A True Tale of Bureaucracy and Individuals

I posted this as a comment below but decided it could stand as a post.

Re “individuals” and beaureaucrats.

When Libby was in Bozeman an INDIVIDUAL woman who disapproved of Libby’s keeping company with a hunter (really) got the town to go after our then third dog, as no one could keep three without all neighbors’ permission. The town actually told us to put down one, our choice.

A law firm took us on pro bono, thank God. We won, but the bill, to the town, was $27,000. The town then appealed to the Montana State Supreme Court, who found again in our favor, costing thousands more. At the time Libby couldn’t leave and we couldn’t have afforded to pay the lawyers.

One of the low points was the neighbor’s husband’s perjuring herself by saying in court that my Goshawk’s screaming was keeping him awake. I was able to prove that his hearing was remarkable; the Gos had been in NM for 6 months.

After it all one of the city councilmen told me: “You beat us on dogs. Now we are coming after your hawk. And if you beat us on that we’ll come after your pigeons.”

Now in Bozeman you must have all neighbors’ permission for ANYTHING. I believe the regs say “if your neighbor has a problem you have a problem”. As the feed store owner sadly told me: “This used to be Montana”.

I see no reason NOT to fear such monstrous violations of freedom, unless perhaps you have millions to fight them. That is why I consider bureaucrat- free zones like Mongolia, Kazakhstan (yes), Wyoming (outside of Jackson perhaps) and Catron county (guns mandatory, no other bureaucracy wanted). Albuquerque, with virtually no public input, rushed in the most stringent AR regs in the country.

You are not paranoid when they are after you.


I have been simply flabbergasted by the controversy I’ve been reading about dog husbandry and the nit-picking crap described by Steve and our blogger friends in several recent posts. After reading the animosity represented, I suspect that some folks would have me put behind bars since our lifestyle doesn’t conform to their rigid standard for animal treatment. But it also became apparent that there seems to be two underlying differences in our thinking.

The first is that some of us have working partnerships with animals – they aren’t simply “pets” here to enhance our lives. We live with and depend on one another, in various ways. My relationship with my dogs isn’t just about me. I live with livestock guardian dogs, which are by their very nature very independent animals, so they “get a vote.” More often than not, the dogs decide. I try to influence, but then what I get is given to me by an animal that has survived for thousands of years by making its own decisions.

The second involves the reality of risks and death. Life on our ranch involves risks, and the knowledge that the cycle of life includes death. Death isn’t something we’re afraid of, but is part of our lives.

The risk of death occurs daily. West Nile Virus killed one of our sheep last week; my dogs kill coyotes fairly routinely; wolves kill our dogs on occasion; and on occasion, we have dogfights that result in injury and even death. We humans on the ranch experience daily risk as well, be it from lightening strikes, hazards of working with machinery, being charged by mother moose, horse wrecks, and certain hormonal cattle who want to kill us for touching or coming within a half-mile of their babies – just to name a few.

We have a waiting list of other sheep producers who want our pups. Our dogs are a mix of Akbash and Anatolians and now, we’re adding Central Asian Ovcharkas. The males that win breeding rights, in the process of natural selection, get to breed. The females pick where they will den up – we build hay houses and other whelping boxes, but the females decide. The result is some of our litters are born in dirt dens dug out of a hillside, others in culverts, others underneath buildings, and even a few in the hay houses. The females that use the hay houses seem to know what we’re doing as soon as we construct it. We feed the female atop the house for several weeks before whelping, and they usually begin nesting and making it their own just before having their pups. The females always have the pups by themselves, and I’ve only lost a few from being rolled on during the birthing process. Most of our litters include 8-11 live pups.

The pups are never locked in, and I simply can’t resist touching them from the time they are born. If it’s a real big litter, I supplemental feed with a bottle of milk replacer. Within a couple of days of birth, the bitches usually wait for me to arrive for babysitting duty before they exit at a run, headed for water and to empty their bladders/bowels, then hurrying back to the pups. I try to line the natal dens with wool, and some females allow that, while others kick it back out as many times as I put it in. No matter – mama decides and the babies do just fine. We provide hard dog food, soaked in milk replacer, before the pups ever open their eyes.

