June 30, 2008

Hamster paper-shredder

Absolute genius. Have to get me one of these. The artist is Tom Ballhatchet — more photos on his site.

June 29, 2008

More extremely gentile breeds

From the 2006 original [which was "removed by Administrator" from its site]: "The following are breeds as they were documented by the clients on clinic registration forms."

Bull Massive----Bull Mastiff
Bull Mater----Bull Mastiff
Pet Bull----Pit Bull
Pick Bull----Pit Bull
Pip bull----Pit Bull
Pit Bowl----Pit Bull
Pul Bull-----Pit Bull
Put Bill----Pit Bull
Chow-Wow----Chow Chow
Puppy Chow----Chow Chow
Cracker Spano----Cocker Spaniel
Crocker Spaniard----Cocker Spaniel
Checo Sovakain Wolf----Czechoslovakian Wolf
Weener Boy----Dachshund
Hot Dog----Dachshund
Rod Guiler----Rottweiler
Dolmotion Mex----Dalmatian Mix
Girman Heaper----German Shepherd
Jurman Sheperd----German Shepherd
Shit Zoo----Shih Tzu
Lapso Upso----Lhasa Apsa
Lapsa apso----Lhasa Apsa
Lasa Opso----Lhasa Apsa
I think I'd like a Malibu. And a Dolmotion Mex.

Taipei and the pendulum

728 tons of earthquake protection in the world's tallest building. Photo by ~Wei~.

This is so. incredibly. cool.

That humungous ball above is a tuned mass damper in the skyscraper known as Taipei 101, which is like ten or fifteen miles high and so heavy that the entire eastern section of the Eurasian Plate is actually sinking under its weight — a geographic phenomenon first described in this 1974 research article.

But enough of the silly. The Taipei 101 damper is entirely real, and you can see it in action in this video taken when the waves of the great Sichuan earthquake [May 12, 2008] reached Taipei:

Dude. Big hat tips to BLDGBLOG and The Long Now Blog for this fascinating stuff.

June 28, 2008

Comedy Gold

Stop, KIROTV News, you're killin' me!

Such... amazing reportage deserves some sort of award — but before you read the KIROTV writeup, check out the police report:
Police released their incident report Wednesday about a pit bull bite at Lafayette Elementary School in West Seattle.

A 9-year-old girl was playing on the school's playground the morning of June 17 when the brown-and-white pit bull puppy "was playing with her shoelace and accidentally bit her left ankle," according to the report.

A man in a nearby work truck told the girl she probably shouldn't be playing with the pit bull, which scared the girl as it chased her towards the truck. The man kept the girl away from the dog until police arrived.


The pit bull puppy, which was not aggressive and [was] sitting on the playground when police arrived, was taken by a Seattle Animal Shelter officer, according to the report.

A Seattle fire engine responded to the playground to treat the girl, who had small mark and a couple scratches.
And now click on over to the KIROTV report on the same incident. Does that photo of the two heroes rock or what? It ROCKS, I'm telling you. The Onion would be proud.

Hat tip and a big ol' fist-bump to the Bad Rap Blog. Keep on keepin' it real, my homies!

They'll turn on you

Tragic story from Florida, where 74-year-old Lorraine May was killed by two dogs she'd raised from pups. Reporter Susan Jacobson of the Orlando Sentinel writes:
The animals, which May had owned since they were puppies, had a history of fighting with each other, Hutchinson said.

The relative said the 11-year-old female golden-retriever mix is named Sammy, and the 6-year-old male Australian-shepherd mix is called Seth.

They are being held in separate cages at Brevard County Animal Services and Enforcement in Melbourne while workers there conduct an investigation, said the services' Capt. Bob Brown. They could be euthanized as early as next week.

"This sounds extremely suspicious. A golden lab mix and an Australian shepherd mix? These are extremely gentile and loving dog breeds. I sure hope further investigation is done. This sounds like a murder and cover-up to me."

Several readers were flummoxed by the non-involvement of pit bulls "dangerous breeds," and commented to that effect: "Golder retrivers and labs are not aggressive animals. I don't get this." Snapped another, better-informed reader:
Lorraine was a wonderful person with family that cared deeply for her, and will be missed greatly. The cockerspanial was an old family pet and good dog who cowers at her own shadow. Her 47 year old troubled son who lived with her was the owner of the offending two mongrels. Breed be damned those dogs had a known history of aggression and the evidence is overwhelming. There is no conspiracy here so go back your grassy knolls, fake moon landings, and get over yourselves.
Over at KC Dog Blog, Brent makes a number of important points, and I'd like to quote one of them here:
Until we start talking about dog attacks as DOG issues, instead of breed specific issues, people will continue to ignore issues that put people's lives in danger. We MUST start talking about aggressive canine behavior as a canine issue, because it is.
Breed be damned.

NatGeo's "Animals Adrift"

National Geographic posted this memorable image by photographer Joe Raedle, who must have been in a boat. Check out the galleries [Animals Adrift (June, 2008); New Orleans People, Pets Flee Flood (August, 2005); California Fires Force Animal Evacuation (October 24, 2007)] here. From the link:
In recent days heavy rains and failed levees have fueled the worst Midwest flooding in 15 years, killing 24 people and claiming an unknown number of pets, livestock, and wildlife.
Over at Pet Connection, Christie posted links for those wishing to donate and/or volunteer to help flood victims. [Wise, if cynical, remark in the comments section: "I would caution everyone to employ the utmost skepticism about any individual’s or organization’s self-accounting of their own disaster heroics. Especially when done in the vicinity of a PayPal button."]

Edited to add: The Boston Globe online has a great new blog called The Big Picture: News Stories in Photographs. The editor is Alan Taylor, who has a keen eye for the indelible photo. You can check out some mind-boggling shots of the Midwest floods here.

Survivors - China

Quake victim: this dog is in the good hands of Chen Yunlian. Screen grab from the L.A. Times.

