Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Passion of Discipline...

There are two passions in my life, aside from my family and grandchildren... red dogs and wrestling. Twenty 25 years ago, I was a new teacher in our local school district, Buckeye Local Schools. My principal Mr. Hall called me into the office and said, "we need a wrestling coach for the junior high school. You're it." So began my love of the sport. I never had wrestled as a student myself, so it bascially was up to me to "learn the ropes," which I did by attending some clinics, but mostly by beginning to attend the local high school practices with the varsity team. Over the next couple of years, I was able to learn enough about the sport to be able to teach the basics to my middle school athletes. In the course of the experience, I fell in love with the sport.

Wrestling is a lot like field trialing. It requires extreme dedication and committment. Wrestling is tougher than any other sport at the high school level. Football, basketball, cross country, track, soccer, all pale in comparison to wrestling. The training is more difficult, more physical, more punishing, and more intense. If you are going to win wrestling matches, you must have stamina, strength, flexibility, expertise and knowledge, and most importantly, a mental attitude. Unlike most high school sports, when a wrestler steps out on the mat, it's all him. There's no line backers, guards, wing man, or wide receiver to help out. Nobody to blame for the result. It's all you.

Wrestling builds character in young people. It teaches the most fundamental values that we all wish to see in our children. Mental toughness, appreciation for working as a team, "stick-to-it"iveness, good sportsmanship. It's the greatest sport in the nation for building young minds and bodies. It's also why you wont' find big crowds of young people flocking to sign up for the sport... it's tough, and many young people today unfortunately are not interested in anything tough. If I have 100 applicants for a job, and I note that 10 of them were high school wrestlers, they go to the top of the stack for consideration, because I know that they know the meaning of hard work, discipline, and committment.

The high school in our area where I worked and coached for 15 years is Edgewood Senior High School. Go Edgewood Warrier Wrestling!! We are good friends with our neighbors, the Dickeys, who happen to have 3 boys wrestling this year at Edgewood. Travis, Tyler, and Jordyn are great young men who give it their all when it comes to wrestling, academics, and just about anything that comes their way. When Deb and I are on the road and we need someone to help out with our animals and chores, these three young men step up to the plate and get it done for us. We couldn'd ask for better neighbors and friends.

This past weekend Edgewood wrestled in a 36 team tournament in Wheeling WVa. Some of the top wrestling athletes from around the tri-state area were present. It was an awesome 2 days of non-stop wrestling. I don't miss an Edgewood wrestling match (unless there's a dog event, which isn't often here in northeast Ohio), so this weekend I was able to get a few video shots of my favorite wrestlers in action... check them out!

This is Jordyn... Jordyn is a varsity wrestler at the 135 weight class. Jordyn has wrestled since he was in grade school. When he steps on the mat, he doesn't play... he intends to win. It's all about attitude.

This is Travis. Travis is a 13 year old freshman wrestler who is wrestling for Edgewood at the 103 varsity weigh class. Travis doen't play either! He's 100 pounds of intensity on the mat, and as you can see from this clip, when the chips are down for Travis, he steps it up a notch.




Hard work




There are but two pains in life...

...the pain of discipline

... the pain of regret

Just do it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Darwin Awards Are Out !!

Folks, the Darwin Awards for 2008 are out... here's my favorite... appropriately entitled "Pulling a Boner"...

A 50-year-old man was bird hunting in Upstate New York with his buddies and his faithful canine companion. They stopped for a smoke, and his dog found a deer leg bone!
The man tried to take the bone away, but like any right thinking dog, the animal would not relinquish its treasure. He stayed just out of reach. Frustrated with this blatant show of disobedience, the man grabbed his loaded shotgun by the muzzle and began wielding it like a club. Each time he swung it, the dog dodged.
Suddenly the "club" struck the ground and fired, shooting the man in the abdomen. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he died from his injuries. He did remain conscious long enough to confirm this account to police; otherwise, his poor friends might now be under suspicion!
At least he didn't hit the dog.

For more great award winners, check the Darwin Award website at :

Red Setter Assist

Moxi, the red setter helped this young gal shoot her very first anything, a nice pheasant. Here in Minnesota when Moxi is not out hunting wild grouse or pheasant she has been earning her keep at a local game preserve hunting pheasants for groups of 2 to 10 dispelling the myth that Irish Setters can't hunt.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

CONSUMER ALERT: Chicken Jerky Treats...

Preliminary Animal Health Notification

December 19, 2008

FDA Continues To Receive Complaints about Chicken Jerky Products for Dogs and Cautions Consumers

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to caution consumers of a potential association between the development of illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky products also described as chicken tenders, strips or treats. FDA continues to receive complaints of dogs experiencing illness that their owners or veterinarians associate with consumption of chicken jerky products. The chicken jerky products are imported to the U.S. from China. FDA issued a cautionary warning to consumers in September 2007.

Australian news organizations report the University of Sydney is also investigating an association between illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky in Australia. At least one firm in Australia has recalled their chicken jerky product and the recall notification stated the chicken jerky product was manufactured in China.

FDA believes the continued trend of consumer complaints coupled with the information obtained from Australia warrants an additional reminder and animal health notification.

Chicken jerky products should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to be
used occasionally and in small quantities. Owners of small dogs must be especially careful to limit the amount of these products.

FDA, in addition to several veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the U.S, is working to determine why these products are associated with illness in dogs. To date, scientists have not been able to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses. FDA has conducted extensive chemical and microbial testing but has not identified any contaminant.

FDA is advising consumers who choose to feed their dogs chicken jerky products to watch their dogs closely for any or all of the following signs which may occur within hours to days of feeding the product: decreased appetite, although some may continue to consume the treats to the exclusion of other foods; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; and increased water consumption and/or increased urination. If the dog shows any of these signs, stop feeding the chicken jerky product. Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine). Urine tests may indicate Fanconi syndrome (increased glucose). Although most dogs appear to recover, some reports to the FDA have involved dogs that have died.

The FDA continues to actively investigate the problem. Many of the illnesses reported may be the result of causes other than eating chicken jerky. Veterinarians and consumers alike should report cases of animal illness associated with pet foods to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in their state.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Red pup in new home...

Sold a puppy to a gentleman in eastern PA this past week who does a lot of grouse hunting. We met the new owner in Kane, PA for the transfer, and then received these pics upon arrival home this week... turns out that the new home for "Rory" is also home to quite a few grouse... when the pup went out to the back yard to check things out, a hen grouse had recently been spotted close to the house... Rory got into some grouse scent and locked up tight, with a pretty nice point for a 10 week old puppy... looks like Rory will be living the life of "Riley"!! Owner also has an English setter and Gordon setter, so he is now a true "all setter" man!! Awesome!

Al Faze
Conneaut Creek Kennels

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Meet The Winners...

Here are the winners and placements for the 2008 National Red Setter Shooting Dog Championships and supporting stakes...
Open Shooting Dog Championship
Champion: Breakstone, handled by Roger Boser
Runner-up: Picadilly, handled by Roger Boser

Amateur Shooting Dog Championship
Champion: Picadilly, handled by Roger Boser
Runner-up: Come Back Audie, handled by Joe Edwards

Open Shooting Dog
1st: Chaperon, handled by Roger Boser
2nd: Jericho, handled by Roger Boser
3rd: Silverado, handled by Joe Edwards

Open Walking Shooting Dog
1st: Ironfire's Jack Radigan, handled by Mike Jacobson
2nd: Celtic's Salient Point, handled by Billy Vaughen
3rd: King Cormac, handled by Allen Fazenbaker

Open Derby

1st: Come Back Buck, handled by Ross Leonard

2nd: Poison Creek Lucky, handled by Jason Williams

3rd: Patina, handled by Roger Boser

Congratulations to all! Hope to see you all at our spring renewal and running of the National Red Setter Field Trial Clup Championship and Futurity in Berea, Kentucky. Mark your calendars!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Meet Logan...

Meet "Logan," a red setter who calls Virginia home, thanks to his new-found owner Kathie Friedley of Lincoln, Virginia. Logan was found wandering the streets in Logan Ohio, and through the efforts of a canine rescue group, he found a new home with Kathie. He sure looks distinguished in this photo, and I suspect that he has a very nice life with Kathie in Virginia.

Thanks to Logan and Kathie for sharing this great pic!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We Are At War...

Animal Rights groups intend to force the elimination of animals from our lives. No dogs, no hunting, no field trialing, no companion animals, no meat, no fur. We are in the middle of an ideological war. In 20 years, if these animal extremist groups are victorious, we will be excluded from contact with domestic and wild animals. Check out the facts from the group Animal ...

"The modern animal rights movement is not what it seems. Today's activists have perverted once-sensible animal welfare goals by putting animals ahead of human beings and employing a "by any means necessary" philosophy to achieve their goals of "total animal liberation." Led by PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, and other activist groups, the animal liberation movement does not seek to improve animals' lives. Its goal is to place unnecessary restrictions on ordinary people like you. Today's activists want to force you to eat nothing but beans and greens; and wear nothing but cotton, rayon, and rubber. They want to ban hunting, fishing, zoos, rodeos, and circuses. Some want to permanently end Kosher slaughter. They even want to outlaw the use of animals in the search for cures for AIDS, Parkinson's Disease, and cancer. And a growing number take the law into their own hands, crossing the line from peaceful protest to violent crime. It's a terrible scam. The world deserves to know the truth."

Check out their website at: Well worth a look.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fall Trial Pics!!

Check out some pics from the National Red Setter Field Trial Club National Shooting Dog Championships and supporting stakes, held this past November in Grove Spring MO...

Go red dogs!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lame Ducks May Bite Ohio Dog Owners

Posted by John Yates on 12/9/2008

Lame Ducks May Bite Dog Owners In Ohio
American Sporting Dog Alliance

COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio State Senate appears to be trying to ram through legislation that will burden all dog owners in the fading days of the current legislative session, which expires Dec. 31. Last week, with no notice given to most dog owners, the Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Affairs Committee held hearings on House Bill 446. The 100-page-plus document amends the Ohio Animal Control Law in several ways that are detrimental to dog owners. Another hearing is set for today, Tuesday Dec. 9, at 2:30 PM or after the end of the day’s Senate session. It will be held in the Finance Hearing Room. The American Sporting Dog Alliance has been cautioning dog owners to prepare for a sneak attack in the “lame duck” session, between the General Election in November and the end of the year. “Lame duck” sessions are notorious for passing politically unpopular legislation because senators and legislators won’t have to face the voters again for at least two years, and some of them are not accountable to anyone except their own consciences, as they will not be returning in January. HB 446 passed the state House by a large margin in May and was sent to the Senate, where pressure from dog owners kept it bottled up in committee before the election, when elected officials were not inclined to cast controversial votes. The Senate Committee is not scheduled to vote on the legislation today, although it is in its power to do so. Amendments to the bill also are possible today. If the committee approves the legislation, it will be sent to the full Senate for a vote. If the Senate passes it before the end of the month, it will return to the House for a concurrence vote on any changes, and could be sent to the Governor for signature or veto. If the bill is not passed by Dec. 31, it is dead and will have to be reintroduced next year. Here are some of the provisions in HB 446: · Increases the minimum fee for a dog license from $2 to $10. However, most counties have much higher fees. All puppies must be licensed at three month of age. · Increases the fee for a kennel license from $10 to $50, plus requires every dog and puppy to be individually licensed. Many counties will be charging around $75 for a kennel license, plus $15 for each dog and puppy. Anyone who breeds even a single litter of puppies for hunting or for sale is defined as a kennel owner. · Kennels must be inspected, and the kennel license can be revoked if the inspecting agency alleges that the owner has committed an act of animal cruelty or neglect. This allegation does not have to be proven, and many animal cruelty police officers reportedly have close ties to radical animal rights groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. · All dogs over three months of age that are kept in a kennel or outdoors must wear a license tag at all times. Dogs found without a license tag may be confiscated, euthanized or adopted through an animal shelter. The same rules apply to a dog wearing a license tag if it is lost while hunting or competing in a field trial. · Dog wardens can confiscate and destroy any dog that is alleged to be running at large, if the person who makes the accusation files an affidavit in court. No proof is required that the complaint is factual. · The sale of an unlicensed dog or puppy is prohibited, and people who move to Ohio are given only one business day to license their dogs, or face possible fines, confiscation and the destruction of a beloved pets. · Individual dog owners would be prohibited from giving rabies vaccinations to dogs that they own. This is currently legal, and there have been no reports of problems with this law. All rabies vaccinations would have to be done by a veterinarian for dogs, cats and ferrets, under this legislation. · Good Samaritans who find a lost dog would be discouraged by rules that require reporting the dog to animal control within two days, and either adopting it or turning it over to animal control would be required within 14 days. The person who finds the dog would be prohibited from finding a home for it, or turning it over to a private rescue organization. · The bill would open the door to thefts of dogs by animal rights activists, and also encourage the takeover of local Humane Societies by animal rights activists. · And several changes to the laws about dangerous dogs. Thus far, the testimony at Senate hearings has been strongly in opposition to many aspects of HB 446. The American Sporting Dog Alliance has voiced strong opposition to this legislation in both formal written testimony and in letters to each senator and legislator. The state association for veterinarians has testified in support of the legislation, but testimony has focused only on the rabies issue and a requirement for animal shelters to scan every animal for microchips. Rep. Shawn Webster, the bill’s prime sponsor and a veterinarian, has offered 19 possible amendments to HB 446 to address concerns expressed in the testimony, but thus far none of these possible amendments has been formally introduced. What You Can Do Please immediately contact every member of the Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Affairs Committee to voice your strong opposition to HB 446. Please state clearly that you are opposed to this legislation, and also mention your reasons. Here is a link to the Committee’s website: Each member’s name is highlighted, and contact information can be found by clicking on the senator’s name. Because of the late date, phone and fax are the best methods to contact the senators. Emails and surface mail also may be effective. Here is a link to the actual legislation that passed the House in May and was sent to the Senate: The American Sporting Dog Alliance represents owners, breeders and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for hunting. We welcome people who work with other breeds, too, as legislative issues affect all of us. We are a grassroots movement working to protect the rights of dog owners, and to assure that the traditional relationships between dogs and humans maintains its rightful place in American society and life. The American Sporting Dog Alliance also needs your help so that we can continue to work to protect the rights of dog owners. Your membership, participation and support are truly essential to the success of our mission. We are funded solely by the donations of our members, and maintain strict independence.

Please visit us on the web at
Our email is


Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Fart Tax And You...

A couple of days ago I posted some information regarding the EPA's attempts to place a tax on cattle and other ruminants... well, John Yates sent me this email today, and his eloquance regarding this issue is much better than mine, so I had to post his comments... and seriously, it's not just a bunch of "hot air"... you need to read this...

The ‘Fart Tax’ and You

American Sporting Dog Alliance

As if there isn’t enough to worry about, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is telling us that cow farts are hurting the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.

You can stop laughing now.

It’s true! No kidding! EPA actually is proposing to regulate farmers and ranchers to protect us from emissions from flatulent hogs and cows.

The deadline for comments on the proposed anti-fart regulations passed quietly a week ago.

If the regulations are approved, farmers and ranchers with at least 25 head of livestock will be taxed at $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per beef cow and $20 per hog.

Preposterous, you might say, and you’re right.

But we would call it something else. We would call it calculated and deliberate.

It stems directly from the animal rights agenda, which is aimed at eliminating animals from American life, including animals that produce meat, milk, eggs and wool. The goal is to reinvent America as a vegan vegetarian society.

We imagine that many of you are still laughing, and some of you might be wondering if we’re nuts.

It is preposterous! America loves a good t-bone, Big Macs, milkshakes and eggs fried in sausage drippings. Yum.

You are correct in thinking that Americans will not allow meat, eggs and dairy products to be removed from our lives. Surveys show that more than 95-percent of us eat meat and love every bite we can get, and we would never agree to give it up.

What you may not be thinking is that no one is planning to give us that choice. In fact, the animal rights groups’ strategy is to not even bring up the subject.

The following analysis can be seen as a case study of one major way that the animal rights agenda actually is being implemented in America today. While this example is about the planned elimination of meat, eggs and dairy products from our lives, slight variations in the same strategy also are being used to eliminate companion animals, circuses, rodeos and hunting.

The animal rights groups may be evil personified, but their leaders aren’t dumb. They know that Americans will not give up animal products voluntarily, and they aren’t going to try the direct approach. They’d lose, and they know it.

Their tactic is to indirectly and gradually take away our ability to choose to eat meat.

The strategy is to make animal products too expensive for people to use and enjoy regularly, and also to make farming unprofitable and more hassle than it’s worth.

Did you notice how the price of beef skyrocketed after the “mad cow disease” scare a couple of years ago? In about a month, most cuts of beef went up by about two dollars a pound.

The reason is that meat producers were assessed for the cost of a massive federal inspection and regulatory program, and for developing a way to track each animal from the slaughterhouse back in time to the place of its birth.

Suddenly, a halfway decent steak costs $10 a pound. If you’re lucky, you can find it on sale for $6.99 or so. Maybe.

How many people can afford that?

For most people, a juicy t-bone steak probably always has been only an occasional treat, perhaps once or twice a month. Now, it has become once or twice a year.

Have you noticed how small the meat section has become in most grocery stores? Have you noticed how small the portions have become?

I define a good steak as one pound or larger and marbled with fat. Most steaks in the grocery store are a little more than half that size today. The meat looks like the cow was anorexic and it takes a chainsaw to cut it.

Part of the reason is the artificially high price of beef, which we’ll document below. Another part of it is the health scare about cholesterol.

While cholesterol is a valid health concern for many people, the animal rights groups are exploiting this and other health issues to try to make people afraid to eat much meat.

I recall a billboard along I-35 in Dallas that was a photo of former President Ronald Reagan, linking his meat eating preferences with Alzheimer’s disease. Guess who sponsored this crude and tasteless billboard? It wasn’t the American Medical Association. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) paid for the billboard.

If Alzheimer’s doesn’t get you, “mad cow” disease or cholesterol will. That’s the message.

Meat already is being heavily taxed because of the brief “mad cow” disease scare. Now, EPA wants to tax it more because of cow fart emissions.

What’s next? A tax on meat because of its health risks similar to the extra taxes on cigarettes?

Yep. Give ‘em time. It won’t be long before some governmental agency proposes a big tax on every pound of meat to pay for “prevention” programs in the schools and social services agencies, mirrored after the tobacco use prevention campaigns. You’ll know the time has come when you start to see news reports about meat eaters driving up the cost of health insurance.

Enter the $20 a pound t-bone steak.

Exit meat from many people’s budgets.

That’s the plan, but it doesn’t stop here. Another big step is the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), which currently is “voluntary” but is expected to become mandatory soon.

The NAIS plan is to license every location that produces poultry and livestock, and to assign each farm or ranch owner a unique identification number (that also applies to someone who owns a horse, or a couple of 4H goats). Then, at some point, every domestic animal and bird on American farms will be microchipped to identify its place of birth, and it will be tracked on computer all the way from the farm to the grocery store.

Guess how much that is going to cost? Guess who will pay for it?

Microchips can be purchased in bulk today for about $1.50 apiece. Suddenly the $3 frying chicken sold at the grocery store for $1.39 a pound has become a $4.50 chicken.

Add in the cost of bureaucracy and additional expenses for farmers, shippers and slaughterhouses, and it becomes a $6.50 chicken.

A lot of Americans won’t be able to afford to eat much chicken at those prices. It looks like a good time to invest your money in bean burrito company stock.

And that is precisely the plan!

The bureaucratic and compliance costs of NAIA will be enormous. Imagine what it will take to constantly track a truckload of 10,000 chickens individually on computers!

What’s the justification for these costs? “Bird flu,” of course, even though no form of this poultry disease that is communicable to humans has ever been found in the Americas.

The animal rights groups know exactly what they are doing. They find something scary about meat (Alzheimer’s disease, cholesterol, “Mad Cow” disease or “bird flu”) and then work quietly behind the scenes to exploit it. They have a lot of flunky newspaper and TV reporters in their pockets, and a lot of bureaucrats are smelling a lot of job security.

And soon a frying chicken will cost $6.50…for a small one.

The other side to NAIS is the burden to farmers and the rest of the food industry. Can you imagine the cost to a farmer of microchipping 100,000 chickens a month! How many employees will the farmer have to hire? How many fines will farmers face for microchips that come out? How many people will the trucking companies and slaughterhouses have to employ to scan a few million chickens a day for microchips?

Maybe it will be a $7.50 chicken, if we’re lucky.

“What’s for supper, Honey?”

“Two chicken McNuggets and beans, Sweetheart.”

That’s the plan.

NAIS will be applied first to cattle, hogs and poultry, but also to horses. A person who owns a couple of pleasure horses would have to report to the federal computer anytime they take a ride off of their property. Lord help them if they want to travel with their horses!

Many people believe dogs and cats will be next for NAIS.

Another prong in the animal rights plan is to regulate or eliminate what they allege are cruel “factory farming” practices, such as raising hens for egg production in battery cages. Farmers defend these practices, saying that all of the known needs of chickens are being met, and also that these methods keep the cost of food reasonable so that poor and working class people can afford to have better diets.

But the farmers lost a big battle last month with the overwhelming voter approval of Proposition 2 in California. Following this referendum, almost every egg farm in California will be put out of business.

Only free range chickens, or chickens kept in traditional henhouses, will be permissible. Expect the cost of a dozen eggs to jump to $3 or so. Make it $4 when you factor in NAIS, and $5 when you add the cost of “bird flu” insurance.

Don’t worry. You’ll enjoy bean McMuffins.

Look for a law resembling Proposition 2 to become nationwide within the next few years.

Of course, you can’t have a law without also having cops to enforce it. Every one of these programs will open up every farm in America to unannounced inspections, visits by animal cruelty officers and even vigilante spies from animal rights groups.

How much money will farmers have to spend on attorney fees, paying fines for technical violations (the chicken that lost its microchip), or rebuilding facilities, upgrading computer systems and hiring new employees?

How many farmers will say “enough is enough” and throw in the towel?

How many people will be able to afford to buy milk at $8 a gallon, eggs at $5 a dozen, steaks at $20 a pounds, hamburger at $10 or sausage at $12?

We saw the same thing happen in a different form this year, when HSUS exposed cruelty at a California slaughterhouse. A video showed a downer cow being pushed with a loader. It was a cruel act by a callous employee.

But the firestorm of protest over that incident brought a host of new federal regulations and increased inspections of slaughterhouses, even though the incident was a clear violation of existing laws and regulations by a single employee. The problem could have been solved easily and simply, but it wasn’t.

Instead, your steak went up another 50-cents a pound.

“Dollars-and-cents” is the most effective strategy the animal rights groups have discovered. Who cares if you want to eat meat if you can’t afford to buy it!

Your choices become a moot point.

No matter where you look, activists and social reformers want to use money to limit your choices.

Environmentalists want gasoline to cost $20 a gallon, so you’ll use less of it.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) wants a hamburger to cost $15 at McDonalds, so that you’ll eat your veggie burgers and shut up.

They want gasoline to be expensive, because this will drive up the price of corn used for animal feed and fuel to transport all of America’s foodstuffs, and thus the price of meat for consumers. If gasoline rises to $10 a gallon, you won’t be eating much meat.

HSUS wants to make you pay a few thousand dollars for liability insurance to own a gun, so that you won’t be able to afford to go hunting. Thus, hunting can be eliminated without any politician ever having to cast a vote to do it.

And they also want the price of a puppy to be about $5,000, so that only rich people will be able to afford one and the vast majority of Americans will forget what it is like to love and be loved by a dog.

Wars have been won without ever firing a shot.

And the animal rights war will be won in your pocketbook, if you don’t wise up.

The American Sporting Dog Alliance

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Trial Grounds In Ohio...

As part of the negotiations between the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Associated Bird Dog Clubs of Ohio (ABDCO) over the status of field trial grounds in Ohio, the ODNR has offered a section of the Tri-Valley Wildlife Management Area to be used for field trialing. This is being offered in exchange for the loss of Killdeer Plains WMA in northwestern Ohio and Indian Creek WMA in southwestern Ohio, both which will be removed from approved field trial events next year.

Tri Valley WMA is a 16,200 acre parcel located in Muskingham County, which is central south east Ohio (directly east of Columbus). A map of the area is available at

Here are some pics of the proposed field trial grounds, offered courtesy of ABDCO...

(Note: please do NOT contact ODNR directly regarding the status of the trial grounds... negotiations are ongoing and sensitive; the ABDCO is the official contact. You may reach them for information at

Monday, December 1, 2008

Not Just Hot Air...

If you like eating dairy products or beef, you need to read this and take some action...

The American Farm Bureau Federation has registered its opposition to an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, asserting it would essentially result in new taxes on livestock operations.“Steep fees associated with this action would force many producers out of business. The net result would likely be higher consumer costs for milk, beef and pork,” said Mark Maslyn, AFBF executive director of public policy, in comments submitted to EPA.According to Agriculture Department figures, any farm or ranch with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs emits more than 100 tons of carbon equivalent per year, and thus would need to obtain a permit under the proposed rules. More than 90 percent of U.S. dairy, beef and pork production would be affected by the proposal. The fee for dairy cattle would be $175 per dairy cow and $87.50 for every head of beef cattle.

Cattle and other ruminants produce methane, a greenhouse gas, as a natural byproduct of the animal’s digestive process. However, globally ruminants only account for roughly 26% of methane emissions resulting from human activities. Methane is also produced by landfills (the largest US human-caused source of methane) and the production of natural gas (the second largest US source). Methane is also produced by manure management, treatment of wastewater, rice cultivation, wetlands, and the burning of forests and grasslands. The complex regulatory schemes of the three primary Clean Air Act programs are not suited for regulating agricultural greenhouse gas. The costly burden of compliance could cause many farming operations to cease altogether.The Department of Agriculture’s office writes: Agricultural emissions, the result of natural biological processes, are not easily calculated or controlled. Technology does not currently exist to prevent the methane produced by enteric fermentation associated with the digestive process in cows and the cultivation of rice crops; the nitrous oxide produced from tilling soils; the carbon dioxide produced by soil; and animal agriculture respiratory processes. The only means of controlling such emissions would be through limiting production which would result in decreased food supply and radical changes in human diets.

More information on livestock and methane emission can be found in the following articles:Do Cattle Really Increase Methane In Atmosphere? Cow Tax? EPA looking into regulating greenhouse gases

Although the deadline to file comments was November 28, EPA will continue to post late comments. Public input on this issue is critical – please send your comments without delay. Full information and scope of Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act is at

How to Comment:

Comments should be identified with the Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-0318

Email comments to or fax to 202-566-9744

Or follow the instructions and submit online at

Please share this message widely.

Susan WolfSportsmen's and Animal Owners' Voting Alliance -

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Blast From The Past... red setter style...

How many of these pics can you identify???

Post your answers to the blogsite, or to !!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blast from the past...

This doesn't have anything (directly) to do with bird dogs, but I thought it was a pretty cool thing anyway, so here it is...

Most summers when I have traveled up to North Dakota to visit with Dr. Roger Boser and his wife Mary, we have the opportunity to see the Antique Tractor parade that travels from Flasher ND to Raleigh ND. It's an amazing collection of just about every tractor you could imagine, all painstakingly refurbished and brought back to their working glory by some local dedicated hobbyists. Today when I was surfing the net, I came across a picture of one of the tractors, and thought I would share it here... gave me some nice memories of being in ND in the summer...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's a dog's life being "pure"...

by Juliette Hughes (The Age Australia)

November 22, 2008

WANT to know what it feels like to be a Pekingese? Pinch your nostrils gently between finger and thumb till the sides almost touch. Then breathe — or try to — through your narrowed airway.
Vets call such semi-collapsed nostrils "stenotic nares", and they are common in dogs such as pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers and Pekingese, which have been bred to have flat faces. They may look the way that breeders want them to, but their distinctive appearance comes at a high cost: some will suffocate when the constant effort to suck in air collapses their larynxes. These are the kind of pedigree dogs that, according to a growing number of animal welfare advocates, (including the RSPCA here and in the UK), should not be bred despite their popularity.
A show-dog's appearance must conform to an official list of minutely detailed descriptors known as breed standards. These standards, often set many years ago, stipulate everything from head size to angle of the facial profile. The ANKC British bulldog breed standard, for example, states: "The skull should be very large — the larger the better."
But debate is now raging here and overseas over just how much attention should be paid to looks rather than health. Beneath their gleaming coats, show dogs may be suffering an array of health problems (crippling hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, liver abnormalities and heart defects, to name a few) that can be distressing and expensive for owners — and life-threatening for the animals. Concerns have reached such a pitch that it looks as though change may be inevitable in the way that breed standards are administered.
In Britain, in August, a Panorama documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, caused a furore over its main claim: that the august and ancient British Kennel Club was encouraging the breeding of unhealthy dogs. By awarding prizes to beautiful but unsound dogs at its iconic dog show, Crufts, the kennel club was said to be supporting irresponsible and unsustainable breeding practices. The scandal grew when Britain's RSPCA withdrew support for Crufts and the BBC announced that it was reviewing whether to televise the show.
Dogs — from chihuahuas to Irish wolfhounds — are the most varied animal, and breed standards are what ensure that they look so distinctive. Yet within that extraordinary variety lies a paradox: each single breed represents a shrunken gene pool that is sometimes as lacking in diversity as a threatened wild species: the average British pug has less genetic diversity than a giant panda. Left to breed randomly, dogs tend to evolve into a generalised doggy shape that looks a bit like a dingo. The only way to keep a breed looking distinct is to keep breeding relatives together. Health problems surface when inbreeding causes hidden genetic defects to emerge.
More than a century ago, when the first pug breed standard was written, it described the nose as "short". Pugs looked very different in those days: their noses were indeed quite short, but had proper functioning airways. Now, after a century of determined breeding, a pug's nose looks more like a hole in its face.
Dr Matthew Retchford, president of the Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association, says that if an operation is done early, such dogs can survive and breathe more normally. But he says the problems often don't stop there. "You'll examine a pug puppy whose owners have brought it in for routine vaccinations and a check-up and you'll see that that little dog has problems from its nose right down to its tail."
Those can include inability to whelp without help; pugs and bulldogs have big heads, narrow pelvises and usually need caesareans. Dr Paul McGreevy, associate professor in the veterinary science faculty at Sydney University, is pessimistic about the fate of such breeds: "Such animals fail the basic test of fitness for life, which is 'can you be born?' "
He argues that when breed standards were set they had little or no scientific basis and still don't.
After the Panorama documentary, the British Kennel Club went into damage control, responding at first defensively and then with a dramatic u-turn that promised a far-reaching review of its policies. Early last month it announced that, despite vigorous opposition from some breeders, the Pekingese breed standard must now emphasise health and soundness. It is the first of many such changes.
The upheaval is expected to flow on to Australia. The Australian National Kennel Council (which is affiliated with the British club) registers 192 breeds, all with official standards that represent the breeders' ideal dogs. Thus, for example, a pug's standard describes a "blunt, short muzzle", "large … globular" eyes and a tail that is tightly curled, with a double curl being even more desirable. The Panorama program pointed out that such tails reveal a twisting in the dog's spine that can lead to pain and movement problems, even paralysis. The large globular eyes are set in eye sockets made perilously shallow by breeding for a flat face: the eyeballs can pop out if the dog is squeezed tightly or plays roughly.
In October the ANKC announced that Australian standards would be reviewed to reflect a new policy prioritising the health and welfare of all dogs.
Dr Karen Hedberg, chairwoman of the council's national canine health committee, breeds German shepherds (a breed with more than 40 inheritable disorders) and has done extensive research to develop policy on controlling genetic diseases in companion animals. She envisages tackling health problems partly through extensive testing and codes of practice for breeders.
"Certainly where a standard is taken to extremes by some judges and breeders, such as excessive wrinkling of skin, excessive shortening of the nose — these are areas where moderation is called for if this has created health issues."
MCGREEVY wants to see change happening faster and has set up LIDA, an online database, using overseas data, where people can check on the inherited problems they are likely to encounter in a given breed. It gets more than 25,000 hits a month. But he wants more specifically Australian data, and has been looking for research funding. Already about 250 veterinary practices around Australia are contributing information to LIDA, he says, but more is needed. "Requests for funding to monitor disease in the Australian dog population have fallen on deaf ears for the past eight years," he says. He believes that many breeders are resistant to scientific argument.
Hugh Gent, president of the national kennel council, says that such criticism doesn't acknowledge the efforts of responsible breeders. But, he says, there is no obligation for any breeder to belong to the ANKC, which limits its ability to influence Australian dog-breeding practices.
Australia's vast distances and multiplicity of discrete state-based dog organisations compound the difficulty of breeding for healthy diversity. In every state there tend to be small bunches of closely related dogs in any given breed.
Gent acknowledges the difficulties, but insists that the ANKC is prepared to address all concerns over inherited problems. As public awareness of these issues grows, he says that prospective puppy buyers will look to breeders who accept changes that enhance the health and welfare of dogs.
Those for whom the health of their dogs is the priority are already at an advantage. Christina Rafton, a NSW-based breeder of borzois, paid $15,000 in the 1970s to import a healthy bitch from overseas. At the time, she says, the average Australian borzoi's life span was four years; now, largely because of the work and money spent by Rafton, borzois live to 11 or 12. But such investments may be prohibitive for many breeders. Most don't make any profit as it is: pedigree breeding is an expensive hobby undertaken by enthusiasts.
At the moment anyone in Australia can set up as a "pedigree" breeder and sell dogs with "papers". But unless they're ANKC- registered, such papers might simply be a home-made family tree, run off the breeder's printer — and if the dog proves unsound there's nowhere to appeal. Belonging to the nation's peak body gives a breeder prestige and support, but many are opting out; in 1988 there were 92,089 pure-bred dogs registered with the kennel council. By last year the figure had dropped to 64,074.
Some breeders quit altogether, but others became backyarders, selling through the classifieds or the internet to parents, impulse buyers, pet shops — or even supplying breeding stock to the often cruelly managed puppy mills that churn out "designer" breeds: labradoodles, cockapoos, pugaliers and such like. (Meanwhile, RSPCA figures show the organisation has had to put down 23,772 unwanted dogs — pedigree and mutts — in the past 12 months.)
But the shake-up has begun, and it's hard to say where it will end. Will Australian Pekingese start to look more like the ones of a century ago? Victorian Pekingese breeder Juliana Loh says the change will have little impact on her: "I breed first and foremost for healthy dogs, so it doesn't affect me." But old pictures of Pekingese leave her unimpressed. "They used to look more like Tibetan terriers. We've spent a lot of time and effort getting the breed to look the way it does now."
The ANKC is pinning its faith in the review of breed standards as a healthier way of breeding pedigree dogs in Australia. But if Paul McGreevy, the 250 LIDA contributors and the RSPCA are right, it looks as though a great deal of time and effort may be needed to get some pedigree dogs to look the way they used to look before breed standards were written.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Reptiles now more popular pets than dogs...

Big Red?? Hunter?? Fido??

If you're worried about the popularity of your breed, worry no more... reptiles like snakes, geckos and bearded dragons have become such popular pets that they now outnumber dogs, new research has found. Calculations by the British Federation of Herpetologists (BFH) indicate that there are now as many as eight million reptiles and amphibians being kept as pets in the UK. This compares to an estimated dog population of 6.5 million.
The growth in reptile numbers is so rapid that within years they will overtake the country's nine million cats to become Britain's most popular pets.
Chris Newman, chairman of the Federation, said: "There are now, without question, more pet reptiles than pet dogs in the UK. You only have to look at the way the market has grown. I have no doubt that there are now between seven and eight million reptiles living as pets in the UK.
"Reptiles' popularity as mainstream pets has grown immensely. There has been an explosion in numbers. They have moved from being niche to being mainstream.
"They are far more suitable as pets than are animals which are perceived as more traditional pets, such as cats, dogs and small mammals. Reptiles fit today's modern lifestyles as they are less time-consuming, and can also be easier to keep, than other traditional pet species."
Reptiles are relatively cheap to buy and to keep, Most are kept in heated tanks for at least part of the day. They require less upkeep than other caged animals, as the little waste they produce is solid and dry. Breeders believe that well-known reptile owners such as Jonathan Ross, who owns an iguana, have added to booming sales.
The population has been calculated through analysis of suppliers of reptile food – insects and mice.
Since 2004, when the reptile population was recorded at five million, the number of crickets being sold in the UK has doubled from 10 million a week to 20 million.
Over the same period, the number of locusts produced has more than quadrupled, to around one million a week.
Sales of frozen rodents have also increased dramatically. In addition to the rodents bred for the purpose in the UK and EU, around 3.5 tons of frozen rodents are being imported from outside the EU each month.
In 2004, reptile products made up only four per cent of the UK sales of Hagen, a major pet food company. They now account for 17 per cent.
The five most popular species are leopard geckos, bearded dragons, corn snakes, royal (or ball) pythons, and Hermann's tortoises.
Other popular species are the colubrid snake, veiled chameleon and crested gecko. The latter was only rediscovered in 1994, heaving been thought extinct for many years. By 2004, it was the fifth most commonly bred lizard in captivity.
The largest snakes being kept as pets are thought to be Burmese pythons, constrictor snakes which can grow up to 20ft in length.
The biggest lizards are water monitors, which can reach sizes of up to 7ft.
Venomous snakes can also be kept, although owners must have a licence from their local authority.
The new figures also include pet amphibians – mostly newts, frogs and toads – although these are thought to account for less than ten per cent of the numbers.
Mark Johnston, from the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, said: "In the last five years, we have seen an increase in reptiles. There are certainly more people keeping them. We rarely treat them for diseases, because they are usually kept in isolation, but we do see them for problems about the way they are kept and cared for."
Since last year, Christine Sands, 57, and her son Ryan, 17, from Kirkleatham, Cleveland, have jointly own a bearded dragon, called ZZ.
"She is very sociable and tame," Ms Sands said. "She will sit on my lap watching the telly and then jump down and run around the room. She seems to get on well with my cats too. But the heating and lighting in her tank mean she has probably caused my electricity bills to go up."
Daniel Catcheside, an 18-year-old student from Portsmouth, owns a bearded dragon, Merlin, a turtle, Vern, and two tortoises, Fudge and Big George.
"They are remarkable animals and all make great pets," he said. "They have all got different personalities. I have a dog too which is fascinated by the tortoises. In the summer, they will lie next to each other."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Sad Day For Pennsylvania Field Trial Community...

We received word this week that one of our dear friends and fellow field trialer, Frieda St. John, passed away on Monday November 17 2008. Frieda was an ardant supporter of field trials throughout the eastern region, and had also worked as a pro for many years, running a succesful string of Brits on the trial circuit. She was a great supporter of the numerous local weekend quail trials in the Pennsylvania region, and never failed to have a couple of entries at Beaver Valley, Blairsville, Mid Atlantic Red Setter, Broome County, Baldwinsville, and others. Frieda was the kind of person who was always willing and able to give you a hand, and she was instrumental in helping many "newbies" to the sport over the years. I can personally attest to this, as she helped me on several occasions with my first horse. In recent years, she had been developing a string of pointers, and she was devoted to her dogs and horses. One of the best places to hang out during a trial was Frieda's horse trailer. The canopy was out, the chairs unfolded, the beer cooler was open, and the conversation was friendly and inviting. Frieda was a good friend of our red setter friend Harry Rollinson, and they often trained together on their favorite training grounds outside of Pittsburgh.

If there is a place in heaven for those who love dogs and horses, Frieda is sitting there as we speak, because they, along with her family, were her life. Her passing will leave a void in our culture, and she will be sorely missed.

Allen Fazenbaker

Frieda's Obit (Tribune-Review)...

Frieda L. St. JohnIndiana
Frieda Louise St. John, 60, of Indiana, died Monday, Nov. 17, 2008, in the Indiana Regional Medical Center. The daughter of Stanley "Jack" and Frieda Kurth Gaul, she was born Dec. 25, 1947, in Harrison Township. Frieda was a graduate of West Deer High School and Slippery Rock University, class of 1970. She loved the outdoors and was an avid hunter. Frieda took great pride in the field trialing of her dogs and horses. She developed many friendships and will be remembered as a good friend, loving wife, mother and grandmother. Surviving are her husband John, whom she wed April 20, 1968; two sons, John, and his wife, Nancy, Coraopolis, and Matthew and his wife, Susan, Frederick, Md.; sister, Janice McCoy and her husband, Robert, Kinzers; two brothers, Eric Gaul, Washington Township, and Raymond Gaul and his wife, Josie, Valencia; granddaughter, Sydney; sister-in-law, Margie Gaul, Allison Park; and numerous nieces and nephews. Preceding Frieda in death were her parents; and brother, Edgar. Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the JOHN A. LEFDAHL FUNERAL HOME, Indiana. Funeral service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Friday in the Lefdahl Chapel with the Rev. Micah McMillen officiating. Interment will be private.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pedigree Dog Food Dumps Crufts...

By Anita Singh at

The future of Crufts is in doubt after the show's sponsor, Pedigree, pulled its sponsorship after 44 years. The move could spell disaster for the show, which has been embroiled in controversy since a BBC documentary claimed that Crufts supports unhealthy breeding practices which lead to disease and deformities
Last month, the RSPCA severed its ties with the event, claiming that Crufts' emphasis on pure breeds was "morally unjustifiable". The BBC may not cover next year's show.
The Pedigree deal was worth £500,000 per year. A brief statement from the brand's parent company, Mars, said: "After careful consideration, Pedigree has decided to withdraw its sponsorship of Crufts. The Pedigree brand has evolved and we are prioritising initiatives that support the broadest possible community of dog owners such as our successful programme to help homeless dogs - The Pedigree Adoption Drive - and our online service for breeders. We look forward to working with The Kennel Club on other projects in the future."
Pedigree's one-time slogan was "top breeders recommend it", but the BBC documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, highlighted the life-threatening genetic conditions in many of Britain's five million pedigree dogs including popular breeds as the bassett hound, German shepherd, bulldog and pug.

Hat's off to Pedigree Dog Fodd and its parent company, Mars. The only way to stop the 100 year trend of show breeding, which has destroyed virtually every working breed that has entered the show ring, is to cut off their ability to engage in useless conformation-only breeding. I hope other dog food companies step up to the plate, especially here in the United States.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Dear Sportsmen and Animal Owning Friends:

Washington-based anti-hunter and anti-dog breeder legislators need to be repulsed in the next few days or we may lose our strongest DC supporter with devastating long-term impacts. California anti's led by Rep. Henry Waxman are attempting to topple Rep. John Dingell as House Energy and Commerce chairman. Rep. Waxman, from Beverly Hills, is an ultra liberal who has voted for EVERY Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) measure since 1996. That's right, 100% on two anti-hobby dog breeding bills, five anti-hunting bills, ten+ ill-considered livestock measures and scores more. Nearly all these bills failed, due to moderates such as John Dingell speaking and voting against them. John Dingell, from Michigan, is the dean of the House and is the highest profile and most influential supporter of sportsmen and animal owners in the U.S. Congress. See his legislative accomplishments at http://www.cookpoli node/2404 John is also an avid big game hunter and waterfowler, a dog owner and has served on the boards of NRA and Ducks Unlimited. He has never let us down and has repeatedly gone to bat for us on hunting, fishing, conservation, animal and gun ownership, influencing many other legislators and public opinion. Literally, almost without exception, Mr. Waxman and his group attempting to unseat John Dingell are animal rights zealots who have been repeatedly endorsed and funded by the anti-animal owner, anti-hunting Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). The anti-Dingell faction includes some 24 California democrats and other HSUS favorites. HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle considers this sub group his hard core strongest supporters. They introduce dozens of ill-conceived animal rightist bills every year. It's critical that a very senior, high-profile moderate democratic committee chairman such as John Dingell not be dragged down by these elements. Should these radicals succeed, an experienced and meaningful voice will be muted and the next Congress will take decided shift to the left in all legislative areas. Sportsmen and animal owners concerns are important to us but they don't receive major Washington press coverage. However, this crucial struggle between moderates and liberals for the control of the 111th Congress has received significant reporting that you may not have seen. Two recent reprints from Roll Call are attached.


As soon as possible, telephone and email all House Democrats and urge that they retain John Dingell as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The caucus vote will occur on either November 17 or 18, 2008 and newly elected members will have a voice.Everyone should have his or her two DC Senators and one House member in his address book and on speed dial. Telephoning your personal representatives is more effective than emailing. This is especially true for short fused, very simple messages.

To find your rep's contact info, input your zip code in http://www.congress .org/congressorg /directory/

The message is crystal clear, "Vote John Dingell for House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman. At this critical time, the country needs him in charge." Rep. Rick Boucher is whipping votes for John Dingell. Tell him attaboy. Call all six (6) VA democrats and urge them to vote John Dingell for Energy and Commerce chairman. New Reps Paul Nye 757.273.7217, Tom Perriello 434.971.1344 and Gerry Connolly 703.267.6888 will be in DC next week for new member orientation. Call them ASAP, i.e. preferably before tonight. They'll also be attending the 111th Congress organzational meetings and will have a vote in the Dingell-Waxman chairmanship fight. Tell them to make their first votes in DC ones to make you proud.Please forward and cross post widely. Every call counts. Reach out to your family and friends. Thank you.

Sincerely,Bob Kane, Chairman EmeritusVirginia Hunting Dog Owners' AssociationSportsmen and Animal Owners' Voting Alliancehttp://vhdoa. uplandbirddog. com http://saova. org

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Dalmation Crossbreeding Project...

It is not only the red setter that has undergone a restoration by utilizing crossbreeding as a mechanism to bring the needed genetics into the breed. The Dalmation Heritage Project is an ongoing project by a group of dedicated Dalmation breeders, who are using crossbreeding to English Pointers (the closest relative to the Dalmation), as well as other breeding and health-positive techniques, to improve the quality and health of their breed. As most of you who read this blogsite are well aware, I am a staunch opponant of strictly closed registries such as the AKC. I am also a strong advocate of revamping our registries to modernize them and make them better aligned with contemporary advances in canine and population genetics. The Dalmation Heritage Project is a perfect example of how genetics, breeding, and pedigree registration can be blended to present a useful and functional tool for recording breed records, yet also act as a helpful guide for breeding healthy working dogs.
Be sure to visit the website of the Dalmation Heritage Project at

A Special thanks to James Seltzer for providing permission to post this information on our blogsite. Please feel free to copy and paste to anyone with an interest in breeding healthy working dogs.

An Overview of the Backcross Project
June 2006
By James E Seltzer, Ph.D.

The uric-acid stone problem is a principal genetic defect in the Dal breed. Since at least 1938 we have known the inheritance pattern of this defect. It behaves like a simple autosomal recessive. (This is the same sort of genetic trait as the one that determines whether a Dal will have black spots or liver spots.)
It is essential that we keep in mind that the defective trait we are talking about is the very high urinary uric acid (UUA) concentration in Dals. The relationship between UUA and the actual formation of stones is not linear. I will go into this latter point in more detail after the fundamentals are out of the way.
Let's be perfectly clear: The mode of inheritance of the uric acid defect in Dalmatians is not in dispute.
First, let's make sure we understand the fundamentals. A good place to start is at the web page of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, ACVS
Urolithiasis (urinary stones) is a common condition responsible for lower urinary tract disease in dogs and cats. The formation of bladder stones is associated with precipitation and crystal formation of a variety of minerals (magnesium ammonium phosphate hexahydrate, calcium oxalate, urates, and others).
Causes and Risk FactorsWhat causes urinary stones? Several factors are responsible for the formation of urinary stones. The understanding of these processes is important for the treatment and prevention of urinary stones. In general, conditions that contribute to stone formation include:* a high concentration of salts in urine* retention of these salts and crystals for periods of time in the urinary tract* an optimal pH that favors salt crystallization* a scaffold for crystal formation* a decrease in the body's natural inhibitors of crystal formation.
The Backcross project is primarily concerned with the first of these since this is directly related to the uniquely Dalmatian genetic defect mentioned above (Trimble, HC, and CE Keeler. 1938. The inheritance of "high uric acid excretion" in dogs. J. Heredity, 29, 280-289.)
The other contributing factors to the urinary stone problem are interesting and worthy of discussion, but we should not confuse these with what the Backcross project is about.
In this overview I will try to explain:
How one introduces a normal version of the gene into the Dalmatian breed.
How one identifies and isolates that gene in the progeny.
How one insures that the normal gene is passed on to succeeding generations.
How one validates that the Dalmatian uric acid defect has been corrected.
Current status of the Backcross project and location of the defective gene in the Dalmatian genome.
Alternative approaches for dealing with the uric acid defect (such as pedigree analysis and selective breeding).
How one introduces a normal version of the gene into the Dalmatian breed.
To anticipate and avoid arguments about inviolability of pure breeds and racial purity, I need to say up front that pure canine breeds exist primarily in the minds of the dog fancy and are simply paperwork exercises codified in the registries of the various national kennel clubs. They do not exist in the flesh and blood reality of dogs living in the real world. Dog registries and closed stud books are a recent invention of today's dog fancy - originating only a little more than a century ago. The partnership between man and dog reaches back much further. Robert K. Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles and his colleagues now have evidence that dogs could have been domesticated 100,000 years ago -- if not earlier. bob1.htm
What comprises a breed is not a unique set of genes, neatly packaged with clear boundaries that identify what is and what is not a member of the breed. AKC registration is not especially meaningful for defining the attributes of the Dalmatian. Even a cursory visit to Sue MacMillan's coat color web pages will quickly shatter such an illusion.
Purebred Dalmatians, presumably AKC registered, can be found in brindle, lemon, orange, blue, tri-color, and sable. Dals share these genes with other pure breeds. In Dals, these alleles are fairly uncommon; in other breeds they are both common and in many cases desired. There is no doubt that genes that control other conformational attributes (e.g., ears, height, tail set, etc.) are also shared with the other so-called pure breeds.
What distinguishes one breed from another is the relative allele frequencies of the aggregate set of genes that serve as blueprints for the breeds of dogs. Dalmatians, for example, have a higher frequency for the extreme white piebald allele (sw) and the ticking allele (T) than the cocker spaniel -- but Dals do not have exclusive ownership of either of these alleles. Dals just have these alleles in greater abundance.
Most breeds of dogs have a normal gene for uric acid excretion, and, compared with Dals, rarely have problems with urate stones. The ancestor to the Dalmatian also had such a normal gene, but that gene got lost in the shuffle as the breed was propagated and artificial selection was taking place. The normal gene may have been closely linked (on the same chromosome) with another gene that was considered a desirable characteristic by the early breeders. On the other hand, the normal gene may simply have become victim to random genetic drift and got lost along the way, which is not unusual when the number of dogs being bred is small. However it occurred, to the best of our knowledge, there were no Dalmatians anywhere that still carried the normal uric acid excretion gene prior to the Backcross project.
Since that normal gene did not exist within the Dal breed, it was not possible to use breeder selection methods to increase the normal allele frequency and thereby diminish the incidence of urate stone disease in Dals. (Which answers the question of why we can't reestablish the normal gene in the same way that we can establish a true-breeding, liver-spotted line of Dals.)
To find the normal gene it was necessary to turn the clock back to the point in time before the Dalmatian breed branched off from its kin at their common origins and followed its own path. We don't know exactly what the common ancestor(s) was at that early branch point, but we can surmise what its progeny probably look like today even though they followed different selection paths during the intervening generations. Considering a broad array of phenotypic attributes, and the likelihood of a not-too-distant common ancestor, Dr. Bob Schaible selected the Pointer as a probable descendent of that closest common ancestor.
When a Dalmatian was mated to a Pointer, all the cross-bred pups carried one copy of the normal uric acid excretion gene that it got from its Pointer sire. Since, according to the early work by Trimble and Keeler, we already know that the uric acid defect is a simple autosomal (not sex-linked) recessive gene, all the first-generation pups excreted normal levels of urinary uric acid (UUA) as was predicted by the autosomal recessive model. The first-generation pups, of course, did not much look like Dalmatians.
In order to refine the line it was necessary to cross-breed back to a purebred Dalmatian, hence the name Backcross project. The second generation pups, although they began to look more like purebred Dalmatians, did not all carry a gene for normal UUA. Only about 1/2 of these pups got the normal gene. The best of those carrying a copy of the normal UUA gene, i.e., those that most closely resembled Dalmatians, were selected for further breeding in the Backcross project. The other pups found loving homes and lived out their lives as pets.
The process continued to select pups 1. for normal UUA, and 2. for proper Dalmatian conformational attributes. The Backcross project has continued to the point that the latest generation pups are tenth generation descendents of the one original Pointer. The lucky one's still carry that Pointer's genetic bequest: a gene for normal UUA. Most of their other genes are derived from their Dalmatian dam, their Dalmatian grandam, their Dalmatian great-grandam, etc.
These pups are still heterozygous for the normal UUA gene. The decision not to breed a homozygous-normal UUA line (yet) has been intentional and relates to the necessity to avoid a genetic bottleneck and all the concomitant headaches that ensue when a line is closely line-bred.
How one identifies and isolates that [normal UUA] gene in the progeny.
The Backcross project started with a Pointer that had normal uric acid excretion (10-60 mg of uric acid in his urine per day) that was mated to a Dalmatian dam with high uric acid excretion (400-600 mg of uric acid per day in her urine). There is no overlap in these numbers; there is no mistaking one for the other. A veterinary lab technician provided an unlabeled urine sample from the sire and a urine sample from the dam could easily tell you which sample came from the Pointer and which sample came from the Dalmatian. (Canine and Feline Nephrology and Urology, Osborne & Finco, 1995, p824)
It is important that we understand the hereditary pattern for the Dalmatian defect before we can develop a reasonable protocol for progeny testing. The UUA defect in the Dalmatian is transmitted as an autosomal recessive. Trimble and Keeler (1938) crossed Dalmatians to Collies, and through subsequent crosses determined that the genetic defect in Dalmatians was an autosomal recessive trait.
When a carrier for the defect (one normal gene and one defective gene) from the Backcross line is mated to a purebred Dalmatian (two defective genes), the expected ratio of carriers to defectives in the resulting litter is 1:1, i.e., we expect approximately 1/2 of the pups to be UUA normal and 1/2 to be UUA defective. This is the distribution of the defect that could be expected by the second generation and for all subsequent generations of puppies.
As early as 1968 a method for screening for abnormal levels of uric acid in humans had been published: J Pediatr. 1968 Oct;73(4):583-92., "Urine uric acid to creatinine ratio--a screening test for inherited disorders of purine metabolism. Phosphoribosyltransferase (PRT) deficiency in X-linked cerebral palsy and in a variant of gout."
Another paper that was published many years after the Backcross project had been initiated questioned the use of the UUA:CR ratio test to estimate the 24-hour total uric acid excretion in healthy Beagles. Am J Vet Res. 1994, 55:472-476, Bartges, JW; CA Osborne; LJ Felice; LK Unger; KA Bird; LA Koebler; M Chen, "Reliability of single urine and serum samples for estimation of 24-hour urinary uric acid excretion in six healthy Beagles."The authors of the 1994 paper found that some spot samples of urine and creatine taken during the day did not correlate well with the 24-hour UUA excretions, and they attributed that "to differences in urinary uric acid and creatinine excretions after digestion, absorption, and metabolism of the diets."
Yet another paper published in 2004, questioned the use of single 24-hour urinary uric acid excretion measurements in healthy humans since uric acid excretion levels fluctuate widely over even longer periods. Rheumatology 2004 3(12):1541-1545; doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keh379, K.-H. Yu, S.-F. Luo, W.-P. Tsai and Y.-Y. Huang "Intermittent elevation of serum urate and 24-hour urinary uric acid excretion."
The authors of the 2004 paper conclude: "The data presented here demonstrate individual variations in serum urate levels and 24-h urinary uric acid excretions in healthy men with serial measurement. Transient hyperuricaemia and hyperuricosuria are more common than expected, and both transitory and monthly variations are important factors to consider when evaluating the influence of other factors upon serum urate levels and urinary uric acid excretion."
Needless to say, this puts the veterinary clinician who is trying to manage urinary uric acid problems in his patients on the horns of a dilemma. The UUA:CR test, it is claimed, is invalid, because of diurnal fluctuations. The 24-hour urine collections are no good because urinary uric acid excretions are found to vary widely when monthly measurements are compared. Further, these monthly variations are not insignificant: median 623, range 389–1565. 43/12/1541
Fortunately, the fluctuations in UUA excretions are of far less concern to the geneticist who is armed with foreknowledge that the pups produced in the Backcross line will segregate into two distinctly different classes according to their levels of UUA excretion. If he can demonstrate that whichever test he uses differentiates between a normal UUA level and a high UUA level, and that the two classes do not overlap, then his objective of matching the pups to the class carrying the normal gene and the class of those that are homozygous for the defective gene is solved.
The Dalmatian Backcross project has used and continues to use the UUA:CR ratio test for puppy classification purposes only. When I get to the urinary excretion test results and the correlations of these results with a specific genetic microsatellite marker, I will discuss this matter in greater detail.
I add as a footnote that other recent studies have also used UUA:CR ratio tests. Urology. 2003 Sep;62(3):566-70. Carvalho M, Lulich JP, Osborne CA, Nakagawa Y. "Role of urinary inhibitors of crystallization in uric acid nephrolithiasis: Dalmatian dog model."
I will have more to say about the role of urinary crystallization inhibitorst. It is relevant to the discussion because such inhibitors have been postulated as a reason why, though all Dalmatians excrete high levels of uric acid, not all Dalmatians form urate stones.
How one insures that the normal gene is passed on to succeeding generations.
I have already discussed the use of various urinary uric acid testing procedures and briefly discussed their weaknesses. I observed that the job of the geneticist working on the Backcross project is considerably easier than that of the veterinary clinician treating stone forming Dalmatians. Nonetheless, the Backcross geneticist must select for further breeding, with a high degree of confidence only those Dals that carry the normal UUA gene.
Let us assume that there are 8 puppies produced in a litter where the sire carries one copy the normal UUA gene and the dam is homozygous for the defective UUA gene. The pups should segregate into two classes: a low-UUA class and a high-UUA class, and the most probable split is 4 of each. Of course, getting that exact ratio is not guaranteed. In fact, all 8 pups might fall into the one class or the other -- though that outcome is unlikely (about 4 chances in a thousand for either extreme).
The Backcross breeder will use the computed UUA:CR ratios for each pup in the litter and can plot these values as points along the x-axis on a graph. Examining the plot almost certainly identifies the puppies that belong to each of the two classes, since the human eye has great power to recognize patterns in data.
However, a statistician (even a blind statistician) can analyze the data using a simple algorithm that defines each class on the basis of a minimum variance algorithm. The details are interesting to me, but probably to no one else, so I will not go into them here. I will, however, give you the UUA:CR ratios as they were provided to me for one set of Backcross pups, Topper X Twyla litter, Aug, 2005, 8 pups:
UUA:CR ratios (mg/dl uric acid per mg/dl creatinine)0.2660.2820.2940.3190.3762.032.342.77
Is it possible that anyone looking at these data could fail to identify the high and low UUA classes? As far as puppy classifications are concerned, there is no mystery , there is no uncertainty begging further clarification, there is no skulduggery. The class boundaries are self-evident.
How one validates that the Dalmatian uric acid defect has been corrected.
It is important to reiterate: the genetic defect being addressed in the Backcross project is the high urinary uric acid excretion which predisposes Dalmatians to urate and uric acid stones.
-- Non-Dalmatian normal uric acid excretion (10-60 mg of uric acid per day)-- Dalmatian range for uric acid excretion (400-600 mg of uric acid per day)
Data already exist that place urinary uric acid concentrations for the low-UUA Backcross Dalmatian class in the same range as urinary uric acid samples taken from healthy Beagles. Without correcting for diurnal variations (which are influenced by digestion, absorption, and metabolism of their diets), direct comparisons of the uric acid concentration samples for Beagles and the Backcross Dals are impossible using the existing data set.
Let me be perfectly clear in this. I am referring to quantitative assessments of urinary uric acid excretions. I am not questioning the legitimacy of the UUA:CR ratios as a discriminant used to classify the puppies from the Backcross litters according to whether or not they carry the normal UUA Pointer gene. I will have more to say on that matter later.
Although the 24-hour uric acid excretion values were used by Trimble and Keeler (1938) and have been discussed in Osborne and Finco (1995), they suffer to some degree from the same problem as the UUA:CR sample data. That is they do not reveal peak daily uric acid concentrations, nor do they account for the long-term, monthly fluctuations in uric acid excretion levels. However, from a purely practical standpoint, the 24-hour uric acid excretion values for a set of Backcross Dalmatians can be informative.
Without outlining at this time a detailed protocol for such a validation test (although a fairly straightforward blinded test can easily be worked out), I merely indicate that I, for one, believe that a limited set of 24-hour tests is entirely appropriate and achievable.
Current status of the Backcross project and location of the defective gene in the Dalmatian genome.
For me this topic is the probably the most fascinating of any that I have covered in this discussion. First, I want to draw your attention to a very recent publication:
Mammalian Genome. 2006 Apr;17(4):340-5. Epub 2006. Linkage analysis with an interbreed backcross maps Dalmatian hyperuricosuria to CFA03., Safra N, Schaible RH, Bannasch DL. cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list _uids=3059479&dopt=Abstract
"Dalmatians, like humans, excrete uric acid in their urine. All other dogs and most mammals excrete allantoin, a water-soluble compound that is further along the purine degradation pathway. Excretion of uric acid at high concentrations (hyperuricosuria) predisposes Dalmatians to the formation of urinary urate calculi. Hyperuricosuria (huu) is found in all Dalmatians tested and is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. A genome scan and linkage analysis performed on a Dalmatian x Pointer interbreed backcross detected a single linked marker, REN153P03, located on CFA03. Haplotype analysis of the region around this marker defined a 3.3-Mb interval flanked by single recombination events. This interval, which contains the huu mutation, is estimated to include 24 genes."
What this means is that a team of geneticists at UC Davis and Dr. Bob Schaible have successfully narrowed the search for the defective UUA Dalmatian gene to a fairly small region containing only about 24 genes on canine chromosome 3. (Dogs have 39 chromosomes with a total of about 30,000 genes.) So the search for the defective gene is rapidly closing in on its prey.
A marker on that chromosome, REN153P03, is close enough to the actual gene so that the marker can be used to flag the presence or absence of the normal UUA gene. If you are curious you can look at the marker map for canine chromosome 3 (CFA03) at: /guyon2003/ guyonmaps_data/cfa03.pdf You will find the marker, REN153P03, in the lower (magenta) depiction on that map.
A lot of information can be found both on the web and in various publications about the use of markers to aid the breeder in the selection of dogs for breeding and the elimination of hereditary diseases. A good foundational book on the subject is the AKCCHF publication, Future Dog, Breeding for Genetic Soundness, by Patricia J. Wilkie.
The significance of the REN153P03 marker to the Backcross project is that its use allows a breeder to identify Dals that carry the normal UUA gene by DNA analysis. Urinary uric acid excretion tests still remain as a valuable alternative. However, the DNA test has the advantage of distinguishing between a carrier and a homozygous normal condition.
How well do the DNA tests correlate with the UUA:CR tests? One of the investigators at UC Davis states: "We have never encountered a discrepancy between our [DNA] molecular testing and these phenotypes (low or high uric acid/creatinine)." So the correlation to date is perfect. Markers do not always give perfect correlations unless they lie very close to the defective gene, so this is very encouraging.
Summing up the progress on the project:
The normal UUA gene from the Pointer has been successfully integrated into the genome of the Dalmatian Backcross line.
The Dalmatian defective UUA gene, as expected, behaves like an autosomal recessive gene as reported by Trimble and Keeler in 1938.
The UUA:CR ratio test unambiguously discriminates between puppies that are carriers for the Pointer gene and those that do not carry the gene.
A gene marker has been located on canine chromosome 3 that can be used to identify Dals that carry the normal UUA gene and will also be able to identify Dals that are homozygous for that gene when they are produced.
The gene marker, REN153P03, correlates perfectly with the classifications of Backcross puppies based on the UUA:CR ratio test. IMO, this deserves a double smiley. :-) :-)
Alternative approaches for dealing with the uric acid defect
In this section. I will attempt here to look at other approaches to attacking the Dalmatian urate stone problem that afflicts far too many of our spotted companions.
Care and managementThis approach essentially maintains the status quo. Recommended methods for minimizing the risk for urinary stones include (1) adequate hydration (there is some evidence that bottled, especially distilled, water can be beneficial), (2) provide ample opportunities for urination, (3) limit purine intake, (3) use pH test strips to monitor urine acidity, (4) use allopurinol under veterinary supervision to prevent recurrence.These basic Dalmatian husbandry procedures can help, but the underlying hereditary defect of high UUA excretion remains. Periods of stress, especially when accompanied by chronic diarrhea, can lead to acidification of urine and the formation of uric acid stones., unless uric acid levels are carefully monitored, treatment of stone-forming Dals with allopurinol can result in the formation of xanthine stones. _uric_acid_stones_in_dalmatians.html
Gene implantationNow that the gene that causes the high UUA excretion in Dals is in the boresight of the researchers, some have suggested that high-tech gene splicing should be able to solve the Dalmatian defect without resorting to a crossbreeding to install the normal gene. Perhaps some day, but not in the foreseeable future."Gene transfer can be targeted to somatic (body) or germ (egg and sperm) cells. In somatic gene transfer the recipient's genome is changed, but the change is not passed on to the next generation. In germline gene transfer, the parents' egg and sperm cells are changed with the goal of passing on the changes to their offspring."Obviously, Dal breeders want to use germline gene transfer since they want the normal gene that is implanted to be passed on to the puppies."Germline gene transfer is not being actively investigated, at least in larger animals and humans, although a great deal of discussion is being conducted about its value and desirability..." are so many intrinsic technical difficulties and risks associated with germline gene transfer, that the process is unlikely to offer a practical alternative for many years.
Selective breedingIt has been suggested that even though all Dals excrete high levels of uric acid, not all form stones. Therefore factors other than the uric acid defect must be involved. The reasoning continues: If breed lines that consistently produce Dals that do not form stones can be identified and the environmental and subsidiary genetic factors that mitigate the stone problem understood, then selective breeding should produce stone-free Dals. Although appealing at first, there are serious problems with this line of reasoning.First, we should note that environmental factors, which were briefly mentioned under 1., above, are not refined by selective breeding. If selective breeding is to prove useful, it must deal with identifiable hereditary traits. Such traits should have a reasonably high heritability to be amenable to artificial selection methods. Further, it must be possible to identify dogs that carry the desirable traits during the period of their lives that they are used for breeding. Unfortunately, the trait "does not form stones" can only be assigned with certainty after the dog's death.Second, we should recognize, particularly in light of Dr. Susanne Hughes ultrasound study, that the category "does not form stones" might be better classified as "has not yet formed stones."Nonetheless, recent studies with both Dalmatians and humans have identified a number of substances commonly found in urine that are known to inhibit crystal formation and the growth of urinary stones. One of the most studied is the naturally occurring Tamm-Horsfall protein which is a thick mucous material produced in the kidneys. This protein is also known to provide some protection against bacterial infection in the urinary tract.Carvalho M., and others at the University of Chicago found that the amounts of Tamm-Horsfall protein (THP), and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) were lower in Dalmatians that formed stones when compared with Dalmatians that did not form stones. Retrieve&dopt=abstract&list_uids=12946778& query_hl=7&itool =pubmed_docsumIf it can be demonstrated that the Tam-Horsfall protein gene in Dalmatians has several variants, and if the correlation between these genetic variants and the stone-forming status of Dalmatians is shown to be high, then selective breeding might help to minimize the stone-forming proclivity of Dalmatians in a carefully selected breeding line. A cautionary note must be inserted here. Inhibitors of urinary stone formation do not prevent crystals from being formed and growing. These inhibitors only increase the uric acid concentrations that are maintained in solution before saturation occurs and crystals are produced -- that is the reason they are called "inhibitors" rather than "preventatives."
This concludes my abbreviated foray into the rationale for and science of the Backcross project. It was my desire to turn away from Dalmatian club politics so that the merits of the Backcross project could be evaluated independently of the current ballot issue. I believe that at least to some degree I have succeeded
I may at times have appeared to act as a cheer leader for the project, and I must confess to being attracted to the idea of finally doing something positive and of lasting value for the genetic health of a popular canine breed. Except for providing advice, I am not affiliated with the Backcross project.
I am tired of reading articles like Stephen Budiansky's "The Truth about Dogs" which you will remember from the 1999 Atlantic Monthly. We really can make a difference.

Dr. Seltzer first shared this information with members of ShowDals, an online list for Dalmatian breeders and owners, in June 2006.
Dr. Seltzer has been a member of the Dalmatian Club of America since 1976. He bred Dalmatians under the Willowind kennel name. The Willowwind website can be found at: