Wednesday, April 8, 2009

HR 669

Where did I go?

Was I kidnapped by Serbs and held for ransom? Did the Angry Pig finally smother me in my sleep and escape to South America with the inheritance money? Has the Large Hadron Collider opened up a wormhole that sucked me up and spat me out in Narnia?

Well, no (much as I wish for that last one to be true). I just have not had either the time or the energy for blogging lately. Hopefully things will change, but - we'll see.

Anyway, there is one thing I had to post here. I wish it were something happier!

On April 23rd, the Natural Resources Committee of the US Congress is going to hold a hearing on HS 669, also known as the Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act. This is a resolution that, if passed into law, would ban the adoption, purchase, selling, transporting, breeding and private ownership of nonnative pets. This is virtually every reptile, bird, fish, and small mammal commonly kept as pets. These are the animals that WILL NOT be banned:
  • any cat (Felis catus)
  • cattle or oxen (Bos taurus)
  • chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus)
  • dog (Canis lupus familiaris)
  • donkey or ass (Equus asinus)
  • domesticated members of the family Anatidae (geese)
  • duck (domesticated Anas spp.)
  • goat (Capra aegagrus hircus)
  • goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus)
  • horse (Equus caballus)
  • llama (Lama glama)
  • mule or hinny (Equus caballus x E. asinus)
  • pig or hog (Sus scrofa domestica)
  • domesticated varieties of rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
  • sheep (Ovis aries)
This means the pets that WILL BE BANNED include reptiles, tropical fish, birds, hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, and guinea pigs.

Because guinea pigs will destroy our frail ecosystems (or the economy, what?), but keeping a llama is A-OK.

I know what you're thinking. It's probably along the lines of "WHAAAAAT". Or "IS THIS A JOKE?". Or even possibly "FINALLY! I TOLD THEM THE IMMINENT HAMSTER INVASION IS NIIIIGH."

If it was anything like the former two reactions, anti-HR 669ers are urging people at this point to not panic. This thing is still way off from being a law. The hearing on the 23rd is only the beginning of what would be a long process. "Nonnative" animals you have currently won't be affected (though if it goes through, you will be prohibited from breeding or transporting them across state lines). And this is just in the US for now.

But if you want to help nip this thing in the bud, here are things you can do to help:
  • Contact members of the subcommittee (their names and contact info can be found at the end of this document)
  • Contact your representative in Congress (here's how)
  • Start organizing a Rodent Underground Railroad to Canada (haha, wouldn't that be kind of cute though?)
  • TELL PEOPLE! Friends, family, coworkers, yell it from the rooftops! This effects everybody who likes snakes, small pets, beta fish, parrots; everything but the kitchen sink (though the kitchen sink isn't on the Approved List either)

And remember to stay civil if you do contact anybody!

More information can be found here, and here. And again, the full text of the document can be found here. Aaand MoT out!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Unicornoodles For Sale

This immortal CL ad lampoons everything we love about dog AND horse breeding!

Unicornoodles for sale...

I have one of the rarest mixes around. These are NON sheeding Unicorns, and keep their horns all year round. They have wonderful coats and are hypo-allergenic.

Champion lines and european bloodlines (One of the unicorn's grandpappy's actually won something one time or something like that when yugoslavia was a country)
Designer Breed - so they gotta be healthy right?
I'll be charging $3500 because I want them to go to good homes only.
These are the smartest and brightest around. You won't find anything smarter!!!
These are CKC registered (since the CKC will register anything with four legs)
Raised with kids, cats, imps and fairys.
Grandmother owned by Paris Hilton's cousin's ugly step-sister.

They are GUARANTEED to keep your tweens and teens virginal until their prince arrives. Don't waste your money on the countless badly bred purebreds, and mix breeds... instead waste your money on a unicornoodle and be the envy of the universe.

In less fun news, it sounds as though the Obama family is leaning ever further in the Portuguese Water Dog direction, and I'm not the only one with some consternation. Hmmm.

Sorry for my absence of late, all! I've been working on another project that's eaten up some time. But no worries. I'm still here and cynical. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

10 Strangest Mutts

Longtime reader Ala sent me this adorably funny article: 10 Strangest Mutts (part 2). Hands up, who totally wants to snuggle that second pooch! Mohawks are totally going on my list of features I love in a dog, right up there with beards and shaved butts, y'all. :) What a great way to promote the mutts they have up for adoption.

Now hands up, those who find the last dog on the list to be the freakiest-looking muttpuppy they've ever seen!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Pedigree Dogs Debate Continues

Check out this report by the RSPCA!

Because each breed has its own problems there is unlikely to be one cure-all solution. However, the authors have suggested a number of possible ways forward. The four measures considered to be of greatest priority are:

  • Systematic collection of data on the diseases all dogs suffer from and causes of death.
  • Changes to current registration rules to prevent the registration of puppies born from the mating of close relatives.
  • Changes to current registration rules to allow new genetic material to be introduced into breeds. Currently a dog can only be registered with the Kennel Club if both its mother and father are registered members of that breed’s studbook.
  • Monitoring of the effectiveness of any changes to breeding strategies.

Essentially, quit linebreeding and open the registries!! Yes!

Will it give the Kennel Club any food for thought? I sure hope so. In the meantime, I hereby call the role of president of the Mark Evans Fanclub. Who's with me??

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jon and Kate Plus 10

This just in, the Gosselins have adopted two puppies.

The Gosselins - just in case you live under a rock - are the family whose lives are televised in the hit show Jon and Kate Plus 8.

Through intrauterine insemination, the couple first had twin girls, and four years later Kate gave birth to sextuplets. That's two 9-year-old girls, and six 5-year-olds.

Two 9-year-old girls, six 5-year-olds, and now two puppies.

Okay. I am not totally anti-Jon-and-Kate. They're a cute family.


Not even any puppies. German shepherd puppies! This is a breed that is
a) very active
b) very SMART
c) up to 100lb full-grown
d) sometimes aggressive in the wrong hands.

Did I mention that they're PUPPIES?

This is not using your head.

When you're in any kind of unusual circumstances, it is ESSENTIAL before adopting a dog to do all that thinking ahead. With a purebred you usually know what you're getting into.

Are Jon and Kate going to have the time to socialize two puppies, what with raising EIGHT KIDS UNDER THE AGE OF TEN? Do they have GSD experience? Do they have time to devote to exercizing both dogs? Are they certain their children and puppies will get along? Will they be able to train both litters to respect each other? Do they know if any of the kids might have dog allergies?

Taking all this into consideration, the obvious answer is that they shouldn't have a dog at all. I wouldn't entrust a guinea pig to most nine-year-olds, and apparently these children couldn't even keep hermit crabs alive. But if they must have a dog, why not a whippet from a rescue? I swear whippets are the sweetest dogs on the whole planet: they're notably good with children, healthy, low-energy, and it couldn't possibly be that hard for such a high-profile family to find a mature, already trained dog. Or how about a greyhound (also low-energy and low-shedding)? Or a beagle (cheerful and friendly and great with kids)? Or a Golden retriever (calm and trainable, nonaggressive, and also great with kids)? Why get two German shepherd puppies??

