Wednesday, December 31, 2008

North America’s WILDLIFE Conservation Model

By Eric Aldrich

There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world: a system that keeps wildlife as a public and sustainable resource, scientifically managed by professionals – thanks to hunters and hunting.

Hunting, as some folks tend to forget, has been a human activity for a long, long time…as long as there have been humans.

But something happened to hunting around the late 1800s and early 1900s that changed it forever. It became regulated. The relatively new profession of wildlife biology supported those regulations with science. License fees and excise taxes—paid for by hunters themselves – supported the enforcement and the science. Money was also set aside to protect habitat, conduct research and teach hunters to be safe and ethical. At the time, those visionary moves were essential because of the pathetic status of North America’s wildlife population. In Delaware, white-tailed deer, beavers, wild turkeys and many waterfowl species were few in number at the beginning of the 20th century. Now, throughout the continent, many species are back for all to enjoy, not just hunters.

Why Do We Mention This?
Because sometimes we forget. Sometimes, we get so accustomed to the way things are that we forget how they used to be…and what it’s like elsewhere in the world.

There’s a fellow in Canada’s Alberta Province who wants to remind us that hunting is THE reason for conservations’ success in North America. He’s Valerius Geist, a German native who immigrated to Canada as a young teenager in 1953 and began hunting two years later.

Geist studied wildlife biology, earned a doctorate in animal behavior and wrote several books on big game mammals of North America. By the 1980’s he could see that his own co0llegues (wildlife biologists for the most part) had forgotten what their predecessors had built: a phenomenal environmental success story, the restoration of wildlife in North America.

“When I came over here from Germany, it was a real eye-opener,” Geist said. “Hunting is different. Conservation is different. The whole model here that ties hunting and conservation together is unique and very successful.”

It’s called the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. There’s nothing like it elsewhere in the world. And hunters – whether they’re in Delaware, Alberta or Oregon – are the system’s backbone of success.

To remind biologists (and anyone else) about why this model is unique and successful, Geist and two colleagues presented a paper at a recent North American Wildlife Management and Research conference. The other co-authors are Shane P. Mahoney of the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Division, and John F. Organ, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Hadley, Mass.

“We wrote this for the simple reason that what is so obvious has been forgotten by many people,” Geist said. “Even our own colleagues had forgotten the history of the wildlife conservation movement here.”

What is the North American Model?
The North American model has endured despite widespread changes in society, technology and in the landscape of the continent. It has become a “system of sustainable development of a renewable natural resource that is without parallel in the world,” Geist said. Furthermore, it has benefited not only huntable wildlife, countless species of songbirds and shorebirds are protected, becoming specifically designated as nongame species. Seven features make the North American model distinct.
1. Wildlife is a public resource. This is a notion that dates back to the Bible, in legal codes of ancient Rome. A wild animal was owned by no one until it was physically possessed. The concept was solidified in the Unites States to the extent that wildlife was held in common ownership by the state for the benefit of all people. And it has withstood tests in the U.S. courts.
2. Markets for trade in wildlife were eliminated. Making it illegal to buy and sell meat and parts of game and nongame species removed a huge threat to sustaining those species. At the same time, however, allowing markets for furbearers has helped managed them as a sustainable resource, in conjunction with restrictive regulations, and advocacy of trappers for land stewardship.
3. Allocation of wildlife by law. States allocate surplus wildlife by law, not by market pressures, land ownership or special privilege. The public gets a say in how wildlife resources are allocated; the process fosters public involvement in managing wildlife
4. Wildlife can only be killed for a legitimate purpose. The law prohibits killing wildlife for frivolous reasons. Under the “Code of the Sportsman,” hunters use as much as they can. The harvest of wild animals must serve a practical purpose if society is going to accept it.
5. Wildlife species are considered an international resource. Some species, such as migratory birds, transcend boundaries and one country’s management can easily affect a species in another country.
6. Science is the proper tool for discharge of wildlife policy. This is a key concept of wildlife management. It has its roots in the Prussian Forestry System, arising in this country as the basis of wildlife management by the convincing forcefulness of Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold. By spawning the profession of wildlife management, North Americans were decades ahead of their global neighbors.

In the United States, the concept of science-based, professional wildlife management really took off with passage of the 1937 Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program. In this phenomenally successful program, excise taxes on hunting equipment are returned to states for wildlife management, restoration and research, along with hunter education.

According to Greg Moore, a lifelong hunter and now Delaware’s acting wildlife administrator, those dollars go a long way. “Because of sport hunting and the Federal Aid dollars that it provides to the Division of Fish and Wildlife, we can conduct scientific, professional management that benefits all species, not just game or nongame,” he said.

7. The democracy of hunting. In the European model, wildlife was allocated by
land ownership and privilege. In North America, anyone in good standing can

Hunting is the Glue
“In much of Europe, hunting is landowner-based,” Geist said. “Areas are essentially leased for hunting, and hunters are responsible for the management of species on that piece of land. It’s an elitist system.”

What developed in North America is what Geist calls a populous system. “It appeals to everyone, blue-collar and white-collar alike” and was championed by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt.

In Africa today, efforts to stop poaching have led to programs that direct economic returns on hunting fees to rural indigenous people. Now, they have a reason to stop poachers.

According to Geist, the glue that holds this unique North American model of wildlife conservation together is hunting.

Wildlife should be a publicly-owned resource not only as a food source but also to help foster the American “pioneer spirit,” he said. “The ability for all North Americans to be able to cultivate these pioneer skills through sport hunting meant that there could be no private ownership outside of the public trust.”

Threatening that public trust were the markets for wildlife that were driving some species toward extinction. The strongest proponents for eliminating market hunting were the organized sportsmen and sporting publications. The Boone and Crockett Club and Forest and Stream magazine rallied against market hunting, resulting in many state and federal laws ending the practice.

Without the markets, there were game surpluses which became allocated by law. Those allocations should not jeopardize the sustainability of wildlife for future generations. Sportsmen became the biggest advocates of maintaining sustainable numbers of wildlife.

As ranching increased as a way of getting meat to the table, hunting strictly for food became less important. Thus grew hunting’s emphasis on the chase, not the kill, while still retaining the need to use as much of the wildlife killed as possible.

Would Wildlife Survive Without Hunting?
One of the biggest threats to North America’s model of wildlife conservation is efforts to commercialize wildlife. Those efforts take many forms, notably game ranching and fee hunting, according to Geist.

Since the days when North America’s approach to wildlife conservation was developed, populations of many wildlife species (mostly game species) have gone from seriously in trouble to abundant. Now some species, such as white-tailed deer, are seriously in trouble of becoming too abundant in places. Deer are eating up farm crops and suburban gardens and shrubs all over the Eastern seaboard.

“As certain species become common enough to cause conflict with humans, will humans value them less?” wonders Geist.

Actually, hunters could play a key role in alleviating such conflicts. They can help keep wild animals wild. As fish and wildlife agencies figure out what to do about local over-abundances of deer, they can look to the public – hunters – as part of the solution.

“This may have to be combined with other management alternatives,” says Geist, “but hunting and its advocates can again be the force that ensures sustainable wildlife resources are a priority for society.”

Formerly with the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, Eric Aldrich is now Communications Director for the N.H. Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

Contributions of Hunters by the Numbers

? Total U.S. retail purchases by hunters in one year (1996) on hunting equipment, travel, license fees, etc.: $1.725 billion. Total economic impact to U.S. of $60.9 billion and 704,601 jobs.
? Total retail purchases by Delaware hunters in one year (1996) on hunting equipment, travel, license fees, etc.: $28 million. Total economic impact to Delaware of $148.7 million and 1,607 jobs.
? Total U.S. hunters’ annual dues to conservation and related organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited: $296 million.
? Total in resident and nonresident hunting license fees and permits to the Division of Fish and Wildlife in fiscal year 2002: $569,000
? Total amount of Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration to the Division in fiscal year 2002 (from excise taxes paid by hunters/manufacturers on hunting equipment and distributed to states: $1.24 million
? Division of Fish and Wildlife management areas permanently protected for wildlife and recreation by Federal Aid dollars and hunting license revenues: 15 areas and 56,000 acres.
? Partial list of species restored to Delaware, thanks to license fees, Federal Aid dollars and good management: wild turkey, white-tailed deer, many waterfowl species. Many nongame species also have benefited from habitat protected by hunters’ dollars.

Hunting Ethics

In 1994, just 106 years after Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell created the idea of fair chase, helping to change free-for-all market and subsistence hunting into a regular sport, “Teddy Roosevelt and the Hunting Heritage” author Jim Posewitz, published Beyond Fair Chase.

The former wildlife biologist and one of the founders of Orion, The Hunter’s Institute, a Montana organization devoted to fostering ethical hunting, reiterated what many had said before – stalk close, shoot well, make every effort to track wounded game – but also added a new dimension to the notion of respect for wildlife. Posewitz said trophy scoring and big-game contests sometimes crossed the line of proper ethical practice. “Trying to take a trophy to get your name in a record book,” he wrote, “is taking a fine animal for the wrong reason.” Downplaying the idea of competition in hunting, whether for money or ego. Beyond Fair Chase is now used across North America in hunter-education classes.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Unleaded Please - California Condor Crazyness

The lead-free ammunition regs in the CA condor zone may be a bad joke poorly told...

But it is the law of the land. And because it has plenty of confusing conditions and exceptions, good and well intentioned folks are bound to get hurt by it. As they say,

It doesn't have to make sense, it just has to be the law...

Finding a better example of this cliche put into practice would difficult. From both the conservation and enforcement perspectives, this law doesn't make any sense. But as such I thought I should post these videos which help to explain compliance in plain English.

Part One

Part Two

Friday, December 12, 2008

Catahoula or Leopard, Cur Dog or Hound

For those not clear on the what the Catahoula is, and what the Leopard is, the ambiguity stops here.

Few things cause more confusion to the lay person then trying to understand if these are the same dog or two different dogs, and either way, what exactly is/are it/they?

A quick look to your right and you might notice that Catahoulas are in the "Wagon Hound" category, while the American Leopard is in the "Treeing Hound" Category. This is because in real 'every-day' 'on-the-ground-use', Catahoulas are spending more time in pursuit of big game then they are droving cattle. They are, in my opinion, much more accurately described (both historically and in modern use) as Wagon Hounds, then true pastoral dogs.

To understand the distinctions, one needs to understand the UKC group structure. As it relates to these breeds, you need to understand the following:

UKC HERDING GROUP - No sub-groups

-TREE HOUNDS - Two sub-groups

As of the 1994 revision the LOUISIANA CATAHOULA LEOPARD DOG was recognized by the United Kennel Club (the most recognizable -working- dog registry in the US) in the HERDING group.

The LEOPARD CUR was recognized by UKC on November 1, 1998. In recognition that the breed was becoming less of a Cur Dog and had essentially become a open trailing Treeing Hound... in no small part because Leopard Cur owners wanted to compete with the Coon Hounds (and not the Curs Dogs) at UKC night hunts, the name was changed to AMERICAN LEOPARD HOUND on May 1, 2008. When this happened, Leopards were moved from the Cur Dogs to the Coonhounds.

So as it stands as of today's date - Dec 12 2008 - these are two very distinct, very different breeds. Catahoulas are UKC Herding dogs, and the Leopards are UKC Coonhounds.

See to get one of your own!

Choose your master AKC

This is a reprint from THE DOG PRESS, An Open Letter to The AKC Board Chairman. BOTTOM LINE questions On Moral Integrity, Financial Future, by David Arthur Dec 08

I don't agree with everything Mr Arthur writes to Mr Menaker here (ex. the admitance of unregistered dogs - I think there is a time and place and the AKC should expand it) but I agree with the vast majority of it. The letter is very long, but worth the read.


Dear Mr. Menaker,

In the September 2008 Chairman's Report, you expressed concern about losing revenue to the “retail sector”. I understand the American Kennel Club (AKC), like any organization, can not sustain itself while hemorrhaging red ink. But your anxiety and resulting philosophy concerns me greatly. I can’t imagine you are unaware that responsible breeders never sell to retail outlets, even though they know well that the returns on any given litter will never exceed the expenditures to produce it.
Yet they continue out of pure devotion to their breeds. The AKC, however, has seemingly reduced the fancy to little more than figures on a balance sheet.

I’m sure you realize that producing quality puppies and chasing the marketplace are not parallel directions, but rather, are diametrically opposed concepts; one based on increasing quality, the other on revenues from greater volumes of inferior goods.

We all recognize fuel costs have soared, food prices have all but leapt off of the countertop, and the whole economy is sluggish at best. But increasing revenue is not the only option, as most financial challenges are best met by cutting expenditures and offering a better product. Sadly, you seem to be seeking the former with no reliance on the latter.

As you say, “The declining registrations and associated core revenues, if allowed to continue, will fundamentally change our organization going forward. Make no mistake, the very future of the AKC and our sport is at risk.” Loss of income and core revenues means only one thing; your customers are finding a better product elsewhere. You state that the AKC was a premiere brand. Courting the commercial market does nothing to restore your brand’s value. Walmart has an enormous market share but you’ll never find Rolex watches at their jewelry counter. If you want to restore the AKC’s reputation, you must
support superlative breeders instead of chasing the industrial market. Quality breeders will never risk associating their reputation with the likes of Petland.

At one point, you state, “there are at least 30 All-Breed registries in addition to the AKC, whose combined registration numbers exceed that of the AKC.”
The truth is, there is only one other credible all-breed “registry” in the U.S., the United Kennel Club (UKC). The others are pseudo-registries, with nothing to
offer reputable breeders. Becoming like them only cheapens the AKC’s value. (See “The Problem With Papers”.)

Yet you persist, “If this trend is allowed to continue, if we do not stop the hemorrhaging of declining registrations, we will no longer be the premier registry in the world, let alone in our country.” I’m afraid you have misunderstood the public’s desire for the quality superior breeders produce. If by “premiere” you mean being the biggest registry in the world, then “hemorrhaging” is a problem. If however “premiere registry” means being the world’s best, then the obvious conclusion is that you can never also be the biggest. It’s a matter of quantity or quality. In this market, you’re either the biggest or the best. That, sir, is your true dilemma.

You said “Management has been directed by the Board to aggressively pursue all dogs eligible for AKC registration. We intend to reach out, communicate, and educate those in the retail sector as to why an AKC puppy is the gold standard and why they should be registered with American Kennel Club. In achieving this objective we intend to continue to ‘raise the bar’ by vigorously enforcing our
policies. This action is essential to protect and preserve our leadership.”

This is in fact, a complete oxymoron! The “retail sector” is the puppy mill industry, noted for the least quality possible. You intend to educate THEM? I believe you have tried ever since you became CEO but they have no interest in
AKC’s “gold standard”, which is bronze at best because of your unfettered efforts to cater to them. They will never replace quantity with quality, and in the meantime you have denigrated the work done by reputable breeders. As you seek to enfold the pet production market, it signals the public and the dedicated breeder that the AKC is not the Neiman Marcus of our sport, but rather the canine version of K-Mart.

You can’t “raise the bar” by lowering it! AKC tried to woo back the industrial pet market with special inducements not offered to show breeders. That too backfired. The millers didn’t need AKC but your actions so soured premier breeders that many left the sport. I know it is a quandary for AKC. If you enforce policy and uphold commitment to the original AKC mission statement,
registrations would reduce even more as many retail breeders would not be able or willing to meet your requirements. But that also identifies the heart of the
issue. Will AKC be the biggest or the best?

You assert “As the pre-eminent and only not-for-profit registry, we live our values everyday with our commitment to the integrity of our registry and the excellence of our inspections program.” It appears that you intend to
register any dog that the owner states has an unbroken line to registered ancestors. Where is the assurance of integrity in that? Can you not see that once pups are placed, even reputable breeders have little to no control over their future propagation? More than just a few of us have experienced situations where someone has violated a contract, took their AKC registered dog(s) – including those with limited registration – and bred them in a corrupt manner or registered them with a puppy mill registry. Some even switch sires or add ghost puppies to litter paperwork. I know DNA profiling was meant to prevent that, but it occurs regardless. And once you open the door to puppies from unregistered litters, then both Limited Registration and DNA profiling become meaningless, along with the AKC stud books.

