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Bird Flu and Other Influenzas Affecting Man and Dog

Bird Flu and Other Influenzas Affecting Man and Dog

Since December 2014, APHIS (Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service of the US Dep’t of Health) has confirmed hundreds of cases of “Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza” (HPAI), H5N2 variety, in US commercial and backyard poultry flocks, and in wild birds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the risk to the general public from these HPAI H5N2 infections to be low, with no human cases of these specific viruses detected in the world. (Yet!)  

There is good scientific reason for us to add that “yet” word, and I’ll try to explain why, while still cautioning you not to panic like Chicken Little, aka Henny Penny (Ask the oldest person you know who that was). Viruses make up a class that act somewhat like molecules and somewhat like cells, being intermediate in size, as well. They reproduce (multiply) by splitting, the way most body cells do, but they also break apart and reunite in different configurations the way chromosomes do. In way of over-simplifying the picture, imagine viruses as long chains composed of snaps like those on the end of your dog’s leash. Now imagine each chain as being of a different color and shape—some brass, some chrome-plated, some stainless steel, etc. Continue reading

Double Handling – And Other Attempts to Gain an Edge

In attempting to define “double-handling” it should be understood that there are various attitudes toward it, so you should understand the context when using the term. It has a different meaning or at least different importance to different groups. At its root, the term means that there is some influence from outside the ring over the appearance/behavior of a dog in the ring—a second (or doubled) handler. On one end of the spectrum is the extreme position where if someone at ringside blows his nose, the AKC rep is likely to give the judge hell for allowing such “interference.” At the other extreme it may appear that someone has let all the lunatics out of the local asylum. Example: at one GSD national specialty in the Orient, as the judge was looking at posed dogs several yards further down the line, I watched screaming owners jumping into the ring to get their dogs (being shown by paid handlers) “animated”—which means that the dogs are supposed to be looking especially alert. Balls, squeaky-toys, and the like were excitedly shown to the dogs—one double-handler even had a rabbit in a cage that he shook in front of his dog’s face!

Keep in mind that the suggestions and techniques I offer here should only be used in situations where they would be allowed, or at least unnoticeable. Continue reading