Chen Yunlian "has become to Chinese dogs what Mother Teresa was to the poor in India," according to Yahoo News:

For 11 years, the 60-year-old former businesswoman has been rescuing strays off the streets. She now cares for about 900 dogs and 100 cats in her own animal shelter built among rice paddies on the southern outskirts of Chengdu, in southwest China's Sichuan province. About 100 of the dogs were rescued from the quake zone, she said.

For a slide show of some of the dogs rescued by Chen Yunlian, visit Yahoo News, and check out the video here, at the L.A. Times site. [That little guy in the photo on the right is cute as a button.]

June 22, 2008

Witches' Brew

What's in the water?

Consider what the floodwaters swept up and deposited in Iowa's streets and yards and homes: factory farm waste, fuel, sewage, pesticides, God-knows-what deadly pathogens... "Officials recommended that anyone working or living in the flooded zone get shots for hepatitis and tetanus," reported the NY Times. Doug Hawker, an environmental specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, told the Times: “It’s bad. We honestly don’t know what all is in it, but it’s an absolute witches' brew.”

The disaster will be televised [and photographed]: see the Washington Post's gallery here.

As always, terrific reporting and commentary from The Ethicurean:

It goes pretty much without saying that there’s no way anyone could have predicted just how bad [the flooding] would be. But in recent years, we’ve become less and less able to predict flooding period, not just particularly extreme events. Why? In part because since September 11th, the Bush Administration has steadily cut funding to stream and river gauges, which measure the changes in flow patterns and water levels that signal a potential flood. Notably, it is doing the same for programs that monitor water quality.

Which means that when Iowans begin to ask what’s in their drinking water, it’s entirely possible that no government entity will be able to tell them.

If you’ve read my previous posts on Bush administration attempts to reduce public access to information about toxic substances in agriculture — from CAFO air pollution to pesticides — then the coming rant will sound familiar. Here we go: In addition to cutting funds to monitor stream flows, Bush has axed funding to the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program, which collects long-term data on groundwater quality and drinking water supplies. NAWQA had 496 water-quality monitoring sites in 2000. Now it has 113. The administration’s 2009 budget proposal cuts funding even further, and the U.S. Geological Survey, which implements the program, estimates that they’ll have to halt the collection of water quality data completely in 29 states as a result.

Also on the chopping block is the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, which Bush has been trying to eliminate for years. As it happens, this is the program charged with identifying and tracking data on water pollution from pesticides. Bush’s 2009 budget proposal zeros out the program. It’s convenient that the administration has also suspended the Ag Chemical Use Survey; since we won’t know which pesticides are being used on U.S. crops, nor how much, what’s the point in trying to track their presence in our water?

Go to The Ethicurean for the rest of this important article, and for some of the internet's best reporting on our food, where it comes from, and what we know about what's in it.

June 20, 2008

"German shepherd Congo euthanized after another attack"

Yeah, that Congo.

Here's the story from the Star-Ledger:
Congo the German shepherd attacked again -- this time a member of his owners' family in Princeton Township, according to a report in the Times of Trenton.

As a result, the local couple who fought a successful high-profile campaign to spare their beloved Congo from a death sentence after he mauled a landscaper on their property last year had Congo and three of their other dogs euthanized this morning after the dogs attacked a relative visiting their home Tuesday, authorities said.

The four dogs attacked 75-year-old Constance Ladd, the mother of one of the dogs' owners, Elizabeth James, police Detective Sgt. Ernie Silagyi said today.

Congo gained national attention last year as he faced a death sentence after mauling a landscaper on his owners' property.
From the Times of Trenton report:
Although police said it wasn't immediately clear what sparked the attack or which of the dogs owned by Guy James and his wife Elizabeth actually bit Ladd, the Princetons' Regional Health Officer David Henry said all four apparently inflicted bite wounds.

Despite the severity of the incident and the family's decision to euthanize the dogs, the victim's son-in-law, Guy James, strongly objected to its characterization by police as an attack by his dogs.

"I don't want people who were supportive of Congo (after last year's landscaper mauling) to think they were supporting a bad dog," Guy James said in an interview. He said Tuesday's unfortunate encounter between the dogs and his mother-in-law "wasn't an attack at all. It was dogs jumping."
The 75-year-old victim remains hospitalized. In-depth coverage here, in the Times.

Tasha Tudor, 1915 - 2008

Tasha Tudor, the author and illustrator of Corgiville Fair and many other favorite books, died Wednesday at her home in Vermont, surrounded by her family and friends. She was 92 years old.

Blogger Jenny Harris has some scans of an article on Tasha Tudor and her old-fashioned life in Vermont. You can see the scans here. Beautiful photos: click to make 'em bigger.

Is their a corgi person on earth who doesn't have at least one book or print by Tasha Tudor? [Not that one must be a corgi person to enjoy her work -- I treasure my dog-eared copy of The Secret Garden with her illustrations.] Here's artwork from one of the Corgiville books:

To read more about Tasha Tudor, visit Tasha Tudor and Family and Cellar Door Books. Her art brought happiness to many people's lives, and here in SoCal this morning, in as different a setting from her New England farm as anyone could imagine, tea will be made in a Corgiville mug. Safe journey, Tasha.

June 19, 2008

On the demise of a terrible bill

Thank you, thank you, thank you, State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, for driving a stake through the rotten heart of AB 1634, the so-called "Healthy Pets" Act. The name is dead and the bill is, too:
A completely revised AB1634, now co-authored by Senator Negrete McLeod, Chairman of the Local Government Committee, can be found here.

Under this version, there is no mandatory spay and neuter, except as a remedy for dogs about whom complaints, which cannot be barking dog complaints, have been made to animal control. Presumably this would include loose and roaming dogs but would be more inclusive. At the third complaint for dogs, the owner would be required to have the dog altered at his expense. Further the fines for complaints are increased. Many of us would agree that a dog that is constantly roaming the neighborhood is probably not owned by responsible dog owners.

