Categories
Book Reviews

The Winding Road Is a Story About Survival and Courage

This blog is primarily about Leonbergers, especially our late Leonberger Bronco, or Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, which was his full name. I also review Leonberger books and sometimes I review books that are not about Leonbergers but that I love and want to promote. This post is one of those. I am reviewing The Winding Road: A Journey of Survival Paperback – July 30, 2022 by Miriam Hurdle. This paperback is 148 pages, ISBN 979-8842330812, item weight 9.9 ounces, dimensions 6 x 0.34 x 9 inches. You can buy it from Amazon, as a paperback, hardback or e-Book. The paperback version is currently $6.99 on Amazon, and the hardback is $25.26. The Kindle version is $1.99 or free if you are part of Kindle Unlimited.

This book is a gripping story of Miriam Hurdle’s fight to survive an aggressive cancer. She is a skilled author, and she was able to tell her traumatic story with clarity and honesty.

The front cover of the book The Winding Road: A Journey of Survival by Miriam Hurdle. Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for the book.
Front cover of the book The Winding Road: A Journey of Survival by Miriam Hurdle. Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for the book.

Below I am posting my Amazon review for The Winding Road.

One Woman’s Encounter with Aggressive Cancer Told with Intelligence, Clarity and Honesty

This book describes the journey of survival of a woman, Miriam Hurdle, who was diagnosed with Melanoma in an internal organ. Melanoma is an aggressive skin cancer that usually does not appear in internal organs, at least not initially. This made the situation both unusual and quite dangerous. The cancer was discovered by chance during a hysterectomy.

Survival was not the only thing that she had to fight for. There was insurance, her work situation, finances, etc., that weighed heavily on her mind and the minds of her family. Add to that the brutal but necessary treatment. Luckily things worked out for her, and her family and her community gave her a lot of support. The book makes it clear how important this is in this kind of situation. The people around you can make a big difference making sure you don’t lose hope.

My mother got multiple myeloma and it was not discovered early, and she died at the age of 56. So, Miriam’s story resonated with me because I recognized a lot things from her story even though their cancers were not the same and the outcome was not the same. What Miriam went though is extremely difficult. I am originally from Sweden, which has national healthcare. Insurance is an additional burden that every American cancer patient must deal with that we were spared from. So, in that regard our journey was easier. Unfortunately, it did not end well for us.

Miriam is a great writer who writes with clarity, intelligence, and honesty about a very traumatic situation. I think this book can serve as a great help to anyone who may face this situation. In fact, cancer is so common that we are all likely to be touched by it at some point. Therefore, I highly recommend this book to everyone in order for all of us to learn something about the journey before facing it.

Photo of the back cover of the book The Winding Road: A Journey of Survival by Miriam Hurdle.
Back cover of the book The Winding Road: A Journey of Survival by Miriam Hurdle.

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Finally, if you would like to learn about more about my book and find out where to buy it, click here or here. You can also click the image below to buy it from Amazon.

This is an image of the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for the book.
Categories
Veterinary

When Should You Neuter or Spay Your Leonberger

This is a contentious question that can easily lead to heated arguments, which is why I never brought up this issue in my book. I don’t like one-star reviews. A blog post though is a different matter. I can easily delete angry comments as well as the blog post itself.

It is very common for veterinarians and others to recommend that dogs be neutered or spayed between the ages 4-6 months. However, not all dogs are the same and this seems to be bad advice for many giant breeds, especially Leonbergers.

Photo of me with our Leonberger Bronco standing on the sofa.
Is he ready to be neutered? I mean the dog.

With this post I am presenting advice and statements from various sources that I consider to be reliable such as AKC/club certified breeders of the specific breed in question, the corresponding breed organization/club, such as the Leonberger Club of America, and scientists in the specific field. In my experience veterinarians who care for all kinds of dogs and pets typically do not have knowledge that is breed specific enough on this issue.

When we got our late Leonberger Bronco (Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle) 15 years ago our breeder Julie Schaffert told us to wait with neutering him until he was two years old if possible. Julie Schaffert has been an LCA (Leonberger Club of America) certified breeder since 1992 and is arguably the most prominent Leonberger breeder in North America. A few days ago, I sent her this question:

Hello Julie, I hope all is well with you and your Leonbergers. I am currently reading a Leonberger book by Vanessa Ritchie. I’ve read dozens of Leonberger books. It is a very good Leonberger book. However, in the middle of page 30 she is saying something that concerned me. She is saying to neuter/spay your Leonberger at 6 months old. I remember you telling us to wait with ours and we waited until significantly passed one years old. Assuming that is correct, this mistake needs to be pointed out and perhaps corrected. Before saying anything, I wanted to make sure that is correct, that spaying/neutering at 6 months old is indeed too early for a Leonberger.

