that are so rated.” He even offered thoughtful, articulate aphorisms: “If you get into what’s missing, you don’t appreciate what you have,” and, “Adversity is a very funny thing.”

Now, Trump’s vocabulary is simpler. He repeats himself over and over, and lurches from one subject to an unrelated one, as in this answer during an interview with the Associated Press last month:

“People want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall, my base really wants it — you’ve been to many of the rallies. OK, the thing they want more than anything is the wall. My base, which is a big base; I think my base is 45 percent. You know, it’s funny. The Democrats, they have a big advantage in the Electoral College. Big, big, big advantage. … The Electoral College is very difficult for a Republican to win, and I will tell you, the people want to see it. They want to see the wall.”

For decades, studies have found that deterioration in the fluency, complexity, and vocabulary level of spontaneous speech can indicate slipping brain function due to normal aging or neurodegenerative disease. STAT and the experts therefore considered only unscripted utterances, not planned speeches and statements, since only the former tap the neural networks that offer a window into brain function.

...The reason linguistic and cognitive decline often go hand in hand, studies show, is that fluency reflects the performance of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the seat of higher-order cognitive functions such as working memory, judgment, understanding, and planning, as well as the temporal lobe, which searches for and retrieves the right words from memory. Neurologists therefore use tests of verbal fluency, and especially how it has changed over time, to assess cognitive status.

Dirt in the Eyes

Washing dirt out of a working terrier's eyes is essential when they look like this. A squirt bottle with water that is a few days old is easy on the eyes, as the chlorine will have aged out.

The End of a Horror?

The Yulin Dog Festival in China is not an ancient or traditional festival; it was invented in 2009 as a way for dog meat traders to make more money. For the last 7 years, thousands of dogs have been beaten and tortured before being skinned alive for restaurant meals.

Not this year.

The government of China has temporarily banned
the sale of dog meat at restaurants, markets, and street vendors. Those who don’t obey will be facing a fine of up to 100,000 yuan (nearly $15,000) and arrested.

The ban comes into effect on June 15th, one week before what was to be the start of the Yulin Dog Meat Festival which has now been cancelled after 11 million people around the world protested.

Cat meat, however, is still currently allowed at the Yulin festival

The Corn Is Just Starting to Come Up

Looking for Den Pipes Under Downed Timber

You can see a den pipe half obscured by branches at bottom right, but the object of her desire was a little farther on.

Establishing Boundaries

This cartoon
is from the great Nina Paley. I post it here because it reminds me of all the folks with dog problems.  They ask: "How do you get Rover to stop doing [behavior]."  I ask:  "What are you doing now?"  And they just blink.  What?  They are supposed to DO something???

You Can Never Be Too Careful

Monday, May 22, 2017

My Garage Door

The "Mexican" Workers in Britain are Bulgarian

From The Guardian comes this story of jobs no Briton will do:

On 24 June last year, the few hundred residents of a temporary village, hidden from view in the middle of a West Sussex soft fruit farm, received letters. They were signed by David Kay, the managing director of the Hall Hunter Partnership, a business that grows 10% of the UK’s strawberries, 19% of its raspberries and a whacking 42% of its blueberries across thousands of acres, of both glasshouses and polytunnels. The recipients were his seasonal workforce, some of the 3,000 pickers from Bulgaria, Romania and elsewhere who come here each year to get the harvest in, and without whom the business would simply not exist.

It seems the United States is not the only country in the world subsidizing low prices in the supermarket aisle by paying wages so low wages no native workers will do the job.

As it reported, around 20% of all employees in British agriculture come from abroad, these days mostly Romania and Bulgaria, while 63% of all staff employed by members of the British Meat Processors Association are not from the UK. Around 400,000 people work in food manufacturing here, and more than 30% of those are also from somewhere else. If free movement of labour stops, the British food industry won’t just face difficulties. Some parts will shudder to a halt. Shelves will be emptied. Prices will shoot up.

