Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Spread of Tanukis (Raccoon Dogs)

The Tanuki or Raccoon Dog is an interesting animal that is hunted with terriers in Finland and, increasingly, in other European countries as well.

Originally from Japan and China, this 13-22-pound animal has migrated through Russia and into Finland (where it was imported for fur and sport), and is now found as far west as France. While some sources claim this animal was once hunted to near extinction in Japan, numbers there seem to have rebounded with a vengeance (if in fact they were ever low), as road impacts now are estimated to be in the range of 110,000 - 370,000 a year.

The secret to the Tanuki's success seems to be that it occupies an ecological niche that was heretofore unoccupied in Europe. The red fox specializes on small mammals (mice and voles), the raccoon dog on plant material (berries and seeds) and the badger on invertebrates (worms, snails and beetle grubs).

Though primarily a plant eater, the Tanuki is an opportunistic omnivore that will eat just about anything if given a chance, and is willing to live in a wide variety of homes, including old fox, badger and rabbit dens -- as well as under sheds, and in locations very near human residences.

Unlike the Raccoon, the Tanuki is a true canid ( Canus Nyctereutes procyonoides). The "procyonoides" species name is a tip of the hat to the genus name of the North American Raccoon, Procyon.

Where the Tanuki differs from other canids. is that it is fairly slow, and has a jaw structure that is too weak to take down larger prey. Like the raccoon, Tanuki will scavenge baby birds from nests and might catch an occasional mouse, but their weak carnassials and well developed molars mean they have a diet heavy in plant matter supplanted by eggs, lizards, roadkill, frogs, mice, insects and human refuse.

Like Fox, Raccoon, Possum, and Groundhog, the average Tanuki has a short life span, rarely living past three years in the wild.

Of course, as with any successful species with a short life span, reproduction rates are high. The average Tanuki litter is 5 to 9 pups born in a ground burrow after a gestation period of about 60 days.

The raccoon dog carries the highest average litter weight of any canid, with the mean weight of a litter being 24% of the weight of the female. Males stick around and help raise the young -- a good thing since the female Tanuki is no doubt exhausted from carrying her load!

Home ranges for a Tanuki are quite large (10-20 sq kilometres) and overlap, reflecting the seasonal nature of food sources. As food in one area declines, the Tanuki waddles off to another area where the berries, insects or seeds are in greater supply.

Monday, October 16, 2017

John's Lennon's Patterdale

John Lennon, Cynthia Lennon, Julian Lennon, and Nigel. No breeding information on Nigel, but clearly a Patterdale-type.

Burt Ward, the Boy Wonder, Makes Dog Food?

Burt Ward, who played Robin the Boy Wonder in the Batman TV show of the 1960s, and who authored Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights, makes dog food and does canine rescue.

This is "lick and stick" dog food manufacturing, with the stuff being cobbled up at the Sioux City, Iowa plant run by the Consumers Supply Distributing company which makes 36 other brands of pet food.

Burt Ward's dog food is called "Gentle Giants" and it is touted as an "all-natural" dog food "created to prolong the lifespan of the four-legged creatures it’s fed to."

Of course, if you are truly interested in prolonging the lifespan of dogs, the best advice is to be an advocate for cross-breeding, to stay away from giant breeds altogether, and to feed your dog less of any dog food in order to avoid obesity.

Ward has made his dog food at the Sioux City, Iowa Consumers Supply Distributing company for a dozen years, but he never visited the facility until this month.

To Ward's credit, all profits from the dog food company are supposedly directed to rescue work for giant breeds.

To Ward’s detriment, there is a lot of evidence that Burt Ward is actually running a dog flipping and puppy mill operation. The reviews and site visit stories are alarming, the web site screams puppy mill and liar, and it seems to be only one step up from a hoarding operation.  Truly sad and alarming if that’s the case.

Burt Ward, gives a thumbs up to his kibble.

Maladaptive Pigeons at the Hand of Man

The Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon, from which all domestic pigeons derive.

Dogs are not the only animals that have been selected for function and dysfunction at the hand of man.

For more than a thousand years, pigeons have been bred to express an amazing amount of genetic variation, from beautiful to grotesque, and from whimsical to functional.

The litany of pigeon breeds is truly jaw-dropping and reflects a global fraternity of breeders.

There are Aachen Lacquer Shield Owl pigeons, Aachen Pouter pigeons, and Aargau Peak Crested pigeons.

There is the Absy Egyptian Swift, the Afghan Sherazi, African Owl pigeon, Agaran Boinije, Ahmar Gohzar, Alpine Swift, Altenburger Trumpeter, American Bohemian Pouter, American Flying Baldhead, American Flying Flight, American Flying Tumbler, American Giant Homer, American Giant Rumbler, and the American Giant Runt (love that name!).

