Thursday, July 17, 2008

Animal Rights commentary

I had every intention of writing some commentary about this essay and then lost the "roundtoit" I needed to get the job done. Rather than continue to let it sit in my draft file I'm going to go ahead and post it. Everyone needs to read and think about what Mr Tyler has written. The day of the benign, little, blue-haired old lady in tennis shoes collecting stray cats and being viewed as the local town cat lady has passed. All those little ladies got run out of town by the new sheriff and his name is H$U$. In town after town all across the great nation the PETA scouts are out in huge numbers looking for the next town, city, county, state for H$U$ to attack.

Make no mistake, this is an all out war and right now the side that hates animals and humans above all is winning. Read and think about what Mr. Tyler has to say on the subject and then look at your dog/cat and wonder just how much longer you are going to be allowed to keep him/her.

May you live in interesting times
May you come to the attention of those in authority
May you find what you are looking for

With pet-related legislation on the rise, the debate regarding the ethics of animal
husbandry has reached a fever pitch.

We have witnessed the rise of an Animal Rights movement which has attained
a sizable political influence in this country. We have seen the emergence of a
multimillion dollar pet industry that has firmly entrenched itself in the American economy. As is to be expected when discussing the future of "man's best
friend," emotions run high all around the issue. With each side claiming the
moral high ground, will a compromise be reached that is in the best interest of
the domestic dog? Only time will tell.

In the mid 1980's, the Animal Rights movement was born. Their manifesto was
published in November 1987 in "Animals Agenda"magazine. The platform was
relatively simple, and a few of their tenets were as follows: Promote vegetarianism from a practical standpoint, outlaw commercial trapping as well as hunting for sport,
end the use of animals in laboratory tests and medical research, stop the use
of animals for human amusement (rodeo, circus, etc,) end the practice of factory
livestock processing, and bring about the end of the breeding of pet animals,
including those of purebred pedigree.

Today, in 2008, the Animal Rights movement is alive and flourishing.
Organizations such as PETA, and the HSUS have amassed massive financial "war chests" in the form of well-meaning donations from private citizens. Popular celebrities have championed their cause. Indeed, the very acronym "People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals" sounds, on the surface, quite appealing. Who doesn't want to see ethical treatment of animals? But lets scratch beneath the surface.

There have been many public outcries as of late alleging that the PETA
organization has in fact been euthanizing many thousands of perfectly healthy,
adoptable animals for no apparent reason. PETA has yet to refute these claims,
which would seem to lend credence to the widely held opinion that the end goal
of the Animal Rights movement in general, and the PETA organization in
particular, is to bring about the end of companion animal ownership as it is
known today, or "liberating the animals from the tyranny of human ownership," if
you will.

Celebrities who eat meat or wear fur are castigated, people who breed dogs
as a hobby are portrayed as cruel greedy individuals exploiting their animals
for a profit, and vast sums of money are thrown around backing legislation
beneficial to the overall "Animal Rights" cause.

One of the fundamental arguments of the Animal Rights movement is that
animals are not ours to consume. That animals, as living creatures, have the
right to free will. (Opponents of this position argue that because we humans
have the combination of opposable thumbs and superior cognitive skills, that
we are, by default, the dominant species and thus have the right to consume

One of the most noteworthy flaws in the Animal Rights argument, is that
proponents of such are often in favor of the mandatory spay/neuter of domestic
dogs and cats, which will be discussed at great length later in this piece. It
would seemingly be difficult for someone to one the one hand, criticize the use
of animals for food with the justification that the animal does not "want" to be
eaten, and yet, be in favor of making an animal endure a painful
castration/oveohysterectomy that the animal most certainly would
not "want," if they even had the cognitive skills to comprehend such a surgery.

However, this hypocrisy seems to be alive and well in the Animal
Rights movement. As is the culprit behind most hot-button issues in today's society, it would seem that the Animal Rights movement seeks to impose their own ethics and view of what is right and wrong upon society in general. In and of itself, this
is not a bad thing- indeed, this is how the abolitionists brought about the end
of human slavery in this country.

On the other side of this equation, you have the pet industry. The fact
is that pets are profitable, from the "womb to the tomb," that is, from the
hundreds of dollars that some families spend purchasing a dog or cat, to the
high cost of premium pet food, to the rising cost of quality veterinary care, to
expensive trips to the dog groomer, boarding care/training classes, the myriad
of toys and products we buy our pets, to the $400 cremation when the pet dies,
make no mistake, pets have become an industry. As is the case with livestock,
any time a living being becomes a profitable entity, abuse is bound to exist.

