Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

BSL hot spot, Lakewood, Ohio is facing a lawsuit after they harassed and targeted a person of color over whether his dog was a Pit Bull or not. The dog was not a Pit Bull. The owner of the dog, a military veteran who relied on the dog for emotional support, eventually moved out of the predominantly white town to avoid further persecution. Lakewood is now a much safer place without a nonviolent, emotional support therapy dog in its midst.

Retrieverman has a good post about Greyhounds and possible reasons for their significantly high rates of osteosarcoma. Good discussion. I know nothing about Greyhounds (except they are pretty) and very little about osteosarcoma, so it was a good learning experience for me.

YesBiscuit! offers honest talk about how we use or misuse language - Framing the Conversation About Pets

The Philadelphia Inquirer has an opinion piece by Michael Fumento entitled "How a Pit Bull is like a Prius.
I do not agree entirely that Pit Bull reporting is similar to the reporting associated with the Toyota Prius. I think a better example is sex-related crime. Sex crimes have remained consistently low as a total percentage of all crimes (~1.2%). Yet, in the 1990s, the reporting of sex-related crimes increased 128%. So although the rate of sex crimes had not actually increased, the reporting had and created a cascade effect on the public's perception of both the severity and type of sex-related crimes. I think the reporting of Pit Bull attacks is similar and that the dramatic increase in reported attacks created a problem that did not exist. For more information on "cascade theory", read this article.

Please Don't Kill the Bees

I came across hundreds of them, tiny little bodies writhing. The ones who could fly floated to each fallen friend, touching her gently, then moving on to the next. Sad and unfair.

These are their final moments. There was no reason to kill them. No one was being harmed by their presence.

Dying Bees

The bees are dying, aside from direct action by humans. Let's not make it even harder by indiscriminately killing them.

Dying Bee

These bees were not hurting anyone. Please don't kill the bees.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Year Ago in Photos

Celeste shows her demonic side by eating grass crazy-style.
Celeste eats grass

Mina was sleeping and sunbathing. Her two favorite past-times.
Mina snoozing

Owners of Mauling Dogs Face 7 Years in Prison

The owners of five dogs who mauled three children in California face felony charges and up to seven years in prison. One dog was shot during the attack and the other four have all been killed at the shelter.

The article makes a note of the breeds: "The remaining animals she described as a mastiff-pit bull mix, a pit-bull-Labrador retriever mix, and two pit bull-Australian shepherd mixes."

Here's my take on why I think these dogs attacked - The Tragedy of Inaction. You can see photos of the dogs as well. It is true, none of them are Pit Bulls (American Pit Bull/Staffordshire Terriers). They are mixed breeds.

Of course, Pit Bull is out there. If you read this article (What to do when a pit bull attacks), you'll notice the author mentions this particular case as evidence of Pit Bulls' awfulness. It does not matter that the dogs are not Pit Bulls.

I do not think the owners should face prison time. We have enough people in prison. I do think they should face punitive damages for the injuries their dogs caused. But I do not believe the owners of most dogs who bite should be in prison. Rarely is a dog's aggression the result of malicious and cruel intent on the part of the owner.

But I do want to repeat what I wrote originally:

People, if you want a dog in your world - want that dog in your world. Do not create a world for them that is outside the scope of our own. Do not leave them alone and isolated, even with other dogs, in a backyard with a chain link fence as their only meaningful connection to humanity (and what a sad, pathetic one it is). Invite them in and out. Teach them control and allow them the full expression of all that dog-ness. You cannot be an inactive participant in a dog's life. It may not end horribly, as it did in this case for those children and dogs, but it can end in sadness nevertheless. You owe your dog so much more.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Right Whales Can't Get A Break

There are only 300-400 north atlantic right whale left on earth. They are one of the most critically endangered marine species in the oceans.

Commercial whaling exacted a costly toll on the whales' population. The right whales have an incredibly thick layer of blubber that makes them float after death - they became the "right whale" to hunt. For the past thirty years, one of the leading causes of death for right whales have been ship strikes. Whales may be big, but they are no match against a large ship.

So in 2006, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a United States Department of Commerce agency, proposed a reduction in ship speed in areas off the eastern seaboard where whale strikes were common and right whales were prevalent. They did this because 95% of ships notified of right whales in their lanes did not slow down. This suggestion came after several right whale deaths from ship strikes. It took three years of public commentary before the policy was put forth to the White House for approval.

Ship companies, port authorities, the Navy, whale watching agencies all opposed the proposal. Turns out preserving critically endangered species is far less important than getting to your destination on time. And I suppose there are other whale species that whale watchers can enjoy! The Greater Port Authority argued that since ship strikes only accounted for less than 50% of right whale deaths (that's 17 dead whales in 4 years, including six breeding females) that they should not be held at all accountable. Still, it isn't as if NOAA was asking them to stop, they were asking them to slow down. A reasonable request, it seems, when you are trying not to let an entire species go extinct.

It took another two years before the White House approved the speed reduction.

Turns out that mandating a required slow down means nothing if none of our authorities enforce the law. A recent article reports that in South Carolina, for example, the US Coast Guard, federal and state wildlife officers refuse to enforce the law. Even though there are ships going twice the suggested reduced speed, since the law went into effect in 2008/2009, no one has been penalized. There are six ongoing investigations, but none so far have resulted in charges or penalties.

We have a species on the brink of extinction, making every single individual vital to the preservation of the species. And we know that between 30-45% of right whale strikes are from ships (and I agree with the opposition's concern about smaller ships that can also severely injure or kill a whale). We know that these strikes occur within a few dozen miles from the shore. We know that they are more likely to occur during the migration and calving season. Yet when presented with a reasonable solution to a serious problem, not only do those with the monetary interests balk at such a suggestion, those with the right to enforce these rules do nothing.

I shouldn't be surprised. If the sushi industry can fish a species into extinction for nothing more than a momentary gustatory pleasure, why wouldn't the shipping industry strike a species into extinction for nothing more than getting somewhere a little faster.

It's still disappointing.

Pretty Sebright Feathers

Sydney is a Sebright, a bantam breed of chicken. The males of the Sebright breed are hen-plumed. There is no difference in how the roosters and hens are feathered. If the roosters didn't have their distinctive combs and wattles, you probably would be unable to tell the difference between a male and female Sebright.

Sydney's feathers

Sioux City - They Want to Kill Your Dog

On April 1, look out dog owners, the Sioux City police will be using everyone's tax dollars to go door to door flushing out would-be pit bull type dogs. If you have a dog remotely resembling a pit bull, expect to have your dog confiscated and summarily executed.

If giving everyone in the US health care makes us communist, what exactly does going door to door and killing people's nonviolent pets make us?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Toronto Humane Society Kills Dogs with Placement

The Toronto Humane Society's mission: To promote the humane care and protection of all animals and to prevent cruelty and suffering. 

On March 26th, late in the evening, 6 dogs and 19 cats were killed at the Toronto Humane Society. Five of those dogs were Pit Bulls much beloved by some THS staff and volunteers. They were also five dogs who were in the process of being transferred or placed in rescue.

In my book, promoting humane care and protecting animals does not involve killing five dogs with placement. It does not involve killing those dogs and cats under the cloak of night, without letting any concerned staff or volunteers intimately familiar with, in this case, the five dogs they knew and loved. I understand it is not always possible to let everyone know about the deaths of animals, but I can't help but feel this is just another slap in the face to the people who cared most about these dogs.

The Toronto Humane Society defends their irresponsibility with this gem on their website (Breaking News! We kill adoptable dogs!!):

First, Toronto Humane Society, killing healthy animals is not euthanasia. It is killing healthy animals. Second, killing animals with placement is not euthanasia. There is nothing kind about taking the life of an animal who has a place to go. Killing at least five healthy dogs with rescues to take them is the opposite of "responsible animal care decision" making.

