Archive for February, 2014

Wow. We have some really zoologically literate people there in Kalyfornya:

duck mix

It case you didn’t know, it’s an American coot.

It’s one of those things that looks like a duck but is not a duck!

Not even the right order!

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prince harry feral water buffalo

There is much nattering among the ARista lobby in the UK over this photo.

Prince Harry killed a buffalo.

Won’t someone please think of the children?

The big outrage is that his father, Prince Charles, just recently made ending the illegal wildlife trade a major public campaign of his. Prince Charles and Prince William are going to be in a film that talks about wildlife conservation.

And I think this is wonderful.

But then Prince William is seen hunting wild boar in Spain, and people lose their minds. Never mind that wild boar are actually overpopulating in large parts of their range on the European continent. They were actually extirpated from the British Isles but were accidentally restocked when a few escaped English game farms. The animals are still very uncommon in the UK, so most people have no idea what wild boar actually do when they exist at very high numbers. Namely, they destroy crops and forest land, and without large numbers of wolves– their only real natural predator– the only way to manage them is through culling or hunting. Hunting raises some funds for wildlife conservation, but if you cull, you have to pay for the professional cullers.

So it would be much more sensible to allow hunting, don’t you think?

But the real outrage I’ve seen is about Prince Harry killing this buffalo while the whole family has pledged to support wildlife conservation as their major campaign this year.

He must surely be a hypocrite! Right?

Well, behind the outrage there is a story.

The buffalo that Prince Harry killed was an Asian water buffalo. These animals exist in both wild and domestic populations in Asia, and there is a bit of debate as to whether there is only one species of water buffalo in Asia or two of them. The two species are not split between wild and domestic, but rather, there is a river population and a swamp population that differ in chromosome number and almost never interbreed in their native range in the wild. They are both sources for the domestic water buffalo, and in captivity, they do cross and produce fertile offspring despite the chromosome number difference.

Prince Harry did not kill a wild water buffalo of any species.

He wasn’t even in Asia when he shot it.

He was in Argentina.

What are water buffaloes doing in Argentina?

Well, they were brought to South America as meat, dairy, and draft animals. Now, it’s certainly true that certain game ranches in South America do raise water buffalo to hunt, which is certainly a problem, but killing an invasive species– especially a feral domestic animal– is one of the best things that can be done to protect wildlife.

In the Southern Cone of South America, there are big game ranches that have stocked their lands with water buffalo and even red deer. Now, these ranches may be criticized for many things, but they do keep some areas wild that would otherwise be used for agriculture or development, which winds up being good for at least some native species. Would it be better to have these ranches with a few small herds of managed feral buffalo or to have them filled with Indicus cattle?

And this is not much different from the English sporting tradition of managing the legendary wild park cattle as a game species. At least, no one in Argentina made up any nonsense about these buffaloes being an ancient native species.  According to legend, these wild white cattle were the original wild white aurochs of England, when in truth they were nothing more than feral domestics that were selectively bred through culling to have the white coloration. And they were bred as game animals in exactly the same way the Argentines breed water buffalo.

Not a single royal is going out and shooting endangered species. They are not going to Africa and shooting “Cape” buffalo or elephants.

They are not shooting tigers or rhinos.

And by campaigning for real wildlife conservation and not animal rights outrages, they are actually doing the world a lot of good.

Real conservation is not anti-hunting. It sees hunting as an important management tool that can be used to reduce populations and generate revenue at the same time.

This is where the animal rights outrages come into total conflict with scientific management and sound economics. You cannot save animals because you get enough people in your wealthy, developed country to look down their noses at hunters. You can only save animals when you can create some economic value for the animals in their native countries or, at the very least, be able to find some intelligent way to mitigate any damages caused by such animals.

This is the big problem in conservation.

We have many people in the West who want to save species, but they don’t live in the countries or regions where these animals exist. Westerners are outraged at the poaching and habitat destruction, but they fail to understand that these issues are the symptom of greater human problems. When you have people living on the edge, your morals as well-fed Westerner really don’t mean much. You can be outraged all you want, but unless you address the human problems with conservation, all you will have is outrages and bromides.

I wish the royal family the best of luck in their venture in trying shed light on the need to conserve wildlife, but i also hope they can talk some sense into their citizens about the importance of hunting in conservation. I think this would be a great opportunity.

