Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"What Makes Dogs Different"

Essay: What Makes Dogs Different

By Jenna Woginrich

"No animal even remotely compares in import to the dog here at Cold Antler Farm. Dogs get the lion’s share of attention, love, and care. They live in the house with me. They share my bed and furniture. They get the best medical attention, food, and effort I can afford. Dogs are not livestock to me. They are not children, siblings, or any other simulacrum of human interaction. They are my dogs. That is enough.

I am a dog person. When I say that, I do not mean that as a subculture identifier. I do not spend my evenings in paw-print embroidered sweatshirts scouring to foster homeless canines or sifting through breed-specific email lists. Dogs are not my hobby, occupation, or entertainment. When I say “I am a dog person,” I mean that my personhood is intensely connected to, and made better through, my life with dogs.

They are my partners in living in this world. And I don’t mean “partners” as a replacement for a human spouse or family, not at all. I mean partners in the most basic way possible. They are my wingmen, staff, and teammates. We exist in a primal partnership that has sung the same long howl since before any human beings had surnames or used complex tools. We ran beside each other long before memory-foam dog beds and Nylabones. This partnership is ancient and ceremonial. It is the combination of two amazing stories, shared over meat and firelight. It is our legacy and privilege to share our lives with another beast so in tune and useful to us.

Dogs chose us. Unlike cats, horses, or other domestic animals, they became a part of our lives by their own volition. They didn’t do it because of some cosmic wanderlust to serve man, but because we kept some mighty tasty scrap piles at the edge of our camp. So they became comfortable with our campfires and voices, and over the centuries have co-habitated with man in a pact of mutual benefit and success. Dogs, like man, are predators that live in groups and hunt by daylight. Their skills in running down prey far exceed our own. When the spoils were shared, pups raised with humans, and generations of selective breeding and adaptation were put in effect, we were gifted the company of an amazing and multi-talented animal. We now have dogs to aid people in every civilization in the world. No other domesticated species has become so useful in so many ways. So adaptable and integral to our own civilization.

Dogs protect our livestock, homes, and children. They detect bombs, lead the blind, and track criminals and the stranded alike. Some tow boats to shore. Others race across fields in search of game. Some dogs flush, retrieve, or point. Others herd, gather, drive, or drove. Some dogs pull sleds, taking us where we could never go alone. Others sniff out drugs, detect heart attacks, or listen to sounds in the forest we could never hear. Some dogs fill stewpots while luckier ones sit on cushions in royal halls. Look at any picture or literature of any class in the history of Man, and there is a dog. They are heroes and villains. They are lab rats and show stock. Some dogs go off to war for us, while others simply let us hold them until we can’t cry anymore. They have helped us live, work, and eat, and in this relationship both of our species have exploded in populations and prominence. While such population explosions come with their problems, the numbers don’t lie.

I refuse to see all animals as equals. Call me a speciesist all you like. Livestock raised for our plate are not on the same emotional, societal, or cultural plane as dogs. Certainly not to me, or to our history as co-dependent species. If you have the audacity to compare my working dogs to my edible livestock, I have already stopped listening to you. Dogs are not dinner, they are home. And even if some dogs are raised as food by other cultures, it doesn’t diminish the story of Dog, or negate the work they have done and continue to do with us humans. They have been watching over us, protecting us, hunting with us, carrying us, and sharing our lives since the story of modern man began. Don’t you dare compare them to a pig.

I could live the rest of my life in peace without another person, but would collapse in spirit without a dog. This, I am certain. For those who don’t like dogs, my heart goes out to you.

It must be hard going through life all alone like that."

Monday, July 29, 2013

For Dad


(Samuel Daniel Sayad, March 30 1913 - July 29 1986)

The lock would snap open
steel against steel.
And with it would come by glorious zeal.
He'd walk up the staircase,
the pace bore his seal.
His overalls covered with paint new and peeled.
To see him, to hold him,
such love I could feel.
I knew I was safe,
my dependence so real.

That magic is gone now,
the door is mere wood.
I'm left to my own,
prayed never I would
Fear has replaced him in my struggle to be.
My strange new companion,
in a world unknown to me.
I fight to find myself in an age ruled by "shoulds,"
to exist a unique person, to be understood.
The battles rage daily, they dictate my life.
They leave me despaired,
my existence is strife.