Thank you for any help

Happy New Years

Thomas Wikman

This was her answer

Happy new year. Yes, it’s now recommended that giant dogs not be neutered or spayed until after 2 years. In the old days it was recommend earlier any time after 6 months. All the new data says wait.

Julie.

Black and white photo of our Leonberger Bronco
The Leonberger puppy Julie sold us

A few months ago I participated in an online discussion (Leonberger Facebook group) on this issue and I mentioned that we neutered our Leonberger passed one years old, close to 18 months, but we did not wait two years. There were people who did not like this saying we needed to wait longer. Some people said that 12-18 months was good enough, but they were in general rebutted. The consensus was that you needed to wait two years or not neuter the dog at all if that was practical. Opinions were strong, and I got the feeling that some people felt neutering before the age of two was animal abuse. Whatever you do, don’t discuss this with Leonberger enthusiasts at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

The reasons we did not wait two years was that our veterinarian at the time wanted to do it sooner and Bronco was moving furniture around because of his excess energy. He was strong, energetic and a bit restless. He dragged sofas, chairs and tables around. He was very friendly and harmless, but he had a lot of energy. Perhaps he should have been a home decorator instead of a dog.

Illustration showing that Bronco had pushed our German Shepherd into a storm drain. I am trying to drag/lift the German Shepherd out of the storm drain while holding onto a misbehaving Bronco.
A rambunctious Bronco

So that’s where I was coming from”. In addition to that I searched on-line today to see what people with expertise in the area are saying. I should say that I know enough about internet search not to trust whatever comes up at the top. You need to first consider credentials and expertise.

This one year old article (click here) from the AKC states that a larger or giant breed may need to wait until they are near or over 12-18 months of age before neutering or spaying. The article also provides the following interesting information.

Research conducted by the University of California – Davis reveals that for some dog breeds, neutering and spaying may be associated with the increased risks of certain health conditions such as joint disorders including hip or elbow dysplasia, cranial cruciate rupture or tear, and some cancers, such as lymphoma, mast cell tumor, hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma. The research conclusions are not surprising. Sex hormones are important in the development of any animal.  We know they affect psychological development as well as the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and the immune system.

I believe this is the University of California – Davis article in question (click here). It is from 2020. Notice that the suggested guidelines for age of neutering is beyond 23 months for several of the giant breeds in the table of 35 breeds (click here). Also notice that the table does not include Leonbergers.

Hillhaven Leonbergers (click here) in Ireland recommend not neutering until at least 2 years of age. They warn against doing it at 6 months old, despite what some veterinarians may recommend.

I did not find an on-line Leonberger Club of America recommendation but this old 2011 article (click here) from the Leonberger Club of America states: Because the Leonberger is a slow maturing breed in general, most breeders will ask puppy owners to wait a year or so before altering their puppies, to allow bones to develop more fully.

Photo of (left to right) Daisy (Pug), Ryu (Japanese Chin) and Bronco (Leonberger)
Daisy (Pug), Ryu (Japanese Chin) and Bronco (Leonberger)

I did find an article from the Saint Bernard Club of America (click here). The Saint Bernard is genetically similar to the Leonberger. This article states: Above all, no giant breed puppy should be altered before the growth plates in the bones have matured and closed, usually between 15 and 24 months of age.

This Newfoundland dog magazine (click here) states : Currently, the recommended age that a Newfoundland dog should be neutered is 18 to 24 months due to the possible health problems that can arise from altering before that age. The Newfoundland is another dog that is genetically similar to the Leonberger.

So in conclusion, even though the expert advice regarding neutering and spaying is not crystal clear and varies, doing it at six months old is too early and can harm the Leonberger’s health.

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Finally, if you would like to learn about more about my book and find out where to buy it, click here or here. You can also click the image below to buy it from Amazon.com.

