Sunday, June 29, 2008

Field Trial Magazine Editorial...

Celtic's Sunshine Girl
AKC & FDSB Registered
A Product of the Purest Challenge
In the summer 2008 issue of Field Trial Magazine, editor Craig Doherty responded to our concerns regarding an article that was published in FTM on the topic of red setter reciprocity. As you may recall, the issue of reciprocity was brought up over this past winter when several members of the Irish Setter Club of America, notably a group of AKC red setter field trialers, expressed interest in reversing the ban on reciprocal registration, which has been in effect since 1975. As was expressed on this blogsite, as well as other arenas, there was some considerable concern expressed regarding the article, most notably the fact that the article was written by people who are not involved in field trialing, and in fact have little or nothing to do with red setters, either AKC or otherwise. Mr. Doherty, in his most recent issue of FTM, took offense at our concerns, insinuating that we (ie, the membership of the National Red Setter Field Trial Club) are "extremists" and implying that we are intolerant of anyone's opinion but our own.
Craig Doherty needs to go back and read our concerns, or perhaps talk to someone in the club. Our complaints regarding the article were directed at the appropriateness of using non-field-trialers as supposedly credible commentators on matters pertaining to field trials. By the way, Craig... they are not credible, and they were not appropriate. Yes, you are correct in your editorial response... we are chastising you for giving voice to opinions as you did... but it certainly wasn't because the article didn't happen to agree with our point of view... it was because the authors have no credibility in the field trial community.

Extremists?? You bet your sweet ass we're extremists. Extremism in the bird dog world is what field trialing is all about... go back and read William F. Brown's books on field trialing and review what he says about the topic. Mediocrity in the field trial world is the path to mediocrity in the bird dog world. If you're interested in collaborating with those types of folks, the Irish Setter Club of America has about 5000 bench dog members who would love to chat with you. They've done a great job in the past 100 years with the Irish setter, haven't they? By the way, there's a group of about 100 Irish Setter Club of America members who would like to re-unite with us in some breeding programs to continue our pursuit of producing the finest bird dogs in America. If FTM wants to promote some worthwhile dialogue, why not talk to them instead of wasting your time talking to bench people who have no interest in bird dogs.
We're more than happy to take criticism for our cause, and we certainly have taken our share (more than most breeds to be perfectly honest) over the past 60 years of our existance. But, for the record, this debate is not about our ability to take criticism... it's about your ability to take some. The article in question was OFF THE MARK. Bottom line... if you want an article about reciprocity, ask someone who actually field trials red setters to do the article. Going to the bench fraternity to do an article of field trial interest is akin to having a fox do an article about the care and nurturing of chickens. You have a classy, well done magazine. If you want to keep it that way, keep to the topic, and admit when you screwed up. On this article, you screwed up.
By the way, Mr. Beardmore didn't refer to "anyone" as daffy... he was referring to Irish setter show stock... it's an apt description of the show Irish ability in the bird field.

As a review, here is the text of the original concern posted on this blogsite last March...

The recent article published in Field Trial Magazine entitled “Seeing Red” was a sore disappoint to me. I had been contacted by the author of this article several months ago requesting some information about the red setter, with the assurances by Craig Doherty that the article would present a “balanced approach to the current reciprocity issue.” I can assure Mr. Doherty and anyone else who cares about our opinion (ie, the membership of the National Red Setter Field Trial Club) that we do not feel that this article presented a balanced or accurate portrayal of our position, our philosophy, or the truth regarding reciprocity or the red setter. What was especially disappointing to me was the fact that a magazine devoted to field trials and field trial dogs would lend so much press (and credence) to an organization and a group of people who are not in any way affiliated with hunting, field trialing, or working dogs. The bench fraternity was quoted extensively in this article, offering their “opinions” as to what should be done with the red setter. To quote virtually any field trialer that I have ever talked to… “WHO CARES?” The bench fraternity, remember, is the group who nearly ruined the Irish setter as a usable gun dog. What possible credible information could Pam Schaar, a “long-time breeder of successful show dogs and AKC judge”, for example offer the field trial community? She has ZERO knowledge of bird dogs. Why would her commentary be of any value in a Field Trial Magazine article? The only statement of importance that Pam Schaar makes is her comment regarding the mixing of show and field stock. Schaar notes that “Historically, we’ve seen the mixes of bench and field trial Irish and they are near impossible to even get a point on in the conformation ring and rarely do they perform well in the field.” No kidding… the field trial community figured that out about 50 years ago… about the same time that the National Red Setter Field Trial Club was founded. Old news.The article brings up the usual tired examples of the separation of the show and field dogs. Sorry, but that’s also old news, and the field trial community for the most part doesn’t care. We have our own gene pool, and believe me, there isn’t a red setter breeder in the United States who has any interest in breeding into the Irish setter show stock. The much ballyhooed “dual dog” mentioned in the article is, by the admission of most field trial people, a dead end. Even the article points out (inadvertently) that of the tens of thousands of Irish setters in the United States, only one breeder has been able to produce a “dual dog champion” (ie, win the ISCA National Field Trial and the conformation National). If the ISCA can only produce 1 such dog in the history of its existence, that in itself says a lot… and it doesn’t say anything positive. At least the dual dog proponents are trying to do something with their dogs in the field, misguided though it is. As Ken Ruff, owner of the well known Brophy Kennels, (who has produced multiple field trial champions in the AKC field program) points out, “dogs selected for hunting are almost always from field lines that show high degrees of natural instincts and take very little training to get them to hunt and point.“ In other words, if you want a good bird dog, you breed bird dogs. You don’t breed to show dogs.Perhaps the ISCA leadership should take a junket to Ireland, or the Scandinavian countries, or to one of the Australian regions where Irish setters are actually used to hunt. They would be surprised to find out that our red setters (referred to as a “different breed” by the ISCA bench people) actually look a lot more like the Irish setters of the country of origin than do the USA bench Irish setters. Notwithstanding the high tail set of the USA field dogs, our red setters are much closer in type and conformation than the dogs found in the show ring. Of course, that doesn’t come as a surprise to the field trial community, because comparing red setters to Irish setters in Ireland is like comparing apples to apples. Both gene pools are WORKING DOGS, still used to HUNT BIRDS. Not the case with the show dogs, most of whom, to quote a common phrase heard at field trials, “couldn’t find a pork chop in a phone booth.” Comparing our red setters to the Irish bench dog, on the other hand, brings up significant differences. What would you expect… we breed for hunting performance… the show people breed for ?? I was especially offended at the commentary (quoted by Lee Shoen), describing our red setters as “tiny white and red, yellow red, or yellowish and white animal that usually possessed a good nose (regardless of its shape or of the head), which did indeed get over the ground smoothly and fast.” This is the type of commentary that is routinely fed to the ISCA membership by the vocal elements who would like to see the red setter disappear. These descriptions (besides being half-truths or outright falsifications), have been repeated ad naseum on internet boards and listservs, as well in commentary by the same sorry tongue-waggers, for years. It’s surely disappointing to see such nonproductive nonsense show up in Field Trial Magazine. I would expect this stuff in an internet message board, but not in a national magazine devoted to the sport of field trials.Ditto for the commentary by several individuals regarding the option of establishing the red setter as a separate breed. I guess the National Red Setter Field Trial Club will need to take out a full page ad in the New York Times, or perhaps place it on a billboard. So, I state our position once again (and this is official, folks)… the National Red Setter Field Trial Club has absolutely no interest in registering our breed as a anything other than what it is: an Irish setter. Our dogs are registered with FDSB and AKC as Irish setters. If the ISCA show fraternity is so interested in producing another breed, I would suggest that they establish their show-bred dogs as a new breed. Perhaps you could call it the “American Irish Setter.” That would be fitting, because it certainly doesn’t resemble anything that could resemble the Irish setter of Ireland. I would also recommend that you remove yourself from the Sporting Dog group of the AKC, because for the most part, your dogs do not engage in any sporting activity, ie, bird hunting.One of the questions that continually intrigues and confuses me is why the field trial people of the AKC continue to support the efforts of the ISCA?? What exactly is the ISCA doing in support of your efforts to produce a high quality bird dog and field trial competitor? I’m hard pressed to answer that question. As an organization, the ISCA has engaged in tactics which encourage the breeding of show dogs. They continually trivialize and marginalize the efforts of field trial fraternity. It’s no secret that there are factions within the ISCA that would prefer to dismantle your National Field Trial. There have been allegations for years of illicit outcrossings of show dogs to Afghans. The article mentions the death threats to members who are supportive of the field trial efforts. The list goes on and on. It’s illogical to me why the AKC field trial fraternity continues to tolerate this nonsense. And now, your Board of Directors is going to allow the general membership to decide the issue of reciprocity? Let’s do the math… the ISCA has a membership numbering in the thousands. Of those thousands, how many are active field trialers, or breed for field quality in their litters? Perhaps 200? Probably less. The outcome of that vote is very predictable. It’s a shame, because the field fraternity is the only aspect of the ISCA that is supporting the mission of the Irish setter as a working bird dog. And your organization is crushing you at every turn.Field Trial Magazine can do much better than this contrived, same-old, story. It offers nothing new in the way of news or options. It’s basically a rewrite of old ISCA gossip and hate-mongering of the red setter club by those who would like to see us go away. It presents nothing of the huge advancements of our breed in the field trial arena. Where is mentioned Bearcat and Desperado, Abra, Clancy O’Ryan, or Chantilly? Does Connie Lyons or Pam Schaar even know who these dogs are, or what they accomplished? How dare they deem to be competent to make judgment on the red setter! I recently returned from our spring National Championship and Red Setter Futurity, where I saw some of the best red setters in the world competing head to head for the 2008 Championship. And, it was awesome. Not only are our dogs beautiful to see, they are beautiful to watch as they run the courses, hunting, finding, and pointing birds. Contrary to Lee Schoen’s description of our red setters as “tiny white and red, yellow red, or yellowish and white animal that usually possessed a good nose (regardless of its shape or of the head), which did indeed get over the ground smoothly and fast”, our red setters are beautiful bird dogs, pleasing to the eye, wonderful hunting companions and housemates. They are classy, intelligent, and have the drive and desire to compete in any bird venue in this country. But that’s not anything new… the field trial community knows that. Just ask anyone who competes against Roger Boser, who has won or placed in over 700 field trials with his classy red setters. When I pick up an issue of Field Trial Magazine, I’d like to read about field trial news… I hope the next issue does a better job than was done with this article.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bad News For Dog Owners In PA...


from The American Sporting Dog Alliance

Dog owners in Pennsylvania were beset by two pieces of bad legislation this week.

HB 2525 regulates a million dog owners and owners of 2,700 licensed kennels in the state. It passed the House Agriculture Committee by a 17-12 vote Wednesday. All but one Republican (Rep. K. Boback) voted against the bill, and all Democrats (the majority party) voted in favor of it.

It appears that the final bill reflects some of the promises made to dog ownership advocacy groups during the past several months of negotiations, but that the Democrats have reneged on other promises.

Some dog owners groups have withdrawn their opposition to this legislation, but the American Sporting Dog Alliance continues to oppose it in its present form. While we support changes that affect commercial breeders, these represent only a small part of HB 2525. The rest of the bill has serious impacts on all dog and kennel owners. The text of several amendments has not been published thus far We will issue a full report on this legislation in the next couple of days.

The other legislation is HB 2532, which provides what amounts to be a de facto partial or complete ban on tail docking, ear cropping and dewclaw removal by anyone except a licensed veterinarian. Although most other dog owners’ organizations have not taken a clear public stance on this bill, the American Sporting Dog Alliance categorically opposes it.

Dew claws on a red setter

HB 2532 passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 28-1 vote Tuesday, with only Republican Rep. T. Creighton voting “no.”

The bill allows owners to dock the tails of puppies until they pass three days of age, and to remove dewclaws during the first five days. However, the burden of proof is placed on a dog’s owner to prove that this work was done legally before the age limits, or by a veterinarian. It would be difficult for most dog owners to prove this, and a large majority would not be able to prove it. The simple possession of a dog with a docked tail or a lack of dewclaws would be considered evidence of an animal cruelty violation, if the owner cannot prove his/her innocence.

