Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Question Of Ethics

Well, 'Drew and I are back from the regional specialty show and then another two day show at Dixon. We didn't enter either of them for reasons that may become obvious.
Mostly, though, there are questions we are pondering about the dog show world and, in particular, why it is that people will resort to just about anything to win.

When a regional club for a given breed holds a specialty, and will be involved in taking care of the judge (whether it be picking him or her up from the airport, taking him or her out to dinner, and so on), should the members of the club's governing committee enter (or be allowed to enter) their dogs in the show? Wouldn't doing so, at a minimum, raise the appearance of impropriety? And, if one of the club committee member's dog then wins the show, doesn't it raise the spectre of actual impropriety?

Many clubs state right on their premium lists that "Out of courtesy to our exhibitors members of the this kennel club will not enter or exhibit dogs at this show." Good for them. They are exhibiting some ethics. Unfortunately, that was not the case this weekend. Perhaps the answer to the question about a club member's dog winning under such circumstances comes in the song lyrics, "Why would you want to take that stolen thing, and what real happiness can it bring?"

Let's take this supposition one step further. Suppose you are appointed judge of the show and that one of the dogs you have bred is entered: would you not recuse yourself from judging? If not, wouldn't the most basic tenets of ethical conduct compel you to refrain from picking that dog as the winner? Not in the show world.
The show world, perhaps more than anything else, demonstrates the difference between dogs and humans. For we dare say that Lord Byron is rolling over in his grave today:

"Oh man! thy feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power,
Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy smiles hypocrisy, thy words deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame."

We think Byron would agree with what Lewis Mumford wrote on ethics over 50 years ago.

"Qualitative discrimination and selection and quantitative control are both essential elements in an ethics of development. Where their practice is not deeply ingrained in custom and habit and conscious self-direction, a disordered life will result. Who in our time has not witnessed and participated in this disorder? - often with a false feeling of emancipation and pride, coming directly from the fact that we had overthrown old rules and norms on the supposition that they had no place in a universe interpreted by the sciences. And one does not have to seek far to detect such sinners: one need only honestly examine one's own life. Once the constant need for discrimination and self-direction is admitted, as an unfailing condition for truly human life, every day becomes a day of reckoning."
(Lewis Mumford, The Conduct of Life, p. 147 (1951).)

That day has yet to arrive for all too many. And that is a sad commentary on the condition of man.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Movie Of The Month -- "Free Satchie"

Our movie of the month is a heartwarming tale of love between a child and a Newfie. The film was almost entirely ripped off by the producers of a multi-million dollar grossing film in which the Newfie was replaced by an Orca but finally, after years of litigation, the based-on-could-be-real event story of "Free Satchie" has been released to worldwide rave reviews. According to the New York Times:

"The film begins with a pod of Newfies swimming near the coastline of the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, this family of Newfies is tracked down by a large group of Newf-hunters, and a single Newfie (Satchie) gets caught in their net. Unable to save him, his family (Lisa and Phantom) leaves him behind, and he is taken away to a local amusement park.
Sometime later Andy, a street-wise boy who has been on the run since he was abandoned by his mother (Heidey) six years before, gets caught by The San Francisco Police Department vandalizing the marina along with a gang of three other abandoned kids. However, his social worker (Clairice) helps him avoid legal consequences, provided he cleans up his mess at the marina. While there, Andy befriends the Newfie, who has an injured toe, named Satchie by the park owners, and teaches him behaviors, something the trainer, Philly, had failed to do. Over time, Andy and Satchie become the best of friends, and Andy earns a long-term job at the marina while learning to live with his new and supportive foster parents, Dougey and Cindey.
The owners of the amusement park (Davey & Terry) see the talent Andy and Satchie have together, and make large-scale plans to host "The Satchie Show" in hopes of boosting sales and making money for themselves. On the day of the first performance, everyone is set to begin, but Satchie comes down with stage fright due to the children banging constantly on his underwater observation area. Satchie scares them off by smashing against the tank, unintentionally damaging it. Andy is devastated, but later returns to the tank and determines ultimately that Satchie is homesick for his family, as evidenced by Satchie's nightly "singing".
While at the tank, Andy notices one of the park owners' assistants (Sophie) sneaking into the underwater observation area who damages the tank enough that the water will gradually leak out in an effort to further injure Satchie's big toe. It is surmised that the park owners are interested in collecting the insurance money, since they have a $5,000,000 life insurance plan on Satchie.
Thus, Andy and his friends begin plans to release the Newfie. They use equipment at the park to load Satchie onto a trailer, and Andy and his friends (Gizzy, Hummer, Axl & Bella) 'borrow' his foster parents' truck to tote Satchie to the ocean. They try to stick to back roads to keep from being spotted with a gigantic Terranova, and eventually get stuck on a back road. Meanwhile, the park owners are notified that the Newfie is missing, and they and their henchmen (including Philly) begin a search to find Satchie.
Andy must admit that he needs help, and calls his foster parents using a CB-Radio located in the truck they took. Dougey and Cindey show up and are able to help free the truck, and continue on to the marina they are headed to, in order to release Satchie. The owner knows where they are likely headed, and when they show up, he and his henchmen are blocking the gate into the marina. Dougey charges them full speed in the truck, forcing the henchmen to move right before Satchie's ride plows through the gate to the marina. Dougey quickly turns the truck around and backs up Satchie into the water, flooding his truck in the process.
Satchie is finally released into the water, but the park owners and their goons have a contingency plan. The Newf-hunters show up in the water, releasing nets into the water to trap Satchie in the marina. Andy has one last chance. He leads Satchie to an area where if Satchie would just jump, he would be free. Amidst everyone's prayers, Satchie makes the jump, to the amazement of all his friends, and is free to return to his family. The film ends with the happy trainers and newly formed family watching Satchie swim away back to his home at Parker's Landing."

"A heartwarming film for the entire family. A must for your dog. Let's hope there's a sequel."
(San Francisco Comicle)

"Two paws up."
(Roger Ebert)

"When I wasn't laughing, I cried the entire time."
(Phillipedia Free Press)

"The most fictional piece of %&*# I've ever seen"
(McCain Not-So-Free Press)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Book of the Month: "Sailor - The Hangashore Newfoundland Dog"

From comes our pick for book of the month -- "Sailor, The Hangashore Newfoundland Dog", written by Catherine Simpson and illustrated by Joanne Snook-Hann.

Price: $8.95 CDN
ISBN 1-895387-98-1

As described by our friends at Tidespoint:

"Sailor is a very unusual Newfoundland dog -- he's afraid of the water! This brings a lot of scorn for Sailor, which also rubs off on his owner, six-year-old Ike, who tries a variety of methods to entice Sailor into the water. Everything fails until one Spring day Ike follows a group of other boys onto the ice. When Ike falls in, Sailor overcomes his fear and saves him. After this Sailor is no longer called a hangashore, but is the town hero.

"This is the second collaboration of Cathy Simpson and Joanne Snook-Hann. Their first book, There Are No Polar Bears Here! is now into its third printing.

"'This simple, loving tale of a boy and his dog will charm small children everywhere with its lovely illustrations and authentic Newfoundland flavour.'"

--The Evening Telegram
"'Snook-Hann's wonderful illustrations will delight toddlers and preschoolers; Simpson's expert story-telling techniques will attract primary and elementary school children. This charming book will capture a wide audience.'"

-- The Newfoundland Herald

And, while you're shopping at, make sure to buy some yummy and newly-introduced Newfoundland Chocolate.

"Are you looking for a great tasting food that is also good for you? Introducing a good source of antioxidants and a delicious treat - Chocolate manufactured right here in Newfoundland!
"With names such as Battery Series, Bonavista and Cabot, and full of healthy flavonoids and flavor, Newfoundland Chocolate is sure to be a hit with you, or as a gift!"

"Flavonoids" -- it just screams out "healthy".
'Drew and I just tried some and the stuff is fantastic.

A great book and some great treats. Not a bad day at all.
But don't be calling me a hangashore -- swimming is a choice I choose not to make.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Financial Crisis Hits Newfoundlands

Dear Senator McCain:

While you are busy running for President, Newfoundlands are facing a dire financial state of affairs. Yes, the financial crisis of 2008 has not only hit Europe and Asia, but also Newfoundlands. I'm speaking of 'Drew and myself.

You see, our favorite treats are Solid Gold's Beef Jerky. However, due to the rather poor economic climate, our rations have been cut by three-quarters, with severe results: we can no longer muster the strength for water rescue, no longer afford show entries, and are withering away from starvation. Personally, I have dropped ten pounds in the last month alone. I even tried tasting small-dog but it was horrid. The health benefits of Solid Gold treats are well documented by the company itself:

"Good dogs deserve good treats! Treats that are not only good tasting, but wholesome and healthy. The nutritionists at Solid Gold believe in using only the natural ingredients that dogs love. They have formulated these treats with your dog's health in mind and have ensured that ingredients, such as wheat, corn and soy are not added because they are among the most common cause of allergies in pets. The bakers then created quality inspired recipes that make 'heavenly treats from nature's bounty.' Solid Gold Beef Jerky treats made with real beef are ideal for training and the show ring. They are soft enough for puppies and older dogs."

We (and others) therefore plead with you for a financial bailout. Not one like that you endorsed for AIG, but just a few hundred thousand dollars (which would also get us the Maserati we so desire and need) to keep us in the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed. We only ask for equal protection under the law: to be treated by the government as those similarly situated. Time is of the essence. We implore you to come to our aid. As you recently stated, "these are very, very difficult times."
Yes, we know.


Karazan Satchel & Karazan Music of the Night

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Help Keep Bilbo The Lifesaving Newfoundland On The Beach

Following up on our last entry, it turns out that Bilbo the Lifesaving Newfoundland has been granted a paltry four hours a week on the beach, and is at risk of losing that sad amount of time next year. Accordingly, a petition is being circulated for the purpose of convincing the bureaucrats that a Newfoundland with such significant water rescue abilities be given full and complete access to the beach, and hence the ability to save those who cannot save themselves.
We therefore ask that you sign the petition found at so that Bilbo can be granted full time access to the beach for the very purpose of saving lives.

When he is not saving lives, Bilbo is educating children. As stated in This is Cornwall, "Germoe children had a visit by the famous lifesaving dog Bilbo, well known to users of Sennen beach, last Friday, writes Marquitta Hawkins.
With safety always being first priority, the event was aimed to raise the children's awareness when visiting the beach and swimming in the sea.
Jean Rowe of Germoe School said: 'The children learned a lot about beach safety.'
Steve Jamieson, one of the lifeguards who also works at Sennen beach, gave a talk with Bilbo to the children on things such as the dangers of rip tides and swimming outside the red and yellow flags. He explained to the children about how Bilbo helped the lifeguards carry out their rescues.
The visit was a great success and Bilbo the dog just made it that bit more exciting for the children."

It appears that the authorities at Sennen beach, much like those right here in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, have not read their Byron lately, if at all. Thus, we offer Byron's "Eulogy" to his beloved Boatswain in the hope that the authorities in Sennen will gain some perspective on the situation at hand:

"When some proud son of Man returns to earth,
Unknown by glory, but upheld by birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rests below.
When all is done, upon the Tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor Dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his Master’s own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonoured falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the Soul he held on earth –
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.

"Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power –
Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy tongue hypocrisy, thy words deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who perchance behold this simple urn,
Pass on – it honors none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one – and here he lies."

Yes, Byron was quite likely speaking to the very type of self-anointed autocrats who act before thinking and think, if at all, only after it is too late - upheld by birth or appointment and never being what they should have been. A sad legacy indeed.

Satchel & Andrew