And it's not just pickers and packer jobs that are going to desperate foreigners, it's vet work as well:
[U]nder Food Standards Agency rules, an abattoir in England, Wales or Northern Ireland cannot operate unless the animals on the way to slaughter are overseen by one of their vets. This is work British vets don’t want to do. They would rather be out on the farm with livestock in the prime of their lives, or dealing with domestic pets. As a result, at least 85% of vets in British abattoirs are not from the UK. Apparently, the majority are Spanish. And if they couldn’t get into the country to do the job, the meat supply chain would collapse.

Insurance Company Facilitates Dog Dealers

Britain’s largest pet insurance company, PetPlan, has been awarding dog dealers the status of ‘trusted breeders’ without performing so much as a basic check. The predictable result is puppies born into squalid conditions and riddled with disease.

And the whole things is fueled by kick kabcks: Every time a new puppy customer takes out a Petplan insurance policy, the breeders who is signed up to the "trusted breeder" scheme receives a "commission’ in the form of shopping vouchers.

Petplan makes no checks when accepting a new breeder on to its register; it's simply a pay-to-play dog dealing scheme with absolutely no oversight, inspection, or safeguards.

Being registered as a "trusted breeder" (i.e. paying a small sum and having your check clear the bank) allows puppy farmers to list and advertise their dpgs on Petplan’s "Find A Pet: website.

The Petplan scheme has been used by criminal dealers who buy in puppies but pose as breeders.

A gang of six dealers from Greater Manchester, led by former escort Grace Banks, imported hundreds of dogs from puppy farms in Ireland then pretended they had been born at home to family pets.\

She and her brother Julian King raked in about £8,000 a week between them by selling puppies in poor health to unwitting animal lovers. When arrested, Banks, 29, was found to have dead puppies in the boot of her Mercedes. The gang were registered with Petplan and offered the insurance cover with their dogs, some of which had just days to live....

...The gang were selling puppies of various breeds, including chihuahuas, pomeranians, spaniels, shih tzus and Yorkshire terriers, for between £550 and £650 each. Yet 65 per cent were later found by their heartbroken new owners to have had life-threatening, congenital defects.

Anyone Home?

Misto watches as Moxie works her way through the pipe looking for life. There was no one home at this spot on this day.

The Great Atomic Power :: Louvin Brothers

From 1962 comes this Louvin Brothers tune that was released as the Cuban Missile Crisis was coming to a point.

Refrain: Are you (are you) ready
For the great atomic power?
Will you rise and meet your Savior in the air?
Will you shout or will you cry
When the fire rains from on high?
Are you ready for the great atomic power?

Do you fear this man's invention
That they call atomic power
Are we all in great confusion
Do we know the time or hour
When a terrible explosion
May rain down upon our land
Meting horrible destruction
Blotting out the works of man


There is one way to escape it
Be prepared to meet the lord
Give your heart and soul to Jesus
He will be your shielding sword
He will surely stay beside you
And you'll never taste of death
For your soul will fly to safety
And eternal peace and rest


There's an army who can conquer
All the enemy's great band
It's the regiment of Christians
Guided by the Savior's hand
When the mushrooms of destruction
Fall in all it's fury great
God will surely save His children
From that awful awful fate


Den Repair

Den repair is part of proper terrier work.  Dens, after all, are not just used by groundhogs, but by raccoons, possums, and fox.

This dig was shallow, but a bit of a mess as it was almost in a cave of wood under a fallen tree.

If you just put the dirt back in the hole, you fill the den pipe and leave a big divot where water collects -- a very bad situation for future occupation. I branch over den pipes, as shown, and try to put vegetation, old feed bags, big flat rocks, or bark over the branches to keep the dirt out, with a water-shedding mound  of dirt on top.

Big Coyotes, Seen and Unseen

While driving out to hunt the dogs on Sunday, the biggest coyote I've ever seen ran right in front of my car. It was approaching 50 pounds, and I actually weigh animals, so that's not hyperbole.

