May 31, 2009

SB 250: As if California didn't have enough stupid shit to deal with right now

No, this isn't an artist's interpretation of SB 250. This is every sane person's interpretation of SB 250.

I'll cut to the chase: this giant inflatable poo rotten little mess of a mandatory spay/neuter bill could be voted on in the California State Senate as early as Monday, and yes, that's Monday, June 1. This week. Like, right now.

Here's a link to the Save Our Dogs site. Visit the link and then call and fax as if your dogs' lives depended on it, because they might just. Save Our Dogs has all the contact info you'll need.

If you have the time, you can check out my posts on the Dead Dog Act, AB 1634. Yes, the same chuckleheads are behind SB 250.

The when and if of spay neuter should be decided by pet owners and veterinarians, not politicians and dog killers. As Christie says, please act now.
The day I let a politician or animal control officer force me to perform a medical procedure on my dog or cat against my will be a cold day in hell. All my current pets are altered so it’s all hypothetical, but I would never, ever comply with this legislation. I find it profoundly offensive, and if you can find someone who loves animals more than I do, I have no idea who it is. [Christie Keith]

May 30, 2009

"Waffles grabbed a bee"

"Oh man! No more terrorist fist-bumps for Waffles..."

Truly, a priceless photograph and title [and comment]. From Wary Meyers, via the most excellent Hello Bauldoff.

Dunno about cats, but dogs can, and do, die from bee stings. A friend of mine has a corgi that's allergic to bee stings and goes into anaphylactic shock when stung — or would go into shock, if my friend didn't always keep an EpiPen® handy. If your cat or dog has reactions to bee stings, ask your vet about EpiPen®.

More info on bee stings and anaphylaxis:
Drs. Foster & Smith
Short-legged breeds - bee magnets?

"See? I TOLD you he was real!"

He Bigfoot. Now on Twitter. "Usually, him one does following, but now it is your turn."

[HT (for link and quotes): Boing Boing]

Stair Porn is back, OMG

Stairs. That is all. Mmmm... stairs...

Only squirrels for you, Smoky

Flatcoat Kaleb fetches dinner. Photo by Sara... on Flickr.

If there were a club around here like San Francisco's Bull Moose Hunting Society, I'd sign up in a heartbeat. Here's how they roll:

The Bull Moose Hunting Society, a hunting club and wild game cooperative based in San Francisco, connects “city folk eager to gain intimacy with the capture and slaughter of the animals they eat.” The society helps soft-fingered newbies through the hunting license process, advises on equipment purchases (including a rifle), and teaches how to track and shoot game, clean a carcass in the field, and butcher meat in the kitchen. Members don’t have to hunt to eat the wild game, either: modeled on systems of raw milk distribution, the Bull Moose meat share means that if members go out to hunt on the weekend (for which they pay extra), everyone else gets a cut of the kill. [Source: The Ethicurean.]
Hogs, we haz them here in California, and wild hogs are what the Bull Moose Society hunts. Also [as I've mentioned before]: there is no better locavore than a good hunter. From a great little essay in the NY Times:
[I]t might be better to relabel [game meat] as free-range, grass-fed, organic, locally produced, locally harvested, sustainable, native, low-stress, low-impact, humanely slaughtered meat. [Source]
Kudos to the SF Chronicle site for publishing the original article on the Bull Moose crew. Can't help but wonder what the comments will look like. No, seriously. Nothing like a whompin' economic downturn to make hunting for dinner a bit more, well, palatable.

I've always been OK with ethical hunting. When I was a kid one of my favorite authors was Ernest Thompson Seton, who wrote in one of his stories: "No wild animal dies of old age. Its life has soon or late a tragic end." And how tragic: eaten alive by predators; dead of starvation, or heat, or drowning or parasite infestation; killed by infection after an injury — no wild animal dies of old age. I think of this whenever I hear an animal-rights proponent say that "our goal is to end animal suffering."

No, it isn't.

I think the goal of animal rights extremists is to sever as completely as possible the relationship between people and nature: to take nature off our radar, so that when we visualize "animal suffering" we won't think of tarantula hawks or Battle at Kruger, we'll think only of puppy mills and factory farms. Puppy mills and factory farms are Very Bad Things, but no reason to look at nature and attempt to remove humans from the equation. I don't think it's a coincidence that the people most familiar with wilderness and wild animals tend not to be vegetarians. And many of the people who know and love nature best are hunters.

I should clarify that trophy hunting has always creeped me out. And idiots and drunks blasting away at anything that moves? Pass the barf bag. But note: factory farms damage the environment a bazillion times more than modern-day trophy hunters and fools with guns. And I hate when a dog-killing PETA type calls someone a murderer for shooting an elk each autumn to feed his family. I'll say it again: if you want "free-range, grass-fed, organic, locally produced, locally harvested, sustainable, native, low-stress, low-impact, humanely slaughtered meat," then you should think about hunting that meat for yourself, and respect those who already take the trouble.
Like all local product, it takes on a significance. You need to learn to cook it well because one of your friends got up on a cold cold morning and went out, shot this animal, then hauled it back to the truck on his own back (or in the case of Shannon, on her own back).

And so, you learn a new skill. You make a few mistakes, but you ask around, you get recipes from people, and a couple of years into it, the concept of making tacos from ground antelope instead of ground beef has become so ordinary that you’re startled when your friends back in that city you left are shocked that you’re cooking with game.[Source]
Say it with me: free-range, grass-fed, organic, locally produced, locally harvested, sustainable, native, low-stress, low-impact, humanely slaughtered meat.

Related posts:
Living Small in Montana: What’s in your freezer? [A fave from The Ethicurean]
Food safety posts from this blog

The following blogs include posts on hunting:
Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
NorCal Cazadora
The Hog Blog
Operation Delta Duck
Home Range
Regal Vizsla

I speak illegal alien

And I belong to la raza, just like all my relatives in... wait for it — U.S. law enforcement and the U.S. military! And education and entertainment and medicine, OMG, how scary is that. We're everywhere!

It's enough to scare Tom, G. Gordon, Rush and Newt right out of their wits.

What if a white man had said what SCOTUS nominee Maria, er, Sonia Sotomayor blah blah blah blah blah?

Get back to me on that after there have been latinas from hardscrabble backgrounds, and only latinas from hardscrabble backgrounds, on SCOTUS for... gee, I dunno, say the better part of two centuries. Sheesh.

In other news, Tom Goldstein of the most excellent SCOTUSblog has actually studied each and every one of Judge Sotomayor’s race-related cases. From his SCOTUSblog post:
In sum, in an eleven-year career on the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor has participated in roughly 100 panel decisions involving questions of race and has disagreed with her colleagues in those cases (a fair measure of whether she is an outlier) a total of 4 times. Only one case (Gant) in that entire eleven years actually involved the question whether race discrimination may have occurred. (In another case (Pappas) she dissented to favor a white bigot.) She particulated in two other panels rejecting district court rulings agreeing with race-based jury-selection claims. Given that record, it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking.
Read Goldstein's complete post here.

Next-to-last word goes to Peggy Noonan: "Republicans, let's play grown-up."

And last word to Matt Yglesias:
Conservatives ought to picture an anti-abortion, gun-owning, married, male, prosperous, Cuban-American small businessman living in the suburbs of Miami. Picture him reacting to the news of Sotomayor’s nomination. Perhaps he’s happy in some sense to contemplate a Latina on the bench, but perhaps not. Either way, the guy’s still a solid conservative. Now picture him listening to G. Gordon Liddy say “I understand that they found out today that Miss Sotomayor is a member of La Raza, which means in illegal alien, ‘the race.’” That’s not going to play well.

[Oh, and it's So-toe-m'YORE, Mark. Easy-peasy.]

A Sotomayor core dump
Sonia Sotomayor and Identity Formation
Losing the Crucial “White People With Spanish Last Names” Vote
They Can't Help Themselves

May 25, 2009

On behalf of a grateful nation

"In this April 28, 2009 photo, Joe Landaker poses at his home in Big Bear City, Calif., with a portrait of his son, Jared, a Marine helicopter pilot who died on his last mission in Iraq. Landaker is among more than 300 volunteers who honor veterans buried in Riverside National Cemetery by reading their names leading up to Memorial Day each year." (AP Photo by Chris Carlson, from The Big Picture.)

May 23, 2009

Piper, my sheepdog: June 9, 1994 - May 20, 2009

My oldest dog died in my arms at the vet's on Wednesday, after suffering a stroke. She was a few weeks shy of turning fifteen. I've made the other dogs all promise to live forever.

Piper was born here at home - born breech, if I remember right. Her dam had stepped out of the whelping box and when Piper made her entrance into the world, I caught her in my hands. She was smiling in the sac. I said, "You're mine," and that was that.

I've been trying to come up with a way to describe the difference between losing a companion dog and losing a working partner, and I'm afraid I'm not going to describe it very well. So many regrets, as Donald McCaig has written. Did I mention that I talk to my border collies in the same voice I use for people? I often use a mommy-wuvs-you voice with my other dogs, which may explain the situation in a nutshell, but anyhow.

Most of us love and have loved dogs that from a working standpoint are utterly useless, not that there's anything wrong with that. My first pit bull, for example, was great at doting on people and killing lizards. And that was pretty much the extent of his skill set, but I loved that dog more than any I've known, which is going some.

Sheepdogs, for me, are more complicated. They remind me of Remy in Ratatouille. [Edited to explain: Remy reads, knows the difference between a sous-chef and a chef de partie, and lives to cook. The other rats think he's weird.] Sheepdogs are thinkers, and the more they have to think about — the more problems they have to solve — the happier they are. Better still if physical activity is part of the mix. If work is love made visible, no creature alive has a greater heart than the border collie.

Piper was all heart and all try. She was a savvy, strong-eyed, plain-working dog, a journeyman of the best sort, and she never, ever gave a task less than 100%. She did her absolute best every. single. time. Did I deserve her? Not hardly. My efforts and abilities weren't in her league. Stock work is demanding and sometimes dangerous, but she never said, "Screw you, I quit. I'm tired of picking up the slack for you day after f*ing day, and I'm tired of picking up the pieces after your stupid mistakes. I'm outta here."

She never did that. When I messed up, which was often, she redoubled her efforts and made things right. She was so competent at the farm, so good at everything, that I took her for granted, and frequently mistook her talent for my own mad training skillz. I'll probably never have such a wonderful partner again.

At the end of the day she'd curl up in the kitchen, dusty coat, sore knees and all, and treat me as though a dish of kibble and a pat were the greatest gifts on earth. They give so much in return for so little, our sheepdogs.

I could drone on, but it would be better to leave you with a link to Bill Fosher's wonderful tribute to his sheepdog Molly, and a link to Mark Thompson's tribute to his Bodhi, from Setter Feathers & Quail Tales. Excerpt:
Bodhisattva is Sanskrit. A Bodhisattva does not seek “bodhi” (awakening or liberation from our worldly suffering) solely for himself (as a “yogi” does), but chiefly a Bodhi forgoes the path of enlightenment in order to assist in the freeing all other beings and aiding them into the bliss of Nirvana. This may be a bit metaphysical, but, in short, a Bodhisattva is a teacher. I always thought this a perfect name for a bird dog, as he should forgo his own desires, so that others may attain their own path to enlightenment. A Bodhisattva remains a humble teacher, among all other things, who forsakes his own learning (or path to greatness) in order to assist others in their path. True to his name, Bodhi did that, as well as having achieved his own enlightenment, which he occasionally gave us glimpse at having attained. In fact, I believe, he was enlightened from the beginning.

Piper was enlightened from the beginning. What a privilege it was to journey with her for the too-brief time we were together. That'll do, Pipe — good girl, good girl.

[For anyone interested, Piper was a granddaughter of the butcher's Mac, and on her dam's side went back to Glyn Jones' Bracken and Templeton's Roy. She was the daughter of my Bracken and Roger Schroeder's Don.]

Related post:
Vestibular disease

Memories of things to come

For my sis: as always, thanks for listening. Photo by Yannick Grandmont for The New York Times.

May 18, 2009

A quilt, and some links

A dog quilt - let me show you it. [Click for bigger.] Detail from a little display-type quilt I made a few years back, with crate-label copies on muslin. Cotton muslin, not the presidential kind. [He was brilliant at Notre Dame, wasn't he? Our Prez (mostly) rocks.]

If only I had a bit more time/more money, I'd build up an awesome collection of citrus crate labels with dogs on them. And I'd make more quilts.

Meanwhile, back on the intertubes:

Via Twitter, Maddie's Fund offers a link to a terrific pdf of a Powerpoint called Providing Care for Treatable Dogs and Cats. Sensible, helpful, inspiring guidelines covering everything from breed ID to... well, here's slide #2:
Our Ultimate Goal

*Increase number of adoptions, lives saved, and minimize length of stay
  • Intake procedures/plans
  • Provision of basic physical and mental health requirements
  • Re-assessment of medical/behavioral health
  • Treatment of existing medical and behavior problems
86 slides well worth reading, and the whole time I was saying to myself, thank God for our great local pound... I'm so spoiled by the local folks that news reports of shelter horrors elsewhere just baffle me.

As if shelter cruelties weren't bad enough in and of themselves, they're additional fodder for proponents of the "new vegan freedom narrative." Spotted Dog Farm over at Pit Bull Patriarchy is familiar with the ideology, and she's horrified:
It bothers me to think that the eventual goal of these abolitionists is that domestic animal populations and breeds would die out. Only animals that could survive in the wild would continue. And I don't know what would become of self-domesticating animals like dogs under this scenario. To think of dogs being cast out of human society is approaching the realm of the bad sci-fi novel. But stranger things have happened, are happening. