A Fine Quote, and Dogs

August 1st, 2014 10 Comments

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I stole this fabulous quote from Steve Bodio’s blog, Querencia at: http://stephenbodio.blogspot.com/

“Stuff is eaten by dogs, broken by family and friends, sanded down by the wind, frozen by the mountains, lost by the prairie, burnt off by the sun, washed away by the rain. So you are left with dogs, family, friends, sun, rain, wind, prairie, and mountains. What more do you want?”

Federico Calboli

Mr. Calboli is a geneticist, a post-doctoral Research Fellow at Imperial College, London, and—to be painfully honest—does the sort of work I am nowhere near smart enough to understand. But reading his opening page about himself (http://www.federicocalboli.com/) prior to stealing his words, the following sentence caught my eye:

“Alongside my genetic association research, I have worked on the analysis of complex pedigree records, using simulations to asses pedigree complexity, inbreeding and gene diversity loss in dogs.   My work on the analysis of the pedigree of purebred dogs in the UK has been key in the recent challenges to the practice of closed registries for dog breeds, on the grounds of animal welfare.”

Readers of my blog know I am no fan of anyone trying to tell me what to do, and when the government starts meddling in my affairs, I put my ears back like the false prophet’s donkey in the Bible and refuse to cooperate. Even more, I begin to think fond thoughts of Guy Fawkes, the sharpshooters who stood by the rude bridge and fired the shot(s) heard round the world, the men who picked their teeth while letting the rope of the guillotine go, all those who tell authoritarian governments (I know that’s redundant) to go perform anatomically impossible acts upon themselves. But…

But in this case, I have to admit I’m all on the side of science, or at least on Mr. Calboli’s science.

One of the blogs that was lost when my website had that embarrassing accident (wrong finger on the wrong key at the wrong time) was about this very issue. The moment a gene pool gets closed, disaster begins. It’s true of men (look at some of the royal morons and madmen that have cluttered up various thrones around the world throughout history) and it is especially and radically so with dogs. Dogs apparently have a genetic marker that allows them to evolve more rapidly than other species, which is why in such a comparatively short evolutionary timespan, the descendants of the wolf have been able to assume the shapes of Chihuahuas and Irish wolfhounds, whippets and bulldogs.

Closed gene pools have given us guard dogs that are afraid of their own bark, hunting dogs that can’t hunt their way to the meat counter in a supermarket, and companion dogs that bite their owners. No one is advocating mongrelization here, but for God’s sake, if crossing a little Malinois, say, into your German shepherd will delay the onslaught of dysplasia and spinal atrophy, or fear biting, do it. I have an antique dog book (I would have just called it an old dog book, since it was published in 1934, but apparently that qualifies it as an antique in today’s frantic world) with a cover photograph of a German shepherd. That dog bears no more resemblance to the German shepherds of the show ring or Schutzhund ring today than I do to LeBron James. If it sounds as if I’m picking on German shepherds, well, I am. As a child in Germany during the late fifties and the first half of the sixties I used to see them and admire them so much: magnificent and fearless athletes, calm and steady, polite with strangers, but fiercely protective of their owners, the ideal dog. Today… Let’s just say that with any breed, if the body can’t stand up to the rigors of being walked around suburban neighborhoods and the temperament can’t stand up to the rigors of being a beloved family pet, then that breed is, to quote a fine old Army phrase, FUBAR: fucked up beyond all recognition.

A kindly reader saved all my old blogs and sent them to me, for which I am very grateful. I will go back through my files and try to find that original blog and re-post it. If it has stood the test of time.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I read somewhere or maybe I saw it on the news that a lot of police departments are now rescuing dogs from the local pound and training them to do police work such as sniffing out drugs. Pure breed German Shepherds can cost hundreds of dollars and a lot of cities are cash strapped. So, not only are they rescuing dogs they are giving them a new lease on life and they are saving hundreds of dollars in the process.

  2. Anonymous says:


    I did find that story about shelter dogs being trained for k-9 units on ABC American Strong. Instead of hundreds of dollars the purebred dogs cost into the thousands.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is that a photograph of the dogs you have now or is that an old photograph?

  4. Anonymous says:


    This is some more information on puppy mills.

  5. Anonymous says:

    That is interesting. I learned something similar when I took a class in Psychology 101. There are dominant genes and then there are recessive genes. Say you have two parents one has brown eyes the other has blue eyes. The brown eye gene is dominant gene and the blue eye gene is recessive one. So, any child born would have a higher chance of having brown eyes and not blue. In our family three of my sisters have brown eyes and two have blue. One of my sisters and I have the blue eyes. This is also true of many diseases and inherited disabilities. If you have two partners that have a dormant gene for deafness then it is very likely they will have a child who is deaf. The same is true with any kind of mental illness. If you have one parent that has schizophrenia . Then a child had a fifty, fifty chance of having schizophrenia. I saw a program on alzheimer’s that was doing a study on this. There was one family that had the misfortune of having early onset alzheimer’s disease. The mother in the family had it, but at that time no one know what it was. Now each grown child had to contend with the fact that they had a fifty, fifty, chance of developing the disease. One person after another developed alzheimer’s disease in this family. The study was trying to find the genetic marker for this disease. It gets into tricky territory with this one. Once they found the marker the younger generation could be tested for it, but there is no cure. So would they really want to know? Would they want to have a family knowing that this disease could be passed on? What would happen if a future employer or medical insurance provider found out about this? Some of these questions remain unanswered.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Really like that quote but they left out horses and cats. At least that is two more things I would think many people would want besides what is listed in the quote. I was happy to hear someone had managed to have copies of all your old blogs that were lost as when found your site and found out about you had lost a good bit of your writings here I was wishing there was some way you could get them back as wanted to read what all I had missed seeing during time of no computer.
    I have been introduced to flashdrives in the past year and found them very handy to save writings on or videos might find on youtube.
    I think probably or hopefully there are more people feeling the way you do about the government meddling in your business more than ever now at least from some views I have heard from those both near and far.

