A recent study done by the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program has left me with more questions than answers. I think most of us, when we encounter a dog, automatically attempt to categorize the breed or type of dog. This may be partially a reaction to make sure that we are safe with that dog in the same proximity as ourselves, our kids or our dogs, or just a natural instinct to categorize it into something known and familiar. But are we right? Even though we have studied dog breeds for decades, we need to ask, are we right in our assumption that what we see in front of us is definitely such and such a breed, or is it something different?
They asked over 5,000 dog experts, varying from veterinarians, breeders, trainers, shelter personnel, and groomers, to give their opinion on what breed(s) of dogs made up the dogs in the photos. In viewing the 119 dogs, they noted what breed(s) they thought made up that particular dog. The University of Florida Veterinary staff then did a DNA test of all of the 119 dogs, and matched up the tests with the guesses provided by the dog experts. The results are very interesting.
Take a few moments and look at what they came up with. http://sheltermedicine.vetmed.ufl.edu/library/research-studies/current-studies/dog-breeds/dna-results/#!prettyPhoto/73/ Do you agree with what the dog experts guessed? Or do you agree with what the DNA showed? (Notice most of the DNA does not add up to 100%, so it’s hard to say what is missing from the picture. There is no further explanation, that I could find, of the actual DNA tests and why they don’t add up to 100%, but, it is interesting nonetheless.)
The breeds that seem to be more obvious and ‘guessed’ correctly are the American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and of course, the Basset Hound, but many of them do not look at all like what their DNA says. Doesn’t Dog #4 look like a Pyrenees Shepherd or Catalonian Sheepdog? How did the little puppy, Dog #93, get such a fuzzy looking coat, or Dog #25? All of the breeds in their DNA are smooth coated. Dog #114 doesn’t look like any one of the four breeds that make up what the DNA says he is. Dog #102 would be automatically classified as a Border Collie/Labrador Retriever mix without a second thought. Dog #94 doesn’t look a thing like any of his ancestors, none of which are smooth coated, and Dog #81 is just all mixed up. How did Dog # 79 come up with a smooth coat of the color pattern that he’s showing? And Dog #66 would be a Lab cross at any shelter. Where did Dog #33 pick up the black and white coloration, or Dog #18 get the coloration of an Australian Cattle Dog type? Dog #22 looks like it may be an Am Staff cross, but isn’t, so what of all of the breed specific legislation? He would be outlawed, but he isn’t a bully breed.
The result of the study opens up so many more questions than it answers. It definitely shows how unpredictable genetics are in the canine makeup, and how what one may think is obvious is not so obvious. This presents a challenge to shelter staff when placing the dogs, as the dog may look like a Lab cross, and they may think that it is going to be a fun-loving happy go lucky dog, but instead it’s a Cane Corso cross with high guarding instincts. Someone who wants a herding dog could end up with a bird dog.
What do you think of this study? How do you think the dogs may have inherited a fuzzy coat, or Irish markings, when their DNA shows no heritage of the breeds known for this? Or how did the dog grow large, or small, or have drop ears, or any number of things? How might this relate to our ‘pure’ bred dogs? We obviously can’t tell the personality or temperament from a photo, but judging a dog by its physical characteristics may be much more complicated than may first be considered. Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.
Nights are cooling down, there’s a bite of fall in the morning air, and some of the trees are starting to take on that brilliant array of colors. You’ve bought your license, cleaned your guns, pulled your cold weather clothes out of the closet and your hunt camp supplies are packed and ready to be loaded in the truck. You are ready for the bird hunt. Then you notice your faithful bird dog is watching your every move with great anticipation, the tip of his tail wagging hopefully each time you go to the door. And it occurs to you that with all of the summer activities, your hunting buddy has gotten a bit out of practice and isn’t as sharp as he could be.
One of the best ways to make sure that your dog is as ready as you are for the hunt season is to do training drills. This will remind him of what his part of the partnership is and tune him up in anticipation of the hunt. Author James B. Spencer covers drills for both marking and blind retrieves in two of his books, Retriever Training Drills for Marking and Retriever Training Drills for Blind Retrieves. Both of these activities are excellent to refresh the dog, as well as you, and allows both of you to reconnect with each other to be a fully engaged team out in the field. He emphasizes drills as the best way to train and refresh the dog, as the repetition enhances the natural abilities of the dog, so that when he is out in the field, his actions become more automatic.
In Retriever Training Drills for Marking, Spencer covers the single mark, the double mark and the triple mark and how to work them. In Retriever Training Drills for Blind Retrieves, he explains lining drills for land and water, stopping, casting, combination, “suction,” and transition drills. Both books explain the concepts and the steps to take for working with that particular drill, prerequisites for that drill, and several precautions and pitfalls. He accompanies many of these lessons with photographs or detailed sketches to give a clearer picture of what he is describing.
