Tails from the Four-legged Stars
was amused to hear Lord Hatersley on the radio recently reading
extracts from the memoirs of Buster , his brindle Staffordshire
Bull Terrier-cross German Shepherd.
Some listeners may have been reminded of Buster's earlier
foray when he killed a goose in St. James Park, in London.
Lord Hattersley took the blame and was fined £75, but has remained
tongue-in-cheek, remarking that Buster "
has stuck by me despite my conviction."
enjoyed the reading, but feel that Buster has some way
to go before he can emulate Millie , the King Charles Cavalier
Spaniel whose memoirs, ghost-written by George Bush's wife Barbara,
became an instant best-seller, earning her more in 1991 than the
Clintons own two pets - Socks , the First Cat
, and now Buddy , the First Dog .
Buddy is developing quite a persona himself, initially
while the nation waited in suspense to see whether Bill would have
him neutered - which he duly did, much to the dismay of most American
This was followed by depression for Buddy , that is then
some misdirected minor aggression.
However, if Buddy decides to eventually put paw to paper
with insider tails of the White House, that really would
be something, probably the animal book to beat all animal books.
I think Public Prosecutor Ken Starr is barking up the wrong tree
interviewing all these humans. The animals would be a far better
Socialisation Scheme for dogs
dogs are abandoned when they become too difficult to handle.
Many of the problems can be avoided, often quite simply, if action
is taken at the puppy or adolescent stage.
A number of vets throughout Glasgow and Scotland have set up puppy
socialisation classes and these have proved to be extremely popular.
Joyce Scott is also a dog behaviourist and some of the episodes
she describes of dogs whose anti-social behaviour is so far advanced,
are harrowing in the extreme.
She said " If real care is taken at a young age and this results
in just one puppy being saved later on, it has all been worth the
Further details can be obtained from your local vet's surgery.
Postman's Knock Can Spark a Riot
I was a postman - many moons ago - I soon realised how territorial
dogs are when a stranger approaches their house.
I have still to make up my mind whether their aggression to me was
because I was not their usual postman - just a student delivering
Christmas mail -or because they regarded the visit as the bright
spot in a dull day.
I delivered the post in St Anne's, near Blackpool. The rows of Coronation
Street-style houses were fine, but the bungalows of suburbia were
Sometimes the problem was locating the letter box and even then
you might have to contend with furry draught excluders and extra-strong
The worst were located a few inches above floor level. I only ever
got bitten twice -once by a cat - and each time the animal was clearly
sitting ready to pounce on the other side of one of these low-level
It was with considerable sympathy that I listened to statistics
given by a spokesman for Houston Post Office in the United States.
Apparently, 2500 letter carriers - as postmen are called there -
get bitten each year in Houston amounting to 4.5 million bites each
year over the whole of the USA.
So if you own a dog (or aggressive cat) spare a thought for your
postman or woman.
to the Rescue of Mountain Rescue Teams
ago. I spent the summer in North-East Greenland where I became fascinated
by the huskies owned by the Danish air base there.
Greenland huskies were pale wolf-like dogs, not the Alaskan Malamute
type with the attractive markings which are popular across Britain
Greenland huskies were considered redundant after the invention
of snow mobiles, but have one major advantage - they don't break
teams of sled dogs competing in snowy conditions is an exhilarating
experience and it's not difficult to see where famous author Jack
London drew his inspiration from for his books Call of the Wild
and Wild Fang.
March 1999, West Highland-based Alan Stewart 43, and Antarctic experts
Rick Atkinson and Alistair Taylor, managed to surmount Britain's
second highest mountain, the 4265ft Ben Macdui, and cross the Cairngorm
plateau in whiteout conditions with an eight dog team of Siberian
huskies and one German pointer (Alan's pet).
whole adventure raised a considerable sum of money through sponsorship
for the Braemar Mountain Rescue Team .
and John Davies, of the Honeymist Bedlingtons, at Struthers Kennels,
Kilmarnock, have been staunch supporters of the Canine Genome
are particularly interested in the subject of copper toxicosis in
the Bedlington Terrier.