This is an image of the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
Categories
Book Reviews

Very Helpful Guide to Leonbergers, but DO NOT Neuter or Spay a Leonberger at Six Months Doing So Will Harm The Dog

On this blog I’ve previously reviewed six good Leonberger books:

I’ve also reviewed four Leonberger books that I don’t recommend:

With this post I am adding another Leonberger book that I recommend. It is a very good guide for new Leonberger owners with one caveat. It implies that you should neuter/spay your Leonberger at six months old, which would severely harm your dog if you did. The in general recommended six months does not apply to Leonbergers. Vannessa Richie did her research except regarding this. She has written many dog books, interviewed many Leonberger breeders, and she is a skilled author. However, it is obvious that she has never owned a Leonberger. Therefore, I am giving this otherwise great book four stars instead of five.

Photo of the front cover of the book the Complete Guide To Leonbergers by Vanessa Richie. Click on the image to go to the Amazon page for the book.
Front cover of the book the Complete Guide To Leonbergers by Vanessa Richie. Click on the image to go to the Amazon page for the book.

The book is The Complete Guide to Leonbergers: Selecting, Training, Feeding, Exercising, Socializing, and Loving Your New Leonberger Puppy Paperback – May 12, 2022 by Vanessa Richie. It is 195 pages, and the current price on Amazon for the paperback is $19.95, the hardback is $26.95, and the Kindle is $9.95. ISBN-13 978-1954288485, weight ‎12.5 ounces and the dimensions ‎are 6 x 0.44 x 9 inches.

This is my review for the book

Complete and Very Helpful Guide to Leonbergers, but DON’T Neuter/Spay a Leonberger at Six Months

As the title promises this book is indeed a complete guide to Leonbergers. It is focused on training and care. First the book examines whether a Leonberger is the right dog for you as well as the history of the breed. The rest of the book includes topics on how to find and prepare your home for a Leonberger, puppy training, socialization, exercise, grooming, nutrition, health, etc. The book has a lot of detail and a lot of useful information. The author clearly did her research. She interviewed ten breeders after all.

The content of the book is almost 100% correct as far as I can tell, and the information is very useful to Leonberger owners. I question the second page of the chapter on history where she claims that Essig bred his Leonbergers from two dogs, a white and black Newfoundland and a long-haired St. Bernard. Essig claimed a third dog was also involved, a Pyrenean Mountain Wolfhound or possibly a Pyrenean Mountain Dog (Great Pyrenees). However, Essig’s claims have been disputed, and this is not important.

The book design is very professionally done with various sorts of sidebars, highlighted headers, professional looking tables, dividers, little corner boxes with graphics for “helpful tips”, “fun facts”, “historical facts”, “Health Alerts”, pros-cons sidebars with graphics, and 62 black and white Leonberger photos. The author is not only a good writer, but she also knows a thing or two about book design.

I’ve read more than a dozen Leonberger books and this is among the best Leonberger books I’ve read. I wish this book had existed when we got our Leonberger. I should say that we did not do everything right, but we got a lot right, and he lived exceptionally long for a Leonberger, 13 years. If we have had this book, maybe he would have lived even longer. I should add that we donated his DNA to Leonberger health research (upon request).

The reason I am not giving this book five stars is because of a problematic blooper in the middle of page 30. It says “….the dog is spayed or neutered once it reaches maturity (typically six months)”. Leonbergers aren’t fully matured until the age of two and should not be neutered/spayed until then. If you spay/neuter a Leonberger much earlier (six months) you will harm the dog. Yes, they are different from most dogs. I should say that we did not wait two years, it was not practical, but we waited about one and half year, which is much better than six months. If the author removes the faulty parenthesis, I will change my rating to five stars and update this paragraph and the title of the review. Assuming the book is print on demand you can update so that future prints here on Amazon will be correct.

So, in conclusion, this is a great Leonberger book with a lot of useful information, and I highly recommend it to Leonberger owners and prospective owners, but the blooper on page 30 prevents me from giving a perfect rating at the moment.

Photo of the back cover of the book the Complete Guide To Leonbergers by Vanessa Richie
Back cover of the book the Complete Guide To Leonbergers by Vanessa Richie.

For more information on neutering and spaying a Leonberger click here

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Finally, if you would like to learn about more about my book and find out where to buy it, click here or here. You can also click the image below to buy it from Amazon.com.

Image showing front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Chapters Indigo location for the book.
Categories
Photos

Happy New Year from Velvy’s Leonbergers

Ira Van Order or Velvy TheLion, which is her nick name, is a multiple Leonberger owner, a prominent member of the Leonberger Club of America, a volunteer for the Leonberger Health Foundation International and she is the administrator of the Grey Muzzle Award that was awarded to our Bronco. I think all of you who have visited this blog multiple times or follow this blog or have read my book know about the Grey Muzzle Award. She allowed me to use her beautiful Happy New Year Leonberger photo in my blog post. Thank you Velvy.

