Saturday, November 24, 2007

Weird Logic ... 2

(This blog originally posted on 8/22/2005).

I don't get "show" breeders. Almost every show breeder website says they breed to "better the breed", and they breed for health, for structure, for temperment, etc.

But for every single one of them, they all start their breedings with the same choice. And that choice has Nothing to do with health, temperment, structure. That first choice is only this: "Does the dog have a piece of paper registering him with my favorite organization?"

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Day That Will Live in Infamy

Today was the National Dog Show. I watched it on television this morning. When the hound group came up, one of the "new" breeds was highlighted - the Plott hound. I was reminded of this old post, and wanted to repost it as soon as possible.

(This blog originally posted on 5/16/2006).

Do you remember what you did May 10th, 2006? I don't.

The calendar tells me it was Wednesday. Get up, go to work, go home, play with the dogs, go to bed. A day like any other day. Right?

For you and me, maybe. But for the AKC it marked the beginning of the end.

AKC did 3 (at least) ominously significant things on May 10, 2006.

ONE, they officially pulled the poor Plott hound into the Hound Group, making it eligible to get AKC Championships in the Conformation ring. If Ms. X was a betting woman, she'd be calling her Vegas bookie right now. How many years will it be before the Plott in the ring is unrecognizable, or unfunctional as the Plott in the woods? 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?

There aren't many breeds left that the AKC hasn't pulled into the conformation championship ring. The Plott has been in Miscellaneous Class since 1998, which allowed show breeders to get a critical mass AKC registered so there would be enough to hold a show.

Now AKC will happily tell you if the Plott Hound breeder isn't a member of the AKC Plott Breed Club, you're not talking to a responsible breeder. Of course the breed club AKC has recognized has promised faithfully to involve the Plott in conformation shows.

For AKC, more breeds = more puppies = more money.

The SECOND ominous significant thing AKC did on May 10, 2006, was to formally launch its finger into the last big piece of the pie on the plate: Canine Protection Work.

Only AKC calls it "Working Dog Sport". In other words, AKC now hold Schutzhund trials. Now, AKC's mutant versions of Dobermans and GSD's can get bite work titles too, in a comfortable, non-competitive environment, to prove the crippled softies really are solid, sound and all-around superior specimens. You may want to know that even AKC versions of the Malinois aren't invited to these events. Why? I don't suppose, of course, that it would have anything to do with making AKC GSD's look bad, do you?

Let's stop for a quick vote - How many of my furry readers think Ms. X should lay off the vinegar with her morning coffee?

Of course this second move by AKC didn't occur just because AKC wanted to give some sort of legitimacy to their conformation championed "working" breeds. AKC itself is in competition. Registries like UKC and APRI are cutting into their profit. UKC attracts a lot of working dogs, hounds, terriers etc. APRI has made huge inroads into the high volume (commercial) breeders. CKC picks up a lot of business from family breeders who just don't want to bother with high-brow AKC. (Watch for more about CKC in the coming weeks).

Internationally, AKC is a small fish in a big pond. The FCI, which controls a LOT of purebred dog breeding and activity in foreign countries, is not terribly fond of AKC and tries to keep them out of Europe as hard as AKC works to keep FCI out of the States.

Internationally, AKC is playing a delicate game, crawling toward the FCI, head lowered, tail wagging, licking FCI's mouth...waiting for FCI to look away so AKC can mount the top dog and assert dominance.

Proof of this is in the THIRD ominously significant act of May 10, 2006. In the third
act, AKC prohibited it's judges from fraternizing with the enemy. Yup, that's what I said. Enemy.

No more working relationships with mutual professional respect for the other dog registries. Oh sure, they'll still accept your check for cross registration from those "other" registries, but that's about it.

No longer will their judges be free agents, judging for whichever registry is holding the show. And no longer will other registries be able to advertise that Dr. Know-all-dogs, who has judged over 300 shows (299 for AKC) will be presiding at the Spring Specialty for Registry X.

In the past, hard core AKCites would tell the public that shows held by Registry X weren't any good because the judges didn't know a good dog from a mutt. And then Registry X would fire back that they used the same judges as AKC.

Now, AKC is hoping to silence that argument by move three. With one exception. Only judging other competitions in the USA is prohibited. That means AKC left it's own legitimizer in place. AKC can still advertise Dr. Know-all-dogs, who has judged 50 shows for the FCI, will be presiding over this spring's Working Dog Sport Competition.

Ok, now before you can say "Gee, Gosh, Golly Ms. X, this is way more than vinegar in the coffee!" Let me remind you that AKC doesn't limit its efforts to increase market share to simply manipulating Fido and Fido's owner. AKC tries to manipulate the laws too.

Remember PAWS? AKC is still out there, lobbying for a huge increase in the number of government inspected breeders, where it itself will become one of the "government inspectors".

Now there is a market FCI will have a lot of trouble breaking into.

The Myth of the Myth of Hybrid Vigor

(This blog originally posted on 6/20/2005).

If you happen to mention 'hybrid vigor' in the wrong place, at the wrong time, you will likely find yourself attacked by the myth-ites. Their advances follow a consistent template- a split hair, some red herrings, the occassional split herring...

"WHAT" my ever observant readers demand, "Is a Split Herring"? Well that's easy. You take about 4 large herrings, split them, remove the backbone. Add a little salt and pepper and grill until nicely roasted. Then, you add a lovely concoction of pototoes, cauliflower, gherkins... Hey wait a minute! Stop Distracting me! This is important - people are spreading il-logic and it has to be stopped!

Okay, that's better. Still with me?

Let's start here - with Karen Peak. She opens with a split hair. Since dogs are of the same species she says, crossing them does not create a hybrid therefore no hybrid vigor. And if that's not enough, she says even in recognized 'hybrids', the vigor is questionable. Carefully ignoring the beefalo, yak crosses and the mule, she finds the health problems of ligers and tions and the tempermental quircks of wolfdogs all the evidence required to challenge hybrid vigor.

But hold on! It gets better! Darlene Arden doesn't waste time splitting hairs, she heads straight for the herrings. According to Ms. Arden because a dog could potentially inherit the genetic diseases of it's parents, hybrid vigor is a myth in dogs.

You see what we're up against! Now I know those of you who have raised cattle and pigs and crops are jumping up and down screaming right now. Hold your horses! I know what you're saying, but we have to quote some real experts.

“Heterosis (hybrid vigor) can improve the performance of crossbred animals, relative to the average of their parental breeds.” - Dr. Kent Weigel, Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin

"Heterosis, known as hybrid vigor, is the added performance you get when mating parents of different breeds. It is free and nothing is spared to achieve it." - John Hough, Ph.D. Chief Science Officer, EPD International, Inc.

"Heterosis, often referred to as "hybrid vigor," measures the difference between average performance of crossbred animals and average performance of the breeds that were crossed to produce them." - T. A. Olson, associate professor of Animal Science, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

"B-b-b-utt I thought a hybrid had to come from two different species! What's all this nonsense about crossbred hybrids??"

Common mistake. Let's let Wikipedia do the talking.

In biology, hybrid has three meanings.
-The first meaning is either the offspring of two different species, or of two different genera.
-The second meaning of "hybrid" is crosses between populations or cultivars ("cultivated varieties") of a single species. This second meaning is often used in plant breeding.
-The third meaning is in molecular biology.

Seems it's all Mendels fault. He, like most plant breeders, called his heterozygous crosses 'hybrids'. And, since he was popular and did lots of research that had implications for breeding far beyond mere plants, people went with what he said. No surprise there!

Only the people stuck in high school biology are stuffing herrings. Certainly Ms. X, her intelligent readers and the real experts quoted above understand this complexity.

Now let's get out of the bean fields and find the dogs. Since Ms. Arden didn't trip over the definition of hybrid, but moved straight into the test for vigor, we should explain that.

Simply, hybrid vigor is defined by it's success. (Re-read the real experts quoted above). If the offspring has improvement in performance over it's purebred parents, hybrid vigor has surely occurred.

"Wow, so hybrid vigor doesn't mean the dogs will be physically and tempermentally perfect and never get sick?" Funny how the only people saying that are the zealots trying to disprove the scientific phenomenon of hybrid vigor. It's easy to disprove something that isn't true, now, isn't it?

Here are a few things to know about hybrid vigor (or heterosis) in animals.

"Level of heterosis tends to be inversely proportional to heritability. In moderately to highly heritable traits, such as carcass characteristics, level of heterosis is low. On the other hand, in traits having low heritability, such as fertility and livability, heterosis is high." -Crossbreeding Systems for Beef Cattle by Harlan Ritchie, B. Dennis Banks, Daniel Buskirk and Joel Cowley Michigan State University - East Lansing

"We found our F1 females became much superior mothers compared to the purebred animals, producing large quantities of milk and giving excellent care to their offspring, so that the F2's had a better start in life. These genetic and environmental advantages of the F1's and F2's are reflected in decreased mortality." - Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog by John Paul Scott and John L. Fuller

Scott and Fuller did the only scientific study I know of that looked at hybrid vigor in cross breed dogs. It wasn't the purpose of the study, but it was one of their oft noted observations.

And a final word about hybrid vigor- don't forget the key word is "hybrid"! By the time you get to the F9 and F10 generation, you're losing heterozygosity.

"The extrapolation of logic regarding color has led many beef producers to first make their cattle black, then to work on making their cattle genetically superior in regard to production, carcass merit and reproduction. Producers should not be criticized for this decision, they are simply responding to a market reality. By this response many commercial herds have been drained of nearly all of the hybrid vigor that was once there in their crossbred cows and calves. Three generations of Angus bulls on F1 Angus-Hereford cows results in 15/16 Angus cows and loss of 87% of the hybrid vigor, particularly in important reproduction & production traits. Hardest hit are the lowly heritable traits (such as conception, survival, fitness) which do not respond well to selection for the more highly heritable carcass and growth traits." - Balancing Angus Genetics and Hybrid Vigor in Breeding Black Cattle, Jim Gosey, Beef Specialist, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Well, Ms. X's fingers are getting tired, but this last last thought just couldn't be left out. While the topic is beef, the implication is dog and in a nutshell it is the reason crossbreeds are sooo very popular today. Let's just hope those breeders take notes from industries that have been capitalizing on that 'hybrid vigor myth' for a long time and do dogs some good.'

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Animals as Property - something to think about

(This blog originally posted on 2/20/2005.)

Mary Ruwart address animal cruelty in a civilized society.

Someone said using property rights principles for animal ownership was a "slippery slope", presumably because it left other people unable to legally act in the face of blatant cruelty. (And, one can assume, in the face of any pet treatments your neighbor doesn't like).

But then they turned around and said they wanted the right to treat their animals as they saw fit.


Beware gentle readers, wanting the right to govern yourself AND govern your neighbors is the same thing as saying your neighbors (us) shouldn't have any rights at all!

Read L. Neil Smith's Treatise "Animals Are Property".

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Of Pet Peeves and Dog Choices.

(This blog originally posted on 2/25/2005.)

Maybe someone else can explain this phenonemon, because Ms. X can't seem to wrap her pretty, little head around it.

It starts with someone who wants to get into dogs, has a favorite breed they really want to own/show/breed, but common practices for this breed are 1) ear cropping and 2) tail docking.

So this person, lets call her Mrs. U, finds a breed about the same size and shape that doesn't "require" 1) ear cropping or 2) tail docking and starts breeding that breed.

Now is it just Ms. X, or is the WORST REASON EVER to choose a dog breed?

Shouldn't your breed of choice be selected because you love the personality, admire the function, like the way it's energy and activity fit perfectly with your lifestyle?

Shouldn't you breed your breed of choice because you want to preserve it's wonderful traits like courage, or it's ability to hunt?

After all, no one held a gun to Mrs. U's head and forced her to 1) crop ears or 2) dock tails. She thinks it's "icky"; but she can't resist the peer pressure she would get if she didn't 1) crop ears or 2) dock tails.

So she takes the cowards route and goes for a completely different breed because she can be popular with it and not feel "icky".

Then, she goes and 3) hacks off dewclaws because it's just darned hard to get into a breed where dewclaws are acceptable.

Honestly, Ms. X can't think of a worse person to have preserving a breed than Mrs. U, who doesn't have the courage of her convictions.

Civilized Society v. Responsible Society

(This blog originally posted 5/20/2005.)

The civilization of a society is not measured by the number of laws it writes, but in how few laws it has.

The notion of a 'responsible' society is one where some individuals deem themselves responsible for the actions of other individuals. When that happens, people who feel that burden of responsibility are forced into some VERY uncivilized actions against other people (resulting in lots of laws) to mitigate the weight of their conscience.

The end effect?

The more responsible a society deems itself the be, the less civilized it has become.

Friday, November 2, 2007


(This blog originally posted on 5/12/2005.)

I think I'm going to be sick.

Pet Roundup in Denver

Officer Lorraine Pacheco didn't know what to expect Monday - the first day of Denver Animal Control's enforcement of the city's ban on owning pit bulls.
"At first, I was like, do I even want to come into work today," Pacheco said from behind the wheel of her city-issued white van.
"People not wanting to give up their dogs, saying 'I love my dog, why are you taking him?' It's not a witch-hunt."
It is the law, though.

She's right you know. It's not a witch hunt. Nothing that significant. Just a good old fashioned dog hunt- only it's not a countryman protecting his flocks from roaming wild packs. It's the government and they're slaughtering your family pet.

The 50-year-old with long dreadlocks opened the fence's door a crack and slipped behind the chain-link door separating the officers from the snarling dog.

Remember Denverites, this law is for your own safety. Note the dreadlocks, crack and dog snarling at police officers? At least the propaganda machine is still keeping up the pretenses.

Pacheco said because Hollowell voluntarily gave up the dog, he wouldn't be ticketed.

Ah, the reward for compliance. The government is fair, you see. Now wear the star on your arm and you can continue to live in your own home. For now. Subservience is it's own reward.

"I don't have no dogs," the woman yelled. "There ain't no dogs in the basement. You want to search the house, get a warrant. And then I'll sue you."

Did you shudder in horror when you read this? You should. I'd say "have we come to this as a nation?" but Ms. X would point out we are already past.

"I've been called everything in the book," [Pacheco] said as she got in the van and drove away. "I just try and tell them I'm just doing my job."

Ms. Pacheco, many a Nazi slept at night on that same comfort.

Unfortunately I won't.