Later, while repairing a groundhog sette on the edge of a field, I spotted this coyote turd. That's a #8 Opinel Knife for comparison purposes, so this is not a fox. And it's not a larger dog either; notice the fur in the scat.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Water Is More Expensive Than Gasoline

I stopped to pick up a gallon of water for the dogs, and quart for myself, and the total was nearly $6.

At $2 per quart bottle, water at the gas station is $8 a gallon, or more than three times the price of gasoline.

Basic Tools of Terrier Work

I took this picture today while resting after a dig. These are my basic tools for terrier work.

My pack is a bow/rifle pack and the shovel and long pieces (snare, machete, long handled trowel) fit as shown. The double pockets on the right fold over what you see here. Leashes, an extra set of gloves, two knives, scraper, water bottles, saw, and stake outs are in the body of the pack.

Ghetto Palms In the Hedge

It's a long way from "Tree of Heaven" to "Ghetto Palm," but that's the linguistic path that Ailanthus altissima has taken in this country.

Like so many invasive weeds, such as kudzu and multi flora rose, the Tree of Heaven was first imported as an ornamental. A small easy-to-grow tree, it lent a slightly tropical-air to 19th Century American gardens.

Of course it soon got out of the garden, and has been spreading malevolence across the world ever since. About like Adam and Eve, truth be told.

A mature Ailanthus tree will produce several hundred thousand seeds a year. This little tree is truly invasive -- not only along the edges of fields, but also on median strips, driveways and even the cracks of sidewalks.

The Ailanthus can grow in almost any kind of soil, from clay to hard pan, from swamp to sandy rock, and it is not fazed in the least by thick, oily smoke from the exhaust of a passing bus. This is a tree that thrives on neglect, lack of water, and even physical abuse. They don't call it a "Ghetto Palm" for nothing.

This tree is a living monument to the tenacity of life in a harsh urban environment, and is, in fact, the star of the children's book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

That said, its hardiness is its only redeeming value. Ailanthus produces no wildlife value at all. Deer will not eat it, and unlike the Staghorn Sumac and Black Walnut, both of which it resembles in appearance, it produces no seeds or nuts of any interest to even the smallest creature, not even a mouse.

The Ailanthus, Staghorn Sumac and Black Walnut have long, palm-like compound leaves but the Ailanthus has little white dots on its new branches and a vertical white stripe or ridge on older trunks, while the dots on a Sumac's young trunk and branches are darker. Sumac leaves are light-colored underneath, and this little tree rarely grows much taller than about 25 feet. In winter, the new buds of Sumac look like they are covered in velvet, a little like a deer antler (hence the name), while Ailantus are simple hard points. Ailanthus branches are arrayed in whorled tiers, while a Sumac has Y-shaped crotches. While Ailanthus leaves turn brown or tan in the fall, Sumac leaves turn bright red -- a very nice display. A Black Walnut tree is easy to identify if it has nuts, of course, but also because this tree develops a very rough and dark craggy bark at a young age-- the easiest way to differentiate it from the other two species of tree.

Though an Ailanthus tree can grow to 80 feet in 10 years, the wood is terribly weak, and so light in weight it burns away in minutes. The branches are spaced in such a way they cannot hold up a bird's nest.

While averse to deep forest shade, Ailanthus commonly dominates forest edges and field hedgerows where it forms a weedy understory when mixed with pokeweed and multiflora rose.

A particular problen with Ailanthus is that the roots can run deep and wreck water and sewage pipes. And while a Tree of Heaven in the side yard may looks pretty in summer, in the dead of winter its trunk is stick-like, and only accents the dreariness of the season.

