The Kids Have Arrived!

“Early Friendships Can Last A Lifetime”

Our first baby dairy goats have arrived! Dreamcatcher, my beautiful LaMancha doe, had been bred to a gorgeous champion buck back in October, and the five month wait for little kids seemed almost endless. Right on schedule, tho, she delivered two beautiful little doelings with such expertise and ease that all I had to do was watch in amazement.

The first born of the twin girls is the most colorful. A frosted black splashed with white markings and even a Collie/Sheltie-esque white tip on her tail earned her the name FudgeRipple almost immediately. Her sister, born just minutes after, is a beautiful dark chocolate brown with black legs and face. One white spot in the middle of her side brought her the name Comet. Amazingly, these two richly colored kids come from a light sandy colored doe and a pure white buck. All that dark color was a bit of a surprise as we watched these two healthy newborns stumble to their feet and begin discovering their hay lined birthing pen, their adoring owner, and of course proud mama! Not far from the scene, Emily and Paddington Sheltie along with Jessey Smooth Collie looked on with well contained excitement.

Within only hours the kids were able to be brought out into the goat pen under the ever watchful eyes of their mom, Dreamcatcher. They quickly discovered the comfort of the small DogLoos placed there for their resting pleasure. They also explored the numerous toys, feeders, and fences in their new little world, and had their first face to face meeting with Jessey and the Shelties.

Emily was the first to meet our new family members nose to nose, and Mama Jess, “the self appointed mother of all babies”, followed shortly after. While Emily’s approach was based in the thought of “I wonder if these kids can play yet?” Jessey’s was based more on, “How do I get them to cuddle with me?” It was fascinating to watch the two dogs step cautiously around the little goats, ever mindful of their frailty, and ever respectful of their dear friend Dreamcatcher as she looked on.

Amazing in their abilities at just a few days of age, the little doelings soon began hopping, jumping and head butting, all to the intrigued delight of the dogs. Only little Paddington, still very much himself a baby, had to be told that grabbing them by the leg is inappropriate play for a baby goat. Nonetheless, Paddington is an intrinsically gentle soul who only had to be cautioned “uh uh!” to realize another avenue of
interaction needed to be employed. Soon he was running beside the little kids, jumping up on the wooden spools and inviting them to join him in a game of “King of the Property”!

After the first few days, the baby goats began taking an interest in what Dreamcatcher was eating. A good supply of fresh alfalfa hay had always been kept within their reach, and as their mama munched on it, they suddenly began to show an interest. FudgeRipple, the first born, took the initial interest with her sister right behind. At first it seemed a genuine curiosity to them, and tho they appeared to know it was edible, the method they would need to employ in ingesting it escaped them. Being, by this time, adept at nursing, and bumping the udder in order to increase the milk flow, they started by giving this a try. It was nearly
impossible to hold back laughter at watching these two little ones bumping their noses into a flake of hay to see if somehow the appearance of a recognizable food source would result. Jessey and Emily sat patiently nearby similarly curious as to how the two babies would proceed.

With several tries at bumping having proved unsuccessful, FudgeRipple carefully took a stem into her mouth, sucked on it briefly, then spit it out. No milk here! Comet watched her discard the dry item, and in either weariness or frustration, she opted to jump into the hay, shake herself off, and go off to bed. FudgeRipple quickly followed suit. It wouldn’t be until the next morning that the pair began actually munching the alfalfa. Of course, once they began, their delight in chewing and swallowing only grew!

By a week of age, our two little doelings had become fully adept baby goats. They would run to the fence in the morning to greet both me and the dogs, bounce on the wooden spools with Paddington, and follow their canine pals around with the full approval of their mama, Dreamcatcher. Their baby soft coats had already brightened with a richness in color, and their precious little faces would always display that little LaMancha smile that belies their ever present sense of fun. As for the dogs, they had become completely enthralled with their new diminutive charges and playmates!

All too soon, our first little superstar doeling was off into the world with an adoring new family and a promising future of grooming, cuddling, and strutting her stuff at fairs and 4-H shows. Little Comet, our chocolate brown beauty with the white spot on her side has been deemed by everyone who’s met her as a sure winner in the goat world! We said a brave good bye to her and her wonderful new family who will be keeping in touch with updates and show wins as new families should.

With FudgeRipple now an only kid, she has bonded even more amazingly with the dogs, and it’s hilarious to watch them teaching each other the games that come naturally to their respective species. As a Sheltie puppy, it’s nothing unusual to see Paddington chase the little goat around the corner of the house. Watch for a minute longer, however, and you will see Paddington racing back with FudgeRipple in hot pursuit! Head butting may come naturally to a baby goat, but seeing Mama Jess respond in kind is something you just don’t expect from a Smooth Collie! Jumping up on wooden spools, Dogloos, and even on the patio swing is a favorite game FudgeRipple shares with Emily. Often making the first landing, Emily will quickly move to the side to make room for her hooved playmate. When the play time is over, tho, snuggling and cuddling are things neither dogs nor goats need to be taught to enjoy. Little FudgeRipple may never learn to bark, but with good and watchful friends like she has, she’ll most surely never need to.

Meanwhile, Dreamcatcher LaMancha is supplying the whole family with plenty of rich, sweet, and ever so healthful milk. Anyone who tells you that goat milk is anything less than fabulous in taste has simply not experienced LaMancha milk. They have also not met my dogs, who excitedly stand in line to get their daily share!

Advertisements

January Musings…

<a href="https://colliesandshelties.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/paddingtonandlassieblogpic.jpg"&gt;
As another year begins, I am so pleased to find letters of encouragement, friendship and reminiscing in both my mail and email boxes. Most are from longtime friends, some from newer friends, and even others from caring acquaintances. It’s a time of year many use for both reflection and “catching up”, and it’s good to reestablish bonds in this way.

This year it has been especially touching to me to receive numerous letters and current photos from those I have placed dogs with over these past many years. Most of those dogs are now seniors, and many that have passed on are still lovingly remembered by owners who still keep in touch. These are good and caring folks who always mention my own dogs by name, knowing that the number of seniors (which comprise most of my canine companions these days) here has dwindled considerably over this past year and a half, as age and infirmity catches up with everyone all too quickly. As I retired from doing dog rescue several years ago, primarily to devote more exclusive care to the elderly ones (both my own and those rescues who never were rehomed for being viewed as “too old” even years before they passed), it’s been especially devastating to lose so many in just over a years time — despite the fact that all but one were well into their late teens and even into their twenties when they closed their eyes. Albert Payson Terhune once made the simple statement “All dogs die too soon”, and truer words were never spoken.

So as a new year begins here, I look into the faces of my now small crew of grey muzzled chums and feel a kinship beyond the years we’ve shared together. I also share their genuine loss of pack members for whom they have grieved just as much as I, and in who’s loss they also share a deep and heartsick pain. Anyone who has only known dogs in relation to themselves and not as part of a bonded pack has greatly missed out on experiencing the full depth of devotion, loyalty, and emotion our creator has bestowed upon this domestic creature we call “dog”. I feel blessed to have known a time before the world went crazy, when multiple dog owners like Albert Payson Terhune (who typically owned upwards of fifty Collies) were revered for their knowledge of and kinship with dogs, and inspired their readers to explore the love of canines as owners, fanciers, and admiring pack leaders.

Of course, as I look back, it is also proper to look forward, and despite a changing world marked by treacherous times and a majority of humans displaying a shocking degree of inhumanity toward one another (and far too often thinly veiled as some sort of feigned righteousness on behalf of dogs, no less), I am heartened to have dear friends, wonderful domestic animals, and the knowledge of a better world ahead.

My dairy goats will be kidding this spring, giving the dogs additional responsibilities in the work they love — not to mention a greater supply of the milk they thrive on. One of my hens is already looking “broody” and will likely be raising some new chicks within the next few months. The ducks are now outside, having feathered out in plenty of time to acclimate safely to the colder winter weather. Life, as they say, does go on.

The newest little light of joy that has entered my household has come from my dear friend Luella Thomsen of Cinder Glo Shelties. Knowing how much I admire her beautiful Musashi son, Ch. Wildoak Chisterling Timberlake, she determined that I would have pick of the litter from him and Luella’s beautiful Memorandum and Analyze This granddaughter, Connie. Of course, the litter had not even been conceived at the time, so when a most stunning little sable guy eventually entered into the world last fall, it surely seemed a match meant to be.

The story of his amazing plight, first to survive, and then to ultimately find his way here despite horrifying airline mishaps over the December holiday period is a blog onto itself. Yet he bounced happily into my arms and into my life with all the curiosity, trust, and sweet puppy breath his heritage promised. Hopefully he will never need to learn that the world is a treacherous place full of sociopaths and animal-terrorists, but be only secure and happy as a more peaceful future stands solidly before us.

Chekia Cinder Glo Teddy Bear is appropriately call named “Paddington” as the well known bear who arrived in London with the tag, “Please look after this bear” is a most fitting namesake for him. His honorary grandparents, London and Sarah, are seeing that he thrives as the sole youthful pack member. Already insightful beyond his mere weeks of age, little Paddington takes all things in stride, and encourages me to do likewise as he plays, cuddles, and looks knowingly into my eyes with his soft and endearing Sheltie expression. Life, indeed, does go on, and is enduringly precious.

