Saturday, October 27, 2007

Weird Logic . . . 1

(This blog originally posted on 6/15/2005.)

Jane accepts crossbreeding for sled dogs. Tom thinks it's an acceptable practice to get a good hunting dog. Mary's Malinois has no paper pedigree, but is great at protection work so she breeds it.

Elizabeth thinks crossbreeding is irresponsible, but she'll look the other way for Jane, Tom and Mary.

One thing they all agree on is that most dogs today are pets. Not working dogs. So most dogs today should be bred for that calm, easy going, non-aggressive temperment that pet owners

But not one of them, Jane, Tom, Mary or especially Elizabeth, would EVER accept crossbreeding to produce a star in that most important job - being a pet with an calm, easy going, stable, friendly temperment.

Home-Grown Bomb Sniffers

(This blog originally posted on 9/16/2006)

This article reports that the LAPD is starting to breed it's own bomb-sniffing


Because since 9/11 the demand for good security dogs has sky rocketed and along with it the price. Demand is so great, that agencies are having trouble affording the best dogs which generally come from Europe.

That's kind of the significance of this story. Police and security agencies get good working dogs from foreign countries. Not the USA. Despite all the protestations that AKC show breeders are the most responsible, and their breed club members breed the best dogs, the LAPD is forced to breed their own to get something on par with the quality they are used to. Quality that comes from somewhere outside the showring stronghold.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Genetic Health of Mutts

(This blog originally posted on 1/28/2007)

In the 1990's Veternarian and Geneticist George Padgett wrote a book (Control of Canine Genetic Diseases) from which he is often quoted as saying that mutts are subject to more genetic diseases than purebred dogs.

What Padgett doesn't say in his book, though, is what the chances of a mutt getting any one of those genetic diseases is, compared to a purebred from a breed where the genetic disease exists.

Here is a study that provides us a partial answer to that question.

Prevalence of primary breed-related cataracts in the dog in North America

Fifty-nine breeds of dogs were affected with cataracts above the baseline prevalence of 1.61% seen in mixed-breed/hybrid dogs. The breeds with the highest cataract prevalence included: Smooth Fox Terrier (11.70%), Havanese (11.57%), Bichon Frise (11.45%), Boston Terrier (11.11%), Miniature Poodle (10.79%), Silky Terrier (10.29%) and Toy Poodle (10.21%).

11.7% compared to 1.6%. That's phenomenal.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Trip to Doggie Jail

Ever wonder what you'll face if the government gets control of your pet?

Rick Fisk lets you know in his piece titled "You Could Die".

Friday, October 19, 2007

To Neuter or Not to Neuter...

(This blog originally posted on 2/25/2006)

. . . the other side of the question.

"Just the facts, Ma'am."

It is no longer medically justifiable to castrate dogs for prevention of cancer. Castration predisposes to highly malignant prostatic cancer. Nearly all dogs afflicted with this nasty tumor are neutered individuals. Spaying helps to reduce the incidence of mammary tumors, if performed before the first heat. It does not eliminate the possibility, but does statistically reduce the risk. So, however, does lactation, as in humans.
Risk for bone sarcoma was significantly influenced by age at gonadectomy. Male and female dogs that underwent gonadectomy before 1 year of age had an approximate one in four lifetime risk for bone sarcoma and were significantly more likely to develop bone sarcoma than dogs that were sexually intact.
Similar to confined socialized cats, feral cats gained significant weight and body fat after neutering.
Puppies who get frequent puppy vaginitis or bladder infections and have an "Innie" vulva should NOT be spayed before their first heat.
There is no indication to perform an ovariohysterectomy in healthy, nongravid\r\nbitches.1,2 Since many of the complications seen with ovariohysterectomies can be attributed to the cervical stump and the transection of the broad ligament,3,4 many now advocate ovariectomy as the procedure of choice for the sterilization of female dogs.
[Ms. X notes that an “ovariectomy” procedure simply removes the ovaries, leaving the uterus intact in the dog.]
More on Ovariectomy:
Results suggest that the presence of circulating testosterone in aging sexually intact male dogs may slow the progression of cognitive impairment, at least among dogs that already have signs of mild impairment. Estrogens would be expected to have a similar protective role in sexually intact female dogs; unfortunately, too few sexually intact female dogs were available for inclusion in the study to test this hypothesis. There may be a need to evaluate possible methods for counteracting the effects of loss of sex hormones in gonadectomized dogs.
Two studies suggest that risk of prostatic adenocarcinoma is increased in neutered, compared to intact male dogs.
Substitution of castrated rats with a low dose of T [Testosterone], restoring their serum T concentrations to the normal range, completely abolished these perturbations of insulin sensitivity. It is concluded that T is an important regulator of muscular insulin sensitivity, which seems to be highest in a 'window' of normal serum T concentrations.
Hormones, especially testosterone, estradiol, IGF-1, and DHEA, influence muscle tone, insulin sensitivity, and lipid metabolism. And it's hardly coincidental that just at the time in a person's life that hormone balance begins to swing toward the lower end of reference ranges, cardiovascular dysfunction also increases.

A host of studies have demonstrated the effect of adequate levels of this hormone on general well being, lean muscle mass, and healthy metabolism, including cardiac function and detoxification. Along with its other benefits in aging men, testosterone plays a role in establishing a foundation for cardiac health.
The transgenic mice developed by Vicki Davis from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and colleagues provide further evidence that estrogen is essential for the inhibition of age-related cataracts and keeping the lens clear.
Infectious diseases, however, were more common in dogs that underwent prepubertal gonadectomy.
Among female dogs, early-age gonadectomy was associated with increased rate of cystitis and decreasing age at gonadectomy was associated with increased rate of urinary incontinence. Among male and female dogs with early-age gonadectomy, hip dysplasia, noise phobias, and sexual behaviors were increased, whereas obesity, separation anxiety, escaping behaviors, inappropriate elimination when frightened, and relinquishment for any reason were decreased.

More on Hip Dysplasia risk:
Onset of mineralization of the proximal femoral epiphyses and of the right proximal tibial epiphysis was significantly later in dysplastic than in radiographically normal puppies.
Environmental risk factors [for feline diabetes] in domestic or Burmese cats include advancing age, obesity, male gender, neutering, drug treatment, physical inactivity, and indoor confinement.
Urinary incontinence after spaying occurred in 9.7% of bitches. This incidence is approximately half that of spaying after the first oestrus. Urinary incontinence affected 12.5% of bitches that were of a large body weight (GT 20 kg body weight) and 5.1% of bitches that were of a small body weight (LT 20 kg body weight.\r\n\r\nHowever, compared with late spaying the clinical signs of urinary incontinence were more distinct after early spaying.
Early-age neutering does not stunt growth in dogs or cats (a once-held belief), but may alter metabolic rates in cats.
Tumors occurred with similar frequency in males and females, but the relative risk for spayed females was >4 times that for intact females. For HSA, spayed females had >5 times greater relative risk than did intact females. The risk for castrated males was slightly greater than that for intact males, which had 2.4 times the relative risk of intact females. Thus, neutering appeared to increase the risk of cardiac tumor in both sexes. Intact females were least likely to develop a cardiac tumor, whereas spayed females were most likely to develop a tumor.
Incompetence of the urethral sphincter mechanism is uncommon in male dogs. This paper reviews 54 cases. As in the bitch, the condition can occur either as a congenital or as an acquired condition, in which neutering may play a part; larger breeds appear to be at greater risk.
Neutering was determined to be the most significant gender-associated risk factor for development of hypothyroidism. Neutered male and spayed female dogs had a higher relative risk of developing hypothyroidism than did sexually intact females. Sexually intact females had a lower relative risk.
49 of 80 aggressive male dogs and 25 of 47 female dogs are more gentle after neutering. 10 bitches appeared to be aggressive only after being neutered.
These results confirmed the gain in body weight and body fat following neutering and demonstrated a strong linear relationship between body fat and serum level of leptin.
Sterilization of either gender increased the prevalence of anterior cruciate ligament injury, suggesting a potential effect of gonadal gender on prevalence of injury of this ligament.
Our research nevertheless demonstrates that ovariohysterectomy decreases smooth muscle mass and connective tissue; it also elevates vascular plexus volumes in the urethra of spayed animals. Moreover, our results imply a general weakening of the urethral wall as a sequel to ovariohysterectomy, and this, in turn, could be seen to affect the closure mechanism of the urethra.
Both human studies5-7 and animal models8-9 have demonstrated improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance during lactation compared with nonlactating mothers who served as controls. These differences were independent of weight change.

