General Information and Guidance

A collection of miscellaneous articles.

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The narrative in this great video is as old as time with the central theme of the hunted and the hunter, the hunter being the horned god known variously as Cernunnos, a European name, or by his British name Herne and as Master of the Hunt known as Herne's Rade he is depicted with the antler of a stag or horns of a ram which have associations with fertility and, of course, he is accompanied by his pack of hounds. He is featured on the Celtic Gundestrup Cauldron for example. The hunt motif can also be interpreted less literally as it could be a metaphor for the rounding up of souls to bring them to the otherworld but he is more usually the god of the woodlands, animals and male fertility but there are other stories some connecting him to Windsor Forest
Katherine Briggs, a famous academic who has written widely on the world of fairy, relates that in 1915 one of the teachers at her school in Edinburgh told her that the father of this teacher, a retired colonel with apartments in Windsor Castle, used to see Herne the Hunter on moonlight nights standing under his oak. She also relates a story she was told in 1964 by a member of the English Folk Dance and Song society which concerned some youths up to mischief in Windsor Forest one of whom found a horn in the bushes and proceeded to blow it. 'The horn gave such a groan and a blast he nearly fainted and as he stood shaking there was a terrible yell among the trees and great hounds baying.' Some of the other lads made it to the safety of a church while the pursuit continued and they listened to the hounds baying and heard the twang of an arrow and the victim's scream but there was no arrow through him nor any hounds or hunter to be found.
Other motifs in the narrative are the old men and women with symbolic objects such as the fish, the bird which they hold up. Finn/ Fionn/ Fingal, for example, gained his esoteric wisdom when he burnt his finger on the salmon of knowledge by accident and then licked his finger to cool it.
The narrative ends with the hunter and his hounds meeting the hunted who is then transformed by light as essentially both are in reality one. The hounds by chance, who I have to say performed brilliantly, also brought out the duality in the contrast of the black with the silver hound.
And you thought this was just a video!

Thanks to the Helps family and, of course, Beardswood Marmion and Greyfriars Gille of Beardswood as well as 'After the Ice' themselves.

©Scottish-Deerhound.Com. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permission.

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We coundn't go on like this!We have two dogs and a young son. We often travel with large amounts of luggage visiting dog shows and family around the country. We bought a used Fiat Scudo ‘Combi’ van which is essentially the same as the Peugeot Expert and the Citroen Dispatch. There are two rows of three seats and a large ‘boot’. We needed to make the car dog friendly with the following requirements:

• a tailgate guard allowing us to open the back doors open, but keep the car secure;
• a dog guard behind the rear seats to keep the dogs out of the passenger area; and
• a removable divider to create separate areas for dogs and luggage.

Having looked at various guards in other peoples’ cars we shortlisted Athag, manufacturers of the Guardsman dog crates and guards.

After an initial telephone conversation and quote for the work I drove the van to Athag’s premises near Atherstone to discuss our requirements. They made the basic frame whilst I was on site. There were various factors I hadn’t considered and Athag’s experienced staff knew all the pitfalls. They quickly came up with a design and also suggested some extra features. Removeable HatchThese included two ‘escape’ hatches (easily removable panels); one to be placed at floor level in the divider to allow the dogs to travel between the two halves of the boot, and the other to be placed at high level behind the back seats. This would allow me to carry long objects such as ladders inside the van without having to remove the guards.

Welding at AthagThe dog guards took about four weeks to produce. Athag's staff have a demonstraited a thorough understanding of our needs and requirements, they are without doubt extremely experienced and skilled. I returned to Athag to have the completed guards fitted. Athag can also arrange delivery if required.

The guards are fitted without any drilling or damage to the vehicle. Rubber backed metal feet are tightened into position then locked into place. The end result is a very stable and strong ‘structure’. On the drive home the guards were silent, no rattling and no creaking.

The quality of fittings is very high. The guards themselves are coated in a tough black finish, which is very stylish. There is a choice of coatings; the toughest is a zinc coating (silver in colour). For aesthetic reasons we chose the black finish. The doors are lockable either with padlocks or optional fitted key operated locks. We chose to use our own padlocks.

Quality Fittings

Three months on our guards are functioning perfectly. We have made several long journeys requiring the car to be fully loaded with dogs and luggage. There has been no movement in the position of the guards and they are still solid and silent.

Fitted Guards

 

We have stopped at motorway services with a fully loaded car and been able to leave the dogs in a safe and comfortable environment. We can access the luggage without risking letting the dogs out and vice versa. Everything is safe and secure.

I did catch the guards with the sharp end of some copper pipe, but this easily touched up with a dab of black paint. They have suffered no damage through normal day to day use.

The design offers us a lot of flexibility without having to remove the bulk of the structure. In our old car we regularly had to remove all the guards and store them in the house. This was a long job and the guards were bulky and difficult to store.

If we are going away we put the dogs in one half and the luggage in the other. Once at our destination we unpack and remove the hatch, which is small enough to store behind the front seats, and the dogs have the full space. Our dogs are lurchers and two fit comfortably in one half of the back. There is only room for one deerhound per side; this is a limitation of the car, not the guards.

We paid £620.52 for the guards. Spending the money has meant our car is the perfect vehicle for our needs, without compromise. We simply factored the cost of the guards into the cost of buying the car. If I needed to ‘convert’ another vehicle I would buy them again in an instant.

We always secure the rear doors of the van using a Ventlock device. This allows you to lock the doors open.

This review is independent. We paid for our guards and had no obligation to purchase from Athag. Other manufactures produce guards and cages. I have included a list of useful resources below below.


Thats better!Athag produce custom made dog guards and cages. They are also listed in the deerhound directory.
Ventlock manufacture a device for locking your doors open.
Barjo and Lintran also produce dog guards and cages.

 

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Congratulations to Lonnkyle Enya of Tannochbrae JC, the ultimate sleepy deerhound!

Sleepy Deerhound

Well, I'm just thrilled to be a finalist!!! That photo of Enya was a once-in-a-lifetime situation of having a camera close to hand at the right time (for a change!) -- I'm so glad others have enjoyed it.

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Manticorns Inaria - Inna

It’s been a tough decision, but we’ve settled on a winner for the cutest puppy competition. I emailed the winner, Pia Erasmie in Sweden to ask about her beautiful hound.

 

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I was recently asked to produce pedigree charts for another website I administer. I’d seen pedigrees on many other sites and wondered how they had collected the data and displayed it in such a neat and functional manner.

The Problem

There are two major hurdles you have to negotiate to get your pedigree information on the web. The first is creating the data, listing your dogs and linking their parents. The second is displaying the data you have collected in a usable form in your website. Oh and the last major stumbling block for me, was that it had to be free – I’ve built most of my sites using freely available open source software and I didn’t want to break this precedent for the pedigree software.

My Ideal Solution

The ideal solution to this problem would be an application with frontend software (accessed by the site’s visitors) and backend software (used by the webmaster to create and update dog details). Both front and backends would be accessible by a web interface from any internet connected computer. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any software that met these needs. Everything I found was client/server, by that I mean a piece of software installed on your computer (client) and a piece of software installed in your website (server). My first dead end.

Genealogy – for Humans!

I got to looking into pedigree charts in general and found that they are also in human genealogy. Over recent years there has been a huge surge in the popularity of web based genealogy and because of that some excellent open source software has been generated, capable of far more than would ever be required for producing a relatively simple dog pedigree chart. Wikipedia provides a useful list of genealogy software for people interested in taking this route. Arguably the best of these is the excellent PHPGedView used by thousands and entirely free. PHPGedView is the ‘bees knees’ of genealogy software. It is a fairly involved process to install, and I found the interface frustrating and not intuitive (for dog owners). After a few hours I was ready throw the laptop out of the window. Ultimately the problem with human genealogy software is that dogs don’t have husbands and wives and they don’t get married – they aren’t people! Although I’m sure you could tweak PHPGedView to work well for dogs it’s just not worth the effort, although the reports and pedigree charts produced are excellent. My second dead end.

Back to the Dogs

Having wasted some considerable time looking into human genealogy for dogs I decided to go back to the client/server dog pedigree software.

Initially I found a couple of web based script solutions to the problem. Some require a database and others run off a text file. Text files (or flat files) are great; they are fast, portable, simple to backup and use. However, I suspect that there may be performance and corruption problems with flat file based solutions when you start adding lots of dogs. The main one to look at is Alfirin, it’s free to use and there seems to be good support from the developers. So if you don’t want to get into databases then this could well be the solution.

The database solutions all seem to require you to have mysql installed – most hosing providers support this. It’s a relatively simple job to set up the database, but you will have to remember to back it up yourself. The actual software is generally a collection of scripts that provide the search functionality and report outputs. Some charge and are actually pretty expensive, however a free one (and the one I settled on in the end) is Pedigree Point.

Pedigree Point

The instructions provided are easy to follow and I had the whole lot up and running (without any dogs in the database) in about ten minutes. You unpack the software to your computer and make a few changes to the configuration file and then upload to your webserver. There is a script to populate your database with the table and fields required by the software. I added some dummy data manually using PHPmyAdmin (this is software your web host will probably provide for you to administer your mysql databases with). It’s worth pointing out that you have to manually create the mysql database. Some host providers will do this for you, but with most you do it yourself, normally a simple procedure. I ran the provided test scripts and checked out the search page, all was well.

Getting the Data In

I still hoped there would be a nice script and page to allow you to input your dogs’ data, but there wasn’t. As with all the other pedigree systems that I found, you have to create and manage the database on your computer and upload the data to your website. You could do it manually by updating the tables in mysql, but that would only be feasible if your pedigree charts were virtually static. I wouldn’t recommend it.

It seems that all the client pedigree programs I found charged, which is fair enough, people have to make a living. Some were so incredibly out of date and functionally poor that you would have trouble installing them on many modern systems never mind actually using them. However, others were very good. I downloaded three free trial versions from various providers. The best two I found were Pedigree Explorer from Breedmate, $110 and Pedigree Assistant from TenSet, £99 for the personal edition. The demo versions only allow you to add a limited number of dogs, but it’s enough to see which is going to work for you.

In usability terms I found the Pedigree Assistant easier to use, I liked the way you could click to build up the dog’s pedigree in a graphical form. Pedigree Explorer looks more like a database, but as I was using Breedmate’s free webserver software, Pedigree Point, it would make sense to use their client software. Both pieces of software allow you to create printed pedigrees and various reports. If this is the functionality you are after then I suggest you try both to see which you prefer. It did however seem to me I would be paying for a lot of functionally that I would never use – I didn’t want to print pedigrees, I wasn’t managing the database for a whole deerhound club, just a few hundred dogs. All I wanted was a local database that I could build up, so what could I do?

DIY

In a moment of madness I decided I’d build up my own database in Microsft Access. Now I’ve never been keen on databases, particularly Access databases, but I was driven to it by a lack of a suitable alternative. Without going into too much detail you need to create a single table and inner joins to each of the dog’s parents. It’s relatively simple, but time consuming to then produce pedigrees of various depths. I went up to 6 generations. I also created a form to add new dogs and pick its parents. It took me an evening or two to build a functional, but rough and ready database. I built the access table to match the table in the mysql database used by pedigree point. This means that I can add a dog, export the database and import into mysql with the minimum of fuss. It’s not the best solution, but it’s all free and the end result is exactly what I wanted. I had to type in all the dogs from the pedigree charts I’d been given, about 108 dogs, and some very difficult names. It took me a morning to type in and link all the dogs together. However, adding future litters should be relatively simple.

Putting it all together

The site in question is built on Joomla (www.joomla.org). If you are not familiar with Joomla it’s a content management system that is great for building websites. I used the search page in Pedigree Explorer to find each dog’s pedigree and copied its link into a Joomla Wrapper. I then linked each dog’s personal page. I had to tweak the Pedigree Point scripts here and there to get the pedigrees to fit in my web page properly, but it was straight forward and took me about half an hour in total. I also added a link to the search page.

Does it all work?

Well nearly, there are a few bugs that you can turn up if you try hard, I can only get five generations out at the moment, but all in all, I think it looks great. You can visit the site at www.cusidh.co.uk. I’m just glad to have it all working and out of the way. It’s been quite a journey for someone who knew nothing about dog pedigree software!

If you want to suggest alternatives or comment on this approach please do so in the comment box below.

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