Dog Sense 101

Terry and Trust

by Terry Thistlethwaite

Standing in line to pay the electric bill the other day, my Collie service dog, Trust, engendered the attention of a well dressed gentleman with a delightful Yorkshire accent. “He’s obviously aware of everything going on, but his full attention is on you.” he was impressed to tell me. “How do I get my dog to pay more attention to me and not get so involved with everything he smells out there when we’re on a walk? So many times I just end up dragging him and I hate to do that.” His question reminded me that so much those of us who live closely with our dogs take for granted as basic socialization and training is still very much a mystery to the average one or two dog owner. Any breeder who’s ever stepped into a show ring well knows how to get their dog’s attention, and any disabled person who’s trained their own service dog well know’s how to keep their dog interested in watching them. Similarly, those of us who own livestock could scarcely function on a day to day basis without our dogs understanding the type and degree of attention to maintain around these animals. Yet all of this is increasingly lost on a society that still maintains a basic love for dogs, but has sadly all but lost the basic understanding and communication skills which would have rendered people fully unable to survive in our great grandparent’s day.

With all of this going on, you might think we would be in a “golden age” for qualified dog trainers. Unfortunately, however, a serious shortage of qualified individuals exists, as the ignorant sadly buy into theories and methods spouted by those barely more insightful than themselves. As with so many things, the regard for what is “seen on TV” or touted by the media is overwhelming, and the uncommon quality of simple common sense is negated in favor of the glitz and glamor of second rate advice from someone who once read a book or answered a casting call. This situation is well attested to by an experience I had several years ago with the owner of a delightful little dog who hoped to learn how to garner greater attention from his owners. They called me in utter desperation saying they had “been through three well recommended and high priced trainers” and were ready to give up and relinquish the dog to Rescue. I gave them my usual response; “Would you keep this dog if the problem could be resolved, or are you just determined to have him gone?” I explained that I was not attempting to judge them in their decision, but rather did not want to waste time and effort instructing them as to how to resolve the situation if they really were not interested in doing so. They assured me that they loved the dog and would be happy to keep him, but were quite convinced that after the failure of these three highly touted “trainers”, there was nothing more to be tried.

At that I asked, “What is the biggest problem you’re having with him that, if resolved, you would keep him?” Mind that I was running a dog rescue at the time, and my primary concern was in keeping this dog in his original home. “Well, we have a lot of friends who stop in and visit, and he barks uncontrollably from the minute they knock on the door until the minute they leave.” Thinking that shouldn’t be an overwhelming task for three qualified dog trainers, I asked how each of them addressed the problem. The response eye opening to say the least.

The first trainer employed the classic “choke and jerk” method. He put a choke collar on the dog and jerked it every time the dog barked. The dog, a smart little guy with plenty of insight of his own, responded by rolling on his back and urinating. The trainer ultimately dubbed him “stupid” and gave up. The second trainer brought along a crate and stuffed the dog into it every time he barked. That brought out the dog’s teeth and warning growls every time the jail box was implemented. The second trainer was fired as the owners became concerned about the dog’s rising aggression, and he too, pronounced the dog “stupid”. The third trainer was specifically sought out because of advertising the use of “positive methods only”. The owners were at least catching on at this point that the opening of the Hippocratic oath may well be applied here: “First, do no harm!”

The “positive trainer”, however, also turned out to be a failure (although, characteristically, the “failure” was blamed on the dog). Her method was to positively teach the dog to bark for food. He barked, she rewarded him. She actually told the owners that feeding him would keep him occupied with treats and therefore quiet. Their complaint to me was that the treats were becoming expensive and the dog was becoming fat!

All of this might seem somewhat humorous, but remember the travesty here is that all three of these “trainers” came highly recommended, were paid literally THOUSANDS of dollars for their “services”, and their cumulative efforts resulted in owners resolved to turn their dog over to Rescue! Not only do we have a general public increasingly ignorant of simple dog behavior and communication, we resultantly have an entire profession eroded with inept individuals unknowingly regarded as “experts” who’s failures end up being a loss of what should have been a happy and permanent home for the dog. This is beyond inexcusable.

Thankfully, in that particular situation, I was able to convince the owners that the dog was not “a lost cause”. Agreeing to take him into my Rescue if my method failed, I talked them into trying one last time, warning that they would have to follow my instructions to the letter if they were to bring success. “Every time someone comes to the door and he begins to bark, you AND THEY need to go directly to the nearest wall, face it, and don’t move, talk, or do anything else until the dog is quiet. As soon as he stops fussing, you may go on about your activities. IF he resumes barking at any point, you must immediately return to the wall.”

“That’s it?” they asked me with obvious skepticism. I assured them that was all there was to it, and made them promise to carry it out diligently for a full four weeks before making a final determination about keeping or not keeping the dog.

Five days later they called me to report that they were already ecstatic with the results, that I was a “dog training genius”, and that the dog absolutely would remain a permanent resident in their home. My gratification, of course, was in keeping the dog both in his home, and happy in his home. My “genius” however, was lacking in that my services were unpaid while the three “idiots” walked off with thousands of dollars in their pockets! Oh well….

