Tag Archives: pet dogs

Famous Sons of Styria, Austria

March 6, 2016

The Messe Center in Graz, the dog show site. I live only a few blocks away.

The Messe Center in Graz, the dog show site. I live only a few blocks away.

Currently, I am in Graz at the International Dog Show. For FCI Group 1, it is only a one day show on Sunday.

Graz’s population is about 300,000 people. It is the capital of Styria and is located in the South eastern corner of Austria near the Slovenian and Hungarian border. Graz  seems to be one of those ideal multi cultural picture perfect central European cities from the playbook of the Habsburg dynasty of the legendary Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The city is a true  custodian of the often idealized gilded past through its architecture, institutions and traditions. The baroque buildings along the quiet narrow cobble stone paved streets, the richly decorated formal palaces and monumental government buildings  on the open town square, or the ghostly Gostling Castle above the city are great reminders of greatness, wealth, culture and the  imperial absolutism of the past.

The Rathaus or town hall in Graz. I am surprised that Donald Tump has not proposed yet to rename the U.S. Capitol "The Rathaus"

The Rathaus or town hall in Graz. I am surprised that Donald Tump has not proposed yet to rename the U.S. Capitol “The Rat house”

When traveling to foreign places, I am always interested in the “famous native sons and daughters” of the countries and cities I visit. Graz also has its own interesting group of people  to offer.

Graz was the home of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the nephew of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Franz-Joseph.  The aging ruler who preferred feudal tranquility to the reform ideas of the duke,  had a rather unsavory relationship with Franz Ferdinand. The Archduke was also looked upon as one of the dynasty’s black sheep because he married  Countess Sophie Chotek of Bohemia who was just below the “princess level.” Among the many repercussions were Sophie’s exclusion from major state events and the  denial to be buried in the Habsburg Imperial Crypt in Vienna.  The couple’s children were also not eligible for the Monarchy’s throne.  The Archduke’s  assassination in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, caused the beginning of the Great War in 1914.

Arch Duke Johann, the Styrian Prince, one of the favorite son of Graz and Austria, military man and the nerd of the Habsburg dynasty. founder of the Joanneum one of the early universities in Graz, The Graz, Library, Mutual Fire Insurance Co., the Austrian Southern Railway among many other things. He married beneath of his rank, the postmaster's daughter Maria Anna Pilz, that automatically annulled his accession to the Austrian throne.

Arch Duke Johann, the Styrian Prince, one of the favorite sons of Graz and Austria, was a military man and the “nerd” of the Habsburg dynasty. He was the founder of the Joanneum one of the early universities in Graz, The Graz Library, Mutual Fire Insurance Co., the Austrian Southern Railway among many other institutions that contributed to the economic and scientific progress of Austria.  He married beneath of his rank, to the postmaster’s daughter, Maria Anna Pilz. The union automatically annulled his accession to the Austrian throne.

An interesting fact about Franz Ferdinand is that he was  a trigger happy hunter, who killed close to 300,000 wild animals during his short life, from small birds to elephants according to Richard N. Lebow,  who wrote  the book, “Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives! A World Without World War I,” in the “what if genre,” proposing and alternative history for the world. Imagine, how our lives would be different today without the first world war… The assassination of Duke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo was indeed one of the greatest catalyst of extraordinary changes in the history of humankind. It is fascinating to think – in a twisted way, – that most technological and scientific inventions  of the 20th century, including the radar, nuclear bomb, man on the moon, your iPhone and one of their unintended results, climate change, originates from Graz, the birth place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, another Habsburg member of the "morganatic marriage" club, (a fancy word for you...) Where would you be and what would your life look like if he was not assassinated...?

The figure from Graz, whose mere existence probably caused it all. His assassination has altered the trajectory of the world – ( for better or worse…?)  Archduke Franz Ferdinand, another Habsburg member of the “morganatic marriage” club, (a fancy word for you…) Where would you be and what would your life look like if he was not assassinated in Sarajevo…?

