Archive for the ‘great blogs’ Category

Mark Derr has a new blog on Psychology Today’s website. It’s called “Dog’s Best Friend,” which is also the title of his wonderful book about dogs and dog culture.

The first blog post is about dog parks, and their various deficiencies and inadequacies.

Dog parks are a poor substitute for off-leash hours at parks, but some of them are quite good.

It’s just when the dog park becomes the “canine reservation” that problems start.

I’ve seen dog parks where not a blade of grass is growing.  The dogs have run so hard and so long and at such high densities, the grass never gets to grow.

And when it rains, it turns to mud.

But I’ve seen major cities in Europe– London and Munich– that allow dogs a lot more liberty than we would ever think about giving them in most American cities of that size and stature.


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Jess at DesertWindHounds discusses the importance off genetic diversity in the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC),  a gene family that controls immune responses. In dogs, it’s called the Dog Leukocyte Antigen (DLA) system

It’s very important that everyone in dogs understands these concepts.

In fact, it’s very important that everyone interested in conservation of endangered species or in breeding any kind of animal has a full grasp of the problems that can happen with reduced diversity in the MHC.

This angelfish website also partly discusses the MHC. Unlike Jess’s post, it is pro-inbreeding, but the author recognizes the need to bring new blood in.

The problem with dogs is we are operating within a closed registry or a Potemkin open registry system where new blood is not easily brought in.

And with virtually all Western breeds, all individuals within a breed are derived from the same founders.

The is the big problem with line-breeding, inbreeding, and using just a few sires  per generation within a closed registry system. At some point, the breed becomes too homozygous within the MHC/DLA, and it’s screwed when a really bad disease pops up.

My guess is we’re going to hear a lot about the MHC in the near future. Many success stories of recovering endangered species are going to turn into disasters.  Some species have recovered from a very low founding population, and that means that they don’t have much variation at all in their MHC.

That’s bad.

And there is one animal right now that recovered from intense persecution in its homeland. It was eventally protected, and its numbers grew.

But now because of a communicable disease, it may very well go extinct. As a species, it has low genetic diversity and very little variation in the MHC. If it does become extinct, it will be this compromised genetic diversity that ultimately does it in. If it had more diversity in its MHC, then some individuals might have a some immunity to it, but thus far, all have been found to be highly susceptible to this disease.

I’ll reveal that animal and its disease  tomorrow in a longer post.

Until then, read this post and get a good understanding of what the issues are.

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BorderWars is now ranked 21 on Technorati’s Pets Authority.

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Have a look at Neil Aldridge’s Conservation Photojournalism blog.

The photos are absolutely stunning, and the posts are very informative. There are some amazing posts on African wild dogs/Lycaon pictus/Painted dogs/Painted wolves on this blog.

Very much worth a click.

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Some good blogs

I’ve been updating my blogroll recently, and I thought I’d do a post on some of my favorite blogs. Some of these are relatively new (to me), but I find the writing and content in them to be very good. The authors of these blog also leave very good comments on this blog and really help to elevate the discussion. I really appreciate your contribution, so I’m going to publicize your blogs here.

Here they are in alphabetical order:

1. Border (collie) Wars— Christopher Landauer’s blog.  It is not a new blog at all, but it an old Blogspot blog that has been reborn on WordPress. Christopher is a bit of an iconoclast when it comes to covering the border collie scene. He offers analysis and criticism of just about everything relating to the border collie subculture, and he’s not a bad breed historian either. He currently is posting wonderful border collie puppy videos from a litter that his dog Mercury sired. The dam’s color is still a mystery, as is the color of most of the puppies!

2.For the Pit Bulls— Rinalia’s blog. Rinalia is a vegan who works for a farm animal sanctuary. She’s also very well-informed about the natural history and behavior of most domestic animals. And the photos of her pit bull named Mina and “Mexican blue-eyed shepherd” named Celeste are among some of the best dog photos I’ve seen. This blog features lots of media analysis of dog bites, especially how the media cover attacks by pit bulls versus those by other breeds.

3. Hoof-and-Paw— Cyborgsuzy’s (Suzanne Phillips) blog. This blog features lots of excellent photography, which can also be found on her Flickr site. This blog contains lots of analysis about lots of things. You can tell the author is quite scientifically literate, but she also cares very deeply about the environment and her animals. It’s very rare to find a well-written blog that combines so many different talents and interests. I always find something interesting here.

4. Penin kulmila–blogi : This is Bridget K/Pirjetta’s blog. I don’t speak Finnish, but google translate can help you read this. Lots of interesting dog history on this blog, as well as some wonderful natural history posts. It’s a very new blog, but it looks promising.

5. Shiba Inu Spirit— Jen’s blog. This blog features Shiba Inus and whatever rescues she’s currently fostering. She has lots of posts on dog training and dog behavior, but she’s also interested in deepening the relationship between people and dogs. Maybe some of our assumptions about them are simply wrong. Her current rescue is a young beagle/bichon frise cross– a dog that looks and behaves nothing like a Shiba Inu. (This photo says it all). It’s always good to get a chance to compare behavior from different breeds.

These are just a few blogs that I’m really liking right now.  I will probably do this again in a few months. As this blog continues to mature and gain readership, I’m always glad that my comments section generates this level of discourse. I’ll keep the moderation of this blog relatively open (I only block people I think are total a$$holes), because it is through discussion that we are able to refine and fully understand our positions.

Keep writing them and I’ll keep reading them.

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A good blog has been started

Bridget K has a new blog, and thanks to google translator, I can tell you that it is a very good natural history and dog blog.  Check out Penin kulmilla.

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A good hound blog


If you want to know about the history of pack hounds, as well as their breeding, training, and what happens to them when they are retired, check out the blog Full Cry.

I come from Appalachian fox chasing stock. My maternal grandfather still keeps a small pack of Walker foxhounds, and my paternal grandfather kept a pack of Walkers and Triggs.

Fox chasing is a bit different from fox hunting, though. In the Appalachians, hounds are run at night, and no horse or red jacket is to be seen.  A bonfire is built, and the chasers listen to the foxhounds as they run the foxes.

No one would kill a red fox. Their pelts aren’t worth it these days.

And the red fox is not as common in this part of the world as the gray. The gray is not a popular animal for fox-chasers, simply because the gray will climb a tree to avoid the dogs, which ends the chase rather quickly.

That is why the dogs are trained to go for red foxes only.

I’m by no means an expert on pack hounds, so if you want to know more about them, check out Full Cry.


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Wiston Cap, the most used sire in working border collies.

Wiston Cap, the most used sire in working border collies.

My favorite post from Border Wars.

Oh. I forgot to mention it.  Border Wars has returned! And you won’t get a virus if you visit the blog.

If you’ve not been there, it’s kind of like my blog, just it’s for border collies and the politics are very different.

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