Until next time, Good day, and good dog!
When you need to find a dog groomer to keep your pet looking its very best, a good place to start is with your regular vet. A lot of veterinarians, especially those with larger facilities or animal hospitals, also offer dog grooming. The groomers employed in facilities like these are professional dog groomers, trained in the correct methods of grooming …
A recent discussion popped up on Facebook this morning in which a member of a homesteading group bragged about what a good livestock guardian and hunting dog his Labrador was. This post got posted in a livestock guardian breed group, which resulted in much, much eye-rolling.
It is certainly true that there are dogs that make excellent livestock guardian dogs that aren’t of the typical breeds. Mark Derr has written extensively about the mongrel dogs of the Navajo that guard their sheep, but within those dogs, there is quite a bit of variance about which ones are good at the task and which ones would rather go roaming and hunting.
The breeds that have undergone selection for this work are much more likely to be successful. All these breeds have been selected for high defense drive and low prey drive. Little lambs can go jumping around these dogs, and their instinct to hunt and kill prey will not be stimulated.
Most dogs bred in the West are bred for the opposite behaviors. The most popular breeds are usually from the gun dog and herding groups, and those breeds tend to have been selected for relatively high prey drive. Those dogs are much more likely to engage in predatory behavior towards them.
Further, breeds like Labradors are bred to have low defense drive. Labradors are very rarely good guard dogs. They have been bred to fit in the British shooting scene where they would regularly be exposed to other dogs and strangers, and these dogs have had much of their territorial and status-based aggression bred out of them. If the coyote shows up to a farm guarded by a Labrador, chances are very high that the Labrador will try to play with the coyote. It might bark at the coyote and intimidate the predator as well, but there aren’t many Labradors that are going to fight a coyote that comes menacing the flock.
The poster with the LGD Labrador claimed that Labradors were great herding dogs. When pressed on this point, he posted a photo of some yellow dogs moving a herd of beef cattle. These dogs weren’t Labradors. They were blackmouth curs, a breed that can superficially look like a Labrador, but it is a hunting and herding breed that is quite common parts of the South and Texas. You could in theory train a Labrador to herd sheep, but I doubt you could ever train one to herd cattle. And the herding behavior would be far substandard to a breed actually bred for it.
The poster claimed that Labradors were “bred down from Newfoundlands,” and Newfoundlands are livestock guardians. The problem with this statement is that it is totally false. As I’ve noted many times on the blog, the big Newfoundland dog was actually bred up from the St. John’s water dog. Every genetic study on breed evolution, clearly puts this breed with the retrievers. This dog was mostly created for the British and American pet market, but it is a very large type of retriever.
And contrary to what I have written on this blog, it is now clear that retrievers and Newfoundlands are not an offshoot of the livestock guardian breeds. A limited genetic study that also found Middle Eastern origins for all dogs had this finding, but a more complete genetic study found that retrievers and the Newfoundlad are actually a divergent form of gundog.
I have not written much about this study, but it does change some of my retriever history posts. It turns out that Irish water spaniels are also retrievers and are very closely related to the curly-coated retrievers. It has been suggested that curly-coated retrievers are actually older than the St. John’s water dog imports, but conventional breed history holds that they are crosses between St. John’s water dogs and some form of water spaniel. It may actually be that something like a curly-coated retriever is the ancestor of the St. John’s water dog, and this dog would have been called a “water spaniel.” I have not worked this one out yet. The dogs we call Newfoundland dogs, though, are much more closely related to the Labrador, flat-coated, and golden retrievers than to the curly-coated retriever and the Irish water spaniel. Thus, the Labrador and the Newfoundland dog are cousins, but the Labrador is not “bred down from the Newfoundland.”
The other clue that Newfoundland dogs and their kin aren’t good LGDs is that in Newfoundland, the sheep industry was actually severely retarded by the dogs. Fishermen let their dogs roam the countryside, and any time someone set out a flock of sheep, the water dogs, which I would call St. John’s water dogs, would descend upon the flocks and savage them.
So the natural history of the Labrador totally conflicts with its likely ability to be a good livestock guardian. The British bred these dogs to be extremely social, and their prey drive has been selected for. They also have this entire history in which their ancestors went out hunting for their own food, which means they do have the capacity to become sheep hunting dogs.
The poster didn’t appreciate when these facts were pointed out. The response was that the other people were racist for saying that Labrador isn’t likely to be a good LGD, especially a Labrador that has been used for hunting.
This is problematic because dog breeds are not equivalent to human races. Human races are just naturally occurring variations that have evolved in our species as we have spread across the globe. Most of these differences are superficial, and none are such that it would justify any racial discrimination in law or policy.
Dog breeds, however, have been selectively bred for characteristics. The eugenics movement, the Nazis, and the slaveholders who selectively bred slaves are the only people who have engaged in the selective breeding of people. And all these periods in history have lasted only a very short time before they were deemed to be gross violations of human rights.
For some reason, people have a hard time accepting these facts about dogs, but the very same people often have no problem with an analogy with livestock.
If I want high milk yields, I will not buy Angus cattle. If I want marbled beef, I won’t buy Holsteins. If I want ducks to lay lots of eggs, I wouldn’t get Pekins, which will lay about 75 eggs a year. I would get Welsh harlequins, which might lay 280 a year. But they don’t get very big, and their meat yields are very low.
Angus cattle and Holsteins are the same species. Welsh harlequins and Pekins are too. But they have been selected for different traits.
Dogs have undergone similar selection. A Labrador retriever has its own history. So does a Central Asian shepherd.
Accepting that these dogs have different traits does not make one a racist. It merely means that one respects the truth of selective breeding.
And that’s why a Labrador isn’t really a good LGD.
Cats can get into all sorts of places as regular readers know. One cat in Santa Barbara County got himself stuck in a wall being built as part of a new jail that is being constructed!
According to Keyt.com, Daniel Maga and his crew had just started their work day around 6 a.m. Suddenly, as Daniel told reporters, “We heard this crying coming out of the wall, this meowing.” They looked closely and found that “there was a little kitten stuck…up in the rebar,” said Daniel.
Daniel and his crew knew that they needed to save this cat. Their initial rescue attempt was unsuccessful, but Daniel and his coworkers decided to let the cat calm down before making another attempt. The second attempt worked! Daniel shared, “We were able to scoop him out and pull him out, and get him out of there.”
Thankfully the little kitten was in good health despite his captivity within the wall. He appears to be about ten months old. The crew isn’t sure what name to give the little kitten. They’ve discussed “El Chapo,” “Smoky,” and “Felix the Cat” “because Felix is lucky,” as Daniel said.
He does have a future home though. The kitten will be full grown by the time the new jail opens in early 2019, but he’ll be the jail’s mascot. Daniel shared that “all the guys, when they’re getting booked, can see a little kitty in the booking area when they’re being fingerprinted.”
Even if El Chapo/Smoky/Felix won’t become Daniel’s personal pet, Daniel is awfully fond of the kitten. He told reporters that he “was thinking about coming by and giving him a little treat here and there.” We’re sure that the kitten of many names would love to see his rescuer with or without those treats.
A friend of mine from high school, Jeff Grady, is now a vet near Cincinnati. Here are two of his adorable clients! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!
In the short three and a half years I’ve been a mother, I have learned many things. And one of the biggest lessons has been that your kids are going to do everything possible to destroy their clothing and shoes. I can put Essley in a new dress on day where she has no activities or school, isn’t going to be playing outside or doing anything that could potentially mess up the dress, and it will be spilled on, and possibly even ripped, by the end of the day. Emmett is even worse. So when it comes to shoes – which are worn much more often than clothing items – I really try to focus on quality. I want a shoe that is stylish, but also really durable. With fall here (and winter on is way), I set my sights on getting the kids a few pairs of high quality boots that are also easy on the eyes. The styles you see above were my favorites from my search. So far we have number 1, 2, and 8 – all of which you can see in action over on my Instagram in some of the photos of the kids.) Also, I wish they made #2 in adult size. So adorable, right?
I’ve been waiting for weeks since I learned about the amazing new food Halo was creating for it to finally be available. Now I can crow about it from the rooftops! What’s worth celebrating is that Halo, as “America’s best loved holistic pet food,” is now even more committed to uphold their underlying philosophy.
Nothing has been changed about Halo’s commitment to make their foods always with WHOLE meat and never any of the meat meal products like chicken meal or fish meal. Halo will still have fruits and vegetables, added vitamins and minerals, no corn, wheat, or wheat gluten, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
The difference now is that Halo is recognizing the welfare of all animals in their decisions about what to put into their pet foods. With an overall mission to change the way companion animals are fed and farm animals are raised, they want to consider our pets as well as those animals who go into the food.
With all new formulations, Halo has extended their holistic approach to pet food by being vigilant about where and how they source all their ingredients. They want to use only humanely raised farm animals. They want to use only non-GMO fruits and vegetables. They want to know where all the ingredients come from so that they are sourcing with principles. It is a lofty aspiration and one I hope we can all embrace and try to put into practice in how we feed ourselves and our human family members, too!
Tracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.
Tracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.
Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.