Otherwise, people are going to go on and on complaining about the supposed hyprocrisy of the royal family.

Of course, I’m not even a monarchist, and I’m very happy to live in a republic!




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Jemima Harrison Neapolitan mastiff

Photo by Jemima Harrison.

The above image comes from a 2011 post on Jemima Harrison’s blog. It is a part of series of photos she took at Crufts, most of which would make any rational person with any sense of empathy wince.  Why is such unnecessary suffering celebrated in the world of dog?

In it she writes:

These pictures were taken today at Crufts.

This should be the moment the Kennel Club realises that if it wants to be seen to have any shred of integrity, self-respect – or humanity – that it has to ban the Neapolitan Mastiff.

This is cruelty.

No ifs. No buts. Ban them. Now.

These dogs were produced by “responsible breeders.” They were “bred to standard,” but when we really think about it, a dog with open loose eyelids, constantly infected skin, and terrible structure suffers far more than any animal that is hunted. The animal that is hunted suffers only in the last seconds of its life– if at all. A dog like these Neapolitan mastiffs suffers through its entire life.

I should note that she is not calling for banning the breed as pit bulls are in the UK. She calling for them to be removed from the Kennel Club’s registry.

I pretty much said the same thing a few days ago. Until saner, more rational people take the helm in this breed, it should not be given any legitimacy by any major breed registry.

When breed registries allow dog breeds to be bred like this, they lose all moral authority.

It is enabling people with absolutely no empathy.

The only difference between these people and dog fighters is that at least dog fighters don’t make up nonsense about how loose skin makes the dogs better in combat. Game-bred pit bulls and even traditional shar pei don’t look like these Neapolitan mastiffs.

The Neapolitan mastiff as we know it now is just one giant flight of fancy. It was created by a Swiss science fiction writer, then mass-produced by Italian con-men trying to sell the “true Italian dog” to ignorant Northern Europeans and North Americans, and finally wrecked under the guise of “breed improvement” as it entered the international dog fancy.

It is perhaps the most pathetic dog story ever told.

Of course, it’s not the only one.

But it is so obviously messed up that any reasonable person can see it.

And it also tells you that by and large, the people who breed this dog in this way are not reasonable people.

They’ve bought into something that defies reason and logic which they will defend against any and all criticism.

It’s a faith-based position.

But it’s a faith-based position that leads to a great deal of suffering– but hey, it’s the only faith-based position that has caused suffering, is it?



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One of the great shibboleths in the dog world is that there is a creature known as the “responsible breeder.”

Each person has a definition about what one is, but for many years, the biggest defining point was the adherence to blood purity cult. Usually this would be mixed in with all the delusions of preservation, as well as the delusion of improvement.*

The unfortunate thing is none of these things have much to do with the real world.

In the real world, crossbreeding isn’t evil. It’s innovation.

Take this nice post by Suzanne Phillips over at the Hoof &Paw blog.

In her part of Oregon, it’s not unusual for someone to breed this:

Photo by Suzanne Phillips.

Photo from Suzanne Phillips.

This dog is a German short-haired pointer/Labrador retriever cross. It’s basically a purposely-bred cross that mixes the ruggedly versatile German HPR wit the always popular, hard driving Labrador. Suzanne mentions that when a friend of hers bred such a cross people drove from hundreds of miles to pick up one.

Such is the reputation of this cross.

She mentions another variant of the cross in the post as well. This time the retriever in question is a Chesapeake, but she has been bred to a German shorthair.

Photo by Suzanne Phillips.

Photo from Suzanne Phillips.

It’s hard for anyone in that old way of thinking to say that these were not well-bred animals.

Chesapeakes, Labs, and German shorthairs are all very useful animals. Not a single one of them was created through maintaining closed registries until very recently.

And even now, many people who want a useful dog don’t pay much attention to the old blood purity rules.

That’s because these blood purity rules are way outside of the average person’s experience with dogs. Almost no one owns a dog that is very tightly bred, and virtually everyone in the public would be repulsed by the idea.

Many people talk about the reason why the American Kennel Club is in such terrible financial straight. Animal rights activist get the blame. The puppy mill paper mills get their share, too.

But I think the real problem is that the American Kennel Club, though it is headquartered in the United States and always has been, is really a foreign institution.

Its values were imported from Great Britain at the height of its imperialist glory. As strange as it sounds today, most Americans were very anti-British during most the nineteenth century. Britain had burned down our capital. It allowed the Confederacy to have the delusion that it was on the side of their rebellion.  It was also a major competitor in the Northwest. Plus, tons of Americans were Irish famine refugees.

As America grew wealthier, wealthy and upper middle class Americans began to emulate the British Empire. Some of the first retriever trials in America were held on Long Island. Labradors were the breed of choice, and they were run almost exactly as they were in the mother country.

Meanwhile, American market duck hunters were blasting away with punt guns and heavy shotguns at vast flocks waterfowl. Their hardy “Chesapeake duck dogs,” water spaniels, and retrieving setters were earning their money. The backwoods market hunters were treeing grouse and turkeys with curs and feists. And very few of these people gave a rat’s behind about the pedigree of the dog.

In fact, most Americans didn’t care for this nonsense at all. The most common dog in much of the country was the generalist farm collie, usually called “a shepherd,” which did some light herding work and hunted everything it was asked to.

None of these dog were maintained within a concept of a “fancy.” There might be shows for foxhounds, coonhounds, and beagles, but every single dog in those shows was also a performance hound. And none of these dogs was kept in a true closed registry, and even now, pack hounds are still crossed on a routine basis.

But they are outside the AKC, and they are also outside the UKC.

Americans bred dogs to perform. In the early days of settlement, vast numbers of dogs couldn’t be imported from Europe. Our dog culture became based upon what can survive and what could do multiple tasks well.

The British dog culture was about specialization and arbitrarily classifying things based upon color and coat and size.

It became well-established among “learned circles” that American dogs, like our livestock, were in desperate need of improvement. From the 1870’s onward, there has been attempt to bring America the glories of canine improvement through closed registry breeding.

And it’s been a colossal failure.

It came closest to success in the middle to late part of the twentieth century, when the burgeoning middle class that had grown up out of the Second World War began to own purebred dogs as status symbol. It’s at this time that my own family got their first AKC dog, a registered rough collie named “Cam.”  Cam produced more than a few litters of collie-foxhounds, which were then quite in demand in West Virginia as varmint dogs.

I’ve noticed that when most laypeople watch dog shows, they only want their favorite breeds to win. They want to see the golden retriever go BIS at Westminster. They don’t care about the rare breeds. They are curiosities, novelties to be looked as if one were looking artifacts in a museum.

And that may be too charitable for some breeds.

I’m sure the untrained eye sees many of the really exaggerated dogs as creatures best belong in a freak show.

And of course, one really can’t argue with them.

Many progressive people rightly complain about how Americans have never adopted certain European ideals, but the notion of a national kennel registry to tell us how to breed dogs is one I’m glad we’ve never fully accepted.

So long as a dog fancy remains this insular, very foreign, and reactionary clique, the American people are going to ignore what these people say.

And buy gun dogs like these.

And doodles.

And Texas heelers.

After all, this culture produces good dogs.

And the dog fancy continues to produce freaks– many of which are unhealthy and very hard to care for.

This is how market economies work. There is failure, and there is success. The dog fancy has been a failure in the United States– and our dogs stand a much better chance because of it.


*There will be a post on this at some point,

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clint eastwood

It’s often said you can tell a lot about a person by who his or her enemies are.

Or to put it another way:

“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

–Jonathan Swift

It’s no secret that I have exposed the dog fancy’s sins time and again on this blog, but generally the main perpetrators of  the crime have either been too ashamed to bother with my piddling piece of work.

Or they are of that generation that has no idea how to turn on a computer.

The only thugs I’ve ever dealt with are the bulldog mafia, but their arguments are so bad that they are nothing more than a minor nuisance.

If I had a dime for every time I got the following argument from bulldog owners, I’d be pretty wealthy man. It goes something like this:

My bulldog is entirely healthy! You’re mean!

Lots of data to work with there, eh?

I’ve written much more scathing posts on other breeds, especially Neapolitan mastiffs, a totally fantasy breed that its fanciers swear is the ancient war dog of the Roman legions.

It is, of course, nothing of the sort. It was created by a Swiss writer named Piero Scanziani (he was Italian-speaking Swiss), who wandered around Southern Italy after the War and began collecting farm mastiffs. As a writer of religious fiction, Scanziani wrote a fiction that these dogs were somehow connected to the ancient war dogs of Rome, and the ideas he expressed wound up gaining currency with many nouveau riche Europeans, who  began flocking to Southern Italy in search of a “real Roman war dog.’