Fred over at One Bark at a Time says it best, "We Failed You" - look at those faces. Tell me why they deserved to die?

Photo by Mel Laking
Peti, one of the five Pit Bulls mercilessly killed. From Selkie: "There is no question that for many of us, Peti was, remains and will always be the most loving, butt wiggling, face-licking sweetheart that ever existed.  An old gentleman, who came back last summer after years of a successful adoption, there is no dog ever that exuded so much sweet energy and love to the world. "

YesBiscuit!: Toronto Humane Society Kills 25 Pets

(Also, I will not touch the OSPCA/THS debacle w/ a 10' pole.)

A Year Ago Today in Photos

This is Cathy and Newman. Cathy is Newman's mom. She was a very sneaky hen and hid a nest somewhere that we could not find. She hatched 7 chicks and, as statistics would have it, three were males.
Newman rooster hanging out with Cathy

Arturo is the father of at least one of the chicks Cathy hatched. You can see his likeness. Arturo died this year. He was the best rooster ever. Diplomatic. Benevolent. Popular. If you met him and saw how he interacted with both the hens and roosters, you'd say the same things. The roosters respected him - he never had to fight to assert his leadership. Never. The hens adored him. He courted the ladies (which is very unlike many roosters). He was special.
Arturo failing to blend in

Ah, Sadie. The Best. Cow. Ever. I should trademark that for her.
Sadie hanging out

Chattanooga Police Wonder Why Dog Mauls Bumper

Earlier I wrote about a dog who was "going to court" for attacking a police car bumper. I thought the whole situation sounded fishy. I mean, the dog didn't sound like he was eating anyone or really aggressive. Anyways, the dog is getting returned to his owner, so long as he gets some obedience training. He has to wear a "potentially dangerous" tag as well, so that moving police cars will know to avoid him. How a dog who does nothing more than chew on something gets labeled potentially dangerous is beyond me. But hey, stranger things have happened.

Anyways, now we have VIDEO EVIDENCE of just how stupid the Chattanooga Police were in dealing with this dog. And! We also have the answer to why the dog was mauling the police car. It is because the police car was playing tug of war with  him. I am not making that up. Watch the video. The dog is having a grand old time gnawing on the bumper, because get this, the police officer backs up, drives forward, backs up, drives forward repeatedly while the dog is tugging away. I don't know about you, but that's pretty much how I play tug of war with my dogs. Minus the bumper and all. I don't let my dogs get fixated, of course, and they know drop it. With a little refinement, Winston could become a professional de-bumperizer at the scrap yard. Put his good skills to work, yo.

There are actually three dogs in the video. Winston is obviously the one attached to the bumper, but he is egged on by another happy mixed breed dog. For reals. That brown dog is all DO IT! DO IT! and so Winston is all OKAY! The black dog is probably, in my opinion, the only one to be concerned about, but they tasered Winston instead (and no one got to yell, don't tase me, bro!)

I love it when they have video of these things. It generally shows the incredibly illogical behavior humans exhibit.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pit Bull in Wheelchair is Full of Awesome

First off, Piggy? I did not think this dog could be more full of cool, but she just is with that name. She probably snorts, like any good Pit Bull Pig would.

Second, can we get a great pig...I mean BIG, shout-out to the Salt Lake Tribune for two reasons: 1) They did a nice Pit Bull story and 2) They used Pit Bull in the title instead of Boxer (the dog is supposedly a Pit Bull Boxer mix).

Finally: "She decided to train Piggy as a therapy dog based a reaction she got while walking Piggy around her neighborhood a couple of years ago. A man in a wheelchair, whose legs were amputated after a climbing accident, saw Piggy in her cart and started visiting her. He said she was one of the few things that made him happy."

OMG, WHY DO YOU MAKE ME CRY? Keep on giving lots of love and being yourself, Piggy. You are one Very Good Dog.

Now how often do we get to enjoy nice, positive stories about Pit Bulls? NOT OFTEN.

So get your Pit Bull loving butts on over to the Tribune and leave a comment or write a letter. I've done it, HAVE YOU?!? 

How to Fail Critically Endangered Species'

There is an animal species that is at 3-20% of its original population. In four decades, the population of this animal species declined 85-97%.

It is on the cusp of extinction.

So if you are the creators and maintainers of the only international agreement on preserving endangered species, what do you do?

Do you:
A) Give that species the most protection in order to rebuild the population?
B) Eat the flesh of the critically endangered species during the vote and just go with your taste buds?
C) Heed the special interests of multi-billion dollar industries who really love hunting this species?
D) Sell your soul and do B) and C)?

If you are the member organizations of CITES, you do D!

The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is getting closer and closer to extinction. CITES is the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. They met recently to discuss what species they should be adding to their list of protected animals. Countries must adhere to certain requirements once an animal species is placed on this list.

And this year, the marine species were basically told to just go die already. We apparently don't need apex predators in our oceans.

Bluefin tuna, critically fucking endangered species here, lost big time. In fact, Japanese delegates served bluefin tuna the night before the vote. I mean, why not just have polar bear skin rugs and tiger penises available to delegates as well?

Also big losers were the sharks. A TRAFFIC member, who was there at the convention, had a good analogy. Imagine this: You trap a tiger (critically endangered, yo). You chop off his legs for, I dunno, femur-soup. And then you throw the still living tiger back into the woods. That is what happens to finned sharks. They are caught, their fins are cut off, and then, fully conscious and still alive, they are thrown back into the ocean. Nice. Well, none of the eight species of sharks up for increased protection were given that protection.

You know who won? The Kaiser's Spotted Salamander. No more trading of those adorable little amphibians.

Now why does a little newt magically get protection but bluefin tuna don't?

Japan v. Random Internet Person.

Turns out if you have a multi-million/billion dollar industry that relies on the extirpation of 9 species of marine animals, you are as good as gold. Sell salamanders on the internet?-Fuck you, no more of that silly business, we gots us a seriously endangered species here.

What a sorry state of affairs.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bob Veal Slaughterhouse to Re-Open

Bushway slaughters male dairy calves. They have a long history of improper stunning, skinning fully conscious animals, and cruel mistreatment. It was only after an HSUS undercover investigation that the plant was FINALLY shut down. Now they are re-opening, but under a different name, Champlain Valley Meats, Inc. Because a new name will magically fix the problem. The plant will be operated by the same people, minus one.

So even though there is a criminal investigation occurring and even though this plant, which has a looong history of animal welfare violations, and even though this plant is being run by the SAME people...well, shoot, go ahead and keep on with business as usual.

This is ridiculous.

I wrote a bit about Bushway and the whistleblower whose complaints were ignored before.

What to do When a Pit Bull Attacks

Read this article
Some highlights:
“They are an extremely vicious breed, and they always have been. They’ll come after you,” Duhamell says. “The more you pull way from them, the more they’ll lock down and start ripping skin and muscle.”

Cruelty to pit bulls
Mina has always been a vicious breed and always will be. Not all of us get to be an entire breed, but Mina does.
(If pit bulls can be trained to be unaggressive, can labs be trained not to fetch? Just asking.)
I don't know, is this guy really just asking? I would comment more (and I thought about it), but I think this is a very silly statement and does not deserve anything more than what I have just written. And that is probably too much.

ETA: A Midwest Activist posted about this as well. She's more thoughtful than me. :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jon Stewart on Glenn Beck

If Glenn Beck can mock Jon Stewart better, I'll watch.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Conservative Libertarian
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Reform

Shock Collars Banned in Wales

Wales has banned electric shock dog collars. If convicted, you could face a $30,000 fine and six months in prison.


