November 30, 2007

Art imitates life

It's a three-column template. That's hours of my life I'll never get back. I've been messing with this blog, too, and I think I am finally OK with the header photo and the colors. No, the clouds were not Photoshopped.

Thanks to Terrierman for the great cartoon I totally swiped and plan to use over and over.

It's still raining.


This is the real deal, people.

It's raining. Real rain. There are actual puddles. Oh. my. god. I took some pictures -- my hands were kind of shaking.

November 25, 2007

Scots wha hae

Go on, buy him something to drink.

I will so buy the wee punter's nasty book. His site is worth a visit. Obligatory stockdog reference: "pear-shaped." Who knew?

November 21, 2007

Sportspersons of the Year

Tim Racer, Donna Reynolds and Honky Tonk. Photo from, by Annie Truitt.

OK, it's "just" a nomination, but ye gods --- hella big honor there, BAD RAP! Congratulations --- you are the real heroes.
There are 31 dogs once owned by Vick currently housed in shelters around Virginia, another three in upstate New York and 14 in Northern California. The people who care for those dogs daily deserve some recognition, and they are my choice for Sportsperson(s) of the Year.

Tim Racer and his wife, Donna Reynolds, are among those currently caring for dogs confiscated from Vick's kennel. They run an organization called Bad Rap (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls). People have strong opinions about Pit Bulls. Many believe the breed should be banned in the United States; others (like Racer and Reynolds) remember when it was America's most popular dog.

They believe Pit Bulls are gentle creatures at their core. Set aside your feelings on Pit Bulls for a moment and consider only this: Racer and Reynolds awake every day and try to "give these dogs the life they should have had," Racer says. "People use the word 'rehab' but we don't. We say 'healing.' We are fixing them physically and then emotionally by giving them food, water, basic training, socialization and structure."

Read [again!] the rest of George Dohrmann's most excellent article here, and see BAD RAP's heartfelt response here. The BAD RAP blog is full of good stuff. Don't miss Sophie's video --- what a dear old girl [sniffle].


Ken Foster, author of the terrific book The Dogs Who Found Me and a smart, no-nonsense pit bull advocate, calls PETA on their ongoing hypocrisy: we must destroy the pit bulls in order to save them!

One breed at a time, right, PETA? If you haven't read BAD RAP's take on Tyrannical Animal Activists, check it out now. [Both PETA and the HSUS lobbied loud and hard for the immediate killing of all the Vick dogs, with no evaluations.] If you'd like to send a holiday donation to a group that doesn't hope for the eventual extinction of all domestic animals, there are links in the sidebar to BAD RAP and the ASPCA.

November 20, 2007

In the spirit of the season

Dixie destroys a giant pumpkin filled with chipmunks. Kidding. The helium effect is a stitch, though.


Turkeys on the Mesa Grande Reservation, California, November 2006. Click on photos to make 'em bigger.

Terrierman has a good post about the recovery of America's wild turkey from an estimated 30,000 birds in 1910 to over 5 million today.

I see two or three flocks of wild turkeys every time I drive over Mesa Grande. Good country:

The October fires came awfully close, but this area was saved. Grazing projects and grazing easements are used in parts of California and around the West to keep the fire threat down. [We need more grazing easements.] Just drive kind of slowly around those blind curves.

November 19, 2007

The "merle explosion"

A merle border collie pup.

I love merle. Want to say that right off the bat, so no one will think I'm bashing blue dogs or red dogs or Aussies or Catahoulas or any other merle-colored dog. Check out this handsome Catahoula:

Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog

Merle is a striking color, no question. But what's up with all the blue merle border collie puppies?

Merle has never been common among working border collies: great working merles are rare as hens' teeth. I'm no geneticist, but it's my understanding that a merle pup can only be produced if one of the parents is merle --- the last thing a breeder of good working stockdogs is going to care about. It doesn't help that breeding for merle carries a certain amount of risk, as in, you can kill some of the puppies now, or you can kill them later. Quoting from the GenMARK site:

Both heterozygous merle (Mm) and homozygous double merle (MM) dogs may exhibit auditory and ophthalmic abnormalities including mild to severe deafness, increased intraocular pressure, ametropia, microphthalmia and colobomas. The double merle genotype may also be associated with abnormalities of skeletal, cardiac and reproductive systems.
Genetic testing for merle is now available through GenMark. More information on the recent discovery of the merle locus can be found here and here, with illustrations here.

ADCH MACH-4 Marshland Fantom of the Opera TD PT ("Heather"), 2-time AKC National agility champion, member World Champion small-dog team, owned by Kathie Leggett.

