Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More from Norm...

Sorby that is. The man who taught many folks how to operate a Field Gordon Setter.

In Norm's words...

For those that are looking for a hunting companion, the Gordon is the finest possible upland game bird dog. They have tremendous stamina and endurance. Gordons will continue to hunt all day.


The Gordon will not work for, or respond to, anyone he does not know. This particular breed characteristic originally contributed to the decline of the Gordon as a popular hunting dog. A Gordon cannot be lent to a stranger, so they are not kept by large hunting preserve kennels to rent out by the day. Also contributing to their decline is their need for human companionship, which precludes their use as a so-called "kennel" dog.

I know the latter to be true beyond doubt...

I had a friend that I hunted with for many years. When he moved to the Carolinas many years back, I became a solitary hunter, fullfilling what is truly in my soul... One man, one dog, one gun...

But, I digress. My Gordon at the time never once went to my hunting partner for a pat, or even acknowledged his presence with us in the field. He was all business. He'd allow this gentleman to kill birds over his points, but nothing more, and he knew this man since he was a small puppy.
With me, of course, it was different... We were soulmates, and the world was just between us...

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Adirondack Museum

This museum in Blue Mountain Lake, NY, is worthy of a trip from anywhere. I've been there a number of times, and always find something of interest when I return. The Adirondacks is chock full of historical signifigance, and the museum takes it all to a higher level.
This past weekend was a tribute to hunting and fishing in the Adirondacks. These pastimes were a huge influence on opening up the wilderness to the sports from the city, and provided a livlihood for many of it's residents..

The following is an article about the museum and the weekend's festivities. And by the way, Pat sisti is also Indian Lake's "Father Christmas", and he does a fantastic job as such..


Adirondack Museum Celebrates Hunting and Fishing

The Adirondack Museum is planning to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day tomorrow Saturday, September 27, 2008. The museum is planning "A Sportsman's Paradise," a day-long extravaganza of programs, demonstrations, and music - just for outdoor enthusiasts. Activities are scheduled from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. All are included in the price of general admission.

Demonstrations will include "Casting a Line" with licensed guide and fly-fisherman Patrick Sisti, "Fly Tying" with Geoff Schaake co-owner of the fly-fishing and fly-tying web site www.theanglersnet.com, and "Fish Decoys and Lures" from mother-of-pearl as made by Peter Heid.

Members of the American Mountain Men will return to the museum campus, creating a living history camp that will feature the traditional equipment and gear that would have been typical of a nineteenth century hunting excursion in the Great North Woods. The group will discuss historic hunting and trapping techniques and demonstrate target shooting with Flintlocks as well as knife and tomahawk throwing.

An Author's Corner and Book Signing will be held in the museum's Marion River Carry Pavilion from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Participants will include: Dan Ladd, whose book Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks serves not only as a guide to public lands open to hunting, but also looks at the history and lore surrounding hunting in the Adirondacks; Robert Elinskas, author of A Deer Hunter's History Book - a collection of tales from the Blue Ridge Wilderness Area; and Donald Wharton whose collection of Adirondack outdoor stories about trout fishing, bush pilots, deer hunting and more is entitled Adirondack Forest and Stream: An Outdoorsmen's Reader.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation booth will provide information and answer questions about hunting and fishing in the Adirondacks throughout the day.

Adirondack musician and storyteller Christopher Shaw will delight audiences of all ages with music celebrating the great Adirondack outdoors at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

At 2:00 p.m. an illustrated presentation, "Images From Trail Cameras," will be held in the Mark W. Potter Education Center.

The day will conclude with "Adirondack Pond Fishing 101" with Patrick Sisti. Sisti specializes in fly-fishing, fishing trips on the Indian River and Adirondack ponds in central Hamilton County as well as hiking camping, canoeing, and nature walks. His presentation will take participants through the steps taken to locate an Adirondack pond, get there, and fish. Handouts will be provided.

"A Sportsman's Paradise" visitors should not miss the exhibits "Woods and Waters: Outdoor Recreation in The Adirondacks," the "Buck Lake Club: An Adirondack Hunting Camp," and "The Great Outdoors" - an interactive space that is perfect for family adventures.

The Adirondack Museum tells the story of the Adirondacks through exhibits, special events, classes for schools, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. Open for the season through October 19, 2008. For information call (518) 352-7311, or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.


For those that would like to see more of what the Adirondack Museum has to offer, click here....

Friday, September 26, 2008

For the best in Vermont Maple Syrup..

Come to New York!

That's right, much of Vermont's maple syrup comes from trees tapped in northern New York.
While the states of Vermont and New Hampshire require slightly higher sugar content, and by slightly we're talking about less than 1%, New Yorks finest Maple Syrup takes a back seat to no one.
There are a good many producers in my area of the Adirondacks, just over the County line in Warren County, and here's one of the best I've tried..
When the frost is on the punkin', there's nothing better than real maple syrup on hotcakes in the morning, with a little sausage or bacon on the side..

It'll cure what ails ye'...

For all you ever wanted to know about maple syrup in general, and New York State maple syrup in particular, read the website of New York State Maple Products.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Today's quote

I talk to him when I'm lonesome like; and I'm sure he understands. When he looks at me so attentively, and gently licks my hands; then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught thereat. For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that.

~W. Dayton Wedgefarth

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

And more from Across....

Originally printed in the Gordon Setter Association's Newsletter in 2005, it is a true story and the author has kindly allowed it be included here!

On a fine September morning, when everything was quiet
A dog I know called Henry, decided he would riot
A Trial would take place later, but he wanted to explore
So he galloped off to look around: which way? He wasn't sure

For Norfolk is expansive for a dog away from home
With fields so big, he didn't know which way he ought to roam
So he took a bus to Fakenham that happened to pass by
The folks onboard were friendly and Henry wasn't shy

He settled in, admired the view and through the window scented
A covey of nice partridges, whilst his owners were demented
Henry had no money and couldn't pay the fare
So they left him there at Fakenham, where he said a little prayer

It dawned on him: he had done wrong and the driver of the bus
Said," Henry don't you worry, or even make a fuss
I'll drive back very slowly and see who we can find"
When he spotted Michael Daly, who really had been kind

He was standing by the roadside with a Gordon on a lead
The bus pulled in, they had a chat and both of them agreed
Post haste a car was soon arranged, the dog was overjoyed
Back safe and sound with no harm done, you couldn't be annoyed

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

From across the Pond

This article was first printed in the British Gordon Setter Club's Year Book for 2005, as one of four articles looking at the different aspects of owning Gordons in 2005 from the show, work and companion viewpoints.

I have been invited to write about my view of Gordon Setters in 2005, from the working perspective.
My first awareness of Gordon Setters came from reading descriptions of the different dog breeds as depicted in the Observers Book of Dogs, to a group of blind and partially sighted people who were on a training course at Guide Dogs for the Blind. This was not part of the course, but one of the students who had been blind from birth wanted to know how a Labrador differed from a Golden Retriever or a Boxer; many people joined in with their own observations and after listening to conflicting opinions I decided that reading from a book would be helpful, and so our game began. As I was going through each breed describing what they looked like from the photo and written description I was drawn to the Gordon Setter, I can’t really say just what it was, it couldn’t have been the colouring as the photo was in black and white, I just knew that I was very interested in learning more about the breed. One of the trainers gave me a list of people who bred Gordons and my search began. I chose a show bred bitch that was too small to show. I had shown horses in the past but not dogs and I knew I wanted to work a dog, although I didn’t really have an idea of what they were supposed to do. I couldn’t afford much, so I arranged with Mrs Grimes (Belsud) to pay a small amount up front and have Belsud Mandy on breeding terms – I was to put her to a Ft Ch dog (Ft Ch Index Dipper of Crafnant); I could keep one dog pup but the rest of the litter went back to the Belsud kennel. I wasn’t allowed to keep my own dog while still working at Guide Dogs so I left my job to be with my Gordon Setter.

I attended my first field trial in 1976, when my son Nick was just 10 weeks old; in fact I had been hoping that he would be able to hold his head up enough to be carried in a new type of baby knapsack that was just out – he managed it two days before the trial – good boy! Once at the trial I took it in turns with my husband Stephen to watch the trial or stay at the vehicle with a sleeping baby. What I saw at the trial made me so excited, when I saw the dogs running, I found the speed, agility, grace and style of many of the dogs breathtaking – I just knew that this was what I wanted to try to do.

There weren’t too many Gordons running in trials in the late seventies but I watched in awe when George Burgess (Crafnant), Brenda Partridge (Clitters), Bob Truman (Assarts) who returned from Rhodesia in 1979, and Derek Abbot (Posternpark) who ran a Clitters bred Gordon as well as his English Setters, took their dogs up in front of the judges. As far as I remember the only show bred Gordon running and winning awards then was Ch Swanley Strathspey handled by ‘Pop’ Allen. Apart from these few able handlers, Gordons seemed to have a bit of a bad name amongst the main body of field trial competitors, due in part I suspect, to many of them being let off the lead to race up the middle of the beat and never be seen again for hours!

Obviously, I wasn’t there just to watch and learn from Gordon handlers; there were many trainer handlers of other breeds who inspired me to dream of having a Gordon Setter which could run and compete with the best of these for game finding, pace and style. For Pointers there was Patricia Wood (Spinningloch), Michael Early (Kilmacud), Lady Jean Fforde (Isle of Arran), Joyce Damerell (Sparkfield); for Irish Setters, John Nash (Moanruad), Billy Hosick and Billy Darragh (Erinvale); and for English Setters Mrs Betty Town (Sharnberry).

Through the eighties, Gordons became even stronger competitors at trials with the arrival of Mike Daw (Carissa), Michael Thompson (Invercassley), Jane Osborn (Boyers), Wilson Young with an Assarts dog, and Declan O’ Rourke (Lusca). During the eighties the summers were mainly very hot and dry, this suited the stamina and noses of the Gordons and they fared well against the stiff opposition from all other pointer and setter breeds.

The early nineties saw a decline in the number of top quality Gordons which could compete with the best of the other breeds, and regularly gain awards. By now George Burgess, Brenda Partridge and Mike Daw had all stopped running dogs and they were sadly missed. I have a health problem that kept me from competing with a dog for over seven years. As the Gordon awards decreased the quality of dogs running in field trials from other breeds improved, this was a time for some outstanding Pointers, Irish and English Setters. By the mid to late nineties Gordons began steadily to re-appear as regular winners of stakes, Dennis Longworth (Bringwood) and Sara Chichester (Wiscombe) both adding Gordons to their already successful kennels of other breeds. Gill Truman (Gawcott), Fran Toulson (Warrenfell), Jean Collins (Amscot), Phil O’ Halleron (Racmaglen) and Nicola Harris (Clitters) are some of the award winners who joined the existing Gordon campaigners at this time, and all fought hard for their awards.

The new millennium continued the trend for a higher standard at field trials, with dogs expected to quarter wider and faster in search of their game but still be under perfect control. In addition, judges were also looking for a good style of running to match the pace of the dog – these were difficult times to try and win with a Gordon against such high competition.

There has been a welcome increase in the numbers of Gordons entered in trials over the past decade, and today, compared with the run-away Gordons of the seventies, most of these are under good control when competing. However, taking part in a field trial is only the first courageous step; it is to be encouraged and applauded but why stop there? This first step should be one of many on the way to improving the breed for working and field trials. Many of these Gordons regularly competing over the last ten years may have improved in areas of handler control but not in pace and style. They are no more competitive today than when they ran in their first field trial.

Trials are competitions to enable the best dogs of each breed to be showcased, assisting with the selection for future breeding with the hope of improving the working qualities and maintaining the highest possible working standards of all of the Pointer and Setter breeds.
With this is mind, how many of us regularly ask ourselves, where do I want to be with my Gordons in ten years time? Are we learning from watching the handlers and trainers we most admire; are we constantly striving to identify weaknesses in our dogs working abilities and searching out breeding stock that may help to strengthen these areas?

Since I started in field trials the working bred Gordons have improved tremendously in terms of pace and style, they always had stamina and of course the excellent temperament that would surprise us if it wasn’t there. All Gordons have a great game sense and a strong instinct to point; the main area for all of us to endeavour to continually improve is the speed of running. Many Gordons running in trials today just do not have the pace (or athletic running style) to compete at the top in trials.

When you look back over your time in trials, have you steadily improved? Where will you be with your trial and working Gordons in ten years time? … Just the same, I do hope not!

Author & Copyright:- Penny Darragh

About the Author

Penny Darragh (formally Hemingway) has competed in trials for over twenty seven years, making eight dogs up into field trial champions, six Gordon Setters and two Irish Setters. Ft Ch Posternpark Swift of Ensay in 1984, Ft Ch Cairnlora Blacksmith of Ensay in 1985, Ft Ch Moll of Ensay in 1989, Ft Ch Wiscombe Shillelagh of Ensay in 1998, Ft Ch Erinvale Jig (Irish Setter) in 2002, her Danish bred import - Ft Ch Wedellsborgs Aja of Ensay in 2005, Ft Ch Clitters Blackthorn of Ensay in 2006 and her latest Ft Ch Erinvale Gemma (Irish Setter) in 2008. Penny has won the British Champion Stake three times with Swift, Moll and Gemma, and come second twice with Jig and Aja.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More Native American wisdom.

A thought to ponder this weekend...

Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men,
we didn't have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents.
Without a prison, there can be no delinquents.
We had no locks nor keys and therefore among us there were no thieves.
When someone was so poor that he couldn't afford a horse, a tent or a blanket,
he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift.
We were too uncivilized to give great importance to private property.
We didn't know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being
was not determined by his wealth.
We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians,
therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another.
We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don't know
how to explain how we were able to manage without these fundamental things
that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.

John (Fire) Lame Deer
Sioux Lakota - 1903-1976

Enjoy the weekend

Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm ready...

Grouse season in the North Country opens tomorrow, September 20. I've never cared for opening days, so I'll be skipping that, but I plan on making a trip before deer season opens and the woods are full of folks looking for horns.
I get nervous about having a dog on the ground during rifle season.

I've settled on the little SKB 280 in 20 gauge for this season. I've become very fond of it, and as long as I get my thick skull down firmly on the stock, I have alot of confidence in this gun.. Remember, wood on wood!

I also will be shooting a new load this season. Hodgdon Longshot, with 15/16 ounce of the hardest #8's I can get my hands on, all wrapped up in once fired Remington Premier hulls. It's still relatively a light load for my problematic right shoulder.

I'm healthy this year, (where's that wood) and looking forward to a good season following my best buds..

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gun fit... for today, and from the past..

As we all know, there were many old wive's tales and use of the "black arts" in fitting a gun in the past. Or, maybe one should say non-fitting a gun in the past. Old fashioned stock dimensions were just that; old fashioned, and it seems that they were designed to fit no one!
I'm sure we've all seen shotguns with excessive amounts of drop of up to 4 inches. Has the modern homosapien changed that much physically that we now get by with little more that 2 inches of drop? Absolutely not!
I may be dating myself here, but I recall when length of pull was measured by placing the buttstock into the crook of one's elbow. If the first joint of the trigger finger fell upon the trigger, the length of pull was deemed to be correct. But, does that arbitrary dimension have anything to do with where the shooters thumb falls in relation to his (or her) nose when the gun is mounted? Being an old stock crawler myself, and having my nose bitten by my thumb on numerous occasions, I would consider it infinitely more important to have the space of two fingers between my thumb and my nose.
Which brings us to the age-old wisdom of extended length of pull for a shotgun with double triggers. Why?? Does the shooter move his entire hand when going for the rear trigger? The relationship is from the grip to the triggers. Length of pull has little to do with it. I can support slightly extended LOPs, because I believe that most shooters shoot a stock that is marginally too short anyway. Unless one's knuckles scrape the ground while walking, I would leave 15 inch and longer LOPs alone.
Now, as for the current darling of the clay target world, the severly curved pistol grip. It's proponents clain that it adds control. I've never found that, but I have found that it makes my wrist sore and tired. I much prefer the gentle arc of a Browning Superposed, with a long tang and round knob if you please..

Well, you have all just wasted fifteen minutes of highly productive time reading this useless and highly subjective rant, that in the great scheme of things, means absolutely nothing.
So, I will leave my readers with a useful thought to ponder for the day.. This one of great signifigance from the Hopi Indians of the American Southwest...

"Lose your temper and you lose a friend; lie and you lose yourself."

~Hopi ~

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Eternal Debate

Is the handmade shotgun better than the machine made production gun?

I've read so much of this on both sides that my head has almost turned to mush! While I've never owned a Purdey or other London Best, like the Holland & Holland pictured here, my machine shop background tells me that in this day and age, the machine made gun can be better!
And here's why...
I don't believe that any appreticeship programs exist at all anymore in the European countries known for producing fine guns. Tradesmen are exceedingly hard to find, and command high prices. To keep prices competitive, which even the fine gunmakers need to do, some corners have to be cut. Less visible work and less demanding tasks can be assumed by less skilled workers.
Even Fabrique Nationale in Belgium, home of many of the great Masters, now employs many workers from Pakistan and points in the Far East.
Machines like today's super accurate CNCs do not suffer from bad days, blue Mondays, hangovers, shop jealousies, dislike of the boss, and irate feelings for not getting a raise that one felt was deserved. Nor do they need coffee and lunch breaks... They just go happily about their work.
They do not daydream about a girlfriend or the upcoming weekend. Precise machining from a human requires total concentration... the slightest lapse can, and does create scrap.
So, the gap between the hand made "Best", and the machine made, high quality production gun has narrowed considerably. Both are roughed in to a degree by machine, and both receive various amounts of hand fitting..

To further my point, read about the Holland & Holland here.

In my humble opinion, the arguement today is a moot point!

A new blog

I'd like to draw everyone's attention to a new addition to the blogroll. It's called Four Seasons of Birdhunting, and it encompasses everything we hold near and dear. I particularly enjoy the photos of the dogs at work in the field...

Give it a look...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Timeless equipment

There is nothing in the world like leather, and for dog training equipment in particular!
I've got an old leather roading harness like the one pictured here from Christie Enterprises. I don't even know how old this harness is, but it's outperformed, and outlasted, more than a few of the cheap nylon harness.
I've also got a new one of the type shown from Christie Tack. Scientests can concoct any kind of material they want, and never produce a material with the feel, smell, and durability of real leather.. It is just the ultimate for working with dogs..
It's also traditional, and there's a lot to be said for that. We should honor the greats who lead us to this point in time, and follow their lead... They new the difference between the real thing and the pretenders..
If you road your dogs, and you should because nothing else builds muscle and endurance quite like it, look at the products from Christie Enterprises.. And, as an aside, a horse or ATV is not needed! Tie a 30' checkcord around your waist and have at it. The exercise is great for you both!

and don't forget, a quality piece of equipment is always cheaper in the long run..

Monday, September 15, 2008

Moose on the loose

This picture was taken Wednesday, May 28, 1999 at 8:45 a.m. in the Birch Hills development off Rt. 30 in Sabael, Town of Indian Lake. The moose appeared wet, as though it had just swam across Indian Lake. It was first spotted walking up from the lake as it crossed Route 30. It was last seen walking toward "downtown" Indian Lake. The awesome beast inspired a healthy respect. "My hands were shaking when I took the picture" Dr. Daniel Way reported.
(reprinted courtesy of the Hamilton County News and Dr. Daniel Way).


Moose are making a big comeback in the New York's North Country. I saw one running in a drainage ditch a few years back out on Fagan's Flats, on Route 28 between Indian Lake and Wevertown. A number of vehicles stopped to watch him, as he crossed the road and ran up into the forest. My estimation would be that this bull stood between six and seven feet at the shoulder.. truly a magnificent animal.
The following report from The New York Times, also provides a good account of the comeback..

I sincerely doubt that I'll live long enouigh to see a season on Moose, and at this point in my life, I'm not sure that I'd take one if I could. But, it's encouraging to see their numbers increasing, and it certainly is a thrill to witness their return to the wilds of the Adirondacks.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The advantages...

of being a Gordon person..

Hmmmmm. lemme see, there are quite a few

1. The local "gangsta" kids show me lot's of respect, because they think I've got long haired Rottweilers.

2. They increase my flexibility when I trip over them in the dark at night, after making a pit stop..

3. The black coat blends in nicely with a clean white shirt

4. The constant face licking from a large soulful tongue precludes the need to wash my face in the morning.

Can anyone add any others??

And don't forget...

Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you

We'd also like to thank our friends at Upland Feathers for the recent plug. And for those that have not taken the "surveymonkey" hunters survey, please consider doing so...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

So small and insignifigant...

But, oh so important to we shooters with cross dominance issues.

Being a right handed shooter with a dominant left eye, I've been using Magic Dots for many years. For those unfarmiliar, these are small translucent "dots", about 3/4 inch in diameter, that one applies to the lens of one's shooting glasses to blot out the sight of the front bead with the dominant eye, for me, the left eye since I'm a right handed shooter.
This allows the afflicted gunner to keep both eyes open when shooting a target. It aids in target acquisition, and depth perception, greatly helping folks who used to be "one eyed" shooters, or who tried to remember to squint at the last second..
Lately, these very important aids have been missing from the marketplace. Browning bought the rights from the originators, Meadow Industries, and subsequently discontinued them.
I'm now at the point where I need replacements, and they're not to be found. Sure, I could use a small square of Scotch Magic Tape, and for the time being may have to. But, Morgan Optical, the folks who bring you Randolph Ranger shooting glasses, is trying to produce these little gems once more..
If you're like me, and require the Magic-Dot to shoot effectively, call or e-mail the folks at Morgan Optical and let them know that you need them, and need them in a hurry!

Remember, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease!"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Triple-E detected

As usually happens this time of year, Triple-E, or Eastern Equine Encephalitis has been detected in mosquitos from the ponds in the area. Samples were taken only yards from the gunclub.
Now, this is nothing new this time of year, but the numbers of mosquitos carrying the disease is markedly higher.
Triple-E is considered the most serious of mosquito borne diseases, and reportedly carries a 60% mortality rate. I don't usually like dousing myself in chemical repellents, but this disease is worthy of respect..

Be careful out there..

Astro dc-30 collar

I just recieved my updated dc-30 collar unit for my Garmin Astro system on Monday. This is obviously the system we should have had all along, and I can't find anything that I would change.
The old system with the dc-20 collar worked great, and was certainly more functional than I had expected, but did suffer a few problems. The collar (dog) unit needed a counterweight to stay upright on the dog's neck. An e-collar was often the solution, but the dc-20 would still ride down the side of the dog's neck. Lost and damaged antennae was another annoyance.
I'm happy to report that all the previous issues have been addressed, and given the proper "fix" in the new dc-30 collar unit..
It's far better than telemetry, is only slightly larger than a "strike" collar, although still bigger than a supra-light by a good margin, and is a dream to use.

If you want and need to know where your dog is in the field or the woods, the Garmin Astro system is just what the Dr, ordered. I can't think of a more useful tool for keeping a huntin' dog safe... And, isn't that what we're all lookin' for?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Native American wisdom

The American Indian harbors uncommon wisdom, in respect to relations with others, the land, wildlife, and the Maker of us all. I've taken to quotes by Native Americans because of this great wisdom and respect for all things natural.
I thought that today might be a good day to publish this, in light of the day's meaning...

"No tree has branches so foolish as to fight amongst themselves..."

Native American proverb

Please spend a moment today, in honor of all those innocents who died in the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, pondering the words of the first Americans..

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A little bit o' this, and a little bit o' that...

First, I'd like to draw everyone's attention to another new listing in the blogroll.
Dogs and Doubles is the name, and there are lots of great entries concerning vintage upland shotguns and Pointing dogs. Check this site out and enjoy the read..

Second, and this is of great importance to us all. Go over to A Piece of the Purest Challenge, and read the current series about pure bred dogs and the toll that their genetic flaws take upon them, and us, the owners. Be forwarned, parts of the video can be graphic and somewhat disturbing, but we can no longer bury our collective heads in the sand and pretend that everything is hunky-dory, because it isn't! Thus far, there are five parts to this series, and look for more.
The folks that are responsible for this site are very knowledgable and caring... Give it a look...

Third, it's not too early to start thinking about Christmas for the special handler in your life. We've mentioned Larry Smith, The Knotsmith, before. He produces superb lanyards and dog related leatherwork, all braided by hand to your selected color scheme and dimensions. Since these are handcrafted products, they do require some time to produce, but I can guarantee that the results are well worth the wait.. And, the recipient will admire the quality and craftsmanship for many Christmas' to come..
Got to The Knotsmith's site, and peruse the lanyards and other equipment. I happen to own a Black & Tan (what else) T-2, with extra length. Folks always comment on it..

So, place your order early for the birdhunter in your life, even if that birdhunter is yourself (we deserve it).. And when you call, tell Larry that ole' Black & Tan sent 'ya!

And last but certainly not least, I'll add a quote for today..and this one from the late Gene Hill. A man who knows the kinship of the dog as few others...

"I cant think of anything that brings me closer to tears than when my old dog -- completely exhausted after a hard day in the field -- limps away from her nice spot in front of the fire and comes over to where Im sitting and puts her head in my lap, a paw over my knee, and closes her eyes and goes back to sleep. I dont know what Ive done to deserve that kind of friend."
Gene Hill

Enjoy the day....

Monday, September 1, 2008

While we're on the subject..

of all these esoteric questions on animal intellegence, let us ponder another.. Do companion animals, or animals in general, have a soul??
Hmmmmmmm. Deep stuff there! I believe that most of the folks who read here would know where I come down on this issue, but as always, it's open to debate. There are certainly folks far more learned than I that would have an opposite opinion. But, many of them would not believe in God either, or the existance of a Superior Being that created all that we know.. Well, I'll leave that to each reader's belief system... For now, we're talkin' dogs!


Point of View - Does my dog have a soul?
Wednesday, 25 September 2002, 9:12 am
Column: Barbara Sumner Burstyn

Does my dog have a soul? – Point of View with Barbara Sumner Burstyn.
At an Animal Welfare conference in September, New Zealand author Richard Webster declared his dog Bruce had a soul.

Bruce, said Webster, experienced joy, sadness and jealousy and had a reasoning ability. Webster’s comments sounded quaint and a little dippy and you could just see him looking deep into Bruce’s eyes when he made the discovery. But however Webster came to his conclusion he is, perhaps unwittingly, echoing the ‘personhood’ debate currently firing philosophers round the world.

Quietly behind the scenes across the United Sates and Britain lawyers and philosophers are debating the upgrading of animals to human status. Forefront of this new ‘personhood’ trend is Peter Singer the Australian philosopher who is committed to breaking the automatic nexus between species membership and moral status.

According to Singer it’s not enough to accord animals the full rights of humans - some humans might not even qualify as ‘persons’ at all. Especially if they are brain damaged or just not wanted. Singer, who makes it clear he does not particularly like animals, has taken the naive discussion of animal lovers like Webster and developed it exponentially.

We are, he says, simply being speciesist when we drip detergent on to a rabbit’s eye rather than carrying out the same experiment on a human patient in a persistent-vegetative state. He likens it to racism – giving preference to one group over another because of race membership.

According to Singer the only moral boundary is the capacity to suffer; while being rational or cognitive is irrelevant.

Frightening and improbable?

Well take a look at how we’re all sliding gradually towards Singers views.

Recently the SPCA in Vancouver, Canada urged that a dog owner be charged with psychological abuse and His Holiness the Pope said not only are animals as ensouled as we are but they are far superior to human beings in their loyalty and trust and lack of artifice. Toronto psychiatrist Dr. Irvin Wolkoff recently described the relationship between a human and their pet as far less complicated and far more satisfying than the relationship between two humans. While New York animal physic Joanna Seere helps animals find balance, wholeness and themselves through meditation and the payment of US$90. She’s so busy it takes weeks to get an appointment. In the UK Morgan Stanley Dean Witter& Co recently ranked pet health insurance above pensions in importance while a US hotel chain has introduced a Privileged Paws frequent-stay programme featuring fluoride enriched water bowls and free in-room meals. Then of course there are pet products galore – everything from jewellery to organic food to pyjamas and perfume.

So whether Richard Webster intended it or not his declaration of Bruce’s human-like attributes of cognition, autonomy and self-awareness puts us all in a difficult situation.

Does an animal sharing these human-like traits reveal a soul and if so does that confer personhood? If you do think your dog has a soul then you have to consider your moral obligations to all equally ensoled creatures. While the need to protect animals from cruelty and exploitation is a no-brainer it won’t be enough - you’ll be morally required to extend to them all the legal protections of personhood that being ‘ensoled’ guarantees. Not only would that mean freedom from their use as subjects of medical research or even meat but also their role as own-able property. You’ll certainly have to reconsider your belief paradigm that all human beings are persons and given that you’ll have to take on Peter Singers argument that the lives of healthy animals ought to be weighed equally with human beings begins to make sense.

Or, of course you could stop the rot and tell Richard Webster and his animal welfare buddies that ensuring the proper, ethical treatment of animals is not the same thing as conferring souls on them. Animals are not little persons. Some of them have intellectual abilities that are shadows of our own but that does not give them equal rights with humans. They’re incapable of conveying abstractions like "third-person" messages, they can’t store knowledge or species history and so lack a culture.

Stressing the similarity between humans and non-human animals is dangerous. Next time Webster and his friends are ruminating on the souls of their dogs they would do well to realize they’re part of a much bigger debate that if people like Singer have their way, will change for ever the divide between being and non-human. Personally I think the idea of a dog with a soul is plain silly. For one thing dogs don’t have a sense of humour. But then show me a dog that can tell a good blonde joke and I might change my mind.


Some of this piece is obviously correct. Animals are not humans, and conferring the rights of humans might be going too far. But, some of this piece is also obviously incorrect!
Dogs do not have a sense of humor?? These folks have never been around my dogs who often do things in play to addle me...Maybe they cannot store species history, but does that mean they lack a culture?? Canines are highly evolved pack animals, and have been since pre-recorded time.. They know their place in the natural world and all the rules needed to survive it and thrive in it..
Romulus and Remus, the inspiration for the Roman Empire... is it so far fetched?? There have been other stories of human children being raised and nurtured by dogs.

I know this, my dogs can look into my eyes and see love, just as I can see it in theirs, and no Scientist or Theoligist can convince me that it's not there!