On the one hand, I think they are archaic, mostly unnecessary "training tools". On the other hand, what about as a last resort measure used under the strict guidance of a certified behaviorist?

Personally, I believe most behaviors can be modified without the use of a shock collar. I think people want a quick fix. This is fine, I understand that. But to translate a quick fix into funneling electricity through your dog does not seem fair.

Also, I think the argument that "dogs will now be killed en masse" is silly. That's me, though.

I'm not really a fan of the six month prison sentence or a multi-thousand dollar penalty, either.

My New Favorite Anti-Pit Bull Article

I can't say I really had a favorite, but maybe I did. For sure, I do now!

The Lynn Journal in Massachusetts has a message - ban pit bulls. The article is ludicrous and, really, I love the "Journal Staff" now for posting it, because if I won't laugh at this crap, WHO WILL?

Now, lots of commenters keep pointing out that the author is "Journal Staff" and how cowardly is it not to mention their own name? Which I would understand normally, except that the Lynn Journal functions off of a wordpress account and "Journal Staff" appears to be the author of all the articles. So, overzealous commenters, chillax about the author (lack thereof) name.

I imagine the Lynn Journal is either really excited they brought up Pit Bulls. Their Pit Bull article is probably the most commented article they have on their site! There are nearly 95 - you could help make it a 100. I won't, because I do all my commenting on other people's stuff here. That is how I roll.
I wonder, what purpose exactly do pit bull terriers serve for the owners?
More importantly, what service do they serve for us, the residents of his city?
The answer in both cases is nothing.
Well, gee-whiz, Journal Staff, why'd you ask the question if you were just going to answer it? That is uncool.

Now, it's true - Mina does not serve me. I serve her. This is a mutually agreed upon relationship. She also provides no service to the city of Lynn, because she is not the type who services anyone but herself and certainly not some random town 3,000 miles away. She is selfish but she will make you think she is not. Diabolique! Anyway.
Pit bulls by their nature are ferocious animals.
No, she's not eating the puppy
Celeste is clearly lucky to have made it to adulthood without any mouth, which AS YOU CAN SEE HERE, has been gulped whole by one ferocious Pit Bull.

They are attack dogs – and they often attack. They love violence and mayhem.They enjoy mauling people they do not know.
Wow, someone is giving Pit Bulls more credit than they deserve. I mean, I love to portray Mina as a canine bent on world domination, but thing is, I know it's not true. Like I know Mina isn't capable of summoning her legions of devotees (and she has legions, people) and controlling their behavior such that they gave her five million liver cookies a second. Also, don't tell anyone this, but Mina cannot actually talk. Like when I say she is talking to me, she actually isn't. I am sorry if I just crushed your dreams.

If I really thought Pit Bulls were attack dogs and often attacked and loved violence and mayhem and really liked mauling people they didn't know, well, I can't say I'd welcome one into my home. Unless I was stupid. And I am not. I mean, here's the thing - I've met more than 3,000 Pit Bulls. I have done the math. This ALMOST MAKES ME AN EXPERT ON MEETING PIT BULLS. If I meet 7,000 more, I will be an expert on meeting pit bulls. Now, it is true that I have been nipped by two of those 3,000 Pit Bulls, but I have also been nipped by two of the 3,000 Labrador Retrievers I have met. None of the four dogs appeared to enjoy biting me. Three were scared, one was stupid and thought moving ankles were toys. WRONG. She was quite appalled when I yelled at her (like woah, what'd I do?) - she was also 8 months old. Anyways.

Just saying. If Lynn Journal Staff were right, I believe it would be statistically unlikely that, out of the thousands of Pit Bulls I have met, only two were cool enough to try and eat me. And by cool, I mean evil. And by evil, I really mean scared and/or untrained.

I think this might be my favorite part:
By our count, this is the 12th incidence of pit bull mauling of a local person in the past three years. This is just a guess approximation.
 A guess approximation. That's even worse than an approximation. It's like an approximation of an approximation. Remember the game "telephone" wherein everyone sits in a circle and a person says "My dog likes fried tofu" and by the end of the circle it's transformed into "Pie tries hide-fu". That's a "guess approximation".

Journalism, anyone can do it!

Sperm More Popular Than Homosexuality

The study of homosexuality in nonhuman animals is woefully understudied. It is perhaps one of the few truly controversial research subjects.

But sperm is not!

Search pubmed for "sperm" and you will garner 77,926 results. Ovaries are more popular, though, with 116,000 results. Search for "homosexuality"or "homosexual behavior" and you'll get less than 20,000 results and almost ALL have to do with humans.

I should not find this surprising. By all accounts, a small percentage of between 500-1,500 species exhibit homosexual behavior. About 50% of males produce sperm! I cannot explain why ovaries are way more popular than sperm, except that ovaries rule and sperm drool. I kid. Sperm cannot drool.

Anyways, so NPR turned a neat phrase: Sperm of a feather flock together. I love this and have been telling everyone about it. You do not often get to say that with a straight face (or while sober, you probably don't say it inebriated, either). Turns out when a female copulates with multiple males, the sperm of each male herd up and hang out with one another. See the dyed sperm here. They're actually quite pretty. In another recent publication, researchers genetically modified fruit fly sperm so their heads glowed different colors. That's crazy. They did this study because the female reproductive tract is super mysterious. So mysterious that we have to modify the genes of sperm to reveal its hidden something or other.

Consider yourself enlightened. Sperm of a feather flock together, and glow in the dark sperm - you may want to hold your breath - are constantly on the move. Breaking news.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Neville is Retiring, Give Him a Giant Bone

A long, long time ago, like 2005 long ago, there was a dog named Neville. This dog ended up in Ontario. Normally this would not be a big deal, but this dog looked like a Pit Bull. In the New Ontario, new legislation made being a Pit Bull a sin worthy of death! His owners didn't want to bother paying for the requirements necessary to keep a Pit Bull in draconian Ontario. Neville's fate was nearly secured - death. But as often happens with sweet, smart, PINK NOSED Pit Bulls, staff fell in love with Neville and could not bear to see him killed for looking a certain way. Thus Neville traveled from Ontario to Seattle, Washington where he would sniff for explosives at the ferry. He became super popular because, hello, pink nose!

ETA: For some reason, the link is broken.This is tragic, because come on! how often do we get to revel in happy stories.
Five years later and Neville is retiring! At 8, he's a little grizzled but has the winning Pit Bull smile.

Neville is one of five Pit Bulls working to protect Washington-ians from going all explode-y!

Thank you, Neville, for being you. For smiling. For giving kisses because that is how you roll. For doing a job that you thought was great fun. For breaking stereotypes, even when your home town Seattle wanted to see you dead as well.

Neville will live out the rest of his days with his handler. I hope his first days of retirement aren't too stressful. I suggest a massage, a lot of bones, and maybe five million squeaky toys.

Happy retirement, Neville! You done good!

Judge Rules Lesbian Student's Rights Violated

Constance McMillen wanted to attend prom with her tuxedo-wearing girlfriend. Itawamba County School District in Mississippi (hey, this is the state that didn't ratify the 13th amendment abolishing slavery until 1995, yo) was all "oh noes, the gays" and "oh noes, girls wearing tuxedos!" and banned the young woman and her date from the prom, then canceled it for good measure.

She took it to court because hey, you asshats, her civil rights were violated. A federal judge agreed but isn't requiring the school district to reinstate the canceled prom because a private event is being scheduled by parents who, unlike the school district, have somehow managed to make it to the 21st century a smidgen enlightened.

There is no valid argument against lesbians and gays attending prom. None.

There is no valid argument against women wearing tuxedos. None.

This is a bunch of misogynistic, homophobic tripe.

It is embarrassing.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Year Ago Today - in Photos

Last year, the sanctuary got a call from a shelter in southern California. This is a shelter trying to transition to no-kill. For a year and a half they had kept 18 roosters in individual rabbit cages. For some of the roosters, this is the only life they knew.

For those of you in the Pit Bull rescue world, you know how hard it is to find good homes for Pit Bulls. Multiply that by a 100 and you get an idea of how hard it is to find placement for ONE fluffy rooster, let alone 18 of various sizes, ages and temperaments.

But when you're dedicated, you can do anything! I worked my butt off and found homes for all but two of the roosters. The remaining two, seen below, were welcomed to the sanctuary. Luke and Finn.

Luke died from liver disease last April. I was happy he got to enjoy a few months of real freedom. Finn is still alive but because he kept getting picked on, he now lives with his own flock of hens and another rooster.

Luke with his heart shapedness
Luke was shaped like a heart.

Finnigan is beautiful
You can buy a photo of him and help the sanctuary.

New Finding Puts Origins of Dogs in Middle East

Borrowing methods developed to study the genetics of human disease, researchers have concluded that dogs were probably first domesticated from wolves somewhere in the Middle East, in contrast to an earlier survey suggesting dogs originated in East Asia. 

Liberty or Tyranny, Hell no!, Wake Up Dead

Watching the health care vote debates is frustrating. But it's so important, so me and C-Span are like best friends. Anyway, I've been re-watching all the auto tunes the news videos for entertainment purposes.

This is my favorite of the auto tunes the news videos, for so many reasons.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Howie and Sadie, Best Friends

Sadie and Howie are best friends. Sadie is 12, Howie 14. Howie has bad arthritis and cannot move around much. Sadie has an old injury that left her partially lame. This precludes them from hoofing it up in the hills with the other cattle.

Sadie is a Holstein, bred for dairy production. Howie is a Charolais, bred for beef production. You can see the physical difference between the two breeds. Sadie may be as tall as Howie, but she probably weighs about 800 lbs less! Howie is about 2,000 lbs and Sadie about 1,200 lbs.

Sadie and Howie hanging out

Sadie and Howie sharing grass

They always look a bit sad. Mainly, I think they look like they are in pain. Even with daily pain meds, arthritis and old age just hurt. Now, old age is, of course, individualistic! We have a 15-yr-old Jersey who will probably live another 10 years, no problem. And there is a healthy 10 year old Holstein who is way bigger than Sadie. She slides down hills for fun (we discourage this). But a crippling injury and large size have had negative effects on Sadie and Howie. We make them comfortable and they seem content with their lives.
Sadie and Howie side by side

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Negative Pit Bull Article in Which the Commenters Don't Go Crazy

Don't get me wrong, I don't think this person should be breeding dogs or anything. But hey, check it.

Mobile police shot a dog three times, killing her. The officer was attempting to shove open a door, even though the 17-yr-old kid who shut the door was a) getting an older sibling and b) trying to lock up the dogs. I question why the officer kept harassing the teenager, but hey, maybe there is more to the story.

Now, the officer was not seriously hurt. I am not sure why he shot the dog two more times.

Also, this is the second dog to be shot at this address. The dude needs to stop breeding Pit Bulls, stat. I mean, he sells puppies at flea markets so he's not some upstanding, respectable breeder or anything.

The comments, though, are interesting. Normally, 99% would be all "PIT BULLS ARE TEH DEBIL" or "PIT BULLS ARE TEH BEST" and instead they're more like "Why did the officer shove open the door?" and "Why did a minor nip result in three shots fired in a home?"

The Difference a Chicken Strain Makes!

People tend to think a chicken is a chicken is a chicken. This is not true. There are hundreds of chicken breeds. Some are indistinguishable from one another and only a true breed fancier would recognize the difference. The two primary types of chickens raised in the United States are "broilers" (meat chickens, Cornish/Plymoth/misc crosses) and hens used in the egg laying industry. Most broiler chickens come from similar stock. This is not necessarily true in the egg industry.

The White Leghorn is the #1 breed used to produce eggs in the United States. But this is only partially true. The number 1 breed is not a breed, but a strain within a breed. Hy-Line Hatcheries is the world's largest producer of breeder chickens and chicks for the egg industry. Two of their strains, W-36 and W-98 are the most common strains used to produce white eggs. If you ever buy tinted eggs, it is likely they came from Hy-Line Grey lines. If you buy brown eggs, they probably came from Hy-Line's Brown or from ISA Brown hens (these are sex-linked birds, meaning females are one color and males another, which makes culling male chicks easier).

These are not the only strains. There are other Leghorn strains used to produce eggs and other "brown" strains used to produce brown eggs.

Egg-laying hen strains are great examples of artificial selection affecting behavior in powerful ways.

White Leghorns are known for their flightiness. They are, in my experience, neurotic birds. Part of this stems from their housing. Most Leghorns live in cages so small they cannot spread their wings. 95% of hens in the United States are confined 5-8 birds per cage. Sensory deprivation and intense confinement increase stereotypic/abnormal behaviors and neurosis. But this is not the only reason the most popular strains of Leghorns are so behaviorally strange. Even if you raised Hy-Line W-98 hens from chickhood, there is a good chance that they will grow up to be birds less interested in interacting with you, more likely to be fearful, and more flighty. Part of their neurosis is who they are. I think this is sad. I am not a big fan of breeding animals anyway, but I find breeding neurotic, unhappy, flighty animals to be incredibly unethical

I have experience with two strains of White Leghorn. I do not know what the 1st strain was, but the second were W-98 from a small cage operation. The first strain was comprised of incredibly neurotic birds. They are all 7 years old now and are still neurotic! When they arrived, they were very quiet. It took them 8 months to learn how to perch. Part of that is time needed to develop muscle strength (not moving for two years causes atrophy). Part of that is they did not know how to perch, they just never learned. And part of it, I believe, is because of their genes. The second strain were not just less neurotic, they weighed more and were more aggressive. While the first strain would go immobile when you picked them up, hens from the second strain put up a good fight and, even with beak trims, managed to get a good grip of our hands! They talked in frantic, loud tones. They learned how to perch quite quickly. They were more interested in foraging. But they never, ever showed an interest in being around humans. This they shared with the other strain of white leghorns.

Recently, I experienced first hand the biggest difference between the strains of birds raised for white-egg production and those raised for brown-egg production. (If you care, there are more studies on the difference, but here is one. The White leghorn strain remained far more fearful than the Brown hens.) Forty five hens from a cage-free operation were legally permitted to live and arrived at the sanctuary. They are brown hens. At first I thought they might be ISA Browns, but their combs are too large. I am almost certain they are Hy-Line Commercial Brown. Hy-Line is the #1 producer of egg-laying hens worldwide, so this makes sense.

The commercial brown layers are bigger than Leghorns. They talk more. Normal cooing, very friendly, and if you cared to identify in other terms, sweet-sounding. The biggest difference is their lack of fear around humans. They have never been treated positively by humans, so there isn't any environmental precedent for their fondness toward us bipeds. Their first interaction with humans would have been at a hatchery where their brothers were killed and they were de-beaked. Their next interactions would have involved rough handling and then neutral, partially negative interactions throughout their laying cycle. The final interaction would have been rough handling on their way to the gas chambers and slaughter. And yet they remain inquisitive and egregiously fond of humans. This is part of who they are.

If you ever visit the sanctuary and walk into the poultry enclosure, these hens will be the first to greet you. And if you do what I did today and sit down, this is what will happen. I did not put these hens on my legs, and they were the only birds to perch.

Rescued hens On Legs

Even the other chickens who are friendly (the speckled sussex to the left is one) do not do this.

And when all the chickens have lost interest and head off to forage or nest, this is who you will be left with:

Happy Hen is Happy

I am really quite fond of these chickens. They have a great potential to really change visitors minds about chickens. While I do promote a vegan diet, I understand most of the readers of this blog are not vegan. If you insist on eating eggs, I have a few suggestions.

1) Eliminate eggs completely! Okay, okay...
2) Reduce reliance on eggs. We do not need to be eating the amount of eggs we do to survive.
3) Replace store-bought eggs with eggs from pasture-based operations. 99% of all hens are de-beaked. 95% live in cages. Cage-free and free-range are not legally binding terms - their meaning is left up to producers. If you cannot visit a farm, do not buy their products. If you see de-beaked birds, do not buy their products. There are a small number of pasture operations who keep roosters and hens for most, if not all, of their lifespan. If you can find these, good. If not, the next best, in terms of overall animal welfare, are pasture based operations.
4) Commenter Elizabeth pointed out that, if you are zoned for poultry, you can raise your own chickens. My only suggestion would be to adopt, instead of buying. For example, those brown hens? We placed all but 10 (we just had to keep some in our flock) into loving, permanent homes. Shelters often have chickens and farmed animal sanctuaries can often hook you up with people looking to place birds or birds themselves.

He May Be Blind, But He Will Guess Dog Breed Anyways

The harness of a blind man's dog was bitten. This is real news.

Anyways, so this man's dog's harness is bitten. He claims the dog was a Pit Bull.

He could not see the dog, except maybe the dog had a pink nose and a brown coat.

Mina would like you all to know that she was NOT in the UK.

I think it is awful this man's dog's harness was attacked. Okay, that is mean of me. If he had not worn a harness, the dog might have received puncture wounds. Dog fights are serious business and they suck. So really, I *am* happy the dog is okay. But, I do not think it is news. It is also questionable that a news media outlet would publicize the name of the dog's breed when, in fact, the dog was not seen clearly.

They claim dog bites man isn't news, but only if the dog isn't a Pit Bull. And even if he might not be a Pit Bull and is just a pink-nosed mongrel, it's news, because someone whispered those magic words Pit Bull!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Meet The Blogger and Her Bovine Friends

My favorite cow refused to take pictures with me. I was insulted! Oh well.

I rarely get pictures of myself. I don't really like having pictures of me taken for a lot of reasons. But, I needed a photo for the sanctuary's website. I let my boss handle my camera. This is brave of me, for I am uber-paranoid with my cameras. The shots were okay but the lighting was not great and so I converted them to black and white.

Regardless, you now get to see THREE photos of me! Scary, for me. More importantly, you get to see COWS, the best non-dog domestic species on earth. Irrefutable fact, folks.

This is Nicholas. I sat with him for 20 minutes. He is at his best when lying down chewing cud. This is when he is incredibly tolerant and, more importantly, not prone to wild fits of dangerous play behavior.
Nicholas and me

I guess I lied about Maddie's shoulder height. With the angle, it's hard to tell, but she's still about 5'9/5'10 at her shoulders. She is a big, beautiful cow. Because she had problems with her first pregnancy, UC Davis' dairy farm was going to send her to slaughter. However, the vet school liked her personality and chose her for their blood donor cow program. Normally they are sent to slaughter. A reputable vet fell in love with Maddie. She had to use her Voice of God to get Davis to release the cow. I was duly impressed.
Maddie and me

This is just proof that Maddie is still really tall. Her hip and rear end are definitely 6' tall. She's a tall lady cow. I am not using this photo for the website, in case you were wondering.
Maddie's butt and me

Car Eating Dog To Go To Court

The title of this article is stupid. Unless dogs can take counsel and pay lawyers, they don't go to court at all.

The story goes like this: A dog who likes moving lawn mowers attacks and eats like six tires and a bumper.

Everyone seems to think this dog is a menace to society. It seems like he has a compulsive obsessive streak.

The owner does not know why he attacked the car tires. He never exhibited this behavior. Untrue! The dog chased moving and dangerous lawn mowing devices. I am sure he exhibited this behavior, in other forms.

The dog was tasered. I am not sure why. The owner is surprised he wasn't shot. Since when is chewing on tires a mortal offense? He was not trying to bite anyone. He did not attack any human or animal. At the shelter, he has been a nice, friendly bloke.
"But he's not on trial for being aggressive toward people. He's on trial for what happened that day."
This would be laughable if not for the fact the dog might be killed. I am not sure why this dog is on trial at all. It is a waste of taxpayers money. The owner should pay for the broken car parts and all should be well with the world. And since the owner thinks shooting dogs for chewing tires is acceptable, this dog should be adopted into a home. A real one. You know the kind - dogs get invited inside every now and then, and they are discouraged from chasing lawn mowers.

Oakland, We Have a Problem

Over the past six years, there have been close to 80 dogs taken from this subject,” said Joshi.
She said this time, 23 pit bulls were recovered: 19 adults and four puppies.
Last year, a California legislator tried introducing legislation that would have mandated a prohibition on owning animals for "x" number of years after an animal cruelty conviction. It failed. I thought it was good public policy. It was enforceable in the sense that an animal could be automatically confiscated.

I am not naive to think it would have prevented all cases of recidivism, in which those convicted of animal cruelty repeat their previous crimes of neglect or abuse. But it would have been another useful tool, I think.

It is frustrating to read that this person has six years of problems. Six years of neglected dogs. Most likely more than six years! And I imagine most of the dogs "rescued" were killed.

BadRap reports that the dogs are safe and sound, that they will be given a fair evaluation. These dogs are lucky to have ended up at a shelter with a boat-load of Pit Bull advocates!
Joshi said the dog’s temperament was also consistent with dogs being trained for fighting.

People who read that statement are not going to think these dogs when they imagine the temperament of a dog trained for fighting. I imagine they will think of a dangerous, aggressive dog with an unsound temperament. This is the stereotype people have of "dogs trained to fight". It is inaccurate. Not because there are "dogs trained to fight" with unsound temperaments - they exist. It is because there are "dogs trained to fight" with sound, solid temperaments. You cannot claim the former is the truth for "dogs trained to fight" (which is implied in the statement), because it does not encompass the reality of the latter.

Donna has pointed out that the Oakland's acting shelter has since backed off from the "trained to fight" statement. Unfortunately, it's already out there.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yes, That Goat Prefers Other Females

On a (not so recent) tour, a woman asked me why the white pygmy goat was chasing the brown and white goat. I told her that Charlene, the pygmy goat, really liked Laura, the Boer goat. Really liked.

The woman gave me this look, a strange mix of fascination and horror.

Wait, you're saying that goat, who's a female, prefers other females?

Oh yes, I said. She's gay.

Horror won out. She sputtered for a moment, and told her child not to go near that goat.

Normally, most people who see Charlene in action find her amusing and interesting. This was the first person who was outright horrified by the prospect of a homosexual goat. In her mind, it was bad enough there were gay humans, but goats? Unacceptable. She did not pet any of the goats that day.

I do not know much about homosexuality across all species. While nonhuman sexual preference has been studied for a couple decades, it is not exactly a popular field. Few species are studied, and perhaps the most studied are sheep. Between 8-10% of rams are gay. They prefer sexual intercourse with other rams and will not willingly copulate with a female.

I do not find homosexual behavior in any species discomfiting. It is a normal divergence and is probably found in many species. It is not something to fear.


There is an interesting deviation in breeding cycles between goats bred for dairy and goats bred for meat. Generally speaking, goats are short-day seasonal breeders. Their breeding cycle lasts from Aug/Sep to February. During that breeding period, they go into heat (estrus) every 20 days or so. But goats bred for meat can cycle year-round. Boer goats are known for their year-round cycling. All the Boer goats at the sanctuary go into heat throughout the year, regardless of day length. Goats in good health, with good forage, and in excellent body condition tend to be more likely to cycle year round.

I point that out as a way to explain why Laura is in estrus today, out of season (I doubt you would have asked, but hey, now you know something new, right?) Charlene is the pygmy and Laura is the brown and white boer. It is hard to see in this picture, but Charlene is about to engage in the flehmen response. Lots of mammals have a specialized organ, called the vomeronasal organ, located approximately under their lip. In Charlene's case, she is using the organ to detect the scent of pheromones in Laura's urine.

Charlene and Laura

Of the three Boer goats at the sanctuary, Laura is the most tolerant of Charlene's advances. When any of the does go into estrus, Charlene is more aggressive than any of the wethers (castrated male goats, no breeding allowed). She will mount the does and pursue them relentlessly. She will even attack the other males who try to intervene. Laura is the only doe who actually appreciates Charlene's advances. She will stand for grooming and will groom Charlene back. They will sleep next to each other and hang out comfortably, even with Charlene's pushiness. The other two Boer goats are as horrified by Charlene's pursuit as that woman was to find out gay goats exist. I think it is because Charlene is no romantic suitor, she's serious, aggressive, and pushy. Annie and Jessica (the other boers) prefer Gilbert or Jeffrey, who are much more gentle and less rude.

Charlene and Laura

I wish I had gotten a shot of Nate, the dominant male. He was trying to court Laura, but could not get past the 70lb Pygmy goat. He weighs 150 lbs. It was comical.

As an aside, Charlene does not exhibit any estrus behaviors. I have never seen any of the male goats interested in her. I have never seen her exhibit the tail flagging and body movement of a female in heat.

Family Unsure What Triggered Attack by Dog

"Ibarra said the dog was a high-dollar male that belonged to his friend, which he was keeping in his yard to breed to his female."
High dollar male? You can see the dog's picture here.

For one, that isn't an American Pit Bull Terrier. His ancestors may have been, but he is not. He is a mixed breed dog who looks a lot like an American Bulldog mix. I have nothing against dogs who look like this dog, but very few actually qualify as American Pit Bull Terriers.

For two, I think the quote answers the question.

Allowing your children to play around an unknown dog is not smart. The dogs were kept outdoors, mostly. Add to the fact the dog may have been more hyped because of an in-estrus female around, and you have a recipe for disaster.

These are exactly the type of people who should not be breeding dogs.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What Age Does to a Steer

I took this photo of Nicholas today. He is a Jersey steer. He turned two in December.

He will probably finalize his growth pattern this year or early next. Cattle can take anywhere from 3-4 years to reach mature size. Nicholas is one of the few male Jersey calves who will a long life. Most are killed when they are less than 24-weeks of age or never make it past the age of 2. Of course, it would not be a true sanctuary if we slaughtered the animals here!

Jerseys are a small breed of cattle. The photo below does not offer that perspective. This will give you a better idea of the Jersey size. Elsa is a 15-yr-old Jersey cow on the left. Nicholas is on the right. The fencing is 5'.

I wish I had a picture of me with Maddie, a Holstein (black and white) cow. I am 5'10". I cannot see over her shoulders or back. She is the tallest Holstein I have ever met. When Nicholas stands next to Maddie, he looks like a calf. The 2,000 lb Charolais steer at the sanctuary manages to look smaller than her.

Nicholas barely looks like his younger self (the second photo). He still has that white marking on his right rear flank. It looks like this now. I should post photos of Summer and Freedom's before and after. They have not even turned one yet and they look nothing like they did when they arrived in May of last year.

Anyways, behold the cuteness. You can also see Nicholas look like a dork. Oh, Nicholas might look quite adorable in these pictures, but there is a reason a gate separates me from him. In fact, I was trying to encourage him to leave the pasture so I could hang out with the other cattle in peace. Nicholas is 2. He is a young, teenage male. He thinks people are play things. He may only be 4.5' tall, but he weighs 1,000 lbs and could easily hurt me. I do not trust juvenile male cattle! I have not encountered the degree of playfulness directed at humans to be as frequent in the female cattle I have met. That is an observation, not a declaration of fact.
Nicholas Jersey steer SERIOUS

Nicholas as a young calf

Elgin Council Member has a Prediction!

There were 119 reported dog bites in Elgin last year. It is a 3-yr downward trend in dog bites. In a town of 104,000, 119 dog bites a year is not statistically significant (unless there are only 119 dogs!)

Elgin also wanted to implement breed specific legislation but backed off of the proposal.

Today, council member John Prigge, has a prediction!

He predicts that something this year is going to happen involving a Pit Bull (no doubt an aggressive encounter, not your run of the mill normal encounters) and he just hopes it won't be tragic. He does not outright say "And if it does happen, I told you so!" or if it doesn't happen "Well, thank goodness because a tragedy was avoided. Pit Bulls are still dangerous."

I have a prediction! Some time this year, a person in Elgin, driving a red car, will get into a car accident! If it's true, see? Red cars are the dangerous. I told you so. And if it doesn't, well, good, because no one wants a person to get into a car accident. Red cars still dangerous!

John Prigge already has an opinion about Pit Bulls and, if he could, he'd let it shape public policy. If there is no Pit Bull attack this year, John Prigge will still believe Pit Bulls are dangerous and should be banned. If there is a Pit Bull attack, John Prigge will use that to reinforce his bias. John Prigge's thoughts and feelings on Pit Bulls never change. Whether a Pit Bull attacks is moot. This is circular reasoning. It should not be used to create discriminatory laws.

Mina Can Be Artistic Too. Also, a Yawn.

This is an artistic version of Mina. It is, she would like to point out, not what she really looks like.

Mina the Pit Bull With Modifications

She normally looks like this:

Mina Pink Nosed Pit Bull

And, in a rare display, she exhibits embarrassing yawning behavior on camera:
Mina Pit Bull Yawning

Celeste Has Hair Between Her Toes

Hairs between the feet, Celeste has them! Celeste is the first dog I have ever had to shed so much. I much prefer short-haired dogs. Celeste's hair gets everywhere. She would look too pathetic shaved, so that is out. Instead, I have to vacuum every other day.

Celeste Feets!

Celeste and Mina Snoozing

But since she is so cute sleeping, I will just have to endure. Mina wants to know why I keep taking photographs. That's silly, she thinks.

Monday, March 15, 2010

How a Pit Bull Falls Asleep

Mina would like to demonstrate how Pit Bulls fall asleep in a very emo way. Be impressed.

Pit Bull Falling Asleep

Pit Bull Falling Alseep Even More

Pit Bull Alseep

Mina is a pretty awesome sleeper.

Rottweiler Saves Woman from Sexual Assault

Jake, the Rottweiler, is a bit of a hero (unknown to him, of course). While being walked by his owner, he apparently heard the sobbing and cries of a woman being sexually assaulted. He bounded off and chased the attacker away.

After the attacker was gone, Jake returned and remained with the victim and his owner until police arrived.

The man was convicted for this attack and a previous attack on a 13-yr-old. He faces four years in prison and, after that, deportation.
These stories are interesting, because they highlight our unrealistic expectations of dogs.

For example, what if Jake had chased a young boy playing and screaming with his sister in the woods? Perhaps Jake would be able to judge that playful behavior is acceptable but violent behavior is not, but perhaps not.

In the former case, he is a hero, but in the latter, he would be a menace.

I am glad Jake was there. He showed great restraint in not biting the assailant. I think he would show great restraint with a child too. He did a good job.

Florida Humane Society Opposing Proposed BSL

HB 543 and SB 1276 are two bills in Florida that would repeal the state's ban on local communities prohibiting certain dogs. That is, cities and counties in Florida are currently not allowed to ban dogs based on phenotype or breed. These two bills would eliminate that clause and allow breed specific legislation.

