Cameron Referendum Banner

Cameron Referendum Banner

Saturday 19 September 2009

Tango's Tale - A Story About A Blue Irish Staffie

When I bought "Tango" from KK Kennels in the early 1990's, there was no way that I would have expected to still have him with me nearly 17 years later, especially when you consider that most Bull Terrier breeds only have an average life span of maybe ten or twelve years. Okay, so he's not as fast or as lively as he was a few years ago, his hearing and his eyesight aren't 100%, but then, that's what growing older does to us all, isn't it. It is remarkable though, that he still looks forward to his three walks a day, feeds well and doesn't require any expensive or intrusive veterinary care to keep him going.

It really is a testament to the genetics and breeding of these dogs that they appear to be so incredibly robust and so difficult to "knock over", either through illness or injury. Whether or not KK bitches are equally rugged I wouldn't know, having never owned one, but seem to recall that KK's "Sky" was still around at a reasonably decent age, which suggests that the breeds longevity can equally apply to either sex. Personally, I can count on one hand the number of times "Tango" has been unwell during his life and none have been so serious as to require a visit to the vets. Even when he choked on some paper a few months ago and stopped breathing for a short time, we still managed to get him going again and he was back to his usual self within a few hours.

I've often tried to calculate the total mileage that "Tango" must have walked during his lifetime, based on the 4 walks a day he used to get in his younger days and the 3 walks that he still gets now. If you assume a daily average of around 4 or 5 miles a day, multiplied by 365 days a year and multiply that by the 16 years he's been around, that gives a total of something around 30,000 miles. And that figure doesn't include all the extra miles he will have covered with additional walks or just simply running around, being a dog.

Whether or not I've just been incredibly lucky with "Tango" and have been fortunate enough to own a dog that doesn't succumb too easily to common illness or injury, I couldn't really say. I do know however, that both "Tango's" sire and dam, KK's "Blue" & "Sky" lived to good ages, so maybe the breeds genetics have played a major part in my own dogs longevity? I also know, that throughout his life "Tango" has always had a regular diet, regular exercise and an absence of unnecessary veterinarian intervention. I believe that dogs are creatures of habit and if you can offer them a safe and secure environment which is governed by routine, then the dog will be far happier and contented.

This article is continued at:

Bull Terrier Seizures, The Myths Continue

Although the recent death of the 5 year old toddler Ellie Lawrenson in Merseyside is a tragedy for her family, it still remains a mystery as to how a young child found herself alone with an unsupervised dog and what happened to make the animal turn on the girl. Neither do we know the history of the Bull Terrier itself and the sort of treatment it had received at the hands of its owner. The very fact that this individual had been warned about the behaviour of his dog by the local authorities is perhaps significant and suggests a problem with him as an owner, as much as it does about the dog itself.

The introduction and implementation of the Dangerous Dogs Act by the Tories in 1991 did little more than to create a demand for what later became highly illegal and much sought after dogs. The media’s description of a highly combative and athletic canine simply fed a latent demand for these supposedly exotic and rare Pit Bull Terriers, a demand which was quickly met by any number of unscrupulous breeders, who were keen to make a fast buck out of the situation.

The much fanfared and highly publicized Bull Terrier seizures undertaken by the Merseyside Police force appear to represent a clear over-reaction to recent events, rather than an informed and balanced proactive approach to any illegal activities which may or may not be taking place within their force area. The very fact that the Police themselves have video-taped these recent raids and then made the pictures available to both regional and national news services, suggests that the real purpose of their actions is to try and convince the public of a growing menace to their safety and of the Police’s ability to deal with it.

These raids were reported to be as a result of information received from members of the general public who were concerned about the presence of the dogs in their neighbourhood. It obviously did not occur to the Police that the information might have been provided by a malicious individual whose prime motivation was driven by a neighbourhood dispute, rather than any sort of public spirited altruism.

Had the fate of the seized dogs not been fairly inevitable, with their facing a possible death sentence, the whole scene might have been laughable. Here we have a number of highly dangerous dogs that are supposedly used for dog fighting, being handled by unprotected officers and sitting side by side in the back of a van. There were no obvious signs of the dogs being aggressive, either to the people bundling them into the vehicle, or to the other dogs and for the large part they appeared to be extremely passive animals, which would be strange behaviour for a fighting dog.

What was equally alarming about these raids was the unquestioning acceptance of the facts by the media who accepted the assertion that the animals seized were Pit Bull Terriers and did not take the opportunity to question or test these allegations. The BBC, along with the other news providers should be duty bound to test any such statements and offer the viewer an alternative argument to the case being presented, something that they singularly failed to do in this particular instance.

It was also apparent, that a number of these so-called American Pit Bulls appeared to be nothing more than Blue Irish Staffordshire Bull Terriers, a canine hybrid which is unique to the UK. These dogs are a mixture of two other breeds, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the English Bull Terrier, both of which are native to this country and both legally recognised and legitimately owned.

These Blue Irish Stafford’s are renowned for their athleticism and more importantly for their reliability towards people. Thought to have first appeared in the UK more than 20 years ago, the breed has been extensively refined and developed to produce one of the healthiest and psychologically sound dogs in the country.

Within the dog fighting fraternity, these Blue Bull Terriers are regarded as a joke, simply because they lack both the physical ability and the combative temperament to compete within such an arduous environment. There are no serious dog men within mainland Britain that would use such dogs for any illegal activities, as they would represent a complete waste of time and money for them.