The bill continues a total ban against ear cropping, except by a veterinarian, and anyone who is found in possession of a dog with cropped ears is automatically guilty of criminal animal cruelty in the absence of proof.

For all of these procedures, HB 2532 struck out a provision that would have exempted dogs if their owners filed an affidavit with a county treasurer that the work was done before the bill is passed.

That means a large majority of owners of many of the most popular breeds will have no way of proving that they have complied with the law. These procedures were done legally in the past on many dogs, or legally by breeders in other states. In many cases, a dog owner has no idea who performed these procedures. Thus, they would be guilty of criminal animal cruelty for noncompliance.

This legislation will destroy rescue work for many breeds if it is signed into law. Most dogs that are assisted by rescue groups, animal shelters and private individuals either come from unknown sources, or do not come with medical records. There will be no choice except to euthanize these dogs, since it will be impossible to establish their legality.

This legislation also will have a severe impact on people who live in other states. On one level, Pennsylvanians will no longer be able to buy puppies from dozens of breeds from nonresident breeders who perform these procedures legally in their home states.

On another level, Pennsylvania professional trainers and handlers will not be able to accept many dogs from out-of-state customers, because proof will not be available.

But a larger impact will be on thousands of people who own dogs and come to Pennsylvania for a vacation, to hunt, or to compete in field trials, dog shows and other events. Anyone who brings a dog with a docked tail, missing dewclaws or cropped ears into Pennsylvania is subject to arrest for criminal animal cruelty charges.

This will affect many very popular breeds of dogs, such as almost all Continental breeds of pointing dogs, flushing dogs, terriers and many working dogs, such as rottweilers and doberman pinchers.

The bill now moves to the full House for a vote. Please contact your own legislator and as many others as possible to express opposition to this legislation. Contact information can be found at:
Here is a link to the text of the legislation:
The American Sporting Dog Alliance represents owners, hobby breeders and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for hunting. 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. Please visit us on the web at Our email is Complete directions to join by mail or online are found at the bottom left of each page.

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.


For more information on docking, visit the Council of Docked Breeds at

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Homing Pigeons...

Pigeons are often used in the training of bird dogs. They are especially useful in breaking young dogs, because 1) they are cheap 2) they can be re-used (ie, they "home" to their place of first flight) 3) they produce a high amount of scent 4) they breed like rabbits, with little effort on the part of the trainer 5) they're inexpensive to rear and keep 6) they smell like a game bird, and most pointing dogs will point them readily. The downside of pigeons include 1) they don't come off the ground very fast, so there is a danger that a young dog can catch them 2) dogs can sometimtes get "stale" if exposed to pigeons repeatedly 3) excessive use of pigeons tends to promote "crowding" or "creeping" if the trainer is not careful. But, dollar for dollar, it's hard to beat the pigeon as a useful training tool for bird dogs. I am fortunate in my area that we have a large Amish population... the Amish kids in the community are happy to catch pigeons in their barns and sell them to me for a couple of buck a bird. In addition to our homing pigeons we keep at the house, these "Amish" birds are especially nice for young dogs because they tend to be a bit more "wild" and less likely to stay on the ground when placed out. (I think the homers get too "tuned in" to the free meals always available at home so they tend not to fly out so quickly.) Another advantage of pigeons is that they are very amenable to being launched in remote launchers. I like using launchers with young dogs, partly because I can do some bird work without any assistance (it's tough to check-cord a puppy into a bird and then try to get in front to flush a bird all at the same time!) I use the launchers sparingly, however, because dogs will quickly become stale on birds continuously being launched from remote launchers.

Anyway, what got me on the topic of pigeons was an interesting news article recently... seems that pigeons are a very versatile tool, and can be used for many different kinds of objectives! Check this out...

It's a "special delivery" for some inmates at a prison in Brazil! Not from guards, but from pigeons! Security guards discovered that prisoners had tamed pigeons living on the roof. The birds were then trained to deliver drugs and cell phones, from friends and relatives outside the prison!
Happy pigeon hunting!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Scary Stuff...

Meet the Animal Liberation Brigade... a terrorist organization that will go to any extreme to prevent the use of animals. Their website even has different categories of terror that can be posted by "annonomous" members. Arson, vandalism, sabotoge and similar acts are publically posted on their website.

Here's an example of the stuff found on their website...

"On the night before May Day 2008, about 50 'game birds' were released from a facility on Moore Road in Ruckersville, VA that supplies 'canned hunts'. The action is dedicated to the memory of the passenger pigeon."
*Highbrighton Farm (1756 Moore Road, Ruckersville, VA) is a member of the Virginia Game Breeders' & Hunting Preserve Association.

Scary stuff.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dog Vision at Night? Not Bad...

NRSFTC Board Member Tom Norton and one of his red dogs...
Who sees what??

How well do dogs see at night? A lot better than we do, says Paul Miller, clinical professor of comparative ophthalmology at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“Dogs have evolved to see well in both bright and dim light, whereas humans do best in bright light. No one is quite sure how much better a dog sees in dim light, but I would suspect that dogs are not quite as good as cats,” which can see in light that’s six times dimmer than our lower limit. Dogs, he says, “can probably see in light five times dimmer than a human can see in.”
Dogs have many adaptations for low-light vision, Miller says. A larger pupil lets in more light. The center of the retina has more of the light-sensitive cells (rods), which work better in dim light than the color-detecting cones. The light-sensitive compounds in the retina respond to lower light levels. And the lens is located closer to the retina, making the image on the retina brighter.
But the canine’s biggest advantage is called the tapetum. This mirror-like structure in the back of the eye reflects light, giving the retina a second chance to register light that has entered the eye. “Although the tapetum improves vision in dim light, it also scatters some light, degrading the dog’s vision from the 20:20 that you and I normally see to about 20:80,” Miller says.
The tapetum also causes dog eyes to glow at night.

from University of Wisconsin - Madison. "How Well Do Dogs See At Night?." ScienceDaily 9 November 2007. 14 June 2008 .

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hyper-miling... save some gas!

