Sunday, December 27, 2009

Let them eat poop

Imagine if dogs were allowed to eat horse manure as their primary food. My life would be so much easier. Automatic recycling, no daily clean-up, no dog food bills... and the dogs, of course, would think it is a great idea. I wouldn't even need to put a fence up between the horses and the dogs.

Horse owners would run out and get lots of dogs. Boarding stables would have barn dogs in addition to the barn cats. Shelters would empty out as dogs were adopted to perform this important job.

Reality check
Now that you are totally grossed out, I must admit this is a lousy idea for realistic reasons. Horses carry worms and other parasites that they shed in their manure. Most of us don't worm our dogs regularly, but I have to worm my horses every 8 weeks, rotating the type of wormer so all the various parasites are eliminated. That's a lot of parasites for a dog's system to process.

Worse, many collie-related breeds cannot tolerate wormers that contain the ingredient ivermectin. So a collie (or bearded collie, sheltie, border collie...) that eats horse manure could die from the ivermectin he ingests.

Lily the sheltie would like to test this theory. If ONLY her legs were a tiny bit longer, she could reach through the wire fencing and paw a little piece of manure close enough to eat. She spends hours working on this, and I spend hours raking the manure away from the fence. I think the horses eliminate there just to tease her.

I've had dogs that have never even seen a horse before instantly decide that horse manure is great stuff. The fresher, the smellier–all the better to roll in and consume.

When I lived in Seattle I fostered an American Eskimo dog named Juneau. A woman came to look at him and I warned her he was hard to catch if he got loose. She wanted to see just how hard.

I am very dumb. I let him loose and he ran all the way out to the horse corral, rolled in fresh, wet, green horse manure and came running back up to the house, very proud of himself.

She didn't adopt him.

So, dogs and horse manure?

Never mind.

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© 2009 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays to one and all!

To you and your loved ones, from me and my loved ones!

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© 2009 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Please don't buy pet store or internet puppies for Christmas!

The puppy in the photo at the left came from a shelter. His name is Jake. Of course there is nothing cuter in the world than a baby animal, but emotions often overwhelm common sense when it comes to buying a puppy.

I received a press release from the RSPCA in Great Britain. Please read this, and think in terms of US puppies and buyers-- the shame is the same. If you know someone who is considering buying a puppy for the holidays, this is a must-read, although the problem continues throughout the year. As the American Kennel Club reminds us, "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas." So buyer beware, and read on:

How much is that doggy on the Internet?
Risk of parents being conned this Christmas by 'counterfeit' puppies

Many parents will be scouring the internet to find the best deal on toys and gadgets this Christmas, which means facing the online threat of 'counterfeit' goods. However, there's another item on the list and it's not the latest games console or fad toy, but one of the 50,000* trafficked puppies believed to be imported from Ireland each year, as well as those bred by unscrupulous breeders in the UK.

Nearly a third (32 per cent) of people thinking about buying a puppy admitted they will search the internet or ads in a local newspaper to find a cut-price, puppy bargain and 45 per cent would be prepared to pay less than £200, according to new research¹ from animal welfare charity, the RSPCA.

The charity is concerned that, despite warnings not to buy a puppy this Christmas, people are unaware of the threat of potentially huge hidden costs, and dangers of buying a 'counterfeit' puppy.**

Furthermore, almost one in five people (19 per cent) planning to buy a puppy are giving in to the demands of their family's children. The research shows that the combination of desperate parents, and the Christmas rush for presents, could create the perfect storm for the puppy 'counterfeiters' who have little regard for animal welfare and whose main concern is profit.

When asked about buying a puppy, 92 per cent of those planning to purchase feel it is important to know where it has come from, yet more than half (56 per cent) say they plan to get one from an advertisement in a newspaper, on the internet or from a pet shop1. Based on complaints received from members of the public, the RSPCA believes this increases the chance of buying a 'counterfeit' puppy, with potentially fatal health problems such as Canine parvovirus or worms. This means that some new owners could find themselves facing the heartache of a very sick or even dead puppy after Christmas.

Justine Pannett, spokesperson from the RSPCA, said: "The RSPCA warns people not to buy puppies as Christmas presents. It's quite shocking to learn that despite this, people may be treating shopping for a puppy in much the same way they would for other Christmas gifts, like a Wii, and looking at ways to make savings wherever possible. There's no cheap way to be a puppy owner. People thinking about buying a puppy don't just need to plan for the initial cost of buying it. They also need to consider the on-going costs and commitment needed to care for a dog throughout its life."