The new registration service offers absolutely nothing to your core breeders. Instead, it drives us away from AKC. Do you then plan to replace us with the people who bought pet puppies with no papers? You will undermine the only thing that makes an AKC registration worthwhile, the purity if your studbooks, and that is the unmitigated surrender of your integrity, and ours.

As to requiring adherence to your “compliance and inspection programs”, again, you speak of elevating the quality of AKC puppies. You do realize if you truly held to a strict quality assurance program, you would lessen the number of registrations? Again, it’s either quantity or quality. You can not escape this principle. Your largest producers will deem AKC too restrictive and be unwilling
to submit to your inspections. You are an astute businessman. So let me ask you. Will they loose money by lessening output or spend money to raise the level of

I doubt you will be able to suddenly turn the commercial market into a front from which happy and healthy show quality puppies spring forth. The commercial market that you seek doesn’t care about puppy socialization, genetic health screening, exercise requirements, grooming, and least of all, adherence to breed standards. It cares only about hard, cold cash, which is alarmingly close to the
core value that seems to fuel your most recent efforts.

Then you assert, “The American Kennel Club provides what no other registry provides" I’m not sure what the AKC is able to give us that the UKC can’t provide. You speak as if the AKC is the only venue exhibitors have. Granted, an
AKC championship still outshines nearly all other titles. But in most breeds it is also less difficult to obtain than a UKC Grand Championship, and the UKC shows are more fun to attend. They are far less stressful, wonderfully informal,
have no professional handlers, and use many of the same judges as does the AKC. UKC also offers something your registry does not, the Total Dog title, which requires qualification in both performance and conformation on the same day. UKC dogs are required to do much more than just look the part; they must also be able to perform. So as exhibitors, we are already experiencing,
“the same
joys and passions we have so fortunately enjoyed for more than a century,”
and are doing so at considerably less cost.

(blogger's note - I added the bold italics in this paragraph)
When you talk about a “staggering 53% decline” in registrations, this has little to do with other registries. Are you oblivious to the fact that those of us in the show fancy often have multiple registrations on our dogs? My own are AKC and UKC registered, with conformation and performance titles from both. When the UKC invited the nation’s most respected single-breed and all-breed registries to a summit, it was the AKC who declined to attend. By acting as a separatist, AKC cut off potential allies and breeders who would have benefited through dual registration. And let’s not forget the firestorm that arose over your decision, now reversed, regarding judges holding dual approvals.

All of this leads me to wonder if you are seeing this situation correctly. Maybe the reason AKC registrations are falling is because of brand value. The AKC must become something more than just an advertizing tool in the local classifieds. You will never be able to hold sway over the likes of the American Pet Registry, the National Kennel Club, the Universal Kennel Club Inc., or any of the paper
mills. They will always be the darling of the commercial market, and in the eyes of many – if not most of us within the sport – they are spouses within a marriage made in Hades.

PET SHOP PUPPYThe unscrupulous will always take the track of less effort. So compromising your standards for the sake of increasing revenues should work. For example, AKC’s deal with
would have clearly padded your bottom line. But as we made abundantly clear, it would have sold out we who hold our reputations in the highest regard. You surely would have increased your commercial share, but the AKC brand would have been trashed.

So maybe this isn’t about the sport. You say that, “as we lose registrations, we also lose our core revenues, our ability to generate alternative revenues and our legislative influence.” Is it really all about “core revenues”? You say
you want to, “get back on track growing our influence as the premier registry in the world.” I grant you, the AKC was the premiere pride of our sport. But the reason you have lost standing is because you sold out chasing those “core
. You should be striving to ensure that the buyer of an AKC puppy owns something above those bought in pet stores, flea markets, and back alley parking lots. By your present policy, the next door neighbor’s sex education project for their children is suddenly placed on the same level with our highest show champions. To have an AKC registered dog means little, if anything, these days. And this is all because of your focus on fiscal returns over the quality of our Best In Show specials.

You say, “AKC puppies and our breeders are the best”; that, “they are the ‘Gold Standard’ in the marketplace.” Reading this makes me wonder if you have been out in the trenches as of late. The average person sees no difference
between AKC and the Continental Kennel Club. In the near twenty years I’ve been a breeder, an AKC registration only meant the dog was purebred, not that it had any inherent quality. And the reason the other “registries” are weakening your position is because you are seeking to emulate their practices. You are not bringing the sport up to a higher standard, but rather, you are sinking the AKC’s reputation to a much lower one.

Then, when you say, “No one is suggesting we lose sight of our rich heritage and traditions,” sir, it has never been part of our rich heritage or traditions to supply fodder to the pet market! Have we not always been dedicated to producing only the highest quality and most healthy specimens our kennels can generate? “Pets” come from sorting out the exceptional, and then placing the rest into the homes of average pet buyers who should have a puppy that is, in
nearly every aspect, the equal to our champions. Again, you have contradicted the very direction you now propose.

I also beg to differ that the millions of registration dollars you collected from AKC pet owners, “overwhelmingly subsidized our sport.” Other than sanctioning events, and the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), what services do you really provide? Ironically, when we send information to help identify puppy mills, we are told that you are just a registry and that it is not your function to police the breeding community.

When I was on the board of a breed club, AKC never once sent us a check to cover any of our expenses. We expended our own club’s resources for our events. The
judges pay for their required seminars and other education. The clubs pay the judges, pay for the facility, the superintendant (if one is used), the equipment, food, advertizing, printing, postage, and in the end, when all of the entries fees are collected, we send a check to you!

You say, “let me make it clear to all, that the AKC will continue to enthusiastically support the Parent Clubs' Codes of Ethics including, as it relates to their members' sale of puppies through commercial entities.” But
wait, isn’t that the very market you intend to pursue? Or are you looking to make headway with the backyard breeders, who are equally as abhorrent to your AKC member clubs? I’m not sure how you can reconcile your concept, as even local breed clubs have stipulations that members can never sell puppies to brokers or commercial outlets.

In the end, I guess the most telling aspect of your report is as follows:

“If the current trend continues and dog registrations decline to 250,000 over the next several years,AKC will face an annual revenue shortfall of $40 million. To put this in perspective, if this scenario occurred, and we relied solely on raising the event service fees to make up for this revenue shortfall, the fee would be a staggering $20 per entry. Our preference would be to grow our registrations to the point that we could lower, not increase event fees. Some would say the obvious solution is a significant reduction in expenses.However, a $40 million revenue shortfall would necessitate a reduction of our expenses by two-thirds. This is totally unrealistic.”

Either way, you lose market share. And the question begs an answer as to why you have such high expenses. Yes, you reduced the number of employees but AKC still resides in some of the country’s most expensive real estate. Shouldn’t you have moved your entire operation to North Carolina where the cost of living is so much lower? AKC may well have a revenue crisis, but you also have a serious expenditure problem.

I do believe our sport faces great risk, but I dare say it is not from lost revenue to any single registry. We are in far greater danger from Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) than from the fiscal trials facing the AKC. By fostering commercial breeders, you actually feed into the pet overpopulation hysteria. Your desire to increase funding is the very attitude that puts the sport in greater peril! Embracing the commercial market ushers in the likes of Petland, Jack’s Pets, and the whole of the Midwestern milling industry. They flood the country with countless hoards of substandard pups – complete with genetic and
health problems – lending credence to PETA, the Humane Society of the U.S., and even such fanatical groups as the Animal Liberation Front. If you succeed in this unholy alliance, these organizations will gladly push us over the edge to destruction.

My advice is to simplify your operation and cater to those who will bring you the most honors. Our future should never include legitimizing industrial puppy breeding! It should remain as the home-spun sport we, the reputable breeding community and the astute puppy buyer, have supported for ages. Our sport should not be professionalized to the point where it turns off the average
breeder-exhibitor. AKC must address the puppy mill problem, not contribute to it. And most of all, it should protect us against the ravages of BSL by uniting with other organizations dedicated to our cause. Do this, and we will gladly bring our registrations to AKC.

