November Sneak Peek

Adventures with Ticks

By John Gibble

It’s not unusual during hunting season to find a tick crawling up my pants leg. I’ve picked them off the dogs even in the coldest months. This past July, one of our club members reported picking 92 ticks off of his two beagles a day after a morning run. Undoubtedly ticks are a nasty pest that transmits diseases to man and beast. But there is an interesting story behind that tick you just pulled off your dog’s ear. We read a lot about ticks and the diseases they carry, but I thought I’d take a stab at writing something a little less technical and a bit more understandable concerning ticks.

That tick started off life as one of several thousand eggs laid by its mother. After being piled in a mass, more exuded than laid, it may have taken anywhere from three weeks to several months for these eggs to hatch, depending on temperature and humidity. The larva or hatchlings closely resemble an adult tick except they are much smaller (think three on a head of a pin) and they have six legs rather than the eight legs they will have in their next stages. Upon hatching, the larva immediately begins searching for their first meal, blood. They may live several months without that first meal, but the sooner they find a host, the better their chances of success.

Generally the first host is a rather small mammal, but it could be a bird or even a reptile. Some species of ticks, such as the rabbit tick, are very specific in host selection and are seldom found on other species of hosts; but most tick species are generalists and will take whatever comes along. Field research has proven a direct correlation between the density of white-footed mice and the prevalence of ticks. White-footed mice (and closely related deer mice) are very common across most of the ticks’ range. One study concluded that a bumper crop of acorns one year would result in an increase in the density of mice the next year, which in turn would support a significant increase in ticks the following year.
Picture thousands of tiny, newly-hatched ticks in the space of several square inches on the forest floor. When a foraging mouse ambles by, hundreds may climb aboard. Others may attach to the next potential host, and yet many more may simply perish from failure to find a host or dessication. Because they are so tiny, this larva may be limited in potential hosts. I recall doing field work on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and coming back to my lodgings at night just crawling with tick larva. They were like little red dots, barely visible. They were easily dislodged with a wash rag and washed down the shower drain. We would pack our clothes in black plastic garbage bags and roast the larva to death in a car with rolled up windows, parked in the sun. Larger hosts like humans, dogs, and deer, with thicker skin and deeper blood supplies may be unsuitable for the larval tick.

Don’t miss the rest of this article! Check it out starting on page 14 of our November issue!

August Sneak Peek

Systemic Mycoses – Big Words for Little Fungi Part II: Histoplasmosis

By Luke Peterson, DVM, MS

Histoplasmosis is another fungus that can cause multiple forms of disease in dogs. Histoplasma capsulatum can be found in a large portion of the central and eastern United States (see map in figure 1) primarily through the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys with the highest region in southern Illinois, southern Indiana, western Tennessee, western Kentucky, southeastern Missouri, eastern Arkansas, northern Mississippi, and the northwestern corner of Alabama. The fungus resides in soil and is especially associated with areas containing bird or bat droppings. Pointers, Weimeraners, and Brittany Spaniels have an increased risk compared to other breeds. Exposure to the fungus does not always result in disease. Research conducted during post-mortem exams isolated the fungus from 36% (Kentucky) and 44% (Virginia) of otherwise healthy dogs displaying no disease.

The fungus produces spores which are released into the air when the soil is disturbed. Dogs and humans are at risk when those spores are inhaled into the lungs. The spores then transform into yeast and spread to lymph nodes and through the blood stream to various organ systems. The yeast form is not directly contagious from one dog to another or from dog to human. The length of time it takes for the disease to progress in severity varies based on the health of the dog in question. But studies have found a more aggressive form which takes 2-4 weeks to become fatal and occurs in about 10% of affected dogs compared to a slower chronic form which takes 2-20 months the other 90% of the time. Disease syndromes most commonly found are pulmonary, mediastinal lymphadenitis (this is infection/inflammation of the mediastinal lymph nodes which are located in the chest cavity), and progressive disseminated histoplasmosis.

Don’t miss the rest of this article on page 38 of our August issue!

June Sneak Peek

The Check

Stephen Wiggins

The beagle is a scent hound. When running a rabbit the dog follows the scent channel left on the ground or in the air. The rabbit, on the other hand, is a prey animal that is “hard wired” (i.e., genetically programmed) to instinctively execute maneuvers in order to divert any predator from its trail. The rabbit would like nothing better than to end the race by permanently losing the pursuing hound. Sometimes the hound temporarily loses the scent line and is unable to pursue the rabbit for a short time. This is called a “check.”

This terminology is used because with the hound’s loss of the scent channel the progress of running the rabbit has been momentarily “checked” or impeded. Ideally, one wishes their dog would never have a check. But in the real world every hound or pack of hounds that ever ran a rabbit for very long has had a check. It is not that checks are bad. It is the work the dog does after the check begins that is important. In short, what every beagler wants is for their hound to make an attempt to reclaim the scent line as quickly as possible so the rabbit race continues. One never wants a temporary loss to turn into a permanent loss.

From a trial judge’s perspective the check is an important part of a race whereby hounds can demonstrate their ability. It allows judges to evaluate the quality of the hounds being observed. In his book, American Beagling, noted houndsman, Glenn Black, relates that an entire volume could be written on the features of check work especially since, “It is the basis of many close field-trial decisions.” The author continues: “In his manner of handling checks a hound has his best and most easily observed opportunity to exhibit his brains and levelheadedness, the quality of his nose and the trueness of his tongue. A great deal of his most valuable natural quality can be exhibited to the judges at the moment when they have the best opportunity to see everything he does. Driving a line is the hound’s easy work while picking checks is his hard work and thus more important as an indicator of his natural ability and quality” (p. 177).

Don’t miss the rest of this article! Check out page 18 of our June issue!

May Sneak Peek

Lone Star Beagle Association

By Troy Barber

As I travel around the country interviewing folks and gathering information for these articles, I’m reminded how like-minded beaglers are when it comes to the big picture. Big picture meaning the general ideas of why we do what we do. Without fail, I hear comments such as promote fellowship, encourage sportsmanlike conduct, preserve our heritage, maintain AKC standards and consider the well-being of each club and its members. I see it written in the constitution and by-laws of beagle clubs and beagle associations. I hear it when I’m talking to individuals. It doesn’t matter if I am in Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana or other parts of the country, the concerns and interests are very similar. On the other hand, the differences are also very similar. Yes, there are differences but it’s little things such as style, speed and bloodline of hounds. Then sometimes there are personality clashes, personal opinions or moral issues that seem to divide folks. The truth is, there are times our vision is clouded with these little things and we can’t see the forest for the trees, the forest being the big picture which should always take center stage. The trees are the little things that often dominate our thinking and dim our vision preventing us from seeing the big picture or the forest. If I had the magic formula to prevent this, I would be rich and famous. This very thing has caused division among individuals, families, beagle clubs, churches and even nations down through the years. The Bible indicates that it’s the little foxes that slip through the cracks and spoil the grapes. It also says a divided house cannot stand. Many times in my life I have had to step back and take a good long look at the big picture in order to put things in perspective. If we are too close up, we see only the trees but if we back away far enough we can then see the entire forest.

I mentioned last month that these articles are meant to inspire and challenge each individual as well as clubs, associations and federations. Inspire simply means to motivate, stimulate, encourage and influence. Inspiration doesn’t necessarily come in big packages; it can be the guy who volunteers to be the collar man at a field trial, the person who sweeps the floor at the club, the lady who cooks the fried apple pies and many others who quietly do those little things that makes a big difference. When I see my friend J.E. Childers, almost without fail, he will say, “I appreciate you.” Just those three words are enough to inspire me! It motivates and encourages me to do more. Thank you J.E. for being an inspiration to me as well as others. Challenge simply means to call or summon someone to engage themselves. We should all challenge ourselves to do a little more, a little better and always remember we’re building on a foundation that was laid by our forefathers, dedicated men and women who had a vision. We’re enjoying the fruits of their labors; it’s up to us to be good stewards of that which was entrusted to us. To challenge ourselves to improve on what we have, promote unity and to have a vision of where we’re going and how to get there. In order to do that effectively, we will need to lay aside those things that hinder us such as; selfishness, anger, envy, jealousy, greed, arrogance, ill will, resentment, superiority, and ego. And embrace attributes like joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth and compassion. I know that sounds like church, but for that, I make no apologies. If it works for church, it’ll work for our beagle clubs, associations and federations.

Don’t miss the remainder of this article on page 8 of our May issue!