    Nancy Darlene

  7. Anonymous says:

    Stealing stuff from others can get you in trouble, especially if you leave a trail that can be followed. Well do I remember THAT blog post, it was THE FIRST one of yours I read, following another trail from Bodio’s Querencia! And have been intruding here ever since!…. And a subject I can harangue about INDEFINETELY and INTERMINABLY, if not poetically! Gosh, don’t EVEN get me started–I can’t count the times(because I can’t count that high!) I’ve gotten into it with conformation dog show folks, who wouldn’t know a functional dog if it bit them in the arse! Such a “sport”(which they do refer to it as) is far more about human politics, human social status, and primate posturing, than anything to do with healthy functional canines! Rather ironic, since such “pure-breeding” was established to IMPROVE various domestic animals–but so often ends up screwing them up instead–ESPECIALLY regarding dogs, where the BLASPHEMY of crossbreeding is resisted more strongly–unlike, say, cattle or pigs. I know there are sensible people out there involved with conformation dog showing, I have met a few(believe it or not). But they seem to be in the minority, and, in my experiences, often tire of the stupid human politics and leave the activity for something else(usually actually FUNCTIONAL) involving dogs. The incredibly narrow-minded stupidity I’ve experienced in conformation show people I have found appalling–they only know ONE aspect of dogs, and that’s conformation showing! Even though there are a zillion actual aspects of dogdom out there–they just turn a blind eye to everything but their “sport”–which is, I personally believe, more of a religion-substitute for many folks involved, the precepts of which are followed blindly and dogmatically(if you’ll pardon the most appropriate pun!). I’m all for people doing what they wish, within reason, but so much of conformation show breeding IS NOT reasonable, and RUINS breeds instead of improving them, and causes all manner of sorrow and pain to people and dogs! And then this institution puts themselves on a pedestal and crows(every year at Westminster!) that they are producing THE BEST dogs! Which could not be further from the truth, if one reasonably thinks “the best” should consider health, temperament, and ability, and these qualities should all be intact BEFORE conformation showing is even allowed(as so many European Standards require). Example–a Norweigan Elkhound in Norway MUST have passed field trials and actually held a moose at bay BEFORE it is allowed to do conformation shows–THAT is how you produce the best dogs! If you, as a breeder don’t want to hunt moose, then you shouldn’t be dictating the future of Norweigan Elkhound conformation, temperament or ability! Get an Elkhound for a pet or companion–fine, but don’t then try to dictate the future of the breed–based solely on exaggerated appearance–when you don’t know a moose from a horse’s arse! Anyone who knows anything about dogs, and wants a dog for a specific purpose, and wants the healthiest specimens possible, NEVER buys from conformation show breeders! And usually also pays a fraction of the cost for healthier, more functional dogs! I always advise people to stay as far from “show lines” as possible when getting any kind of dog. There is some attempt amongst “the Fancy” to try and rethink and reorganize the entrenched ideas of closed studbooks and outcrossing, but they have quite the stubborn, blind, religious obstinacy to overcome. I wish them well(the reformers). I think it HAS to happen eventually, as people become more educated on the subject and can no longer be DUPED by flashy show dog images anymore. Another huge peeve I have regarding common show dog folk attitude, is that they think THEIR WAY should be the ONLY way to breed, and loudly condemn, and even join with the radical AR’s, and try to OUTLAW anyone else’s choices of breeding and keeping dogs. Stupidly not realizing those same radical AR allies will turn on them IN A SECOND, given the chance, and outlaw their conformation showing practices as well! Divide and conquer! And yes, the super crazy AR’s want to outlaw ALL keeping of animals for companions or anything else– I think they want to outlaw LIFE itself, actually. And please don’t confuse the super crazy unrealistic radical hater type AR’s with those that are sensible and benevolent regarding some degree of Animal Rights, which I’m all for myself. Oh yeah, I CAN go on and on…….L.B.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe you are on the wordy side, but I enjoy reading ALL of it, LB. You always make interesting points, thanks for contributing.
      Another LB

  8. Anonymous says:

    In more the government at work news the government gets caught spying on itself.
    The CIA spies on congress. HA, HA, HA.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hello JP,

    I agree with you once again about the sad decline of the german shepherd. These wonderful dogs unfortuntely have turned into neurotic fear biters that aren’t able to crawl after the age of three or four. I’m unfortunately not exaggerating…
    My very first own dog was a german shepherd with long hair (so called “altdeutsch”). She was a marvelous dog, absolutely healthy with a straight back and lived until the age of almost fourteen (!). Although she had a great bloodline my mother could buy her for next to nothing. That was in the early eighties…
    Meanwhile there are attempts to make the “Altdeutschen Schäferhund” a race of it’s own with all these advantages I mentioned above. Sadly enough the FCI still balkes against accepting it. If you are interested (or anybody else as well) you can visite the website “www.altdeutscher-schäferhund-langhaar.de”.

    Best wishes


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