The babies start coming out of the den as soon as their eyes open, meeting their first sheep and getting butted when they try chewing on ears that don’t belong to them. They grow and venture out further, tangling with porcupines, digging up prairie dogs, harassing moose for better or worse, chasing off magpies and hawks, and meeting up with their first coyotes and fox. The pups have wild adventures and seem to be truly happy animals. They usually have their first coyote or fox kill while they still have puppy teeth. And mercy, but they are proud when that happens. Coyotes challenge our herds nearly every day, so the guardian job is a big one.

The pups bark and growl all night long, roll on dead things, and stink to high heaven sometimes. They swim in the river when and if they want. They steal fish from ospreys.

Most pups survive, but some don’t. We had a moose kick a pup in the chest and break its sternum a couple of years ago, and another died of the infection from a deep wound down its back that was inflicted by a bobcat that tried to enter the herd. We spray for fleas often because with our prairie dog populations, we have an unlimited source.

I socialize the pups by getting them to come to my voice, or to my whistle. I play with them, get them used to collars, leashes and cables, take turns taking them for rides in the cab of the truck to the house. That way, it’s not so traumatic when they have to go into the vet’s office in town. They slobber, and puke, have stress-induced shedding, and survive civilization, but gleefully jump out of the truck and back to their herd.

The dogs don’t live in doghouses, even in the bitter cold of winter. They will not leave their sheep, no matter the condition. They curl up to the wool bodies they protect, fan their tails over their faces, and wait out the storms. The sheep don’t use buildings, but seek out the shelter of sagebrush and natural landscape contours for protection, and the dogs stay with them.

These livestock guardian dogs live very active, adventurous lives. I feed them well, providing good dog food and meat on the bone. The dogs love me, but prefer their herds. They rarely die of old age. Wild animals rarely do. They live lives of bravery and I am privileged to get to share in that life with them. I mourn their passage, and am thankful for the time I’ve had with each one. Animals such as these are good for my soul.

Another AR Outrage

In Philadelphia, from David Zincavage at Never Yet Melted.

He quotes from the Border Collie Bulletin Board:

“The local SPCA raided Wendy’s Willard’s kennel where she keeps her Murder Hollow Bassets on Monday night. They arrived with seven trucks and two police cars & informed her that one of her neighbours had complained about noise.

“Neither the neighbour nor the SPCA had previously complained to her, yet she has been there for 22 years.

“As it turns out, Philadelphia County had recently passed an ordinance where no more than 12 animals may be kept on any property. The Murder Hollow kennels contained 23 bassets, less than the requirement to obtain a (US) Department of Agriculture kennel licence, but the kennel is just inside the city limits.

“Under this law, the local SPCA have managed to acquire the power to seize people’s dogs without warning, by force and by night, and then to take them away to an unknown destination without any accountability.

“The police took 12 hounds and delivered them to an SPCA animal rescue “shelter” in Philadelphia. From there the hounds were dispersed amongst other “shelters”.

“Basset packs in the area have contacted a Mr. Little who runs the SPCA shelter, seeking to place the hounds before they are put down or neutered (thereby destroying 20 years of Murder Hollow’s breeding programme). After a week, Mr. Little has failed to respond to any of these contacts.”

Read it all, especially the comments. This CAN happen to you, despite what some of my rural friends think. It makes me feel like moving to Mongolia– or at least Catron County.

Controversial Pups

Our Asian dogs are capable of causing fits among more conventional dog breeders. Lately cyber attacks and threats were unleashed against litters by Vladimir Beregovoy and Jes and Brett at Demonpuppy’s Wicked Awesome Dog and Art Blog. Jess explains in great detail:

“…it is so incredibly disappointing for me to find out that an acquaintance of mine, Vladimir Beregovoy, has actually been the target of a campaign of intimidation by the so-called fancy. This occurred on a mailing list that I am on. I saw a conspiracy among several people to bring pressure to bear on this man, to get his dogs taken away from him, seemingly through any means necessary, by members of the fancy. Don’t think I’m exaggerating. I read the messages myself, and I’m being pretty restrained in my analysis. I was, to put it bluntly, gobsmacked.

“So what caused this brouhaha? Did he beat his dogs, starve them, make them live without shelter in the snow?

“Nope. He allowed his healthy Saluki bitch to whelp in her wooden dog house. Horrors! Worse, she removed the blanket so the pups were on bare wood. Could it be possible that the bitch knows best? After all, the weather is warm, there’s no danger of the pups getting chilled. They are sheltered from the sun and rain, and their mother is there to clean them, feed them and keep them warm if they need it. But no! A truly responsible breeder would make her keep the blanket. Screw her instincts. She should be locked in the house in a sterile whelping box with a heat lamp and blankets! That’s the way it’s done! Get that man’s dogs away from him before he can do more damage! The control issues and desire to dictate behavior behind the entire incident would have kept a whole college of psychologists busy for a year.”

RTWT. Somehow the outcome is win/ win; the forces of evil are at least temporarily routed, and now we are not only dog- in- laws with Vladimir; Jess and Brett are getting a pup to add to their diverse Asian sighthound pack, and old friend David Zincavage of Never Yet Melted is also, as is master hunter Mark Churchill in Scotland. Dog – in-laws everywhere! Long live aboriginal hounds!

Puppy Mills?

Gail Goodman sent this interesting essay from the UKC on “Puppy Mills” What are they? Should we even use the word?

“Twenty years ago, animal activists created the phrase “puppy mill”. Back then, it was only applied to commercial breeders, and then only to those who were breaking the law by neglecting their dogs. In a futile attempt to placate activists, many hobby breeders adopted the term “puppy mill” and used it to separate “them” from “us”. It was a mistake then, and it’s rapidly becoming fatal today. Every one of these so-called “anti-puppy-mill bills” has a definition that could easily include breeders of hunting and show dogs. Every time you use that phrase, you’re contributing to the idea that dog breeders need to be regulated out of existence.”

There is a lot more here and you should read it all. It can happen anywhere. Just today Vladimir Beregovoy forwarded me a letter from a desperate Oregon breeder. In part:

“I’m mounting a campaign here in Oregon to file a class action lawsuit against the State for these laws as they take away both our Fourth and Fifth Amendments Rights. I found a non-profit group, Oregonians In Action, who fight for individual owners’ rights, particularly in land use. I’m also getting one together in our county (Columbia) because of all the new changes plus their Land Use head, Todd Dugdale, told me I have to get down below 10 dogs by Jan 1, file for a $960 Type II Home Occupation permit, and pay $30 per dog per year in order to be able to keep over 3 dogs now. And I live in unincorporated county. I asked what if I had more than 3 dogs, he said they could all be confiscated, and if I did the rest (Type II etc) anything over 9 needs to be put to sleep. Plus I would be fined $500 per day plus have to pay for all the confiscated dogs’ care at unreasonable fees if this happened. And my kennel wouldn’t pass their new rules anyway as it now requires 5 acres minimum with a heated & airconditioned building at least 100 feet from my house and would have to have a separate kitchen/bathing facility in it, with concrete floors with a center drain with a separate septic system. This is for over 9 dogs and for a commercial kennel. There is no place for private breeders under these draconian laws.

“Mind you, I’ve been continually and duly licensed and inspected as a hobby kennel here at my current address for 20 years now. But there is no grandfathering allowed now.”

To paraphrase Trotsky again (and it WAS Trotsky!): “You may not be interested in AR, but AR is interested in you.”