And the Italians began to breed dogs solely for this market, and it wasn’t long before some of these local dog dealers began to select for very extreme traits– excessive skin, hanging eyelids, and massive size.

And moronic Northern Europeans and the North Americans bought into the delusion. The Romans actually had a freakazoid dog with a litany of health problems to serve them in war.

I don’t know who would think such a fiction possible, but the Neapolitan mastiff fanciers certainly do.

Which leads me to the attack I received today.

I woke up this morning to several bizarre comments that I absolutely would never approve on this blog.

If hell were frozen over, I would never approve them. They included several personal attacks on other people who had commented on the blog. I guessed that this person had watched too much Fox News and thought that was how we do business on this blog.


I banned the comment-maker.

And it normally ends there. I probably have to do this maybe twice a year, but normally I don’t hear anything back from these people.

But not this time.

Around noon today, I received an e-mail threatening lawsuits and calling me an idiot, which is to me the sign of someone with a severe mental disorder or a chemical dependency problem.

The person in question was Anne Latimer Goetz, a Neapolitan mastiff breeder, a science-denier, and a Grade-A Moron.

I need to tell Ms. Goetz something.

Apparently, she thinks she can get her way by bullying other people and screaming like a banshee.

Others, I guess have cowered away from her.

Well to quote Walt Kowalski in Grand Torino:

Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn’t have fucked with? That’s me.

Ms. Goetz has had the gall to ask me to retract a blog post.

For real.

Me?  Retract a blog post?

In your dreams!

This was the e-mail I received:

I have a photo of the internet posting that states that MY image of Magic standing on a rock by a river, is your original photo on retrieverman.whatever your blog is…..

Print a retraction.

Anne Goetz

Centurian Mastini

I’m sorry, Drama Queen.

We don’t roll that way.

If you don’t like what I write, then tough shit, Princess.

Not only does she have the temerity– that’s a big word for cajones– to demand that I retract what I wrote about freakazoid breeding Neapolitan mastiffs.

She has no moral authority to stand on.



Let me show you:

See, this crazy bint has her own blog.

A blog that, unlike this tome, has very little readership.

It’s called Neo News, and it’s very revealing about Neapolitan mastiffs and the culture of their breeders.

The most recent blog post is lamenting the death of a dog she produced. It died of osteosarcoma at the ripe ol’ age of three, and it’s full of woo and science denial.

We kept trying to get the pup back, and when we finally did, his joints were RUINED, btw, he was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia, by Dr Allen, who asked, as we had done, that the puppy be off the concrete! And, she advised high quality food, and medications, and supplements, and the Garcias ignored every one of her recommendations. So,this poor puppy stayed in these conditions for about 6 months. Outside, on concrete, Ole Roy food, no supplements.

We sent a friend to meet Mr Garcia when he finally decided to return our puppy and wait for another litter, (yes, I told him I would replace Blue. I would have done anything to get my dog away from these assholes) And, Mr Garcia met my young, pretty young female friend, and he was so sexually suggestive in his convesation [sic] and interactions with her, that she was frightened. And, the vet records he supplied, were actually, the vaccines we had given Blue prior to our shipping him, to them!!! He received no vet care at the Garcias, until we insisted he be taken to Dr Allen.

Blue is no longer with us. I blame the Garcias. I have to wonder if they are to blame for Moose’s death, also.

So, no, we did not supply them with another male to ruin. And, it won’t happen. Yes, they did take us to small claims court, and we told our story, and the court found against us.

The object of this post, is that we are warning anyone with a litter of neo pups to avoid the Garcias of New Jersey, like the plague.

In that blog post, she blames a dog’s death of osteosarcoma– a cancer with a very strong genetic basis— on vaccines, diet, and keeping the dog on concrete.

But the truth is the reason why the dog died of osteosarcoma is because it was the breed it is.

And a breed is only produced by a breeder. Concrete, vaccines, and cheap dog food won’t make a dime’s worth of difference.

And anyone who tells you otherwise is not a vet.

And it’s not just people like me, who hate the dog fancy, who have problems with Ms. Goetz.