When you're in the public eye like this, people do tend to follow your example. This is not only disappointing; it's ridiculous. Jon and Kate Gosselin, here's your sign.

*The episode Puppies! is set to air next week.

Friday, February 13, 2009

First Dog-watch '09

It seems like half the dog world is waiting with bated breath to see which breed of dog President Obama will adopt into the White House: Portuguese Water Dog, or Labradoodle?

As something of an, ahem, critic of muttpuppies - or at least of the ideas that surround them - I feel obligated to share an opinion. Mine may surprise you.

First we have the PWD, also known as "those shaggy dogs with the shaved butts". Fantastic! They're purebred and low-shedding and holy crap they have shaved butts. What's not to like?

The Labradoodle, on the other hand, is equally shaggy and sadly lacks a snappy trim, but is also low-shedding and quite intelligent. Hmmm.

In one corner, a smart, hypoallergenic, hairy monster. In the other corner, much the same.

Doodle and PWD. Or is it PWD and doodle?

I would pick the Labradoodle.

I will not lie. I love a dog with a shaved hiney almost as much as I love a dog with a beard - and I love a dog with a beard. But there are several other, indeed more important factors to consider, some of which may be known to the president and his family, some maybe not. Health, for instance.

The PWD is not a healthy breed. They're terrifically inbred, for starters. Long story short, the Portuguese Water Dog Club was founded in 1972 when there were 12 known PWDs in America. Ten short years later and the number had hiked to 650. Around this time, PWDs were registered with the AKC, both officially submitting them to the closed registry system, and causing their numbers to soar. And ever since then, the gene pool has been strangled more and more. God forbid the AKC ever entertains the notion of admitting an outcrossed dog or open registries! So the breed gets sicker and sicker. Thanks a lot, Snidely.

This isn't my real concern since the Obamas probably aren't planning on breeding the First Dog. Probably. But we are talking about a nation who apparently caused a rise in breed popularity not only after 101 Dalmatians was released, but also following Beethoven. BEETHOVEN. The movie about the dog that slobbers and sheds and eats his owners' belongings (and probably fantasizes about eating them too, oh my God!). Some people just have no idea what breed they want when they get a dog, till the first one that looks remotely interesting drifts into their line of vision. Well, if it's good enough for the president ...!

And of course, with demand, comes supply. The last thing PWDs need now is a spike in popularity.

The AKC and Westminster, of course, wholeheartedly back the idea of a Porti First Dog. Health issues be damned, they'd love to see that resulting registration money, and I imagine they'll be crowing enthusiastically about how President Obama endorses purebreds after all the flack they're gonna be taking. Sort of like that time-old playground defence that that other kid can't be mean to you because you have an older brother in the sixth grade who'll beat him up. Did that ever work, by the way?

In comparison, there are a lot worse dogs to select than a Labradoodle.

I yammer about unpredictability a lot, and before you stone me, I'm not backing down from that conviction. But this is one of the many reasons why getting a designer dog from a shelter, as the Obamas plan to do, is so much better than going for a breeder. Labradoodles can be low-shedding ... they can also shed quite as much as their Lab parent does. When you adopt from a shelter, for one thing, you don't have to pay the exorbitant sum that (what amounts to) mutts are going for these days, and secondly, you're probably getting a mature dog. There will probably be people there who can tell you about his temperament and they may even know whether he qualifies as "hypoallergenic" or not. And there's no shame in taking a shelter dog home for a trial run.

And let's face it: Whether the mutt's got hybrid vigour in its favour or not, a Labradoodle is bound to be vastly healthier than a PWD.

So there we are. MoT is championing a muttpuppy over a purebred. Don't get used to it. ;)

Besides, it's all about public image. I feel a snooty purebreed will not be well-received by America. No worries... I hope.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Everybody Wants a Pug

everyone wants a pug but nobody wants to take care of one

But nobody wants to take care of one...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Apparently February is a month of general obliviousness. Oblivuary is a sister occasion to Opposite Day, where down is up and boy bands play instruments. Unfortunately, while this month also features down as up, the difference is that nobody notices.

And you know what brought this on: dear old Westminster.

Take, for example, the Dogue de Bordeaux, finally recognized as a breed by the AKC in July '08 ... and decried by the UK KC several months later. If you've been following the doggy dailies, you know of the BBC's ultimatum to Crufts, Westminster's British counterpart: Remove 14 disease-riddled breeds from the show, or be booted off the network. Crufts was dropped like a hot potato. And can you guess who featured among those 14 at-risk breeds?

Duh, says Brickface McDewlap.

Not only does the AKC not even acknowledge the studies by the Kennel Club across the pond - they can't wait to show off their new breed.


Don't even get me started on PETA.

Actually, do, because this still makes me laugh. PETA takes a stand against purebreeds by dressing up as the KKK outside Westminster. For real!

"Their goal, according to a post on the PETA website, was to draw a parallel between the KKK and the American Kennel Club. "Obviously it's an uncomfortable comparison," PETA spokesman Michael McGraw told the Associated Press.
But the AKC is trying to create a "master race" when it comes to pure-bred dogs, he added. "It's a very apt comparison.""

Okay, that is definitely not the message I got. Just me, or ...?

Moving past this bizarro-world logic, PETA once again shuts its eyes to the real issues: Genetic health disorders and inbreeding. Nope, the AKC is trying to cleanse its - er, race of dogs. Because all purebreed breeders want, of course, is to see the mutts of the world gassed or machete'd or lynched or enslaved to serve the conformationally perfect dogs! (Wouldn't that last one be just a little bit cool to see, though?)

And so once again we tiredly realize that PETA cares far more about publicity than it does about animals.

I hereby counteract fueling this loonie-bin fire by proclaiming Adopt a purebred if you want to! and Buying from a breeder does not make you a bad person/a shelter-dog killer! Also, EAT A SEA KITTEN! They're delicious and they have no soul!

As for the AKC... Well, there's not much to be done there until they open their eyes, take their hands away from their ears and stop humming loudly. Ho hum.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


This week has been busy! And now I'm afraid all I've got time for is to bring you all down with this unhappy tale.

I'm sorry. But seriously, holy crap! Even worse than the fact that cops are killing dogs is the underlying idea that BSL will not work to lessen the fervour whipped up by "vicious dogs" (several of the dogs mentioned were not pit bull types). But we knew that already. So what next? Is education the real key here? Of course it is, but how to spread it? Suddenly those licenses aren't looking like such a bad idea. (Please please at least make a license mandatory to breed. To breed ANYTHING. Human babies included!)

I am such a downer. Here's a Panda Dog to cheer you up.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shorkie Time

At the request of Steffy from Priceless Pups...

Meet the Shorkie. That's a Yorkie/Shih-tzu - not Sheltie. ;)

(Where are all the plus-sized muttpuppies at? Somebody find me a nice big hybrid to pick apart. They get a bonus point in the pros section if they're big enough for me to wrestle with.)

Anyway, the Shorkie. While they're not a poodle hybrid, they are rapidly taking off as a designer breed. In fact, they seem to be selling like hotcakes... Let's find out why!

THE PROS: God help me, they're so cute. Look at the cute! Look at it!!

They are low-shedding, and this we can say with some degree of certainty as both parent breeds are also relatively low shedders. Mind you, since I've never met a Shorkie myself, I'm not sure how this works out, as the Yorkie sheds so little because it has hair, and the Shih-tzu can thank its double coat. I'm struggling to imagine how these come together, but I'm sure it works out okay for little Shorkie.

Yorkies were, of course, working terriers before they hit the show ring; but Shih-tzus have always been companion dogs. A well-socialized Shorkie should be content to curl up in your lap with you, and just chill out and be affectionate.

Oh, and they should be quite brave. Which, let's face it, is better than timid.

THE CONS: Okay, a redaction: Shorkies are cute, except when they're not. (YOWCH at that last one!)

Some owners are saying their Shorkies were easily trained, but both parent breeds can be somewhat difficult, so that's a look-out as well.

That fearlessless can be an issue, too. Sometimes it's good for a dog to know that he's small enough to eat in two bites. This is actually a problem you see in writing, too - when a writer is trying to make out that their character is all buff and manly, they call him fearless. "Fearless" actually means "stupid".

But on the other hand, a fearful dog is even worse. And this one can happen a lot in toy breeds. It's extremely important to socialize a small dog young so that he isn't afraid of things later. Get him accustomed to children, other dogs, small animals, and both men and women. Let him be a puppy and run around and stick his nose in things and get into mischief. I can't stress this enough! The trouble with being a small dog is that you are so very small - small enough to be tucked under Mummy's arm whenever the whim strikes her, or to make her think you need protecting, or to be treated like a purse. When a puppy gets the chance to sniff butts and make friends with a bigger dog, he learns that bigger dogs are okay. When his owners are always snatching him up the second another canine appears on the horizon, he never gets the chance to learn on his own, and fear of the unknown can cause some major aggression later. Fear aggression is the worst to break a dog of. Worse than dominance aggression. Ever notice how the smaller the dog is, the snappier it seems to be? The smaller a dog is, the less it gets treated like a dog. It's not a breed thing, I promise. It all comes down to socialization - this goes for all breeds. Every puppy needs to wrestle and play and explore and get into trouble.

That said, the Shorkie does not necessarily require a dog-savvy owner. I imagine that they can make good family pets, which is what we like. BUT, people who are interested in a toy dog should know what special considerations toys need in order to raise a balanced dog. Because nobody likes an ankle-biter.

You breed small, you risk patellar luxation. Health screening is always good.

Shih-tzus are brachycephalic. Yorkies are not. But this doesn't mean that the puppy won't be. (Don't make me show you the underbite again.) Another problem we get with Shih-tzus is exposure keratopathy syndrome - when the eyes are particularly prominent, the dog can't blink properly, and their eyes end up exposed and uncomfortable. The outcome can be nasty. As with the jaws, there's no guarantee of breeding this feature out, so you certainly want to steer clear of parents with exaggerated facial features. Both breeds come with their share of eye problems, though, including entropion, that nasty turning-in of the eyelashes, and cataracts.

And lastly, another trouble of breeding small: hydrocephalus, which can hit up both parent breeds.

So, all things considered, the Shorkie is not a bad hybrid. But it is fairly superfluous, considering the Shih-tzu (and a half-dozen other small woolly breeds) can serve every function the Shorkie can. From my perspective they look like another fad breed. That being said, they do possess some unique appeal, and if you can find a breeder who does all the health screening and that oh so important socialization, you could wind up with a very pleasant and lovable lap dog.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Because Doodle Is So 2008

I hope everybody had a lovely weekend. The Angry Pig's mystery ailments continue to puzzle me, and you wouldn't believe how much time has been taken up by monitoring and examining and researching and double-checking that research and scrambling to confer with any vet within reach. And, mostly, worrying. But I can breathe a little easier; I don't think she's dying. (And I'm not sure this is even possible anyway since the AP was probably never alive to begin with, being that she's more likely the manifestation of a violent malevolent spirit taking the form of a two-pound rodent in order to throw everybody off its trail until it's amassed all the knowledge it needs to mount a full-scale attack.)

So the Shorkie post is in the works, but I'm afraid all I've got today is this hilarious list Shoshannah posted in the comments:

New Dog Cross Breeds
-- Have you heard about the new dog cross-breeds?

They crossed a Collie and a Lhasa Apso. The new breed is a Collapso, a dog that folds up for easy transport.

They crossed a Spitz and a Chow-Chow. The new breed is a Spitz-Chow, a dog that throws up a lot.

They crossed a Pekingese and a Lhasa Apso. The new breed is Peekasso, an abstract dog.

They crossed a Labrador Retriever and a Curly Coated Retriever. The new breed is a Lab Coat Retriever, the choice of laboratory researchers.

They crossed a Pointer and a Setter. The new breed is a Poinsetter, a traditional Christmas pet.

They crossed a Irish Water Spaniel and a English Springer Spaniel. The new breed is a Irish Springer, a dog fresh and clean.

They crossed a Newfoundland and a Basset Hound. The new breed is a Newfound Asset Hound, a dog for financial advisors.

They crossed a Bloodhound and a Labrador. The new breed is a Blabador, a dog that barks incessantly.

They crossed a Malamute and a Pointer. The new breed is a Moot Point, owned by....oh, well, it doesn't really matter.

They crossed a Collie and a Malamute. The new breed is a Commute, a dog that travels to work.

They crossed a Deerhound and a Terrier. The new breed is a Derriere, a dog that's true to the end.

They crossed a Bull Terrier and a ShihTzu. The new breed is a uhh, I'll get back to you on that...

If you're feeling creative, see if you can come up with your own. How about an Anatolian Shepherd and a Dalmation ... an Anamation, the breed that loves Saturday morning cartoons.

A Great Dane and a Scottish terrier would be a Great Scott!

A Jindo/Lowland sheepdog? Let's call it J-Lo (you could name the dog Jenny From The Block).

And for kicks, a Yorkshire terrier/Labradoodle/Dandie Dinmont Terrier ... a Yorkie Doodle Dandie, why not!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not Dead/Kidnapped/Amnesic

Sorry for going MIA! Let's just say that if there's one thing the Angry Pig is getting good at, it's needlessly scaring the pee out of her mummy.

I'm back with only a news story, I'm afraid, and an old one at that, but it really jumped out at me.

(WARNING: Graphic images.) Great Dane starved down to 75lb last year.