You can very easily skim through the table of contents to find an area where you feel your dog could improve. For example, if you have a dog that likes to eat the birds before he reaches you, then you would turn to Chapter 3, page 33, in Marking and read how most hardmouth dogs are created, and then read the cure for it. Here Spencer discusses the various reasons the dog may have become hardmouthed, and how he fixes it. Did you know that if you re-use a dead pigeon or upland game bird on water, then it’s possible to inadvertently teach your dog to eat the bird? This is because the feathers fall out easily, skin is exposed, and fresh meat is right there for the taking. Did you know that “stickiness” is mostly due to either previous training errors, incorrectly timed corrections, pulling the bird from his mouth, over training or, quite understandably, the dog knowing it’s his last bird of the hunt and doesn’t want to quit yet?
Both of these books are peppered with personal experiences and stories that are entertaining and bring a more personal touch to the book. Spencer has been there and done that, and rubs elbows with those who also have been there and done that. He also brings in much humor from these experiences and puts it into the training text. For example, on teaching the dog to ‘sit’ on the whistle command, he mentions that “before electronic collars, slipped whistles and slow responses were a plague for most trainers. If the trainer ran out to the dog, the dog would probably sit long before the huffing and puffing humanoid arrived, so immediate correction was impossible.”
Each book has excellent information for those who would like to train or improve their hunting dog’s performance. Even if you just use parts of it now, you may find that later on you need another section. By applying what you will learn here, you can develop into an awesome working team that will impress all of your friends in the field and home.
Recently, I browsed through the book Horse Anatomy, A Coloring Atlas by Robert A. Kainer and Thomas O. McCracken, and was immediately fascinated by the depth of detail and information offered. Throughout the book, they have a description of a part of the anatomy, and on the facing page, they have a well-drawn illustration that shows that part of the body’s muscles, bones, and/or tissue.
I have a mule that has foundered in the past, and was delighted to see a mention of founder on Plate 25, Growth and Nourishment of the Hoof. Here, the authors briefly describe what happens in the corium that causes the symptoms of founder. In short, over-eating in lush pastures or eating too much grain causes the circulation of endotoxins (poisons) and hard concussion on the foot may cause blood to be shunted away from the small arteries in the dermal laminae, which results in laminitis, or founder. The shunting of the blood from the dermal laminae first causes swelling and then death of tissue, which is possibly followed by loosening and downward rotation of the distal phalanx. With the description of what is occurring in her foot, as well as an excellent drawing on the facing page, I can better understand what is happening in her hoof.
Not too long ago, our neighbors moved and gave us their two horses. One is a very pretty little dun mare that seems to be well mannered and I’m looking forward to working with her. The other day I was in the pasture with her and was massaging down her back a bit, from her shoulders to her rump. All of my other equines have always enjoyed this, but when I looked at her face, she was not a happy camper. Her ears were pinned back and she wore a very disgusted look on her face. I went back to rubbing her on her withers area, and she turned her head into me and relaxed. Not a good sign if she’s that ouchy or sensitive down her back. I don’t have any history on her, and since the neighbors moved out of state, I have no one to talk to about her. They never rode her, and from what I understand they had rescued her or something along that line.
Out of curiosity, I thumbed through the book to see what it would show me about the horse’s back. Plate 16 covers the superficial muscles of the horse, and Plate 17 covers the deeper muscles of the horse. With this information, I can compare where she’s sore with the muscles that are in that area and work with her in that area. I will definitely make sure to take her to my vet and get their opinion, but at least now I will have a reference to work with and maybe even understand a bit of what they might tell me.
Although by no means am I an equine professional, I do love and enjoy my equines, and look forward to reading more of this book to better understand the equine anatomy and how it functions. I can see where it can help me in training them, as well as be able to communicate with the veterinarian if there is ever an injury, or at least understand a little bit better of what he’s talking about.
As a company, Alpine Publications has been involved with promoting breeds, breeding and proper care of dogs since the mid-70′s. Hence, we feel that is is very important that we bring to the attention of the dog world, as well as the animal world, the proposed ruling on the Animal Welfare Act now under consideration. If this ruling is passed, you will no longer be allowed to sell any of your animals outside of your home place without registering with the USDA. As stated in the proposed ruling “This proposed rule is necessary to ensure that animals sold at retail are monitored for their health and humane treatment and to concentrate our regulatory efforts on those facilities that present the greatest risk of noncompliance with the regulations.”
If you breed any animal, and have more than 4 intact females, you will, by the below definition, be subject to this ruling. You have suddenly become a “Retail Pet Store!” Do not think you are exempt because you own farm animals, or snakes, etc. They are included.