Caspian (Obi’s nephew), Austin (Obi’s son), Delfi (our 10 yr old, living with lung cancer), Obi (now 7 and a veteran), Digory, and Rilian (Obi’s son). They all wish everyone a Very Happy New Year!! Photo by Velvy TheLion.

Update from Velvy regarding Digory: He is a miracle, Leo. Two years and 8 months ago he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma is a very aggressive type of bone cancer. He was five years old at the time and had an amputation and chemo. This will typically give them another year to live. Velvy does not know of any other Leonberger that has lived more than one year post amputation. He is still with us two years and 8 months later. Velvy believes that an experimental treatment using a vaccine that he received via a Yale study is what made the difference. Velvy calls Digory a beacon of hope.

Happy New Year to you all

Categories
Leonbergers

My Leonberger Blog Goals for 2023

I launched this Leonberger dog blog in March of 2022. The purpose of the blog was to promote my upcoming book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, stories and tips from thirteen years with a Leonberger” and to spread the word about Leonbergers, a rare but very special breed of dog. They are very large, friendly, unafraid but sensitive and loving, protective and strong, energetic and funny, especially when they are young.

Photo of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle at three months old.
Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle at three months old.

In addition, Bronco was a very special Leonberger. Purebred Leonbergers typically live 8-10 years, but Bronco lived almost 13 years. He was two weeks short of 13 when he died from heart failure. Therefore, he received an award for longevity from the Leonberger Health Foundation International and we donated his DNA for research. I can add that I donate all royalties from sales of my book to the Leonberger Health Foundation International. It is a great organization that has improved the health of Leonbergers and other giant dog breeds substantially.

Image showing Bronco’s Grey Muzzle Award presented by the Leonberger Health Foundation International. He received this award because he lived longer than 12 years.
Bronco’s Grey Muzzle Award presented by the Leonberger Health Foundation International. He received this award because he lived longer than 12 years.

My on-line friend Alex Diaz-Granados, who is an experienced blogger (see “A certain point of view”) helped me get started. He suggested that I use wordpress.com, and here we are. I can add that Alex and I have been on-line friends for a long time. It started with epinions.com, a review site that paid reviewers for writing reviews. I joined epinions.com in 2008. He had joined a few years before that. I focused on software, travel, books, computer hardware and electronics. He focused on books, film, travel, and I think on-line stores and a few more topics. He can fill me in. I can add that sometimes epinions.com paid pretty well, so after a while it became more than a hobby for me. It became a source of supplementary income. I joined twitter and Facebook in 2010 and he was already there, and we both eventually joined Instagram. Unfortunately, epinions.com went belly up in 2014.

In March of 2022 I invited friends and Facebook friends to visit and follow my blog if they wished to do so, and many did. I had some traffic and comments in the beginning but then it died down, and it didn’t seem like search engines picked up my blog. In July of 2022 I released my book in honor of Bronco’s birthday on July 3rd. In the beginning I sold many books, well for a Leonberger book anyway, and I also had more visitors to my blog, but after a while the activity on my blog as well as book sales died down.

Alex suggested that I visit, comment and like the posts of other bloggers and in August I started doing that using Alex’ blog as a starting point and now I was getting more visitors and a lot more comments and likes, and search engines started to pick up my blog a lot more. Lately I even had a couple of posts go sort of viral with thousands of visitors in a couple of days. Those unknown visitors tend not to leave comments (or likes) but other wordpress bloggers do. That was not the best part though. The best part was meeting other bloggers and authors on-line, reading their blogs, reading their books, typically great books. This was fun. Blog visits and book sales became secondary. Blogging is now a hobby.

Photo of Bronco in my wife Claudia’s lap.
Bronco in my wife Claudia’s lap.
Photo of Bronco a few weeks after his first heart failure heading towards the end of his life.
Bronco a few weeks after his first heart failure heading towards the end of his life.

So, what are my goals for my Leonberger blog in 2023?

  • Continue my Leonberger blog and keep promoting my book on the blog for at least six more months.
  • Virtual Book Blast For Natural Selection with Jacqui Murray on February 13 2023.
  • I still have a lot to learn more about wordpress.com. I don’t know how to do inline images, I don’t know how to store images for later use, I don’t know how to make those little icons, hearts and clover, etc., that people put in comments, I only know the basics of the 20/20 template, I don’t know other templates. I have a wordpress book that I am planning to read. I need to learn more.
  • I will read more books by authors I know online. Knowing an author and reading their book(s) is a completely different feeling compared to reading someone you’ve never talked to (I have a long TBR list).
  • Post 20-30 book reviews on my blog. I don’t post all my book reviews on my blog. Most of my book reviews are only for Amazon (or Goodreads). On my blog I just post reviews for Leonberger books and reviews for books by fellow bloggers that I love and want to promote.
  • I want to start a second blog that is about facts and insights that could have a high impact on someone’s worldview and yet may not be well known, understood, believed or are controversial, yet are fully backed by the expertise in that field. As someone who have studied modern physics, loves gapminder, and have read a ton of books on all kinds of topics, I’ve come across quite a few, and I have radically changed my view of the world several times. However, I am hoping for good suggestions from visitors so I can expand the collection. I can be in charge of the fact checking, at least to begin with.
Image showing the Leonberger breed standard from the Féderation Cynologique Internationale.
In case you are interested. This is an overview of the Leonberger breed standard from the Féderation Cynologique Internationale.

I wish you all a Happy New Year and a Great 2023!

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Finally, if you would like to learn about more about my book and find out where to buy it, click here or here. You can also click the image below to buy it from Amazon.

This image shows the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for the book.
Categories
Book Reviews

She and The Wolf

This blog is primarily about Leonbergers, especially our late Leonberger Bronco, or Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, which was his full name. I also review Leonberger books and sometimes I promote books that I love and this post is one of those. This time I am reviewing She & The Wolf: A Flash Fiction Collection Paperback – August 19, 2018 by Sara Kjeldsen. This paperback is 46 pages, ISBN 978-1719801263, item weight 2.88 ounces, dimensions 6 x 0.12 x 9 inches. You can buy it from Amazon, as a paperback or e-Book. The paperback version is currently $9.99 on Amazon. The Kindle version is $3.99 or free if you are part of Kindle Unlimited.

This book is a fascinating collection of historical fiction and fantasy short stories. I wrote a review on Amazon, which can be found here (Beautiful Stories That Will Stay With You), as well as on my social media.

This is a photo of the front cover of the book She & The Wolf by Sara Kljeldsen. Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for She & The Wolf.
Front cover of the book She & The Wolf by Sara Kljeldsen. Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for She & The Wolf.

Below I am posting my Amazon review for She & The Wolf a flash fiction collection.

Beautiful Stories That Will Stay With You

This book is a collection of 15 short stories mostly about women but also men living during dramatic times in the past, or more recently, as well as people and creatures living in imaginary worlds. The American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars are examples of historic settings in the book. She & the Wolf, the last story, is an example of an imaginary setting. The focus of the stories isn’t so much the time or the location, or even the events. The stories are about the emotions of the characters living through complicated and extreme experiences. The emotions are often dark, there’s depression, hostility, loss, tragedy, and death, but also hope, compassion and reconciliation (Pacific Ocean, 1814).

The stories are intriguing, poetic and above all beautiful. The characters are fascinating, and they are quite relatable despite their extreme situations. You really feel for them and with them. It’s a book that leaves you with feelings and thoughts about our existence. I highly recommend this unique collection of short stories.

Photo of the back cover of the book She and The Wolf by Sara Kjeldsen.
Back cover of the book She and The Wolf by Sara Kjeldsen.

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Finally, if you would like to learn about more about my book and find out where to buy it, click here or here. You can also click the image below to buy it from Amazon.

Image showing the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for the book.
Categories
Book Reviews

The Many Faces of Natural Selection, Big Dogs and Humans

This blog is primarily about Leonbergers and our late Leonberger Bronco as well as the book I wrote about him and his dog friends. However, sometimes I review other Leonberger books here as well as books that I love and want to promote. This time I am reviewing Natural Selection, the third and last  book in the Dawn of Humanity series – October 18, 2022, by Jacqui Murray. This paperback is 283 pages, 978-1942101628, item weight 1.09 pounds, dimensions 6 x 0.64 x 9 inches. You can buy it from Amazon, as a paperback or e-Book. The paperback version is currently $15.99 on Amazon. The Kindle version is $4.99 or free if you are part of Kindle Unlimited.

This book is truly great historical fiction, and it features a pre-historic canine called Ump who reminds me of our late Leonberger Bronco. So, I feel there is a special connection. Reading this book was a great joy. I wrote a review on Amazon, which can be found here (The Many Faces of Natural Selection), as well as on my social media.