At a minimum, Senator Negrete McLeod has removed the dangerous health effects of early spay and neuter.
The question has also been raised about whether the bill can be turned back into its former language. The answer to that is that with Negrete McLeod as a principal co-author that will not happen. [Source]
Contact information for the Local Government Committee can also be found at the CDOC site. More coverage: Pet Connection, Save Our Dogs, Capitol Weekly, and of course an announcement from Judy Mancuso.

AB 1634 may not have been the most pathologically dishonest campaign in the history of legislation, but it was certainly up there. Here is a link to posts I wrote about the bill.

Nathan Winograd, in an article opposing AB 1634, wrote:
Better to kill a bad bill, than to kill the dogs and cats its proponents are willing to sacrifice at the altar of punitive legislation, diverting scarce resources away from lifesaving programs, diverting attention from their own failures, and reaching the national limelight.
AB 1634 richly deserved its demise.

What follows is a post I wrote a year ago, an open letter of sorts to bill supporter Patt Morrison of the L.A. Times:

Patt, I've been a fan forever. You are a smart, brave, big-hearted woman, and I love you for looking out for lost and unloved dogs. But your take on AB 1634 was a huge disappointment.

Reporters are supposed to be demons for research and crusaders for truth, and that may be a joke for many but I never thought it would be a joke for you. You haven't read the bill, Patt. You don't know enough about dogs to understand why people like me oppose it, and you couldn't take the trouble to find out.

Pity, because if AB 1634 passes, the shelter situation is going to get a lot worse.

You rail about "all those backyard puppy mills churning out defective Dalmatians or border collies or whatever purse-sized dog happens to be hot. My vet took in an abandoned puppy-mill Chihuahua — Scooter, born without front legs because of overbreeding."

AB 1634 sanctions all that. Puppy mills get a free pass. Any chucklehead willing to jump through the hoops will be able breed his dog, and it doesn't have to be a temperamentally sound dog or even a particularly healthy one. (We know there won't be any hip dysplasia screening.) Inbreeding? No problem! And California pet stores will go right on selling misery puppies born by the hundreds of thousands in Midwest puppy mills.

This store just opened not far from me. Are you cool with that? AB 1634 is.

You wrote,
I'm one of those who cleans up your messes. Every dog I've rescued and found a home for is one you flicked aside like an empty Arrowhead bottle [...] I'm tired of cleaning up after you. California is tired too; its cities and counties have no room or money to keep all the homeless kittens and puppies, all the old dogs and cats you allow to overbreed or leave out on the street like an old refrigerator. And so they have to kill them.

Patt. This bill won't stop a single Californian from relinquishing a dog because "we're moving" or "he barks" or "I'm having a baby." And the mouth-breathing dropout who chains his poor pit bull bitch in the garage and breeds her on every heat is not an L.A. Times reader.

That dropout doesn't know AB 1634 exists. He doesn't license or vacccinate his dogs now, and he won't get them neutered if this bill passes. The dogs he produces --- pit bulls and pit bull mixes --- make up 80% or more of the dogs in some California shelters and the great majority of dogs euthanized in the state. Last year in L.A., 39% of the dogs euthanized were pit bulls or pit mixes. (Those rescue organizations you support? Not a pit bull in sight.)

Bay Area and OC rescues make regular runs to the Central Valley in search of non-pits for people to adopt back home. Some people like to say that 25% of the dogs in our shelters are purebreds, but what they don't say is that most of those purebreds are pit bulls.

Patt, I know all this because unlike the great majority of people wringing their hands over the plight of shelter animals, I have a pit bull. In fact, I have two --- both adopted from the local pound. I've supported pit bull rescue for twenty years.

AB 1634 won't make a single Californian adopt a pit bull. (Have you adopted one? Thousands of wonderful pit bulls need good homes.) AB 1634 will encourage -- no, it will mandate -- careless breeding. It will not make dogs healthier. It will not save the state a cent.

What AB1634 will do is sanction "just one litter;" force many law-abiding Californians to neuter their dogs before it is best for the animal; allow puppy mills and pet shops to flourish; and create such a burden of veterinary paperwork, criminal background checks, home inspections and record-keeping that our already overworked and underpaid ACOs will have no time left to play testicle police.

You write: "The objections to Levine's bill run from the selfish to the ridiculous."

Not if you've read the bill, Patt. Not if you've read the bill.

Take Your Dog to Work Day, Part II

Yep, Glenn Close. No Cruella jokes, please ;~) The snoozing pup is Jake, and the photo was taken in the Fetchdog conference room. One of a great many cool photos from the addictive [to me, anyway] site Where We Do What We Do.

Tomorrow is 'Take Your Dog to Work' Day

Or, as Laura Hicks of the L & M Ranch might say, "Life as we know it." I swiped the beautiful photo above from Laura's most excellent new blog. [Link is also in the sidebar]. Visit her site for lots of good photos and good reads about ranching with stockdogs. This is as perfect a day as any to recommend all the sites in the Border Collie Blogroll, not to mention Bill's blog and the Sheep Production Forum site.

"Apart from his work, there is not much to be said about the Border collie."

In addition to being a top hand with a dog, Laura is also a member of the Trials Committee organizing the 2008 USBCHA Sheepdog Finals in Sturgis, SD. The 2008 Finals website is the work of Pearse Ward, also a top hand. Those names may be familiar, even if you're not a border collie person. Here's a bit more about Laura. [Her Zac was the All-Around Stockdog Award winner at the 2007 National Finals.] And here is a photo of Pearse and his Riel.

I've already taken my dog to work (two of 'em) and would like to wish everyone with working dogs, as well as all of those who work with dogs, a very safe and happy TYDTW Day.

[The pullquote is by A. Croxton Smith, "Britain's leading canine authority," quoted by Tim Longton and Edward Hart in The Sheepdog: Its Work and Training, 1976.]

June 18, 2008

The lawless stream

Flood plain. More photos here.

Mind-boggling photographs in the news this week.
“This is a classic struggle,” said Jerry Enzler, the executive director of the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa. “Mark Twain said it way back: Ten thousand river commissions cannot tame that lawless stream.”
The photo below was taken by Lori Mehman of Orchard, Iowa. More about the image here.

Petition to ban Standard Poodles from dog park after puppy is killed

Hasn't killed anything — yet.

After her Maltese mix was knocked from her arms and mauled to death by a Standard Poodle at a popular Ohio dog park, owner Jane Gsellman is leading a drive to ban the large, athletic breed from the city of Stowe. "Those dogs should be muzzled in public," she said, "and poodle owners should be required to carry extra insurance and pay more for dog licenses. As terrible as it was to lose my puppy, what if the victim had been a child?"

I made that last part up. After her puppy's death, Jane Gsellman actually demanded a separate entrance to the small-dog side of the dog park. [As she points out, it's insane that a small dog had to be killed in order to get plans for the separate entrance in motion.] No word on what happened to the Standard Poodle or his owner. No breed-bashing at all.

Stow Parks and Recreation Director Nick Wren told the press:
"As seen on a daily basis at the dog park, many pet owners consider their dogs as integral members of the family. We understand that the loss of a pet is very devastating and we are very sorry for the owner's loss."
Not that you subhuman thugs with pit bulls have such feelings, which is why it's OK for us to take your dogs away and kill them. Good old Ohio.

Did I say something about a petition...? Yeah. [Good old California.]

June 17, 2008

Mom(s) of the Year

Good frikkin' grief, people — put the puppy in an x-pen with a chew toy. Or put him in the kitchen, or the bathroom, or the laundry room, or, gosh, I don't know, maybe in a dog crate. Oh, and there's this new invention called a 'crib'... you might want to check it out.

Mom A:
A 1-month-old [!!!!!!!] was attacked and seriously injured by a puppy while he slept with his mother Saturday.

The baby suffered “substantial damage” to his genitals while he lay in bed with his mother from an attack by the family’s 6-month-old Cairn terrier and poodle mix, police said.

The mother told police she went to bed with the child after returning from work about 6 a.m. and was awoken about 1 p.m. by her 5-year-old. When she awoke, she noticed the baby had been moved and his diaper was missing. She then saw he had blood on him and rushed him to St. Joseph Hospital, the report said.
Mom B:
A child is healing from severe dog bites Monday morning and family members are under investigation for how they responded to the attack.

Spokane Valley Police came to a home in the 2000 block of North Ely Sunday afternoon when neighbors informed SVPD that a one-year-old had been mauled by a young pit bull mix, but the child was not taken to the hospital for treatment.

According to an SVPD release, "Thinking she might be in trouble, the mother and a neighbor cleaned the estimated 100 puncture wounds at the home rather than seeking treatment from doctors."

The child had been sleeping with the eight-to-twelve week old puppy when he was attacked in the middle of the night Saturday and the mother found countless bites and blood staining her son's sheets.

The responding officer looked over the attack victim and found "numerous injuries to his ears, face and hands," according to the police department, with the worst of those injuries affecting his now swollen ears.
Honestly, I could beat my head on rocks. Never leave a child unattended with a dog. If the nation's news editors and politicians spent half as much time pounding this message home as they spend demonizing breeds and promoting BSL, a whole lot of kids would be spared a hell of a lot of trauma.

Ask Dr. Firefox!

Dear Dr. Firefox,
Really, you like the new Firefox???
I HATE it! :(((

I've had it running for under an hour and it's crashed twice on me; I hate the new look (so gray and imposing!); I hate the vertical scrollbar space that moves several lines down at a time instead of one when clicked; and I hate that there's no "new tab" icon in the upper left corner of the tabs anymore. And I've only been using it for an hour! I wish there was a way to go back, because I would NEVER have "upgraded" if I had had a chance to try it out first :(((

Miserable Firefox 3 User

Dear Miserable,

Dr. Firefox is here to help!

First, let's fix that gray, imposing awfulness. Head over to the Themes section of Firefox Add-ons and pick a new look. It'll take two seconds to install, and you can change the theme as often as you like. I'm using Phoenity Reborn at the moment, which is colorful and bright. [Foxkeh is another fave, and I hope it will be updated for FF3 soon. Do you like cats?]

Next, let's put a New Tab icon in the toolbar. Right-click somewhere above the browser window to open a toolbar menu box. Click on Customize, and you can drag the New Tab icon from the Customize window to the toolbar. There's a New Window icon, too, and a bunch more.

The jumpy vertical scrollbar and the crashing don't sound like Firefox 3 issues, but that only means I've never run across them in my experience or reading -- not on a healthy computer. You might try clicking on Tools, emptying the cache and rebooting... see whether that helps.

Finally, if you really and truly hate hate hate Firefox 3, you can go home again. If you were using Internet Explorer, for example, just close Firefox and select IE from your Start menu. And if you were perfectly happy with Firefox 2, click here to visit FileHippo, where you can select the Firefox release of your choice for download. [Link goes to Firefox]

Good luck, and let me know how things work out! Yours in tech --

Dr. Firefox

ETA: Are you using a Mac? Macs were gifted with a special release candidate of their very own last week, but the issues seem to have been resolved — click here to be sure you're downloading the real McCoy Foxfire 3.


OMG, it just doesn't get any better than this.


In other blogging news, I am using a new Firefox 3 feature to eviscerate all quotes from Associated Press.

June 16, 2008

Heatstroke can kill your dog

Carol of the most excellent Frogdog Blog has written the best article on heatstroke I've ever seen. Go. Read.

