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Archive for February, 2016

Gaur in the backyard

Gaur are the largest of all cattle species, but in some parts of India, they are as common in backyards as white-tailed deer are here.

These animals are sometimes called “Indian bison,” but they are actually more closely related to domestic cattle.

Living with large wild bovines can be a hazard. I think that’s why the aurochs was made extinct in Europe, and the European bison was reduced to just a few relict populations. It’s also why American bison don’t roam like they once did.

 

 

 

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coonhounds

One of the classic books on hunting dogs in the United States in the early part of last century was Oliver Hartley’s Hunting Dogs (1909). The book is geared toward the Eastern and Midwestern states, and although he rambles a bit in places, there are some quite eloquent pieces of prose in parts of the book.

Take his discussion on why men should go coonhunting:

There are many reasons why the ‘coon hunt is fast becoming one of the most popular of the manly sports. The ‘coon is found in many sections of the United States. Other game is becoming very scarce. The wealthy business man, the man of affairs who is tied to his desk six days out of the week, can own a ‘coon hound and in the stilly hours of the night, after the day’s turmoil of business, can enjoy a few hours of the most strenuous sport now left to us and witness a battle royal between his faithful hound and the monarch of the forest, the wily ‘coon. Nothing that I can contemplate is more exhilarating or more soothing to the nerves than the excitement of the ‘coon hunt. From the first long drawn note when the trail is struck until the hound’s victorious cry at the tree, it is one round of excitement and anticipation. What or whose hound is leading? What direction will Mr. Coon take? What dog will be first to tree? And then the fight! It is simply great! And then showing the hide to the boys who didn’t go, and telling them about it for days to come.

The ‘coon hunt calls for manhood. Tender weaklings cannot endure the exertions necessary to enjoy this sport. It is too strenuous for the lazy man or the effeminate man to enjoy. They shudder at the thoughts of donning a pair of heavy hip boots and tramping thru swamps and slashes, crossing creeks and barbed wire fences, thru briars and thickets, maybe for several miles, and the probability of getting lost and having to stay all night. But to the man with nerve and backbone this is one of the enjoyable features. It affords great fun to get a tenderfoot to go out for the first time and initiate him into the “‘coon hunters’ club.” The tenderfoot will use every cuss word ever invented and will coin new ones when the supply of old ones becomes worn out and ineffective. He will cuss the briars, cuss the ditches, cuss the creek, cuss the fences, cuss the swamps, cuss the slashes, cuss the man who persuaded him to go, and finally cuss himself for going. But when the excitement of the chase is on and when the fight commences he becomes reconciled; and if good luck is had he is very likely to be the next man to propose another “‘coon hunt.”

A half dozen hunts will make an enthusiastic ‘coon hunter of any able bodied man — and I might suggest that a half a thousand ‘coon hunts will make an able bodied man out of any man. It will throw off the waste matter and dead tissues of the body, cause deep breathing, arouse torpid and sluggish livers, promote digestion, and is a general panacea for all human ailments of both mind and body.

So it is rigorous sport that pits man and dogs against the “monarch of the forest,” which will be the only place in all of Western literature where a raccoon is given this title!

And it will cure you of just about all that ails you!

 

 

 

 

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The first time I heard this sound in the dark, I had no idea what it was.

For those of you who don’t live where there are raccoons, I can tell you they are much more dog-like than you’d expect from animal that isn’t actually canid species. When you look into the eyes of a raccoon, it’s like looking into the eyes of a dog. This is a creature with a mind.

Probably the best way I can describe them to those who have never seen one in the flesh is they are kind of like a dog mixed with a primate and a bit of bear thrown in for good measure.

And when they are scared, they make lots of strange noises, including this alarm bark that sounds a bit extraterrestrial.

 

 

 

 

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Brother dog

brother dog

Translation: Who wants to have a good dog, shall look at it as if it were a brother.

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la plata dolphin

If you’ve been online in the past 24 hours, you’ve probably seen this image.

It’s of a young La Plata* dolphin that was plucked from the ocean at Santa Teresita beach in Argentina. Apparently, two were captured, and the beachgoers rushed around to get selfies with them.

As you might expect, one of these poor dolphins died, and its body was left to rot on the beach.

This has resulted in the greatest animal outrage online since that lion was killed in Zimbabwe last summer.

Although one can find rational defenses of limited lion hunting, one does don’t exist in this case.

This is simple human selfishness run amok.

Both of these animals suffered greatly for these selfies, and one died an agonizing death.

It’s just unacceptable.

But media does have some blame in this. The dolphin has been so glamorized that people will often do insane things to have some connection with them.

It’s a shame that this two creatures suffered so much from our love.

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*La Plata dolphins are sometimes called Franciscana dolphins.

 

 

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What killed dog blogging?

dal doberman fight

I started this blog when dog blogging was in its heyday.

From about 2005 to roughly 2012, there was a raucous online community talking about dogs. There was a huge audience for people who were critical of the modern dog fancy, and I capitalized on this desire for an audience.

I think to a certain extent I was naive. I had no idea what sort of people write about these issues, and because you’re almost always doing this in concert with people you’ve never met, you don’t know who is actually a snake in the grass.

These issues were never vetted in the community as a whole, because the main issue was that modern dog fancy was the problem.

When it turned out that the dog fancy had no good answer for the questions raised, it began to lose the argument online. In North America, arguing about whether the main registries are the best institutions to protect dogs is really a moot point. The vast majority of dogs in the US and Canada are not registered, and thus, there is room to exist outside of the AKC and CKC.

In parts of Europe, I’d say that’s not really the case, but I’m not a European. And the main registries in Europe are actually responding to some the issues that have been raised with the online community and a certain British documentary.

But because this movement has been successful, that’s when the issues of not fully vetting differences came to the fore.

People started fighting over training methods. Then dog food.

Then about how to classify dogs and how dogs were domesticated.

I fought some of those battles myself.

I’ve lost friends and made enemies, and I’ve come to realize something about human psychology.

When you created a community whose main energizing feature is being opposed to something, it can only exist once there is something to oppose.

So with the modern dog fancy pretty much relegated to its corner, we had to find fault with each other and fight and fight and fight.

I’ve seen this exact same thing happen with the atheist community. It’s certainly true that atheists aren’t the majority of the world’s population, but it is true that atheists are more respected in Western countries than they were 10 years ago.

Online, most atheist debates were about debunking creationist twaddle, and when the creationists fell apart in terms of their online presence, the atheists began fighting each other over feminism, libertarianism, and whether Islam is an especially evil religion.

When opposition to something is the animating issue of your community, be prepared for constant conflict once that something begins to falter.

People have a very hard time turning off that venomous aggression drive.

And that, folks, is what killed dog blogging.

There are a few good blogs out there that I subscribe to, but I’ve purged all my links.

I just would rather not write for such a contentious community.

 

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That was good for a while

But I’m not back.

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