If you truly want to regain being the “Gold Standard” of our sport, then give us a registry whose aim is to follow your own mission statement. If you continue to chase after market share in place of strengthening your bond with us, AKC will shrink to nothing more than a top-dollar pet registry, with little support or respect from anyone. Backing the mills means abandoning us, along with your own
parent clubs. My hope is that you will listen to us, lest you find in the end that the AKC has traded its status for money without value, such as is exemplified by the collapsing banking and insurance industry. As the CEO of AKC
and someone formerly in the banking business, you should know this principle better than anyone. You should
also recognize the greatest treasure of all is the ability to validate our fine and noble breeds.

I guess the Bible says it best, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (John 2:13-16) In the end Sir, whom will you serve?
David Arthur

David J. Arthur
Aircastle Standard Poodles

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A charmed life

Normally, I have limited patience for eccentric dog owners like this.

But even I have to admit, this dog leads a charmed life.

She managed to get the dog celebrity (in-cabin) flight status, and here is this Weim's schedule every week:

Monday - Obedience
Tuesday - Hunting
Wednesday - Stage Practice
Thursday - Agility
Friday - Hunting
Weekends - Competing/Performing

Anyone else notice that this dog is hunted twice a week? Even my dogs aren't hunted twice a week!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The way a dog show should be

Good ute's, good working dogs... the way a dog show should be

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gratuitous Hunting Pic/Vid of the Day

Today's gratuitous hunting Video:

I'm organizing a posting on the importance of hounding with children, but it's taking longer than I expected. In the meantime here is a fun little beagling video sample.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hounding in Southern Africa

I've been beating the bushes for information on this topic and thought I'd give an update.

It would appear that their are some gräoid hound hunters in southern Africa, but most are running these dogs for themselves only.

The PH's appear to be primarily using trailing hounds and jack russells.

It turns out that there is actually a Southern African Houndsmen Association, and in various quarters of the region hounds are being used for leopard, lynx (caracal), serval, genet, bushpig, blue duiker and bushbuck.

Wade Lemon's scenthounds are currently hunting in Zimbabwe. There are now two packs of hounds hunting. One with Tristan Peacock and the other with Theo Bronkhorst. Both pack have been very successful.

Roy Sparks is houndsman to several different PH's and safari companies including Ratelfontein PGR (Karoo), and Burchell PGR (Eastern Cape) who are doing Namibian leopard hunts.

Sandhurst Safari's is offering leopard and lynx over scenthounds in Molopo.

Cornie & Elaine Coetzee (BERGQUELL and SAFARIHOEK, Namibia) offer leopards over hounds.

PH Johan Strydom is guiding cat hunts over Fell Hounds in South Africa.

Gary Niles of East Cape is houndsman for Barrie Duckworth's (Mokore Safaris - Harrare) leopard hunts.

Rick Lemmer and Darryl de Lange (H&HA - South Africa) offer bushpig, caracal and jackal over hounds.

Willem Roux (Erindi GR - Namibia) is hounding leopards.

Dave Davenport (Leopard's Valley Tygerkloof) is guiding leopard hunts over hounds in Zimbabwe and Namibia

And Lastly,

Gavin Lipjes (Xosha - all the countries of southern Africa) pursues numerous species with hounds, mostly Gascogne's.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dog bites man - a contrived crisis

According to the CDC, each year, dogs bite about 4.7 million people in the United States.

Wow! That's a lot of dog bites. Especially if one assumes that the CDC did not attempt to factor in unreported bites, of which there are many, every day.

On average, 800,000 require medical attention, and more than half are children.

Double wow! This means that over 400,000 children per year see a doctor following a dog bite.

"There ought to be a law!!!"

Funny you should say that...

Usually 0.0015% of those injuries (about a dozen) which require some level of medical care, become a cause of death. Put another way, out of 4.7 million dog bites in a given year, 0.00025% result in fatal injury.

But wait, it gets better.

If you are interested in the broad picture of dog breed bans and "vicious dog" outcries, pick up the books by Karen Delise,

Fatal Dog Attacks: The Stories Behind the Statistics,
The Pit Bull Placebo: The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression.

Be sure to also pick up Dogs Bite: But Balloons and Slippers are More Dangerous by Janis Bradley.

During a recent seminar Ian Dunbar was asked about the problem of dog attacks and he said "Each year, nearly a thousand children are killed ... [he paused dramatically] ... by their parents." Or to put it in context, children are nearly 60 times more likely to be killed by their parents than by a dog, any dog.

Obviously, we need to enact more city ordinances banning parents.

Sarcasm aside, I'm not in any way trying to diminish the very real pain and trauma that can come from a severe dog bite or dog attack. Nor am I unaware that a dog bite need not be fatal to be disfiguring, or otherwise injurious. I'm simply saying that we need to get some pragmatic perspective.

This deadly dogs vs. deadly parents data comes from Bradley's book. Her extensive research and facts are surprising, even for those of us in the dog "choir."

You are, for example, 5 times more likely to be killed by lightning (killed -- not just struck) than killed by a dog.

This is why we so desperately need a healthy dose of real perspective on the dog bite/vicious dog issue... a dog bite is one of the rarest causes of death, but one of the most highly publicized.

Importantly, Bradley also spends a lot of her book discussing the absurdity of determining "vicious breeds."

These books are must reads for anyone concerned about this issue wanting real numbers, and not hype, to defend our dogs from the overblown rhetoric.

For additional information on dog attacks please go to The National Canine Research Council website.

Many thanks to Julia Jones for pointing me to the "Dogs Bite" book.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Gratuitous Hunting Pic/Vid of the Day

Today's gratuitous hunting Pic:

Another from OZ, this one courtesy of "Bear". Many thanks to you Bear... some good looking hounds at bay.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Republican by Default?

As a dyed in the wool Libertarian, I am begrudged to admit that Barrack Obama had the rural religious vote, and the rural hunting vote figured out way back in 2004.

Many republican policies hurt middle and lower class America. Many of these folks also happen to be hunters. Hunters in general, but hunters in the rural districts specifically tend to be Republican, even though republican governance tends to hurt them in the pocket book.

Why is this? It is tempting to argue that they are voting on moral absolutes and on principle, not economics. But it's actually much simpler than that. They perceive the Republican party as "their" party, because they do not feel like they are understood or valued by Democrats.

So how does this work? Well, let's look at a make-believe constituent we'll call "Jimmy the Hunter".

Jimmy the Hunter believes in Guns and God. And in that order - if it were the other way around he would be Jimmy the Evangelical.

--- One party makes it clear that they are supportive of people in Jimmy's tax bracket, but they think Jimmy is a backwards redneck who is worthy only of high-brow ridicule, not respect as a living, breathing -thinking- voter.

--- The other party makes it clear that they are very supportive of people in Jimmy's boss' boss' tax bracket, and they beat the drum that says Jimmy will get a 'trickle down benefit', but of course it hasn't really worked out that way in real life. But they don't scorn him for his core beliefs. Indeed they try to convince him that they are all about Guns and God too... our real priorities are going to cost you a few thousand dollars a year, but to us you are family, welcome home Jimmy!

Now does Jimmy really believe in this love fest? Not really. But given the choice of supporting a party that openly mocks you and people like you, or supporting the other party that welcomes you with open arms (even if it isn't totally in your best economic interest) and claims a desire to preserve those things you hold dear? Most Jimmys choose the latter.

Hunting for Food

"I am a meat hunter."

Yes, I enjoy time afield. In fact I enjoy it for a multitude of reasons. Despite the "we enjoy killing, let's just be honest about it and move on" hunter's-lib hype, I really don't like the killing part. What I do enjoy is the deep sense of accomplishment that comes from a pursuit that ends in a quick, clean successful harvest.

But I also love my dogs. And I am honest enough with myself to know that when I see the intelligence behind the eyes of a deer which I am a split second away from dispatching, it's not all that different from what I see in the eyes of my own dogs.