Yet every so often,
in the quiet dreamy night,
he snaps the lock open,
and I am alright.
But the dream is no match
for the cruel conscious might.
I lay there awakened,
a child filled with fright.

One day it shall come,
my dependence on me.
The struggle shall finish,
the fear cease to be.
The door will then open,
as I remember will glee.
And through it will walk
the person in me.

@ Stephen Samuel Sayad, September 17, 1989
@ The National Library of Poetry, Frost at Midnight (1996)

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Newfoundland Club Of America - Only Proven Show Dogs Should Be Bred (Even Those With SAS)

During a trial this week, when continually asked for this basis of his opinions, an expert witness for the defendants repeatedly stated, "me." This brought to mind something I had read earlier in the week: on July 15, 2013, the Newfoundland Club of America wrote the following:

"Tip of the Week - Red flag - 'The dog has been shown and has first place ribbons to prove it.' This does not guarantee good quality. Dogs may get first place ribbons at practice sessions (matches) or at a dog show where there is only one dog entered, or at non AKC dog shows. A breeder needs to participate in AKC conformation dog shows on a regular basis. This is how they prove their dogs are of excellent conformation (structural) quality, and the only ribbons to earn championship points at an AKC show are purple."

Putting aside the absence of any mention of the quality and health of working dogs (and working titles), which the Newfoundland dog is, first and foremost, let's examine the NCA's premise that the top show dogs are the best dogs from a health/structural point of view, and therefore the only dogs to breed.

The 2012 Newfoundland National Specialty show was promoted as "Best of the Best" by NCA. That is, the dogs being shown there were considered the best Newfoundlands in the world and, of course, the dog who would win best of breed would be crowned the "Best of the Best" of all Newfoundlands, the healthiest Newfoundland, the quintessential Newfoundland for purposes of breeding.

The dog who was awarded best of breed at the 2012 National Specialty was Good as Gold Anmalamual del Basaburua, aka, Nacho. Nacho is a beautiful Newfoundland, has won countless breed competitions, and is an international champion. He has been considered by many as the top conformation dog in the world for some time. But is he the dog you want a puppy from?

This takes us back to 2010 when we were offered the pick boy from a litter between Nacho and another Basaburua Newfoundland, Chelsea. Based on previous interactions with the Basaburua kennel (and even going so far as to say friendship), we were in place for the best puppy from the top Newfoundland, conformation wise and therefore, according to NCA, the healthiest Newfoundland. Our boy was born on December 15, 2010, along with five littermates, four boys and two girls.

We decided who our puppy would be, based both on photographs and videos over many weeks, and the input from the owners of the Basaburua kennel. We named our boy "Primo" (he was the prime puppy) and had very high hopes for him as a family member, working dog, and show dog.

The arrangements were made: Primo and one of his brothers would be flown over with a couple who were getting the second pick male and wanted to pick him up in person. All of the necessary legal paperwork was in order, and we were assured by the owners of the Basaburua kennel that Primo had passed all health checks, including a complete clearance of any heart defects by way of echo-doppler. All seemed in order.

Primo arrived here at the age of twelve weeks. It was immediately apparent from simple touch that Primo had a substantial heart murmur. The very next day, he was taken to a cardiologist and an echo-doppler was performed. The results of the echo-doppler showed that Primo had Grade 5 subvalvular aortic stenosis, a genetic heart condition in Newfoundlands and some other breeds (including humans). How could this be? Two days earlier, the owners of the Basaburua kennel assured us, in writing, that his heart was perfectly clear via echo-doppler. Even if Primo had only been checked by auscultation, no vet could have missed a murmur associated with Grade 5 SAS.

We immediately sent our cardiologist's report to the owners of Basaburua and asked for their echo-doppler report. We never received theirs. Instead, we were accused of having falsified our cardiologist's report because it only contained Primo's name and our names, and not his micro-chip number. While that is the practice in Europe, vets in the U.S. do not normally put the chip number on a test result. While highly offended, we had our cardiologist redo the echo-doppler (with the same Grade 5 SAS finding) and send it directly to the owners of Basaburua with the chip number included on the report. They were also provided with the DVD of the echo-doppler showing the blood flow rates for Primo. The cost of our echo-doppler was $2,300.

