Thursday, July 23, 2009

4 Day Old Infant Survives, Barely.

"A father was frantically calling 911 to report his missing newborn when he spotted the baby, bleeding from the mouth and clutched in the mouth of a family dog who had carried him from his crib to the heavily wooded backyard."

Another baby, another family dog. This infant, luckily, has survived (so far).

"Smith said he and his wife, Chrissie, had just put Alexander James (or A.J.) in his crib Monday afternoon in their Nicholasville, Ky., home and were preparing for a baby shower. When Chrissie returned to the bedroom minutes later, one of the doors was ajar and both the baby and their Native American Indian dog — a breed that looks similar to a husky — were gone."

Apparently the Native American Indian dog is a mixed breed of sorts, with some wolf in the lineages.

According to this video, the baby was born 3 weeks early. But the video also says that "according to experts" the main reason dogs turn on babies is out of fear.

Yeah right. That old fear excuse. It's way overused, in my opinion. One of Ms. X's furry companions is afraid of balloons. Well, that's anthropomorphic. Let me put it this way. One of Ms. X's furry companions refuses to be in visual range of a ballon. When she (the furry companion, not Ms. X) sees a balloon, drifting gently overhead, she arises and exits the room and or the house, as needed. Even if dinner is on the floor.

That's what I call fear. If she grabbed the balloon and dragged it into the woods for an afternoon nibble, I would not call that fear. But what do I know? I'm just a dog owner.

Ray Coppinger, noted biologist and author, is quoted in the Seattle article -

The Smiths made a "classic mistake, out of ignorance, and now they're suffering badly for it," he said. Dogs like Dakota don't recognize infants as people, Coppinger said. "It's no more of an act of violence on the dog's part," he said, "than you eating a steak."

Ms. X sides with him.

In the end it doesn't matter what the dogs motivation is. In true behaviorism perspective, all that matters is what the behaviors actually are. And that is what only parents can prevent.

Here's some more idle conversation about the Native American Indian dogs, including discussion of the Michigan breeder that bred this one.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Soft on cruelty?

Ok, I've tried 3 times to come up with a way to start this post off, but nothing I've come up with has adequately expressed the dismay at this story in the Daily Mail.

If it's true, and I realize that is an "if" (but then just about any story posing as "journalism" these days must be prefaced with an "if"), it is a terrible lesson that people here will learn, but likely not learn from.

Several years ago in my days of beating my head against brick walls in "discussion" forums, I encountered the fuzzy logic that held private property rights to be a "slippery slope" to a society where Animal Planets' Puppy Bowl ratings would skyrocket with the addition of a Burmese Python to the fun.

In vain did I plead that turning property rights over to the government would result in humans being thrown to the pythons.

Now, some dog breeders in Britain are pleading my case.

The story is not easy to read, especially if you have kids (yes, I know sensationalism in writing is a hallmark of the Daily Mail). The facts as presented are this - a dog breeder is raided, protests the raid, takes every step they can think of to fight back, including taping interview with the authorities, only to have their own daughter seized by the government. That was two years ago. They still have not gotten their daughter back, DESPITE having no charges filed against them.

They were just a normal, happy family, it seems, until the RSPCA, backed up by 18 police officers, arrived at their house early one April morning in 2007, following a tip-off that dogs were being mistreated, and that there might be guns in the house.
No guns were ever found. No criminal charges were brought, nor does Richard have a criminal record.

And here is what makes this case so unbelievable, yet so portent.

He was later, however, convicted of docking the tails of his puppies.

Support Your Local Puppymill.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Nutritional Heresy

Tonight, I watched that great documentary "Fathead", by Tom Naughton. In the back, in the extended interviews section, Dr. Al Sears talks about the relationship of grains to heart disease, and he tells a great story.

It seems back in the 60's, they were trying to prove that fat caused heart disease. So they fed dogs just tons of saturated fat, but none of the dogs got heart disease! So the researchers concluded that dogs just could not get heart disease, so they abandoned their study of dogs, and turned to rabbits.

Well, guess what happened. They fed rabbits saturated fat (not a nutrient you commonly get from grass) and those rabbits developed heart disease in a matter of weeks.

"Eureka!" The researchers cried. And they concluded that saturated fat caused heart disease in mammals (humans, rabbits etc.) Except dogs. Dogs just didn't get heart disease.

Dogs, just don't get heart disease. Right.

Heart disease is a huge medical industry for dogs these days. Weight loss is a huge problem too. What's the connection? Same one humans suffer from, Carbohydrates.

And rabbits are a great model for human cholesterol and saturated fat processing, right? Rabbits are notorious for having bodies low in saturated fat. And their natural diets are, of course, fat free. They are strict herbivores. They even have a disease named after them, Rabbit Starvation. It's what happens when you eat a high protein low fat diet. In short, you get sick and die.

I'm quite sure any of my readers are smart enough to figure out that perhaps, rabbits were an inaccurate human model when it comes to dietary fats.