This article continued at

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Reaping The Rewards Of Political Failure

Boy! What a fair old country we have become in 21st Century Britain. It must be deeply gratifying for all of the UK’s former and present political leaders to finally realise their ambitions of fundamentally changing a country’s national character, from public tolerance to simmering intolerance, from mutual moderation to personalised greed, from social concern to individual indifference and from widespread consensus to factional disagreement. What a legacy they have been able to leave current and future generations? The blindingly obvious reasons for these highly negative changes in British society can easily be summed up in one word, FAILURE!

It was a failure by the government of Edward Heath to anticipate the adverse effects that membership of the then European Community would have on our own economy, including the loss of tens of thousands of British jobs. There was then a second failure to anticipate and to fully address the almost guaranteed reaction of Britain’s Trade Union Movement who were outraged by the loss of employment in the country.

It was a failure by the government of James Callaghan to purposely confront the politically motivated Trades Union Congress who had effectively brought the country to its ‘financial knees’ during the mid 1970’s, which resulted in the dead not being buried, rubbish in the streets, the 3-day week and intermittent power supplies. It was Callaghan’s utterance of “Crisis! What Crisis” that finally killed the national Labour Party as a credible political alternative for the next 18 years and was possibly the greatest social and political failure that Britain has ever suffered in the 20th Century.

Not only did Jim Callaghan’s failure to accept that the country was in crisis end his own government as well as consigning the national Labour Party to the political wilderness, his party’s blatant refusal to identify and adapt to changes in British society generally, effectively reflected a failure on their part to both modernise their party and to constructively amend their largely socialist agenda.

Additionally, the deliberate failure and refusal by union leaders like Arthur Scargill to recognise the dissatisfaction and anger felt by large sections of the British electorate at being held hostage to the unrealistic demands of the TUC ultimately led to potential voters turning away from the political parties which were themselves seen to be supporting the wholly unrepresentative Trades Union lobby which was thought to be imposing its political will and control on Britain.

Having been voted out of office by the British electorate, it was then a failure by Callaghan’s successor, Michael Foot, to modernise the party apparatus and to fully engage with the electorate with a modern socialist agenda. Publicly slighted by the British press for his generally unkempt appearance, including his attending the Armistice Day celebrations dressed in a Donkey Jacket, it was his wretched and unsuccessful attempts to free the Labour Party from the influences of the militant socialist groups who had infiltrated the party, that would help to keep Labour virtually unelectable long after he had stepped down as party leader.

Aided by Labour’s seemingly unswerving ability to continuously ‘shoot itself in the foot’ (excuse the pun), the Conservative party led by Margaret Thatcher continued to dominate the mainstream of British politics. Her suppression of the powers of the previously almost untouchable Trade Unions and the patriotic fervour generated by the Falklands conflict combined to make her one of the most popular and respected British political figures of all time. Somewhat ironically though, it would be her tough, uncompromising and autocratic style of leadership which would ultimately prove to be her political undoing. Her failure to listen to the British electorate or to anticipate the highly negative effect that her party’s policies would have on voters lives eventually proved to be too much for the Conservatives and Thatcher was effectively deposed by the very people she had showed so much personal contempt for, her Parliamentary colleagues.

Although responsible for introducing some of the very best legislation into English Law, including those pertaining to Industrial Relations and Homeowners, these too have continued to have an immensely negative effect of modern Britain. The failure of the Thatcher government to reinvest the monies raised by her Right to Buy legislation in new large scale replacement social housing projects has brought misery to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable citizens, who continue to struggle to keep a roof over their head on a day by day basis.

Where at one time a significant number of British workers were represented by a Trades Union, who guaranteed their terms of employment, pay scales, etc. the early high profile disputes of the early 1980’s, which matched Union manpower and their financial muscle against the political will of Margaret Thatcher proved to be a turning point in British labour relations. By enacting new legislation which could sequester Union funds and by employing Britain’s Police forces as a ‘strike breaking’ implement, the Conservatives effectively neutralised the power of the TUC and essentially handed a ‘big legal stick’ to the private employer, with which they might beat an uncooperative workforce.

Now led by the ‘Grey Man’ of British politics, John Major, the Conservatives continued to hold national office, largely as a result of the opposition’s failure to provide a credible and effective alternative to the Tory party. Neil Kinnock, the new Labour Party leader found himself constantly battling the militant forces which continued to operate within the organisation and which effectively made his shadow government an unthinkable choice for the British electorate.

Unfortunately for Kinnock and for Britain generally, the main opposition parties had failed to realise that the basic character of the country was already beginning to change, as a direct result of the Thatcher era. Driven almost entirely by central government, Thatcher’s wholesale ‘sell-off’ of Britain’s publicly owned housing stocks, transport systems, utility services and fossil fuel resources was carefully contrived to appeal to one of people’s basest instincts, GREED.

Millions of British citizens rushed to benefit from this modern day ‘Klondike’, eagerly grabbing at their slice of the privatisation cake, but ultimately only gaining a short-term gain from their investments, as most chose to sell on their shares for a quick profit, often to the major investment banks who were always likely to be the final recipients anyway. The social cost of Thatcher’s privatisation project was far more costly and far more damaging though, as it fundamentally altered and undermined the native culture of a country, from a sharing and cohesive nation to one that was dominated by selfishness and division. It is little wonder perhaps that some 30 years later our modern politicians struggle to fully understand the reasons for widespread social breakdown, public disorder, large scale anti-social behaviour and people’s general indifference to the plight of their fellow citizens. Thatcherism ultimately taught the British people that being part of her stakeholder economy was a good thing, provided of course that you could afford to be part of it in the first place. Millions could, but just as many couldn’t and we are all continuing to live with the social consequences of this particular Conservative experiment right through to the present day.