Many of us are familiar with the term "puppy mill." This term usually
calls to mind a facility where dogs are kept in squalor in wire crates, treated
as a source of income and nothing more, and bred over and over until they are no
longer able to reproduce, and then disposed of. Commercial breeding operations
have become big business.

To deny the existence of these cruel, inhumane entities, would be
shortsighted and inaccurate. As human beings, we should be appalled
that our fellow humans are capable of such cruel treatment of another living
being. The reality of puppy mills elicits emotional reactions all around, and
understandably so.

Although they undeniably give a black eye to the entire pet industry,
commercial kennels and puppy mills are only a portion of said industry. Pets
have become an activity in and of themselves. In addition to the huge sum
Americans spend annually on pet food and pet- related products, many Americans
participate in organized activities with their animals such as equine dressage
events, dog sports such as agility and flyball, 4-H shows, or just socializing with other pet owners at an off-leash dog park. But for the sake of our discussion, lets
focus for a moment on dog confirmation shows. Many untold millions are spent annually on food, lodging, and gasoline as a direct result of the many confirmation shows licenced by the American Kennel Club that are going on nationwide, on any given weekend. Dog fanciers like to call this "the sport of purebred dogs."

The sport of purebred dogs, or "dog shows," and the contribution to our
economy that comes alongside it, could not exist without canine animal
husbandry. In order to have an animal that is competitive in said events, there
must exist a "show breeder" somewhere who uses their knowledge of canine
genotype, phenotype, and their years of practical experience in showing and
breeding dogs, to produce a dog that represents a good example of its respective
breed as defined by that breed's "breed standard."

Although there are exceptions to every rule, the endeavor of producing
a good show dog is seldom a profitable one. Factor in the expenses related to
showing a dog, and the factors involved in breeding a dog (health testing, stud
fees, veterinary costs) and most "show breeders" are overjoyed if they break
even on a litter of puppies. They do what they do out of the natural human love
for competition, and presumably, a love for and desire to preserve their breed
of choice.
Never mind the emotional stress often involved in backing up the animals that you have bred for their entire life. This person is what we commonly refer to as
a "hobby breeder."

Rare is the ethical "hobby breeder" who makes a profit on their
endeavor. Even rarer still is the commercial kennel who makes arbitrary breeding
decisions (as opposed to informed ones) that has success in the confirmation
ring. While there are breeders who blur the line between "puppy mill" and "hobby
breeder," for the most part, you have the people who are taking advantage of
dogs for a profit, and you have the people who have a legitimate interest in
purebred dogs and treat theirs well.

In the case of both the Animal Rights movement, and the pet industry,
good exists alongside evil. Just like no rational person would be in support of
the unnecessary torture of laboratory animals for non-medical research, no rational person would be in favor of keeping dogs in squalor in the name of financial gain.

Thus, you have some aspects of the Animal Rights platform that are perfectly logical, and you have some aspects of the pet industry that are perfectly ethical. And then,
you have the "grey areas."

On both sides of this equation, there has arisen a subculture that is
bound and determined to adhere to an extremist dogma. I have seen Animal Rights
advocates assassinate the character of anyone who breeds dogs, portraying them as vile, greedy individuals out to make a quick buck. On the other hand, i have seen ANTI- Animal Rights individuals so bound and determined to fight the Animal Rights cause, that they will even defend the "puppy mill" proprietor as a "legitimate business owner." As you can see, dogma comes in many forms, and in any of them, it is a dangerous entity.

Most of your "hobby breeders," that is, people who have a source of
income BESIDES the dogs, people who do it for the personal glory and/or the love
of their breed, are completely appalled by the plight of the dogs trapped in
commercial kennels and puppy mills. If you think a member of PETA hates the
proprietors of puppy mills, you should hear how a hobby breeder talks about

However, politics makes for strange bedfellows, and lately, it seems
increasingly likely that dog breeders of any scope are going to have to unite to
fight to defend their right to continue breeding dogs. Ironic, considering it is
the commercial breeders and the puppy mills who gave rise to the pet
overpopulation crisis that has allowed the Animal Rights movement to achieve the
level of support it currently enjoys, which in turn, has put the existence of
the hobby breeder in such peril.

However, while commercial kennels and puppy mills are, by consensus,
abhorrent entities, their actions, despicable as they may be, do not impede or
interfere with the activities of hobby breeders. The same cannot be said for the
Animal Rights movement. So, for the moment, the hobby breeders and the
commercial breeders would appear to have a common enemy.

How did this come to pass? Suffice it to say that agribusiness is an
incredibly powerful, entrenched industry that is not going away any time soon.
Even the almighty PETA will never amount to more than a fly in the ointment to
the cattle industry.

So the Animal Rights movement, being wise enough to pick their battles, has
seemingly put imposing vegetarianism on all all Americans on the back
burner and focused their efforts on what they perceive to be more
attainable goals. Enter the concept of mandatory spay/neuter legislation.

Nationwide, the battle is raging between Animal Rights advocates and
dog breeders regarding the issue of mandatory spay- neuter legislation. Such
legislation recently passed in Dallas, and over a half-dozen houses in Dallas
went on the market that day. This is only a glimpse of the economic damage that
is in store for any municipality that adopts this legislation to the extent that
it impedes the activities of dog breeders.

Indeed, there exists a type of breeder known as a "backyard breeder,"
someone who does not licence their dogs, does not provide them with
suitable care, and does not make there breeding decisions based upon the
principles of responsible animal husbandry. This "backyard breeder" is a small-
scale version of the commercial breeder, and these backyard breeders, along with
the animals that they produce, have become a social problem, contributing to pet
overpopulation to the extent that legislation is being introduced to curb their

In California, where an attempt to pass a statewide mandatory
spay/neuter law was soundly defeated in 2007, the legislation was recently
re-introduced in a deceptive form that would allow Animal Control
Officers to issue a citation for having an intact dog, despite their being no
language in the bill that actually criminalizes the possession of an intact dog!
This is in violation of California's state constitution.

In Chicago, a bill was introduced by Ald. Ed Burke that would require individuals to
purchase a "breeding permit" in order to own an intact dog. This additional licencing, and the financial burden that it would impose upon the hobby breeder in Chicago is
very linear to the logical flaw in gun control laws, which is that only
law-abiding citizens tend to obey said laws. Your average robber is not going to
purchase a concealed weapons permit for his handgun, and your average backyard
breeder is not going to purchase a breeder's licence for his dogs. So in effect, the legislation will only serve as a punitive measure upon those who DO obey the law.

Millions of animals are euthanized annually in this country in shelters
nationwide. Whether or not this is necessary is the subject of fierce debate, with the
city of San Francisco having recently adopted a highly successful "no-kill"
strategy, the jury is still out on whether the massive euthanasia of homeless
pets is the appropriate response to pet overpopulation. The en vogue strategy of
the Animal Rights movement is to lay the blame for these deaths at the feet of
the dog breeder, both commercial and hobby alike, by the logic that every pet
sold takes a potential home away from a shelter animal. However, not enough
attention is paid to the fact that a shelter dog is not the desire of, nor the
suitable option for every family.

Perhaps a family wants their child to participate in the sport of purebred dogs as a
constructive hobby. Perhaps a family wants a dog with 3 verifiable generations
of health testing behind it. Perhaps a family simply does not feel comfortable
bringing a shelter dog of unknown origin and background around their child.

Despite that, the Animal Rights advocates continue to cling to their
oft-told mantra of "don't breed or buy while shelter animals die!" This is
another example of the Animal Rights movement's tendency to use hyperbole and a distortion of the facts in an attempt to mandate other people to adhere to their own ethics.

Shelters do not "have" to euthanize animals. Several workable models of the
"no- kill" philosophy exist for the shelter that chooses to implement them.
Further, while dog breeders should be morally obligated to stand behind the
animals they have bred, reclaim and re-home them should they end up in a shelter, it is fundamentally un-american to tell a family that their only choice of location to obtain a dog from should be the animal shelter. This is where you leave the black and white of ethical behavior, and venture into that grey area of imposing upon the freedoms of others.

Many of the supporters of a moratorium on dog breeding claim that it is
a temporary measure, a "stop-gap" until the plight of homeless animals has
eased. Supporters of such a theory are either very foolish for believing
that the government would ever voluntarily return to us a right that we
voluntarily surrendered, or they are using the concept of a moratorium to mask
their true agenda, the extinction of the domestic dog.