A bit of contemporary literature from Graz, Folke Tegetthoff. over 40 books and additional films and performances. His favorite genre is to write new style fairy tales for adults. "There is no greater desire than to find someone who listens to you"

A bit of contemporary literature from Graz, Folke von Tegetthoff. (another von…) A story teller, has written over 40 books. He has also written  films and performances. His favorite genre is new style fairy tales for adults. “There is no greater desire than to find someone who listens to you”

http://youtu.be/j1pruq2VffM <—- CLICK HERE!  Ironically, a probably much better known figure  from Graz, is, the ultimate pop culture icon, the total recall governor of  California, 2003, former two times Mr. Universe, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He was the son of the former police chief of Graz, Gustav Schwarzenegger. His father was also a former Nazi party member during WWII. We all know   Arnold’s rise to fame and his fall.  Arnold’s movies range from “Pumping Iron”  to “The Terminator” and beyond. It can happen only in America and it can happen only in California.

Graz's legend, Arnold Schwarzenegger Mr. Universe, The Terminator, the Total Recall Governor of California. He unlike the two Archdukes, he married up and he still managed to screw up. Herr Tegelhoff could write a realistic fairy tale about him.

Graz’s legendary son, Arnold Schwarzenegger Mr. Universe, The Terminator, the Total Recall Governor of California. Unlike the two Archdukes, he married up, not down into the American royal family, the Kennedys and he still managed to screw up. Herr Tegelhoff could write a new style fairy tale about him.

By the way, as you would expect, there is an Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum in Graz. It is the sort of Austrian “Graceland” with less flair  and more though guy image.  The museum recreates Schwarzenegger’s early life in Graz, Austria. It exhibits memorabilia, photos, documents, exercise machines and other, sometimes frivolous curiosities.

young Jack Unterweger, a disturbed mind of Styria's famous sons.

young Jack Unterweger, a disturbed mind of Styria’s famous sons.

The difference between fame and infamy is just one’s interpretation . Jack Unterweger, the Austrian serial killer has certainly stained the impeccable list of famous sons of Styria. Jack, the son of a Vienese woman, Theresa Unterweger and an unknown American soldier, was born in Judenburg, Styria just an hour drive from Graz.  Jack’s early life was the clear road map to the dark side. He’s been in and out of prison for sexual assault. He committed his first murder in 1974. While in prison he started writing stories and poems. “Purgatory of a Guilty Man” has served as the main source for a documentary movie. In 1990, Unterweger has been released from prison as a rehabilitated man with the assistance of public and celebrity pressure. His writings has been taught in schools and his twisted persona celebrated as the example of one of the successes of liberal penitentiary reform. Jack has become a public figure, journalist and broadcaster. As it turned out, during his broadcasting carrieer, he was reporting many of his unsolved earlier murders.

John Malkovich's play catered to the fascination of Americans with murder and violence

John Malkovich’s play catered to the fascination of Americans with murder and violence

Unterweger has turned out as a notorious “meurtrier sans frontier” (murderer without borders) as it was discovered that he also killed in Czechoslovakia, Germany and later in the US when he was hired  by a magazine to write about crime and prostitution in the US.

Even though he committed suicide in his Austrian prison, his infamy has been carried on in popular culture. He has been portraid by John Malkovich in “Seduction and Despair”, he was also portrayed in “The Infernal Comedy” in 2009 and in a documentary movie, “Entering Hades.”

An Austrian play about the disturbed mind of Unterweger

An Austrian play about the disturbed mind of Unterweger

He was charged of eleven murders and found guilty of nine. Since he was seeking appeal while he died by Austrian law his “guilty verdict was not legally binding.”

Grüße aus Graz!

Schwarzenegger's sculpture at the Schwarzenegger Museum in Graz. It is funny that how much it reminds me Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker" perhaps there is such a thing as muscle brain after all...

