Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pretty in Pink

Chilean flamingos that inhabit the shallow lakes of Chile fly past  the 14,000-foot mountains of Tierra del Fuego. These birds withstand fierce conditions en route to feeding grounds in the grasslands and saline lakes of Argentina. Photo by Ben Hall.

We're Going to Need a Bigger Terrier!

These giant tunnels were likely dug by huge extinct sloths or armadillos at least 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Giant Sloth versus Dire Wolves

Show of Hands :: Arrogance, Ignorance & Greed

This Is My Ad for Coldwell Banker

Because one good turn deserves another.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Drugs Dogs of a Different Kind

From Fox News comes this story about the French Canine Connection:

Two men were arrested on drug charges after heroin was found hidden in the false bottom of a dog crate containing a Labrador retriever that had been shipped from Puerto Rico to New York.... After obtaining a search warrant, authorities recovered 10 plastic wrapped packages containing more than 22 pounds of heroin with a street value of more than $1 million. The packages were stamped with the Nike swoosh logo and a five-pointed star.

Canine Figments of the Imagination

The press is twittering over the notion that there might be a Tasmanian Tiger still extent in Northern Australia.

There's no such animal there.

The marsupial wolf, known as the Tasmanian Tiger, has not been seen in mainland Australian for at least 2,000 years. I'm not saying there's not a possible animal in Tasmania, but northern Australia? Nope.  That said, perhaps the camera trap effort to follow will give a better view of local wildlife numbers.

Along the same lines, I have been sent several links to stories about how the "New Guinea Highland Wild Dog," once thought extinct, has been "rediscovered."

Nope.  Look, I'm not interested in breaking anyone's begging bowl, but the "New Guinea Highland Wild Dog," aka the New Guinea Singing Dog has never been thought to be extinct.  There are at least 15 zoos in the U.S. with New Guinea Singing Dogs on display, and no one who has seriously looked for the dogs in the wild high mountain valleys of Papua New Guinea at 8,000-15,000 feet has ever failed to find them.

This is not to say that getting to 8,000 to 15,000 feet up the very steep mountains of remote Papua New Guinea is easy. The land is very steep, there are few roads of any kind, the ground is often marsh-like, bugs are everywhere, and it's a strictly "hope you don't die out there" kind of habitat. As for the Singing Dogs themselves, they are every bit as wary of man as any wild canid, and they do not seem to form large packs.  No wonder they are not see by the average soft-bodied ecco-tourist! There are fox and coyote running all over the U.S., but most Americans have never actually seen one!

For the record, New Guinea Singing Dogs are simply a type of dingo. An analysis of New Guinea Singing Dog mDNA shows that females have haplotype A29, and an analysis of male DNA show they have haplotype H60, which is the same as we find in dingoes in northern Australia

It should also be noted that the village dogs in remote Papua New Guinea appear to be completely undifferentiated from wild Singing Dogs, and studies suggest that the wild dogs and the village dogs are, in fact, one continuous gene pool differentiated by not by genetics, but by assimilation and early habituation to humans.


She's So Hot!

Coffee and Provocation

Polly Wants an 8-Ball
Drug-addicted parrots are locked in a vicious feud with Indian farmers as the birds plunder poppy fields for their next opium fix.

Ontario Mountain Lion
A mountain lion was found frozen into a snow bank in Ontario. It appears to have died of natural causes, after an encounter with a porcupine, and is one of the first lions seen in Ontario in a very long time.  In other Mountain Lion news, Florida lions are slowly coming north.  Thanks Lucas M.!

Trump is Killing the Gun Industry
The election of Barack Obama drove gun nuttery to dizzying heights, with gun fondlers buying multiple guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition for no reason at all. Now that the New York City loving, never-stepped-on-a-farm, don't-even own-a-pair-of-boots spray-tanned Trump is in office, gun sales have slowed to the point that Colt, Savage and Remington recently announced they are laying off employees, and industry experts predict other manufacturers will follow suit.

Coal is Dead
Solar energy accounts for some 260,000 energy jobs in the country, the majority of those are held by installers. That’s almost four times the number of coal industry jobs, about 70,000, as of May 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Canadian Smoke
The Canadian government is planning to legalize marijuana by July 2018. Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001 and is grown by 40 federally licensed producers. Canada also has free health care and a tax rate no higher than that of the U.S.

The Story Behind the Picture
It  was one of the most iconic photos of the Vietnam war, and almost everything we think about it is either misinformation or a lie.

The Dark Side of Rabbit Island
Rabbit Island, a Japanese holiday resort for bunnies, was a test site in WWII for chemical weapons. Rabbits were brought to the island as test animals.

Night Parrots are Alive in the Wild
The first confirmed sighting of a living night parrot in Western Australia in over 100 years The birds were thought extinct for 97 years, but one was confirmed as still alive in Queensland three years ago.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thanks for Spreading the Word!

10,669 visitors to the blog today. That's an abnormally high number. 3,000 to 4,000 is normal. Not sure why.

As Long As I Am President

A Brief History of Dog Collars

Dog collars showed up with the first dog.  In fact, the essential difference between a wolf and a dog may not be any genetic distinction, but simply a collar.  Take a new-born wolf pup and remove him from his litter and put on a collar, and you have a dog who is owned, and which the owner-handler has at least some control over.

Ancient Egyptian dogs collars appear to have been fabric or very thin leather, and were tied on in a ribbon-like fashion.  The metal buckle had not yet been invented.

By the time the Greek and Roman states showed up, metal work and mechanics had improved, and the buckle and hook-fastened flat collar has appeared, as well as the slip-chain collar, and the spiked dog collar for combat and wolf protection.

Leather, cloth and rope were the most common materials for early dogs collars but, because these materials wear out, rot, and disintegrate, most of the very old dog collars that are still extent are metal.

Dog collars of old were used as they are today:  to keep dogs tied up outside of buildings, to make sure dogs followed when traveling or hunting, as an aid to training, and to to aid in the return of a lost dog. 

In addition during the era prior to rabies, dog collars were an important sign that a dog was owned.  The fancier the collar, the greater the likely penalty if a dog was killed during a routine roundup of stray and feral dogs. 

As the status of dogs rose and they became consumer items, more and more dog collars were fitted with small locks. Possession of the key signaled ownership, and also helped reduce the chance of opportunistic dog theft.

By the Victorian era, as "ancient" breeds were created overnight by get-rich-quick dog dealers, an ancillary business rose up; that of making and selling fancy dog collars. 

These fancy dog collars might be worked leather with brass studs and a brass name plate, or they might be crafted from pure silver with jewels and even gold inlays.  Whatever you wanted could be bought from itinerant dog collar vendors, such as the man pictured at right.

The very best dog collars ever created are those we commonly find in pet stores today -- adjustable nylon collars with solid snap tags. 

These collars are easily adjusted, do not wear out, are very low-cost and, when combined with a slide tag, will get your dog returned to you quickly.

* * * *

A final note:  Never let your dog outside without a collar and tag on.  Never, ever, ever.  Not for a second. Not if your yard is fenced.  Never. 

More dogs are lost and killed because their idiot owners failed to follow this rule than for any other reason.  There is no excuse for a dog not having a collar on 100% of the time unless it is inside and in a crate.  If your dog is outside and in a crate (such as at a dog show or field trial) it needs to have a collar and tag on.  If it is being shipped in a crate, it needs a dog collar with tag on.  If you are just walking your dog to the mailbox at the end of driveway, your dog needs to have a collar and tag on.  Always.  No excuses.  Your dog should not die because you are a lazy idiot.

At one time, this was the most famous terrier in the world!

The Dog Whipper

A dog whipper was a church official responsible for removing hungry and barking dogs from churches and church grounds. This post was fairly common in England and continental Europe between the 16th and into the very early 19th centuries.

The Dog Whipper was armed with a three-foot-long whip and a pair of "dog tongs" (i.e. badger tongs) with which to remove dogs that barked or which would crowd or even attack priests handing out communion bread and wafers on church steps.

Sometimes Dog Whippers also served as dog catchers for the community, with stray dogs commonly drowned.

All of this was back before rabies vaccines had brought that dreaded disease under control, and before fencing was common.

Dog licenses? Invisible fence? There were no such things. Instead, there were ropes, chains, collars, cages, and whips -- the latter being the "remote trainer" of choice for a 1,000 years, and still in use today with the mounted hound packs.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Goodbye Chandler Robbins

The great Chandler Robbins died March 20th. He was 98. No one did more for bird conservation and sound science than Chandler Robbins

Chandler Robbins joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1945 as a junior biologist at what is now the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland.

Early in his career, he co-authored journal publications on the effects of DDT on breeding bird populations; work later drawn on by Rachel Carson in her book Silent Spring.  Later, he co-authored one of the first field guides to birds, the Golden Guide, which sold more than 6 million copies.

Chandler Robbins was one of the very first biologists to document the effect of forest fragmentation on eastern woodland birds . Chandler was also the first person to band the Laysan Albatross named "Wisdom" on Midway Island in 1956. As of 2016, Wisdom is at least 65 years old and still producing young!

Strip it all away, however, and Chandler Robbin will forever be known as the father of the North American Breeding Bird Survey whose data set is is one of the most important in North American science, biology, and conservation.

Fly on Chandler Robbins.  You made the world a better place.

Hope is the thing with feathers 

That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune without the words, 
And never stops at all. 

DC Gaynines

Seems a Bit Early

They're stocking flowers at the garden center.

Look Who Came to D.C.!

Falconer. writer, and public relations guru Matthew Mullenix and I finally met when he came to town to see his brother and folks. Next time, he comes digging!  And yes, that's a coffee shop.