Hypermilers are drivers who exceed the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated fuel efficiency on their vehicles by drastically modifying their driving habits, (sometimes even without regard for the safety implications of other drivers or the law) The term 'hypermiler' originated from hybrid vehicle driving clubs. As people began comparing fuel efficiency, they noticed that by using certain driving techniques, they could greatly improve their mileage. With the aid of real time mileage displays, drivers were able to refine these driving techniques and greatly exceed the EPA rating for their vehicle. Decades before the word 'hypermiler' was used, the techniques were used in events such as Mobil Economy Run dating to 1936. Gas rationing during World War II forced some drivers to adopt these techniques, but they largely fell out of favor with the population after the war. Hypermiler Wayne Gerdes can get 59 MPG in a Honda Accord and 30 MPG in an Acura MDX.

Here are some of the hypermiling techniques... note that some of these techniques are considered unsafe by automotive experts, and some are even outlawed in some states (for example, shutting off your car while in motion on a highway).

Key parameters to maintain are high
tire pressure, tire balance, and wheel alignment, and engine oil with low-kinematic viscosity (referred to as low "weight" motor oil) which is filled just to the low-level mark. Inflating tires to the maximum recommended air pressure means that less energy is required to move the vehicle. Under-inflated tires can lower fuel efficiency by approximately 1.4 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Equally important is the proper maintenance of the Engine Control Module and the sensors it relies on to control engine operation, particularly the oxygen sensor.

Minimizing mass
Drivers can also increase fuel economy by driving lighter-weight vehicles and minimizing the amount of luggage, tools, and equipment carried in the vehicle.

Efficient speeds
Maintaining an efficient speed is an important factor in fuel efficiency. Optimal efficiency can be expected while cruising with no stops, at minimal throttle and with the transmission in the highest gear. The optimum speed varies with the type of vehicle, although it is usually reported to be in the range of 35 to 55 mph. For instance a 2004 Chevrolet Impala had an optimum at 42 mph (70 km/h), and was within 15% of that from 29 to 57 mph (45 to 95 km/h). Drivers of vehicles with fuel-economy displays can check their own vehicles by cruising at different speeds and monitoring the readout.

Acceleration and deceleration (braking)
Fuel efficiency varies with the vehicle, but generally acceleration is most efficient at near full throttle openings It is also important to keep the engine RPM in an efficient range, so acceleration is more fuel-efficient when up-shifting occurs at a lower RPM. Low-RPM up-shifting is easily executed with a manual transmission.
Generally fuel economy is maximized when acceleration and braking are minimized. So a fuel-efficient strategy is to anticipate what is happening ahead, and drive in such a way so as to minimize acceleration and braking, and maximize coasting time. Gentle acceleration and deceleration is helpful in avoiding unnecessary acceleration. The need to brake in a given situation is in some cases based on unpredictable events which require the driver to slow or stop the vehicle at a fixed distance ahead. Traveling at higher speeds results in less time available to let up on the accelerator and coast. Also the kinetic energy is higher, so more energy is lost in braking. At medium speeds, the driver has more "degrees of freedom", and can elect to accelerate, coast or decelerate depending on whichever is expected to maximize overall fuel economy.
While approaching a red signal drivers may choose to brake far away from the light to try and maintain as much forward momentum as possible. For example, a driver is approaching a red light that he knows will turn green in a few seconds. Instead of coasting up to the light and stopping the driver hits his brakes farther back: he will now be travelling at a slower speed for a longer time, allowing the light to turn green before he arrives. The driver will never have to fully stop, as accelerating from just a few MPH is much more efficient than a full stop.
Conventional brakes dissipate
kinetic energy as heat, which is irrecoverable. Regenerative braking, used by hybrid/electric vehicles, recovers some of the kinetic energy, but some energy is lost in the conversion, and the braking power is limited by the battery's maximum charge rate and efficiency.

Coasting or gliding
The alternative to acceleration and braking is coasting. Coasting is an efficient means of slowing down, because kinetic energy is dissipated as
aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance, which always must be overcome by the vehicle during travel. Coasting normally entails losses in the engine as well, which may be idling, consuming fuel, and/or adding friction.

Fuel type
It is commonly believed that efficiency of a gasoline engine is related to the fuel's octane level; however, this is not true in most situations.
Octane rating is only a measure of the fuel's propensity to cause an engine to "ping", this ping is due to "pre-combustion", which occurs when the fuel burns too rapidly (before the piston reaches top dead center). Higher octane fuels burn more slowly at high pressures. For the vast majority of vehicles (i.e. vehicles with "standard" compression ratios), standard octane fuel will work fine and not cause pinging. Using high octane fuel in a vehicle that does not need it is generally considered an unnecessary expense, although Toyota has measured slight differences in efficiency due to octane number even when knock is not an issue. Most vehicles equipped with emissions systems have sensors that will automatically adjust the timing, if and when ping is detected, so low octane fuel can be used even if the engine is designed for high octane, at some reduction in efficiency. If the engine is designed for high octane then higher octane fuel will result in higher performance (with full-open throttle), but not necessarily fuel cost savings, since the high-octane is only needed with the throttle fully open. For other vehicles that have problems with ping, it may be due to a maintenance problem, such as carbon buildup inside the cylinder, using spark plugs with the improper heat range or ignition timing problems. In such cases, higher octane fuel may help, but this is an expensive fix, proper repair might make more long term sense. There is slightly less energy in a gallon of high octane fuel, than low octane. Ping is detrimental to an engine; it will decrease fuel economy and will damage the engine over time.

Trip computer
Modern hybrids come with built-in trip computers which display real-time fuel economy (MPG), which helps the driver adjust driving habits. However, most gasoline powered vehicles do not have this as a standard option (although some luxury vehicles do). However, most vehicles produced after 1996, have one of three standardized interfaces for "
on-board diagnostics", which provides information including the rate of fuel consumption, and the vehicle speed. This streaming data is sufficient to calculate the real-time fuel economy.
aftermarket or "add-on" products are available, such as the "ScanGauge", which will connect to a vehicle's onboard computer, read the real-time information, and calculate and display the instantaneous fuel economy. This information assists the driver by displaying the fuel consumption. This provides a general indicator to the driver who can then infer in real-time how driving techniques affect gas mileage. This can help the astute driver to learn how to drive more efficiently, However, such a device does not do all the work for the driver. The device only measures fuel consumption, and fuel economy. It does not indicate braking statistics, for example, nor does it teach a driver how to "time a traffic light" by adjusting the vehicle speed, such that the vehicle arrives at the intersection when the light is green, and braking is minimized.

Energy flows for a late-model midsize passenger car: (a) urban driving; (b) highway driving. Source: U.S. Department of Energy
Advanced techniques
(These are less broadly applicable, and some may compromise safety)

Pulse and glide
This method consists of accelerating to a given speed (the "pulse"), followed by a period of coasting (the "glide"), and then repeating the process. The glide is most efficient when the engine is not running. Because some cars inject extra fuel when the starter is activated, this was originally best accomplished with a manual transmission. Hybrid vehicles, such as the
Toyota Prius, are ideally suited to performing this technique as well: the internal combustion engine, as well as the charging system, can be shut off for the glide by simply manipulating the accelerator.

Auto-stop, forced stop, and draft-assisted forced stop
In the auto-stop maneuver, the vehicle's transmission is put in neutral, the engine is turned off (a "forced stop"), and the vehicle coasts to a stop. It is possible to coast in neutral with either a manual or automatic transmission. Please be aware that modern automatic transmissions/transaxles depend on an engine driven fluid pump for lubrication, and coasting with the engine off may lead to damage or failure of the transmission. To perform the maneuver, the driver shifts into neutral, and lets the tachometer stabilize, then keys the ignition back to the first position, referred to as "IG-I", to shut off the engine and electronics. The driver then keys forward to IG-II to start the electronics and continue coasting. The key should remain in the ignition in the IG-II position, and not the IG-I position, in order to avoid engaging the steering wheel lock. The driver recovers from "stealth mode" by starting the engine in the normal way, by turning the key to IG-III to crank the starter motor, and then releasing the key back to IG-II. Before putting the transmission in gear, if necessary, the driver may "rev" the engine to match the vehicle's gear and speed. The fuel economy from this advanced technique is increased noticeably over any short distance trip, largely because there are no engine idling losses. Most modern automatics' computer systems do a very good job at keeping the transmission in the proper gear while coasting in neutral, and the driver should not be conscious of the tachometer when re-engaging, but rather just press half-way down on the accelerator when re-engaging. Some, but not all, hypermilers use this maneuver, and some may use it more safely than others. The technique is used for general coasting, or as part of the pulse-and-glide maneuver, or when going down hills or in other situations when potential energy or momentum will propel the vehicle without engine power. Some hypermilers may use this maneuver while going downhill, around a corner, and without braking; however, that practice is in all likelihood more dangerous than an auto-stop on a level and straight road, where stopping distance is shorter and visibility is greater. Vehicle control may be somewhat compromised, and this can be more-or-less dangerous or safe depending on the situation. Turning the engine off will cause the power brake assist to be lost after a few applications of the brake pedal. Power steering is quickly lost, although it is not needed at high speed, only at low speed. Steering is still possible at low speed, but can often require considerably more arm strength to turn the wheel.
For safety reasons, the maneuver is not recommended for use in traffic, since the driver will want the car to be in gear if sudden acceleration is needed as an evasive maneuver. The driver should first look for traffic behind the vehicle before attempting the maneuver. It can be considered more courteous to not coast if another vehicle is closely following. The proper etiquette and acceptable driving practices are controversial, and is worsened by a lack of communication between drivers. Both sides of the debate are often argued passionately, yet sometimes neither of the proposed driving methods is in complete accordance with the rules of the road. Both hypermilers and regular drivers may at different times violate the same rule yet blame the other type of driver.
Despite the potential risks, it does in fact save fuel to turn the engine off instead of idling. Traffic lights are in most cases predictable, and it is often possible to anticipate when a light will turn green. Some traffic lights (in Europe) have timers on them, which assists the driver in using this tactic.
Draft-assisted forced stop, a variation of the forced (auto)stop (sometimes abbreviated as D-FAS), involves turning off the engine and gliding in neutral while drafting a larger vehicle, in order to take advantage of the reduced
wind resistance in its immediate wake (This practice is illegal in some areas due to its danger); while tailgating itself is inherently risky, the danger of collision is increased with D-FAS as hydraulic power for power brakes is used up after a few applications of the brake pedal, and there is a loss of hydraulic pressure that provides power steering, however, there is less need for power steering at high speed.
Some hybrids must keep the engine running whenever the vehicle is in motion and the transmission engaged, although they still have an "auto-stop" feature which engages when the vehicle stops, avoiding waste. Maximizing use of auto-stop on these vehicles is critical because idling causes a severe drop in instantaneous fuel-mileage efficiency to zero miles per gallon, and this lowers the average (or accumulated) fuel-mileage efficiency.

Hybrid and electric engines
Main articles:
Hybrid vehicle, Plug-in hybrid, and Electric vehicle
The most effective commonly available hybrid vehicles in the hypermilage marathons are the
Honda Insight Hybrid, the Toyota Prius Hybrid, and the Honda Civic Hybrid. Other hybrids have also done very well. Some historical non-hybrid vehicles such as the Honda Civic CR-X HF and the Smart Fortwo have also done remarkably well on mileage. The Toyota and Ford hybrids use two motor generators called a series-parallel hybrid with unique characteristics different from the single motor generators of the Honda and GM hybrids (as of January 2007). The Honda motor generator is integrated with the engine, the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) that enhances the low-end torque of the engine. The current GM hybrids turn-off the engine at a stop and restart it when ready to leave.
The Toyota and Ford hybrids have a threshold speed—around 42 mph in the case of the Prius—above which the engine must run to protect the transmission system. Below this model-dependent speed, the car will automatically switch between either battery-powered mode or engine power with battery recharge. These hybrids typically get their best fuel efficiency below this model-dependent threshold speed. Coasting can be achieved by using Neutral transmission range. The Honda IMA vehicles have a limited, battery-only, powered capability, although after-market modding has made the Insight capable of running in electric only-mode. They achieve higher fuel economy. Another way to save fuel includes turning off the engine on manual transmission vehicles when coasting.
The GM hybrids have an engine auto-stop when halted. As of January 2007, they have no battery-only, powered capability. In late 2007, GM will introduce two two-mode hybrid, full-size SUVs, which can be powered by electric motors, V8 engines, or a combination of both.

Energy losses

Understanding the distribution of energy losses in a vehicle can help drivers travel more efficiently. Most of the fuel energy loss occurs in the thermodynamic losses of the engine. The second largest loss is from idling, or when the engine is in "standby", which explains the large gains available from shutting off the engine. Very little fuel energy actually reaches the axle. However, any mechanical energy that doesn't go to the axle is energy that doesn't have to be created by the engine, and thus reduces loss in the inefficiency of the engine.
In this respect, the data for fuel energy wasted in braking, rolling resistance, and aerodynamic drag are all somewhat misleading, because they do not reflect all the energy that was wasted up to that point in the process of delivering energy to the wheels. The image reports that on non-highway (urban) driving, 6% of the fuel's energy is dissipated in braking; however, by dividing this figure by the energy that actually reaches the axle (13%), one can find that that 46% of the energy reaching the axle goes to the brakes. Also, additional energy can potentially be recovered when going down hills, which may not be reflected in these figures. Any statistic such as this must be based on averages of certain driving behaviors and/or protocols, which are known to vary widely, and these are precisely the behaviors which hypermilers leverage to the full extent possible.

Geoff Sundstrom, director of AAA Public Affairs, notes that "saving fuel and conserving energy are important, but so is safety, and preventing crashes." On the highway, the most fuel-efficient driving is often done between the legal minimum speed and the speed limit, often around 55 mph, which coincides with the vehicle's maximum fuel efficiency. This speed is very often much slower than the average highway vehicle. This practice is safe, because one avoids dangerous high speeds. However, driving at speeds much lower than other vehicles can pose other significant risks, such as causing aggressive drivers to tailgate the slower vehicle. Coasting in neutral and/or with the engine off may lead to reduced control in some situations.

On some roads, the norm is to drive above the speed limit, and a driver traveling at a legal speed can easily and inadvertently incite road rage in another driver. In particular, slower driving may lead to faster drivers tailgating the slow vehicle, which is a dangerous situation, particularly at high speeds.
There are many reported accounts of
road rage and tailgating by aggressive drivers, when hypermilers drive in a manner that other drivers are unaccustomed to, such as coasting to a stop.
The risk of tailgating is largely caused by the accident avoidance time being reduced to much less than the driver reaction time. For maximum safety, driving instructors advocate using the "3 second rule" (the distance between your car and the car in front of you should be 3 seconds of driving time at your current speed), regardless of speed. In the US, if an accident occurs due to tailgating, the tailgater is liable for injury and damages in some states.
The risk of severe
road rage may be lessened by permitting aggressive drivers the opportunity to pass when it is safe to do so.

Discovery Channel's
Mythbusters, in their June, 2008, episode, took a series of measurements where they drove a Dodge Magnum Station Wagon at 55 mph right behind a Freightliner tractor trailer. As they got closer their results ranged from a baseline (no truck) figure of 32 mpg, to 35.5 mpg (11 pct improvement) at 100 feet, and then progressively up to 44.5 mpg (a 39 pct increase) at ten feet. They strongly emphasized that drafting a big rig at such close distances is life-threatening and extremely dangerous. The recommended minimum safe driving distance from a big rig is 150 ft.

Coasting in neutral
Those who warn that coasting can be dangerous claim that the driver has less control of the vehicle, and will take longer to react in an emergency.
In a collision-avoidance emergency, the safe technique focuses entirely on controlled braking, and not at all on acceleration. The proper technique is to use threshold braking (maximum deceleration without skidding), then to wait one second for the weight to shift onto the front wheels in order to increase vehicle cornering stability and to increase the maximum lateral acceleration that is possible without skidding, and then to turn the vehicle rather quickly and sharply to avoid the object. If the lead vehicle initiates an emergency stop, the trailing vehicle is likely to need 3 seconds to avoid a collision. However, this technique requires caution as too much weight transfering to the front and, hence away from the rear tires can cause an oversteer (fishtail) situation, particularly in conjunction with the pendulum effect that a sudden left-right (or vice-versa) transition can cause.
Driving in neutral or coasting without engine power is not limited to the "auto-stop" maneuver used in hypermiling. During normal driving, situations may occur where there is a similar loss of engine power.
One function of the driving laws is to help increase safety. However, the safety issues are not always clear cut, and often neither are the laws. A driver legally does need to know how to control the vehicle safely when the car is in neutral. The general practice of coasting in neutral is against the law in many American states, yet there are exceptions to this law, and some places advocate its use in certain circumstances, for example: "If you are on ice and skidding in a straight line, step on the clutch or shift to neutral." Also, in a stuck throttle emergency, the safe procedure is to put the transmission in neutral, and if that is ineffective, to turn off the engine. Also, a driver legally needs to have the ability to bring the vehicle to a stop under any circumstances, including when the engine stalls during normal driving. In the event that there is a loss of engine power, decelerating to a stop is recommended as the safest action. As a safety feature, vehicles are designed to retain some limited ability to steer and brake even when all engine power is lost. However, in newer vehicles, coasting in neutral may not be the most efficient method. On most cars with computer-controlled, closed-loop electronic fuel injection (including direct injection), no fuel is injected when coasting in gear as the wheels are turning the differential/transmission which in turn keeps the engine from stopping. In neutral, the fuel system must inject enough fuel to keep the engine idling as the engine is effectively disconnected from the transmission/transaxle.

***from Wikipedia

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Your Tax Dollars At Work...

Danny... killed by ProHeart 6

The Food & Drug Administration is allowing a drug known as ProHeart 6 to be placed back on the market, after reports that the drug (first introduced in 2004) has killed 400 dogs and caused adverse reactions and illness in thousands of others. Isn't it great to know that the FDA has our interests in mind? Never mind that in order to obtain this drug, veterinarians will have to register with Fort Dodge (the company responsible for the drug) and take a web-based training program. The drug will be available only through prescription (ie, it will cost a lot more money for you and make a lot more money for the vet), and you (the consumer) will have to sign a form stating that you will not hold the company liable for the death or injury of your dog should something bad happen when you dog takes the medication. Golly... where do I sign up?? This sounds like a great bargain! Let's see... buy a drug at an exhorbitant price, run the risk of killing my dog in the process, tell the company that they don't need to be responsible... all to eliminate a parasite that I can eliminate with a 25 cent dose of cattle ivermectin that I can buy at Tractor Supply... the FDA (and Fort Dodge) must think that dog owners are COMPLETE MORONS. But, then again, maybe we are... the drug, which has been on the market in Europe now for a couple of years, has a 42% market share in Italy. (sure am glad I'm not a spinone!) Oh well... another story to add to my collection of "How the government screws the people while sleeping with corporate America."

Here's some excerpts from the Wyeth Corporation website... they own Fort Dodge...

Mission, Vision and Values
We bring to the world pharmaceutical and health care products that improve lives and deliver outstanding value to our customers and shareholders.
Our vision is to lead the way to a healthier world. By carrying out this vision at every level of our organization, we will be recognized by our employees, customers and shareholders as the best pharmaceutical company in the world, resulting in value for all.
We will achieve this by being accountable for:
Leading the world in innovation through pharmaceutical, biotech and vaccine technologies
Making trust, quality, integrity and excellence hallmarks of the way we do business
Attracting, developing and motivating our people
Continually growing and improving our business
Demonstrating efficiency in how we use resources and make decisions
To achieve our mission and realize our vision, we must live by our Values.
QualityIntegrityRespect for PeopleLeadershipCollaboration — "Teamwork"
We are committed to excellence — in the results we achieve and in how we achieve them:
Do our jobs right every time
Focus on what's important
Raise the bar and deliver continuous process improvement
Innovate and execute flawlessly
We do what is right for our customers, our communities, our shareholders and ourselves:
Operate ethically
Take responsibility for our actions
Follow through on commitments
Communicate in an honest and authentic manner
Respect confidentiality
Respect For People
We promote a diverse culture and commitment to mutually respect our employees, our customers and our communities:
Treat others with dignity and respect
Embrace and encourage new ideas
Cultivate individual talents
Celebrate achievements
Foster an environment of trust
Encourage open and honest dialogue
Embrace diversity to drive business results

Well... I must admit... they ARE following through with their commitment to "growing and improving our business."

For additional info...

Here's a copy of the text from CNN News...

FDA Allowing Heartworm Drug For Dogs Back In US
June 05, 2008: 06:01 PM EST

By Jared A. Favole
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday said it will allow a reformulated version of a Wyeth (WYE) heartworm drug for dogs back into the U.S., sparking a powerful U.S. senator to question the agency's decision.
Wyeth unit Fort Dodge Animal Health pulled the drug from the market in 2004 amid reports that 500 dogs died while taking it. The FDA's handling of the situation sparked congressional inquiry after an FDA safety officer said the agency tried to silence her when she raised concerns about the drug.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, fired off a letter to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach on Thursday expressing concerns about how the agency came to its decision to allow the drug, called ProHeart 6, back in the U.S.
Grassley, ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, said the agency has had 18 meetings and 85 phone calls about ProHeart 6 since it was withdrawn, but doesn't know if any of the meetings involved FDA safety officials.
"I have also learned that FDA may be relying on safety studies for ProHeart 6 that were performed with guinea pigs," Grassley said, according to a statement Thursday.
Grassley said he wants a response from the FDA by June 19 about whether any safety officials were involved in the meetings, and if any of the studies involved dogs.
When asked about whether the company's tests involved dogs or guinea pigs, Wyeth spokesman Doug Petkus said the company conducted all the safety tests in compliance with the FDA's specifications. He added, "You have to remember this [ drug] has extensive field experience with millions of dogs and has been proven as a safe and effective product to treat heartworm around the world."
Heartworm is a parasite that affects millions of dogs, and Fort Dodge officials said in a conference call Thursday that many veterinarians called the company asking them to get the product back in the U.S.
Rami Cobb, a senior vice president at Fort Dodge, said extensive testing and international use of the reformulated drug makes the company "confident" the drug is safe for dogs in the U.S.
The FDA, however, is restricting distribution of the drug and required revised labeling to include more safety information. The FDA said the new label warns people not to give the drug to dogs within a month of receiving a vaccination.
"While we concur with the limited return of ProHeart 6 to the U.S. market, we strongly encourage veterinarians and pet owners to report any possible adverse reactions," said Bernadette Dunha, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, in a statement.
ProHeart 6 was the first product approved by the FDA to be administered every six months. Most other drugs need to be given monthly, and Cobb said test show the new drug results in about one adverse event for every 10,000 dogs that take it.
Prior to the new formulation, studies showed two to three adverse events for every 10,000 dogs that used it, Cobb said.
Adverse events associated with the original form of the drug included seizures, difficulty walking, jaundice (a yellowish appearance), bleeding disorders, convulsions and death.
The new form is free of certain residues that caused the majority of the allergic reactions in dogs.
Company officials couldn't comment on how much the drug would cost or how much they expected to make from it.
Vets who want to use ProHeart 6 will have to register with the company and participate in a Web-based training program. The drug is already marketed in Europe, Japan and Australia. Cobb said ProHeart 6 has a 42% market share in Italy.
The FDA said few adverse events have been reported with the new drug, but urged anyone who suspects his or her dog is experiencing an adverse reaction to immediately contact a veterinarian and call Fort Dodge at 1-800-533-8536.
-By Jared A. Favole, Dow Jones Newswires

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sometimes It's Just For Fun...

A friend of mine at work sent me these pics of a couple of rescue dogs adopted by a family friend... have to admit these dogs sure look like they're living the good life! Sometimes you just have to get out and run around!!

Have you had some fun with your dogs lately? Relax, take a break from training, take your dog to the ice cream stand and buy him a vanilla cone (we do it once a week... not for me of course, for the dog)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fat Horses Face Health Problems

ScienceDaily (2007) — America's growing obesity problem has alarmed physicians and public health officials, and veterinarians have recently focused their attention on fat dogs and cats. Now, a team of researchers in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Virginia Tech has determined that horses are also facing serious health risks because of obesity.
Fifty-one percent of the horses evaluated during the pioneering research were determined to be overweight or obese -- and may be subject to serious health problems like laminitis and hyperinsulinemia. And just like people, it appears as though the culprits are over-eating and lack of exercise.
"This study documented that this is an extremely important problem in horses that has been under-reported," said Dr. Craig Thatcher, a professor in the VMRCVM's Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS) and diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. Thatcher and his colleagues believe the study results suggest that horse-owners should change some of the ways in which they care for their horses -- and hinted that horses could emerge as an important model for studying the health implications of human obesity.
"Obesity, over the past decade, has become a major health concern in horses," said Dr. Scott Pleasant, an associate professor in DLACS and diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. "This is primarily because of its association with problems such as insulin resistance and laminitis."
In fact, it was a spike in pasture-associated laminitis cases that led Dr. Pleasant to grow curious and seek the collaboration of Dr. Thatcher, an internationally renowned veterinary nutritionist, on the innovative research project. Dr. Ray Geor, the Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of Agriculture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Middleburg, Va., and Dr. Francois Elvinger, an epidemiologist and associate professor in DLACS, are co-investigators.
"Laminitis is a failure of the connective tissue bond between the horse's hoof and the bone within the hoof," explains Dr. Pleasant, noting the highly publicized struggle that the racehorse Barbaro had with the disorder as a result of his catastrophic injury at the 2006 Preakness. "When that bond fails, and the hoof and bone start to fall apart, it is extremely painful to the horse," he continued. "Laminitis is one of the most devastating and debilitating problems that we see with the horse."
Funded in part by the Virginia Horse Industry Board, the study hypothesized that overweight horses may suffer from insulin and sugar imbalances, chronic inflammation, and oxidative stress, a malady that occurs as a result of changes to metabolic processes that alter the delicate balances between the destruction and creation of new cells in the body.
"Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and reactive oxygen species and the body's anti-oxidant defense mechanisms, and that imbalance is in favor of the oxidants," said Thatcher. "Those free radicals and reactive oxidant species can affect macromolecules in the body such as lipids, DNA and proteins, ultimately causing cell death or changing the functionality of these macro-molecules."
Other problems caused by equine obesity are heat stress, increased bone, tendon, and joint injuries, and reduced performance levels.
After surveying the academic literature, the researchers discovered that only one documented study on equine obesity existed prior to this research, according to Thatcher. It was an owner-reported survey done in 1998 by the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) through the United States Department of Agriculture. This study reported the prevalence of overweight or obese horses to be 5 percent.
However, based on the horses seen routinely in clinical practice at VMRCVM, the research team hypothesized the prevalence of overweight and obese horses was much higher than the reported 5 percent. "We thought it was at a level of at least 15 percent," said Dr. Thatcher.
The research team designed a prospective study and conducted it over the course of 60 days from June 19, 2006 through August 17, 2006. They studied 300 horses, ranging from 4 to 20 years old from 114 farms, chosen randomly from over 1,000 animals in the VMRCVM's field service horse population.
The horses were studied between 6 a.m. and 12 noon, prior to any grain or concentrate consumption, which can alter glucose and insulin levels.
Two independent body-conditioning scores (BCS), which assess the amount of fat cover of the horses, were assigned to each animal. The scores range from 1 to 9 and a score of 8 or 9 signifies obesity. Morphometric measurements were also taken to allow the research team to calculate body weight and body mass index (BMI). These measurements include girth circumference, neck circumference, body length, and height.
Each horse was checked for signs of laminitis and blood was drawn to assess glucose and insulin levels as well as other hormones, cytokines, and oxidative biomarkers. A questionnaire was also completed by each horse's owner to gather background information on breed, gender, health history, feed, and exercise. Ponies, minis, donkeys, draft breeds, and their crosses were excluded from the study, as were pregnant and lactating mares, and horses undergoing treatment for medical problems.
While laboratory testing and data analysis are still underway, the research team has already made some alarming discoveries.
Fifty-one percent of the horses in the study were found to have a BCS greater than 6. Thirty-two percent of the horses in the study were found to have a BCS of greater than 6 but less than 8 and 19 percent of the horses were found to have a BCS of 8 to 9. Ten percent of the horses that had a BCS greater than 6 but less than 8 and 32 percent of the horses that had a BCS of 8 to 9 were hyperinsulinemic. These findings support the researchers' hypothesis that the rate of overweight and obese horses is greater than the five percent figure reported in the 1998 NAHMS study.
The study suggests that equine obesity may result from natural grazing behavior instead of the overfeeding of grains and other feed supplements, which defies conventional thinking on equine weight matters. The majority of horses examined in the study were fed primarily pasture and hay with very little grain and concentrate.
Instead of overfeeding of grain and concentrates, the evidence indicates that improved forage and lack of exercise are the two most common contributing factors in equine obesity. Thatcher believes this may result from the fact that many pasture forages have been fortified with the goal of improving weight gain and productivity of cattle and other food animals, with little thought given to how these forages might affect horses, which often share the same types of pastures. In addition, the majority of the horses studied were under-exercised. They were left on pastures to eat, but did not have an actual exercise regimen.
Horses today are managed much differently from their evolutionary roots, indicated Dr. Pleasant. "The horse evolved as a free-roaming grazer on sparse pasture types," he said. Later the horse served primarily as a work animal, serving as a source of transportation and draft power. Today, most horses serve as companions and light performance animals, he said.
"We can see with increased nutrition and lack of exercise how these animals could drift toward being overweight," he said.
This research project remains underway, and has laid the groundwork for a series of provocative new studies. The researchers are now focusing more specifically on the role of hormone levels, oxidative stress, inflammatory biomarkers, and antioxidant mechanisms. However, the preliminary data clearly demonstrates that this research has important implications for both equine and human health.
For example, the knowledge gained concerning the correlation between fortified forage and lack of exercise and obesity in the horse can be immediately utilized by veterinary clinicians and owners who can now consider altering their existing feeding and management programs.
Human health may also substantially benefit from this study, according to Dr. Thatcher, because humans suffering from obesity experience chronic inflammation. If obese horses are also found to suffer from chronic inflammation, the possibility would then exist for the horse to serve as an animal model for the study of obesity in people for the very first time.