When we again demanded the echo-doppler allegedly performed on Primo by Basaburua's cardiologist in Spain, it was never provided. Instead, the owners of Basaburua asserted that our report could not be true - it had to be an anomoly. (We informed the owners of Primo's brother to have him echo-dopplered immediately, and the result was a diagnosis of Grade 2 SAS. There are only three of Primo's littermates on the Newfoundland Dog Database, so we do not know the fate of the other three. The database shows that Primo's brother with Grade 2 SAS was cleared only by ausculation at under two years of age - yet it is impossible for SAS to improve with age.)

While there are two forms of surgery for SAS in dogs (and a third in the works), they have not proven any better than the use of beta-blockers such as Atenolol in the treatment of SAS. There is no cure for SAS, and a Grade 5 diagnosis is essentially a death sentence, with time being the only question. So Primo was put on Atenolol, and his activity was carefully monitored. But even a moderate amount of exercise resulted in significant exhaustion. Primo was dearly loved and dearly cared for, but passed away in his sleep at the mere age of seven months from heart failure. (At least for present purposes, I have not included the Basaburua demand that Primo be returned to Spain, notwithstanding our cardiologist's opinion that such a trip would likely kill Primo.)

Our hearts (no pun intended) still remain very heavy for having lost such a precious boy to such a horrible disease at such a young age. And despite doing all we could for Primo, the feeling still lingers that somehow something more could have been done to have improved the quality of his all too short life. Primo was an angel; he did not deserve (nor does any dog or person) a life laden with SAS.

This brings us back to the NCA position on the top conformation dogs being the sin qua non for breeding. Despite the fact that SAS is, without question, an inherited disease, his father, Nacho, continues to be bred and his puppies continue to be sold all over the world. As of this date, Nacho has produced five litters (by the Basaburua kennel alone) since Primo and his littermates were born. In the eyes of NCA, Nacho is the top dog for breeding.

It is axiomatic that a reputable breeder does not breed from a dog or bitch that has thrown SAS or any other genetic condition. The goal of breeding is to improve the Newfoundland dog by producing healthier dogs. But here we encounter one of the dirty little secrets of breeding - one endorsed by NCA. If you have a top conformation dog, breed him no matter what he produces healthwise, whether it is SAS or hip/elbow dysplasia, or any of the other genetic defects in Newfoundlands. According to NCA, do not trust the breeding of a dog with mediocre show results or no show results but fantastic working results and no history of having produced genetic issues in offspring. All that matters is that nice looking Newfies with outstanding show records are bred. Health be damned. Curiously, NCA's mouthpiece, Marylou Hoffman Zimmerman, publicly condemns the intention of breeding of a bitch who has two grandparents, several generations back, with equivocal echo-doppler results.

That is the message of the Newfoundland Club of America. This is the practice of many a "reputable" breeder. As Basaburua says of itself on its website, "breeding healthy and quality newfoundlands." We find it revolting. God only knows what Primo thought during his short stay in this world. And for all the other Nacho puppies, both before and after Primo (over 100 just from Basaburua), by Basaburua and many other kennels worldwide, we pray for you, as breeders without any conscience but the almighty dollar and Euro at the forefront, continue to use him and his offspring in the ruination God's greatest creature.

In contrast to this, there are breeders (one of whose puppies we have) with dogs that are tremendous champions but who will not breed them because they have hip dysplasia and they value the breed so much that they will not take the risk of passing what is understood to be a genetic condition onto their offspring. Some of these breeders, ironically, are sneered at by NCA.

Where is NCA's "Tip of the Week - Red Flag" for "don't continue to breed from top conformation dogs who produce puppies with SAS"?


On July 21, 2013, the NCA wrote the following in an attempt to legitimize the junk science in the presentation on SAS given at the 2013 National: "Remember, very few responsible breeders are actually breeding SAS affected dogs." At first, I thought this had to be a typographical error. Is NCA really saying that some "responsible" breeders are knowingly breeding dogs that throw SAS? The answer is "yes." As incredible as it may seem, this is the position of NCA. More on this to come.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Newfoundland Club Of America's Condemnation Of "The Coven"

You might know who some of these people are: the self-proclaimed "Coven," made up mostly of women (including NCA breeders), but with some male prostitutes who do their work.
They claim their goal is to protect the Newfoundland breed from people who, essentially, are not part of their group - or those they do not believe should breed, and so on. They are the height of presumption and pretension. Worse,they know no lengths as to how far they will go to attempt to destroy someone who stands up to them.