As for the man having the tug of war battle with his dog on the street, I would expect most of my readers would know that I advised him to carry treats and teach the dog a simple “watch me” command. Positive reinforcement absolutely has it’s place. The trick is for the human to use it in training the dog rather than visa versa — as in “Give me food, and I’ll stop barking while I eat it! ” Oy!

About Color

“A good dog is a good dog regardless of color”

What is it about color? You can talk about structure and movement, eye and expression, skull and head planes, coat type and density, or just about anything else relating to a given breed standard (dog, cat, horse, bird…) and you will NOT get the degree and intensity of response you will get when you talk COLOR! It doesn’t even matter if you are talking about “acceptable” color, subjective color, or even color in a standard that states color is “immaterial” — people will still express the strongest and even most argumentative opinions when the subject is that old five letter word starting with a “C”.

These days, in the Collie world, it’s all about Sable Merles. Whether and how they should or should not be bred is not the prevailing discussion as these dogs now permeate the current overall Collie population. Sable Merles are everywhere, and very few even think twice about the ramifications of producing them. The heated controversy is oddly not about the genetic Sable Merle, but about the phenotype Sable Merle. What color is it? Is it Sable to be classed with Sables, Merle to be classed with Blues, or is it to be in a class by itself? Ask THESE questions, and you will get the Collie fancy engaged in the most active and even heated discussion.

In the Sheltie world, where Sables these days are (oddly) rarely bred to even Tris (!), much less Blues, and certainly not Bi’s, the color discussion is mostly aimed at Whites. White Shelties, while always present in the breed, are not allowed in the AKC show ring, and there is vehement opposition to the attempts of a growing White fancy to change that. The opposition is so strong, in fact, that many have taken to advertising their dogs as “NWF” which we all understand to mean “Non White Factored”. Why it should be important to anyone viewing an ad to know of a certainty that your dog does not carry the white factor would be a total enigma without consideration of the idea of simple and vehement color prejudice. After all, we’re here not even addressing the White Sheltie, but only a dog capable of producing one (and only then if bred to another white factored dog). Considering additionally that white factor is clearly seen with the naked eye (with rare exception), to point it out in an ad is, in the least, redundant (as all ads contain photos these days) and in the most a clear political soapbox.

In Collies, exhibitors of Sable Merles have taken to adding a line to their advertising stating that the dog who finished a championship, earned a performance title, or sired a winning dog is “proudly Sable Merle”. An additional statement; “Quality not color” typically follows. In Shelties, since it is the opposers of the controversial color who have gone on the attack with their NWF notations, we are waiting to see if the White fanciers will bravely step up with a “Proudly White Factored” or PWF response.

While the ad wars are admittedly somewhat amusing, one has to wonder just how much understanding of basic Mendellian genetics is lacking when Sable Merle is regarded as “just a color” and White is regarded as anything but. Hmmm….

So just what is it about color? The Siamese cat fanciers became so incensed about color at one point that the breed itself actually had to be divided. The early advocates of producing blue Parakeets faced heated debate among their contemporaries. Go to a rabbit show this season and you’re very likely to hear the Mini Rex fanciers strongly debating tri colors. That color is the hottest issue among a given fancy has a long and ongoing albeit strange and even bewildering tradition.

Perhaps because we all start out as children with that box of Crayolas and the importance of knowing how to correctly identify each is drilled into us, we set in our brain this disturbingly incorrect priority relating to color. Or perhaps it’s just that too many of us fail to grasp the understanding of the more important points of conformation standards and genetic considerations. But rest assured there is little doubt to the fact that we ALL know our colors — and are overwhelmingly at the ready to state our opinion of them!

You Decide… Tomorrow Is The Last Day.

Guest blogger Vicky Von Busse has an urgent message for everyone who owns, breeds, or hopes to ever again own an animal in the United States.

Vicky writes:

Tomorrow is the last day for comments. After that, Fate will tell YOU where you can buy, what you can buy, how you can sell or even if you can sell. Below is a repost from Walt Hutchens, a well-known animal advocate, who has consistently fought AR laws over many years. He has given permission to crosspost this to wherever anyone believes it will do any good. He mainly discusses how this will affect breeders, but it will affect buyers too. A buyer’s ability to obtain an healthy, well-bred animal will disappear if this goes through. A buyer will be left with animals with a “suspect” past, be it behavioral or health or even imported from countries such as China, Taiwan, Mexico where conditions are beyond the buyer’s and the importer’s control. Costs of a pet will rise no matter what title (i.e. adopt) gets attached to that animal. Long story short, APHIS also needs to hear from buyers, especially if they cherish their ability to choose. For breeders – the fox has offered to guard the hen house. HSUS has stepped up to the plate to help APHIS out in monitoring and inspecting sellers.