Guns, Freedom, threats to…

According to David at Never Yet Melted the last elections had one mighty ironic effect:

“Americans responded to the election of a democrat-dominated federal government by buying enough guns in 3 months to outfit the entire Chinese and Indian Armies. We also bought 1,529,635,000 rounds of ammunition in the month of December 2008 alone.”

That’s one healthy part of the economy.

Meanwhile a boneheaded Republican from New York has introduced a bill that could take your guns away for– well, hardly any legal justification at all.

“A new gun law being considered in Congress, if aligned with Department of Homeland Security memos labeling everyday Americans as potential “threats,” could potentially deny firearms to pro-lifers, gun-rights advocates, tax protesters, animal rights activists, and a host of others – any already on the expansive DHS watch list for potential “extremism.”

“Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has sponsored H.R. 2159, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009, which permits the attorney general to deny transfer of a firearm to any “known or suspected dangerous terrorist.” The bill requires only that the potential firearm transferee is “appropriately suspected” of preparing for a terrorist act and that the attorney general “has a reasonable belief” that the gun might be used in connection with terrorism.”

I am beginning to think that the present House of Representatives is more of a threat to liberty than any terrorists.

Latest AR threat

HB 669 is one of the worst proposed laws yet against the ownership of animals, and would totally outlaw the breeding and transfer of ANY species deemed”exotic”. Ostensibly authored by representatives from Guam, whee they have a real problem with brown tree snakes, it would shut down the pet industry and much of falconry (NAFA is opposing it, though in my opinion in a rather lukewarm way). No parrots or finches or budgies; no non- native snakes (many natives are protected) ; no ZOO animals (though there is a proposed exemption for educational purposes). No aquariums; neither goldfish or “tropicals” are native. No frickin’ HAMSTERS! Needless to say all good ARISTAS are for it– anything to further restrict animal ownership.

Want to bet that if it passes HSUS or their like will sue over (theoretically exempt) domestic animals? None were in North America before Columbus except for the dog!

Patrick is on the case and has a link to a good video.

This could go under both AR and the attempt to extend the tentacles of the Octopus State everywhere.

Be Very Afraid

Obama’s new “regulatory czar”, Harvard law prof Cass Sunstein, is getting praise from both liberals and conservatives.

Maybe he shouldn’t.

“In a 2007 speech at Harvard University, Sunstein argued in favor of entirely “eliminating current practices such as … meat eating.” He also proposed: “We ought to ban hunting, I suggest, if there isn’t a purpose other than sport and fun. That should be against the law. It’s time now.”

“Sunstein wrote in his 2004 book “Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions” that “animals should be permitted to bring suit, with human beings as their representatives … Any animals that are entitled to bring suit would be represented by (human) counsel, who would owe guardian-like obligations and make decisions, subject to those obligations, on their clients’ behalf.” “

We’d best get together on this one, if we care anything about continued realtions with our animals. He is PETA- level bad.

Dog News– Good

No links, but AB 1634, the California Mandatory Spay- Neuter Bill, has been roundly defeated, at least for now.

Also just breaking: the AKC will allow basenji breeders to bring in new unregistered stock from its native regions–Northern Congo, Southern Benin, Southwestern Cameroon, and Central Congo, from 2009 to 2013. This is a GOOD precedent for genetic diversity, though just a beginning. Only basenjis and salukis even have a process for bringing in new genes, and both may be too restrictive– a topic for another time.

On the topic of closed studbooks, Luisa has what may be the best post yet. “Consider one of the people featured in the AKC Gazette’s annual breeding issue a while ago: she described her efforts to get a live pup from a bitch [a Peke, IIRC] that couldn’t carry a fetus to term, let alone whelp, without round-the-clock supervision and intervention. The pregnant bitch was the lone offspring of a dam that had suffered from the same problems. You may be thinking, “They call this a good breeder?” Ah, but both dogs were Champions. It reminds me of the breeder in Dog World who noted a photo of an early Peke — one capable of breeding normally — and remarked, “That was before we perfected the head.” I kid you not.”

Please RTWT!

Around the Web…

Back from a great weekend of wildlife watching, mushroom hunting, and eating and drinking with bloggers- more below (Or rather, above). But first let me catch up with the news, serious, unserious, amusing and distressing…

On our perrenial concern, AR, anti hunters and so on: the LAT does a fawning profile of Wayne Pacelle. Apart from the obvious two thing come to mind. First is his attitude to his girlfriend’s cat. She says: “He just lets her be. So, of course, she just crawls on the counters and he lets her crawl up and sit on his chest. If he needs to work, he’ll ask me to remove her.”” I second Matt in finding that creepy!

Second: doesn’t that whole crowd in the photo look like they are in dire need of cheeseburgers?

Anti- hunting: Vladimir Beregovoy sent a link to New York Post story on a proposed “Animal Rights” curriculum for New Jersey schools.

” “The Zargon Connection” is part of a free “Humane and Responsible Teachers” curriculum designed for grades pre-K-9. Created by the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance (NJARA), the package includes classroom exercises, activities and lesson plans. These documents include NJARA advice like discouraging field trips to zoos and aquariums because they “perpetuate the belief that it’s acceptable to imprison animals.”

“One of NJARA’s issues is the killing of wildlife for management or sport, and the Zargon Connection is the educational tool they want teachers to use – on sixth graders. It is a science fiction story in which Earth is invaded by Zargonians-aliens that hunt and eat human beings for sport.


“Occasionally, in a technique known as baiting, Zargonians will set up a fast food restaurant or pizza parlor and burst in on us while we eat, with their street sweepers blazing.” “

Meanwhile, another uncomprehending anti weighs in in the Seattle P. I. (HT Tom McIntyre.) It is one of the worst rants I have seen yet.

“Speaking of happiness, there are many things that make me happy: visits from out-of-town friends, unsolicited hugs from my daughter, Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding. But one thing stands out from all those warm and fuzzies, and that’s when hunters are attacked by the animals they hunt.


“Call me callous and hard-hearted, but I can’t help but cheer on the animal that defends its life against the human dressed up in clothes that resemble shrubbery armed with the high-powered rifle, night-vision scope, GPS unit, tree-stand, animal scents and alcohol-fueled macho bravado.

“Recent headlines that have given me great pleasure include:

“Hunter injured by rhino,” “Mountain lion pounces on local hunter” and “Swedish hunter attacked by elk.”


“And you know how hunters are. Once they get the big green light to overhunt, they are eager and more than willing to do so. Hey, bring the kids! Junior’s old enough for his first kill.”

Yeah, she knows how hunters are. BTW, she is described as a comedian.

From the same paper, Wendy Parker sent this story on the roller pigeon breeders who killed raptors. There is now an amendment to the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty in the works to make killing a protected bird a felony. I think this is overkill– it has been illegal for years. Rebecca has a better and more thoughtful idea.

“Pigeoners lose hundreds of birds a year to hawks. Some racing pigeons may be worth tens of thousands of dollars. Even the rollers, not worth much more than a couple of bucks a piece, constitute thousands of dollars in birds, feed and labor not to mention love. The pigeoners have no great solutions for how to manage their two greatest foes, Cooper’s hawks and falcons. USFWS will neither allow them to trap the birds for relocation nor do they offer help to figure out how to live with raptors in their backyard. It is a challenging quandary. It is, in fact the sort of problem-solving that would be a worthy challenge to some talented avian trainers. In the smallest component the behavior to decrease is the raptor grabbing the pigeon.”


Veganism is bad for the environment, says Wesley Smith.

(And isn’t it always the veggies and antis who sound intolerant? Ever hear a carnivore say something like the PETA supporter he quotes: ” When actress Jessica Simpson recently wore a T-shirt bearing the words “Real Girls Eat Meat,” the animal-rights zealots pounced. “Jessica Simpson might have a right to wear what she wants,” a PETA spokesperson said, “but she doesn’t have a right to eat what she wants…”)

Enough gloom! Next, food; then, fun & cool stuff…