Photo of the Front cover of the book Natural Selection, book 3 in the dawn of humanity trilogy by Jacqui Murray. Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for Natural Selection.
Front cover of the book Natural Selection, book 3 in the dawn of humanity trilogy by Jacqui Murray. Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for Natural Selection.

Below I am posting my Amazon review for Natural Selection.

The Many Faces of Natural Selection

The survival of the fittest is an important theme in this book. Keen senses, intelligence, strength, speed, cooperation, and health all help you survive, but as the sixth paragraph on page 240 clearly shows, so does empathy. Read what Vex says. Empathy and caring for others, is not a weakness, even in brutal and treacherous times. It encourages loyalty and cooperation that in turn create strong groups. Strong groups have a better chance of surviving and that is natural selection. Natural selection seems to be a cold and cruel process, and maybe it is, but it created humans with compassion and the ability to empathize and care for others.

The main character is a pre-historic homo habilis woman who lived 1.8 million years ago. She is brave, a great hunter, a healer (using various herbs), and she cares about others. She is the wonder woman of the early Paleolithic age. The premise of the story is that Lucy’s group of homo habilis is enslaved by a cruel but strong group of Homo Erectus, the man-who-preys. Lucy and a few others are able to flee and so begins their long and perilous journey through Africa. Along the way Lucy assembles a very diverse group around herself. However, it turns out that even though diversity can create challenges, especially with respect to communication, it also creates strength.

Other important characters include Xha, an initially cruel Homo Erectus leader whose character develop in interesting ways, and Ump, Lucy’s canine companion. Ump is a large pre-historic canine who is friendly, brave, and very protective of his group. Ump is able to communicate with the hominids using body language in a manner that is similar to how dogs do it today. Ump reminded me of my late Leonberger dog. He was smart, strong, had a keen sense of smell and hearing, he was fierce, yet compassionate, and loving and above all very protective. He saved the members of the group on several occasions, just like our Leonberger protected us and his fellow dogs on a number of occasions.

This book, like the previous two in the series, is filled with action-packed adventure and interesting subplots. You never know what is going to happen next and you have to find out. In other words, it is a real page turner. Without giving anything else away I can say that the book ends on a quite satisfying note but with some twists and turns that you may not expect.

I loved this book, just like I loved the previous two books in the series. It is enjoyable, fun, action packed, the stories are creative and fascinating, and the book is very well written. It is possible to read this book on its own, but I recommend reading the other two books first. Reading the entire series will give you a more complete sense of why the plots are evolving the way they do. I highly recommend this book as well as the whole series.

Photo of the back cover of the book Natural Selection, book 3 in the dawn of humanity trilogy by Jacqui Murray
Back cover of the book Natural Selection, book 3 in the dawn of humanity trilogy by Jacqui Murray

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Finally, if you would like to learn about more about my book and find out where to buy it, click here or here. You can also click the image below to buy it from Amazon.

Image of the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for the book.
Categories
Book Reviews

Short Leonberger Book Packed With Useful Information But With Some Inaccuracies

On this blog I’ve previously reviewed five good Leonberger books:

I’ve also reviewed four Leonberger books I don’t recommend:

With this post I am adding a sixth Leonberger book that I recommend. It is a very short book, but it contains a lot of useful information. It contained a few inaccuracies, so I am giving it four stars instead of five, but it is still a good book.

Photo of the front cover of the book Leonberger Dog by Lankford Marcus. Click on the book to go to the Amazon page for this book.
The book Leonberger Dog by Lankford Marcus. Click on the book to go to the Amazon page for this book.

The book is Leonberger Dog: A Large and Friendly Leonberger for Your Family: Leonberger Dog Breed Origin, Behavior, Trainability and Facts by Lankford Marcus. The book is 57 pages, and the current price on Amazon for the paperback is $6.99 and the Kindle is $2.99 unless you have kindle unlimited in which case it is free. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8463499851, weight ‏ : ‎ 3.53 ounces and the dimensions ‎are 6 x 0.15 x 9 inches.

This is my review for the book

Short Leonberger book packed with useful information but some inaccuracies

This is a short book. It has 55 pages of actual content. However, it is densely packed with information useful to Leonberger owners and those interested in getting one. The book is primarily addressing British readers, but it also mentions the Leonberger Club of America and give some advice specific to American prospective owners. It is quite useful to both American and European readers. The book feature 17 black and white photographs. I would have preferred the photos to be in color but that raises the printing cost, and some Leonberger books have no photos in them at all.