Choices.
Not many left to make.

Vicky

*********************************************************

The animal rights wars have reached a new and critical phase. I am going to ask for your help.

In short, breeding dogs as we do, in a home setting, may be about to get new and more difficult FEDERAL rules and since there’s a major organization — the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) — devoted to destroying pet breeding, that would make it a whole lot more dangerous. This is unfortunately a long
story.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was amended in 1971 to bring the breeding of dogs under federal regulation. USDA is the enforcing agency and it shortly wrote regulations saying who had to be licensed and that licensees must operate a commercial-type kennel with facilities and practices spelled out in detail. There are inspections, discrepancies must be corrected, and having too many discrepancies leads to fines.

That first set of AWA regulations established seven exemptions from the licensure requirement. The most important of these was the ‘retail pet store’ exemption: People, businesses, etc. that sell only at retail (never through middlemen such as pet shops) are considered RPSs and are not required to be licensed. The theory was that RPSs are mostly very small, thus inspecting them was not a cost-effective use of government resources and that in any case they’re inspected by customers.

The reason we can breed dogs in our home, whelp puppies in a spare bedroom, bring them to our living room, take them out to romp on the (unfenced) lawn, and allow them supervised play with our adults is that the federal government considers us a Retail Pet Shop and thus exempt from licensing which would forbid all of these things.

The practice of sight unseen purchase — at the time by phone/mail from ads in major national and pet publications — caused no special concern back in 1971 or for the next 40 years.

HSUS is the leader of the animal rights (AR) movement. They make their money by convincing the public that they ‘protect’ animals but in fact only about 1/2% of their roughly $150 million/year income helps any animal: Most of the money goes to fundraising, excellent salaries for top officers, lobbying for more restrictive laws, and litigation in support of their lobbying work. You may wonder how a 501(c)(3) charity can do big time lobbying and so do many other people, but it doesn’t bother the IRS.

A long time dream of HSUS and the animal rights movement in general has been the licensing and inspection of all pet breeders. From 1997 to the present they have initiated at least four bills in Congress that would dramatically extend the reach of the AWA; they also fought a court battle based on their claim that Congress’ intent was the regulation of all breeders. They won in District Court but USDA appealed and the Court of Appeals found that USDA’s exemption of very small breeders based on the fact that they sold at retail only was a valid exercise of regulatory judgement. (DDAL v.
Venneman, decided 2003)

From ’97 until now, HSUS has gotten NOTHING. Their bills generally don’t even get a Congressional hearing. And USDA supported the ‘retail sales only’ line.

Now for the first time they have an Administration that is supportive of their goals. Through APHIS (the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of USDA) there is a proposed rulemaking, APHIS Docket 2011-0003, that would shrink the Retail Pet Shop exemption to those breeders who require every
buyer to come to the location where the animals are maintained at least once for every sale. The claimed reason is that with the growth of the Internet there is no longer assurance that breeders locations are seen by the public; this is now proclaimed to be a ‘loophole.’

There are changes to the other exemptions: The most important of these is the elimination of the ‘fancier’ exemption covering those who breed for show.

Our normal practice is that buyers come here, so the new regulation wouldn’t seem to affect us very much. However we have shipped a rescue dog whose ideal home turned out to be in Wyoming and we have a few times met the buyer of a second puppy who was a member of the Timbreblue family, halfway.
Furthermore, we sometimes buy dogs from other breeders, meeting them halfway or at a dog show. We need that freedom.

Some other hobby breeders never bring people to their homes to buy. For reasons of either (or both) personal safety and fear of an AR ‘sting’ buyer looking for probable cause to set up a raid, they meet in public places. And the practices of shipping dogs and meeting at shows or elsewhere are very common.

Most breeders won’t be able to comply.

Some 10 million dogs are sold each year. The majority are casual sales by people who have no clue that the federal government regulates such things. Under the proposed regulation if you trade a dog that won’t hunt for a box of shotgun shells in your church parking lot, you will be in violation and subject to a fine of up to $10,000. There is no applicable ‘too small to care about’ exemption. So how many violations would there be? A million a year? More?

Most, of course, will never be noticed because APHIS can’t be everywhere and most people won’t care. However we can count on HSUS to set up a ‘tip line’ and funnel reported violations to the feds. Will that be 10,000 reports a year or only a thousand? Will another breeder who dislikes you or an animal rightist who hates all ‘greeders’ call in a tip and force you to try to prove to an inspector that you didn’t sell a dog at a flea market? (How do you prove where a dog is sold?) Will HSUS sue APHIS if they don’t process these reports?

Did Carter grow peanuts?

You’d think that the required cost/benefit analysis would have shown this to be a bad idea however APHIS counted only costs to the few hundred breeders they expect will become licensed, completely ignoring the expense when millions of other people must change their actions to avoid licensure, and the costly consequences of forcing more breeding underground and offshore. (If breeding illegally why would one pay taxes? What’s the cost of attempting enforcement against hidden breeders? Would there be costs resulting from lower animal quality?)