Speaking of fat dogs, our second topic for nutritional heresy: Spaying Makes Your Dog Fat.

Gary Taubes (of Good Calorie, Bad Calorie and "What if it's all been a big fat lie" fame) explains this phenomenon at this lecture (beginning about 38:00, but you should watch the whole thing).

Removing the estrogen makes the animal accumulate fat in its fat tissues. Because the fat is going into the tissues, there is an energy deficit elsewhere in the body so the dog has to eat more. If it can't eat more (and many owners try to reduce food intake after spaying) then the metabolism and energy expenditure will just slow down.

In short, you feed your dog a certain quantity, lets say 1 cup of food per day, and the dog maintains a normal weight. Then you spay the dog. After the surgery you continue to feed your dog one cup of food per day, but now your dog will get fat.

In short, your dog isn't getting fat after spaying because it is overeating. It gets fat after spaying because you made it get fat.

Pet owners are lied to about this one on a regular basis. Ms. X has a mission to shine the truthlight on false teachings, and the myth that spaying (or neutering) won't make your dog fat is just that. A myth.

Website after website blames the owner when a dog that has been fixed gets fat. I'm willing to blame owners for lots of things, like not training their dog and then turning it into a shelter because it misbehaves.

But I like to assume that pet owners are intelligent and responsible, and can handle the truth about spaying and neutering. I like to enable them to make the best decisions for them and their pets.

The truth is the best medicine.

Friday, July 3, 2009

More Than You Knew

about fluoride, that is.

It seems there is a degree of concern about the level of fluoride in dog food.

We already know that our furry friends (unless they sate their thirst with Perrier)are exposed to fluoride in their drinking water, as are we all, and there is reasonable question as to it's influence on the incidences of osteosarcoma, especially in dogs neutered while they are still growing.

Now, it seems that even Beverly Hills puppies can't escape fluoride by just hitting the bottle.

Together with drinking water from the tap that has been fluoridated, some puppies may be exposed at five-times the safe limit, according to Environmental Working Group -- though it must be said that the safe limits were not designed specifically for dogs
Read more.

EWG recommends choosing dog food brands free of bone meal and meat by product ingredients like chicken by-product meal, poultry by-product meal, chicken meal and beef meal.
Read more:

I don't entirely agree with the schools of thought that shun "by-products" and "meal", offal and bones are quite valuable food sources for dogs. When my dog gets ahold of a living food source, the only thing she leaves is the ears. Maybe she'd even eat them, if I let them ripen for a couple days. The offal went first, and the bones weren't far behind.

However if you are raising puppies, nothing, nothing beats a raw diet. If you have a large breed, and you plan to neuter early, you might want to filter the fluoride out of the water too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tied Up in Nots

Thou shalt, let's's Tuesday, so...thou shalt not ... tether thy dog.

The petatics are once again attacking dog owners and dog sporters (I know, I know, they do it every day) this time in Charleston West Virginia. According to a news report, a city councilwoman attempted to "show solidarity with dogs" by leashing herself to something stable for a lengthy period of time.

After which she and fellow activists shared a water dish and pooped on the lawn. One of the petatics was even said to have peed on the back of the councilwoman. Okay, so maybe that happened later in the evening...

Back to the present, this councilwoman claims that tethering is a form of abuse. Maybe she saw the photos of prisoner treatment in Abu Ghraib and did some quick inductive reasoning?

That's how we all reason about pets, isn't it?

We see pictures of a horrible *real puppymill* breeding facility, that happens to have over 20 dogs, and we assume all breeding facilities with over 20 dogs are bad.

We hear a few stories about pit bulls with bad owners that attack kids, and we try to ban all pitbulls.

One kid crawls out a doggy door and drowns in a swimming pool, and suddenly doggie doors are a silent, deadly menace.

The truth about tethering is like the truth about anything else. It can be done well, or it can be done badly.

A lot of people successfully use underground fences.
A lot of people use dog crates.
A lot of people go to dog parks.
A lot of people feed their dogs cheap kibble.
A lot of people train their dogs in schutzhund.
A lot of people breed dogs.
A lot of people with kids own dogs.

All "thou shalt nots" to somebody.

Working Pit Bull site has an excellent write up on tethering.

Diane Jessup writes:

"Sadly, anti-dog forces, such as PETA, support anti-tethering laws as another step (along with breed specific legislation) in severing the ages old man/dog bond. They know that most serious working breeds such as racing huskies, hunting dogs and bulldogs are often tethered."

She is spot on the money.

I don't want to spend this post walking through the pros and cons of tethering, Ms. Jessup has already done a great job, including describing an ideal tethering setup.

I will point out that there are only two ways we can have things.

1) Don't restrain the freedom of individuals. Keep the cruelty laws, every state has had cruelty laws in place for a long time.

Or, 2) Prohibit everything that someone thinks is wrong. Tom Naughton presented a good plan for this category. If you choose this option, I'm with Tom.

Hang loose.