The dog was seized by animal control who said the dog could barely stand, it had sores on its hindquarters where it hadn’t moved, and they could count every notch on its spine from the base of its neck to the tip of its tail. There is also a huge swelling on its front leg that they don’t know what it is yet.

[...] The dog’s owner is currently in rehab and the owner’s aunt was supposed to have been feeding her. The dog has been starved for months but right next to her kennel in a covered trash can were bags of dog food meant to feed her.

As for the people that did this, Animal Control Officer Carl Bolton promises action, soon.

Well, "justice" was served five and a half months later in the form of a 90-day home incarceration and two-year probation. (Small graphic thumbnail image.)

“It’s one of the few, if not the first, convictions that’s happened in Knox County for abuse of a dog,” said Knox County Animal Control Officer and Constable Carl Bolton. “I’m tickled with what we got. It’s a start.”

But not everyone was pleased that Whitaker could avoid any jail time.

“I am very disappointed in the Knox County court system,” said Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter Manager Amy Young. “I feel like they let the dog down, and us down, and all the people who cared for her, all the people who came out to support her. I think I can say on behalf of them that we are all disappointed.

“It just bothers me that this guy can get up off his couch and get something to drink whenever he wants,” she said. “If he were in jail, he’d have to ask for it.”

Princess, the Dane, knew two months of TLC before being euthanized due to cancer.

So much for Romeo's Law.

Oh, America. When can we rally all the states, drop the slaps on the wrist, and really throw the book at these people? Preferably a really big, heavy book. And maybe not throw. Maybe smash The Complete Works of Shakespeare into the face of Princess' deadbeat owner. And then starve him down to 75lb.

BAM. The sweet sound of justice.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Taking the Spark Out of Sparky

Sweden thinks your dog is dumb.

Whoa, whoa, hold the phone! My dog may lick bookshelves as a hobby, but who are you scientists to call him stupid??

Actually, I kind of have to agree.

No, it's not like what the cats have been telling us for years. Not every dog is dimming down. When you think about it, you can guess the likely culprits. You got it - that parade of primped-up pooches who trot around the show ring every year at Westminster.

Look at it this way: If Paris Hilton and Kevin Federline had babies, and we bred those babies to each other, you wouldn't exactly be expecting rocket science from those offspring.

Also, the study did only cover 31 breeds, out of about 158 registered with the AKC. But they took care to examine some of the breeds that were once prided for their working ability, now too dull to investigate an unfamiliar object when they find one. Yikes. This is why we fought so hard to keep Border collies out of the Kennel Club!

Pete the Vet ends the article on an optimistic note: "Will we now start to see a swing towards healthier, smarter pedigree dogs?" I certainly hope so. But the road to healthier, smarter pedigree dogs might prove too strenuous for the AKC. After all, we're talking about abandoning that tired old "we're just a registry" excuse, breed standard revisions, opening the closed registry system, and now, perhaps, asking for working performance from our show dogs instead of just good looks. Madness!

(Poor breeders. I know some of you out there are rockstars ..!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Too Sexy

Here is my dog Tip bumming around on the stairs.

What a hottie.

And here is the coolest picture I have of him (taken through glass), blasting through the snow in my dad's backyard.

Uncharacteristically intense!

So there we have Tip being Tip, and the picture I show people when I want them to think I have a supercool action-figure sheepdog and not a mentally challenged kitten in a dog's body.

This is my semi-subtle homage to Food Lady from Three Woofs and a Woo, and OMG I am disowning you all for not pointing me to this blog sooner. Border collies? Photography? I am there! I want to steal her life, honest. Some day when I have the time I'll work on my photography until my shots are actually presentable, and own a pack of wicked-cute Borders, and foster on the side; until then I am stuck with just Tip, photos taken through grimy glass, and old TWaaW posts, through which I trawl and love on Mr Woo like the crazy dog-stalker I am.

IN OTHER NEWS I got a strongly worded email from the Shih-tzu Club of America telling me that the Imperial Shih-tzu is not, actually, a purebreed dog. And I am not really sure what to do with that information except tell you all, in case somebody's been spreading the word behind my back that MoT totally thinks Imperial Shih-tzus are a breed. LIES. (Maybe they should forward that email to Sherry Carter, though, hmm?)

Speaking of, post on the much talked-about Shorkie coming up! For now, just look at the Woo. He's my new happy place.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


In Other News!

The other day I heard my dog who is roughly as smart as a deck chair crunching busily on something. When I arrived at the scene, he spat out what looked like a partly-hollowed-out black claw. I checked all his feet, yet every claw was present and accounted for.

This is a medical mystery. I am stumped. I think he ate another dog, but his lawyer denies all allegations.


It's one month from Valentine's Day, my friends! (Unless you're like me and the most prominent male figure in your life is your dumb dog, in which case it's almost Singles Awareness Day, booo.) I want to take the opportunity to remind everyone that giving puppies as gifts is a BAD idea. No. Bad. Don't do it. If you're a guy, just tell her you respect her ability to make decisions independently of you enough that you want her to pick out her own dog, if she even wants one. That's like two gifts at once. Then tell her to get back in the kitchen.

I also want to say that if any males out there would like to give me a Panda Dog for V-Day, that would be okay.


PETA's new campaign is to change the name of fish to "sea kittens". I can't make this stuff up! Go to the website secure in the knowledge that this will never ever happen and I can guarantee you'll be giggling for days. They want to make fish sound cute enough that we won't want to eat them, but they are overlooking one fact that seems very vital to their campaign. Fish are not cute, ever.

Have you seen a fish lately PETA??

I can see another flaw in that I, personally, would delight in the opportunity to tell people that I eat kittens.

They have a bunch of facts ready that are supposed to endear sea kittens to us, like, "A University of Edinburgh study found that sea kittens can retain information that they learned up to 11 months earlier, which makes them cuter and smarter than the president of the United States!" Oh no you di'n't PETA! "Like their surface-dwelling cousins, the land kittens, sea kittens enjoy being petted. Their lack of arms makes it difficult for them to pet back, but they often gently rub against each other as a sign of affection." And I know they are lying about this one because when I was six and tried to pet my goldfish it shat itself and hid in its castle. You are not selling me on sea kittens, PETA.

The sea kitten stories need no commentary, they speak pretty loudly for themselves.

PETA I love you. You brighten my chilly winter days. But seriously, look at a fish. I think even you will agree that ocean sunfish need to die. And then? we need to perform a Latin ritual to ensure that they never come back.


Sorry, Please Try Again

On the revised UK KC breed standards, RSPCA says not good enough.

The Kennel Club has ordered strict new rules affecting 78 different dog species to stop incestuous breeding which can cause the animals ill-health.

Among the breeds targeted by the move is the British Bulldog, which would lose its trademark jowls and wrinkles in favour of smaller faces, longer legs and leaner bodies.

However, the RSPCA has said that the revised standards are not enough to significantly improve animal welfare.