We’re now nearing the end of the public comment period on Docket 2011-0003, though there is talk of an extension. With about 6500 comments submitted so far, ‘opposed’ outnumbers ‘support’ by about 2:1 and the quality of the ‘oppose’ is far the better. HOWEVER, telephone conferences with APHIS give
the impression of an agency that has been told to “Do it!” and intends following orders. They’re now simply LYING about what’s in the regulations: In spite of plain language saying that a retail pet store must be a structure that each buyer physically enters, APHIS personnel are saying “All that’s really required is face-to-face contact” (for example at a show or other meeting place). And though existing regulations make very detailed requirements for licensed facilities such as that all surfaces contacted by animals must be sterilizable with water at 180 degrees Fahrenheit, APHIS is telling us “If you have a home breeding program you wouldn’t be expected to meet those requirements.”

Docket APHIS-2011-0003 is USDA’s ‘fast and furious’ — an agency action so stupid on its face, handled in so corrupt a manner and with such consequences that it should be a long term stain on Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and the Department. However because pet breeders have no equivalent to the NRA, the public narrative is controlled by anti-pet interests whose view is “Breeders don’t care about animals; they do it to make money; abusing animals is profitable; and more regulation is better, regardless of how that’s achieved.” This story will never be on TV or in the newspapers.

Should these rules go into effect the less common breeds of dogs will be gone within ten years as the home breeders who sustain them close down. Breeding of the more popular breeds will shift toward large commercial kennels who will have to direct ship because pet shops are being shut down by local laws and boycotts. As the shortage of dogs develops there’ll be more direct sale importing (importing of puppies for resale is already illegal) and an increase of black market breeding.

Pedigree cats, pet rabbits, birds, and many of the smaller pets will fade more quickly; numbers in these species are already very small and many are not as easily bred as dogs.

We are of course deeply in the fight against Docket APHIS-2011-0003 and we still hope to win but we could use your help.

1. Comment to APHIS. Among obvious things to say is that you’re plenty smart enough to check out a pet breeder for yourself and you’d like to keep the choice of where and how you buy a dog rather than having the government do it for you. Be sure to say that you oppose these new regulations (or some equivalent) so the official reader won’t make a mistake. To make a public comment online, go here:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0003-0001

You can read the Federal Register announcement there (if you wish) and using the search function for ‘Walter Hutchens’ will show you my eight or so comments. If you change the address above by replacing ‘0001’ with any four digit number up to about 6500 you can read individual comments by others. The first thousand or so are nearly all animal rightists; to get a more balanced selection use numbers 1000-up.

To have your say, click ‘COMMENT.’ There’s a 2000-character limit, although you can upload larger files referenced by a comment. (Blanks ARE counted.) You must give your name and city; your name and comment can be read by anyone. It may be easier to draft comments with a word processing program that counts characters and then copy/paste them to the regulations.gov site.

2. Use your comments as the basis to write to your Congressmen. That’s easy to do by going here:

http://the-cavalry-group.rallycongress.com/6980/urge-congress-take-action-to-support-cavalry-group-mission/

There’s a sample letter but it should at least be substantially customized as form letters are counted as just one. Congressmen do NOT disclose any of your personal info or communications.

The importance of sending to Congress is that since APHIS seems to have been told ‘do it, regardless’ our best hope is that Congress leans on them either informally or via a Government Accountability Office investigation of the corrupt process for this rulemaking. (This plainly is a ‘major rulemaking’ in which GAO should be involved; it has been made to appear otherwise by ignoring nearly all of the costs.)

We will appreciate any help you can give us.

Walt Hutchens
Timbreblue

About Ears

Ears Are An Integral Part Of Expression

Back in the dark ages, when Collie and Sheltie breeders actually bred for the quality of “natural ears”, the idea of training or enhancing ear carriage was more whispered about than discussed openly among breeders and exhibitors. In those days, it was no flattery whatsoever to be accused of keeping your puppy’s ears in what was often termed “little straight jackets” from the time they were old enough to have their ears pulled together, glued down, and wrapped in various types of tape and twine, and held on by all manner of strange and foul smelling adherents. It was even greater outrage to hear that “some people” were making pilgrimages to a certain Southern California surgeon from as far away as New York to have their dogs’ ears permanently “tipped” by skillful hands known not to leave telltale scarring.

In those days, I recall possessing a cassette tape (remember those?) made of a seminar conducted by a well known breeder / handler who had invited a local panel of successful breeder / exhibitors to discuss their methods and opinions. One such individual stated straight out, in front of God and everybody, “I have no idea what kind of ears my dogs produce naturally because I start them in tapes the minute they’re big enough for me to get a handle on, and they stay in tapes (except in the ring) until their show careers are over.” There we had it; a simple admission deemed shocking by many, courageous by some, and yet barely relevant by a few.

Times have certainly changed.

Today it is unlikely to find any Collie or Sheltie ear in any given show ring which has never known tape, glue, tungsten, twine, yarn, or even a surgeon’s knife. It is similarly unlikely to find any breeder /exhibitor who has any reservations about openly discussing their personal method of “fixing” ears. One judge, in fact, went so far as to say, “A dog with natural ears would be hard to win with today, because we’re all so used to looking at fixed ears, and they do look different.” It is of course true that show ring competition is the driving force behind all of this ear “fixing”, as even the breeder previously mentioned went on to state; “To be competitive in the show ring, my dogs have to have perfect ears and I can’t be worrying about an ear flying or some other problem…” So the question of whether we have lost the natural ear in the quest to create the best natural-looking ear begs asking.

Collies and Shelties are by far not the only breeds to have their ears “enhanced” for show purposes. A number of other breeds actually have more than half of the ear surgically sliced off in order to have the correct appearance desired in the ring. Those who opt not to do so are the ones who are typically looked down upon, who have a more difficult time finishing their entries, and who in some cases are not allowed to show them at all. In a few of these breeds, a legal ban on ear cropping in some foreign countries has actually resulted in breeders considering opening the registry to naturally erect eared breeds in an effort to produce the look previously brought about in their own breed by cropping. The natural look of their flop eared dogs is something they do not want under any circumstances.

The natural look of the Collie and Sheltie ear, on the other hand, is supposed to be desired. It is that of a tulip, or three quarters erect ear. The Collie Standard states: “On the alert they are drawn well up on the backskull and are carried about three-quarters erect, with about one-fourth of the ear tipping or breaking forward”. The Sheltie Standard states: “Ears small and flexible, placed high, carried three-fourths erect, with tips breaking forward”. Astute breeders once understood the desired size, shape, and thickness of ear required to naturally achieve such an ear. They also understood the breeding principles behind creating a skull that would carry ears with the correct placement or “set”.

So, why the disappearance of the truly natural ear? As one breeder stated, “Our breed is supposed to look one hundred percent natural in the show ring, and it takes a whole lot of work to get them to look that way!”

Hmmm….

Mendi The Rescue Collie

Back in the late 1980’s, Jean Roberts and I founded the first Collie Rescue organization in Northern California. We had a great group of breeders, fanciers, and other Collie enthusiasts involved for a number of years before I moved out of the area, and our once wonderful group was infiltrated by animal rights interests. Back then, Sandy Tuttle was with us to lend a hand; Rick and Debbie were always there at the shows selling incredibly good food to raise money; Jean had mugs made featuring my pen and ink Collie drawings to give out to everyone who helped; and rescue dogs were pony expressed to their homes all over the north state by everyone from all breed handlers to relatives of puppy buyers. It was a good time for Collie Rescue, and a time of political innocence we are not likely to see again in this state.

I was living in Mendocino County in those days, and Jean was based in Napa. She would occasionally call me about a shelter dog from somewhere in the Bay Area, and we would make plans to have the dog released and rehomed from either her location or mine. As more people became involved, we would sometimes arrange for a dog to go to another foster situation until a new home could be found.

One morning, Jean called me about a “very elderly tri girl” who’s time was up at one of the Bay area shelters, and she wanted to know if I wanted to take her. The concern, of course, was that elderly dogs are particularly difficult to place, and the likelihood would be that taking her in would mean she would be with me permanently. Jean had already discussed this girl with all of our Bay area volunteers, and each had determined that they were not in a position to take on an elderly dog who was unlikely to find a permanent home. I remember the conversation clearly. I asked Jean “What’s wrong with her?” She said, “Nothing, really — No health issues. She’s just old.” I said, “Well, I have room here, and we don’t kill people just because they’re old.”

My referring to her as “people” was something I had picked up from working with Sandy Tuttle. Sandy ran a boarding kennel as well as raised some of the most beautiful show winning Collies in the country (under the Kasan/Arrowhill prefix). She would often casually refer to “all of the people in the front yard” meaning all of the boarding dogs who were outside playing.

Jean said, “Well, you’re the last one to be asked, so if you don’t want to let her go down, you get her!” I told her that was fine with me, and we went ahead with arranging shelter release and transport. It took several days before the sweet little tri girl arrived at my door with one of our pony express drivers. She reportedly rode very well in the car, and walked into the living room as tho she’d lived with me all of her life. She was a dear old girl, and I was happy to have her for as long as might be necessary.

As it turned out, that length of time was to be far shorter than any of us had anticipated. The events that ensued were completely unpredictable as well as thoroughly gratifying. My little grey muzzled girl was about to embark on a journey that would teach us all what Collie rescue, at it’s best, could be.

Being the co-founder of Collie Rescue of Northern California, I was very involved with my local shelter along with the effort to turn it into a no-kill facility. In those days, the shelter took advantage of the tourist area we lived in, and displayed available animals to the public in the park every other Saturday. By association, I had an open and ongoing invitation to attend, bringing along any dogs I had available and my own accompanying forms and paperwork, Again, this was in the days before animal rights interests had taken over most shelters, and the focus was squarely on the best interests of the animals rather than the intent to do away with as many as possible then turn the blame on breeders and pet owners.

Seeing the invitation as more of a chance to have a fun day in the park with the dogs than a genuine opportunity to find a likely home for the elderly Collie, I took her along with two of my own dogs to enjoy an outing the following Saturday. Everyone was brushed and bathed, and the little tri girl took it all in stride as we loaded the car, and ultimately set up our ex-pens in the grassy park.

There were many tourists there, as is usual in any California coastal town on a breezy summer Saturday. There were also a fair number of local folks enjoying the day with their families, their friends, and their dogs. The little tri girl was well behaved as usual, and not particularly interested in all of the other dogs, the cats, and numerous people in attendance, and lied down in the grass watching the scene with only casual notice.

Then all at once she rose to her feet, drew up her head, and pulled her ears to full attention. Someone was walking by with a Golden Retriever on a leash. It was as if she thought she had recognized an old friend. As the pair moved on, she went back to her disinterested lounging. Then later, again, another person with a Golden Retriever came by, and again, she responded with excited anticipation. Several more times throughout the day, a dog of this breed would appear, and every time she sprang to her feet to acknowledge them happily. It became clear that this Collie had a Golden Retriever friend somewhere in her past.

As the day drew on, people would come by and ask about the dogs, about Collie Rescue, and about the little tri girl. No one was at all interested in the possibility of taking her into their household, and for the obvious reason; “We want a young dog, or preferably a puppy.” That was okay. I hadn’t expected anything different, and we were just there to enjoy the day anyway.

Eventually, a couple came along, and remarked instantly at what a beautiful tri color Collie stood up to greet them. I told them her story, and they listened intently, never taking their eyes off the lovely little girl. “We’ve been looking for an older dog” they said, explaining that they had recently lost a dog they had loved for over twenty years, and that their now sixteen year old Golden Retriever was pining for a canine friend. “We don’t dare bring home a young dog which would be too much for our Golden” they told me. Somewhat astounded by the coincidence, I said, “You have a Golden Retriever?” and quickly explained the little tri girl’s affinity for the breed. The couple was clearly smitten with the elderly Collie, and she responded in kind.

That may well have been the end of a lovely story, but this one was to go on for many years to come. The little tri girl did go home with the couple, both semi-retired doctors who lived in a grand home in the Santa Rosa area, and they called her Mendi in affectionate regard for the county in which they had found her. I received letters of Mendi’s progress and adventures for a good number of years, and the love she and her new family brought to each other was nothing less than extraordinary. She and the resident Golden bonded almost instantly, but the couple initially thought they had one smart dog and one somewhat obtuse, as the Collie seemed to have a limited vocabulary. One day their visiting daughter inadvertently solved that mystery when she took the dogs into the den with her to watch some television. There was a sports program on in which the announcer was speaking in Spanish, and the daughter noticed Mendi responding openly to the words. She alerted her parents to the thought that Mendi, rather than being less than bright, simply knew a different language. A little experimentation, and it was confirmed that Mendi was, in fact, quite familiar with a plethora of Spanish words.

So, good dog owners that they were, the couple enrolled in night school. Soon they were speaking fluent Spanish to Mendi and enjoying her intelligent responses. Not only did they possess two highly intelligent senior dogs, but two who were quickly becoming bilingual!

A later letter I received had me somewhat concerned as I began reading. It seemed Mendi, as is often the case with older spayed females, had become incontinent. The couple was waking up every morning to a wet bed, which of course, was a situation no one could expect them to tolerate. As I read on, I began to smile as I saw, “So of course we had to go out and get a waterproof bed sheet because there was no way we could think of banishing her from our bed!” The next paragraph was yet even more heartening as they explained having a good friend who was in charge of pediatric research in conjunction with a major university medical school. Explaining their noting the size of the dog in seeking out help from a pediatric specialist, they asked him if a mild drug could be concocted to help with her urinary leaking. Sure enough, the research physician came up with a prescription just for Mendi, and the need for waterproof mattress covers ceased.

Mendi’s life continued to be full and happy for all of her remaining years. I often think of her, and always with a warm heart and a tear or two. We live, undeniably, in a society that foolishly worships youth and carelessly discards anything and even anyone that attains the fleeting gift of advanced age. Thankfully for all concerned, Mendi found her way out of that eventuality. We, here, don’t kill people because they’re old… nor Collies nor Shelties, either.