August 31, 2007

Temperament tests, dog bite stats and "herding"

Where we're headed: the rock fort.

Taking off to escape the 110+ F temps for a few days. A few links in the meantime...

In light of the pending evaluations of Michael Vick's pit bulls, here's a link to an informative, well-written article from Bark magazine on temperament tests. Excerpt:
Implicit in the work these researchers and behaviorists are doing and in the worries people inside and outside the shelter system have about temperament testing is their concern for the community and for the dogs. Pete Miller, a shelter supervisor at Santa Barbara County Animal Services and a 20-year veteran of the shelter system who believes temperament tests are a necessary part of good sheltering practice, perhaps puts this best: “When a dog dies in an animal shelter, it almost doesn’t matter whether the dog was an old favorite or a hopeless case of a violent animal that never had a chance; the dog was alive one second, and literally gone the next. Everything it ever was and every possibility for what it would have been and done—gone in a second. It’s the actual fact of the real loss and what it means to kill that needs to weigh most and is the reason there should never be a formula that tries to remove the responsibility from a person or dim the reality of what it means to take away a life.”
Also -- because there seems to be a fair amount of interest -- here are links to two earlier posts debunking Merritt Clifton's list of dog bites. "Chox mix"? "Buff mastiff"? The jokes just write themselves:

Part I: “Dangerous breeds,” dog bite statistics, and the Merritt Clifton report

Part II: Pit bulls, dog bite statistics, and the Merritt Clifton report

Finally: I've said a million times that any responsive dog with sufficient prey drive can be trained to "herd" well enough to earn an AKC "herding championship." Here is a collection of good photos illustrating that everything from a basenji to a... is that a lab mix...? can "herd," given tame sheep, a small arena and an experienced instructor. I'd hate to see my sheep subjected to this sort of thing, but that's just me.

Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend, fellow Californians, and stay cool out there ;~)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi --

You can reach me at

I just found this page and I wanted to say, first, thanks for not taking my photos, and, instead, just posting a link to them. I appreciate it -- that's very polite of you. (and I've been dealing with jerks who AREN'T that polite, so that's a sincere thank you.)

Second -- I think you are mis-representing some of the photos. Very few of the dogs in those photos are 'trained' to herd and most of them are actually on sheep for the first time in the photos -- more instinct testing than 'training' happening there.

And, yes, its a Labrador. And a flat-coated retriever, and a smooth coated fox terrier, and a wire coated Jack, as well as the basenji, the chihuahua, and the various herding breeds. I'm sorry I didn't get photos of the Great Danes or the Lowchen herding...I was doing something else when they were in the ring, unfortunately.

But, thanks again for not just taking my photos.