Smooshy-faced dogs — Frenchies, Bostons, pugs, bulldogs, Pekes and others -— are especially at risk of heatstroke, but I've seen a good border collie in top working condition keel over as well, at a trial in the baking-hot Central Valley. From Frogdogz:
You must realize that ambient air temperature is not the only factor to consider when deciding it’s it hot enough for your French Bulldog to be at risk. Think about walking across sand, or pavement, in the cool of the evening after a hot day, and how hot those surfaces remain. Your dog, being close to the ground, is absorbing all of that ground heat. Remember that dogs do not sweat, and can only cool themselves by panting, which is made more difficult in humid weather, or when they are a flat faced breed with a shorter airway system.

In short, never, ever assume that just because you think it isn’t ‘too hot’, your dog will agree. Your dog’s life depends on your being careful, and on your being prepared to deal with heat stroke if it happens.
The Frogdog post has informative links, vet comments and a list of items for a heatstroke safety/emergency kit.

This information is for ALL dogs. Flat-faced breeds are more at risk, but any dog can fall victim to heatstroke, even the soundest, best-conditioned dogs you can think of. [These are the days border collie owners work their dogs early in the morning, if possible, with frequent breaks for soaking in the water trough.] Heatstroke can kill. Thanks to Carol for a timely and potentially life-saving post.

Download Day! The launch of Firefox 3 is set for June 17, 2008!

OMG, the latest version of the best browser evah is finally here! Pledge now! Join the ecstatic multitude and help set a Guinness World Record!

Firefox really is faster [much], better and safer, and if you've never tried it, now is the time to switch to this most excellent browser. Downloading Firefox is a snap, and it's free. It won't mess up your computer, you'll still have all your Windows stuff, the new browser is easy to remove if you decide you hate it [you won't, I promise], and if Windows Internet Explorer has been your only browser to date, once you've tried Firefox you'll never, ever go back. Firefox for the win, people!

Download Day - SpanishDownload Day - German

Download Day - FrenchDownload Day - Italian

Download Day - JapaneseDownload Day - Polish

Download Day - PortugueseDownload Day - Russian
Download Day - ChineseDownload Day - Farsi

I love it. Firefox is available in dozens more languages, by the way. And so many cool buttons...! [Green or pink? Hmmm...]

Oh, and web pages will display properly. [Web standards and all that.] Folks using Safari and Opera — good on you. Internet Explorer users — try Firefox. You'll be so glad you did.

June 15, 2008

This just in [Sunday edition]

Dolittler has a preview of a hugely important JAVMA article. "The histories of 1,243,681 dogs were analyzed to determine risk factors for cruciate ligament deficiency and hip dysplasia," writes Dr. Patty Khuly, and check this out:
“Castrated males were significantly more likely than other dogs to have hip dysplasia, and castrated male and spayed female dogs were significantly more likely to have cranial cruciate ligament deficiency.”
Goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: the JAVMA report is the million-thousand-hundredth reason mandatory spay/neuter legislation, with all its creepy, fascist, nanny-state overtones, is terrible for dogs, and a nightmare for dog owners.

June 11, 2008

"Judging Web Site Author Sanity"

Remember Venn diagrams? Carol of Frogdog Blog has posted the most excellent one of all time. I LOL'ed. Check it out here. Comedy gold, Carol! [runs off to rinse eyes, make comment on Frogdog Blog]

Puppy airlift: Caribbean strays find homes in North America

It's a worthy, if somewhat controversial cause: according to an article in today's L.A. Times, "nearly 400 dogs have been relocated [to North America, where they're adopted or placed with rescue groups] in the last two years from the Turks and Caicos Islands alone."
In the Turks and Caicos, a popular celebrity playground east of Cuba, the airlift program evolved because stray dogs were jeopardizing the tiny nation's burgeoning tourism industry -- they were running in packs, fighting over scraps of food and frightening visitors. Many of the dogs were shot, and others were poisoned; few lived beyond the age of 3.
Rescuers call the strays "potcakes," and the pups are adorable — as you can see from the photo above from the Potcake Place website.

"Shelters don't have puppies. Or they only have pit bulls or mixed pit bull breeds."

To those who say the U.S. has enough strays without adding potcakes, [Potcake Place director Jane] Parker-Rauw replies that her group doesn't want to deny homes to American dogs: "We think all puppies deserve a home, including potcakes."

And, though shelters are crowded in many parts of the country, including Southern California, puppies are sometimes hard to find, experts say.

"It can be a win-win situation for puppies and for shelters in the U.S.," said Dena Fitzgerald, director of animal services for the American Humane Assn. in Denver. "Puppies are in great demand, and some spay/neuter programs here have been so successful that the shelters don't have puppies. Or they only have pit bulls or mixed pit bull breeds. People who visit the shelter with good intentions planning to adopt go away disappointed and never come back."
C'mon, people -- thug life is fun! [Ms. Fitzgerald can't be talking about Denver shelters, can she? Because everyone knows there are no pit bulls in Denver.]

I agree that all puppies deserve a home, and I don't much care whether you adopt a dog from a Central Valley shelter or a Caribbean island, as long as you love and care for him. Heck, if you're a Los Gatos venture capitalist, flying to the Caribbean might actually be less of a hassle than driving to the Kings County Shelter. [There are great dogs at that shelter, by the way. I pulled a wonderful little red Aussie from Kings Co. last year.] But I hope you'll check local pounds and shelters before jetting off to Turks and Caicos for your next pup. Every time I visit Today's Arthur, I see photos of SoCal shelter dogs I'd grab in a minute, if only I had the room...

Feline trouble

Both are from the director's YouTube site, with a new video due soon.

June 10, 2008

Tornado survivors: two very lucky dogs

He's all, "Enough with the Toto thing, already."

