Thursday, November 19, 2015

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency - Educate to Eliminate EPI




One of the most horrid diseases dogs can encounter is "EPI".  Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency is a killer, and it strikes many breeds…..including Spanish Mastiffs.

Before you other LGD breed aficionados puff your chests out, wait.  Not so fast.  Many other LGD breeds and LGD crosses have now been diagnosed with EPI as this constantly being updated list will show you.  German Shepherds seem to be a high targeted breed.

Educate yourself on the symptoms of this disease so you know it if it strikes.  It has become more prevalent and as time goes by, better understood by vet professionals and researchers, but it is still a big unknown to many vets in many parts of the country.

The "official" EPI website, www.epi4dogs.com, is the best source on the Internet for information and support for those with dogs with EPI.  In addition to helpful links there is a large forum for support and for EPI dog owners to join and ask questions and receive help.  There you will find others who share their sad stories and their victories as well, and helpful tips from all over the world.

The disease is global.  The website owner's Spanish Water Dog she imported from Spain, came down with EPI, and led her to start the EPI organization, and website.  England, Turkey, Greece, France, Italy, Canada, Mexico, America - and many more - you'll see, the disease has or recognizes no boundaries.  It strikes everywhere.

My beloved Spanish Mastiff Patron, who will turn six years old next month, has survived EPI and has it under control with enzyme therapy, B12 shots and Tylan antibiotic.  He is an official member of the EPI group's "Chunky Monkey Club", as you'll see here.  He's also been featured in their annual calendar.

At one point he shrunk to maybe 130 pounds which for him, was very thin.  Now, he's back to fluctuating between a robust 198-220.



EPI is still being researched.  It is thought by most professionals that EPI is genetic and can run in certain bloodlines; that is why, Patron is not being bred.  A new study is afoot and being conducted to see if environment plays a role in EPI as well, but for now, the consensus is it is highly probable that it is genetic.

What this means is that EPI dogs should never be bred, and dogs that come out of dogs with EPI, should probably not be bred, either - at least without thorough testing - in fact it would be very irresponsible to do so without testing.

If you have a dog - ANY dog - that you suspect may have EPI, go to the EPI website.  Read the process for identifying this disease.  Have your vet perform the relatively cheap tests.  Find out.  Don't hide it. Don't deny it or try to home remedy it.  Because you can't.  EPI will kill your dog eventually if they have it and are not properly treated.  And if your dog has EPI, they could and most likely will, pass it on if bred.  DON'T breed your dog with EPI!

Don't stick your head in the sand.  Deal with it, get your dog on the mend and do what's right.  There are many success stories out there with EPI as the website will show you…successes like my own beautiful Patron.




Saturday, November 14, 2015

Satin Balls Recipe







SATIN BALLS RECIPE FOR DOG WEIGHT GAIN
Winter is here and your dogs need extra calories to stay warm working in the cold and ice and snow. Be sure to de-worm your LGDs going into winter so parasites don't drag them down. And to keep their weight on, or to help put weight on an underweight dog, SATIN BALLS are the best.
Balls can be pre-made and frozen.


This is the original recipe:
HAND MIXED RAW - DO NOT COOK
10 pounds hamburger meat (the cheapest kind)
1 lg. box of Total cereal
1 lg. box oatmeal
1 jar of wheat germ
1 1/4 cup veg oil
1 1/4 cup of unsulphured molasses
10 raw eggs AND shells
10 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
pinch of salt
Form into balls. Feed as needed.  Can be frozen.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Defining Responsible LGD Ownership: Dog Fighters, High Risk & Ego Driven Stupidity vs. The Culture of Pastoralism & Responsible Shepherding

Defining Responsible LGD Ownership:
Dog Fighters, High Risk & Ego Driven Stupidity
vs. The Culture of Pastoralism & Responsible Shepherding

Brenda M. Negri
Copyright 2015


It was bound to happen...  As big, sometimes huge and powerful protective Livestock Guardian Dog breeds entered America and became more popular, they began to fall into the hands of the wrong people…misguided people; ignorant and stupid people; people jumping into the latest fad dog craze; people who needed to prove something; people with fancy degrees and no real life experience; people with big egos; people who needed a big snarling dog at the end of a taught leash in order to prove they were somehow as big as the dog they were holding back….of course, they rarely if ever, were….

Above: Self-labled "dog trainer" and "LGD Expert" Anna Abney and her 
badly misguided and "trained" Caucasian Asian Shepherd "LGD"

Below:  Self-appointed "LGD Expert" perpetually blathering Internet troll and apartment dwelling non-LGD owning Lewis Ratliff, now promoting fighting dog videos on his LGD "PROJECT" Facebook group.  Note how we are told by him not to complain about what we see.  Over 7,300 people now belong to this group; obviously, his glaring lack of morals must be contagious because it's catching on.


WARNING; GRAPHIC 
(So don't complain about what you see if you play it.)




Another Caucasian without any sheep.

A Brian Peckinpaugh trained "Boz Shepherd Livestock Guardian Dog".

