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This is the Eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus).

This one thinks it owns the place.


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I went to feed the ducks this afternoon, and one duck was missing.

It was the wild mallard hen, and when she didn’t show up, I had my suspicions.

The oldest hen in the flock is most likely the first to go broody.

But I also knew mallards are notoriously good at hiding their nests, so I didn’t know where she could have gone.

So I waited a bit while the others ate their mash, and about five minutes into the repast, I saw a form slinking down from the outbuilding about 30 yards away.

Other than Ivan, she is the biggest duck in the flock and has always been a greed hound when it comes to food.

I knew she couldn’t pass it up. She slinked on down to the pond, and I sneaked up and looked for her nest.

I found  it between a bit of fencing and the outbuilding.


So let there be ducklings!



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talking points

This came from an evil crossbreeder.

The AKC’s now recognizes that its biggest threat are the intentionally bred crossbreeds, which are, unfortunately, called “designer dogs.”

Are these crosses being mass produced on puppy farms? Yes.

Are breeder making fantastic claims about them? Yes.

Are they inherently evil because they are crossbred? No.

Crossbreeding dogs is not inherently unethical, but it comes up against a fundamentalist religion in dogs. This is the religion of the fancy, which has as its number one command “Thou shalt not cross breeds. Breeds are like species.”

The AKC is very much threatened by these crosses, which are taking away a huge share of the market for them.

The American people have never really believed that these multi-breed registries really represent our values as country. And now that we are the only industrialized nation outside of South Africa, South Korea, and Japan with a non-Caucasian head of state (who was elected with majorities both times), I don’t think the average American accept the tenants of blood purity for people or for dogs.

People are questioning many things that were once believed to be true:

Should marijuana be illegal like cocaine and heroin?

Should marriage be allowed between people of the same sex?

Should women be paid equal to men?

These questions are running rampant in the body politic right now, and I can tell you it wasn’t so long ago–ten years to be precisely– that these issues were not discussed at all.

Now they are.

And if we’re questioning these values, it’s not really hard to see that Americans are question something as silly and oddly foreign as the institutionalized dog fancy.

These institutions were not created for a country with very strong democratic institutions. They were created largely by Tory elitists in England and then grafted onto the United States, which has never accepted truly accepted the dog fancy as most of Europe has. I don’t think such an institution could last long in a country that elected a Barack Obama.

The United States doesn’t have the strongest democratic institutions in the world, but it has always had a very strong egalitarian spirit that sometimes comes bubbling up when people least expect it. One of the great paradoxes of this country is that even though we have a lot of inequality, we are somewhat embarrassed by it, which is probably why we don’t talk about it very much.

The dog fancy that the AKC works for is not an egalitarian organization at all. It is openly elitist. At the major dog shows, the dogs that tend to win are those that are professionally handled, which means that their owners are rich enough to hire someone to show their dogs for them. How many breeder-owner-handlers do you see when Westminster is on television?

So the AKC is now reduced to talking points on “designer dogs”  in much the same way anti-gay activists are on the issue of marriage equality.

The American people are rejecting the product the AKC is selling– not only because it is elitist and caught up in a faith-based position on blood purity– but because the dogs it is producing aren’t what people actually want.

People love Labradors.

But they also like Benji.

And they would like it if their Labradors didn’t shed so much.

Wait, there is a Benji-type Labrador cross that doesn’t shed as much as a pure Labrador?

Where do I get this amazing creature?!

Not the AKC, I can tell you that!

And that is why the AKC is in panic mode.

Now, I’m not a big fan of the doodles myself. The big reason is that I really don’t like the poodle coat, and as someone who keeps clean-shaven, I am not a big fan of beards.

If we were going to cross a Labrador with something, why not a golden retriever or a Chesapeake?

But one thing that that these doodles and other intentionally-bred crosses have done is that they have caused people to question the blood purity religion.

And yes, there are charlatans breeding doodles left and right.

But you really don’t have room to criticize these people when you keep bulldogs and Neapolitan mastiffs in your registry, and many of those dogs are being bred by absolute moonbats of the worst order.

A registry that would celebrate the rolling cushion of a dog known as the pekingese as the epitome of canine soundness has very little moral authority indeed.

The problems with all the “designer dogs” certainly do need to be corrected.

But I don’t reject them outright.

To reject them outright is to deny innovation in dogs. It is to accept on faith alone that blood purity is a virtue that must never be compromised.

And I don’t accept it.

I don’t think anyone with even a high school understanding of population genetics ever could– but you’d be surprised.

This is the big religion in dogs, and now it’s under assault.

It may be for very superficial reasons, but it is under assault.

And the AKC is totally caught flat-footed.

Talking points aren’t going to save it, and I must confess I’ve heard them all before.

They all amount to a dog fancy equivalent of a Gish Gallop, including misrepresenting a study on whether purebred dogs are healthier than mixes. (See Christopher Landauer’s (Border Wars) attack on this misrepresentation in the comments!).

The dog fancy is on its knees.

A country that now wants marijuana legalized is fine with Labradoodles.

And the AKC cannot handle it.

Don't hate me because I'm crossbred.

Don’t hate me because I’m crossbred.

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More grouse tracks

This one is just hanging out in this little patch of woods.


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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 920,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 40 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Real men tolerate gays.

Originally posted on Confessions of a Boy Toy:

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For my Canadian friends


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This is a hoax

kill pit bull day


This thing started making the rounds a few days ago.

My skeptical sense was turned on.



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One of the beagles killed by wolves. Source for image.

One of the beagles killed by wolves. Source for image.

From the Charleston (WV) Gazette:

Hunters who use hounds know full well that sometimes dogs get lost or, worse yet, killed.

It’s a nightmare scenario, one that can cause even the most pragmatic dog owner to wake up shaking and drenched in sweat.

Few nightmares, however, could be as harrowing as the real-life ordeal Larry Harrison and Scottie Derrick went through during an August dog-training trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The two Charleston-area men sent 10 beagles into a jack pine forest to run snowshoe hares. Eight of the dogs ended up dead, torn apart by wolves.

“It was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in 30 years of running dogs,” said Harrison. “I wouldn’t want anyone to see what we saw.”

Harrison, Derrick and friend Jim McGuire of Jackson, Ohio, had taken their dogs to the Upper Peninsula to get them in shape for West Virginia’s upcoming rabbit season.

“Snowshoe hares are bigger than our cottontails, and you can more easily train dogs to their scent,” Derrick said. “The first three days we were there, we had a great time. But that last morning it all went bad.”

Just 15 minutes after the men released their dogs, the pack went strangely quiet.

“We could see from the GPS that one of Larry’s dogs was out of the pack, so we went looking for it,” Derrick recalled. “We got within 40 feet of it, but we still couldn’t see it. The GPS kept varying. We thought she was just shy and staying away from us.”

After a few minutes’ more searching, the men found the dog’s body.

“I couldn’t believe what I was looking at,” Harrison said. “There wasn’t much left but the rib cage. We thought from the GPS that she was alive, but as it turned out the wolf must have been carrying her around while we were searching.”

With one dog known to be dead, the men looked for the rest of the beagles.

“We found the one, and then another, and then another, and then another, all dead,” Harrison said.

Shortly after finding the fourth dog’s body, the men caught a fleeting glimpse of one of the wolves.

“I looked up and saw a wolf pop out of the brush, about 40 yards away from us,” Derrick said. “McGuire yelled at it, and it was gone in a blink.”

Derrick estimated the wolf’s size at 120 to 150 pounds. “It was bigger than the biggest German shepherd you’ll ever see,” he said.

The wolves – Derrick and Harrison believe there were four to seven of them – killed eight beagles and injured another in what Derrick calls “the blink of an eye.”

“In 15 to 30 minutes, there was nothing left,” he added.

None of the men were aware that wolves might pose a threat.

“We knew there were coyotes in the area, but I hadn’t heard anything about wolves,” Harrison said. “I’d been going up there for 16 years, and the worst thing that had ever happened was the time a couple of our dogs got messed up by a porcupine.”

After the attack, the men started asking around about Upper Peninsula wolves. What they found left them determined never to return to the area.

“Michigan’s wolf management plan calls for a population of about 200 to 300,” Derrick said. “The population right now is estimated at 670 or so.”

Pressure from animal-rights groups has hindered Michigan wildlife officials’ efforts to reduce the population through hunting. A hunt will be held this fall, but will be halted after 43 wolves are killed.

“I don’t think any of us are going back,” Derrick said. “There’s too much risk to the dogs. If there’s a chance for something like that to happen again, we probably should just stay away.”

This story is certainly a tragedy, but I thought it was fairly common knowledge that there were a lot of wolves in the UP of Michigan. If you’re going to run hounds in wolf country, this is a risk that is always there– especially if they are little rabbit beagles.

I seriously doubt the wolf weighed as much as the hunter claims. The average weight of a Great Lakes wolf in the neighboring state of Wisconsin is 60-75 pounds, but a wolf is built differently from a dog. They have much longer legs than a dog of equivalent weight, which would be a golden retriever. One of these wolves might be 30 inches at the shoulder, but a 75-pound golden retriever would be only 24 inches at the shoulder. Add the thick wolf coat, and you can get the impression that a wolf is a lot larger than it actually is.

I also find it a bit strange that these beaglers didn’t know that there were snowshoe hares in the high Alleghenies of West Virginia. There aren’t as many as there used to be, but the state does have a snowshoe hare season.

So they can run their beagles after hares without ever having to worry about wolves.

I don’t think anything can be done to stop wolves from killing hounds. Hounds are run at a distance from their owners, and if you’re in wolf country, there is a chance they will run into a wolf pack. Wolves usually fear people, so if the dogs are ranged close in, there is less of a risk.  But if you’re using hounds the way Americans like to, wolf and dog conflict may be impossible to mitigate.

It may mean that the only way to avoid a wolf attack on beagles is to run them in the Alleghenies and forget the Great White North of the UP.


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Manipulative meme

feral kitten no kill

It’s no secret. I love meme, but when I came across this one from Winograd’s No Kill Nation Facebook page, I tasted the acid come up in the back of my throat.

Everything wants to live, and this feral kitten actually is of an age when it might be tamed down.

But even with that simple observation, the meme is manipulative.

“You want to euthanize cut kittehs? You bastard!”

The thing is that feral kitten will grow up to be a feral cat, and if this is in one of those managed colonies, it will be trapped and desexed and released back into the wild. It will be fed cheap cat chow, which will subsidize its sport hunting proclivities.  Kind of like a Meow-cescu. (Don’t give me hell for that pun!)

in an urban area, it will be at best a reservoir for disease. In a rural area, it will be part of the great mesopredator guild expansion. This is the world were the little predators now live without much fear of the big ones. This is a part of ecology we are only just now starting to figure out. North America was not always filled with raccoons and foxes, and feral cats are only very recent arrivals. Our small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphbians didn’t evolve with so many little carnivores, and it is hard to see how they could be benefiting from this new ecological realty.

I am tempted to make my own meme, maybe a photo of little rabbit or robin, that says almost exactly the same thing that this Winograd one says.

You can only support TNR if you don’t understand the science behind the mesopredator plague that has swept much of North America and Europe over the past few centuries.

Once you realize what’s actually happening in this wolf and cougar depauperate land, you won’t be so cavalier about saving the kittehs or letting your own cat roam outside unsupervised.


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