While Amish breeders are notorious for running puppy mills, some of those in southern Indiana are working with Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science to improve their breeding practices and, in the process, their reputations.
“It was time that we as breeders recognize that there are professionals out there that can help us and we need to involve them in our businesses,” said Levi Graber, a member of Odon’s Amish community who helps several breeders in the area.
Though the Amish aren’t known for reaching out, or letting people in, Graber contacted the university a few years ago about improving Amish-run breeding operations in the region. That led to a pilot program in which the operations are reviewed, and suggestions are made on how to improve them.
Already, those behind the program say, they’ve found that improving conditions and practices at the kennels leads to happier, healthier, better behaved dogs.
Under the program, which is open to non-Amish breeders as well, a set of voluntary standards will be created for breeders to follow, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
“Many folks hear about breeding and animal welfare and they don’t know what (breeders) actually do. They just want to put them out of business,” said Purdue’s Candace Croney, director of the animal welfare center.
Most dogs she and her team of researchers have observed have been in good physical health, Croney said, but some had room for improvement in their behavior. Some facilities’ dogs were loud and dogs became over-excited when they saw people, which Croney said indicated they weren’t used to seeing people often.
The research team advised those breeders to make sure something positive happens for the dogs, such as receiving a treat, every time someone comes into the kennel area. They also suggested letting the dogs out in the yard daily to exercise and socialize.
The changes made a big impact, Croney said. Over four months, the dogs in the kennel with the most behavioral issues became calmer when they saw people, and they physically looked better.
“We’ve seen a very positive impact on some of the things she recommends,” Graber said. “I’ve seen more contented, happy dogs.”
Once the trial program is complete, a third party will audit the breeders’ practices, Croney said.
Breeders who qualify will receive a certification that she said goes beyond the standards mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which cover areas such as housing, sanitation, food, water and protection against extreme weather and temperatures.
Graber said the community feels fortunate to work with Purdue and emphasized that the breeders don’t want to sell puppies that disappoint anyone.
Not all Amish-run breeding operations are like those that end up on the news, noted Dale Blier, who works for Blue Ribbon Vet & Supply in Odon and sells supplies to many breeders in town.
“The majority of dog breeders in Indiana treat their dogs the same way they treat making furniture: They want to be the best at it they can,” he said.
(Photo: A child sits with puppies at a breeding operation in Odon that’s working with Purdue’s Center for Animal Welfare Science program; by Levi Graber)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 24th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amish, behavior, breeders, breeding, center for animal welfare, conditions, health, improvements, improving, indiana, kennels, odon, operations, perceptions, program, puppies, puppy mills, purdue university, reputation, southern indiana
If you were built like a bowling ball, you too might have a propensity for rolling.
Bulldogs sure seem to.
Sophie was just a two-month old pup when her owners noted how much she liked rolling, caught it on camera and posted it on YouTube. It would turn out to be the first in a series of rolling Sophie videos.
“Usually she just throws herself onto her back and rolls around but the first few times she did it she happened to be on a sloping hill … I just set her down to go potty and as you see in the video, she threw herself down on the ground and rolled down the hill,” her owner wrote in a YouTube post.
“I picked her up, terrified that she had ‘fallen’ down this hill but I put her back down and she just did it again and again, 4 more times with such gusto we realized she was just having a ball! We were a bit afraid that she had ‘issues’ but she’s perfectly fine. We contacted the breeder and it turns out Sophie’s mother did the same thing.”
More recently, another rolling bulldog debuted on the Internet and quickly went viral:
So what’s behind it?
One plausible theory could be, in addition to seeming to enjoy the activity, they may be scratching some itches.
Given how humans have shaped the breed, an English Bulldog — with its short legs, short neck, and non-existent snout — isn’t able to reach too many parts of its body with its paws or mouth.
Human manipulation of the breed has led to far more severe, and less laughable, problems than that, including having heads so large most have to be born through C-sections. But they’ve adapted to the shape we’ve given them — at least in this regard.
They let the ground be their back scratcher. They roll over and squirm around on their backs — even though getting in and out of that position is sometimes a struggle.