The book contains 11 chapters; Overview, History, Appearance, Temperament and Personality, Living Needs, Caring for a Leonberger, Feeding, Leonberger Health, Choosing a Leonberger Breeder, Average Cost to Keep for a Leonberger, How to identify a Leonberger. Almost all of the chapters were condensed but contained very useful information to Leonberger owners and prospective Leonberger owners. I especially cherished the “Temperament and Personality” and “Caring for a Leonberger” chapters. However, I had an issue with the two first chapters.

I would have given the book a five-star rating if it wasn’t for some incorrect information regarding the history of the breed. On page 4 it says that Heinrich Essig, the creator of the Leonberger breed, was the mayor of the town of Leonberg. Heinrich Essig was a prominent citizen of the town, and he was a successful businessman, farmer, innkeeper, horse and dog trader, large-dog enthusiast, dog breeder, and town councilman, but he was never the mayor of Leonberg.

On page 5 it says that after World War I there were only 5 Leonberger left alive. World War I was tough on the breed, but it was not quite that bad. After the war, Karl Stadelmann and Otto Josenhans, worked hard to save the breed, and they were able to find twenty-five Leonbergers whose owners were willing to cooperate in reestablishing the breed. Of these, only five were suitable for breeding. That’s where that info comes from. That’s a little different from saying that only five Leonbergers survived.

On page 6 it says that after World War II there were only 8 Leonbergers left. However, that is once again an exaggeration. However, there was indeed a “genetic bottleneck” of Leonbergers in the 1940s. This was largely because people repeatedly bred the dogs they thought were the best specimens in a misguided attempt to improve the breed. Scientific pedigree analyses demonstrate that the Leonberger has twenty-two founder animals, or animal ancestors unrelated to one another (ten males and twelve females). Again, a little bit different from “only 8 survived”. Another inaccuracy is that on page 2 the book state that the Leonberger have a tragically short lifespan of 6-8 years. First, all giant breeds have a very short lifespan and the lifespan of the Leonberger has improved partially due to the work of the Leonberger Health Foundation International. Today the Leonberger lifespan is 8-10 years. Ours lived almost 13 years (two weeks short of 13), so the Leonberger Health Foundation International wanted his DNA, which we provided.

This book is short, but it packs a lot of mostly accurate information that is truly useful to Leonberger owners. In that sense I think it is great. I wrote quite a bit about the few mistakes in this book, but I think it is important to point out inaccuracies. These inaccuracies frequently appear on-line and in other Leonberger books as well and they are not important to Leonberger owners. I feel I cannot give five stars considering these inaccuracies are in the book. However, I can still highly recommend this book to all readers interested in a short Leonberger book.

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Finally, if you would like to learn about more about my book and find out where to buy it, click here or here. You can also click the image below to buy it from a Canadian bookstore that I found out about today. It is called Chapters Indigo.

This is an image showing the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Chapters Indigo location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Chapters Indigo location for the book.
Categories
Leonbergers

The Leonberger Is a Rare Breed

The worldwide dog population is estimated to be 900 million, including 471 million dogs kept as pets, 200 million stray dogs. There are also village dogs, federal dogs and there are many millions of wild dogs such as wolves, coyotes, jackals, dholes, foxes (35 species). In the United States, 69 million households own at least one dog. There are at least 3 million Labradors around the world. The AKC currently recognizes 197 dog breeds. A close cousin of the Leonberger, the St. Bernard comes it as the 53rd most popular breed in the United States whilst the Leonberger comes in at place 102.

Below is an excerpt from my book

According to an estimate prepared by BioMed Central, there were around 30,000 Leonbergers in the world in 2020. See Anna Letko et al., “Genomic Diversity and Population Structure of the Leonberger Dog Breed,” Genetics Selection Evolution 52, no. 61 (October 2020)

There are around 3,300 Leonbergers in North America, 2,300 in the United States and 1,000 in Canada. The five countries with the most Leonbergers, in order, are France, with nearly 8,000; Germany, with more than 4,000; and Great Britain, the United States, and Sweden, with approximately 2,300 each. The country with the highest number of Leonbergers per capita is Finland, with nearly 2,000 Leonbergers among a population of 5.5 million people. (Information from the October 2018 LeoLetter).

In summary, the Leonberger is a rare breed. However, a few times in history the Leonberger was not just a rare breed but close to extinction.

Photo of a Leonberger pulling a cart with guns and ammunition
Leonberger pulling a cart with guns and ammunition

World War I was tough on the breed. Some Leonbergers were used to pull ammunition carts and small cannons during the conflict, and others were left to wander unattended. Often, these dogs starved to death. But after the war, two Leonberg businessmen, Karl Stadelmann and Otto Josenhans, worked hard to save the breed. They scoured the countryside looking for Leonbergers who were still alive. They were able to find twenty-five of them whose owners were willing to cooperate in reestablishing the breed. Of these, only five were suitable for breeding. None of the Leonberger clubs had survived, so they founded a new one in 1922 called Deutsche Club für Leonberger Hunde (DCLH), and Stadelmann created an updated version of Albert Kull’s breed standard.

I’ve read that World War II was even more devastating to the breed. Supposedly there were only eight Leonbergers left in the world after the end of the war, and all Leonbergers today are descendants of those eight surviving Leonbergers. That’s once again a fascinating and simple story that’s easy to remember and spread, but the truth is rarely simple.

The Leonberger, like so many other dog breeds, was devastated by World War II—kennels were destroyed; dogs were left unattended or used for food—but Leonbergers weren’t used in the war effort itself, and there were more than eight left afterward. However, there was indeed a “genetic bottleneck” of Leonbergers in the 1940s, meaning that the population was greatly reduced in size, limiting the genetic diversity of the species. This was largely because people repeatedly bred the dogs they thought were the best specimens in a misguided attempt to improve the breed. Of course, for breed (and species) health, you need diversity. Scientific pedigree analyses demonstrate that the Leonberger has twenty-two founder animals, or animal ancestors unrelated to one another (ten males and twelve females).

Photo of our Leonberger Bronco at 3 months old, in black and white
Our Bronco at 3 months old, in black and white
Photo of Leonberger in a snow covered forest
Leonberger in snow (purchased from shutterstock)
Our Bronco standing in a kiddie pool

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Finally, if you would like to learn about more about my book and find out where to buy it, click here or here. You can also click the image below to buy it from Amazon.com.

Image showing the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
Categories
Veterinary

Good News Regarding Cancer for Leonbergers and Other Dogs

Cancer is the most common killer of purebred dogs: in fact, nearly half of them die from some form of cancer. Overall, the most common form is skin cancer. In Leonbergers, bone cancer and hemangiosarcoma are the most common forms. As in humans, early detection can save or extend the life of your dog. Warning signs of cancer include:

  • weight loss,
  • bleeding or discharge from a body cavity,
  • bumps or lumps that keep growing,
  • persistent stiffness or lameness,
  • breathing difficulties,
  • bad breath or bodily odors,
  • difficulty with defecation or urination,
  • difficulty with eating or swallowing,
  • lesions that won’t heal,
  • sores that recur or won’t heal, and
  • loss of appetite

Naturally, not every one of these signs and symptoms is applicable to all types of cancer. The only sign of Bronco’s squamous cell carcinoma was a lesion that wouldn’t heal.

Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is an aggressive cancer of the blood vessels. It often appears as a mass in the spleen, liver, or heart but can also be found elsewhere. It is challenging to diagnose and equally difficult to treat. It is most common in golden retrievers, German shepherds, and Labrador retrievers but can occur in Leonbergers as well. In addition to genetic factors, certain toxins are associated with this cancer. Fortunately, there is a promising blood test (called the Shine On Study, or SOS) that identifies features of rare cells linked to this cancer and a novel drug therapy called eBAT (EGF bispecific ligand targeted angiotoxin). Both SOS and eBAT are still in the clinical-study phase at the time of this writing, but they offer hope for early detection and treatment.

Illustration showing Bronco our Leonberger running with a full leg cast. He just had a toe amputation.
Bronco’s cancer problem was Squamous cell carcinoma which luckily is not an aggressive cancer, but he needed toe amputations. He got this cancer once a year starting at the age of eight.
Photo of Rollo our mini-Australian Shepherd helping us change our Leonberger Bronco’s bandage after he had a toe amputation.
Rollo our mini-Australian Shepherd is helping us change Bronco’s bandage after he had a toe amputation.

Below is another piece of good news regarding cancer in dogs that a friend of ours alerted us to. I don’t know if it is related to the SOS study mentioned above. You can watch the video by clicking on it or by clicking here.

AKC video, a blood test that can detect cancer. It does not seem to work for me. Just click the link above.

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Finally, if you would like to learn about more about my book and find out where to buy it, click here or here. You can also click the image below to buy it from Amazon.com.

Image showing the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.