And check this out: another dog named Chance survived a tornado in Iowa. [If only the human victims could have been as lucky as these pups!] Here's the Rottie's story [check the link for a video]:
RICHTON PARK, Ill. (CBS) ― Chase certainly doesn't look like Toto from "The Wizard of Oz." He's a big rottweiler, not a little cairn terrier. But he certainly does a wonderful impression.

On Saturday, when a tornado swept through Richton Park, Illinois, Chase was hanging out the backyard of Sandra Holmes' house. That is, until the tornado picked him up and took him on the ride of his life.

"People started coming up and saying 'we saw your dog in flight,'" said Holmes, Chase's owner.

Neighbor Tatyiana Smith saw it.

"The dog was in the air, he was going around like he was pulled out of the ground," Smith said.

Luckily, Chase didn't get whisked away to the magical land of Oz. Instead, residents found him more than a block away in the woods, dazed and shocked, but alive.

"It's a miracle," Holmes said. "It's a blessing from God."

June 9, 2008

Our bad! It was a shepherd mix, not a pit bull

Poor kid — I suspect his parents should be hit over the head with a board. This is from the innermost pages of the Los Angeles Times:

Dog attack: An article in Thursday's California section about a 2-year-old boy attacked by his family's dog quoted authorities as saying that the dog was a pit bull. The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services said Friday that the animal that bit the toddler was a shepherd mix.
At least the Times bothered to print a correction.

"The Netherlands to lift 15-year ban on owning, breeding pit bulls"

Thanks to the most awesome Pia for this great news! Associated Press has the story:
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - *** government says *** will lift *** long-standing ban *** did not lead to *** decrease in bite incidents.

Agriculture Minister *** informed parliament *** . *** country will focus on *** local leashing laws *** owner education programs.
Hope it won't take Ontario, Canada and Denver, Colorado fifteen years to come to their senses. Great, great, great news. Thanks again to Pia for sending word.

Edited because word on the street is, AP is going after teh bloggerz.

June 7, 2008

That raccoon balloon

Regarding that little raccoon bobbing in the lower left hand corner of the blog: it's about a contest. Balloonacy bills itself as "the World's first internet balloon race," with competitors hopping, er, flying from one participating blog to another and earning miles based on the number of pages they visit. [All for the greater glory of Orange. May my Irish friends forgive me.] Nicky at the ever-cool Monster-Munch blog turned me on to the whole thing.

I'm madly in love with the idea for this contest: win things by visiting lots of new sites! I'm not a UK resident so I can't enter the contest proper, but I can at least add my blog to the map and visit some of the other web pages. Wouldn't a contest like this be a brilliant way to raise money for worthy causes? Someone bring Son of Balloonacy to the U.S., please.

Penguin poop. Also: blogging secrets revealed

Adélie penguin in nest decorated with popular "sunburst" pattern.

Lore Sjöberg of Wired presents his Secrets of the 7 Basic Blog Posts, at least five of which are too close for comfort. The 7 Basic Posts [see link for dead-on analysis] are:

1. Be upset!
2. Buy a thing!
3. Animals are cute!
4. People are dumb!
5. Something I like, only different!
6. Weird science!
7. Me, the blogger!

Add an extra category, Posts About Mine Own Blog, and I'd have to slit my wrists.

Pressures produced when penguins pooh first appeared in Polar Biology back in 2003. Therefore not timely, but my attempt at an end-run around the seven categories above. Besides, I like penguins: this is one of my favorite books. Yes, I'm twelve. Hat tip to TED's "eccentric genius multimillionaire" Nathan Myhrvold for discussing penguin poo in front of a paying audience. No wonder he's rich.

From the Polar Biology article:
Penguins spend most of their life in the water. An extended period ashore only occurs during breeding [...] Brooding penguins, in order to relieve themselves, do not leave their stony nest, but move to the edge of it, stand up, turn their back nest-outward, bend forward, lift their tail, and shoot. The expelled material hits the ground maximally 40±12 cm away from the bird and then leaves behind a whitish or pinkish streak that can end a few centimetres from the nest's periphery and may be up to 1 cm wide. The colour of the streak depends on whether the penguin had enjoyed a meal of fish (mostly white) or krill (pinkish).
See the photo at the top of this post? Those streaks radiating from the nest are penguin droppings. Looks petroglyph-y and creative.

As far as anyone knows, the penguins don't seem have any particular pattern in mind:

Whether the bird deliberately chooses the direction into which it decides to expel its faeces or whether this depends on the direction from which the wind blows at the time of evacuation are questions that need to be addressed on another expedition to Antarctica.
More cool bird poop facts:
In a process called urohydrosis, California Condors defecate on their legs to reduce their core body temperature. Storks and New World Vultures also display this behavior. The white uric acid coats the legs and protects vultures from harmful bacteria. The droppings produced by Turkey Vultures and other vultures can harm or kill trees and other vegetation. [See the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for more.]

Finally, a photo of a baby penguin mooning the photographer practicing his mad pooping skillz. He and his sibling are giggling hysterically and their mom is like, "Two more months. Two more months..."

The End.

June 4, 2008

Watch out for thug bloggers with pit bulls

From oneplusinfinity via swissmiss.


You can order this print here [if there are any left. I ordered mine back on May 23rd, yay me].

From Andrew Sullivan's most excellent blog:
A reader writes:

Tomorrow I will go to the African American cemetery outside of Chicago where my great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, and my mother and father are buried. And I will tell them that they were right -- that if we studied hard, worked hard, kept the faith, fought for justice, prayed, that this day would come.

And it has.

June 3, 2008

Haaaaaappy Birrrrrrthdaaaaaaaaaaay to you hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hooooo!

She's my sis, I can embarrass her all I want. Even by singing really, really badly. At the top of my lungs, at dark-thirty in the morning ;~) Love ya...!

That's beautiful Lily, my sister's pug [and Tad Cat's sibling]. Princess LilyPug likes to wear pretty things. She has a lavish and extensive wardrobe, unlike my poor sister, who must wear Keds and flour sacks in order to support Lily's couture habit. Lily's nails are now painted a beautiful hot pink, and Tad Cat is insanely jealous. Or not. [It's kind of hard to tell — he's a cat.]


"Banning dogs is not a solution"

Interview with Colette Pillonel, a veterinarian who previously worked for the Federal Veterinary Office of Switzerland. In this 2006 interview with Thomas Stephens of Swissinfo.org, Pillonel explains why she left the government's working group on dangerous dogs.

"I told the director of the Federal Veterinary Office that he would never have the courage to put on the list the dogs which are responsible for the most bites in Switzerland: German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds. They are currently not on the list."

On Friday Switzerland's veterinary authority recommended a total ban on keeping Pitbulls, as well as tighter restrictions on 13 other breeds.

The working group was set up after a young child was attacked and killed by Pitbulls in December.

Pillonel said she could not agree with the decision to target certain breeds, as all dogs could be dangerous under certain circumstances.

Pitbulls are not a recognised breed of dog and are bred from other types only for their aggressiveness, according to the veterinary office. Dogs that are crossbreeds from any of the 13 listed – including Pitbulls – will also be banned, under the proposals.

swissinfo: You recently left the government's official working group on dangerous dogs. Why did you do that?

Colette Pillonel: The measures were imposed on us. At the end of the meeting, which included the cantonal veterinary services, we were told that everybody had to agree that we needed to ban Pitbulls. It wasn't a consultation.

I said that if that was the summary of the discussion, I couldn't agree with it and that if they went ahead with that, I would officially leave the group.

I can understand certain measures that they want to take but I cannot support them for various reasons. The first is responsibility: if you make a list of dangerous breeds, you're saying that other breeds not on the list are not dangerous. Giving that signal to the public is a very big problem for me because every dog is dangerous. Every study on this topic says the same thing: every dog is dangerous. It's lying to the public, saying that you have to be afraid of these breeds.

Secondly, experiments in other countries including Britain and Germany that have tried to apply legislation with breed-specific measures have not come up with any results. So it's a lot of time, money, work and no results.

The third reason is that this legislation is not applicable because it is very difficult to say that this dog is from that breed. For example, Rottweilers are on the list but we have a lot of dogs that look like Rottweilers, such as the Beauceron [the French Shorthaired Shepherd]...

DNA testing could be the only way of proving a dog's breed, but I don't think they're considering this.

I also told the director of the Federal Veterinary Office that he would never have the courage to put on the list the dogs which are responsible for the most bites in Switzerland: German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds. They are currently not on the list.

swissinfo: To what extent is all this just a political knee-jerk reaction?

C.P.: For me, anything concerning a list of breeds is 150 per cent a political appeal to the masses, it is just a response to pressure from [the mass-circulation newspaper] Blick.

The problem is that because of these breeds that are banned or will need a licence, we will have no more resources to work with measures that work – and that's a big problem. At the meeting we fought for two hours about breeds! Not once did we discuss the real measures.

swissinfo: What measures do you mean?

C.P.: There are measures which we know are efficient because certain cantons, such as Neuchâtel, concentrate on the dogs that have been reported. If you see an incident or something wrong with a dog, you can call and there is an investigation into that dog.

Also in Neuchâtel they have a lot of prevention work with children and dog owners. These two methods of working have resulted in a 30 per cent drop in accidents.

Banning dogs is not a solution. We know it doesn't work and it's difficult to apply.

Apart from banning Pitbulls, the government wants to regulate 13 breeds: American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bullterrier, Bullterrier, Dobermann, Dogo Argentino, Dogo Canario, Fila Brasileiro, Rottweiler, Mastiff, Spanish Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Tosa and Cane Corso Italiano.

Authorisation will be needed, no crossbreeding will be allowed and the animals should be sterilised.

The changes should affect around 10,000 dogs.
Each year, around 13,000 people in Switzerland are bitten by a dog and need medical treatment.

A Swiss Federal Veterinary Office report looking into dog bites in 2002 found that 24% of victims were bitten by their own dog, 34% by a dog they knew and 42% by a dog unknown to them.

Related article: Senior vet hammers Pitbull ban

Pierre-François Gobat, president of the Association of Cantonal Veterinarians, believes the knee-jerk reaction by the government and politicians has no scientific basis and will not make people safer.

June 2, 2008

Dogs White People Like

"Never be caught blogging in public spaces without your trophy dog!" Photo and caption from C-Notes. In, irony of ironies, Ohio.

Try to imagine what you would do if a law were passed in your state outlawing the friendly, well-behaved dog you live with and love — an eight or nine year old dog that has never harmed or threatened to harm anyone in all the years he's been with you. A law, say, like this:
Sec. 955.111. (A) Beginning ninety days after the effective date of this section, no person shall own, keep, or harbor a dog that belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog.

(B) Not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, a person who owns, keeps, or harbors a pit bull dog on the effective date of this section shall surrender the dog to the dog warden. Not later than ten days after receiving the dog, the dog warden shall euthanize the dog.

(C)(1) Beginning ninety days after the effective date of this section, if an officer has probable cause to believe that a dog is a pit bull dog, the officer may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for a search warrant. The court shall issue a search warrant for the purposes requested if there is probable cause to believe that a dog is a pit bull dog.

(2) After obtaining a search warrant, an officer shall seize the pit bull dog and surrender the dog to the dog warden. Not later than ten days after receiving the dog, the dog warden shall euthanize the dog.
Don't waste time wondering how anyone, even a politician, could be so ignorant and unjust. Half-wits with ambition and a mean streak have been elected to office since forever. And don't waste time wondering which dogs will be labeled "pit bulls": a pit bull will be anything the dog warden says is a pit bull. You might ask yourself, though, how much longer we'll allow elected officials in the United States, in the 21st century, to display their contempt for law-abiding American citizens by writing legislation like Section 955.111.