In Virginia, where I live, some folks call the Ailanthus a "stink tree," because if you crush almost any part of the plant, it has an off-putting odor. The scent is not just offensive to the nose -- the plant is a proven allelopath as well, which is just a fancy way of saying the plant seeps chemicals into the dirt that discourage other plants from taking root. Black walnuts and rhodedendrons do the same thing, of course, but they have at least a few noble properties to serve as a counter-weight, such as nuts and flowers and wood. The Ailanthus, truth be told, is good for nothing but sheer tenacity. This is a tree that cannot be killed by merely hacking it to the ground and plowing it under-- you have to put Round-Up on it,and probably do it more than once.

After everything else on this earth is gone, the Ailanthus (I am quite sure) will be thriving. The weedy will inherit the earth.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Fox Attacks Fawn

Watch the whole thing. Terrible violence from a top-end predator.  Or not.

And if you want more gore, watch what happens when a fox attacks a cat.

Finally, we have fox predating on sheep. You can tell the animals are terrified. More mayhem can be seen here.  Steel yourself; it's not pretty.

In the City Primeval

We are all surrounded by dinosaurs. This fellow was hanging out with me and the pups this morning.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Donald Trump and the Sound of Silence

When you are out in the woods, you listen for noise... and for silence.

A groundhog's whistle will let you know a "whistle pig" has seen you, while loud knocking will let you know your old friend, the Pileated woodpecker, has returned to this forest patch.

And what about the sound of silence? A sudden hushing of birds lets you know a Cooper's Hawk has just entered the arena, and that every bird within a stone's throw knows it.

There is a great deal of noise
in Washington, D.C. these days, but it is the sound of silence that may tell us the most.

As anyone with a cable connection or a cell phone knows, the burn rate on Donald Trump is hot and fast. I have never seen anything like it, and I do not see how he gets to October. There is a new explosive revelation almost every day (sometimes two or three times a day), and everyone is paying attention to the noise, smoke, and ash.

But one arena is quiet. A little too quiet.

If you want to bring down John Gotti, it will not be his recent friends that will have the best information. Oh, to be sure, you work these folks, but your goal is to "ladder up" the chain in order to entrap "Sammy the Bull" Gravano. He's the guy who knows (literally) where all the bodies are buried.

And so while everyone's eyes are turned to Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort these days, I do not think they are the key to breaking this whole thing wide open,

I think the key is Michael D. Cohen.  Cohen is Trump's personal lawyer, and the person who has been part of his business transactions for more than a decade. It was Cohen who drafted Trump's will, i.e. the person who Trump entrusted with the financial security of his children.

In The New York Times of February 19, we find this paragraph:

A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.

Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.


Cohen can, and no doubt will, say he had no idea what was in the sealed envelope. Indeed, he denies he even received it. He saw it, but he did not accept it. Right. Could be. But color me skeptical. This is not a White House with a long track record of telling the truth. The fact that this is the one part of the story that Cohen is pivoting away from is important; this is the one part of the story that makes Cohen complicit in a likely crime.  And whether he took the envelope or not, he knows what was in that sealed envelope.

But we shall see
. It could be that I have it all wrong, and Michael D. Cohen is just the wrong guy at the wrong location. It could be that he has done not a single thing wrong. It could be.

That said, if you see a lot of smoke over a long period of time, it's safe to assume there's a fire. At the very least, bring a fire extinguisher.

I have always said the key to the Trump-Russia story is money.

Trump has bailed on enough U.S. banks and small business contractors that there are not many U.S. banks left that are eager to lend him money, which is why he has turned to less transparent partners from the old Soviet Union, many of which are known to be washing vast sums of Russian money stolen by Putin and his cronies.

And what's one of the best ways to wash a lot of money?

By investing in American real estate.

It's a historical fact
that Michael D. Cohen first came to Donald Trump's attention because he and his extended family of Ukrainian in-laws were buying up Trump apartment units in New York, New Jersey, and Florida.

Nothing wrong there, but where did this money come from and how big is the river of money behind it?

One clue comes from Talking Points Memo:

Cohen was by all appearances already a very wealthy man. He had already compiled an extensive New York area real estate portfolio, mainly tied to New York City residential properties. But the original source of his wealth appears tied to a series of non-real estate business partnerships. The one common thread connecting these partnerships in businesses ranging from taxis to gambling to energy is that each involved a partnership with immigrants from Ukraine....

We know from public records that in the last decade Trump became highly dependent on money from the former Soviet Union, both to finance mega-projects like Trump SoHo but also as a source of buyers of apartment units at Trump high-rises in New York City, Florida and other locales (The Cohen brothers and their families are purchasers of at least 12 apartments in Trump buildings – 11, according to a 2006 article in The New York Post and one owned by the Oronovs, according to Florida public records.) Donald Trump, Jr. said famously in 2008 that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia”.

Cohen and his extended family appear to have been part of that flow of luxury apartment purchases from people from the former Soviet Union. And Cohen himself joined the Trump Organization in the period when Trump’s reliance on investment capital from the former Soviet Union for projects like Trump Soho moved into high gear.

As for Michael D. Cohen's in-laws in the United States, I can imagine the Department of Justice, at some point saying: "Nice family you have there. It would be a shame if something happened to their immigration status."

Which would truly be a shame.  But it would also be terribly, terribly ironic shame.

Does Michael D. Cohen have a lot to lose?  Maybe.  We shall see.

A Song About Poke Berries

A reader of this blog emailed to ask whether pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) was poisonous.

Well, as is so often the case, the answer is "yes and no." As Paracelsus, the father of toxicology, noted, "Everything is poison, there is poison in everything. Only the dose makes a thing not a poison."

Which is a nice way of saying that it depends on how much pokeweed you are intending to eat, when you are picking it, what part you are eating, and how you intend to prepare it.

Birds routinely eat the berries without harm as their gut cannot corrode the shell of the seed which contains phytolaccatoxin (a fancy latin word which means "pokeweed toxins").

Cows and horses also eat some pokeweed, generally without harm if they do not overdo it. That said, it is generally recommended that pokeberry be chopped out of fields where horses and cows are grazing.

Raccoon and fox will eat pokeberries, and do not seem to be any worse for the wear, though humans are warned off of the berries, as the seeds inside contain the toxins.

Warning off, of course, is not the same as not eating; there are scores of country jam and pie recipes for pokeberries which simply say "remove seeds." Seems simple enough.

Younger leaves are less toxic than older leaves, and it was once common to eat them. The recommended recipe is to boil the leaves, drain the water, boil them again, drain them again, and then boil a third time before serving. The triple boiling draws out and drains off the toxins. The result is a bit like cooked spinach, and is called "Poke Salette," salette being an old English term for cooked greens. The leaves are supposed to be quite good if picked young, but no, I have never had it. I dislike all cooked greens.

So how toxic is pokeweed? As you might have gathered, not very.

Symptoms of pokeweed poisoning include sweating, a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, a severely upset stomach, and possibly vomiting and bloody diarrhea. I can find no reported human deaths, but no doubt they have occurred somewhere sometime. Basically, no one is eating that much of this stuff who does not know how to cook it. Perhaps that will change after the apocalypse.

Pokeweed is sometimes called "ink berry" and in colonial times up until the Civil War it was sometime used for that purpose. In fact the Declaration of Independence is said to be written in an ink made from a mixture of iron gall and pokeberry juice.

In 1969, Tony Joe White wrote and recorded a song by the name of Poke Salad Annie, which was promptly picked up by Elvis Presley who sometimes played it in concert.

The version below features Tony Joe White and the great Johnny Cash. And how about them sideburns?!!

The Dog Learns to Wait

The impulse to eat or resource guard
is pretty strong, but somehow this dog has learned its place. A skunk has its own way of teaching NO.

The problem with skunks as dog instructors, is not that the spray does not work to push a dog off; it's that the dog is still rewarded when chasing almost anything else.In addition, skunk encounters are quite rare. What that means is that chasing an animal is almost always rewarded, or at least not discouraged, while the strong NO signal sent by a skunk is very rarely applied because 99.99 percent of the time the animal being chased is not a skunk.

If every animal a dog could chase was armored like a skunk or a porcupine, would dogs still chase? 

Or to put it another way, how often does a cow rest his head on an electric fence? 

Not All Dogs Are the Same?

Over at The Collared Scholar, Meagan Karnes has a very nice piece about the high cost of Pit Bull denial and the broken canine lives that too often follow:

I happened to choose a little roly poly pit bull pup with drive – and lots of it. At just 10 weeks old, this little heathen walked into my life and completely turned it upside down.

For a while I blamed myself. There were no bad dogs, only bad owners after all. And as I gazed upon the labs, the border collies, and the hounds who behaved like superstars in our group classes, I felt inadequate. I felt like a bad owner, watching my dog’s eyes bugging out of his head, alligator rolling at the end of his leash, trying desperately to get at any dog he saw.

He was friendly and overzealous at first, completely overstimulated in any new environment. But as he matured, he developed some more serious behaviors including a pretty hefty dose of dog aggression.

I felt fully responsible. And no matter how much help I sought, I couldn’t get a handle on his behavior.

Read the whole thing! Then, if you have time, read this piece, if for no other reason than to see the graphics.

The R-Word No One Wants to Talk About

Reposted from Feb 2009
Fundamentally, the dog debate is a collision between rights and responsibilities.

The dog-owning community screams that they have RIGHTS. And YES, they do.

But do they have responsibilities as well?

Well sure, but . . . well . . . we don't need to articulate those too well right now, do we? After all, weren't we talking about RIGHTS?

This kind of dance occurs in a lot of debates, and folks on both the Far Right and the Far Left are equally guilty.

People claim (sometimes simultaneously) that they have a right to guns, and a right to be free from gun violence.

People claim they have a right to shoot heroin, and a right to free drug treatment.

People claim they have a right to smoke, and a right to be free of cigarette smoke.

And now these same "rights rhetoric" people have come to the issue of dogs.

What an odd thing this nation is!

It took 169 years -- from Jamestown to Philadelphia -- to develop America's greatest product, the Bill of Rights, but it seems that today Americans are discovering a new set of rights every 15 minutes.

We have grandparents rights, computer rights, and animal rights. We have the right to know the sex of a fetus, the right to own AK-47s, the right not to be tested for AIDS, the right to die, and (if we are a damaged fetus) the "right not to be born."

Airline pilots have a right not to be tested randomly for alcohol or drugs. Mentally ill persons have the right to treatment, and when they are dumped on the streets, they have the right to no treatment and, therefore, the right to die unhelped in alleys.

What too few people seem to be asking is whether a society as crowded and diverse as ours can work if every personal desire is elevated to the status of an inflexible, unyielding right?

Can America work if our defense of individual rights is unmatched by our commitment to individual and social responsibility?

And if we give a small nod to that idea, what does it really mean? How do we encourage, enable and, if need be, force the shouldering of personal responsibility?

Of course, good people will come up with different answers. Right now one side denies there is a problem. The other side, perhaps too easily, marches in with authoritarian answers like Breed Bans and Mandatory Spay-Neuter laws.

But is there a Third Way? Can we encourage responsibility and/or mandate it?

Dogs live a long time -- 15 years is common. How big a deal is it to require that every dog owner take a Canine Safety and Responsibility course, once in their life, as a condition of owning a dog?

We require a once-per-lifetime hunter safety course for a hunting license, and we require an up-to-date driver's license to drive a car.

Swimming pool owners are required to fence their yards in order to own a pool, and falconers are required to undertake an intensive and extensive apprenticeship program in order to own and fly a bird.

I will let others hash out who teaches the course and what the State mandates as part of the course. However, let me see if I can offer up a few quick answers to some obvious question off the top of my head . . .