For the last 10 years or so the Cambridgeshire-based Animal Health
Trust has been carrying out the Canine Genome Project, an attempt
to map the genetics of the dog and then to eventually eradicate
most of the inherited genetic disorders.
projects have taken place or are continuing in other species, inspired
by the success of the Human Genome Project.
dogs, there are 78 different chromosomes, along each of which are
a number of genes amounting in total to around 100,000 in a dog.
Eye problems are hereditary and there is some evidence suggesting
hip and elbow displacements can be, too.
many of these inherited diseases, only one of the 100,000 genes
is altered. It is now possible to identify the problem gene and
develop DNA tests to determine whether a particular animal has the
disease-causing gene. This will enable breeders to avoid breeding
dogs with such genetics.
tests to establish this would involve taking a small amount of DNA
from a dog simply by using a swab on the inside of the dog's cheek.
This can then be processed in a laboratory.
is might be early days just now and expensive, this will be routine
in a few years time.
Top Ten most popular dog breeds in the UK are:
UK Favourite Dog Breeds
West Highland White Terrier
English Springer Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
American Song Dogs
on the heels of Glasgow's Lakota Sioux "Ghost Shirt" saga,
comes news of Sarah Harrison in Wales, who has imported Native
American Song Dogs for breeding.
the first Europeans arrived in North America it was estimated that
there were probably 200,000 of these dogs in existence, but
by the time of the massacre of the Sioux at Wounded Knee in South
Dakota, these dogs had dwindled to just a handful.
and soldiers shot Indian dogs on sight and Native Americans, starving
on their rservations, were reduced to eating some of the others.
the past 20 years, a part-Blackfoot Indian, Kim LeFlamme, has systematically
searched out any remaining dogs, created the American Indian
Dog Club and, together with other enthusiasts, has built the
numbers up to about 200.
Harrison's first pair were immediately christened with distinctive
Scottish names. Little Skye and Highland Storm are
now rearing their second litter and interest is steadily growing.
appearance, these dogs clearly owe their ancestry to mixtures of
coyote and wolf blood. They get their name because they prefer to
"talk" or "sing" in high pitched tones rather than
a booklet on American Indian Dogs or further information send £3.00
(including p&p) to:
Sarah Harrison, Ty Maesymeillion, Maesymeillion, near Llandysul, Ceredigion,
Dyfed SA44 4NJ. (Tel: 01545-590384).
Dog Population Survey 1999
efforts are being made to reunite stray dogs with their owners and
cut down the number being destroyed.
August 1999, the National Canine Defence League published the results
of a MORI survey it had commissioned to find out the true position
regarding the stray dog population in the UK.
April 1999 to March 1999, 133,400 strays were picked up throughout
the British Isles.
these , 44% were reclaimed by their owners, 21% were sent to re-homing
centres, 14 % were found new homes by local authorities and 16%;
22,000 were destroyed.
an effort to reduce this total of destruction, many local authorities
have instituted neutering and micro-chipping programmes.
About one in three local authorities in the UK now do this and the
number is growing. This is a serious effort to reunite dogs with
their owners and avoid euthanasia.
of course, a systematic operation should permit a crackdown on persistent
human offenders who lose or abandon their pets.
Care of Your dog
for dogs and cats presents other types of problems. Many cats don't
like getting wet. They'll go to the door, take a sniff, then think
better of it and retreat indoors again. Most dogs go outside no matter
what, as they don't mind the harsher elements. For a start, they have
to as they don't, generally speaking, use litter trays. However, dogs
are also programmed to go for a walk as if patrolling their territories
as they would in their far-off wolf days in the wild. Pavement ice
and salt can create very real difficulties. Dogs' feet must be looked
after. Nails should be kept short. After every walk, the feet should
be washed free of salt and the pads checked for cuts. Keep a selection
of rough towels handy so the joints can be dried off to prevent rheumatism
sight for Dogs
thought dogs, cats, deer and most other creatures – except monkeys,
apes and birds – could see only in tones of grey.
Now Japanese scientists say they have proved that dogs can actually
Labradors and Japanese Shiba were taught that food was hidden behind
red sliding panels and not behind the green ones. These panels were
interchanged at random. All the dogs learned where the food was and
could detect it correctly at least 75% of the time, according to a
professor of animal science ay Azaba University in Japan. Readers
may like to carry-out simple experiments of their own to see if this
Bernards on the Menu
animal activists were in the news in Spring 2000 when they urged their
government to step in and ban the export of St Bernard dogs to Indonesia
and the Far East, where they are apparently eaten as human food.
the Far East there are even TV adverts propagating the St. Bernard
as "cheap to feed, quick to grow and ideal for the culinary trade",
which we in the West find incomprehensible.
Get Tough on "Fighting Dogs"
who visits cities on the continent will have noticed many breeds of
dog almost unknown over here or greatly restricted.
It is also noticeable that some of the more aggressive breeds are
still having their ears cropped into a pointed upright style – a practice
illegal in the UK.
a recent spate of attacks by aggressive dogs on adults and children,
the German government appears to have run out of patience. In a
disturbing article in an issue of the Scottish SPCA news magazine,
it seems that 16 breeds have been singled out for an outright ban
or severe restrictions under new laws enacted by the German states.
the new law, people are forbidden to buy or exchange any animals
of the 16 listed breeds. Existing animals have to be registered,
castrated, muzzled and leashed in public.
bull terriers and
tosas among others.
German Federal Minister of the Interior recently made a statement
that his government may be lobbying Europe in an attempt to make
the German legislation European law by November 2000.
European countries are either taking part or considering action
against "fighting dogs".
and France are considering legislation against Staffordshires and
pit bulls. Italy has drafted laws covering the ownership of dangerous
dogs and a range of laws in Holland will soon provide for an aggression
test for several breeds.
of these restrictions apply to breeds not considered fighting dogs
or particularly dangerous in this country.
Dangerous Dog Scheme
situation in Germany regarding dangerous dogs is hotting up. Germany
now has a hit list of 16 "fighting breeds either banned,
or subject to rigid conditions of ownership. These include some
of Britain's most popular dogs such as the Staffordshire bull terrier,
English bull terrier and bull mastiff, but not, interestingly enough,
the German Shepherd.
are half a million "Staffie owners in Britain who are less
than chuffed at this criticism of a dog which has always been regarded
as a near ideal family pet.
owners are also concerned that other European countries are considering
following Germany's lead.
The Kennel Club is now advising British owners of the breeds mentioned
not to take them to Germany under the Pet Passports scheme as it
is not worth the risk of having them impounded. Many German owners
of these dogs must now conform to a list of measures such as:
dog" taxesof around £500 and
If they don't co-operate, or a pet fails these tests, it could end
up being destroyed.
your puppy will only do the toilet on shets of newspaper, move the
paper steadily closer to the door and eventually outside. Gradually
the puppy will become used to going outside and the newspaper can
be discontinued, though of course poop-scoops should be used to
who cry when left alone are a far more difficult problem and often
gets worse as the dog grows older leading to extensive damage of
household fixtures and fittings. Contact a Dog Training Club as
soon as possible, as the club's trainers and members will have encountered
most problems before. Puppies should never be left on their own
and it is up to you to arrange for a "puppy sitter" if you really
have to go out.
Barnoldswick, North Yorkshire, lives an unusual Cocker Spaniel,
called Denver, whose owner, Jeannie Crangle, 45, is confined
to a wheelchair.
She sent 5 year old Denver to dog training to learn how to
collect washing, carry shopping, pick up the telephone and collect
On his return, the spaniel has astonished everyone by being able
to sort the post. Denver recognises who the letter is for
from the length of the owner's name.
you know of any similar examples please let us know.