Monday, September 27, 2010

Rebuttal from the "puggle" people: "die, bitch!"

I think that was more or less it, but really I didn't waste my time on reading too much of it. One guy apparently went through every bit of information about me that can be found online so he could construct a lengthy essay on why my life sucks. Clearly, a potent rebuttal to my opinion on "designer dogs" and the arseholes who breed them.

So, statistically, 100% of a self-selected sample of "puggle" owners not only have lousy literacy skills, but are also really rude, mean people who don't know how to respond to an argument.

Curiouser and curiouser, isn't it? I know all kinds of very normal people who own mutts, and yet everyone I know, even marginally, who owns a "designer dog" is apparently a nasty moron.

You gotta lay off that "designer dog" shit; clearly it's ruining your mind.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Herding: you're doing it wrong

This photo is from May 31 but I forgot to post it. I had stopped to take photos of bison, obviously, and Tinky-Winky got out of the car before I could close the door. Luckily the bison didn't stampede. She's spooked a whole herd before, but this time they must have realized she's only a foot tall and there's only one of her. So they ignored her, and being not a herding dog, she ignored them... until she crossed the path of this cow who was trotting past me, and gave herself a good scare. The cow was nowhere close to Tinky-Winky, really, but no one likes to see a 1,200-pound cow coming right at them. I doubt she learned anything from it, though.

That fox looks just like a shiba!

The thing with foxes is, they move fast. Really fast. Much faster than shibas. So I got two shots at this one. He (or she) is the only fox I know who has more or less the same colour as a shiba. And there are lots of foxes in Yellowknife; you just don't see them on this blog because I'm not fast enough to shoot them. But you can come see for yourselves if you'd like. Foxes, even the species that's called "red fox", are at best a muddy blackish kind of red. This is the only one I've ever seen that's orange like a shiba. Even so, it still doesn't look like a shiba. It's tall and skinny with a huge poofy tail, and it looks like it's on crack.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Also, "puggles" will ruin your literacy skills

My last post about the "designer dog" fraud drew many angry, rude comments from "puggle" fanciers, which all had this in common: they had nothing to do with what I wrote.

Hmmmmmm... Well that's amusing. Who would have thought that 100% of a self-selected sample of "designer dog" owners would have lousy reading skills and no ability to think rationally?

Ok, actually, it's very likely that I would have thought that. If you're buying into the "designer dog" thing, I'm not gonna have high expectations for you.

For those who can actually read, let me explain what's wrong with "designer dogs."

First of all, I've said this before, but there is nothing "designed" about them. The only design is to part fools from their money. Large amounts of money. A breed is designed and created over generations by selecting stock for desired traits, so that the end result consistently produces those same desired traits over and over when bred to the same breed. Beagles and other scenthounds, for example, are designed to have very keen noses, lots of endurance, and a one-track mind. Terriers are designed to be small enough to go down a burrow, tenacious enough to want to do it, and brave enough to face down the creature that lives in the burrow. Sheep dogs are designed to herd. Retrievers are designed to find the ducks you shoot and bring them back to you.

Are you following this? Breeds are designed, that is, they have a purpose. And they're bred selectively over generations to isolate the traits that fulfill that purpose. Most of the time the traits are either recessive, dominant but uncommon, or partially inheritable, so you have to make sure you bring together the individuals who best display those traits, in order that the offspring show the trait as well or even better than the parents.

In some breeds, particularly pugs, the desired traits are grotesque morphology and below-average intelligence. Whoever designed the pug should have been beaten bloody for the evil scum of the earth s/he was, because who would do that to a dog? It can't hunt for itself, it can't burrow in the snow, it can barely breathe or drink without choking. All it does it entertain people by its grotesquerie. It's the politically-correct twentieth-century version of the medieval fool: a stunted, misshapen human kept as a pet to entertain other humans.

Anyway. Let's consider now the "designer dog" fallacy. "Designer dogs" are not bred from two carefully selected specimens to enhance a desired trait. They're also not bred with a consistency of purpose. If someone was trying to create a new breed, the offspring that best displayed the desired traits would be bred to offspring of a like crossing that also displayed the desired traits, and on and on until the new breed was stabilized. That's not what "designer dog" breeders do, though. They just breed the same cross over and over and send forth the offspring into the world for $600 a head and don't care what happens next.

The original "designer dog" was actually bred for a purpose, which was to create a hypo-allergenic service dog by crossing Labrador retrievers with poodles. The offspring, predictably, was unpredictable in both its hypo-allergenic aspect and its ability to train as a service dog. It was also discovered that this was completely unnecessary, because well-bred poodles are very smart and perfectly able to train as service dogs.

The average "designer dog", however, is bred for the sole purpose of selling the puppies. The "puggle" is a particularly good example of the failure of that ill-thought-out cross as a "breed". If you look at photos, they're losing almost all of the pug phenotype, and no data is available on their success as hunting dogs. So the desired qualities of both breeds are lost. This is predictable if you care to remember that breeds are mostly from traits that are recessive, dominant but rare, or partially inheritable. Obviously the recessive traits of both breeds will be lost; dominant traits never breed true unless the recessive alleles can be culled; and partially inheritable traits are diluted by breeding to individuals that don't have them. So, you get something that has no specific traits by which you could write a breed standard, and that will not breed true.

Why is that important? It wouldn't be, if you don't care about predicting a dog's likely aptitudes, size and personality. But most people do care about that, and what's more, "designer dog" fanciers will actually tell you that their "breed" is such and such way. They're lying. There is no predicting what traits each parent will pass on, or how the various traits will work together. I know a dog who is allegedly a Labrador retriever x Belgian shepherd cross. It looks exactly like a lab... and is very aggressive like a badly-handled Belgian shepherd. I think it's a remarkably stupid cross because most people expect a retriever to have a mild, friendly personality. Breeding a dog who looks exactly like that but has an aggressive personality common in a completely different breed means people will approach your large, aggressive dog as if it was a nice friendly black lab.

Another problem, along the same lines, is when people decide after the fact, without any knowledge of a dog's breeding, that it's such or such "designer dog", and in addition, buy into the lies the "breed" fanciers have come up with about that cross's traits. Guessing a purebred dog's breed is one thing, and most people get it wrong a lot. A friend of mine once lost a Gordon setter and found it at the pound labelled as a "Rottweiler x spaniel." Guessing the parents of a mutt, even assuming both parents were typey purebreds, is an exercise in futility. Like the puppy in my previous post. It looks exactly like a bloodhound puppy, but that's not a breed most people have ever seen in person, because it's very hard to keep, so that's not somebody's first thought on looking at that puppy. Well, it was my first thought, but of course I spend tons of time looking at breed standards.

If you're going to assume it's a mutt, then there are many possible crosses. Clearly, it looks like a scenthound, though not particularly much like a beagle as they're never self-coloured. Other hounds that have the same body shape as the beagle include the foxhound and harrier, and I'm not sure how anyone pretends to know by looking at a mutt whether its ancestors were beagles, foxhounds or harriers, seeing as they all look practically identical except for height. The most you can say is that based on probabilities, there are probably way more beagle owners willing to breed them to anything that pisses on fire hydrants than foxhound or harrier owners.

Then again, why would it be a pug x beagle if the colouring occurs in neither pug nor beagle? One could assume that both colours are recessive and that the offspring are getting the brown colour from the beagles and the self-colour from the pugs, but that the tricolour or bicolour or gray coats are all recessive to self-brown. But then if we're going to say that, we're admitting that this cross is losing the most visible trait of each breed, and then how can we pretend that we're going to predict any of its traits?

Back to guessing the parents' breeds, again, why are we guessing "beagle" when it looks like a bloodhound? Bloodhounds are not bred by crossing pugs and beagles, so where do we get the idea that if it looks like a bloodhound, the most likely ancestry is pug x beagle? If it has pug in it at all, which there is absolutely no reason to believe given the absence of any pug-like traits, it would still make more sense to assume the other half was a bloodhound rather than a beagle. Because at least it looks like a bloodhound.

The whole thing is clearly futile. If you're getting a mutt from a rescue, it's a mutt. It's not a maltipoo, yorkipoo, cockapoo, labradoodle, puggle, boggle, borkie, pomchi, shichon, zuchon, glechon, porkie, shorkie, snorkie, or anything else of the kind. It's a mutt. M-U-T-T mutt. It might be a wonderful dog or a retarded creature who can't even housetrain, or anything in between, but you'll never know until after you bring it home, because as a mutt of unknown breeding, it doesn't have any predictable traits. Except that being a dog, it will probably eat, shit, sleep, and want to go for walks and chase living creatures.

On the other hand, if you're buying your "designer dog" from a breeder or a pet store, you're just being had. You're paying hundreds of dollars for something you could get for free from the shelter, and you're encouraging the unscrupulous individual who's selling it to you to continue adding to the dog overpopulation problem.

And that, more than anything, is what's wrong with "designer dogs." The very concept of "designer dog" exists strictly for the purpose of selling random mutts to gullible people who don't care about dog overpopulation. Then, they get a dog who's not what they expected, and it ends up in rescue.

If you want a dog, either get a mutt for free from the shelter and call it a mutt, or buy a purebred from a responsible breeder and call it a breed. Never buy a dog who's advertised under a portmanteau name, because they're ipso facto lying to you. Don't buy a dog from a pet store or a backyard breeder. In fact, don't buy a dog at all unless you have a very specific set of criteria and you've found the purebred that will match them. If you just want "a dog", get a free one from a shelter and call it a mutt.

And don't comment on people's blogs if you don't know how to read.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Reader comment: I don't agree with your stupid blog, therefore you shouldn't even have a blog

Piss off, morons. I blog whatever the Ford I want. Doesn't bother me any if you don't like it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Seriously, get over the "designer dog" BS

A fellow blogger was given a dog, which looks like this:

"It's a puggle", she says. A reader commented that indeed, the puggle is a recognized "species."

Yeah... not so much. A "puggle" isn't a breed, it's a portmanteau word to refer to a dog believed to be a pug x beagle cross. Waste of a beagle, if you ask me, because why breed a scenthound to a breed with a nose so misshapen they can't even breathe? People do the dumbest things.

So I looked at the photo and it looks nothing like a pug. Not much like a beagle either, but certainly nothing like a pug.

"Oh yes he does," she says. "He has a wrinkled face."

And... your point is? Most puppies have wrinkled faces. Many breeds also have wrinkled faces as adults, such as... scenthounds. Imagine that. Pugs don't just have wrinkles, they have a squished face, which is a genetic deformity that has been bred for selectively, for no good reason, to produce things like bulldogs and mastiffs. And pugs. All dogs who are not very good at breathing, and in the case of bulldogs and pugs, not much good for anything else either.

Luckily, this puppy looks nothing like a pug. Yes, it has a wrinkled face. But it doesn't have a squished face, or bulging eyes, or a curly tail, which is very common in "puggles" if you look at the "breed's" official website. There's nothing about this dog that suggests it's ever even been near a pug.

You know what it does look like though?

A bloodhound puppy.

Not a highly typey, award-winning bloodhound puppy, but it looks like a bloodhound puppy. And you're gonna be sorry if that's what it is, because a bloodhound is a BIG HUNTING DOG. It needs tons of training, tons of exercise, mental stimulation, firm leadership, tons of exercise, and did I mention tons of exercise? It needs tons of exercise. Like a beagle, except tons more.

Also, most hounds bark often and very loud. That's what they're bred for.

Also, bloodhounds are reputedly difficult to house train. Or to train to anything, but most people never go any further than housetraining, so that's no big deal, maybe.

And also, bloodhounds are on average a medically high-maintenance breed.

So other than the fact that there's no such thing as a "puggle", maybe you shouldn't take home a puppy of unknown ancestry just because someone made up a cute portmanteau word for it... because in your lack of knowledge, you might be taking home a bloodhound that you'll never be able to handle.

There are two kinds of dogs: purebreds and mutts. Purebreds are bred from consistent stock to have consistent traits, so there is some predictability in them. Mutts are everything else, and you never know what you're gonna get until you try. And calling it a "puggle" doesn't make it anything other than a mutt. Or maybe a bloodhound.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

More training practices that don't involve "positive reinforcement"

My dog is trained to puke on the linoleum. As were all the dogs and cats I had before her.

How is that even possible, you ask?

It's simple. Every time they start heaving, I pick them up and move them onto the linoleum. Then I stay with them and hold their hair while they're puking.

That's seriously all it takes to train your pet to puke on the linoleum. And they get very committed to it, actually. One time Tinky-Winky started throwing up blood. While I was at work, she threw up so much my entire kitchen was just a sea of blood. By the time I came home she was too weak to walk, in fact she hardly had the strength to blink... but she never let a drop of blood hit the carpet. My brave little dog.

So is this positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, or extinction?

Actually, it's none of the above. It's something much more useful: understanding. It works on people, too. You can try to train your employees to do things your way by rewarding them, by punishing them, or by making the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard... but the most effective training method by far is simply for them to understand what result you're trying to achieve. My pets know I don't want them puking on the carpet, so they go puke on the linoleum. Simple as that.

But you could try teaching them the same thing with candy, I suppose.