Above and below: Akin Tulubas, Internationally infamous Turkish Dog fighter, 
and mentor of and supplier of dogs to, Brian Peckinpaugh with his heavily fought Boz.
Akin Tulubas' brother is in prison for stabbing their father to death.  Prior to that, he was a member of a pre-Taliban cult. Akin is constantly on the lam hiding from the military for desertion and several duped European, American and Turkish customers whom he ripped off in dog deals gone bad. 



Caucasian Ovcharka, again, without any livestock and someone at the end of the leash hell-bent on impressing someone with their "big, badass dog".

Above: Brian Peckinpaugh in his "Monster Malak" kennel phase.  "This was their first testing, and the trainer was impressed. Two of the dogs were able to pull the sleeve from him several times….. I am encouraged by their first showing."  - Brian Peckinpaugh

~~~~~

LGDs did not get a good start in this country.  Less than stellar advice on how to use them, came from the beginning. There are the people out there still, who agree with allowing someone like Ray Coppinger, a sled dog expert, call the shots for LGDs, and that is exactly what happened here.  A sled dog expert, with no background in the pastoral life or in LGDs, Ray became the "Godfather" of early LGD research, testing and dictum because he had the "right initials" after his name, and was allowed to create policy as it were with his early papers on LGDs.  People did not know any better. 

Now, there are still some diehards out there, people who buy into that logic, and who are also the people who have no clue about the maturation time frame for most large LGD breeds; who are the people who continually shirk their own responsibility for rearing these dogs, and do as above, promote them for fighting and aggressive behavior; people as the woman quoted below, who prefer to lay all the blame on the dogs; and who expect less from themselves again, expecting the dog to carry the whole load; and those who also continue to promote high risk hands off rearing and minimal supervision:

"This group is for the practical LGD owners so rather than lower expectations…on here the expectations will be higher…. There seems to be a trend in convincing owners that dogs need lots of supervision and are still puppies even at 18 mos or over 2 years. This is not in keeping with the original use of these dogs "   
                                               Linda Harrison in her "Practical" LGD Facebook group

Harrison and her ilk are the kind of people you can bet will never read, let alone have the brain cell capacity to understand or grasp, what someone like Turid Rugaas promotes and writes about.  These are the people I have written about in a past blog post that went viral on the Internet; the "bubble people" - those that are so detached from their dogs, themselves, others, livestock and nature, that they are unable to develop any kind of a relationship.  They don't respect themselves, let alone their dogs and their livestock.  


~~~~~  

Some LGD breeds in their native countries were never actually LGDs.  They were fighting dogs (Boz Shepherds) or fighting dogs/livestock guardians (Kangals), or police and military dogs (Sarplaninac, CAO, CAS).  Their use as shepherds and protectors of flocks was minimal.  In some instances the breeds are so edgy and complex, the average shepherd in America is not prepared or capable of responsibly owning one.  But it was only a matter of time before the lower end of the spectrum of LGD aficionados and owners in America not only figured that out, but decided to cash in on it and promote it, as the photos above show.  You will notice the preponderance of young Gen X Y and Z American males who are heavily drawn to such edgy, flashy, aggressive and often unstable LGD breeds under the guise of "needing a more aggressive guardian for their flock" when in fact they only reason they want one is they perceive the breed to be the canine version of a Ferrari or a .44 Magnum between their legs.  Perhaps, one might wryly note, to make up for what they lack down there….?  

The responsible shepherd does not fall for this claptrap.  The intelligent, compassionate and responsible shepherd realizes that these dogs are supposed to be used as partners, not killing machines.  These dogs are supposed to protect flocks, not be four legged risk-machines, slaughter people or get their owners sued into oblivion for dog bites.  Pastoralism and shepherding do not include people like egomaniacs Abney and Peckinpaugh posting photos of protection dog testing and Schutzhund moves with a deaths head grin on the owner's face.  Criminal, army deserter and dog fighter Akin Tulubas is not cut from the same cloth as a humble Basque sheep herder tending his flocks.  

Responsible LGD ownership is not a gameshow, it is not an egotistical selfie; it is not a contest to see who can breed the biggest wolf killer; it is not "mine is bigger than yours".  Responsible LGD ownership is a relationship.  It is about developing a trust and a bond with dogs who are willing to lay their lives on the line for you and your livestock.  That sacred trust should never be abused.  Respect is the mortar it is built on.  Respecting your LGD and treating it right is not going to ruin or diminish it's guarding ability.  And there is nothing "practical" about  shirking your responsibilities no matter what one Facebook group may claim.

LGDs are not whores to be sold to the highest bidder, treated disrespectfully, abused or misused in the wrong way by promoting uber-aggressive sports and dog fighting or use for killing wildlife, and shame on those who do and those who stand by and fail to call them out on it.












Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Protect Your Poultry with Livestock Guardian Dogs

Protect Your Poultry
With Livestock Guardian Dogs
by
Brenda M. Negri

Copyright 2015 Countryside Magazine
November/December 2015
Photos courtesy of 
Barbara Judd, Froghaven Farm, WA





Free-ranging poultry is all the rage these days as cage-free eggs from “happier, healthier hens” bring premium market value, and undisputed health benefits for the consumer.  With this freedom however, comes risk: free-ranging fowl is a predator magnet, often drawing in foxes, raccoons, feral dog packs, coyotes, birds of prey, and in some areas even mountain lion, bear and wolves.  Many of these predators have a beneficial place in our ecosystem and are “here to stay”.  So what is the homesteader to do when they are attracted to your flock for their next meal?

Enter the Livestock Guardian Dog, or as they are commonly referred to as, LGDs.  These breeds from the Old Country are highly coveted for their instinct to guard livestock from depredation.  Breeds such as the Great Pyrenees, Kuvasz, Maremma, Pyrenean Mastiff, Anatolian, Spanish Mastiff, Polish Tatra and others, have for centuries protected sheep, cattle, horses, swine and goats in their native countries of Spain, Poland, Italy, France and Turkey.  Now a regular sight on many family farms, with proper selection, care and training, LGDs can also keep prized hens, guineas, turkeys and other fowl safe from predators.



Washington State hobby farmer and heritage Buckeye chicken producer Barbara Judd was a first time LGD prospective buyer and owner when she contacted me at my Cinco Deseos Ranch LGDs in Nevada, querying about the availability of pups.  My Italian import Pyrenean Mastiff female Atena had just produced a whopping 16 puppy litter out of my Great Pyrenees male, Peso.  In this colorful batch of pups were two small females I affectionately dubbed “the Pockets” whom Barbara immediately fell in love with and named Lucy and Patty.  When she explained to me what her goal was – rearing these pups to protect chickens – I cautioned her, as fowl is typically the most difficult to train LGDs on.  Clucking and flapping and fussing hens present a temptation few pups can resist chasing!  But luckily for Barbara, I’d started introducing this litter to my flock of 40 layers and roosters, so the prospect of her plan, although a challenge, was one I was up to and excited to see how the pups would fare.

The eventual outcome, neither of us saw coming.  Once Barbara took home her pups at about 10 weeks of age, she continued Patty and Lucy’s training.  She fine-tuned and in all honesty surpassed me in Chicken Guarding 101 for those pups.  What made it so incredible was the fact that she was a first time LGD owner with zero exposure to LGDs – breeds who are entirely different than pet breeds in their make up, instincts and behaviors.  She became a beacon of hope and a shining example of what a person can accomplish if they follow some basic rules.  I tapped into her expertise to share with readers, and following are some key points to follow and remember.

~~~~~~




Buy healthy, vaccinated and de-wormed LGD pups from proven, working parents.  Make sure parents are both recognized LGD breeds; crosses with non-LGD breeds are high risk and unpredictable.

Breeder track record and credibility are important for future support and advice. You want pups with early exposure to fowl before you take them home at 10 weeks or older.

Count on this process to take several weeks, into months. 

Plan on daily “Chicken 101” training for your pups.  Make it a “reward” time with positive reinforcement – Judd typically gave her pups a treat before every “class”, and soon, they were reminding her it was time for school.

Get the pups tired out with activity such as a perimeter walk of your barnyard or active play before you engage them in training.  This takes the “edge” off a rambunctious pup.

Use older, less flighty hens for training.  Keep chickens and pups in a small area while you sit with them. 

Aim for the pups to ignore the chickens.  If you catch them staring at chickens, turn their heads or put your hand briefly over their eyes.

Discipline any inappropriate behavior from the start with a consistent noise you make to show dissatisfaction.  Don’t tie a dead chicken around a pup’s neck as punishment: this is confusing to the pup and does not discourage or accomplish anything.

Make the chicken area a calm, quiet area.  This means no yapping pet dogs, no screaming toddlers during training time.  Keep distractions to a minimum.

Positive reinforce their good behavior by giving them big soup bones to chew on while they lay quietly in the coop area with their charges.

Do not force the class for a given period of time.  10-15 minute classes are best.

End on a positive note.  If the pups appear to be getting tired, irritated or annoyed, END the session BEFORE anything “awful” happens.

Don’t let misbehavior discourage you. Mistakes are part of the process.

Expect these to be somewhat intense but short training sessions where you are right there, not yards away.  This is YOU participating, hands on.  Take a chair, sit down, observe, correct, praise.

As the pups progress you will be able to extend the time they are inside with the chickens.  But do so slowly.  If you have a day of setbacks, give them the rest of the day off, and start fresh in the morning.

Weather changes can affect pups’ activity: if it’s been hot and suddenly turns cold, they may be more rambunctious. Keep that in mind when you train.

If you have pet dogs regularly harassing your fowl, don’t let them mingle with your LGDs as they’ll impart bad habits.  Keep the pet dogs away from the fowl at all times.

With consistency and patience, Barbara Judd has helped Patty and Lucy reach an impressive level of success as solid chicken guardians.  They now keep predators from her precious flock and she has never lost any fowl since bringing in her “dynamic duo”. 








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