In the Second Quarter 2013 edition of NewfTide, the President of NCA said, in pertinent part, this of The Coven: "The fact that these people, who believe that they are protecting our Newfoundlands, take pride in what they have likened to a witch hunt and NCA coven is appalling to me. Pride in harassment is sad and unproductive. They condone this behavior by saying they are doing a good thing if they can keep one Newfoundland from ending up in a puppy mill. If we can stop people from buying Newfoundlands from puppy mills, the puppy mills would not breed Newfoundlands, and harassing behavior is potentially sending people to purchase their puppies from the very puppy mills we are trying to stop. . .. Why would anyone seek out an NCA breeder when potentially faced with the type of harassment that has been happening?"

Just how sincere the NCA itself is in deploring The Coven remains a significant question. There are Coven members who hold positions within NCA. There are Coven members who are appointed show judges by NCA. There are Coven members on the Board of NCA!!! There are Coven members, who are self-proclaimed "pagans," yet who hold positions within NCA. The Coven is not simply figurative; it is literal!
While, perhaps it is enough that something was said about them by NCA, even if only to placate those outraged by The Coven, the message is far from enough.

So what are some examples of Coven activity?

The Coven will contact overseas breeders and tell them not to sell a Newfie to you.
The Coven will interfere with a contract to buy a Newfoundland between you and a U.S. breeder.
The Coven will post pictures of your Newfs with warnings about buying from puppy mills.
The Coven will attempt to get your Newf disqualified from showing.
The Coven will claim, without any personal knowledge, that your Newf did not achieve a significant task.
The Coven will lambast you all over social networks they control without your ability to defend yourself. (This is one public forum they have no control over, however. So they have put up their own blog for the sole purpose of trying to refute things herein.)
The Coven will chid you and relish over the death of your puppy from SAS.
The Coven will claim that a puppy of yours that died from a congenital condition (as proven on autopsy) actually died because you abused it.
Should you get a puppy from a breeder who will not sell to a Coven member, The Coven will wish death upon your puppy.
The Coven will attack you because you have suffered from a medical condition, including cancer.
The Coven will write and call your employer and try (albeit unsuccessfully) to get you fired because of what you have said on social networks involving Newfoundlands and having nothing to do with your job.
The Coven will gladly accept criminals into its ranks.

The Coven will even send you death threats!!!

Did you know this, NCA? Did you know that The Coven will and does threaten you and your family with physical harm including death?

The Coven is indeed ruining the precious Newfoundland breed by harassing people to the point of seeking out breeders who do not have the best interests of the breed at heart. And some of those people are actually Coven members!

The Coven has been around for decades, unknown to most. But now, as NewfTide alludes to, the fact that the web has allowed for people to challenge them has resulted in The Coven coming out publicly in order to destroy people.

The Coven, with its proud members, is everything and more that Lord Byron decried in his Eulogy to Boatswain:

"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 heart deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame."

It is time The Coven is exposed far more fully than NCA would do. It is time to put names on the examples of their activity outlined above. It is time that people understand just how evil The Coven miscreants are, and just how far they will go in their horrendous activity. And yet many a Coven member has skeletons in their closets that they dearly seek to hide. Yes, this is, to say the least, a double standard.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Get To Know Your Newfoundland Breeder

Thickheads - learn more about them here:

If you cannot access the link, here is the text:

"Cinque anni e due mesi per Gianni Soldera e Gimmy Ricci e quattro anni per ORESTE POLLONI. La Corte d’appello ha riformato la sentenza di primo grado – con la quale il tribunale condannava a più di sette anni gli imprenditori friulani – solo parzialmente.
La Corte ha confermato la condanna per associazione in frode fiscale ed evasione dell’Iva. Ma la difesa di Gianni Soldera (originario di Montereale Valcellina e all’epoca titolare di un’azienda di Pordenone) e Gimmy Ricci (all’epoca residente a Majano attualmente all’estero, contumace duranre il processo) non ci sta.
Attendiamo le motivazioni della sentenza ma siamo pronti a fare ricorso in Cassazione». La vicenda giudiziaria è molto complessa ed ha origine da un’inchiesta della guardia di Finanza del 2007, coordinata dal pm Federico Facchin. Soldera, 68 anni, Ricci 37 anni e Polloni (54 anni, di Parma) sono accusati – insieme a un quarto imprenditore che nel frattempo ha patteggiato – di aver creato un’associazione a delinquere che emetteva e utilizzava fatture inesistenti relative a cessioni di materiale informatico per un importo di poco inferiore ai 30 milioni di euro.
Secondo il capo di imputazione gli imprenditori avevano creato società “di comodo”, prive di una reale struttura commerciale, che avevano il solo scopo di consentire ad altre società, riconducibili a Soldera e Ricci, l’evasione dell’Iva. Evasione, quantificata in 5,9 milioni di euro. Questo sarebbe stato possibile inserendo nella contabilità passivi fittizi, rappresentati proprio dalle fatture false.
Gianni Soldera, si legge nella sentenza della Corte (seconda sezione presieduta da Pier Valerio Reinotti), che risale allo scorso aprile, era «ideatore e artefice principale del sistema di frode, nell’amministrazione delle imprese “di comodo” Loclal Srl, Bbm elettronica, Rimitape Srl, Multimedia Inform, Beta bite Italia, Elcome System & System, nel coordinamento delle attività truffaldine poste in essere attraverso le medesime società con particolare riferimento alla gestione dei mezzi di pagamento immessi nel circuito fraudolento». Ricci sarebbe ressponsabile dell’ «amministrazione di fatto» delle stesse società «nonché nello svolgimento di una funzione di supporto nella gestione commerciale e finanziaria dell’illecita attività posta in essere». Stessa posizione per Polloni ma solo per le società Riminitape srl e Bbm elettronica. A Soldera e Ricci viene contestata l’aggravante «di essere promotori e organizzatori dell’associazione stessa».
A Soldera, in qualità di amministrazione e gestore di fatto delle stesse imprese, viene anche contestato l’aver emesso fatture false – sempre relative a cessione di materiale informativo – per 49 milioni di euro, nei confronti della Elsco e della Giesse di Pordenone, ma anche della Tecno Chip di di Ricci (con sede a Bibione e Udine) e altre aziende di Gorizia. Il tutto per consentire alle società di evadere 9,8 milioni di euro d’iva.


About a month ago, Oreste Polloni sent me the following message over Facebook, after I had told his wife to stop making false statements about me and my family. The entire post is with the FBI: "In September I will come to San Francisco, you can be sure that I will come to look for you. In the meantime, I would like to send my greetings through some friends who live in SF
and who will be visiting you."

Yes, this is how criminals work.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

For Jack

Happy birthday, dear boy.

"If I should meet thee
after long years.
How should I greet thee?
With silence and tears."
(Lord Byron)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

Please Sign The Petition For Congressional Oversight Into The NPS/GGNRA 2013 Dog Management Plan

As the National Park Service/Golden Gate National Recreation Area begins a second attempt (within the last two years) at a "dog management plan" aimed again at cutting back off leash recreation in the GGNRA, we at Ocean Beach DOG ask that you sign the petition, at the accompanying link, demanding Congressional oversight into the rule-making process.

Despite promulgating a 2,400 DEIS aimed only at the effect of dogs in the less than one percent of the GGNRA in which off-leash recreation is permitted, and despite taking public comment (which it did not like), the GGNRA is somehow convinced that it can, legally, simply redo the process in the hopes of getting public comment swayed in its direction.

In light of overwhelming evidence of recent government agency abuses of power (e.g., IRS, EPA, NSA) in conjunction with the Congressional determination that junk science and false data had been been used by the NPS against the leaseholder of the Point Reyes Oyster Farm, we must demand that Congress authorize and act upon a thorough independent investigation/audit of the GGNRA/NPS with respect to their soon to be released GGNRA Pet Management Policy.

All we want is to keep what we negotiated for in 1977 and 1978 - continuation of the 1979 Pet Policy, which allows for off leash recreation, under voice control, in a minuscule amount of the GGNRA, but which includes the beaches that our best friends value so dearly. The 1979 Pet Policy was the result of two years of negotiation with all interested stakeholders, and was legally entered into by the GGNRA, as determined by the court in United States v. Barley.

Here is the link to the petition: