Sunday, 14 February 2016

Feelin' the love

Jan Dykema is a US real estate agent and a show breeder and judge of Bull Terriers. She comments here under the moniker Bestuvall.

This was her response to someone called Ty Savoy saying that some purebred dogs suffer because of the way they've been bred.

See the context here.

Happy Valentine's Day.


  1. Bestuvall's comments on your blog mostly leave me feeling perplexed, concerned and dismayed. She clearly lacks empathy, takes any constructive criticism of pedigree dog breeding personally and is threatened by education and evidence that aims to improve the welfare of all dogs.

    Should she be responsible for dogs at all with such a disturbing public comment? So, if she thinks a dog isn't suffering (even if there is evidence to the contrary) it doesn't concern her, because it is a matter of individual opinion?? This comment constitutes a welfare issue.

    Maybe substitute 'I love Donald Trump' into her avatar?

    1. Shocking but it makes sense that people who view dogs as objects to support their egos don't believe these objects capable of suffering.

    2. There's no scientific, moral nor rational argument here. Really should she attempt to speak at all when her consciousness is bleating Me! Me! Me! Rather like a new-born infant?

    3. I also find her comment more than inappropriate.

  2. So, suffering is a human concept. I wonder if Bestuvall has ever had a dog PTS, and if they was not 'suffering' as that's a human concept only of course I wonder what her justification for doing so is?


  3. I have no idea what this post is about. What/who is Ty Savoy?

    1. Jan is replying to someone called Ty Savoy who was critical of show breeders.

  4. Sure, suffering is a construct.

    In my experience, people born with debilitating conditions come to take their conditions as given and do not see themselves as 'suffering'...much as they might wish they were normal.

    Babies born with microcephaly probably won't suffer. They will take the condition as given. That doesn't mean that pregnant women shouldn't go out of their way to avoid the zika virus.

    Likewise dog breeders should go out of their way to avoid breeding malformed puppies. It is so perverse that malformation has been written into the breed standards for many breeds.
    Btw. I think it's better to focus on the malformation, not the breed. Some breeds, eg., chihuahuas, have pretty high incidence of debilitatiting/facial structure. Some breeds, eg., pugs and Bostons, known for brachy structure have incidence of dogs who are not strongly afflicted. It's more constructive to push for healthy conformation in all breeds than to damn some breeds because they have very high incidence of malformations.

    But if I were having children, I sure

  5. Oh Dear. What a distressing outlook. That basically deflates each and every animal welfare issue and taken further could be seen as license to allow dog fighting, since the dogs doing the fighting can't be suffering because they are not human. Let's go back to testing cosmetics by putting them into rabbit eyes, since the rabbits are not suffering....

  6. this is great news. Now I can leave my dog in the car on a hot day because it won't be suffering. Sure, it might die, but I can always get another.

    1. After all heat stroke is a human concept.

    2. Fraser, quick thank you for the Galapagos book tip. I loved it! My kind of humour. Just the kind of easy reading I like on holiday too. Sadly I finished it before arrivals but just in time to see the whole of Madagascar in minute detail from my window. Mr Vonnegut had me chortling out loud a number of times. Wonderfully crafted, vivid characterisation... true little gem of a story.

  7. This is what we're up against: people who are not only ignorant of basic biology, but also view animals as objects rather than as sentient beings.

    In regard to the point of animal suffering. All vertebrates from fish to mammals have the same basic neurological equipment. We all feel pain if our tissues are damaged, triggering free nerve endings and eliciting a withdrawal response. This is clearly adaptive - makes perfect sense to avoid (or retaliate against) the thing that's injuring you. Also, dogs and other mammals have brains very similar to ours, including emotional centers. They may not have secondary emotions like we do (pride, guilt, dread), but we all have the same primary emotions (contentment, sadness, frustration). Thus, dogs do experience suffering for the same fundamental reasons we do: pain and/or incapacitation.

    This also means that it's unethical to treat dogs (or other animals) as mere property, because they have interests of their own they should not be denied. Beating dogs, keeping them in I humane conditions, and intentionally breeding disability right into them are all equally immoral and wrong. If dog fanciers like Jan Dykema cannot or will not be persuaded to appreciate this, then it should be illegal for them to be involved with dogs.

    1. In truth, Jan's view is not widespread. Most show people love their dogs and would not want them to suffer. The problem is that Jan believes that admitting that dogs suffer is a hop, skip and a jump away from believing animals have the right to not be used by man for any purpose.

      IT's a logical fallacy, of course.

    2. In places like China its pretty much across the board this Jan Dykema syndrome. However with education, travel, information is becoming more widely accessible and things are changing very slowly, certainly amongst the more privileged.

      BTW American lion Im sure dogs, horses many if not most mammals besides only primates do have secondary emotions like "pride, guilt, dread", jealousy etc etc. Having lived with dogs and horses for example all my life I don't think they are particularly subtle about it either for that matter.

      A brief search shows that certainly according to experts in the field like neurobioligists and psychologists they definitely do.

      Ya in Americas its slightly different, a fair percentage of people there seem to live in terror that their personal freedoms are under constant threat, it could almost be considered a mental health issue like depression is. Certainly when it leads to this extent of cognitive dissonance we have to consider this diagnosis. Beastuval could be considered a prime example of this extreme. As Gee says, a kind of arrested development, dating back to July 4th 1776 perhaps? Who knows. Recalcitrants like these are immune to logic, science, education... It's almost rather genetic hard wiring in my opinion. Maybe beasuval comes from a long line of em. Often but not always there are also some deep seated religious undertones present, or some characteristics of such in common any way.

      Im not a psychiatrist but it could make an interesting field of research and on quite a few levels. Then again it could of course just turn out to be common or garden schizotypal personality disorder. Given the prevalence Im not so sure, though.

    3. I'm beginning to wonder how common this backwards view is. Lately I've seen interviews and posts reflecting downright cruel and inhumane opinions from the dog show crowd. How else could they screw up dogs do badly, "cull" puppies who aren't "confirmationally correct," or breed young bitches again and again, if they really didn't see these creatures as individuals. I'm beginning to think that viewing dogs as mere property and not giving a damn about their welfare explains much of the dysfunction in the dog fancy.

    4. RiverP, just because you think a mammal has secondary emotions doesn't make it so of course!

      Where is the neuroscience to back your statement up about dogs? Check out the research in Horowitz's Dog Cognition lab or Miklosi's family Dog Project.

      Be careful what you impart on animals - your statement could conclude that dogs do actually feel guilty when they poop indoors, for example, therefore they know better and should be punished! This affects how people try to then train them and warps their expectations of them into something totally unrealistic.

      The evidence suggests that dog's look appeasing (as opposed to guilty) when they do something wrong as defined by us (such as rip up a sofa or poop on the carpet) to try to avert any negative emotions and consequential behaviour from us. They don't do this stuff to piss us off because they are ad with us and ‘that’ll show us’- it's because they are either bored, stressed or worse suffering from full blown separation anxiety.
      There is no solid evidence that dogs have the anatomical hardware in the brain to have evolved self-awareness (their pre-frontal cortex is something like only 15% of ours). We do not have the evidence that they are self-aware. We know that they experience very similar primary emotions and that they love us (biochemically, we are each other's oxytocin pumps and there is plenty of evidence for that). Dogs have an amygdala and the limbic system and are also definitely candidates to experience PTSD - another important reason why when dogs are given up they need our help – being dumped by your family in a unfamiliar environment is a perfect trigger for this is some dogs. Dogs are not yet solid candidates for secondary emotions and as far as I am concerned, that's OK. They are not rational or moral beings - they simply do what works to get what they want. And for that, I love them.

      It's important to accept dogs as they are, not as we think they are or wish them to be - dogs certainly don't know what it means to suffer in the abstract sense as we define it, but what do we know for sure? They get stressed on separation from us (cortisol shoots up), they suffer from anxiety and stress (physical and psychological symptoms) and as I mentioned above, have all the anatomical equipment in their brain (limbic system) to suffer from PTSD, feel physical pain and suffer from depression and other physical disorders from not having well managed pain control. THEY HAVE A NERVOUS SYSTEM. If you are a self-aware human being that isn’t a sociopath, your empathy should automatically kick in as these creatures are VULNERABLE.

      This Bestuvall (hello BIG EGO – Best of All) person is clearly confusing moral and ethical welfare concerns about animals with the extreme view that some people in organisations like PETA hold. There should be no animals in human possession. She's confused and not very smart and clearly not very empathetic.

    5. Just curious about this self aware thing.... If you have a dog that learns by imitating (ie; I ask it to do this") surely that indicates some level of self awareness?

    6. More likely conditioning.

      But there is certainly some science to support that dogs have consciousness.

    7. Anonymous15 February 2016 at 17:10

      I agree with most of what you say, and of course in no way am I endorsing that we anthropomorphise our pets. People who do so get on my nerves, it almost appears demented to me when they do. Im constantly having to correct this behaviour in my staff where it's perhaps a cultural (definitely a lack of education) thing to do so. Always keeping in mind of course that practically most people do in fact, at least to some extent.

      I disagree though on the 15% (their pre-frontal cortex is something like only 15% of ours) pre -frontal cortex not being as large as ours therefore.......a rather extreme and horrifying example perhaps was offered by Gardener where that way of thinking can lead.

      The difference between us and animals is perhaps more quantitative than qualitative. We are after all, dog, cat, horse mice, ape all variations on the same underlying theme.

      In truth we dont fully understand the depth of emotional complexity in animals like dogs, but we do know as Jemima has pointed out that they are as conscious as we are and that secondary emotions even if not as developed or the exact same as ours are definitely present. We do need to seriously consider the fact they have similar secondary emotions as our own even if most of us confuse most of them for something they're not... Cognition and Emotion, Routledge(2008, 22(1), 3-20) Morris, Doe and Godsell


      That's about as good as I get at 6.00 in the morning...after being wrestled awake by three JRTs and their wet noses. I usually send them upstairs to the better half by whispering their name in their ears and pointing at the roof. Today all six eyes just looked deeply into mine for three seconds as though I had completely lost my mind before plunging in for another assault. The BH is safely dinning out in Newbury, for a JRT trotting that's some nine thousand five hundred and sixty eight kilometres away from the bed.

    8. 'Dogs are at least as conscious as humans'. God, that made me laugh. You can't even get neuroscientists to agree what consciousness IS in humans, never mind dogs.

      Patricia McConnell tackles consciousness in dogs based on some of the discussions at a SPARCS conference.

      As for the comment about the size of the pre-frontal cortex - why are you opposed to facts River P? Only a tiny fraction of the human brain is dedicated to conscious behaviour. Nobody is suggesting that any sentient being should automatically be exploited because of that.

      One does not need to be consciously aware to perform sophisticated motor acts. You can notice this when you begin to duck from a snapping tree branch before you are aware that it’s coming toward you, or when you’re already jumping up when you first become aware of a phone’s ring.
      Same for dogs - and this is why Coppinger argues that dogs are not fully conscious at all, just motor pattern sequence repeaters - not sure I agree with him on that at all but we need to define what consciousness actually IS before we start debating about it.

    9. Well, There is the Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness. A declaration put together by an international group of cognitive neuroscientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists and computational neuroscientists on 7th July, 2012.

    10. @16 February 2016 at 15:20

      ".......are as conscious as we are and that secondary emotions even if not as developed or the exact same as ours are definitely present....."

      Maybe its my terrible grammar but what I meant of course is dogs have consciousness just "as" humans do, but I qualified that anyway. Maybe your eye sight is a little on the frail side as those aren't even my words you quoted.

      That or your cognitive reasoning power is not much better than that of a Newfoundland. "Let me tell you",bless their big hearts, it's one terrifically stupid breed almost to the point of qualzucht.

      It's definitely a point. I mean what in heavens name is exactly the point in breeding a dog that stupid. Selecting for idiocy! Completely bizarre.

    11. 16 February 2016 at 22:46

      Of course!

      The neural substrates of emotions do not appear to be confined to cortical structures.

      "....neural circuits supporting behavioral/electrophysiological states of attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have arisen in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g., octopus).

      " Moreover, certain species of birds have been found to exhibit neural sleep patterns similar to those of mammals, including REM sleep and, as was demonstrated in zebra finches,
      neurophysiological patterns, previously thought to require a mammalian neocortex."

      “The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.
      Non human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also
      possess these neurological substrates.”

      "Evidence that human and non- human animal emotional feelings arise from homologous subcortical brain networks provide compelling evidence for evolutionarily shared primal affective qualia. "

      "Where is your neuroscience to back your statement about dogs?"

      I suppose all sitting around this table maybe....

  8. Up until the late 1980s (yep!) human babies were routinely operated on without any kind of pain killing medication, because surgeons believed that small humans did not feel pain, apparently. Babies were given drugs to paralyse their muscles, then were cut, punctured and levered open (yes, they did open heart surgery this way), fully experiencing the horror and agony of what was occurring.

    This belief was staggeringly idiotic as a paradigm, and a failure to read the most basic behavioural signals correctly. It speaks to the same idiocy in anti-animal welfare circles. I guess some people still really haven't caught up.

    1. You'd really hope it isn't as it's so crazy, but it does appear to be. There's a good amount of literature on the topic. I recall learning about it at University not long after changes were made. There's a good summary with references from a medical symposium here (scroll down to 'Pain of Surgery Without Anesthesia' and Baby Jeffrey Lawson, if you dare):

    2. Isn't this still done with circumcision, tie them to those awful restraints, no anisthetic

  9. Oh Dear - I almost feel sorry for Bestuvall. Mind you her nick name bothered me for a long time - of course it is "best of all" - but my small Australian brain was seeing Bestial -which seemed an odd choice.

  10. It seems to me that if you are going to single out one nearly year-old, vaguely worded comment for an entire,new post of your own, you first should have given the commenter an opportunity to explain what he/she meant. Journalism 101. -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

    1. You can read the original comment and response here. While Ty Savoy's comment that prompted Jan's response may be seen by some as coming from an "animal rights" angle, the comment in and of itself is pretty reasonable. The gist is, if the rights of people (to breed some phenotypes) are infringing on the ability of the dog to live a happy, healthy, normal life, something should perhaps be done. One of the oft-repeated sentiments here is "it may be normal for the breed, but is it, and should it be, normal for a dog?"

    2. Thanks Merrie. Had mislaid the article. Will add a link above.

    3. Hello Rod Russell, if you put something out on a public forum, be expected to except a response now or many years in the future. If you don't want a response or don't like it when people are critical of what you have said, then best not comment on public forums. This woman has every chance to come hear and explain what she means, but unlike other blogs that Jemima writes where she displays verbal diarrhea in response, the cat seems to have her tongue explaining what she means here.
      Everything humans conceive is a human concept. So she is right that what we conceive as suffering is a human concept, but does not mean that dogs do not suffer though. It is sort of a none statement. Trying to sound clever by displaying the traits of a human that struggles with or is not capable of critical thinking, but does not realize this.

  11. You know what else is a human construct?


    Not all humans come equipped with it, though.

    1. empathy is not a human construct. Empathy exists neurologically. The Pain Centres in the brain are activated when people experience empathy. However, there is scientific evidence that when people decide that they belong in a different group to another human being (e.g. race, religion, ethnicity etc.) then some people are are able to disconnect and dehumanise - MRI scans show that people's pain centres become less active when they are shown pictures of people being hurt who exist outside of their 'group', whatever that group may be.
      I do wonder if pedigree dog breeder Jan has this sort of extreme ideology with pedigree dogs that has rendered her unempathetic with anyone outside her 'group'. Just look at her avatar.

      This awful human condition is a fundamental flaw of our biology of our species. David Eagleman is attempting to look at this with his work in NeuroLaw.

    2. Of course she does.

      The K.Cs became an absolute ideology when they ruled against members breeding outside of that value system.
      Its a rule designed to divide. And reduce, since you can't definitively divide values with out reducing them.