BSL has never worked. It never will work. It is costly and unenforceable. It kills innocent dogs. It criminalizes innocent people.

I'm sure we'll see more opposition from the animal welfare community, especially when the analysis is created. Today, though, the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County publicly announced their opposition to the proposed law.

While I disagree that testicles causes more dog attacks, I do agree that there are better methods of reducing dog bites than breed restrictions.

The Senate version has passed the Community Affairs committee 9 votes to 2. The new amendment prohibits breed bans but permits breed specific restrictions that may prevent current or prospective owners from owning that type of dog and increase their kill rates at shelters.

StopBSL has plenty of information on these two bills including ways for Floridians to contact their legislators.

Toddler Home After Mauling

A 3-yr-old seriously mauled by three of her neighbor's dogs has returned home. I wrote about this on Saturday. The breeds of dogs are only mentioned in 2-3 of the 6-7 articles covering this story.

The little girl is finally home, even though she cannot sit up, so severe are her injuries.

I hope she recovers quickly.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mina's Two Favorite Past-Times

Mina snoozing

Sleeping in the sun combines Mina's two favorite things: snoozing and sunbathing.

She will get to do more of this soon. I just bought a house! It has a nice big, backyard for the ladies.

Mina will have to wear sunscreen, as the vet recently found some hemangio (minus the sarcoma, and it shall remain that way) on her sun-splotched belly.

I believe Mina will love this new backyard. It is bigger than my parent's yard and way bigger than my apartment's small front yard.

Celeste will like it too, because she can run zoomies and, as a benefit to both dogs, she will have enough room not to run into Mina. She will still do this, because when Celeste plays she believes someone should be playing with her, more specifically, Mina. But once Mina is down, she is out. No amount of body slamming, play bowing, barking Mexican mutt will convince her otherwise.

I will be moving in April. I will not take pictures until the poorly maintained yard is cleaned up and looks presentable. If you have tried and true suggestions on eliminating berry patches, other than nuclear warfare, I'm all ears. Otherwise half my backyard may turn into a glorified patio.

Poplar Bluff Residents have a Few Days to Register Pit Bulls

Most dog-bite incidents in Poplar Bluff and investigations of dangerous and vicious dogs involve pit bulls.
"At least 50 percent of the dogs in Poplar Bluff are pit bulls," Hastings said.
Somehow, Poplar Bluff officials believe that phasing out current Pit Bulls will eliminate vicious dogs and the dog bite problem.

This is faulty logic. Of course Pit Bull bites will be reduced when fewer of them are around.

Any group of dogs that make up fifty percent of the dog population will be statistically more likely to be involved in dog bite incidents. This is not because Pit Bulls are inherently more dangerous, but by the numbers, they will be involved in more dog bites.

I will make this guarantee. In 10-15 years, Poplar Bluff will still have dog bite incidents involving dogs. Probably still involving illegal Pit Bulls. The most common biters will be those dogs who comprise the largest percentage of dogs in the city.

If I am still blogging then (and I will be) and, more importantly, I can remember to look back (less likely) to this post, we'll see how Poplar Bluff is doing.

In Which Cesar Chokes a Dog

Retrieverman posted this disturbing video of Cesar working with a "Malamute"(aka a wolf hybrid).

Videos like these highlight why I think Cesar is a detriment to dog training and our relationship with dogs.

I think the first question you should ask yourself is this: Can *I* safely recreate Cesar's techniques? In this case, you would be lucky if that dog didn't just bite you in the throat. Is this something you would be comfortable with your mother, father, daughter, son doing?

This is not a repeatable technique. If your technique cannot be safely replicated, it should not be marketed to such a wide audience.

And then the dog, that poor dog. First off, he does not get alpha rolled as per Cesar's normal modus operandi. No, this dog falls over from oxygen deprivation. You can see how he starts to wobble and with one tiny push from Cesar, he falls over. Listen to him breathe. Watch his chest as he gasps for air. Cesar nearly choked a dog to death. For what? Because the dog is dog-reactive and, well, he doesn't like Cesar.

The dog is lucky to be alive. He is lucky not to have suffered permanent tracheal damage.

If you ever doubted Cesar's lack of knowledge on real dog behavior, listen to what he says while the dog is prostrate on the ground, gasping for air. Heavy breathing is an indication of excitement and dominance. No. A dog who has just been choked by a leash will breathe heavy. Heavy breathing is an indication of stress and, you know, a desperate gasping of air. It has nothing to do with dominance.

Cesar may have good suggestions (be calm, exercise dog more, etc), but publicly displaying methods that will get you bitten and that creates a dog who think he is going to die, well, I just cannot support that. Not ever.

Plus, there are just better ways to deal with a leash-aggressive or dog aggressive dog that don't involve dangling the offending dog five feet off the ground. I've seen it done, so I know it's within the realm of possibility.

This is not a unique occurrence, either. I've watched several seasons of his show. He ignored basic behavioral cues, calls them all "dominance-based" signals, and uses a lot of physical manhandling when other techniques could be employed.

All that aside, my biggest problem still remains that what he encourages with dogs is not something many people can safely get away with. If you already have a dog with a low bite threshold and bite inhibition, you have a problem dog and using techniques that mandate an aggressive response (as in this video but seen in other segments) are going to be troublesome for you. Maybe not for Cesar.

BadRap and Susie Q

I'm not sure how I feel about this story over at BadRap about a dog with some fear issues being killed.

It's this comment that leaves me a little heavy-hearted, as it indicates the dog had "foibles", not dangerous behavior (the only mention of uncool behavior was barking at strangers). Perhaps more occurred that BadRap isn't comfortable mentioning.
We look forward to the day when pit bulls can be seen as dogs again, with quirks and pimples and foibles like all other dogs - and when worriers like Susie can earn the general public's sympathy rather than their outrage and disdain.
I am not anti-euthanasia. As backwards as it sounds, it can be in the best interest of the animal (in terms of suffering and quality of life). And I do not believe reputable rescue agencies should be anti-euthanasia.

BadRap has done much for Pit Bulls, so this is not a condemnation of the organization at all. And maybe asking for transparency, more than is offered in this blog post, is asking too much.

It just makes me sad to read about a dog who had ups and downs and was healthy getting euthanized. I am certain it was far harder for those directly involved with Susie Q's failed rehabilitation. She certainly received a better chance than most other dogs in shelters, particularly Pit Bulls.

What do you think?

What Is It About Postal Workers and Dogs?

Please do not oppress my love.
Pit Bull sad eyesI had the dogs out for a potty break. This is the only time I use retractable leashes. I live in a psuedo-apartment complex, which is actually a neo-Victorian home transformed into apartments. There is a partially fenced in front yard. Since other neighbors have dogs, I always leash my dogs. And since I cannot fathom having to follow six feet from two pooping dogs, I use retractable leashes. Please do not hate me too much.

The postal person arrived.You know how I knew the postal employee was going to arrive? A full 45 seconds before the postal worker came into view, Mina was all POSTAL EMPLOYEE APPROACHING, high alert, high alert! I thought it was another dog approaching, but then sighed heavily when I saw the mailman.

Celeste is unsure of postal employees. She's curious enough, but a little nervous when they pet her. Mina LOVES postal workers. It's an intense sort of love that almost borders on obsession. She once tried to jump into a postal worker's vehicle, just to say hi. The postal worker was polite enough not to hit her over the head with his satchel. He even pet her. This just reinforced her generally one-sided love obsession.

I'm not sure how this mail man is going to react to the dogs. I start heading up the stairs, but Mina is DO NOT DRAG ME FROM THE LOVE OF MY LIFE and Celeste is totally oblivious. I am glad 50% of my dogs are acting normally. The other 50% is embarrassing enough. I'm talking about you, Mina. Finally, I just give up and ask the guy if he is okay with dogs.