I am alive and sentient. The deer is alive, and arguably, also sentient. I (with the help of my hounds) am predating. The deer is prey. It is morally undefinable. The relationship between predator and prey is neither right, nor wrong. It simply is what it is.

One of the favorite arguments of PETA and their compatriot groups is that no one needs to hunt in modern society. The irony and hypocrisy is too much to develop fully in this post, but I will touch on one facet which is illustrative.

On the one hand I totally agree with PETA's contention. Sport hunting, as practiced by most sport hunters, has no economic rationale as a source of cost-effective sustenance. Factor in the cost of gas for multi-hour hunting trips, the fancy camouflage costumes, expensive firearms or archery tackle, the cost of motel lodgings, state licences and permits (especially out of state), etc, etc... Whatever meat the typical sport hunter does put in the freezer is very expensive meat. Much more expensive then almost any meat you could buy at the local grocery store.

On the other hand, it's pure bullocks. This argument might actually carry some weight if the PETA paradigm didn't actively discourage, and campaign against, corporate farming. Economies of scale are the only thing that keep mega-mart ground pork cheaper than pursuing deer with all the expensive (and frankly unnecessary) trappings of modern American sport hunting. If PETA got its way, and most large commercial livestock operations were shut down, and those few that did exist were 100% organic, free range, family farm operations with distribution channels limited to a single metropolitan area, even hunting the expensive way would offer savings over beef and pork if that system were imposed nation wide.

Don't get me wrong. I am a huge advocate of sustainable, organic, local, family farming. But we are in very tough times as a nation, and in my mind, my own feel-good ideologies come a very distant second to the need for affordable food for poor families. Especially poor urban families. Rural land owning families, and even suburban families have some options for freeing themselves from the teat of the mega-mart, like this family has done on their 1/10th of an acre lot. But for many apartment dwellers this simply isn't an option.

One of my heroes of the working dog community, and the blogosphere, is Patrick Burns. While I agree with him on almost everything, there are a few notable exceptions. For example I disagree with him on his assertion that line breeding is inherently detrimental, that nothing good can come of it... but that's a whole other posting. The other concept that I disagree with him on is this particular idea that hunting doesn't add up for the poor. Quoted here:

Here's a question: If you make $17,000 a year, how do you pay for gas to get out into the field to hunt, and also pay the mortgage, health insurance premiums, prescription drugs, food, heat, water, electricity and the cost of basic truck or car maintenance? Damned if I know!

The insinuation on the part of PETA and (unfortunately) Patrick, is that the poor are wasting their limited monetary resources on hunting when they should be buying food at the grocery store. I've already articulated one of perhaps a dozen reasons why PETA's take on this is schizophrenic. But with Pat's, I think it is just a case of a sincere person, with an intelligent question born from a lack of understanding and/or experience.

Patrick is a hunter/conservationist and a dog man. He gets it. But on this issue he doesn't. I don't know if he has or not, but it makes me question whether or not he has ever actually been poor.

Has he ever experienced a childhood Christmas knowing that one small present per child may or may not be possible because your parents have (rightfully) decided that having the heat stay on in December is more important? Has he ever been on WIC, AFDC, Food Stamps, or Section 8? Does he know what it's like to be unemployed, running out of money and food stamps, and have a hungry baby that you're not sure how you'll feed this week?

I ask because I do know all these, first hand. And so I ask if he has, because then he should already know that in-state, non-trophy meat hunting, on nearby free access public and/or private lands for deer, boar, rabbit, and turkey - and not doing it like you just stepped off the pages of a bass pro catalog - is a viable, and economically efficient way of making some good for your family out of a bad situation.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Speaking of greyhound tracks in Massachusetts...

More interesting news about the tracks in Massachusetts.

This is the argument of the organized supporters of Mass Question 3:

The anti-racing advocates have argued that the system is cruel and/or inhumane. But we discover that in Massachusetts, racing is one the most highly regulated industries in the entire state, and the tracks diligently comply with (or in many cases exceed) the requirements of the regulations.

But let's assume the accusation is true. Let's assume that the track's do in fact operate within a regulatory framework that allows them to keep the dogs in deplorable circumstances. It begs the question, "So where did the regulations that frame the continued existence of this 'cruel' and 'inhumane' system come from?"

Take a wild guess...

You'll have to wait till the end of the corresponding video of the opponents of Question 3 for the answer, but seeing this very candid interview with a plain-speaking track owner is worth the wait:

Massachusetts Question 3 - Common Sense and Real Solutions

Vote NO on Question 3, and adopt a racing Greyhound.

Despite standing invitations from the tracks, the MSPCA refuses go to the track; they won't examine the truth of the matter. But that hasn't stopped them (and similarly focused groups) from maligning the tracks and labeling the lifestyle as "cruel" to the dogs.

Whatever you might think about the tracks and their business, the reality is that common sense and real solutions are not coming from the 'animal rights' fringe, but from the tracks themselves... imagine that.

I know two NGA breeders personally, one of them, extremely well. NGA breeders are in the business of dogs for profit. Of that there is no question. And some of them make a very good living at it. We can debate the relative morality of that all day long.

Beyond that, these men (and women) care for their dogs. Their husbandry is impeccable. Their dogs are their lively hood, yes, but apart from that, they genuinely care for their dogs. In many ways, their greyhounds actually live better than I do.

The thing people fail to understand is that NGA dogs are worth ridiculous amounts of money. If you owned a dog that you could sell at any time during its competitive career for 5 figures, would you do anything to harm that dog? If you had a high achieving NGA stud dog whose semen will be worth 6 figures over the course of his life, would you take special care of that dog?

In almost every way that counts, it's much like the Thoroughbred world. The real issue is the end game. Like so many Thoroughbred's who went to meat processors at their retirement, many NGA greyhounds were euthanized at retirement. In today's version of the game however, most NGA greyhounds are placed as house pets in retirement. A small portion are also placed in ASFA/LGRA homes.

NGA greyhounds have a great life. This is the reality. The agendized AR contingent doesn't won't to be bothered with the truth, especially when it contravenes their world-view. As long as the NGA exists, the AR activists will demonize the tracks, the trainers, the breeders, and the spectators.

So they can continue to make noise, but it doesn't change the fact that if we come back as dogs, we would do very well to come back as NGA greyhounds.

Gratuitous Hunting Pic/Vid of the Day

Today's gratuitous hunting Vid:

A good little bay-and-shoot segment from the boys down in OZ:

Saturday, October 25, 2008


In the enterprise that is canine husbandry, some of us forget that our dogs are living, breathing creatures. Conversely, others of us forget that our dogs... are dogs.

Many of my compatriots of the working dog 'ilk' are often annoyed, if not openly critical of people that 'pamper' their dogs. But we have to ask ourselves, "Is there anything inherently wrong with pampering your dog?" The honest answer of course is that there is nothing wrong with it per-se, as long as it does not cross the threshold into "spoiling" the dog. I would define "spoiling the dog" as pampering which otherwise contributes to the dog's dysfunction in the human world. To see the dysfunction of the spoiled dog in action, see any randomly selected episode of "The Dog Whisperer" on National Geographic.

So what about the other side of that coin? Can we show too much disregard for a dog's needs, its relative comfort, that we can likewise contribute to a dog's dysfunction? Perhaps. But what is more likely to occur is that the houndsman who is want for quality husbandry is going to keep the dog in a manner which may become, quite subjectively and to varying degrees, inhumane.

The problem arises from the subjective nature of the concept. As a case in point, I'll share the story of this trailer.

I bought the rolling frame from Tractor Supply at a very reasonable price. I built up the deck and walls of the trailer from scraps from the shop at my work. I then used this trailer to move my small family across the country. Some time later, I noticed a friend had an aluminum dog box that was a bit "banged up" sitting behind one of his sheds. I asked about it, he said it had been in a wreck (no dogs involved) and had been promised to another friend many months earlier, but they had never picked it up. This was followed by "You can have it if you want it." I did.