Because you see, if every dog or cat in America were spayed and neutered tomorrow, as is the stated goal of the Animal Rights movement, it would, by the very laws of biology, then be physically impossible for those animals to produce a subsequent generation of pets. Which directly equates to there being NO MORE pets, 20 years from now. This is the extinction of the domestic dog that was referred to earlier. This is the "dirty little secret" of the Animal Rights movement.

The cold hard fact of the matter is, that the United States Department
of Agriculture has failed miserably to enforce laws already on the books
regarding the welfare of animals in commercial kennels. Instead of lobbying
politicians to draft new legislation that is punitive to the hobby breeder, why
have the Animal Rights advocates not focused their tremendous financial
resources on getting the government to enforce laws that are already on the
books regarding commercial kennels that have been ignored for decades?

Could it be that the actual goal of PETA is not to improve the
treatment of animals, but to eradicate pet animal ownership?

So then, what is to be done? Is it possible to end the cycle of cruelty
and greed that is the commercial kennel, without embarking upon a slippery slope
that erodes the rights of ANY American to own and breed a dog? Should every
advocate of Animal Rights be written off due to their irrational position on the dog
breeding issue? Is there any compromise to be had? Should we, as hobby breeders,
choose the lesser of two evils, and stand shoulder to shoulder with the commercial kennel industry in defense of our right to continue to own and breed our dogs?

There are no easy answers. However, if we continue upon our current
course, make no mistake, we will wake up one day a couple decades from now, look
around, and wonder where our best friend went. And if that day should come to
pass, George Washington, the father of our country and an an accomplished dog
breeder who kept immaculate records, will look down upon us in sorrow, and
wonder how we let it happen.

We have done quite enough talking. The time for action is now.
Californians, please urge your state representative to vote no on AB 1634.
Chicagoans, give Ed Burke's office a phone call. Dallas- you're screwed.
Sorry. Sell your house and send a letter to your local chamber of commerce
explaining exactly why you did so.

Anthony Philip Tyler
Hachiko's Legacy Akita

This article was the result of weeks of interaction
with people on all sides of the issue. I attempted to be as objective as possible. Having said that, I AM a dog breeder. I AM against mandatory spay/neuter legislation and I work vigorously to oppose it.
And further, allow me to say with no confusion, to any Animal Rights activists who may be reading... As long as the 2nd amendment is still in effect, you will get my dogs' reproductive organs when you pry them from my COLD DEAD HANDS.
Seriously- come try to "liberate" my dogs from the "evils" of my
ownership. You WILL be leaving on a stretcher. Church.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Then and now

IF you were a child 50 years ago you spent your summers outside, sometimes from dawn to dusk and you:

  • Rode a bike
  • Climbed trees and built tree houses
  • Went swimming/wading in the local creek
  • Played on some great playground equipment (who remembers the maypole, the merry-go-round where a couple of big kids had to run really fast to get it started and then you all kept it going by leaning in and out or the climbing ladders or a whole host of other pieces of equipment that no longer exist.
  • Played red rover, kick ball, hopscotch, four-square, jumped double dutch
  • Collected butterflies, lightening bugs, June bugs, tadpoles And a host of other activities that required you to be able run, jump, climb, twist, turn and deal with the occasional scrapped knee/elbow/sprain/bruise or even broken bone.
  • You also did yard and garden work (unless you live in the city and didn't get shipped off to the grandparents) You learn how to handle all your body parts.

IF you were a child 40 years ago you

  • spent your summers outside/inside, but rare was the day spent from dawn to dusk outside doing stuff.

However, you probably still managed to

  • Ride a bike
  • Climb a few trees, no tree houses allowed
  • Went swimming, but a the local community pool/no wading in the creek because it was now an encased drainage ditch and fenced off
  • Played at the playground, but most of the really good playground equipment had been replaced with "safe" and non-challenging items
  • Didn't do much collecting of anything insect-wise for one or more of several political reasons
  • May or may not have learned how to jump rope, play Four-Square, hopscotch, kick the can
  • May have been enrolled in adult supervised team sports
  • Did yard work and/or worked in a garden, but only if you lived in the country
  • You didn't have as much of a chance to learn how to really handle all your body parts, but at least there was still some effort being made.

IF you were a child 30 years ago you spent your summers

  • Inside/outside and were only outside for fairly short periods of time.
  • You might know how to ride a bike.
  • You most likely never climbed a tree.
  • If you went swimming at all it was at the community center and as a part of a swimming class or swim team
  • Were afraid of insects
  • Never played an outside game that didn't include adult supervision, lots of protective gear and a strict schedule
  • Played video games at the local video game parlor
  • Were encouraged to engage in far fewer physical activities of any sort

IF you were a child 20 years ago you spent your summers

  • Inside and only went outside to get from one place to another.
  • Once in a great while you spend a couple of hours outside.
  • You might learn to skateboard or use in line skates, bikes were optional
  • Swimming optional
  • Games requiring you to be outside...optional
  • Insects, birds, snakes, turtles, tadpoles and most dogs and cats were not things you willingly came in contact with.
  • Someone drove you to all your activities, most of which were done in clean, air-conditioned buildings with you under close adult supervision and wearing all sorts of padding and safety gear
  • all those skinned knees would probably cause arthritis
  • Video games were the physical activity of choice

IF you were a child 10 years ago you spent your summers

  • Inside
  • Someone always drove you from place to place
  • Bikes, skateboards, in line skates were too dangerous
  • Trees are dangerous
  • Insects, birds, snakes, turtles, tadpoles and most dogs and cats are dangerous
  • Everything you will ever need to know you can learn on a computer.
  • Soon there will no longer be a need to walk, much less run.

And that is why I say people under the age of 50 have to be taught how to handle their own bodies before they can even begin to have a prayer of being successful with this four-legged creature known as dog.

Of course they don't know how to treat a dog as a dog, they have never had a chance to learn what a dog is to begin with and so lack a reasonable frame of reference. Right now their only frame of reference to what a dog is can be seen on CBS: Greatest American Dog

Right now, on the other side of my tall fence on two sides is an apartment complex. It's been there for about 30 years. Thirty years ago, there were children outside playing in the summer. I know there are children living there. I see them in the early morning as they are being hustled into cars to go to ??? And I see them in the evening when they are brought home. I see the school bus that picks them up during the school year.

These children are NEVER, EVER outside to play or do anything other than get into or out of a car. They are NOT learning how to walk, run, fall, deal with a scrapped knee or elbow or a host of other things that truly are necessary for healthy growth and development. What I hear from the kids who come to me is that all their friends think they are really strange because they go to "this place" where they are around dangerous beasts, dangerous insects, turtles, trees that need climbing. They get scraped knees, elbows, stings. They get hot, dirty, wet, and according to their parents smelly.

They are the lucky ones.

At 13 they are falling over their own feet, by 16 they move with the smooth grace of a healthy youngster. It is extremely obvious right now because I have three here with me. Three who have learned or are learning how to move and handle themselves and I also have two who come with a parent to take lessons. Those two are clumsy, jerky, and clueless. They hate being outside. They whine about the bugs. They are afraid of the other dogs.

They can't even run without herky-jerky, elbows flapping, toes pointed like a duck movement. Harsh assessment? Yep. Honest assessment? Yep. Will they get better? Doubtful. Why? Because their parents aren't one bit better and are far too worried about the dangers of scraped knees or elbows. They are bloody well learning how to be a great computer software accessory, but are they learning how to be human?

A slightly different version of this started out as an email post and after some thought I decided it really needed to become a part of my blog. More on the subject later.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Ear progress and other fun stuff

Little by little I am starting to see some progress with the ears up business. This morning I switched to a verbal bridge to keep the ears up for a longer period of time. I'm now requiring her to keep them up while changing from a stand to a sit and then back to a stand. Considering how much effort that is appearing to take on her part, I'm going to hold at this level for a couple of days.

One of the things on my list of to do's is getting the ears up position tied to a camera. That way when she sees a camera pointing in her direction she will immediately put those ears all the way up. In thinking back I seem to remember we spent one entire summer teaching Charity to put her ears up and always "pose" whenever she saw a camera pointed in her direction. Don't have a clue as to why I forgot that part, but I sure did.

If Sanity is steady enough with the positions and ears I'm going to try adding the camera to the mix on Friday. So now I have a specific goal to reach.

Normally Sanity and I go out on Tuesdays just so I can do that nail thing I insist is necessary for me to maintain some sort of mental health. However, the normal schedule of events was switched around a bit and this week we went on that jaunt today.

This is what things look like at the nail shop:

"Hi! Good to see you. With the Fourth of July almost on us, I think I'd like to go red this week."
"That's the red I had in mind."
"Fine, I'll just need you to put your paw right here."
"Keep it to color only, no grinding. That part got taken care of at home. You know I don't like to sit in this chair overly long."

And this is what the finished product looks like for this week. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!!!!!