The RSPCA emphasises the importance of thorough research before buying a puppy. A few examples of checks that can be done include always seeing a puppy with its mother in the place where it was bred, as well as checking vaccination cards and vet details carefully. The charity also advises that if the vet's contact details are obscured or are registered outside of the UK, the vaccination card could be a fake.

One mother from Kent, who remains anonymous due to an ongoing investigation, gave into pressure from her children to buy a puppy and has regretted not researching its origins ever since. This October, after scouring the newspapers and internet an advertisement on a website selling puppies caught her eye. She went to the breeder's home in Surrey with her family and paid £250 for Archie, a Jack Russell puppy. Despite seeing what the breeder claims was a vaccination card, within five days Archie became dehydrated, was diagnosed with suspected Canine parvovirus and placed on a drip. A few days later he was put to sleep.

"We were all absolutely devastated," the Mother said. "I feel like I've been very naïve but you don't expect to get a puppy and for it to die just a few days later. Archie was supposed to have been vaccinated, but when we looked closer the card we had been given by the breeder looked like a fake. Next time we will do more research and think very carefully about where we get a puppy from."

Justine concluded: "Puppy trafficking is an appalling, profit-driven business and we can't emphasise enough the importance to Britain's dog-loving public of working together to fight the puppy 'counterfeiters'. It's not always easy to spot a trafficked puppy just from looking at it, but we recommend doing thorough research before buying a puppy, to help save heartache and spare people from lining the pockets of unscrupulous 'counterfeiters'."

To find out more about puppy trafficking please visit
* Figures estimated by the RSPCA (from intelligence gathered by its Special Operations Unit)
** A 'counterfeit' puppy is one that has a fake vaccination card, fake pedigree papers (if any) or where the seller either won't disclose, or lies about, where it comes from [1] Survey commissioned by the RSPCA with TNS, sample size of 3037 GB Adults aged 16-64, November 2009

The full survey results are available from the press office.

To watch a short film on the subject, visit

Tips on buying a puppy are also available at

About the RSPCA
The RSPCA has joined forces with the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation and other leading animal welfare organisations to develop a 10-point guide for the public on how to choose a puppy. For further information please visit

Photo by Terry Albert ©2009. All rights reserved.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

AKC allows mixed breed dogs to compete!

I am happy to announce that the American Kennel Club has broadened its horizons and as of April 1, 2010, is allowing mixed breed classes at its agility, obedience and rally obedience performance events. This is a HUGE concession on the part of this organization, which is dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs and breeding. All registered mixes are required to be spayed or neutered.

The AKC states that their shows are for the purpose of evaluating breeding stock (similar to showing cattle and horses at 4H or the county fair). The field (hunting), tracking, earth dog and obedience classes were originally developed to evaluate a dog's ability to do what it was bred to do, giving the dog further breeding credentials.

For many years, spayed or neutered purebreds have been allowed to compete in many performance events. Allowing mixed breeds in was the next logical step. The UKC has allowed it for years. There was resistance in the AKC, and I understand that. No one wants to be seen endorsing random dog breeding, and by allowing mixes you could claim that this leans in that direction. But it's a stretch.

Mixed breeds will compete in separate classes, and only at non-conformation events. Here is the exact wording:

Mixed-breed classes can be held at all-breed sanctioned/licensed/member stand-alone AKC Companion Events. The definition of a stand-alone AKC Companion Event is an AKC Agility, Obedience or Rally event that is NOT held on the same date AND show site as an AKC All-Breed dog show, Group Show or Independent Specialty. Mixed-breed dogs compete in separate classes from purebreds.

I sense a little "keep your grubby mixed breeds away from my classy purebreds" attitude here, but this is at least a step in the right direction.

The significant benefit to the AKC is a new source of income. For a $35 fee, a mixed breed dog gets an AKC Partners registration number, a subscription to AKC Family Dog magazine, and lifetime enrollment in the AKC Companion Animal Recovery Program, all very nice benefits to the pet owner. And the AKC builds their marketing database significantly, without "endorsing" mixed breeds, or worse, "hybrids." Think of all the designer breeds that can now compete: labradoodles and goldendoodles will at last have a place to showcase their talents. (I can see the conformation crowd cringing.)

The AKC has always allowed mixed breeds (and even cats) to enroll in their CAR database. Mixes are also eligible to earn the Canine Good Citizen certificate.

Although money and marketing clout may be their motivation, I think this move benefits pet owners everywhere and helps foster responsible dog ownership. I'm sure they hope to move some owners of mixes over to the purebred world, but I for one, have owned both and loved them equally.