We have the Anatolian Ringbeater, the American Strasser, Anbary Asmar Egyptian Swift, Ancient Tumbler, Antwerp Pigeon, Antwerp Smerle, Arabian Trumpeter, Arad Barred Highflier, Archangel, Armenian Tumbler, and Asiatic Crack Tumbler.

We have Australian Saddleback Tumbler, the Barb, Bavarian Pouter, Beak-Crested Jacobin, Belgian Ringbeater, and the Berlin Medium Face Tumbler (which also comes in Long Face and Short Face varieties).

We have the Bernburg pigeon, the Berne Half Beak, Berne Peak Crested, Bernhardin Magpie, Birmingham Roller, and the Blondinette.

We have the Blue Tumbler of Cluj, Bohemian Pouter, the Bohmentaub, the Bokhara Trumpeter, the Bolk Egyptian Swift, Boston Blue Tumbler, Bremen Tumbler, British Show Racer, and Brunner Pouter.

We have the Bucharest Ciung Highflier, the Bucharest Show Tumbler, the Buda Grizzle, Budapest Short Face Tumbler, and the Budapest Highflier (to say nothing of the Budapest Muffed Tumbler and Budapest Muffled Stork).

We have the Cassel Tumbler, the Catalonian Head and Neck Tumbler, the Central Asiatic Roller, Chinese Nasal Tuft, Chinese Owl, Clean Legged Fullhead, Clean Legged Spot Swallow, Coburg Lark, Colillano Pouter and Cologne Tumbler.

We have the Czech Ice Pouter, Czech Muffed Tumbler, Czech Trumpeter, the Dragoon, and the Damascene.

We have the Danish Suabian, Danish Tumbler, the Danzig Highflyer, the Escompadissa Tumbler, the Dewlap, the Donek, the Double Crested Priest, the Duchess, the Egyptian Swift, the Eichbuhl, the Elster Pouter, and the Elster Purzler, to say nothing of the English Carrier, English Fantail, English Longface Muff Tumbler, English Magpie, and English Owl.

We have the Exhibition Flying Tippler, the Fat Shan Blue, Felegyhazer Tumbler, and the Fish Eye Roller.

We have the Florentine pigeon, Flying Oriental Roller, Flying Saddle Homer, Flying Tippler, Fork-Tailed pigeon, Franconian Heart Magpie, Franconian Toy Self, and the Franconian Velvet Shield, to say nothing of the French Bagdad, French Mondain, Frillback, Gaditano Pouter, Galaţi roller, German Beak-Crested, the German Modena, German Nun, and German Shield Owl.

We have the Ghent Cropper, Giant American Crest, Giant Mallorquina Runt, Giant Show Runt, the Gier pigeon, the Gorguero Pouter, Groninger Slenke, the Hamburg Sticken, Hana Pouter, Hanover Tumbler, Helmet pigeon, Hindi Fantail, Hollander pigeon, Hungarian Buga Pigeon, the Hungarian Giant House Pigeon, Hungarian Giant Pouter, and the Hungarian Short.

We have the Huppé Picard, the Hyacinth pigeon, Ice pigeon, Indian Fantail, Indian Gola, Indian Mondain, Iran Roller, Italian Owl Jacobin, and the Jiennense Pouterm as well as the Indian Fantasy pigeon (love that name!),

There is the Kaluga Turmani pigeon, the Karakand Fantail, Karakandy Egyptian Swift, Kazan Tumbler, Kelebek, Kiev Tumbler, King pigeon, Kiskunfelegyhaza Tumbler, Kojook Egyptian Swift, Konigsberg Moorhead, Lucerne Gold Collar, and the Lebanon pigeon.

There is the Lucerne Gold Collar, the black Magpie, Macedonian Turbit, Majorcan Bort Runt, Maltese pigeon, Mariola pigeon, Martham pigeon, and the Memel Highflier.

We have the Mesawed Egyptian Swift, Micholaiyvski Shield Tumbler, Miniature American Crested, Mookee, Montauben, Moravian White Head, Moscat, Moscovite Tumbler, Moulter, New York Danish Flying Tumbler, Norwegian Tumbler, Norwich Cropper, and the Novi Sad Short Face Tumbler (what a name!).

We have the Nun pigeon, Nuremberg Lark, Old Dutch Capuchine, Old Fashioned Oriental Frill, Old German Cropper, Old German Owl, Ostrava Bagdad, Pakistani Highflier, Parlor Roller, Pheasant Pigeon, and the Ukrainian Skycutter (love that name!).

We have the Pomeranian Show Crest, Posen Colored Head Tumbler, Poster pigeon, Prague Medium Face Tumbler, Oriental Frill, Quet Roller, Racing Homer, Rhine Ringbeater, Roller Pigeon, Romanian Argintiu Tumbler, Romanian Blind Tumbler, Romanian Blue Barred Whitetail, Romanian Naked-Neck Tumbler, Russian Martini, Saddle Homer, Saint Louis Arch Crested Fantail, Saxon Breast pigeon, Saxon Monk, Saxon Stork, and Silky Fantail.

We have the Single Crested Priest, South German Charcoal Lark, Spaniard pigeon, Spanish Flamenca Runt, Spanish Frillback Bagadette, Spanish Owl Pouter, and Spanish Thief Pouter.

We have the Sverdlovsk blue-gray mottle-headed pigeon, Swiss Crescent, Swiss Mondain, Syrian Bagdad, Syrian Coop Tumbler, Syrian Swift pigeon, Syrian Turbiteen, Texan Pioneer, Thai Fantail, Thai Laugher, Thuringian Breast Pigeon, Thuringian Spot, Thuringian Wingpigeon, Tiger Swallow, Tippler, and the Transylvanian Double-Crested Tumbler (love that name!).

We have the Ural Striped Maned pigeon, the Tung Koon Paak, Valencian Giant Tenant pigeon, Valencian Magany Homer, Vogtland pigeon, Volga Russian Tumbler, Warsaw Schmetterling, the West of England Tumbler and the Zurich White Tail.

And yes, this is just a partial list!

As I noted some years back
, there is a breed of pigeon called a "roller" where flocks go into a kind of synchronized neurological fit causing them to roll over and tumble in mid-air -- the kind of activity that tends to attract hawks. Talk about maladaptive!

In addition to rollers, there are racing or homing pigeons which look very much like natural rock doves (i.e. wild pigeons), but which may have a little more speed and slightly better orienteering skills.

Of course, as with dogs, many of these breeds are only slighty different variations from others of a very similar type, while others look suspiciously like odd-looking versions of the common feral form you might see in any city park, while still others look like diseased mutants.

But isn't that true of dog breeds as well?!

Some of the pigeons that have been crafted
by the hand of man are truely beautiful and fly very well, while others are bizarre looking and fly less successfully.

In the bizarre catagory is the Blue Pouter, pictured below, which is an ornamental breed with long legs, an extruded body, and an amazing inflatable crop.

There are quite a few types of Pouters, and the function of one type, the "Horseman" Pouter is to serve as a "thief" bird. It turns out that a swollen crop is a bit of a turn on to female pigeons, and so female pigeons can sometimes be seduced to follow the Horseman Pouter back to his coop.

Charles Darwin was quick to notice the amazing varieties of livestock being produced by breeders in his day, and he was especially attentive to chicken and pigeon breeders as he himself had first noticed wide variation from an intermediate type when observing finches on the Galapagos Islands.

When Darwin came back to Britain in 1836, he began to correspond with dog, chicken, sheep, cattle and pigeon breeders from around the world as he worked out his theories of speciation through natural selection.

In 1855, he built his own pigeon loft and began raising a wide variety of pigeons himself.

For the rest of that story I recommend a lengthy tour through the excellent web site, Darwin's Pigeons.

A final note: the beautiful pigeon illustrations shown here are the work of Gary Romig, and are for sale at his web site.

They are redone versions of illustrations which first appeared in Robert Fulton's The Illustrated Book of Pigeons, published in 1878. A companion volume, by Lewis Wright, was called The Illustrated Book of Poultry.

Straight Down the Pie Hole

Both are made in Vermont. For those who don't know, "whistlepig" is a colloquial term for a groundhog aka a woodchuck.

Cartoon Horses, and No One is Laughing

The Telegraph:

Extreme breeding practices have already left animals like French bulldogs and pugs struggling to breathe as their faces have become squashed over time to suit human demands.

But vets believe that the worrying practice is now happening in horses after a US stud farm offered an Arabian Colt for sale with an strange concave, or ‘dished’ profile.

Check out the shit show at Orrion Farms in Washington state.

Is it time to end Torture Breeding?  Would this qualify?

Dog Needs to Get Wormed

Might need a little more animal fat in its diet too.

Looking for a Way In

Robbie and the other dogs really wanted what was in the bunker of roots under this hollow tree. Not going to happen, but not for want of trying.

Game On

Moxie on a groundhog yesterday.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

JRTCA Nationals

Jack Russell Terrier Club of America nationals is the only show I go to. I attend one day, for a few hours, and then go hunting on Sunday. As always, I traveled incognito with bald cap, plastic nose, and novelty glasses.

The JRTCA works hard to threat the needle between work (first pole position, at least in theory) and show. I am not a fan of dog shows or most dog organizations, but I am a fan of the JRTCA; they try very hard to get it right with a lot of competing and conflicting agendas. Hats off to the no-doubt large and dedicated team that put this together and pull it off year after year. Not easy, and a thankless job for the most part.

The JRTCA national show has been held near Sharpsburg and Antietam Creek for the last few years -- a location where over 22,700 Americans died in a single day trying to put an end to slavery. I dig my own dogs not far from here on battle fields once drenched in human blood.

You can't have just one. This is a pretty normal stack of dogs peering out from a wagon at JRTCA Nationals.

Greg Mousley making three people happy. A lot of dogs on a long day and he still has a smile!

One of the several go to ground setups at JRTCA Nationals yesterday.

Lots of pretty dogs Enough working people and working dogs to make me keep coming back every year, at least for a few hours.

Those are two fine-looking working dogs owned by Ted Ely and bred by Char Smith. Not a great picture of either dog -- Ted was off somewhere and the dogs were talking smack to me. I have long admired Mac (Sumac) the dog on the left who is small with a lot of bone. His mother, Torch, is on the left and has always been a small solid dog with great looks, bone, and a small frame.

This is me spanning Torch a few years back. Note the complete finger overlap. Span means different things to different folks. This is what I am looking for if I can find it! I think shortly after this picture was taken, Torch was made the JRTCA's 30th Anniversary cover dog.

Moving Heaven and Earth

A times-lapse masterpiece.

Trinity Lutheran Church in Lincoln Township, Iowa was moved nine miles to its new home in Manning, Iowa. A special song was written by Daniel Pemberton for the occasion, sung by the Manning Chorus. Everything arrived and settled on the new foundation without incident; even the stained glass windows survived the move intact.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Time to End Torture Breeding at the AKC

Torture Breeding is the intentional breeding of an animal to have morphological or inherited defects or diseases that cause distress and suffering.

The Swiss, Austrians, and Germans have their own name for it
-- “Qualzucht” -- and laws that criminalize it.

Under Swiss, German and Austrian law, it's a crime to breed animals in the full knowledge that their offspring are likely to suffer.  Torture breeding laws in these countries ban the intentional breeding of animals that have: 1) difficulty breathing; 2) have motion abnormalities or are lame; 3) are blind or who have bulging eyes or corneal defects; 4) are hairless; 5) are deaf; 6) have neurological issues; 7) have congenital skin disease; or 8) are unable to breed or birth naturally.

Is it time for such a law in the United States?

Who can argue that the intentional breeding of Pugs without noses and with bulging eye issues is not torture?

Who can deny that the breeding of English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs, with faces so smashed they cannot breathe. and are in respiratory distress their whole lives, is not a serious animal welfare issue?

And when these two breeds are among the top ten in the AKC, who can deny that it is time to act?

People and Dogs Evolving in Parallel

Humans and dogs are alike on many levels.  For one, we are both social pack predators and omnivores.

Now it turns out that we have also evolved along parallel lines.

Some years back, scientists in China discovered that both Tibetans dogs and the Tibetan people have a special version of a gene that helps their blood cope with low levels of oxygen. The gene — called ESPA1 — turns on a whole bunch of other genes when oxygen levels drop.

Now scientists in China have discovered that native African dogs have developed genetic resistance to Malaria in the same way that people in West Africa have.

The Continuing Crisis


Friday, October 13, 2017

Keep Calm and Carry On, American Style

A U.S. Postal Service postman makes his delivery rounds in Santa Rosa, California after the fires.

Drone video by Douglas Thron, taken October 10, 2017.

One Wolf v. One Moose, In the Water

Drone pilot Dan Nystedt caught this amazing encounter near the outskirts of Sault Ste. Marie, in Northern Ontario.

A single wolf attacking an adult moose is very rare and a very high-risk move for the wolf who can easily be kicked or stomped to death. It may be that this is a young wolf that has literally bit off more than it can chew, or perhaps this moose suggested it was lame or diseased in some way not readily apparent from a drone's-eye view.

Fish on Fridays

Baby sea turtles fall to predation from a Dorado.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

What to Do With an Old E-Collar

The low-cost Chinese-made e-collars that are based on 35 year old technology are useless as dog training tools (see this post about the differences between modern collars and junk), but they might be perfect for "Law Enforcement Candid Camera".

Roman Dog Collars