He's all, I love dogs! Which is good, because Mina is barreling towards him and can't stop in time, so she head-butts him in the leg. This is all very acceptable behavior, according to the postal worker. He pets Celeste who is slowly wagging her tail and looking concerned. And he pets Mina who ducks and expresses her desire for a back scratch, not a head pat.

Then he tells me how a Pit Bull once tried to attack him. He had to use his satchel for protection, which was good. I felt bad and embarrassed (come on, people, don't let your dog eat the mail!) (Or the mail person). To allay his fears, I tell him Mina only latches on to stuffed animals, not satchels or body parts. He said, he could tell she was a good dog. Ha! I could not disagree, even if I wanted to and I sort of did.

My neighbor, an 11-yr-old girl who loves Mina (her Pit Bull is named Nina!) and whose younger brother calls me the pit bull lady, even though only 50% of my dogs are Pit Bulls...oh my god, where was I going with that sentence? Geez. Anyways, she randomly leaps in to pat Mina on the head (Mina is all that is not how you do it) and tell her GOOD DOG before chasing her brother down in an intense, full-contact game of hide-and-seek. That is not how I used to play that game.

So while other dogs may have a strong dislike of mail deliverers in uniform, Mina has an obsessive fascination with them. To be clear, if you saw Mina when she sees the postal employees, you would think OH MY GOD, THAT DOG IS CRAZY. Not because she is slobbering or growling or barking or indicating a desire to eat anyone, but because she looks like a stalking, staring, creepy dog. She's like a Border Collie with The Eye, except the sheep are postal employees and, well, yeah she's a Pit Bull. Nevermind that she just really likes postal employees (and UPS staff too!), *I* still find it disturbing. I do not want my dog to be that intense about greeting someone.

How do your dogs react to mail persons?

Personal Family Problems Basis for Legislation? Regent, ND For the Fail

Regent, I love you! You are like the Gilmore Girls Star's Hollow, but meaner. Regent, North Dakota has a population of 200, and they made the news because of a really strange, almost comical family feud.

Patty Robbinson (or Robbins or Robinson!) does not like Pit Bulls. She likens them to loaded shotguns with a hair-pin trigger. Her daughter, Tammy, initially hates Pit Bulls too. So when Patty's grandson, David, purchased three Pit Bull puppies (all 4-weeks old, get them back to their mother stat), all hell broke loose. Patty went around town gathering signatures. She just had to do something about those three Pit Bull puppies. Unlike normal people who might sit down and talk with their grandchild, Patty decides the best route is to ban Pit Bulls entirely.

She gathers 42 signatures and presents them to the city council. Undoubtedly, another family member must have Rottweilers, so Patty includes those too. And get this, the city council takes her seriously! Instead of kindly directing her to family counseling, they actually mull over her proposal and have a serious debate about it. I love small towns!

Then, a new plot twist. Tammy, the mother, has three German Shepherds. They've bitten people before and routinely get loose. Other residents are all, hey! if we're going to ban 4-week-old Pit Bull puppies, we damn well better ban biting German Shepherds. Tammy reconsiders her initial hatred of Pit Bulls, "
Robinson said she signed her mother's petition to ban her own son's pit bulls from town, but now wishes she hadn't. Now that her dogs' future is in question, Robinson said she could support her son's pit bulls, "if he's willing to build a fence and take care of them. I'll muzzle my dogs if people are that afraid of them." Oh, how fickle we are, Tammy Rob(b)ins(on)... now that your precious, loose, biting dogs might get banned, you suddenly realize the error of your ways. It's an amazing about-face.

Then Tammy mentions this, "while several black Labradors have attacked at least one other dog and frightened a resident into running into his house."

Well, clearly there is something wrong with black Labs and they should be summarily given the boot from Regent. But 4-week-old Pit Bull puppies are far more dangerous, what with their teething ways and bottle-feeding needs. Loaded hair pin trigger shotgun thingies, they are.

I wonder what dinners are like at the Rob(b)ins(on) home are like these days!

The city council is going to hold off for a month before making a decision. That is ludicrous. Don't hold off, Regent. Please just tell Tammy and Patty and David to get some help and keep their personal family problems off the meeting agenda. Alternatively, they could just make an agenda item for this family. I feel a town of 200 needs to have some drama, and this may be it.

Just leave the damn dogs out of it.

This Dog is not What You Think She Is

This puppy is available for adoption and she is absolutely adorable. ADOPT HER NOW.

But, let's talk about her mix for a moment. They have her labeled as a Pit Bull Dachshund mix. Also, because she is a Pit Bull mix, people in Stockton and Oakland are not allowed to adopt her. I'm sorry, say again? Is there something I don't know that precludes Stockton and Oakland residents from having Pit Bull mixed breed dogs? Further, you have to be 30 (she normally requires a person to be 25). Like for reals.

And if it is true that this is a one-woman operation, well, whoa to 48 dogs on one property. While I can ignore the screaming CAPS at her petfinder page, I do find this statement a little sketchy: "THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY FOR ME OR EVEN A VET TO KNOW WHAT A PUP IS HARBORING. THIS IS CALLED SAVING A LIFE" Um, well, sure there are tests to find out if a dog has parvo or if a puppy is harboring stuff like worms and parasites. And if something is wrong, well tough shit folks, because it's called saving a life. Wow, way to blame the hapless adopter.

The dog has a merle dilution pattern. This is not acceptable or traditionally found in American Pit Bull Terriers (and bringing it up in a Pit Bull community inspires a lot of debate).

If this dog is not a purebred American Pit Bull Terrier (assuming the merle pattern has historically occurred in Pit Bulls), then she is most likely a Catahoula cross or Catahoula Bulldog cross. I would assume the former crossed with American Pit Bull Terrier. It seems doubtful she is a Dachshund Pit Bull cross, unless the rescuer has seen either sire or dam and can confirm.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Distinguished Mina

This sensitive look is to fool you into thinking she isn't currently playing bitey-face with Celeste on my back.
Pit Bull Graying

Photo Flashback: March 13, 2009

Last year on this day it was dry, dry, dry and sun, sun, sun.

Curious Willow
Willow was angry, as per her usual self.

Nicholas wanting food
Nicholas was much smaller and still looked young.

You can see all the photos I took and posted on March 13, 2009 here.

Serious Mauling But No Mention of Breed

A 3-yr-old Alabama girl was bitten more than 50 times and received more than 160 stitches after being mauled, and I mean mauled, by her neighbor's three dogs. The original article fails to mention the dogs' breed as well.

The breeds of dogs are never mentioned in the entire article. At all. But you can watch the video and see the dogs for yourself.

Here they are, pretty distinguishable as a Cattle Dog and two Labrador Retrievers

The dogs were running loose when they encountered the 3-yr-old girl playing in her front yard. There is a chance the owners may get the dogs back after a 10-day quarantine.

These are well-fed animals. They have nice collars and identification tags. The last dog is afraid, you can read it clearly in the tense body, salivation, pinned down ears, and averted glance.

A look at the six or seven some odd articles covering the story:
Dogs attack, drag toddler - breed mentioned in the article
Toddler recovering after dog attack - video of dogs included, breed mentioned in article (same news org, breed mentioned in article.)
Press editorial, mentions dog breeds in article

Compare that to the title selection for a case in which a police officer shot a Pit Bull:

Alton officer kills pit bull that attacked him

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Kim Bell - ‎13 hours ago‎
ALTON — The 60-pound pit bull named Scrappy who attacked an Alton police officer Thursday morning still had his jaws clamped down over the ...
Belleville News Democrat

If people really don't believe there isn't a bias in the reporting of dog bite cases, then they have their heads in the sand and are acting irrational. 

Speedy recovery to this young victim.