Responsible breeders of companion dogs like the beautiful Sheltie above will be all about the merle test. Puppy millers, not so much. This gent was expelled from the American Border Collie Association in 2004. He appears to be breeding and selling merles. God help us bless America.

There is a smart thread on merles on the Working Stockdog Forum [where the breeder in question actually makes a rather telling appearance].

And over on the Border Collie Boards there is an excellent thread on the "merle explosion." Good links in that thread, too, and I've swiped some for this post. [While you're on the Boards, take a look at the "Ask an Expert" section -- top handler Bev Lambert is the current expert. You can watch Bev's great bitch Pippa by clicking on the first StilHope video in this blog's sidebar.]

Repeating a line from the GenMARK site: "Both heterozygous merle (Mm) and homozygous double merle (MM) dogs may exhibit auditory and ophthalmic abnormalities." Breeding merles isn't for the faint of heart, and the designer-color craze, though it may be a windfall for puppy millers, is very bad for border collies.

Homozygous merle puppy with microopthalmia (small eyes). More photos at the Aussie Eye Defects site.

The epidemic that's killing pit bulls

One of the [very few] lucky ones. PNWPBR rocks.

I got a nice message from a woman who writes:

I found your blog through a common interest: Pit Bulls. My doggie is having puppies this week (her 1st) and I don't know the first thing to do! I was wondering if you knew of an article or site with useful info that could help us.
Thanks for writing, and I'll do what I can to help.

First, an urgent request. Hundreds of thousands of pit bulls are put to sleep -- killed -- in pounds and shelters every year. BAD RAP has a terrific, essential, hugely important write-up on the pit bull crisis, and everyone, but everyone should read it. Go. Read. I'll wait.




Now, for all I know [since her message didn't elaborate], this woman's pit bull is an obedience champion or an agility winner with a glorious temperament. It's possible that this dog's hips and elbows are OFA approved, and it's possible she comes from titled dogs with a history of good knees and no gingival hyperplasia, thyroid trouble, cataracts, tumors, skin problems or other health ailments good APBT breeders work to eliminate from their lines. It's possible the sire is equally distinguished.

I hope so, because those are the only, I repeat, only pit bulls that should be considered for breeding when the breed is in the crisis it's in today. And in this case I'm sure that there is a carefully-screened waiting list for the pups -- a long waiting list, since pit bulls tend to have large litters -- and a cast-iron spay/neuter puppy contract waiting to be signed.

On the other hand, it's possible the dog was a stray, rescued too late for a spay/abort --- the surgery my muddy pound pup in the sidebar had eight years ago. In that case, the most important thing to do is make sure the pups are neutered before they go to their new, carefully-screened homes. A local rescue can offer good advice. This thread in the Rescue Resources & Adoptable Dogs section of the Pit Bull Forum tells about a pregnant, rescued stray. [I swiped the photo above from that thread.] God bless rescuers.

An experienced rescue group or the responsible breeder of your titled, healthy dog can provide information on pregnancy and birth. Here's a link: Giving Birth to Puppies. Here's another. I'm not a vet, but your vet should have provided information on pregnancy and whelping when your dog was checked for brucellosis prior to the breeding.

Good luck, thanks for writing, and I hope the pups find wonderful, responsible homes. (I know you'll keep an eye on visiting children. A protective mother dog [of any breed] with pups can pose a real danger to unsupervised youngsters.)

I'm sorry it has to be done, but informing people about the epidemic that's killing pit bulls is one of the most important things a pibble fan can do these days. It's so important, I'm adding a direct link in the sidebar to that BAD RAP page.

[For some brilliant talk from a responsible breeder, see Breeding a French Bulldog Litter for ‘Fun’ - Parts One and Two.]

November 18, 2007


OMG, this is my favorite color. Really. Crumpler rules.

I want a wonderful laptop. I have these fantasies that my laptop and I will blog together in cafés and travel to sheepdog trials together. No game-playing, but I do generate tons of photos and documents, so my new laptop will have to deal with all that and still function at light speed, since there is nothing worse than a slow computer. At home I might set up one room with a bigger monitor and large keyboard to connect to my new, wonderful laptop. I'll use a mouse with it --- hate those little roller thingys. Yes, the new laptop will replace my wheezy oldish desktop PC that is threatening to give up the ghost. I also have an external hard drive. That may not have anything to do with laptops, but I thought I should mention that I have one. I've never used a Mac.

Blogger has a new poll feature --- I'm trying it out at the top of the sidebar. New laptop must be under 2,000 bucks, and should be able to fit in the green Crumpler case.