  1. No, the course is not for the dog, but for the owner. This is the course you take before you get a dog.
  2. The course might involve three hours of classroom instruction and a multiple-guess test at the end, with perhaps a short video in the middle about the consequences of selecting dogs for exaggeration and the problems associated with inbreeding and puppy mills. A small booklet about dog training, feeding, and health would be the "take away," along with a prospective cost sheet detailing life-time costs of dog ownership.  Maybe discount coupons could be a sweetener.
  3. Folks who already own a registered and/or licensed dog would probably be "grand-fathered" in.
  4. The course would stress the need for socialization, training, and proper communication.
  5. Lesson One would be that a dog is not a child, nor is it a potted plant, and that about half of all dog problems are due to a confusion on these simple points. Because dogs cannot speak for themselves, and are too often hidden for most of their lives in backyards and basements, they are often subject to long term serious abuse, which is why this course has been mandated by the State. By the same token, dogs are not children, and the failure of humans to communicate with dogs as dogs is a primary cause of most dog-human conflict.

In short, this course would not be a big deal in terms of time and money, and would be designed to get people to think about costs, breeds, acquisition, training, communication, and lifespan.

A simple Canine Safety and Responsibility Course could also be a significant job-creator and money-maker for sponsoring groups such as the ASPCA, American Kennel Club, pet supply stores, breed and dog-activity clubs, and dog trainers.

How many folks would rethink dog ownership if they were told what fencing their property would cost, how much fixing a dysplastic hip might cost, and how few landlords are OK with dog ownership?

As a result, how many fewer dogs would end up in shelters?

Would a Canine Safety and Responsibility Course solve every dog problem in the world?

Of course not. The goal is progress, not perfection.

But if progress is going to occur, it will require more responsibility injected into the ownership equation.

Responsibility remains the "R-word" no one wants to talk about.

Fish on Friday

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chupacabra Hunting With Terriers

This is a picture of a fake Chupacabra. The dogs caught a REAL one!

The photo, above, is a not-very-good model of a Chupacabra. We sometimes hear of El Chupacabra, but it's very rare to know anyone who has actually seen one in the field, much less been lucky enough to bag one. But that is what the dogs and I did back in 2006, and I have the pictures to prove it.

But I am getting ahead of myself. What, you may ask, is a Chupacabra?

El Chupacabra is an animal that is known to inhabit rural areas of Mexico and parts of Central America. Its name, translated literally from the Portuguese and the Spanish, means "goat-sucker" for its habit of attacking and killing lifestock and draining them of all their blood.

It is not clear when the Mexican Chupacabra first came north to the United States, but by the mid 1990s, it was here. Mexican farmhands in such diverse places as Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, would periodically come across dead livestock in the fields with torn windpipes and every ounce of blood drained from their carcases. "El Chupacabra," the migrant workers would whisper. "It has come El Norte with us."

It is easy to write such things off, and, in truth I have always done so myself. Where are the pictures of El Chupacabra? Where does it live during the day? Why does it only come out at night? Where is the proof? There were never any answers. Until now.

On that Sunday, I was walking the edges of a cut-over corn field with the dogs in tow, when Mountain slid into a hole and opened up to a full bay. A few minutes later, this thing came barreling out of the ground.

Mountain followed it out of the hole and gave chase, and soon caught it by the rear leg. Pearl, still young and full of herself, piled into the scrap too. Both dogs had it above ground and on its back. I ran over and put my boot on the creature so it could not bite the dogs. But ... what the hell was it?

And then, I knew. It was El Chupacabra -- the infamous Mexican goat-sucking blood beast of legend.

By God I had one, and it was not going to get away. And it didn't.

Now there are some who may doubt my story, but I have appended pictures of the Chupacabra below, for anyone to see the horror of this thing.

Clearly, this is not an animal found on earth. This animal is the work of the Devil. This is El Chupacabra.

The Wee Ones Are Not the Wild Ones

A Great Hunter Never Stops

Moxie hunting frogs.