I set out to fix and straighten the box, and then re-size it - it was built to fit against the tail-gate of a full size pickup with overhangs resting on the bed rails - it was large. Too large to fit inside a 4 foot wide trailer with high straight walls. So I had to make major modifications to the frame and to the left and right doors. All told it was two days work, but when I was done, the friend (whose opinion I value immensely) commented, "That'll make you a nice little hog trailer." Coming from him, I took it as high praise.

So is it the nicest hunting dog trailer ever built? Far from it. But do you think my hounds look uncomfortable?

I don't think so either.

The trailer is what it is... the best damn dog trailer the roadways have ever seen for the relatively small amount of money I spent on its construction. The same holds true for the 'Safari Basket' mounted across the top of the family wagon towing said trailer. I built the safari basket much more recently (you'll notice from the pictures I haven't even had it powder coated yet) but it was well built at relatively low cost. What it may lack in beauty, it more than makes up in durability and utility.

Interestingly, the softer touches among us may consider the safari basket's most recent use, more medieval in fact.
A friend recently harvested this doe.

I got the call to come by the place he was hunting and help pick it up. I neglected to hitch the trailer, and I didn't think to connect the hitch-n-haul in its place. So how did we get the deer to the house? You guessed it.

But this is not medieval either, not really... a bit tacky perhaps, but not medieval. In truth the basket is merely a tool, it has not character nor intent... no 'anima' - evil or virtuous. Here it simply, once again, proved its utility.

But the soft touches should also take note that while in route to assist this hunter, I only had myself in the car. No wife, no children, and their voluminous accouterments. So the dog I brought along in case we needed it for blood tracking, rode in the wagon, on four layers of folded comforter. She slumbered through the return trip in the same manner.

So why am I even sharing all this?

Last month I went to the Rhodesian Ridgeback National Specialty in Gettysburg, PA. While officiating at the hunting trials there, a friend (of the rather cosmopolitan, 'keeping up appearances', dog show minded variety) made an off-hand comment about my dogs being kept in "That medieval trailer."

I found this very troubling. Why? Well, it was, consistent with the typical dog show paradigm, all about how it looked, and not about how it actually functioned. I could make the trailer "medieval" for use as a canine conveyance... I could remove the suspension and weld the axle to the frame, or increase the capacity from 3 dogs to 4 and load them in tail first. But instead I built it for three dogs so each would have room, the suspension helps smooth the ride, and on longer trips, I line the floor with blankets to make it even easier for the dogs to catch some zee's.

The truth is that a genuinely utilitarian tool can be used for any purpose, malevolent, benign, or charitable.

During the course of the trip to the National Specialty I also agreed to transport the Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue fundraising merchandise to the specialty site and back to its storage site - an 1,800 mile round trip - and I had to use every bit of the trailer (including the dog bays) and the safari basket and a portion of the inside of the wagon - shared with one of my dogs.

This is why I found the "medieval trailer" comment so deeply troubling. It wasn't about the person that made the comment actually, because I know them very well, they are a dear friend and an intellectual/academic dog person who actually does seem to "get it" when it comes to working dogs. But it spoke to the dog show world mentality which is so troubling, so short short sighted and prejudiced, and ultimately, so hypocritical.

Several people at the National went out of their way to thank me for transporting Rescue's store. And yet several people looked down their noses at my trailer - '... those hunting people are going to be the ruination of our breed...'

One of those ruinous "hunting people" made the Rescue store a reality... and he did it using that medieval-looking hunting dog trailer.

In fact, the stress from the weight of that load, over that many miles actually broke my dog box.

I subsequently rewelded the broken portions of the frame - hopefully this time, making them stronger.

But don't get me wrong. I'm not attempting to paint myself as some beleaguered saint for rescue, or a martyr. Ridgeback Rescue reimbursed me for the fuel expense for the trip. And if asked to transport the Rescue store to future National or Regional specialties, it will be my honor and privilege to serve. In deed, I will happily jump at the chance to help.

My angst lay not with rescue - they are fighting the good fight. My quarrel is with the condescending and hypocritical double mindedness of the dog show culture.

The sad irony in all of this of course is that while mankind has certainly proven his willingness to cause the inhumane suffering of animals (by both neglect and/or intent) he has reserved the most diabolical, villainous, perverse and depraved expressions of inhumanity, for his fellow man.

An adequately spacious and well ventilated hunting dog trailer is not medieval. The bow hunter who goes afield for the purpose of exercising the acquired skills of woodsmanship, stealth, and marksmanship to effect the quick, clean kill of an early fall doe, the venison from which will help provide sustenance to three different families, is not medieval.

Mankind's treatment of his fellow man is medieval.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

AKC BOD minutes - 10/13/2008 - AKC FSS Ridiculousness

How do you keep the best working dogs out of your registry as you accept a "new" breed into your system? Talk out of both sides of your mouth.

This will be the last of the AKC Board Minutes posts for today. I'll comment specifically on the group realignment report contained in the previous post at a later date. But I'll briefly comment on this gem today because it speaks volumes:

"Irish Red & White Setter Request - The Board reviewed a request from the Irish Red & White Setter Association, Inc. Following a motion by Mr.Merriam, seconded by Mrs. Strand, it was VOTED (unanimously) to not accept American Field Dog StudBook (FDSD) or North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) pedigrees for Irish Red andWhite Setters."

Can you hear them? "We don't want those UGLY working dogs in our stud books... but we can't just say that. We have to find another excuse. What's to do? Hey, I've got it! We must preserve the integrity of the registry! Those working lines might be 'tainted', how do we know? For over 100 years we've never had any breedings which were undocumented, falsely documented, or otherwise erroneous. Yeah, that's it... that sounds credible, people will buy that, won't they?"

Later in the minutes we find this:

"During the month of September the DNA program resulted in the correction of 190 litter registrations, affecting 237 registered dogs. Additionally, the registrations of 98 litters, including 144 registered dogs, were converted to conditional registration and the registrations of 22 litters were canceled, affecting 36registered dogs."

That's from just -one- month of applying DNA research to the AKC's unsullied, infallible registry. Good thing they aren't going to ruin it all by admitting the FDSD and/or NAVHDA stud books to help establish the Irish Red & White Setter as it gains full AKC recognition.

We wouldn't want to broaden the foundational gene pool with field proven stock... that would be crazy!!!

Report of the AKC Group Realignment Committee - October 13, 2009

On October 8, 2007, the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club, appointed an exploratory committee, chaired by Dr. Thomas Davies, to evaluate the current alignment of breeds within the seven variety groups, to determine if a different alignment would better serve the Sport now and in the future, as new breeds become registrable.

The Committee included: Karen Burgess, Dr. Thomas Davies, Robert Fisher, Marieann Gladstone, Tim James, Dr. Alvin Krause, Dr. William Newman, John P. Nielsen, Dr. Robert Smith, Robin Stansell, and R. William Taylor.

The committee met together three times, and has discussed its recommendations via email, as well. The initial basis for the discussions centered on the increasing number of new breeds being brought into the AKC Stud Book, as well as the number of breeds awaiting acceptance currently in the Foundation Stock Service (FSS) listing.

In its deliberations, the committee considered several sources of information. The historical data suggested that the makeup of the groups for conformation judging was by no means a static listing. There were many changes in the distribution of breeds for show purposes (and for listing in AKC’s Stud Book), and, in fact, no official, recorded group judging appears to have occurred prior to 1924. Group awards became official in 1925 with competition in five groups (Sporting, Working, Terrier, Toy and Non-Sporting). In 1930 the Sporting Group was split into the Sporting and Sporting (Hound) Groups. In 1983, the Working Group was split into the Working Group and the Herding Group.

The committee also considered two (non-official, non-scientific) polls, neither of which, in and of themselves, demanded a particular realignment. The general sense, however, was that it was time to do something about the burgeoning sizes of several of the groups, as well as the actual makeup of breeds within groups. The Delegate’s Dog Show Rules Committee had conducted a short survey which indicated that about 75% of the respondents favored change. A much larger survey (1341 responders) appeared on the web site where only 17% of the respondents suggested that things were fine as they stood.

The first few months of the committee’s existence was taken up by a thorough study of the Group system and a more detailed understanding of the history, form and function of the various breeds within the current group structure. Additionally, the makeup of groups around the world was reviewed.

After careful examination of the groups and the breeds that make them up, the committee decided that two of the current groups, which in a short time span could approach 40 breeds, can easily and logically be divided into two similar components. The Sporting Group can be divided into Sporting – Pointers and Setters, and Sporting – Retrievers and Spaniels. Functionally, this split made sense to the committee. Secondly, a logical division of the Hound Group would be Scent Hounds and Sight Hounds.

The third major change would be the creation of a new group, consisting of the Northern or Spitz type breeds. To populate this new group, we took the Norwegian Elkhound (from the Hound Group); the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, the Siberian Husky and the Samoyed (from the Working Group); the American Eskimo, Chinese Shar-Pei, Chow Chow, Finnish Spitz, Keeshond, Schipperke and Shiba Inu (from the Non-Sporting Group); and the Swedish Vallhund (from the Herding Group). The Parent clubs of these breeds were contacted and asked for their input.

We also chose to rename the Non-Sporting Group, since in fact it is (in addition to non-sporting) a nonhound, non-working, non-terrier, non-toy and non-herding group. After struggling with an appropriate name, we selected the Companion Group as the "new” name for this group.

In addition to moving the above mentioned Northern/Spitz breeds into a new group, we considered the group placement of several other breeds, which we considered as possible candidates for relocation. Each of these was based on careful study of the history, form and function of the particular breed. In each case, the Parent breed club was contacted and asked to weigh in on their thoughts. Each of those contacted chose to remain in their current group alignment except two. The Italian Greyhound wished to move to the Sight Hound Group and the Dalmatian requested a move to the Working Group.

The committee did discuss the issue of varieties; however, it was felt that this was somewhat beyond the scope of our charge at this time.

Our recommendation would necessitate the addition of three groups to the listing currently in place (7 groups). This would require Delegate approval to make changes to Chapter 3, Sections 1, 15, 17, 18, 19 and 20, and Chapter 6, Section 3 of the Rules Applying to Dog Shows. It may be useful to remove the reference to the number of groups from all of the above sections, except Chapter 3, Section 1. In addition, Chapter 2 of the Rules Applying to Registration and Discipline refers to the number of groups, and would require Delegate approval to change.

The committee, by submission of this report, would request that the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club, in accordance with Article XX of the Bylaws of the American Kennel Club, propose and submit the necessary amendments to the Delegate body, to be read at the December meeting of the Delegate Body, published in two issues of AKC Gazette, and voted upon at the March, 2009 meeting of the Delegate Body.

Attached is a listing of breeds and groups as proposed by the Committee.

Respectfully submitted,
The AKC Group Realignment Committee

AKC Group Realignment Committee – Proposed Breeds & Groups

From a presentation to the Delegates on September 8, 2008 by the AKC Group Realignment Committee

Group 1: Sporting – Pointers and Setters (11) (12)
Pointer (German Shorthaired)
Pointer (German Wirehaired)
Setter (English)
Setter (Gordon)
Setter (Irish
Setter (Irish Red & White) Miscellaneous 6/27/07; Full Recognition 1/1/09
Spinone Italiano
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Group 2: Sporting - Retrievers and Spaniels (17) (18)
Retriever (Chesapeake Bay)
Retriever (Curly-Coated)
Retriever (Flat-Coated)
Retriever (Golden)
Retriever (Labrador)
Retriever (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling)
Spaniel (American Water)
Spaniel (Boykin) – Miscellaneous 1/1/08
Spaniel (Clumber)
Spaniel (Cocker) ASCOB
Spaniel (Cocker) Black
Spaniel (Cocker) Parti-color
Spaniel (English Cocker)
Spaniel (English Springer)
Spaniel (Field)
Spaniel (Irish Water)
Spaniel (Sussex)
Spaniel (Welsh Springer)

Group 3: Scent Hounds (14) (17)
Basset Hound
Beagle (13”)
Beagle (15”)
Black and Tan Coonhound
Bluetick Coonhound - Miscellaneous 7/1/08
Dachshund (Longhaired)
Dachshund (Smooth)
Dachshund (Wirehaired)
English Foxhound
Foxhound (American)
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Redbone Coonhound – Miscellaneous 9/1/08
Treeing Walker Coonhound – Miscellaneous 1/1/09

Group 4: Sight Hounds (11)
Afghan Hound
Ibizan Hound
Irish Wolfhound
Italian Greyhound
Pharaoh Hound
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Scottish Deerhound

Group 5: Working (23) (25)
Anatolian Shepherd
Bernese Mountain Dog
Black Russian Terrier
Cane Corso – Miscellaneous 7/1/08
Doberman Pinscher
Dogue de Bordeaux
German Pinscher
Giant Schnauzer
Great Dane
Great Pyrenees
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Leonberger – Miscellaneous 7/1/08
Neapolitan Mastiff
Portuguese Water Dog
Saint Bernard
Standard Schnauzer
Tibetan Mastiff

Group 6: Terriers (28) (29)
Airedale Terrier
Australian Terrier
American Staffordshire Terrier
Bedlington Terrier
Border Terrier
Bull Terrier (Colored)
Bull Terrier (White)
Cairn Terrier
Cesky Terrier – Miscellaneous 7/1/08
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Fox Terrier (Smooth)
Fox Terrier (Wire)
Glen of Imaal Terrier
Irish Terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier
Lakeland Terrier
Manchester Terrier (Standard)
Miniature Bull Terrier
Miniature Schnauzer
Norfolk Terrier
Norwich Terrier
Parson Russell Terrier
Scottish Terrier
Sealyham Terrier
Skye Terrier
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Welsh Terrier
West Highland White Terrier

Group 7: Toys (21)
Brussells Griffon
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Chihuahua (Long Coat)
Chihuahua (Smooth Coat)
English Toy Spaniel (Blenheim & Prince Charles)
English Toy Spaniel (King Charles & Ruby)
Japanese Chin
Manchester Terrier (Toy)
Miniature Pinscher
Poodle (Toy)
Shih Tzu
Silky Terrier
Toy Fox Terrier
Yorkshire Terrier

Group 8: Companion (11) (12)
Bichon Frise
Boston Terrier
Chinese Crested
French Bulldog
Lhasa Apso
Poodle (Miniature)
Poodle (Standard)
Tibetan Spaniel
Tibetan Terrier
Xoloitzcuintli – Miscellaneous 1/10/09

Group 9: Herding (20) (21)
Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Shepherd
Bearded Collie
Belgian Malinois
Belgian Tervuren
Belgian Sheepdog
Border Collie
Bouvier des Flandres
Canaan Dog
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Collie (Rough)
Collie (Smooth)
German Shepherd
Old English Sheepdog
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Polish Lowland Sheepdog
Pyrenean Shepherd – Miscellaneous 1/1/07; Full Recognition 1/1/09
Shetland Sheepdog

Group 10: Northern (13) (16)
Alaskan Malamute
American Eskimo Dog
Chinese Shar-Pei
Chow Chow
Finnish Spitz
Icelandic Sheepdog – Miscellaneous 7/1/08
Norwegian Buhund – Miscellaneous 1/1/07; Full Recognition 1/1/09
Norwegian Lundehund – Miscellaneous 7/1/08

Norwegian Elkhound
Siberian Husky
Shiba Inu
Swedish Vallhund

AKC BOD minutes - 10/13/2008 - COONHOUND EVENTS - Chapter 3 – Eligibility of Dogs for Entry

"Staff recommends revisions to Chapter 3 of Regulations for AKC Coonhound Bench Shows, Field Trials, Nite Hunts and Water Races to require a Coonhound, if not AKC registered, to complete an AKC registration application and pay said fee prior to competing in an event. This change is in accordance with the recent changes to Rules Applying to Dog Shows, Chapter 11, Section 1, which requires that all dogs be individually registered before an entry may be accepted at AKC events. This will be discussed further at the November meeting."

So... up till now coonhounds have been competing in AKC events -without- AKC registration???

AKC BOD minutes - 10/13/2008 - Airedale Terrier Eligibility To Compete in Spaniel (Flushing Dog) Hunt Tests

"The Board reviewed a request from the Airedale Terrier Club of America to permit the Airedale Terrier to participate in the Spaniel Hunting Test Program. The Airedale Terrier Club of America has been seeking admission into AKC Performance Events for over 20 years. The breed was developed as a versatile hunting dog. Staff recommends that the Airedale Terrier participation, if approved, be reviewed after a two year period to evaluate the impact of Airedale Terrier participation. This will be discussed further in November."

What the AKC alludes to, but for the obvious reasons won't mention outright - is that the Airedale men and women have been asking the AKC to let them field trial for a -long- time. They've written exhaustive reports, they've proven their dogs in upland work, waterfowl work, game trailing and treeing in their club's hunting trial program for years. They've jumped through every hoop the AKC has asked, and some they weren't even asked to jump through, and the AKC has turned then down. Through it all, when most others would have thrown in the towel... they haven't given up.

What the AKC may or may not know - It's too much to go into in this blog post, but suffice to say that a few years ago the Airedale Terrier Club put politics before the dogs, and alienated their hunting base within the club. This resulted in a schism which caused the then parent club's Hunting Working Committee to effectively have to form its own independent club. What was left to pick up the pieces were - with a few exceptions - hunters in the HWA on the 'outside', and wannabe non hunters in the parent club on the 'inside'.

You can see the somewhat newly independent HWA web site by clicking on the HWA logo:

You can also see the new 'wannabe' ADTC Hunting and Field website by clicking on the logo:

My hope is that one day these two factions will be reconciled.

In the meantime... AKC, how many times do they have to ask? Let them play already!!!

AKC BOD minutes - 10/13/2008 - Beagle Field Trial Rules

"The Board reviewed two recommendations from the Beagle Advisory Committee whose meeting was held in August 2008. Both recommendations are designed to give the host club added flexibility and efficiency in the running of an event. The first recommendation will change the Standard Procedures in Gundog Brace Trials to permit the running of dogs in trios in the first series if there are 21 or more entries. The second recommendation is to give the club the option of splitting a pack in Large Pack Trials if the entries exceed 25 in a class. Under this recommendation the club will have the option of running the two packs either simultaneously or back-to-back. This will be discussed further at the November Meeting."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

GARMIN gets it right this time - we hope

Garmin's new and improved Astro 220 and DC30 collar system pictured below.

Garmin's first foray into hunting dog telemetry, the DC20, was fraught with problems. Most of these problems were clearly due to a knowledge and experience gap on the part of Garmin's product designers/engineers.

I'm not saying that there aren't any hunters working at Garmin. They are after all in Lenexa, Kansas. Having lived in that particular area for many years I can attest that the hunting community in the Kansas City metro is substantial. And Garmin has in my opinion always been very friendly to its very large hunter customer base. But based on the DC20 I must wonder if any of them are real dog-men/women.
When the first Astro was released, the pictures were cliche with an English Pointer. Among the photos for the new unit, I did notice they have one with a trailing hound now.

So what was wrong, and how have they improved it? The original Astro DC20 had a bulky transmitter which mounted on the dorsal side of the neck on a collar, or on top of the whithers as part of a special neoprene vest. This transmitter had a rigid and brittle antenna... you working dog folks already know why that didn't work!

You don't even have to know anything about dogs to know why the collar option didn't work. Basic physics is what it is. If the transmitter was mounted on a collar, the collar would find it's new center of gravity by rotating until the transmitter was located under the dogs throat. With the antenna pointed straight down, its range/effectiveness was greatly diminished. LCS came up with a clever counter balance system pictured at right. Which, in theory, kept the transmitter right side up, but also made the large, bulky and heavy collar... larger, bulkier, and heavier.

But now, it looks like they took the advice of houndsmen and finally designed the collar the way it should have been from the beginning. Smaller, lighter, under collar mounted, with a longer more flexible antenna.

There is also a long range antenna available for the receiver as well now from LCS.

Only time will tell of course, but it looks like the new Astro 220, but especially the DC30 collar will finally help to realise the truly awesome potential of this GPS telemetry system.

You can find out for yourself soon enough. They go on sale to the public in 2 days at LCS.

See GARMIN's DC30 page for more information.


Monday, October 13, 2008

The UK Kennel Club - Lacing up the Jackboots

In a Dog Press (UK) article last week, there are the proposed new guidelines which ALL breed clubs MUST adhere to.

It is now compulsory for breed clubs to adopt the Kennel Club's code of ethics. Club members must agree to:
* Properly house, feed, water and exercise all dogs under their care and arrange for appropriate veterinary attention if and when required.
* Agree without reservation that any vet performing an operation on any of their dogs which alters the natural conformation of the animal may report such operation to the Kennel Club.
* Agree that no healthy puppy will be culled. Puppies which may not conform to the breed standard should be placed in suitable homes.
* Abide by all aspects of the Animal Welfare Act.
* Not to create demands for, nor supply, puppies which have been docked illegally.
* Agree not to breed from a dog or bitch which could be in any way harmful to the dog or to the breed.
* Not to allow any of their dogs to roam at large or to cause a nuisance to neighbours or those carrying out official duties.
* Ensure that their dogs wear properly tagged collars and will be kept leashed or under effective control when away from home.
* Clean up after their dogs in public places or anywhere their dogs are being exhibited.
* Only sell dogs where there is a reasonable expectation of a happy and healthy life and help with the rehoming of a dog if the initial circumstances change.
* Supply written details of all dietary requirements and give guidance concerning responsible ownership when placing dogs in a new home.
* Ensure that all relevant KC Documents are provided to the new owner when selling or transferring a dog, and agree, in writing, to forward any relevant documents at the earliest opportunity if not immediately available.
* Not to sell any dog to commercial dog wholesalers, retail pet dealers or directly or indirectly all dogs to be given as a prize or donation in any competition of any kind. Will not sell by sale or auction KC registration certificates as stand-alone items (not accompanied by a dog).
* Not knowingly misrepresent the characteristics of the breed nor falsely advertise dogs, not mislead any person regarding the health or quality of a dog.
* Breach of these provisions may result in expulsion from club membership, and/or disciplinary action by the Kennel Club and/or reporting to the relevant authorities for legal action, as appropriate.

Where does one even begin? Can these people possibly be serious? The powers within The Kennel Club are supposed to be dog people, surely they must know better. They must realize how impossible this is?

This proposes that Vets be recruited as Kennel Club "snitches"... sure, that will foster trust between breeders and vets.

Culling is not allowed for dam management?!?! Are you kidding me? This is what happens in the wild! A breeder and vet working together can make the process painless, nature isn't so kind.

Not perform a breeding which might be "harmful" to the dog? I suppose that means that British Bulldogs will no longer be legally bred in Great Britain!

What -exactly- is "a reasonable expectation of a happy and healthy life"? This has to be one of the most ludicrous of the requirements. Who is bestowed with the right to define 'reasonable', 'happy' or 'healthy'? And more importantly, whoever it ends up being, what standard do they use in the determination? Does the Kennel Club have a crystal ball, or perhaps a Ouija board that they are planning on lending out to each breeder so they can make their placement decisions?

Perhaps the most frightening bit in this whole debacle is that beyond this proposal, the Kennel Club has asked the British government for statutory authority!!!

This is not about the health nor the welfare of Kennel Club registered dogs.

Make no mistake, this is instead about attempting to -control- dog fanciers in what is supposed to be a free British society, and attempting to mitigate recent bad P.R. This is the Kennel Club's (UK) knee-jerk, overreaching and ill conceived acquiescent attempt at damage control in response to the "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" documentary on the BBC.

If the Kennel Club was really motivated by a concern for the health of *purebred* dogs, then the parent clubs should be at the helm. Not The Kennel Club.

The Kennel Club should be using good science and peer pressure to win them over, not mandate, which will only foster their resentment. If the Kennel Club really wanted to effect positive change in the health of the purebred dogs of the UK, they would be doing it in a supportive advisory capacity through the individual breed parent clubs. Not as the reactive jack-booted storm-troopers of British dogdom.

- Many thanks to Y.B. for transmitting the (UK) Dog Press release stateside.