Schwarzenegger’s sculpture at the Schwarzenegger Museum in Graz .It reminds me Rodin’s sculpture “The Thinker” perhaps there is such a thing as muscle brain after all…

Ha... an outdoor sculpture at the Schwarzenegger museum

Ha… an outdoor sculpture at the Schwarzenegger museum

An invaluable piece from the Schwarzenegger Museum. Art thieves in trouble...

A   priceless  piece  from  the Schwarzenegger  Museum. Could art thieves sue the museum for hernia injury…



The super futuristic "Kunsthaus" in Graz. It is the home of art works made after 1960. Or perhaps an unidentified submarine that can be modified to launch missiles to restore the Habsburg Monarchy. Who will be the new emperor? Arnold, Johann or Ferdinand? Perhaps Folke Tekkerhoff can write the story down

The super futuristic “Kunsthaus” in Graz. It is the home of art works made after 1960. Or perhaps it is a secret  submarine that can be modified to launch missiles to help in the restoration of the Habsburg Monarchy and the elimination of  the prohibition of”morganatic marriages” for members of the imperial family. Who will be the new emperor? Arnold, Johann or Ferdinand? Perhaps Folke von Tegetthoff will reveal it in his next fairy tale book

The Gift That Keeps On Giving…

February 26, 2016

During the FeHoVa 2016 international Dog Show in Budapest, Hungary, I’ve noticed that one dog owner specifically kept pulling away her dog from me when my amorous Kaffogo Agyag has kept pulling after her male Pumi. First I thought she was simply unfriendly, however, once her dog was in a “safe distance” under control, she was open to engage in  conversation with me.  When I asked  her why she did not let her dog to play with Agyag and Fruska, her answer was, that she was worrying about canine herpes virus… We’ve all heard of the disease, however, for many breeders and dog owners CHV remains in the realm of the abstract.

So we started talking….

As a farmer who have bred horses, sheep and goats I’ve known about rhino, or “Rhino pneumonitis”, the equine herpes virus. Due to the size of horses, rhino caused abortion is a truly dramatic experience.  Ovines (sheep) can also host the Ovine Herpes Virus 2 that causes an inapparent infection, a condition that we closely monitor here on the farm so we can prevent it.

Canine herpes virus is also an ugly disease. Those who are not so familiar with the details of CHV, might be able learn something from this article. I know, that I certainly would have been able to use a collection of more readily available readings on a website or the advice of  seasoned breeders on breeding and  health related issues in the past and even today.  Hope this article can help to point to the right direction for further readings and to change behaviors when dealing with communicable diseases.

New born puppies are exciting news. Dog pregnancy is a relatively short event and through social media we can closely follow our  “friends'” pregnant dogs and new born litters. With the help of the internet, we are right there in the breeder’s living room or barn… witnessing the pregnancy and new lives.

Unfortunately, sometime, we also witness abortions, stillbirth, pups born weak and die unexpectedly with no previous signs within one- to-four weeks.  We express our condolence and mourn along based on the pattern of the 24-hour news cycle and then move on.  We do not follow up,  and do not go back to ask the question, “what happened…?”  It is considered inappropriate in the eye of public opinion, as opposed to considering it as a learning opportunity and possibly helping others.

In the age of our sanitized virtual relationships across continents, objective discussions  have been considered as impolite.  A friend of mine who is older than Marshall McLuhan’s phrase, “the medium is the message” and who ironically also  happens to be a Canadian (like McLuhan), after she got acquainted with Facebook not long ago, asked her newly acquired Facebook friends for their phone numbers so she could call them instead of  communicating over FB – it seemed less complicated, more effective and goal oriented to her…I guess, she just did not get it… “I thought we were friends after all…” she often told me when talking about her FaceBook friends…

So some fetuses get aborted, or just never fully develop and born or the newborn puppies simply die after birth in a short period of time. Among those who survive, some remains weak and lethargic and perhaps appears to have respiratory or organ problems, nerve damages, mental and behavioral issues.  The cause of the incident does not get tracked down by the breeder, the question remains open, and most likely subjective logic gets applied to explain the misfortune.  This is one way how  taboos and myths born in dog breeding circles.

Canine herpes virus is a frustrating highly contagious diseases that is more frequent than one would think of. 80% of kenneled dogs can come into contact with the virus while among  “in home” kept dogs, the infection rate is much lower, 20-25%.  Ironically,  pet dogs that have been kept in homes as opposed to kennels, when contracted the virus, have shown more severe symptoms  than dogs that are frequently kenneled. In contrast, show dogs who are exposed to low levels of the virus on a regular basis, can develop certain resistance to suppress flare ups.

When talking about Canine herpes virus, a certain cultural bias is unavoidable. I’ve read some studies about canine herpes virus infection rates in England, Belgium and Turkey. (“A serological study of canine herpes virus-1 infection in the English dog population” Reading MJ et al. Arch Virol 1998, – there was a similar  study published in Belgium  by Ronnse V, et. al. Reprod Domest Anim. 2002 – and in Turkey  by Yesilbag K et al. Res Vet Sci. 2012)   Before reading these articles, my prediction, based on my short experience in these countries, listed Turkey as probably the most affected one by the CHV among the three countries listed.  I imagine, many of you would assume the same outcome. Objective reality however, turned out to be different. The studies have basically shown a very similar CHV infection rate  in all three countries.

Dogs can get infected  with the virus anywhere anytime through nasal, oral and vaginal secretion. Most frequent places can be dog shows, like the annual  Westminster Kennel Club Show (to shock you!) or the annual AKC Eukanuba Agility trial (another place where the ELITE appears…) for the “menu chiens” simply dog runs, dog training places, even vet offices can be “ideal” locations of contracting the disease. In short, CHV do not discriminate…

What can tip the scale in favor of countries with a higher puppy survival rate  is, the so called” higher dog culture” ( for lack of a better definition…) that is basically a higher quality post partum care.  If the fetus did not die before birth, CHV can also be transmitted to  the pups through the birth canal and oral or nasal infection. Because puppies cannot control their body temperature before three weeks of age, the virus that thrives in lower temperature (97-99F), infects the young pup’s body due to the body’s inability to produce fever.

Questions one might ask, can or should the dam be bred again after a breeder experiences a CHV infected litter from the dam? if yes, would the dam’s next litter show signs of CHV too?  Can the stud dog  get infected?

Unfortunately, most veterinary information focusing on herpes in puppies and it is hard to find articles about management of herpes in adult dogs.  The percentage of CHV infected adult dog population is staggering. It is btw 30%-80% anywhere in the U.S (Wikipedia puts the number even higher, 40-93% in certain dog populations.)   Adult dogs rarely show signs of herpes as it tend to go dormant in the body, however, stress can trigger a flare ups. Therefore, careful  planning of a litter of a CHV infected bitch  is very important.

Stress management is key. How can a breeder avoid putting stress on a dog that is going to be bred?  What can be the stressors for a bitch?  Mary C. Wakeman D.V.M., summarize it in the following list:

  • hormonal events which temporarily impair the body’s ability to fight infection,
  • shipping , boarding, breeding and shipping again should the bitch travel to the stud dog,
  • possible concurrent bacterial vaginal or uterine disease,
  • lyme disease in certain part of the country when traveling there,
  • decreased thyroid level that is especially common in bitches five years or older,
  • certain vaccinations
  • other issues such as temperature stress.

The presence of stress triggered herpes can explain failed pregnancies, and unusually small litter sizes. In one test,  where strict pre-pregnancy work ups showed no infections around half way to whelping, the  presence of live fetuses have been established.   Later, serum samples were taken for herpes titer about two weeks apart.  Those who have been exposed to shows, kenneling, groomers, flying  and previously showed no signs of infections, the CHV test results suddenly have shown positive herpes titers, in about 80% of the bitches tested.  This outcome should be self explanatory why previously infected bitches especially should avoid stress before breeding and during pregnancy.