RSPCA chief veterinary adviser Mark Evans said: "We haven't yet had the opportunity to look at the Kennel Club's reviewed breed standards in detail, but our initial concerns are that the changes don't appear to be radical enough to really make a difference.

"We also question how the standards may be interpreted in the show ring."

Meanwhile, the British Bulldog Breed Council says already the revisions are more than enough, and threatens legal action.

On this side of the pond, MoT pulls up a seat in the cynical corner and says give me a break breeders.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


This should be the posterchild of MoT.

It's a boxer/Basset hound mix, dug up by our resident American in Copenhagen. Altogether now, let's just put our heads between our knees and be grateful the image doesn't get any bigger than that.

I have a mission, should you choose to accept it. Next time you've got a spare minute, hustle over to Google and dig up the weirdest, most random mix you can possibly find. I can kick things off with Samson here, a Great Dane/Newfoundland so out of proportion there are virtually no words.

And if you ever wondered what a Dalmatian/Shar-pei would look like, well...

For once I can't say what was in my head was worse than what it actually is. (It's a Sharmatian!)

And let's not forget PANDA DOG.

(I'm sorry! I just can't stop looking at it!!)

Well? Get cracking! Shock me. ;)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The End of an Era

I'd like to call it the end of the Dogs With Dewlaps era, because while that doesn't begin to cover the deformities of the pedigree dogs, the dewlaps really do embody all of that which appalls me.

I could give my own cheer about the [UK] Kennel Club revising breed standards and tossing out inbreeding (nothing about linebreeding though), but I'll just pimp out this post of Terrierman's. Because I'm lazy and T-man is very concise and cynical.

The revised standards are definitely worth a look - check out all the revisions under English bulldog. And here's what I like to see:

Shar Pei
Head & Skull: Moderate wrinkle on forehead and cheeks. [Delete ‘continuing to form dewlaps’].

Neapolitan Mastiff
Characteristics: Some loose fitting skin over body and head permitted, not to be excessive. [Delete ‘with a double dewlap’].
Neck: Fairly short, stocky, very muscular. [Delete ‘dewlap from lower jaw reaching mid-point of neck’]

Characteristics: Skin relatively loose. [delete ‘especially noticeable about head and neck and where it hangs in deep folds’].

(Seriously. Dewlaps = gross.)

They've also tossed out screw/twist tails, the removal of dewclaws, and such ridiculous statements as (under Chihuahua), "If two dogs are equally good in type, the more diminutive preferred".

So have a look through, pick out your favourite amendments, and cross your fingers for the AKC to get its act together. Knowing Canada, we will probably wait a week to assert our independence, and then do whatever Britain's doing.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Changing Tides...

Did you ever see that movie North County? And the end, when all the women stand up one by one alongside Charlize Theron in agreement on men in the mines being gross and sexist?

Well, I stood up - now, entering the New Year, I think I'm seeing others stand up too...

Here's a well-written article by an Atlanta dog trainer about adopting a new dog into your family, and the points the not-so-dog-savvy class don't always consider. This is what she has to say about designer breeds:

"Intentional mixed breeds, or "designer dogs," are trendy, though that trend seems to be cooling a bit. Think long and hard before plunking down a lot of money on the same mixed breed you can adopt from the local animal shelter. Intentional mixes are generally no more healthy or allergen-free than any other breed or mix, they just cost more."

From the mouths of the savvy!

Now another article about "hypoallergenic" dogs. Who'da thought even the selection of Obama's dog could get so political? We know he's never gonna go with a purebreed, because that would make him out to be an oh-my-God-elitist, but this person has some suggestion anyway.

""Designer dogs," often mixed with poodles, are not recommended for allergy suffers due to their unpredictable coat.
Each dog in a litter of mixed breeds is unique in its size, coat type, temperament and energy level, making the high prices unjustifiable and the claims these dogs are ideal misleading at best.
A "designer dog" lacks predictability and could pose a problem for Obama's allergy-suffering daughter."

For what it's worth, I do agree to some extent; though bear in mind that this writer's main source is the AKC, and we know they've got an agenda...

There is another big war kicking up in the dog world, my friends! And it started with Pedigree Dogs Exposed. But it's not as cut-and-dry as the Kennel Club vs. dog people. There are all kinds of groups getting wrapped up in this.

There's the Kennel Clubs and conservative breeders who don't think there's anything wrong or don't make it their business.

There are the purebreed breeders who accept that something's up with their dogs and want to help - though they run the risk of being practically booted out of the parent club...

There are the "abandon ship" breeders who give up purebreds as a lost cause (or as a cause no longer bringing in enough cash) and move on to mixed breeds.

There are the designer breeders who, unintentionally or not, take advantage of the insecurities being whipped up by promoting the hybrid vigour effect.

There are responsible breeders out there who, regardless of breed, just want to produce a happy, healthy pet, and do their best to do so - unfortunately, they seem to be underrepresented in this war...

And of course you've got the dog owners - the oblivious (who will probably dump their puppy as soon as they buy a new carpet), the uneducated (who don't know about this "war", or else just buy into whatever breed they think looks attractive). The "elitist" breed devotees and the others who stoutly swear by their muttpuppies. And, of course, that group I affectionately refer to as the dog-savvy, who do their homework and don't need designer breeders or the AKC to make up their mind for them.

I suppose all we can do is wait and watch and wonder. I've no idea who's going to win this war, if anybody can "win". But I will predict this: I think we may be about to see the extinction of a couple old breeds. Soak up the Neapolitan mastiff while you can...

The Breeder Wars, part 3

[buries head in hands] This is getting bizarre.

Take a look at Sherry Carter's revised slander page.

First she links to my post on Fuzzy Wuzzy to back her point about the Shorkie Club brokering puppies. Then she drops the link to my blog all over the page and (I think) insinuates that I either A) am on board with Priceless Pups, or B) am a sock puppet of Priceless Pups.

I get the feeling she didn't read my whole post.

Ladies, my blog is not about you.

My blog is about purebred dogs and designer dogs and how one group is neither better nor worse than the other. As an offshoot of that, my blog is also about the health problems in purebreds and why mixed-breeding does not eradicate that. And sometimes, to demonstrate how dog owners can be taken in by this belief, I complain about breeders who promote the idea. Cindy, you do this. Sherry, you do this too. (Stefanie from Priceless Pups, you don't do this and I think I love you for it.)

This is getting absurd. It's been fun, but I am done here! I'm not taking down anything I've said about either of you until you can prove that it's untrue. And since I haven't said anything like that you select one pup from every litter to drink its blood during the autumn equinox, or even that you don't care about your dogs, don't expect those posts to come down any time soon.

To my readers, we'll be back on track with a proper MoT-style post this afternoon.

And to Sherry, well, thanks for pimping my blog. ;)

EDIT: Revised again! I can't keep up with you people!

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Breeder Wars, part 2: MoT Makes a Name For Itself

It's not slander if it's true, Cindy! [NOTE: Has been edited since I put this post up, but didn't look much different; just said "mutt puppies blog" instead of the more vague "a website", and that I can't be contacted.]

