September 30, 2008

CDOC sues L.A. over mandatory spay/neuter

Concerned Dog Owners of California is suing the City of Los Angeles in Superior Court. CDOC attorneys have asked that the city be enjoined from enforcing its spay/neuter law, which was brought to you by the same nitwits responsible for AB 1634. [The L.A. law is virtually identical to the first version of AB1634, in fact, though AB 1634 backers falsely claimed the assembly bill was "based on" Santa Cruz law.] The hearing will be on October 2.
On September 9th, attorneys acting for Concerned Dog Owners of California and funded through CDOC ACTION filed for a preliminary injunction against the City of Los Angeles asking that the City be enjoined from Enforcing any and all provisions of Los Angeles City Ordinance No. 179615; Enforcing any and all provisions of Los Angeles City Municipal Code Section 53.15.2(b); Mandating the spay/neuter of any and all owned dogs and cats within Los Angeles City.

CDOC is suing the City of Los Angeles in Superior Court. In its filing the brief points out that the City Controller's own numbers, which assumes a much lower rate of dog ownership than the national average, says there are 500,000 unlicensed dogs in Los Angeles which would be subject to immediate sterilization on 10/1/08. Animal Services own records show that in 2007 there were 580 adoptable dogs euthanized in the City of Los Angeles, a city of 3,800,000 people. While we are all working toward a time when no adoptable dogs are euthanized, that number hardly justifies the wholesale sterilization of the dogs in the City of Los Angeles.

CDOC will continue to work on programs to encourage voluntary spay and neuter of dogs when the time is appropriate as determined by owners and their veterinarians. [Source.]
From the link above:
The City Council was provided with health studies that detailed quite clearly the damage to dogs long-term physical and mental health with early spay and neuter. The City was not able to counter with any studies of their own.
The City was not able to counter with any studies of their own because the law was written by stupid people who don't know anything about dogs.

Good on ya, CDOC. To donate to the cause, visit this link -- and spread the word.

[H/T LA Animal Watch.]

September 29, 2008

For Frogdog

Click for bigger.

From the NY Times: library in a private home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Snap up this colonial-style property for a cool $2.5 million. [Frenchies not included.]

September 28, 2008

For Fosher

Click for bigger.

From the L.A. Times: "James DeMercado, 2, of North Carolina, shies away from a curious goat at the Big Red Barn, a big attraction among young and old seeking to pet and feed farm animals at LA County Fair." There's another one behind him. It's a trap...!

I read banned books

Click for big.

September 27 – October 4, 2008 marks the 27th celebration of the freedom to read and the freedom to choose what we read. Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read "reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted."
Banned Book Week celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

BBW is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
Research Maven Lisa Gold has written a fine post in honor of Banned Book Week, with a reading recommendation on the subject of censorship. More information here, at the American Library Association site, and because I'm all about the swag, visit the ALA store to order your "I Read Banned Books" accessories.

Must have

Seriously. Check out the shepherd huts at Plankbridge in Dorset.

I'm in love.

September 27, 2008

Reader, I saw him.

Paul Newman with Joanne Woodward in 2002 outside the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Conn. Photo by Sara Krulwich for the The New York Times.

One day many years ago, in the time before paparazzi, I was waiting for my sister's flight to arrive at LAX when a car pulled up to the curb, and a man in the passenger seat rolled down his window and said something to me. I couldn't understand him. He tried again — no luck. And then the woman in the driver's seat leaned across him and shouted, "DO YOU WANT TO SEE PAUL NEWMAN! He's in there." She pointed over her shoulder towards Baggage Claim and drove away.

How about that? So I sprinted strolled down the sidewalk to Baggage Claim and of course he was impossible to miss, because everyone in the building was making a great effort not to look at him. I stood by the door and looked around for my sister, if you know what I mean.

The entire Newman clan seemed to be present. There were even small Newman dogs in crates, and he stood directly opposite me with Joanne Woodward, waiting for the rest of their luggage. Then he walked out the door: my door. We were shoulder to shoulder. Then he walked back into Baggage Claim for something or other and walked out right past me again.

This. Close.

Were his eyes very blue? I couldn't tell — he was wearing dark glasses. He was smiling and comfortable in his skin, as they say in France, and impossibly good-looking, although of course I didn't stare because I was busy looking for my sister, as I've mentioned.

He came to our town for a wedding once. "He was very nice," the minister said, "and his eyes are very blue."

From the NY Times:
[H]e remained fulfilled by his charitable work, saying it was his greatest legacy, particularly in giving ailing children a camp at which to play.

“We are such spendthrifts with our lives,” Mr. Newman once told a reporter. “The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.”

September 24, 2008

Just chilling

Photo by Kai Rösler. Click for big.

An albino morph of Crotalus basiliscus from Mexico, one of the largest rattlesnake species. This individual is at the San Diego Zoo, where it was photographed by Kai Rösler. Yes, Klapperschlange means rattlesnake in German.

See the pit between the nostril and the [icy cold] blue eye?
What makes [members of the subfamily Crotalinae] unique is that they all share a common characteristic: a deep pit [hence the name "pit viper"], or fossa, in the loreal area between the eye and the nostril on either side of the head. These loreal pits are the external openings to a pair of extremely sensitive infrared detecting organs, which in effect give the snakes a sixth sense that helps them to find and perhaps even judge the size of the small warm-blooded prey on which they feed.[3]

The pit organ is complex in structure and is similar to, but much more highly evolved than the thermoreceptive labial pits found in boas and pythons. It is deep and located in a maxillary cavity. The membrane is like an eardrum that divides the pit into two sections of unequal size, with the larger of the two facing forwards and exposed to the environment. The two sections are connected via a narrow tube, or duct, that can be opened or closed by a group of surrounding muscles. By controlling this tube the snake can balance the air pressure on either side of the membrane.[2] The membrane has many nerve endings packed with mitochondria. Succinic dehydrogenase, lactic dehydrogenase, adenosine triphosphate, monoamine oxidase, generalized esterases and acetylcholine esterase have also been found in it.[3] When prey comes into range, infrared radiation falling onto the membrane allows the snake to determine its direction.[2] Having one of these organs on either side of the head produces a stereo effect that indicates distance as well as direction. Experiments have shown that, when deprived of their senses of sight and smell, these snakes can strike accurately at moving objects that are less than 0.2°C warmer than the background.[5] It would seem as though the pit organs work like a primitive pair of eyes, although it is not known whether the snake experiences this sense as a visual image or in some other fashion.[6] Regardless, it is clear that these organs are of great value to a predator that hunts at night. [Source, with footnotes.]

September 23, 2008

Quote for the day

Gaston Phébus [1331-1391], Livre de la Chasse.

Ther is a saying emong hunters that he cannot be a gentleman whyche loveth not hawkyng and hunting, which I have hard old woodmen wel allow as an approved sentence among them. The like sayinge is that hee cannot be a gentleman whych loveth not a dogge.

Anonymous, The Institucion of a Gentleman, 1555.
From Southern Rockies Nature Blog, via Stephen Bodio's Querencia.

September 22, 2008

Old school

School stuff! UPPERCASE is located in Calgary, which is good, because if this gallery were much closer, I'd be spending money there like a drunken sailor. Cork cups and notebooks and 3-D pig puzzles! And posters...! The UPPERCASE poster shop is quite the rabbit hole. There is also a blog. I'll order some things soon, unless our rulers impose a corralito. Not that there's a financial crisis or anything.

Bull Terrier Brand available at AllPosters.

"Rare black fox spotted in Britain"

As they explain a bit later in the article, this is a melanistic phase. I wonder if they are as rare as the conservation officer suggests.

Kevin Hehir, 48, was astonished when he spotted the fox while out walking.

The black fox is so rare that wildlife experts believe there are only a handful of the breed left in the country.

In medieval times, the black fox was considered a bad omen by superstitious villagers.

David Dunlop, Lancashire Wildlife Trust conservation officer, said: "Only one black fox has been seen and, as far as I know, it's the only one to be seen in this country before," he said "In North America, I think it's about one in five red foxes are black but that's because they were introduced from Europe."

They exist in much greater numbers in America there because they were not hunted as widely, whereas in Britain their pelts were highly prized in the fur trade and making the genetic strain became much scarcer.
[Here's the link. Hat tip to California's own black fox, Kitsune Noir.]

September 20, 2008

The most beautiful dogs in the world

On the left, Stuart Davidson's Jim, a mostly black slick-coat. All things [that is, working ability] being equal, this is the type I'll fall for every time. Just one of many terrific new photos at Kinloch Sheepdogs: check 'em out.

Via CleverColliesDeb over at the Border Collie Boards, here are two videos featuring Aled Owen and Roy, this year's winners of the World Trial. The first video is their semifinals run, on five sheep. The second video is their winning run in the double lift final. Roy is sent for two packets of ten sheep each, with five collared ewes to be shed and penned.

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Science that is BSL

Christina Ridge carries her search and rescue dog Doc after he cut his front paw on glass during search and rescue efforts in downtown Galveston, Texas. Photo by L. M. Otero for the L.A. Times.

Yes, that's a search and rescue pit bull. No, he wasn't bred to fight or "bred to kill" — he was bred to be blue, the color du jour. He was bred to be a companion.

A handful of articles on [human] genes and [human] race were published as Ontario prepared for its latest debate on breed specific legislation. Dogs aren't people — but prejudice is cruel and stupid whether it is directed at a human or a non-human animal, and as I read the articles on race and genetics my thoughts kept drifting to the anti-science that is BSL. How can anyone, in 2008 for crissakes, rationalize killing a dog by citing vagaries of appearance? "Breed specific" is a misnomer, after all: BSL condemns not only certain pedigreed dogs but also cross-breds and mixed breed dogs — friendly dogs that have never harmed or threatened to harm anyone — because of their coat color or the shape of their head. This is bigotry, not science.

"No fact in human history is more pervasive than our tendency to prejudge, fear, despise, persecute, and fight each other based on even the shallowest observable differences. It's simply reckless to feed that fire."

The reality of BSL, the cruelty and stupidity and utter uselessness of it, has become apparent to those who've seen its failures in their own neighborhoods. Caveat quoted this editorial:
An Ontario Court of Appeal is hearing arguments this week that literally are a matter of life and death. However, because these aren't human lives, many people might not even know it's going on.

That, however, doesn't lessen its importance.

The case in question is an effort to have the Ontario government's 2005 legislation that forbids the owning, breeding or selling of pit bulls overturned.
Maybe the Liberal government doesn't care about legislation that is immoral and ineffective because it's not as if a lot of voters care.

But we think people should care and we hope Clayton Ruby can force the government to take back its cruel and inhuman legislation and replace it with something that makes sense. He certainly has our support.
Proponents of BSL claim that extensive line-breeding has fixed specific behaviors in breeds of dogs — yet these same proponents contradict themselves by targeting mixed breed dogs in their killing sprees. BSL is irrational. It is a waste of time and money. It feeds the fires of prejudice, subjects law abiding citizens to needless anguish, and makes no one safer.

Testing Genes, Solving Little

A Dissenting Voice as the Genome Is Sifted to Fight Disease

Race, genes, and the future of medicine [also pullquote source]

September 17, 2008

Season's end III

To the left: Richard Millichap's Taddymoor Cap trying to stop the last uncollared ewe. World Trial photo by Kinloch Sheepdogs — more here.

A few more wrap-ups: visit the Alta-Pete Farm Blog for a nice post on Scott Glen's Pleat, who is retiring after his win this year at Soldier Hollow.

Via Sheepdog News: keep an eye on Gene Sheninger's coverage of the World Trial.

Excellent photos [so green...!] and description of Nick and Nancy Obernier's fine run at the World Trial here.

Kinloch Sheepdogs has an interesting World Trial report on their blog, and as mentioned before, great photos, with more to come. [Check out Kinloch's just-for-fun recalculation of the team scores.]

Colors I love

Via swissmiss.

EepyBird's Sticky Note experiment from Eepybird on Vimeo.

September 15, 2008

Season's end II

From FFFFound.

Season's end

Bob O'Donnell setting sheep at the 2008 USBCHA Finals, Sturgis SD. Photo — I'm guessing — by Pearse Ward.

The USBCHA North American Sheepdog Finals were won by a Canadian team, Ian Zoerb and his Peg. Reserve Champions were Bev Lambert and Bill. I'll let Pearse Ward call it [and huge thanks to Pearse for blogging the Finals so well]:
Ian Zoerb [and Peg] are on the course now with a nice first gather, good line to the fetch gates and flawless turn back. They had a good lift but got a little off line in the long grass near the top. As soon as they came out of the long stuff, Ian wasted no time in putting the sheep back on line and they were on a good line all the way to the fetch gates. The drive had nice flow and except for a short stretch coming a little low was on line most of the way around. In the shedding ring there was some outstanding work. Anyone who works dogs knows how tough it is to stop a ewe going flat out with her head down but Peg, after 25 minutes of hard work, ran that ewe down and caught her not ten yards from the shed group and without gripping turned her and brought the single back into the shedding ring. As nice a piece of dog work as you will see. That was the same ewe that had broken back once already, causing Ian to regather and reshed with only two left to shed off. It was too bad that such nice work will not count for Best Shed because it is up there.

Ian Zoerb and Peg have taken the lead.
Read it all here. I can't begin to say how great it has been to have such excellent descriptions of the work. Huge thanks to Finals Trial Committee Members Laura Hicks, Rene LaBree, Sharon Norstog and Jamie Spring for organizing the 2008 Finals. California brags: Nursery Champions were Suzy Applegate and Buzz; Reserve Champions were Jennifer Clark-Ewers and Gunner; and Sandra Milberg [of Sonoma Wine Country Sheepdog Trial fame] and Quill were seventh in the Nursery Championship. Jennifer and Sweep took eleventh place in the double lift finals; Sandy Milberg and Drift qualified for the double lift but DQed.


Over in Wales, Aled Owen and Roy won the World Trial by one point over Ron Snoeck and Nell from Netherlands. Here is an update [along with some terrific photos] from Kinloch Sheepdogs. Thanks so much to all who provided words and pictures for those of us back home.

Worthy cause? Check.

The forces of Good battle the forces of Evil today, as Caveat explains with this copy of an attorney's press release. The attorney is one of the good guys:
On March 23, 2007, Madam Justice Herman of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released her decision respecting our constitutional challenge to Ontario's pit bull legislation (Cochrane v. Attorney General of Ontario).

Substantial parts of the legislation were struck down. We saved the non-breed "pit bull terriers" but not the purebreds. We made it impossible for the Crown to prove its case with a piece of paper signed by a veterinarian.

But it was not enough. We appealed Justice Herman's decision to the Court of Appeal for Ontario (court file no. C47649). The Attorney General cross-appealed. Our appeals will be heard beginning Monday, September 15, 2008 at the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto beginning at 10:30 a.m. (courtroom to be determined). We have two days of hearings scheduled (September 15 and 16, 2008).
We all know that there is no science, not a shred, to support breed specific legislation. Michael Bryant and his henchmen drafted the usual suspects to create Ontario's ban: ignorance, hysteria and urban legend. Perhaps this time the testimony of experts will be considered. "Breed specific laws are not based in science. [Laws] banning breeds will not make you safer, and the illusion that they will do so is dangerous to humans and unfair to dogs."So says Dr. Karen Overall. So says every other expert on the subject. From their lips to the judge's ear.

Loins girded? Check.

Roasted turnips at the ready? Check.

Horses fed? Check.

Chariot in good working order? Check.

Rhymes memorized? Check.

Steely gaze practised? Check.

Battle plan drawn? Check.

Envoys out front? Check.

Then it's time to go and win one for the Nipper.
God speed, keep the faith, and kick some corrupt Roman government butt. Our thoughts are with you.

September 12, 2008

Les Misbarack

McCain as Javert and Palin as Madame Thénardier? Priceless.

September 11, 2008

From the Finals

Be sure to check out top hand Pearse Ward's daily posts from the USBCHA Sheepdog Finals in South Dakota. Hat tip to Sheepdog News, where Bev Lambert reports on a lost dog [now found, thank heaven], and more news from the World Trial in Wales.

Tribes of the Omo

Midsummer night's dream.

Ethiopia: Peoples of the Omo Valley

September 10, 2008

I've found my people

Library of the Abby of Saint Gall, the oldest library in Switzerland.

"My dear Selena,” I said, “to be always right is the claim of the charlatan, not of the Scholar. The mark of Scholarship is a fearless and unflinching readiness to modify theories in the light of new evidence.” [ Sarah Caudwell, The Sybil in Her Grave.]
I was no more than half a dozen lines into Lisa Gold's new blog, Research Maven, when I knew I'd struck pay dirt:
The next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find it.” — Samuel Johnson

I thought this famous Samuel Johnson quote would be an appropriate way to begin my blog. The problem is that Johnson never actually said this, despite the fact that you’ll find this attributed to him on a number of different quotation websites. None of these websites identified the original source of the Johnson quote, so I decided to dig a little deeper.
"Research is like treasure hunting, and to do it well you must be skeptical, curious, discriminating, persistent, and willing to look beneath the surface," writes Gold. Amen. Research Maven looks like a keeper.

September 7, 2008

What're they serving at Meeker? Also: Yay, Wales!

Whatever Bill Berhow and his dogs Pete and Mike had for breakfast Saturday morning must have been seasoned with Kryptonite. On the famously difficult sheep at Meeker, the night after mountain lions got into the flock [read Bev Lambert's blog post here] Bill and Mike scored an impressive 90 in the semifinals, while Pete's run got a 91. Only three other dogs in the semifinal group of thirty topped 80 points [out of 110].

But in Sunday's double lift final, Dennis Gellings and his dogs Jake and Jan were the ones with special powers. Jake took first with 125 points, Jan took second with 119; Scott Glenn and Pleat took third with 105; and fourth with 100 points went to Ian Zoerb and Peg. Out of a possible 170 — told you those Meeker ewes are tough. Full results are here. [The 1993 poster shows Bill Berhow with his great dog Nick.]

Over at the International in Wales, three of the top five winners, including the Champion and Reserve Champion, were — drum roll, please — Welsh! Yay home team! Supreme Championship went to Kevin Evans and Mirk, with Alan Jones and Bet just five points behind.

Conditions at times were cold and soaking wet, and visibility was... well, check out the photo from the ISDS site:

But livestock must be looked after no matter what the weather, so sheepdogs and their handlers carry on. Full results for this year's International are here, here and here. And now, on to the North American USBCHA Finals and the World Sheepdog Trials in, wait for it... Wales! World-wise, we'll be cheering for Rhyme, mother to Bill Fosher's young Fern. Good luck, Haley! Good luck, Donald! Good luck, all!

"If you intend to vote in November and read only one book between now and then, this should be it.”

How the unconscionable treatment of dogs described above became part of the Bush administration's blueprint for the treatment of prisoners of war — many of them innocent, some of them children — is one of many horrors detailed in a "powerful, brilliantly researched and deeply unsettling" book:
“In The Dark Side, Jane Mayer, a staff writer for the New Yorker, documents some of the ugliest allegations of wrongdoing charged against the Bush administration. To dismiss these as wild, anti-American ravings will not do. They are facts, which Mayer substantiates in persuasive detail, citing the testimony not of noted liberals like Noam Chomsky or Keith Olbermann but of military officers, intelligence professionals, "hard-line law-and-order stalwarts in the criminal justice system" and impeccably conservative Bush appointees who resisted the conspiracy from within the administration.”
—Washington Post Book World
In a column titled Madness and Shame, Bob Herbert of the NY Times wrote:
The U.S. shamed itself on George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s watch, and David Addington and others like him were willing to manipulate the law like Silly Putty to give them the legal cover they desired. Ms. Mayer noted that Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the late historian, believed that “the Bush administration’s extralegal counterterrorism program presented the most dramatic, sustained and radical challenge to the rule of law in American history.”

After reflecting on major breakdowns of law that occurred in prior administrations, including the Watergate disaster, Mr. Schlesinger told Ms. Mayer: “No position taken has done more damage to the American reputation in the world — ever.”

Americans still have not come to grips with this disastrous stain on the nation’s soul. It’s important that the whole truth eventually come out, and as many of the wrongs as possible be rectified.

Ms. Mayer, as much as anyone, is doing her part to pull back the curtain on the awful reality. “The Dark Side” is essential reading for those who think they can stand the truth.
Further reading:

The Man Behind the Torture

Learned Helplessness

The Ethics of a Psychologist

Collective Unconscionable: How psychologists, the most liberal of professionals, abetted Bush’s torture policy

Six Questions for Jane Mayer, Author of The Dark Side

Mayer On Seligman

It is not "can any of us imagine better?" but, "can we all do better?" The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.

September 3, 2008


Prompted by the most excellent Shoofly Farm blog, I've added a little section in the left sidebar with easier-to-find links to major trials of the season and a few handlers' blogs to keep an eye on. Busy times!

Soldier Hollow

Results from Monday's double lift final are here. Scott Glenn and Pleat won; Bev Lambert and Bill took second [see Bev's blog reports at Sheepdog News]; and Faansie Basson and Jan [all the way from South Africa] were third. There are lots of terrific photos and a number of videos in the Soldier Hollow 2008 thread on the Border Collie Boards, most courtesy of the splendid Jan [ShoresDog].

Gratuitous "six degrees of separation" comment: set out was managed by my trainer Anna Guthrie and her hard-working crew. That's Anna in the pink shirt, as Amanda Milliken's Clive [fourth place in Monday's final] lifts his sheep in an early run:

Bill Berhow and Pete were champions at Soldier Hollow last year. Bill is a great handler and Pete is a wonderful dog, but this year the stars lined up for others. Jan writes of Pete's Friday run: "This video starts when he is almost down the hill on the fetch. Unfortunately, he had one ewe who was a piece of work, and it took him too much time getting down the hill, so he times out at the end. Given his sheep, he still gets a lot done, and he got a 62."

And now the scene shifts to Meeker... and the North American Finals, and the International and the World...

September 2, 2008

"My friends, I googled her"

The vetting of the person who might be, as the cliche goes, "a heartbeat from the presidency" consisted of a Google search conducted the day before the pick was announced. Apparently. And by people who had never heard of MySpace. I'm not making this up.

"I really hope McCain did his homework," said David Frum, a former speechwriter for President Bush. "I cannot stifle a growing sense of unease that he didn't."

On Monday, the McCain campaign dispatched lawyers to Alaska in a move described as an attempt to manage a growing crowd of journalists who have traveled there to inspect Palin's background. But the move raises the impression that the McCain campaign didn't know everything about his No. 2 and is now racing to learn what it can while trying to avoid tough questions about the Arizona senator's decision-making process. [Source.]

We're pretty familiar with the Arizona senator's decision-making process now, thanks.

"Fundamentally, of course, this is about McCain. And the real issue here is what this slapdash decision says about his judgment." Time to play the "attempts by the left to destroy her" card: 3... 2... 1...