November 16, 2007

Apocalypse D'oh!

The horror... the horror! [Photo from Itchmo.]

Congo is innocent! Cue sobbing children. Cue death threats. Cue barf bag, because I think I'm going to hurl.

"God makes them, they find each other," my dad used to say about folks like the Congo supporters in the photo above. Actually, what he used to say was, "Dios los cría, ellos se juntan," which is an adage I'm reasonably sure Guy James has never heard in his life. Guy James owns Congo, the Iggy du jour, and I suspect James "speaks Spanish" the way George Bush "speaks Spanish," which is to say that I suspect he doesn't speak much Spanish at all.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

This week's top story:
A fast-moving variant of mad cow disease has incapacitated many of the internet's dog bloggers and pet lovers. According to a CDC spokesperson, the disease " temporarily disables areas in the front of the brain known as 'managerial knowledge units,'" sometimes called the "sense God gave a goose" region. Symptoms include severe anxiety, nativism, repetitive email-forwarding and a strong aversion to the behavior that journalists, back in the day, used to call "verification."

For what it's worth, here are the first news articles published in The Times of Trenton about Congo's severe mauling of a landscaper. All were written by Debra Friedman:

Man attacked by pack of dogs in Princeton Township
Posted by The Times of Trenton June 05, 2007 4:54PM
Categories: Crime, News
PRINCETON TOWNSHIP -- A man is in serious condition after being attacked by five dogs early Tuesday morning, officials said.

Giovanni Rivera, 42, arrived at a residence on Stuart Road West at about 7:05 a.m. with a landscaping company to begin work when he encountered six German shepherds roaming free within the fenced back yard of the home, police said.

According to the township's animal control officer, Mark Johnson, Rivera became startled when the dogs began to growl and he ran toward the house in order to get the homeowner's attention. The dogs pursued Rivera and five attacked him, police reported. The home owner eventually contained the dogs and called 911, according to police.

When police arrived, Rivera was found with his shirt and pants ripped off and was bleeding heavily. He was treated by paramedics for multiple dog bites and taken to the University Medical Center at Princeton.

His condition was unknown Tuesday evening.

Johnson said he issued three summonses to the dogs' owner for failure to license and vaccinate the animals. The dogs did not have a history of aggressive behavior, but as a result of the attack, they will be declared dangerous and are being quarantined for the next 10 days while the investigation continues, he said.

5 dogs in custody after attack
Posted by The Times of Trenton June 06, 2007
Categories: News
PRINCETON TOWNSHIP -- Five German shepherds that attacked a landscaper Tuesday morning have been taken into custody by Princeton's Office of Animal Control, animal control officer Mark Johnson said Wednesday.

The animals, which belong to Elizabeth and Guy James, badly mauled Giovanni Rivera after he and four co-workers arrived at the James' home on Stuart Road West to work on a patio.

A sixth German shepherd owned by the Jameses did not take part in the attack and was not impounded.

Johnson said all six dogs were unlicensed and four were not vaccinated. He said the animal control office has issued three summonses to the dogs' owners for failure to license and vaccinate the animals.

Rivera, 42, of Trenton underwent three hours of surgery Tuesday afternoon to repair the damage caused by the numerous dog bites he received during the attack to his abdomen, legs, back and right arm.

He is recovering from his injuries at the University Medical Center at Princeton.

Landscaper back in hospital with infection
Posted by The Times of Trenton June 19, 2007
Categories: News
PRINCETON TOWNSHIP -- The landscaper who was attacked by five German shepherds nearly two weeks ago at a residence on Stuart Road West is back in the hospital because of an infection that has developed from serious wounds received during the incident, according to his attorney, Kevin S. Riechelson.

"He has scars all over his body, from his ankles to the top of his head," Riechelson said.

Giovanni Rivera, 42, of Trenton was severely mauled by the dogs when he arrived at the residence of Elizabeth and Guy James with a landscaping crew to work on a patio. Upon arrival, the dogs allegedly began to chase the landscaping crew, catching up with Rivera and biting him all over his body.

"The only part of him that was not bitten were his feet, face and throat," Riechelson said.

Yesterday, the fate of the dogs was supposed to be decided in Municipal Court. However, due to new evidence in the form of photographs of the victim's wounds, the judge postponed the hearing in order for the James' attorney to examine the evidence before the case proceeded.

Yet even with the evidence, the timing of events appears to be the most central element of the case.

According the initial police report, the attack took place just after 7 a.m. on June 5.

The James' told police that the landscaping crew was not scheduled to arrive until 8 a.m., which is why the dogs were allowed outside.

But in an interview on the night of the attack, Rivera said his landscaping crew had confirmed with the James' the previous day to come an hour earlier, in order to make up for lost time caused by rain at the start of the week.

Permanent nerve damage. [From The Princeton Packet.]

So, five months after the mauling [which lasted some three minutes, according to court documents] Guy James says that when the landscapers "arrived an hour early," he leaned out the window and shouted to them in Spanish to wait in the car until he finished taking his shower.

Does Guy James speak fluent Spanish? Dunno, but one vowel makes the difference between "wait in the car" and "they're waiting in the car," and darned if Mrs. James and her son didn't show up in her car fifteen minutes after the landscape crew arrived: one of the dogs had escaped the yard, and they'd been out looking for it. I suppose it's possible that Guy James leaned out the window and shouted [in Spanish], "I'm about to take a shower. My German shepherds are loose --- stay in your truck until I come downstairs and lock them up," but I doubt it. If he shouted anything, I imagine it was more along the lines of "Wait fifteen minutes in the car."

Or "They're waiting fifteen minutes in the car," depending on that vowel.
Mr. Johnson, did confirm, however, Mr. James’ charge that Mr. Rivera changed his account — of exactly where he was when he was attacked — immediately following the incident.

However, Mr. Johnson said the different details came from three different nurses who were interpreting for Mr. Rivera at the hospital.
Were any of those nurses fluent Spanish speakers, I wonder.

Others have pointed out that Guy James seems to be a textbook backyard breeder. [Neuter Congo!] And it's good to know that not everyone believes the victim was a "scam artist" who deserved his injuries for "beating" Mrs. James. How predictable, though, that the victim's ethnicity brought the bigots out of the woodwork.

Meanwhile, back in Ohio:

Tears fell down Elizabeth Rhay’s face and she gasped as she listened to the judge’s words.

Rhay’s fiancé had just gotten a 180-day jail term (which was suspended) and was ordered to do 100 hours of community service and pay a $100 fine.

When it was Rhay’s turn to stand before Municipal Court Judge Mary Falvey, she got a similar punishment with 50 hours of community service work.

Their crime?

Walking their dogs down a city street.

“I’ve never been in trouble before. I didn’t mean to do anything wrong,” Rhay told Falvey, who paused while the 27-year-old regained her composure. “I was trying to be a responsible dog owner.”

What kind of people own pit bulls, anyway?

It would be pretty indeed if the Ohio insanity triggered just half the public outrage of the Congo "jailing," but I'm not holding my breath.

Onyx, Lab/pit bull mix. Onyx has never bitten anybody.

November 12, 2007

Last Night's Fun


I have to pay homage to several bloggers, because their terrific sites have helped me tweak this blog. There's Terrierman, of course, with his smart posts and rabbit-hole of a sidebar. [How did I wind up playing this rice game?]

I took a page from Terrierman --- and LibraryThing --- and added my own virtual bookshelf in the sidebar. The titles change, but you might spot Last Night's Fun, a classic by the Belfast poet [and musician] Ciaran Carson. [Insert obligatory "keeping it reel" joke here.] It's a fave. A glass of Guinness, please! I'll be adding more dog books and and sheep books and organizing everything by subject eventually.

Thanks also to Carol of Frogdog Blog, Absolut Bullmarket and French Bulldog Z, a trio of sites sharing great design and a wealth of information: they raise the standard for breed web pages and have given me all sorts of ideas for improving this blog.

And a big yay to a couple of very haimish bloggers: BirdChick and Julie Zickefoose. Always something interesting going on with those two.

Dilemma: I thought I'd add Snap Shots [the cool web preview add-on] to this site, but it wasn't as helpful as I thought it would be. [You can see Snap Shots in action at Terrierman's Daily Dose.] I gave Snap Shots a test spin and found that the previews didn't always capture the link in question, and if I've gone to the trouble to actually add a link, then I by God expect that link to be shown in the preview. There's some online debate as to whether Snap Shots is the new best thing or a horribly distracting annoyance that makes pages take forever to load. I love it for the books in the sidebar, and wish it were more accurate with everything else.

Note the Local Harvest link: more ag links on the way.

Also in the sidebar, you'll find some of the best sheepdog trial videos on the web, thanks to Denise Wall and StilHope. When you click on a video, your selection will play at the top of the page. The current videos were filmed at the 2007 Edgeworth Sheepdog Trial, a beautiful big course with a 600 yard outrun. Check out Bev Lambert and Pippa: Pippa had the winning run both days. She's eleven. Eleven.