She didn't even link me. I linked her. Rude.

TRUE: Yes, your health warranty covers five whole years. Also true is that it's more questionable than green eggs and ham. Just look at all those loopholes. Puppies are not something to be fobbed off on people. My dog has a lifetime warranty regardless of health, and by that I mean if for some reason I couldn't keep him anymore, my breeder would gladly take him back and rehome him or contact a BC rescue on my behalf. Why go to the trouble? Because she'd rather see her former puppy placed back in good hands than imagine him winding up in a kill shelter. I couldn't buy from someone who'd have it any other way.
TRUE: You promote NuVet and your own brand of pet food. You know, some of us believe that breeding isn't about making a profit.
TRUE: You STILL have at least four litters on the go.
TRUE: Your puppies are ugly, Cindy.

FALSE: I have nothing better to do than talk about you and your breeding program? If that were true, Cindy, we'd be here all day.
FALSE: I can too be contacted. I have an email address. It's located on the right-hand side of the page.
FALSE: This is not a mutt puppy blog, you silly woman. Muttpuppy. It's one word here. I am not MPoT. The M-Pot sounds like a chic new club name.
FALSE: You have nothing to hide? Are you sure? Then why are you taking your name down from your sites? (Note: Cindy Miller's sites include, but are not limited to, Fuzzy Wuzzy Pups, Love Puppies 4 U, Shorkie World, Home Raised Babies, and TLC Shih-tzus. She breeds Chihuahuas, Shih-tzus, Yorkies, Shorkies, Chorkies, Morkies, and probably others.)


Anyway, while scheming my response to her slander page, I started to notice something weird about her websites. It dawned on me gradually. Now, when I started digging into the whole Sherry Carter/Priceless Pups mess, the word 'Fuzzy Wuzzy pups' on Priceless sent off little alarm bells. Trust me, I hounded high and low for a sniff of Cindy Miller, but she's nowhere to be found on that site. But Sherry's dutiful digging brought up this. Notice the email address that pops up with almost every hit. You got it: And Googling that address, guess what I found (apart from even more puppies)?

The smoking gun. (Click for large view.)

Yep, first tip-off was the rant about two Shorkie breeders just under the rant about me. Second was Priceless Pup's stamp of approval. Cindy Miller is affiliated with Priceless Pups (PLEASE tell me this is a mistake, Priceless, you are the lesser of two evils here). And Sherry Carter is backed by Mileen Coulter (found anywhere muttpuppies are).

I think I may be in over my head here.

To Be Continued, I'm sure. Excuse me while I go find myself a convenient bunker.

EDIT: Just wanted to add that the founder of Priceless Pups sent me a very reasonable email today re: my blog post yesterday, asking for my thoughts on her breeding practises. It made me very happy to think of a sane designer breeder out there, and I hope very much that she was being honest with me and will take some of my advice. But on the other hand, knowing what I do about Cindy Miller, Puppy Shiller (on top of everything else, somebody claiming to have bought a puppy from her tells me she wasn't allowed to see Cindy's house, which we know screams puppy mill), I'm feeling a bit wary and a little like I'm in the Twilight Zone...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Breeder Wars

(EDIT 01/11/09: After corresponding with Steffy from Priceless Pups, I am glad to say that she is making changes to her site and her practises. She's improved the front page and has added this to her warranty:
"That for any reason under the sun you cannot care for or keep one of our priceless pups contact me immediately and first so are we able to help in re-homing or take the puppy back. We never want one of our puppies past around from home to home or at worst ending up at the pound because our puppy parents did not want to call us or bother us. We are always here to help with any puppy no matter if it is to answer questions or concerns you may have or unforeseen situations that may arise.
Our commitment to our puppies DOES NOT end once you get your puppy home. You cant get rid of me that easy!"

I also have her word that she'll look into clicker training classes, and, hopefully, further socializing her puppies before they leave her.

I am MAJORLY impressed with the way Steffy has handled this. It takes a very mature and responsible person to see criticism as an opportunity to learn and improve. Best of luck, Steffy!)

My mind has been repeatedly boggled over the past few months as I delve deeper into the mysterious world of designer dogs and breeders. But I have to say, of all the mind-blowing nuttiness we've seen running rampant in the world of breeders, this takes the nutty cake.

Innnnn this cornerr: Sherry Carter! Seen here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, over here, aaaand here.

(That whooshing sound? That was your mind being blown once again.)

Sherry offers us Shih-tzus and Shorkies of the Imperial, teacup, and "fuzzy wuzzy" variety, and "teddy bear" Shichons. She lays out each red flag on her sites with loving care:
  • Flashy, weird graphics.
  • Shipping. "I ship puppies with Continental Airlines year round because all other airlines stop shipping pets when the weather is over 70 degrees." How 'bout that. I wonder why that could possibly be? "After all our year of shipping puppies to all parts of the United States such as Alaska , and to Canada , Switzerland . I also have a puppy in the Bahamas . We Are The Experts on Shipping your new Shorkie puppy home!" Sister, that sure makes you something and the word isn't "expert".
  • Christianity. It's a very small reference, but I caught it, sneaky. [fingerwag] However, we'll let this one slide, since it's not something I'd have even noticed if it weren't for the fact that every bad breeder out there seems to feel the need to tell us they love Jesus on their websites.
  • Misplaced quotation marks, the bane of every satirical blogger. "I did not keep cross breeding because of my "Love " for the Imperial Sized ShihTzu's . I was strictly into the " PURE BRED " Toy breeds and have spent Many years " Perfecting " the Imperial ( Sized ) AKC ShihTzu." Ookay.
  • NuVet Vitamins.

Damn you, NuVet! This is a conspiracy on an international scale! What is going on here?? The more I find The NuVet Clause in breeders' health warranties, the more curious I get, yet there is no information on NuVet, at all, anywhere. Using Sherry Carter's order code (since you can't access the order form without one) and the alias Kenny Rogers, I tried to slip behind enemy lines to do some reconnaissance, and discovered ... absolutely nothing. That place is sealed tighter than Fort Knox in deep space. It'll tell you what you can buy and how much the product is, and nothing else. I feel like I'm negotiating with a drug peddler on the corner of Fifth and Main.

Every weird breeder tells you to go NuVet and they all give you the exact same spiel about it and how your health contract is null and void if you fail to buy it. You only get an order code from a catalogue, wherever they're hiding those (in the stomach of a Brazilian mule on a charter flight north, I assume) or from a breeder. And only the weird breeders have these mysterious codes. Bemused, I turned to C, my dog guru and veterinary consult. She was able to confirm what I'd already guessed: there's nothing sinister in the NuVet products, but they are only vitamins - forget the turds testifying that NuVet is responsible for preventing hip dysplasia in their dogs or that NuVet cured their dog's infection without any help from antibiotics. Most can't stop raving about how much shinier their pet's coat is, but any good diet could do that. (C forever pushes for veterinary diets like Medi-Cal over store-bought food, as, she says, it's the most balanced and consistent diet you can offer your pet.)

What a tangent. My point is, you don't need NuVet to keep your pet healthy, so it's painfully obvious to me that breeders are somehow profiting from this scheme whenever somebody uses their order code to buy a product. Right? I'm not crazy, right? And since NuVet gives its order code to the weird ones regardless of standards, in a roundabout way we can say NuVet supports irresponsible breeding and even puppy mills - right?

Whatever, just boycott NuVet with me. Now let's get back to Sherry, who tells us about hypoglycemia in her dogs and what to do if your dog has an episode. She also tells us that this can be brought on by stress - like, just throwing out there, being flown to the Bahamas - and a lack of TLC. Hypoglycemia happens in very small puppies, Sherry, like teacup toys, as if they don't have enough issues already; but you know that.

And there's some drivel about the AKC and how people who line-breed (inbreed) know what they're doing so why can't we leave them alone. "Beware of anyone that is cutting down AKC pure bred lines when they are cross breeding . One has to Ponder "What " they are really breeding." What are "you" breeding, Sherry?

I'm sure there is even more nuttiness littered throughout her eleven other websites, but let's swing the focus over to thee challenge-ahh!

In the blue corner: Priceless! Found here, here, here, here, and here, breeding Shorkies, Morkies, fuzzy wuzzy Shichons, and Shih-tzus.

Flashy graphics. Shipping. Christianity. Strange spelling/grammar errors. ("The Shorkie Club Of America is the only group ever established that is dedicated to the ethical development of the Shorkie breed? It is free to everyone and any shorkie breeder can apply! ???" I don't know? Do you?!!) Aggravatingly, an inflated sense of self-worth ("Your Master Shorkie Breeder", "Shorkie Queen", whatever). Also - a first for MoT - brainwashing. ("We count on the experts in our everyday lives. I know I do. We count on them to tell us who to vote for, what to eat, how to raise our children. ... So why should it be any different for your Shorkie adoption? Shorkies Are Our Area Of Expertise!") I'm told Priceless Pups is a collaborative effort by 17 breeders, but the only one we get a glimpse of is Stefanie (no last name) and the illustrious "we" she makes mention to, unless I'm missing something on one of their five websites. Their health warranty is identical to Sherry Carter's, demanding that you buy their food and oh my God NuVet! Oh my God! I knew I'd find you here! (NuVet: Hahaha! MoT, we meet again!)

But Priceless isn't all bad. For one thing, look at how cute this guy is. (What? Some muttpuppies are seriously unfortunate-looking!) They haven't dressed him up, or Photoshopped the image to say something like "I Woof You" in sparkling pink letters, and even the black velvet background is pretty tasteful. Yes, having been exposed to some of the worse photo-ops Florida has to offer, this matters to me.

They DO NOT believe in hybrid vigour, they announce in proud 75-pt font! "The only way to be a responsible breeder is to complete genetic testing to ensure the offspring are healthy!" I won't sweep my hat, but I will concede to tip it.

Now here's where things get really strange.

If you checked out any of Sherry Carter's dozen sites, you may have spotted something - well, even more out of place than some of their graphics. For instance, you may have been innocently scrolling this page, when all of a sudden, this leaps out to punch you in the face: "PUPPY BROKERS & PUPPY PUSHERS THAT SLANDER TO SELL THEIR OWN PUPPIES". Say what? Before you can say "What did you just call me?!", she moves on peacefully to display the next litter, while, elsewhere, slipping in a covert "PUPPY BROKERS THAT SLANDER TO SELL THEIR OWN PUPPIES". Or, like on this page, she sneaks in snippy little remarks like, "Note : WE don't sell puppies or Broker puppies for other breeders." See what she did there? "I have "NEVER" been turned down by ANY mixed breed puppy club or any club for that matter. I am in good standing with AKC." And right-clicking on certain graphics brings up, "JUST SAY NO TO PUPPY BROKERS AND PEOPLE THAT SELL FOR BUDDYS!!!" Okay, you bipolar psycho! We get it.

And, of course, clicking on the caps-locked link brings us to ... you guessed it ... a giant rant on every way Priceless Pups has ruffled her feathers. In fact, she's so angry, there are two rants. I'm not even sure what happened here. As best I can tell, Priceless stomped on the bucket-shaped sand castle she was building on the playground at recess (by which I mean one site stole the other's stupid creepy blinking-dog image, and maybe their health warranty), and after that all hell broke loose. Now she's hurling accusations left and right. And though her sources seem sketchy, the phone numbers she lifted from Priceless (1-877-4ABUDDI and 1-888-9SHORKIE) do pull up more breeder ads on Google than Priceless lets on.


Priceless Pups enters the ring swinging and counters with this and this (and gets one brownie point for also dragging Mileen Coulter's name through the mud). They too drop seemingly insignificant comments all over their plethora of sites, such as, "THE ONLY OFFICIAL SHORKIE PUPPIES are those breeders registered with the Shorkie Club Of America." Wading through this mess, it becomes apparent that Priceless is extremely offended that Sherry Carter would dare describe her Shorkies and herself as "official". Well, I hate to say it, Priceless, but no breeder has to be "official", especially when we're talking muttpuppies and made-up parent clubs. Look at it this way: you're as unofficial as each other!

And the glaringly obvious war tactic: They're both slapping copyrights over everything remotely visible to the human eye. On all their websites.

This is amazing. This is every bitch-stole-my-boyfriend catfight you ever witnessed in high school. This is pulling hair and scratching each other's eyes out. This is Godzilla versus Mothra, except not (because I would have to reserve that for if Mileen Coulter and Cindy Miller ever got into a public designer breeder smackdown. This is more like the Cloverfield monster versus the Iron Giant, if the latter weren't so heartwarming).

For once, let's not get mad. Let's get appropriately bewildered and amused, and sit back while these two ladies do my job denouncing each other for me. And in the meantime, ladies, ladies! You're both bad breeders. Okay?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Muttpuppies in Disguise

"..." I hear you say.

I know what you're thinking.

If it's not an endless screech of "EEEEEEE", then, like me, you're thinking, Oh, you crazy Japanese. What will you think of next.

They're dyed. (And only that last one is a muttpuppy, because I'm a cheater. The other two are Chows.)

I ... I think I'm against this. I mean, you know people are going to be lining up to adopt Chows, solely for the aesthetic appeal of Panda Dog. But I'm kind of speechless at the moment. I don't know which is causing my brain to melt: The absurdity of the idea, or the indescribable amounts of cute.

However I draw the line at Chicken Poodle.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Grim Outlook for '09?

Pete the Vet shares his predictions for 2009:

Bizarre pets will become more popular. In the past year, I have come across people keeping sugar gliders, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and Pacman frogs. In 2009, there will be more of these weird and wonderful pets. I've no doubt that they're often bought to impress, yet I also know that their owners become very fond of them and are generally in complete denial about any other pet-keeping motive than affection.

MoT: Bemusingly, true. We've been seeing this for a number of years now. When I was younger my family had a pet hedgehog (we were trend-setters, presumably). I've seen sugar gliders and degus for sale at the pet store I used to buy from, and heard of the sale of prairie dogs. Which makes no sense to me, since if you want a cuddly rodent companion who is longer-lived than a hamster and when put in your lap will lie there and make adorable noises, you cannot go wrong with a guinea pig. People are breeding Fennec foxes as pets, and even more bizarrely, in North America, we're seeing people buy red foxes (which reek and are anti-social - that site's a doozy, by the way), domestic skunks (which ... well), and even capybaras (which are 120lb guinea pigs, a prospect that delights and terrifies me equally. Also they require a pool to defecate in).

These animals as pets is a little weird, I must say. Even weirder are the people who want them. But people will always be weird.

Pedigree animals will continue to decline in popularity. The trend started by the BBC programme "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" shows no signs of abating. Many animal charities now actively discourage owners from buying pedigree dogs, as this over-the-top video from the USA demonstrates.

Noooo! No! It isn't too late to save our purebreds, people! Quit abandoning ship and start bailing out the water! Besides, just look at that video. It's from PETA. 'Nuff said, amiright?

Designer dogs are not the answer. We can save our purebreds. I liked Pedigree Dogs Exposed, but it's whipping up an awful lot of insecurity, and there are plenty of irresponsible muttpuppy breeders who'll take advantage of that. Bailing on your breed doesn't fix a thing - educating yourself on it does.

Animal rights will continue to move up the political agenda. Despite the recent conviction of animal rights activists for conspiracy to blackmail, there is a continuing surge of interest in the ideas that are typified by the concept that animals should be called "non-human persons". Pete Singer's book Animal Liberation was published in 1975, and since then, there has been a continual growth of interest in treating animals as sentient beings rather than as "dumb creatures" to be used as objects for use and abuse by humans.

We like animal welfare - which did gain a lot of momentum in 2008 - not animal rights. Dogs are dogs - not "persons".

Legislation to control pet ownership will increase. In 2008, Switzerland enacted legislation that means that prospective dog owners need to pass theoretical and practical tests (even vets aren't exempt from this ruling). The new Swiss laws also take a firm line on animal welfare in other ways, insisting that "social species", including guinea pigs and budgerigars, must be kept in groups of two or more because of the suffering induced by solitude. In the same way as smoking bans have become a worldwide phenomenon, the Swiss example could be part of a new trend.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up a minute. You want me to do what now?

I'm not saying education isn't important in dog ownership, but is this taking it a little too far? Will it really deter irresponsible owners, or will they slip through the cracks while better owners become reluctant? Why does this have to hit every dog breed, from Yorkie to Great Dane, all at once? Are things really this bad??

I feel a bit muddled on this one. I was in favour of breed-specific legislation in Ontario initially, because I expected it to weed out all the irresponsible owners of pit bull type dogs, but later changed my stance to: Screen the prospective owners! In fact, screen prospective owners of all "high-risk" breeds. I don't mean at risk of biting people - I mean at risk of developing a bad temperament due to poor ownership. Though it sounds cold, a Golden retriever will generally respond to abuse more passively than a bully breed. Why not check out which breeds are most likely to end up in rescues, and target those owners? I'm invested enough in the welfare of Border collies that I wouldn't mind writing some kind of test, but who's the government to say I can't adopt a family dog from a shelter without some kind of permit? More horrifying, what if I somehow fail the test? What does the practical test entail anyway? Going into a room with the dog and not beating it with a leash? (Actually, you have to walk a dog and react to certain situations that may arise. What situations? Because I'm five foot even, and when my dog gets it into his mind to say hi to another, well... He's stronger than he looks. Thank goodness for clickers.)

I don't know. I'm not sold. Though I like my government in many ways (when we actually have one [shakes a fist in Harper's direction]), I can be a bit of a libertarian when it comes to some issues. I don't like the idea of the government making me take the time to enroll in classes and write some test in order to adopt a dog. How much would the test tell you, really, anyway? And for that matter, while I implore prospective guinea pig buyers to invest in a pair, I also resent the Swiss government telling me that my Angry Pig is suffering - that she's being abused! - because she's alone. The government doesn't know that the AP fits the criteria for clinical sociopathy, nor that I tried when she was young to socialize and house her with another pig until I determined that the Elder Pig was in imminent danger of being strangled with piano wire and dumped in Lake Ontario. The government doesn't know that I keep the AP in my bedroom, where my desk and computer are, because I know it's where I spend most of my time, or that she gets "out-of-cage time" at least once or twice every day. And at the other end of the spectrum, I met a pair of guinea pigs who lived in their owner's basement, were taken out of the cage once a month, and fed whenever their dish was empty. Of course this isn't usually the case, but I'm just saying, it's not as cut-and-dry as forcing people to adopt in pairs. This won't tell you anything about the buyer or how the rest of the animals' lives are going to go. The AP is a cranky little snot, but she is very content, thankyouverymuch. The reason most people adopt a single pig is because A) they don't know how social guinea pigs are, and B) they don't realize that two pigs' upkeep is virtually the same as one. What we need is education over legislation here.

But mostly, I gotta say, I find it astounding that people would introduce a theoretical and practical test to screen prospective dog owners, and let any two human psychos breed willy-nilly without requiring any kind of parenting courses. Make that mandatory, and then talk to me about the dogs.

Switzerland, I think I may want a divorce.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!

What a year! Let's look back at 2008:

  • Thousands of breeding cats and dogs were rescued from neglect and misery in puppy mill raids this year.
  • PA, the "puppy mill capitol", passed a bill that requires larger cages, exercise, and annual vet check-ups in order to crack down on puppy mills, also making it so that only professionals may put down animals at a commercial kennel.
  • Louisiana limited breeders to 75 adult dogs (sigh) and Virginia similarly restricted keeping more than 50 dogs older than a year. It's a start!
  • Lawmakers push to strengthen laws against animal fighting, making dogfighting - and even spectating a fight - a felony.
  • Britney went crazy and it was so exciting it kind of eclipsed other things for awhile, for some reason.
  • Prop 2 passed in California, improving the welfare of farm animals all over the state by making it a requirement that they be able to stand up and move around freely in their cages.
  • O Canada! The Frozen North cracked down on animal abusers by toughening its laws, closing up the loopholes, banning animal fighting, and putting penalties in place such as fines up to $60,000, a lifetime ban from animal ownership, and increased jail time.
  • Pedigree Dogs Exposed aired in the UK, sparking massive international outcry - and possibly changing the dog world forever.

Oh ... and of course, the hippest new dog blog hit the scene at some point. But you know that.

Happy New Year. Let's keep this animal welfare ball rolling!