“Retail pet stores” are not required to obtain a license under the AWA or comply with the AWA regulations and standards. Currently, anyone selling, at retail, the following animals for use as pets are considered retail pet stores: Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, gophers, chinchilla, domestic ferrets, domestic farm animals, birds, and cold-blooded species.
This proposed rule would rescind the “retail pet store” status of anyone selling, at retail for use as pets, the animals listed above to buyers who do not physically enter his or her place of business or residence in order to personally observe the animals available for sale prior to purchase and/or to take custody of the animals after purchase. Unless otherwise exempt under the regulations, these entities would be required to obtain a license from APHIS and would become subject to the requirements of the AWA, which include identification of animals and recordkeeping requirements, as well as the following standards: Facilities and operations (including space, structure and construction, waste disposal, heating, ventilation, lighting, and interior surface requirements for indoor and outdoor primary enclosures and housing facilities); animal health and husbandry (including requirements for veterinary care, sanitation and feeding, watering, and separation of animals); and transportation (including specifications for primary enclosures, primary conveyances, terminal facilities, and feeding, watering, care, and handling of animals in transit).
This means that if you have more than four intact females, and if you take even one animal off of your property to deliver to a new home, you are subject to this ruling. If you want to continue to be a hobby breeder, you will be required to register with the USDA, and you will have to abide by their rules, whether you like it or not. And whether it is in the best interest of the animal or not.
This bill will be extremely detrimental to those with more uncommon breeds or species, as these animals are frequently taken out of the area to their new homes. It will even affect those with the more common species or breeds, as suddenly you will not have access to the animals that we now take for granted. And few of us want, or need, more government intrusions and regulations in our life.
Who will be the enforcers of these rulings? If hobby breeders could even afford to take on the facilities that they would have to, who in the USDA would be the inspectors? Would they hire members of HSUS, PETA or the ASPCA? Anyone familiar with these organizations knows that they have their own agenda of ridding society of all animals, period.
What about farms and ranches that sell goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, etc.? Many of these people earn a small living wage from their sales, and it helps to support their independent life style. This will no longer be allowed, according to this ruling. If you raise, say miniature horses, or Nigerian goats, pot bellied pigs, Buckeye chickens, or any domestic animal, you will be affected. If you want to own an animal sometime in the future, you will no longer have much choice, if any, as the dedicated breeders will no longer be there. There might be a few, who keep less than the five intact females, but as anyone who breeds animals or has an interest in responsible breeding knows, this severely limits the genetics available for healthy stock.
This ruling will make a significant impact on our society as we know it. And not for the better. This ruling is not necessary, as all of the states, cities, counties and communities have some type of animal cruelty law on the books already. These laws need to be enforced locally, not by a huge, over stretched and cumbersome government entity.
We would encourage you to visit the regulations.gov site, read the proposed ruling, and write your comment. Or two comments, or three. Encourage your friends, family and neighbors to do so also. The deadline for comments is coming quickly, Monday, July 16, 2012, and we need as many comments as possible against this we can get. Make sure that you are brief and explicit with your comments. Tell them how it will affect you,why it is not needed, or how it will harm animals and society. (For an interesting read on how it be to live with this ruling, visit http://saova.org/news/APHIS/Living.with.USDA.Licensing.pdf.)
With all of the natural disasters throughout the US this summer, this is would be a good time to start thinking about an evacuation plan with your animals in mind. Have a “pet bug out bag” for each animal, keeping to the essentials as you don’t want to carry extra weight and baggage. (A “bug out bag” is usually a backpack with emergency essentials in it.) The rule of thumb is to have enough supplies for a 48-72 hour period for each animal. You should include:
- leashes, crates, halters, collars, or other restraining devices to control the animal
- dry food (canned adds extra weight), and treats
- water, bowls (collapsible takes up less space)
- a few toys as stress relievers
- any medication that the animal may require
- a copy of vaccination and medical records
- a copy of registration papers if the animal is registered
- have some form of identification on each animal
- have current quality photos of each animal (preferably with you in the picture too) in your personal bug-out bag to help make a positive identification in case the animals somehow become separated from you
- have a list of phone numbers and addresses for veterinarians, boarding kennels, or stables in personal bug-out bag also
- make a first-aid kit or purchase one to keep readily available.
- use a waterproof bag or container for any papers or medication
Know where you can take your animals, and make sure to have a second or even third place to go in case the first one is full or has been evacuated. If you work, make arrangements with neighbors or someone else who could take over in case you can’t get back to your house during an evacuation. If you have enough warning, call ahead to make sure you can bring your animals to the location you plan to go to.
Be cognizant of what your animal may require that is not listed above. Obviously, those with large animals will have to consider other options for water and food, unless they have some way of packing hay and 50 gallon drums of water on a trailer. You may have no choice but to open up the gates and hope to see them later. With horses and mules and some other animals, you can put on identification by placing break-away halters or maybe a collar with identification tags on them. Cattle should have brands and ear tags, sheep and goats can also have ear tags. You can also use a marker to put a temporary brand or identification on them, as halters and collars can break off or be taken off. (Note: nylon halters can melt into your animals face if it gets too hot.)
To further make any emergency evacuation easier, if at all feasible, do some practice drills with your family and your animals. Get your animals use to being in the vehicle or whatever type of transportation you plan to use, even walking. Have the pet bug out bags ready to go and close to the door that you will be vacating the house through. Make it a habit to hang leashes where they will be readily available. If you will be using a crate to transport your animals, have your pet bug out bags stored in it by the door so everything will be together and you will not have to spend frantic minutes trying to locate anything. With livestock that is halter broke, make sure halters and lead ropes are easily accessible and you have enough for each animal, plus an extra or two in case one breaks.
Remember, if you plan ahead and are prepared, you will be able to handle an emergency with much less panic than if you had not planned at all.
Trail riding may be the ultimate summer adventure, but without proper preparation it can easily become frightening or painful. Before you start out, it’s wise to know something about the area where you will be riding and be prepared. Any number of accidents happen due to lack of preparation.
Once while riding with a friend in Missouri, I stopped to let my mare drink from a creek. Almost immediately she sank to her chest in quicksand. We didn’t have a rope or any way to pull her out, but eventually maneuvered a fallen tree close enough that she could get her forelegs on it and eventually pull herself out. Lesson: A rope is a good thing to keep on your saddle.
Another time we were riding in the mountains when we came to a bad bog or marshy area. The only way out was up a very rocky, steep cliff. Then on the trail back to home we had to cross an old, very dangerous looking bridge with boards missing and no railing. My friend’s horse spooked and nearly went off the edge into the river dragging my friend with him. As if that wasn’t enough, our sunny day turned to rain, then a miserable hail storm. We hadn’t taken rain coats and were drenched and battered by the time we reached the barn. Lesson: Know something about the trail you plan to ride and prepare for problems and unexpected events.
Some things to keep in your saddlebags include: a rope knife, a hoof knife, a couple of horse boots, bute, extra snacks like breakfast bars, a cell phone or radio, and bandages for both horse and humans, A lariat or long rope, your raincoat, and plenty of water should always be tied to your saddle.
Perhaps the worst type of lack of preparation comes from riding too far when either you or your horse are not in condition, or riding a horse that has not been properly trained for the trail or is too fresh or green for trail riding. Once I went on an all day ride and by mid-afternoon had leg cramps so bad I had to walk several miles home leading my horse because I hadn’t been on a long ride in over a year. Another time a friend took her older horse out in the spring for one last trail ride before leaving for the summer. Halfway up a mountain trail her horse developed cramping and tremors in the chest and forelegs. She, too, had to make a very long walk back home.
If you and your horse are in shape, you still need to be sure your horse is ready. One way is to go through a series of exercises with your horse before you even mount up. Is your horse supple, soft and ready for you to ride? Do some groundwork—circle left and right, reverse, yield hindquarters and forequarters, back up and stand for a few minutes. If the horse passes that test, mount up and repeat the exercises, followed with sidepasses left and right. Be absolutely certain that your horse will perform a one-rein stop in case he is frightened on the trail and bolts. Will he let you mount from either the left or right side or while standing on a bank or a stump? Will he cross a log or a stream? How is he on bridges, both with and without banisters? It’s wise not to venture far from home until your horse can handle all of these obstacles without balking or trying to bolt. Can you ride in any position with other horses—ahead, in the middle of a group, beside, or behind? Can you control your horse if another horse acts up, runs away, or balks? If you plan to ride on open range or through pastures, is your horse fearful of cattle, sheep, or hogs? Can he handle meeting bicycles, cars, mailboxes, strange dogs barking? Most of these obstacles can be trained on at your stable or by setting up obstacles in an arena before you actually hit the trail. If you’re having serious trouble there, don’t venture out on a real trail until you’ve done more work. You might even consider riding in the rain or during a thunderstorm at home. Horses can become very nervous during a storm. What if a sudden one hits while you are on some precipitous mountain trail?
For more tips on preparing your horse for safety on the traill read Judi Daly’s “Trail Training for Horse and Rider” http://www.alpinepub.com/horse_books.html. A well-trained and conditioned horse is a safer horse. Happy trail riding!