"Look at the dogs that have been impounded, and the surnames of their owners... They aren't killing dogs from Cherry Creek. They pick on the easiest people to pick on."

Let's talk race and class for a minute. Because never, not in a million years, will the dog wardens and the police burst into homes in upper-middle-class/rich white neighborhoods and take good dogs from law-abiding families without all hell breaking loose.

And politicians know this.

Do they give a rat's patoot about dog bite prevention? Please. Politicians want to know one thing: what sort of people own pit bulls? Politicians know, or think they know, that pit bull owners are an unpopular element with little power and less money, and, for all the lip service politicians pay to public safety, money and influence are the things that matter. That, and news coverage.

So instead of addressing unemployment and poverty and crime and failing inner-city schools, politicians say to themselves, let's take the dogs away from those people. Because by God, if it saves just one child's life, as opposed to the lives we could save by addressing unemployment and poverty and crime and failing inner-city schools, not to mention banning swimming pools and handing out bicycle helmets, it's worth it, and why should we wait until those dogs turn on somebody? [Which they will — because they all have "bad days," a scientific term that means "Merritt Clifton doesn't know the first thing about dog behavior."]

Ignorance, prejudice and urban legend are bad grounds for legislation — and it turns out that pit bulls are an excellent litmus test. Legislators in favor of breed bans are incompetent, cruel and stupid.

And speaking of thugs, PETA has this to say about those of us who adopt pit bulls from the local pound:
But we must consider that nice families rarely come to a shelter to adopt pit bulls; almost without exception, those who want pit bulls are attracted to the "macho" image of the breed as a living weapon and seek to play up this image by putting the animals in heavy chains, taunting them into aggression, and leaving them outside in all weather extremes in order to "toughen" them. There is no denying that pit bulls are at a higher risk of suffering a horrible fate. [Jeff Haines - PETA Spokesman]
You see the weird thing that happened there? Jeff said "nice families," but it must have been some kind of glitch, because I'm positive he meant to say "white people." [As opposed to the thugs in that photo on the left. They're from Bad Rap.] Pit bull owners, as everyone knows, have names like Tupac McGangsta and Felony Illegalpants Martinez. They don't vote. They don't matter. We don't know them and we don't want to know them. They're not like us.

It's crazy that the pit bull's salvation may be riding on photos of happy middle-class white people with their pibbles, and crazy that I should fret, every time I send a letter to some idiot politician, that she'll glance at my name and shrug and say, "Mexican," and ignore everything I took the trouble to write: the facts, the science, all of it. Crazy that anyone, in 2008 for crissakes, should think that such horrifying laws do any good. It's just nuts.

Oh, and Jeff? You can't kill them all, Jeff, no matter how hard you try.

That PETA quote just slays me. "Nice families rarely come to a shelter to adopt pit bulls;" hence, "almost without exception," people with pit bulls are not nice. And since they are not nice, apparently they deserve to be treated badly. Badly, as in, their dogs should be taken from them and killed.

Breed-banning is one of those odd ways we pretend to be a progressive, equitable, compassionate society. We fill law-abiding citizens with anguish, and kill their good dogs.


The pullquote is from Bill Johnson's column in the Rocky Mountain News, Pit-bull ban may reveal unwarranted prejudice. Link.

June 1, 2008

Blog love

I am edgy, bold, informative, modern, unique and humorous. I am also a crappy, crappy photographer [weeps], but I hereby promise Pia that I will try to take dog and/or sheep photos every day to try to get better at it. Pia is the most excellent photographer of Just Another Dog Blog, home of Bella and Kate and some of the best dog photography on the web. Check out her photos...! I, on the other hand, can't even get a halfway decent snap of a rose unless there's zero wind and the light is good. [The rose is David Austin's Evelyn. Poor focus, blown-out whites, etc.]

Anyhow, it is now my pleasure to list several new-ish [to me], edgy, bold, informative, modern and unique dog blogs, with an emphasis this round on news, rescue, pibbles, and working sheepdogs.

Most excellent new-ish [to me] blogs:

The Border Collie Blogs. Link goes to my blog's right sidebar ;~) I'm so glad these folks are writing [and training and trialing]. Most are active stockdog handlers and stalwarts of the Border Collie Boards. Several are wonderful photographers, and all are terrific writers. Bloglandia is a better place because they are in it.


Today's Arthur. Great photos, spare and wonderful writing, a quiet sense of responsibility, super dedication to rescue — this blog just rules. [Also, no romping-at-the-rainbow-bridge crap, doG forgive me.] Arthur's person is one of the good ones. I love this blog.


Save the pit bull, save the world. Katie delivers terrific, heartfelt, super smart commentary on pit bulls and related topics: stupid people, scary BSL [but I repeat myself], puppy mill tykes that suffer for their breeders' sins, dog health, dogs in the news and the pit bulls she lives with and loves. An addictive, most excellent must-read.


Smartdogs' Weblog. Take a look at the tag cloud on this site and you'll find everything from circus to science, with ethics featured prominently in the middle. A great recipe for a blog, if you ask me. If you missed an important story or a new research article, chances are Janeen has written it up. She'd be very good to work dogs with, I suspect, and very good to join for drinks and discussion afterward.


Spotted Dog Farm. This blog was off-line for a bit, and I feared for the author. She's 1) working on a PhD related to dogfighting and 2) working as an animal control director at an unnamed location in the rural south. No rainbow bridges here, either, but much honesty about negligence and cruelty and heartache. There are a few victories to keep the broken-winged bird from dying outright, but suffering looms large. Things will change for the better -- we've seen that here -- but it won't happen in a day. [If anyone dares to complain that I should have posted a warning about "graphic" photos on the Spotted Dog Farm site, I shall spit ink. Forgive me for not keeping a Victorian fainting couch on my blog. It's 2008. Get a helmet.]