These findings suggest that maternal lactation may reduce future risk of type 2 diabetes.

(Ms. X again) Now is all this to say the neutering is all bad and intact is all good? Of course not. Because in the final analysis, there have been many, many, manymanymanymany animals that lived long, full, healthy lives both neutered AND intact.

However you won't find much of this information merely by Googling for "neuter effects". Instead you will find page after page touting the benefits of neutering at any ages - with little mention of risks.

So Ms. X provides this blog to help fulfill her mission of sharing real educational insights, and going to ground after emotional hype.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Before Ellen, there was the Oklahoma Rescue...

(This blog originally posted on 12/23/2006.)

Ms. X once wrote that the only morally mitigating circumstance for keeping a dog you know belongs to another person was abuse.

Well, the Beagle "Rescue" that is refusing to return a dog to a family (they do not deny the dog belongs to the family) has listed their reasons on their website. There are no allegations of abuse. Read it for yourself! Here.

The Beagle Rescue, "OKBR", only makes the claim that the family has to follow their rules in order to adopt the dog. They say they can't make an exception.

If the family had been willing to consider the safety and wellbeing of this dog and others currently in their possession, the adoption fee would have been waived and only reimbursement of vet expenses expected.

Well now, that's downright generous. They'll waive the adoption fee when returning your own animal to you. But all their other "criteria" and "rules" remain in effect. Nevermind that the dog lived with this family for several years, without meeting those criteria, or that the dog came into rescue's oversight (I won't say possession) against the wishes of it's owners.

What exactly are the elements of safety and wellbeing that the family are not "considering"? According to the OKBR website,

1) the dogs were kept outside, and at least one of the dogs was chained.

Ms. X says: A lot of dogs are outside dogs. Is it an ideal life for a dog? Who knows? A lifetime crated in a basement isn't ideal either, yet the "Rescue" says they require dogs to be indoor only dogs. Is chaining a dog ideal? In general, people are beginning to learn that a dog on a single chain can be more disposed to agression problems. But on the other hand, something as simple as attaching the dogs' chain to another stretched line (called a trolley) allowing an additional degree of freedom in movement significantly reduces these issues. Were these dogs on a trolley system? Would it have even mattered to the "Rescue"?

There's another question the OKBR has to answer though. If the presence of a chain is enough to refuse to return a dog to its rightful owner, does that mean they would take a dog away from somebody who had it chained in the yard? Ms. X is pretty sure what an extremist group like OKBR would say. But what about you?

2) "The dogs were not permitted inside the home nor were they provided with a dog house or any other type of adequate shelter."

Ms. X says: Again with the complaint about it being an outside dog. And again, the OKBR won't return the dog because the OKBR adoption contract requires the dog to live indoors. Does this mean the OKBR would have taken the dog away from these people solely because it lives outside?

No dog house. No adequate shelter. Almost every state animal cruelty law requires that dogs have adequate shelter. In fact, in Oklahoma depriving an animal of shelter is a felony. That's serious stuff. Has OKBR filed charges? Until they do, and a conviction is reached, we must assume the family is innocent until proven guilty.

3) The family's dogs were over 6 months old, and not neutered.

Both dogs were over 6 months old and had not been altered and had no medical explanation of why spaying/neutering would be a danger to the animals in question. OKBR will not adopt any animal to a family that has other unaltered animals due to the high volume of unwanted animals killed every year in the city/county shelters.

Ms. X says: This one's my favorite. What's that OKBR said earlier? "the safety and wellbeing of this dog and others currently in their possession" Okay family, here are plenty of medical reasons to not neuter your dog (Start Here). But don't forget to ask, what on earth does the "high volume of unwanted animals killed every year" have to do with the safety and wellbeing of YOUR dog?

4) The dogs weren't on monthly heartworm preventitive year 'round.

Ms. X says: Yes, heartworms are a devastating and expensive to treat condition. But so are many other diseases that dogs can and do acquire. There are many reasons why people DON'T do conventional heartworm preventative treatment. And many more people who only give the conventional treatment during high mosquito season, often due to the financial constraints.

And guess what? Their dogs live to ripe old ages too. So once again, OKBR, are you telling us that you would remove a dog from it's family just because they didn't give it conventional yearround heartworm prevention? And while Ms. X might risk guessing what the "Rescue's" answer would be, furry reader, what is yours?

The REAL Humane Society of the United States.

(This blog originally posted on 11/21/2006.)

This came in through the e-mail, and Ms. X wanted to share.


Dear (Furry Reader):

I found some information I thought I should pass along:
Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street, NW, Washington, DC
Phone 202-452-1100 Fax 202-258-3051 Email


Humane Society of the United States

Despite the words “humane society” on its letterhead, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not affiliated with your local animal shelter. Despite the omnipresent dogs and cats in its fundraising materials, it’s not an organization that runs spay/neuter programs or takes in stray, neglected, and abused pets. And despite the common image of animal protection agencies as cash-strapped organizations dedicated to animal welfare, HSUS has become the wealthiest animal rights organization on earth.

HSUS is big, rich, and powerful, a “humane society” in name only. And while most local animal shelters are under-funded and unsung, HSUS has accumulated $113 million in assets and built a recognizable brand by capitalizing on the confusion its very name provokes. This misdirection results in an irony of which most animal lovers are unaware: HSUS raises enough money to finance animal shelters in every single state, with money to spare, yet it doesn’t operate a single one anywhere.

Instead, HSUS spends millions on programs that seek to economically cripple meat and dairy producers; eliminate the use of animals in biomedical research labs; phase out pet breeding, zoos, and circus animal acts; and demonize hunters as crazed lunatics. HSUS spends $2 million each year on travel expenses alone, just keeping its multi-national agenda going.

HSUS president Wayne Pacelle described some of his goals in 2004 for The Washington Post: “We will see the end of wild animals in circus acts … [and we’re] phasing out animals used in research. Hunting? I think you will see a steady decline in numbers.” More recently, in a June 2005 interview, Pacelle told Satya magazine that HSUS is working on “a guide to vegetarian eating, to really make the case for it.” A strict vegan himself, Pacelle added: “Reducing meat consumption can be a tremendous benefit to animals.”

Shortly after Pacelle joined HSUS in 1994, he told Animal People (an inside-the-movement watchdog newspaper) that his goal was to build “a National Rifle Association of the animal rights movement.” And now, as the organization’s leader, he’s in a position to back up his rhetoric with action. In 2005 Pacelle announced the formation of a new “Animal Protection Litigation Section” within HSUS, dedicated to “the process of researching, preparing, and prosecuting animal protection lawsuits in state and federal court.”

HSUS’s current goals have little to do with animal shelters. The group has taken aim at the traditional morning meal of bacon and eggs with a tasteless “Breakfast of Cruelty” campaign. Its newspaper op-eds demand that consumers “help make this a more humane world [by] reducing our consumption of meat and egg products.” Since its inception, HSUS has tried to limit the choices of American consumers, opposing dog breeding, conventional livestock and poultry farming, rodeos, circuses, horse racing, marine aquariums, and fur trapping.


Furry Readers, can we animal afficionados allow these people to trample the progress we have made in gaining the rights to enjoy to the fullest the animals we love? Our interactions with animals fulfill us on an elemental level. Whether we are eating them, wearing them, petting them or trusting our very lives to them, animals exist in this evolutionary world to complete the nature of humans. They are an extension of ourselves, the 'wind beneath our wings'.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Real Dogs? or Pretty Dogs?

How many times have you seen the proud owner or the puffed breeder parade their favored muse and proclaim "My dog was bred to course hares" or "hunt badgers" or "flush birds" and you look at the primped and preened speciman and think "That??!"

Well guess what? You're probably right. Most of todays purebreds were not bred to do anything, other than look upbeat and pretty when they're led around a show ring. In fact, in many cases it's quite likely the sturdy little terrier with the ferocious bark couldn't even fit down a badger hole if he wanted to.

Livestock Judging Handbook by Julius E. Nordby, M.S,Agr (University of Idaho), W. Malcolm Beeson, Ph.D (Purdue University) and David L. Fourt, M.S.Agr (University of Idaho).

In a further consideration of utility type in draft horses it is of value to note carefully what Wayne Dinsmore, Secretary, The Horse and Mule Association of America, has recently found concerning type in the farm horse. This discussion is the result of a carefully conducted and extensive survey among farmers of twelve midwestern states, in which their choice is expressed with respect to the qualities that should prevail in the ideal farm work horse.
To get these facts and other information about horse and mule breeding, a trained horseman was sent on a trip which took him to [these twelve midwestern states]. ..[T]he route traversed was usually a mile or more away from paved highways, and the farmers interviewed were not selected, but 'run of the mine' farmers, taken as they came.
...[T]the farmer was asked: 'Have you a horse (or mule) that just suits you?' Where the answer was in the affirmative, the horse or mule was led out and ...accurately measured.

So this is the definitive test. Take those that best do the work (function), document their size and shape, and derive the standard (form).

Is there any better method for determining what a dog "bred to ...(fill in the blank)..." should look like?

Some people still think so. The terrier men at think so. And these sled dog racers think this old technique has value too - "Bones You Should Know and Love."

So the only remaining question is, are there enough dogs left doing the work to get a good sampling? For some jobs, there probably are. For others, the only thing to do is set the record straight.

"That dog was bred to prance around the showring looking upbeat and pretty."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It takes a miracle to train a dog.

A rather remarkable story out of Southern California, two dogs are spared a one-way trip to the shelter by nothing less than the image
of Jesus Christ appearing on their doggy door.

It's remarkable because it took Divine Intervention for these two rather normal
sounding dogs to not be sent packing.

The reason dogs are in the shelter is not because there are commercial breeders, or
backyard breeders, or family breeders, or barbie breeders or (your favorite epithet here) breeders.

The reason dogs wind up in
shelters is because of OWNERS. Owners that take on a responsibility and then decide they\'d rather shirk it, thank you very much. So they
find some poor soul or a taxpayer funded collection site to exchange the problem dog for one that would be less troublesome (or so they

The only thinking solution is to educate owners. Cesar Millan is a great start.

What's needed is more charity put into free training and free education.

If any of my furry readers knows of free training classes around the country, I'll be happy to put up a notice.

A new home!

Yes, I know. I just moved a couple months ago. It was a long and arduous process that resulted in the blog being down for a very long time.

And now I've gone and done it again. And there are no archives!

But there is method to the madness. is . . . (drum roll) FREE!

The old blog software was free too, but it required a lot of time consuming manual maintenance, upgrades, etc. etc. A great software, but the coordination required to maintain a labor intensive software on a so-so server with no support to mention, was just a little more than Ms. X has time for. I do have to hold down a paying job to feed the fur kids. Oh, and the human ones too ;-)

So here's hoping I'll find someway to bring the old archives over. At the very least, over time, I will repost most of them.

Here's wishing us luck!