It is also important to know that CHV can appear in a form of a respiratory disease, that can easily be mistaken for kennel cough, can manifest as a conjunctivitis, cornea infection of the eye and sinusitis according to the Merck veterinary manual.  Dogs can be exposed to repeat infections by going to kennels, dog runs, training places where they can be exposed to higher or lower level of infective particles from the environment that has a relatively high presence of dogs, They can also flare up as their own dormant infection might resurface.

Breeders who cannot avoid these contacts, because they train other dogs, run  boarding kennels, go to shows and trials, still can reduce the probability of literary taking the disease back home through preventative measures such as regularly changing clothes before entering their own environment.  One can also reduce visitor’s access to the breeding kennel and establish higher sanitation measures for visitors (usually a high percentage of visitors already have dogs who might carry CHV on themselves from home.)

Ironically, pet dogs who do not or rarely visit dog shows, trials, kennels groomers etc are more susceptible because they have no regular low level contact with the virus as show and performance dogs do.

What about male dogs? They may get infected or not. The Belgian pharma company Merial who produces herpes vaccine Euricas 205 suggests that  vaccination temporarily stops the spread of the virus.  Testing at the time of breeding is pointless according to Mary C. Wakeman, especially if the dog is from the same environment as the bitch. Dogs from the same kennels,  will be in various phases of the infection. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that boarding kennels, groomers that primarily cater to pet dogs, contains a much higher level  of infected aerosol particles than breeding kennels in case the bitch has visited one of these sites outside of her kennel. Consequently sanitation is extremely important.  According to the Merck Veterinary manual, CHV is relatively unstable outside the host and sensitive to lipid solvents, ether and chloroform and in general to most disinfectants. With regular cleaning the transmission can be reduced.

Another useful advice is, not to leave the bitch in the dog’s environment at breeding, rather traveling back and forth by car  that most dogs are used to and staying in a hotel with the owner/handler. To further reduce stress and travel related exposure, the use of artificial insemination is also viable alternative.

There is no treatment (curing the disease) available for HCV. There is no vaccination available in the United States. Euricas Herpes 205 vaccination is available in Europe to “manage” the infection. There is an interesting scientific discussion how the vaccine had been developed step by step,  it is certainly not your ordinary non-fiction but I still found it fascinating what a serious work and details goes into developing medicine.                        “http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/EPAR_-_Scientific_Discussion/veterinary/000059/WC500066409.pdf

About puppies and CHV: the seriousness of the illness depend on the age of the dog that contracts it. In the prenatal stage of development the disease virtually starves the  fetus from nutrients. This is the reason why reabsorption, abortion or  stillbirth  can occur. Pups born with infection contracted in the prenatal period are usually severely damaged.

Puppies that get infected in the utero from vaginal secretion or the saliva or the nasal secretion of the dam during or after birth, often remain under weight, weak with damaged organs. These puppies often suffer from “fading puppy syndrome due to the inability to nurse.”  They are usually in discomfort with pain and  diarrhea. They produce eye and nasal discharge. internal hemorrhage is also a frequent syndrome of CHV pups. Since a puppy under three weeks of age cannot control his body temperature, he cannot produce fever and the virus simply thrives below 98F.  Once a CHV infected puppy reaches 3-4 weeks of age his chances of survival can increase dramatically.

Vaccinations, if it is available,  with proper timing will help the bitch to develop antibodies and reduce or temporarily prevent flare ups during mating and whelping induced stress.  When vaccination is not available like here in the US, strict preventative  measures can improve the puppies surviving rate.

Heat lamp and heating pad can help to elevate the puppies’ body temperature to reduce and prevent CHV replication in the body before three weeks of age until the pups can control their own body temperatures. While antibiotics are ineffective for controlling the virus, it can prevent and eliminate secondary bacterial infections.

Proper sanitation using household disinfectants can eliminate CHV shed by the dam to prevent further infections in the pups. Limiting outside visitors and the use of increased protective measures to introduce outside pollutions are also essential.

According to secondary sources, the pharmaceutical company Merial stated that “the virus, (CHV) does not come from bad kennels – it is already everywhere.”

Can we do something about it together?