It turns out that she is a dog dealer of the worst sort. On the Spanish Mastiff blog, she is attacked for being an inbreeding apologist and a person who crates her dogs too much. She also produced a litter of Spanish mastiffs, and she found out that she couldn’t sell them for exorbitant prices, so the poor mastinos would be living in cramped cages without enough access to food or water.

Now, it can be debated on what kind of condition the mastinos were in, but I can tell you that Neapolitan mastiff breeders, who are “breeding to standard,” as if that were some sort mission from God, have absolutely no moral authority in the world of dogs.

They continue to produce dogs with ectropion and entroprion. Dogs with bad hearts. Dogs with a very high incidence of cancer. Dogs that spend their entire lives in misery.

Dogs that die before they are 7 years old. It’s very telling that there has never been a dog longevity study on this breed, but most vets will tell you that these dogs are not long-lived. The Kennel Club (of the United Kingdom) did perform some longevity studies on its breed. The median age of death for Neo mastiff is a ripe old 2.33.

That’s pathetic.

But don’t blame the dog breeders, like Anne Goetz.

They are doing their best to “improve the breed.”

By “improve the breed,” they mean “win dog shows.”

And the other part of winning dog shows is to truncate and concentrate the gene pool as much as possible.

It’s pretty obvious to anyone with two or three functioning brain cells that Neo mastiff conformation isn’t healthy, but when you start paring away all that genetic diversity– not that there was much to start out with– you’re playing with fire.

This is the tragedy of the modern dog fancy, It allows scum like this to thrive, when they should be ostracized as much as possible.

In fact, if the AKC, KC, and FCI were worthy of the name of institutions that truly cared about the future and welfare of dogs, they would deep six the entire Neapolitan mastiff breed until someone with a bit more empathy or brains takes the helm.

This is a breed created because of fantasy, and its breeders live in a fantasy world in what is objectively objectionable is celebrated as virtuous.

There is no moral authority here. There is only claimed authority.

And there are too many totalitarians in the world of dogs for this sort of authority to go unquestioned or allowed to run amok in the already compromised gene pools of our domestic dog breeds.

So Ms. Goetz, my advice to you is to find another hobby.

You can continue to lambaste me on Facebook. Among the other things this child attacked me for was the fact that I am single.

I am single by choice.

I am happy as a single person, and I cannot think of anything lonelier than to be a relationship with a person who is totally wrong wrong me.

So if my regular readers can forgive me for my somewhat stroppy post this evening, please understand that the dog fancy has too many people like this.

They very rarely get to me. Otherwise, I’d stop writing about these issues.

But in the face of a cowardly internet bully who argues like a Fox News commentator, I have to turn upon the jackal as a good leopard must.

And do a bit of savaging.

Now, back to your regular programming.


Ms. Goetz is also one of those dumbass breeders who thinks that “incest is best.”

Check out the pedigree of the dog above, which she bred.

Click to make larger.

Click to make larger.

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Photo from Robert Milner's Retriever Training Site. The golden is a Holway.

Photo from Robert Milner’s Retriever Training Site. The golden is a Holway.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has come and gone, and like most years, I thought we’d have no meaningful discussion about how dogs might be encouraging people to breed and select for unhealthy attributes in dogs.

However, this year, there is a bit of a viral story going out about how preferred phenotype in the show ring might be deterimental to a dog. But unfortunately, it’s very low hanging fruit.

The story started with this pretty good post from My Slim Doggy  about how fat the Westminster Labradors actually are. And I should note that yes, these dogs are fat, and the behavior of the dog show apologist set on that page is abominable. 

That’s a story in itself, but it’s not the absolute worst case I can think of.

The thing about Labradors is that they are the most popular breed in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, and they are probably the most common “breed dog” in the world today. They are also arguably among the most useful dogs, for they not only are used for retrieving game, they are now the most common guide dog breed. They also great sniffer dogs, and they use to assist people in wheelchairs. There are many, many things this breed can do, and because the typical member of this breed is also among the most docile of dogs, they are very, very popular as family pets.

As a result, they exist in many, many different lines and what might be called “sub-breeds.” There so many different types of Labrador that it would take me too long to describe them all to you, and then I’d probably miss a bunch.

Labradors that are bred for the show ring are an extreme minority of the breed. And as a result, what happens in the ring really does not affect the survival of the breed as a whole.

And not only that, even if a Labrador has a tendency toward portliness, this problem can be easily remedied through a regime of diet and exercise.

So if the biggest problem that Labradors have from being shown is that the show specimens are a often quite fat, this is not such a big deal.

And the simple reality is that the Labrador breed is not a prisoner to the show culture. You can easily get a Labrador that is not a “labrabeef.” And it’s not that hard.

The real scandal is the countless breeds that are.

Within that Sporting group, there is actually very good example of a dog that has essentially been doomed to extinction through selection for a very exaggerated phenotype.

Unlike the Lab, it’s not a very common dog at all. In fact, unless you’re a dog nerd like me, you may have never heard of it.

The breed I’m talking about is the Sussex spaniel.

The Sussex spaniel is doomed. It cannot be saved. You can write it on a rock. It’s done.

The Sussex spaniel is the last survivor of a stupid fad that swept the early British dog fancy– the desire to breed extreme dwarfism in spaniels.

Sussex spaniel

The Sussex spaniel has an illustrious history as a land spaniel in the South of England, but then dog shows got their mitts on them and things haven’t been the same since.

The two most common fancy spaniels in the early British fancy were field spaniels (which were usually black or black roan) and the Sussex, which was liver. Both of these dogs are ancestral to the two breeds of cocker spaniel that exist today, both of which descend from a Sussex/field cross named Obo. Before that, all small sporting land spaniels were call “cockers” as a generic term.

The fad was to breed them as short-legged as possible, and in some situations while doing beating on relatively flat ground and in heavy cover, a dwarf spaniel would have have been of some use.

But the twentieth century has largely supplanted both the field and Sussex as gun dogs. English working cockers and springers are the sporting spaniels of the UK, and in the US, main sporting spaniel is the working English springer. Welsh springers are still worked, and they have a lot going for them, too. And if the right celebrity were to own one, they could suddenly experience a popularity rise that they might not be able to handle.

And there are even working strains Clumber spaniel, which have bred out most of the exaggerated mass and loose eyelids that you see in the ring.

Field spaniels have been saved through the addition of English springer blood, and they are no longer dwarfs.

But the Sussex remains.

Col. David Hancock writes about the fate of the Sussex:

The history of the breed standard of the Sussex Spaniel tells you a great deal about show gundog fanciers. The standard in use in 1879 didn’t include words like massive, brows and haw or mention a rolling gait. In 1890, in came ‘fairly heavy brows’, a ‘rather massive’ appearance and ‘not showing the haw overmuch’. In the 1920s, in came ‘brows frowning’, a ‘massive’ appearance and ‘no sign of waistiness’ in the body. These words were approved by the KC, the ratifiers of all breed standards. In 1890 the breed’s neck had to be ‘rather short’; from the 1920s it had to have a long neck – in the same breed! The need for this breed to walk with a rolling gait is, relative to the long history of this admirable little gundog breed, relatively recent. Here is a breed of sporting spaniel, developed by real gundog men,subsequently, with the connivance of the KC, altered to suit show dog people, most of whom never work their dogs. It is a sorry tale, with echoes in other breeds.

The so-called ‘Chocolate Drop’ spaniels of Richard Mace have their admirers in the field. Originating in a cross between a working Cocker and a Sussex Spaniel, they are seriously effective working spaniels, strong, biddable and determined. In the last ten years, pedigree Sussex Spaniels have only been registered in these numbers: 89, 98, 70, 82, 68, 79, 77, 74, 61 and most recently 56. What would you want? A dying breed prized for its unique rolling gait, characteristic frown and waistline-free torso? Or a proven worker benefiting from a blend of blood? Gundog breeds which lose their working role soon lose their working ability and then the patronage of the shooting fraternity. I see much to admire in the Sussex Spaniel and long for a wider employment for them in the field.

I would love it if those “Chocolate Drop” spaniels became part of the Sussex breed and reinvigorated it.

But that is not going to happen.

Having written about Sussex spaniels before, I have rarely met with more obtuse dog fanciers than those associated with Sussex spaniels.

Too many of them are part of the blood purity cult, and the breed is also caught up in the double speak of “dual purpose” breeding that I so often encounter in gun dogs.

You will often hear people who have a rare gun dog breed brag about how their breed hasn’t split in type like golden and Labrador retrievers have.

The reason why golden and Labrador retriever have split so much is that they are actually used quite a bit, and the dog shows require parts of the phenotype that are largely antithetical to efficient movement on the land or water. The excessive coat in show goldens makes them easily bogged in the water, and the lack of soundness in many show Labs makes them easily worn out while doing retrieves.

These minority breeds, though, exist within a culture that is obsessed with the Delusion of Preservation.

Part of that delusion isn’t that you must keep the breed pure at all costs.  Within rare kennel club-recognized breeds, there is also a delusion that you have to show in order to breed. The standard make the breed unique, and if you really want to preserve it, you have to test it against the standard.

The problem with standards is they are like scripture:

They are written by fallible people and by devious people, and they are then interpreted by fallible and devious people.

So these very rare breeds become trapped in the show culture.

And though people are using the dogs at tests and working events, they aren’t selecting for those traits alone.

But working springers and cockers are.

And there is absolutely no way that Sussex spaniels can survive this situation.

No redneck hunter is going to go out and buy a Sussex when he can get a springer from working lines for third to half the cos and no waiting list.

But Sussex spaniel people are still trapped in the hope that it might change.

But it can’t.

This is now a show dog that is trying to be preserved within the show system itself.   Fewer and fewer people want this dog, and fewer people know that it even exists.

And whatever the merits the breed might have, it’s just not going to make it.

And then you have its very real problems as a breed:

Not only is it the gun dog with the rolling gait, it is also the only gun dog I know of that has problems with its discs (a common dachshund malady) and a very high incidence of hip dysplasia– 41. 5 % are affected according to the OFA.

Would a serious gun dog person go out of his or her way to get a dog with those sort of structural problems?

They would take their chances trying to slim down a fat Lab!

Obesity in show Labradors is discussion worth having, but it’s not the biggest problem with dog shows.

Labradors are not trapped. They are thriving as no other breed ever has.

But the dog fancy really is destroying breeds

It’s just that it’s not destroying those breeds that have a life outside of the fancy.

With this going on with breeds like the Sussex spaniel, it makes all the attention we’re giving to obese Labradors seem a bit trivial.

Dog shows really aren’t that important to the breed population of Labrador retrievers, but they are the main constraint facing the Sussex spaniel.

And this is where the Sussex will go extinct.

I don’t know when, but it is almost certainly going to happen.

It’s trapped, and no one is saying anything.











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Because I’m a prick, that’s why.

i don't always eat giraffe

marius sacrifice


Denmark Zoo Kills Giraffe


hyenas eat giraffe


free rye bread!

Marius the giraffe

You can use the memes as you’d like.

But you might just be going to hell with me!


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marius feeding the lions

I must have missed something along the way to learning how to care for animals, but maybe I didn’t.

I remember when I was a little boy asking my parents why my grandparents killed their young roosters (the technical term is “cockerel”) and left the young hens to survive (the technical term is “pullet.”)

Every year, their flock of mixed meat and egg chickens would have a ton of chicks. The foxes and raccoons got a few.  And others got fried.

Almost all the fried ones were cockerels, not pullets.

As a juvenile male with an inquiring mind, I asked why such a fate always befell the young males.

My parents explained to me that the reason why the young roosters became dinner is because a farm doesn’t need many roosters. If it has too many roosters, all that will ever get done is crowing, fighting, and hen-chasing. If you want to manage the flock better– have the hens lay nice eggs and get nice and fat– you cull the young roosters.

And I thought that people understood this concept.

Well, as I’ve started writing about animal welfare issues, I’ve noticed that many people don’t get it at all.

Take the great outrage of this past week:  The Copenhagen Zoo’s decision to cull a young male giraffe to prevent inbreeding in their herd.

I’ve notice most of the outrage comes from the United Kingdom, a place where there is a sort of animal rights cult that runs deep into the body politic. I don’t know where it comes from, but I, as an American, find it absolutely bizarre.

That’s not say that the US is AR-free. The state of California is full of this sentiment, and I’m sure you could find people whining about hunting somewhere.

But in the US, this is the fringe.

I suppose in Denmark, it is too.

That’s because in the real world of animal husbandry, things are not always nice.

Animals die. Animals fight. Animals get sick. Animals get hurt.  Animals need culling.

In dogs, we cull all the time. We just don’t call it that. We call it selling it to a “pet home only.”

In farm animals, the animals culled are the animals that become food. The animals with the best traits are kept back for breeding, and this is how we’ve been able to breed productive meat animals.

Reputative zoos are really farms, but unlike the farms we have to produce meat, these farms are engaged in a different kind of breeding. It’s actually the exact opposite of the kind of breeding that has been so lauded in breeding dogs over the years.

In dog breeding, the main goal has been to breed from top performing or winning stud dogs in order to spread their genes throughout the breed. It’s madness, if you ask me, because it leads to more and more inbred populations and attendant gene loss.

Zoos are trying to do the exact opposite. The goal of a zoo breeding program is to retain as much genetic diversity as possible i their breeding populations.

Now, this makes sense, even for species that aren’t endangered.  If the wild population of a given species suddenly becomes rare and genetically compromised, zoos that have maintained healthy, genetically diverse populations will be able to use that genetic diversity that they have set aside to save the species.

Zoos that breed this way are the genetic savings accounts.

A lot of the misunderstanding of the death of Marius comes from a misunderstanding of conservation breeding, and it also comes up against another piece of the puzzle:

The Copenhagen Zoo does not do contraceptives. In Scandinavia, almost all dogs are kept intact, and I believe in either Sweden or Norway, it was actually illegal to spay or neuter a dog as an elective surgery.

In the zoo situation, they keep their animals intact, so they have a full complement of hormones and relatively natural social structures. That means that females and males are going to mate whether the mating makes sense for the purpose of conservation breeding or not.

I don’t have a problem with this attitude. It makes quite a bit of sense for the welfare of the animals involved. They get to live complete and full lives.

However, the question of what to do with the surplus offspring is not a trivial one. Historically, zoos sold their surplus animals to private owners. This is one reason why there are so many tigers in the US, and it was also a major source for the canned hunting industry.

Many argued that the Copenhagen Zoo should have just allowed Marius to go to another zoo, but if that zoo isn’t part of the same breeding network, it would not make sense to allow Marius to become part of  it.

The zoo in Yorkshire that offered him a home sounds like a possibility, but it’s not a viable option. Let me explain:

These reputable, accredited zoos all support each other. Smaller zoos can go under– and many often do. If something were to happen to that Yorkshire zoo, there could be a chance that poor Marius could wind up sold to a circus or put in a canned hunting operation.

I don’t think Marius’s biggest supporters want that to happen.

So euthanasia was the best option.

Marius was killed with a rifle shot to the head. That is precisely how we kill cows in West Virginia.

He was then given a public dissection, which resulted in the British animal rights activists sneering at the Danes for doing such a thing. I mean it’s not like the British would ever show a giraffe dissection on television, would they?

Of course, after Marius was dissected, he was fed to the lions. The poor lions probably have never tasted giraffe flesh before, and in the wild, it’s pretty rare for a lion to kill a giraffe. But if they didn’t feed Marius to the lions, they would just have to feed them some domestic meat, which was slaughtered just as humanely as Marius was. In this way, you could almost think of Marius saving the lives of a few cows that would have had to have been killed to feed the lions.

But now the zoo is getting threats.

Are you kidding me?

I don’t understand this. I guess I learned something when I was five years old that ton of people never have learned.

Animal husbandry isn’t pretty. Sometimes, things must die for the greater good.

I feel very sorry for Bengst Holst and his staff. He’s trying to do what is right for the animals, and all these bleeding hearts who claim to love the animals are screaming for his head.

It’s kind of like the Animal Rights Tea Party.

The animal rights movement has done nothing for the conservation of our planet and its biodversity. It is simply a movement of fanatics who refuse to listen to reason.

I have no use for them. I don’t think they really help animals in the long term, and if their demands were adhered to, we would see utter collapse of ecosystem after ecosystem and the extinction of countless species.

Animal husbandry requires both empathy and reason. Without reason, empathy can often do as much harm as good. Without empathy, the animals just won’t be cared for properly.

The problem is too many people are obsessed with the empathy side of the equation.

And it’s not helping at all.


Here’s a clip of Bengt Holst trying to speak some reason to an antagonistic British presenter:



I still am having a hard time understanding the British animal rights movement:

You had more protests over a badger cull than you did over austerity.

There is something very pathological about that.

And I say this as someone who might be better called a “hard-core leftist.”

But I don’t get this stuff at all.











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