To cope with that, they find a good hill, allow momentum do its job, and let the good times roll.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 9th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, back, breeding, breeds, bulldog, bulldogs, dogs, hills, manipulating, pets, reason, rolled, rolling, rolls, scratch, video, videos
Allegations of wide-scale voter fraud may not effect the presidential race, but they have kept a one-eyed Chihuahua from appearing on the tail of Frontier Airlines jets.
The Denver-based airline announced Monday that it has suspended its “Mascot on the Tail” contest because it had been “compromised” by fraudulent voting.
“We have determined that the contest has been compromised by fraudulent activity and ineligible voting that has created an unfair environment for all participants,” the airline said in a statement. “We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience.”
The contest, launched in March, invited universities, high schools and other organizations to campaign and vote for their mascot to appear on the tail of some Frontier planes.
Given that getting themselves free publicity (and gathering as many email addresses as possible) were the real reasons for Frontier to hold the contest, and given online contests aren’t exactly the epitome of the one-person-one-vote ideal, the airline’s explanation came across as a little hollow, and a little suspect.
Especially to those supporting Harley, a one-eyed Chihuahua who was the mascot of National Mill Dog Rescue.
Harley, a puppy mill survivor and the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog for 2015, was among the top vote-getters in the contest (voting was scheduled to end April 30) when it was abruptly called off.
“Once entered, Harley quickly gained tremendous support thanks to you – his fans – and he also gained the support of several news stations, animal welfare organizations and even celebrities,” a statement on on Harley’s Facebook page says.
“Over the course of a week Harley reached over 37,000 votes and was in first place. He was well ahead of all other contestants…It soon became clear that Harley had an excellent chance of winning the contest. Then, suddenly, Frontier Airlines suspended the contest. Their explanation was that there was voter fraud and they blamed international voters.”
Frontier spokesman Jim Faulkner said the airline did not suspend the voting due to the possibility of Harley winning, the Denver Post reported.
Instead, the contest was halted due to “several” instances of fraud, including cases of ineligible, non-U.S. residents voting, he said.
Faulkner did not pinpoint any particular contestant that was benefiting from “fraudulent” voting.
The airline plans to send $20 travel vouchers to everyone who voted in the online contest as “a token of good will,” he added.
Harley’s supporters freely admit to campaigning heavily for their candidate. They saw it as a way to educate the public about the horrors of puppy mills and honor the memory of Harley, who passed away last month at the age of 15.
Creating a social media buzz, and spreading the word about the contest served them well, and served Frontier Airlines well.
We’d hate to think politics were involved, or that some airline big wig thought the image of a one-eyed dog might besmirch their shiny jets.
Other mascots competing in the contest included Colorado State University’s Cam the Ram; University of Colorado’s Ralphie the bison; University of Florida’s Albert and Alberta Gator; and the University of California Santa Cruz mascot, Sammy the Slug.
Harley, a little dog who came to represent perseverance and resiliency, was the only contestant with a message — and maybe that frightened the airline. Maybe they were afraid of losing any unethical breeders they had as passengers.
Michele Burchfield, marketing director for the National Mill Dog Rescue, said Harley’s high number of votes were the result of his message and an active social media and e-mail campaign that caught on with puppy mill opponents across the country.
“If Frontier opens up the contest again, we would be thrilled to enter him again and honored to have him on the tail of a plane knowing that our voting is legitimate and honest,” Burchfield said. “We did everything we could to bring this honor to him.”
“This little guy could get a million votes in a month if he needed it,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 7th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airplane, american humane association, animals, breeders, breeding, cancel, cancels, chihuahua, contest, dog, dogs, frontier, frontier airlines, harley, image, jets, likeness, mascot, national mill dog rescue, one eye, one-eyed, online, pets, photo, public, puppy mill, rescue, survivor, tail, vote
Just like last year, Crufts offered up a choice for discerning scandal mongers as the world’s most prestigious dog show came to a close in the UK over the weekend.
Before the dog hair had been cleared away from the NEC in Birmingham, charges of nepotism were swirling after it was revealed judge Di Arrowsmith awarded best gundog to a Gordon setter partly owned and bred by her sister, Josie Baddely.
And animal advocates and others were raising a stink about the Kennel Club judges awarding best in breed to a German shepherd who would have been a walking exemplar of the direction breeders had long been trying to take the breed in — that slinky appearance, with a sloped back and hind legs that seem to trail far behind the rest of the animal.
He would have been an exemplar of that, at least, had the dog had been able to walk.
First, because it’s a little more clear-cut, we’ll deal with the nepotism.
Arrowsmith insisted she awarded the prize on the dog’s merits.
“When I adjudicate, I do so without fear or favor,” she told the Daily Mail. “The Gordon setter was the best dog in the ring on that night. It would have been dishonest not to give the award to him.”
The Telegraph reported that criticism was running rampant on dog breeder forums on the Internet.
“Most exhibitors who adhere to decent standards of behavior don’t enter under judges who are related to them,” one said. “The decent thing to do is withdraw from the group judging,” said another. A third said: “This is yet another Crufts controversy that will only harm the competition.”
The Kennel Club, which runs the show, insisted no rules were broken.
Caroline Kisko, the secretary of the Kennel Club, insisted the winning gundog won the prize on his merits. In a statement, she said: “It is important to clarify that no rules were broken here. Any dog that is chosen as a winner is done so because of the judge’s honest opinion on the day and is judged with integrity.”
The statement goes on, at length, with trademark bluster, to defend the decision — even though that’s really not the point.
Whether it’s Miss America pageants, Nobel Prizes or dog shows, you just don’t allow people to serve as judges in competitions in which their family members are entered. Fathers shouldn’t be judging sons. Sisters shouldn’t be judging sisters — even sisters who don’t get along (as is reportedly the case here.)
But does the Kennel Club say, “Yeah, you’re right, that was pretty stupid of us?” No, they spin and defend, manipulating the truth much like breeders and breed standards have manipulated dog breeds.
Which brings us back to the deformed, mutant German shepherd.
Sure, it could have been a case of nerves, or health problems unrelated to genetics that led her to stumble her way through the spotlight at Crufts.
But I suspect it has something to do with a limited gene pool. Design a human whose feet aren’t under his butt and he’d have trouble going through the paces, too.
Just as close relatives shouldn’t be judging each other in contests, they shouldn’t be breeding with each other — especially when the sole goal of those overseeing the breeding is to produce an offspring that accentuates some silly, and often unhealthy, physical characteristic that the latest breed standards deem “desirable.”
As seen in the video at the top of this post, the dog named best in breed, Cruaghaire Catoria, is barely able to trot across the arena floor. It’s as if her front legs and rear legs are operating independently of each other.
Why then award her best in breed? For one thing, her shape conforms to what, until recent years, was considered the ideal (when in reality it was unhealthy, prone to causing hip problems, and gave the breed the appearance of a skulking, runaway felon).
Correcting that, just like achieving it, takes some time — and that’s if there’s consensus among the breeders and all those smug kennel club types who have trouble ever admitting they were wrong.
If Cruaghaire Catoria is any indication, that consensus doesn’t exist.
(Photo: James, the Gordon setter chosen best gun dog; ASC/ZDS/Anthony Stanley / WENN.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 15th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 2016, animals, breed standards, breeders, breeding, breeds, crufts, deformed, dog, dog show, dog shows, dogs, german shepherd, gordon setter, judge, kennel club, mutant, nepotism, pets, scandals, sister
At age 3, his owners in Minnesota figured Beau — full name Victoire Gerie’s No Lemon Gemstone — could breed at least until he was 10.
In the process, they figured, they would be ensuring his genes and his legacy lived on .
And they’d get the puppy that they desperately wanted.
But those hopes, and those bucks, seemingly became a thing of the past when Beau’s breeder had the little white dog neutered without their knowledge, owners Mary and John Wangsness allege in a lawsuit.
The legal dispute has been going on for about a year now in Minnesota’s Ramsey County, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The Wangsnesses allege breeder Vickie Halstead, who sold them the dog, acted in “vengeance” by neutering Beau because they had tried to breed him twice to a female dog, Cha Cha, without obtaining Halstead’s approval, which was required in the sales contract.
They are seeking more than $50,000 in damages, and about eight vials of what they believe to be Beau’s frozen semen, now stored in a veterinary clinic and estimated to be worth $3,000 each.
The semen is being held under Halstead’s name, and the lawsuit alleges she has already profited from selling two vials.
As John Wangsness sees it, since it came from the loins of his dog, what’s in those vials are his.
“Damn right, they’re mine,” he said.
Beau was neutered without their approval in July 2013, when he was 4.
“After hearing about the neutering, and I’m not overstating things at all, Mary literally cried and stayed in bed for three weeks,” said Wangsness, adding that she never fully recovered before she died this past March.
The case isn’t as black and white as it might seen. In the competitive world of dog showing, ownership of a dog — as well as decisions about its care and profits — are often contractually shared between the breeder and the owner.
And that much debated sperm might not even be Beau Lemon’s.
Halstead’s attorney, Joseph Crosby, said at a recent hearing that the frozen semen belongs to Beau’s brother, Beau Jangles.
Crosby said Halstead “rescued” the dog from the Wangsnesses because they were neglecting him. He said Beau was suffering from dental disease, a low sperm count, impacted anal glands, and a matted and unhealthy coat.
Crosby said Beau’s neutering was necessary due to his “deteriorated health condition.”
In June of 2013, Halstead borrowed Beau from the Wangsnesses for what she told them was breeding purposes, the lawsuit says.
They did not learn of his neutering until he was returned.
Larry Leventhal, attorney for the Wangsnesses, said the couple treated Beau as a pet, but they also expected to have the option of breeding him several times a year at a rate of $2,000 to $3,000 per breeding until he turned 10.
Wangsness said that, more than money, he wants justice for his wife.
“I would like some vindication for the emotional distress that happened to Mary as a result of [Beau’s neutering],” Wangsness said.
Attorneys were scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss a settlement agreement.
(Photo: Beau, as pictured on the website for Victoir’s Bichons)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 23rd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, beau lemon, bichon frise, breeders, breeding, champion, competition, court, dog, dog shows, dogs, frozen semen, lawsuit, neutered, pets, Ramsey County, settlement, sperm, Vicki Halstead
When her mother found eight babies too much to handle, a cheetah named Adaeze was cut off — both from her mother’s milk and from being able to bond with her siblings.
Adaeze and two of her male siblings had to be nursed by the staff at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Greenwich, Conn. Between the hand feeding and having a brother to bond with, the two young males thrived.
But Adaeze remained something of a social outcast.
Then, about seven weeks after her birth, she met Odie, an overweight Australian shepherd.
“They just, for whatever reason, gravitated toward each other,” said Marcella Leone, founder of the center. “If the dog is with her then she’s just relaxed. He helps her take in change better than a wild animal is programmed to do.”
The center is a nonprofit, off-exhibit, accredited breeding reserve for rare and endangered animals.
Odie, who is neither rare nor endangered, is the pet of Leone’s husband.
Odie and Adaeze spend their days together, and sleep together. They are separated only at mealtime, and as soon as they are done eating they wait, nose-to-nose on opposite sides of a door, to be reunited.
It’s not the first time a dog has been used to chill out cheetahs.
The San Diego Zoo has been pairing dogs and cheetahs for about 40 years. Dogs help the cheetahs remain calm and better respond to each other, boosting the cheetah reproduction rate at the zoo.
Leone was hoping a dog would do that and more for Adaeze.
Leone told ABC News that she first tried pairing the cheetah with a younger dog that was very calm.
She had Odie fill in one day though, and he — despite his rambunctiousness — proved to be a better pairing.
“They roughhouse and play nonstop. They’re just best friends who love each other,” Leone said.
Adaeze is not domesticated, but a tame wild animal who has been trained to appear at wildlife conservation presentations — mainly about the plight the cheetah, an endangered animal, Greenwich Time reported.
Adaeze, with help from Odie, has become so calm and comfortable with crowds that has been selected out of the 18 cheetahs that live at the 100-acre LEO center to be its ambassador animal.
In coming months, the two companions will be attending a fundraiser for the Cheetah Conservation Fund in New York City, and presenting at the American Museum of Natural History and the Explorers Club.
Leone said at such presentation Odie will rarely sit when asked, but Adaeze always will.
“Odie is full of energy but is somehow this calming force for Adaeze,” she said.
(Photo: Leone, Adaeze and Odie, courtesy of LEO Zoological Conservation Center)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 21st, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adaeze, animals, australian shepherd, bond, bonding, breeding, cheetah, cheetah and dog, connecticut, dog, dog and cheetah, dogs, endangered species, family, friendship, greenwich, interspecies, leo, marcella leone, odie, pets, zoological conservation center
It’s a well-known but little publicized fact that some dogs competing at Westminster and in many other dog shows aren’t brought into the world in a 100 percent natural way.
Since the 1960s, breeders have been harvesting semen from male purebreds — one technique for which is demonstrated in the video above — and inserting it into females in hopes of creating champions.
The American Kennel Club, though it doesn’t allow cloned dogs to participate in the dog shows it sanctions, has no problem with permitting those who are products of artificial insemination.
Over the decades, as with artificial insemination in humans, the technology has progressed and become widely accepted. (My view is, if we are going to widely accept something, we shouldn’t balk at watching it.)
While some human, uh, effort is involved in the semen-gathering method depicted above, more state of the art techniques involve artificial vaginas and electro-stimulation. Even today though, to get the canine juices flowing, breeders commonly use a female dog in heat, parading her in front of the male. She’s referred to as a “teaser bitch.”
Breeders say practicing artificial insemination can help improve the quality of breeds. For sure, it gives them more control, allowing them to overcome logistical obstacles, such as when a male and female are living on opposite ends of the country. They can still have a long distance relationship, so to speak.
It allows a champion male to breed with many more females than would be physically possible through traditional one-on-one mating. It allows older male dogs to continue reproducing after they can no longer mount a female. And it allows a male dog to keep producing offspring long after his death, which is the case with a champion Old English sheep dog named Yoshi.
Yoshi, under his registered name, Lambluv Desert Dancer, won more best in shows than any other sheep dog. He won Best of Breed at Westminster three times, most recently in 1999. He died in 2006, but he could still be daddy to more than 100 future litters.
“I have about 100 straws,” his owner Jere Marder told Bloomberg.com, in reference to the frozen semen samples from Yoshi she has in storage.
No product of artificial insemination has won at Westminster, but last year’s runner up in Best in Breed was a dog created with 17-year-old sperm from one of Lambluv’s sheep dogs.
“Most serious breeders that I know of have something in store,” says Marder, who owns Lambluv Old English Sheepdogs. “If anything, it’s just a precaution; otherwise, if anything happens to your champion dog before you can breed him, you’re out a good chunk of money.”
“It’s definitely a market — and one that’s growing,” said Randall Popkin, owner of the California-based Breeder’s Veterinary Services, which has been storing frozen semen and inseminating dogs with it since 1984.
“When I first started, few breeders were doing this,” he said. “Nowadays, you travel to dog shows and there’ll be three companies there offering to freeze your dog’s semen.”
According to the American Kennel Club, the number of registered purebred litters conceived with frozen semen has risen by 26 percent over the past decade. In 2013, the year for which the most recent data is available, the AKC registered about 2,200 litters that were produced via artificial insemination. That’s about 1 percent of all AKC-approved litters.
The Bloomberg article notes there are downsides.
In 2009, a Pembroke Welsh corgi breeder sued an animal hospital after her dog was allegedly accidentally inseminated with sperm from a Great Pyrenees — a breed roughly five times her dog’s size. The corgi nearly died giving birth.
In addition, there have been lawsuits over samples that were damaged during shipping or produced puppies that didn’t look purebred. In 2012, a jury awarded $200,000 to a Pennsylvania breeder who had sued a veterinary hospital for accidentally defrosting more than 100 samples from her champion poodles.
Marder, who sat out Westminster this year, says she’d love to see one of dead Yoshi’s offspring win there someday. Doing so, the article said “feels to her as if she’s keeping her old dogs alive.”
(Photo: Yoshi, from the website Lambluv.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 19th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, artificial insemination, artificial vagina, breeders, breeding, breeds, dog shows, dogs, harvesting, pets, purebreds, semen, sheep dog, sheepdog, sperm, teaser bitch, westminster, yoshi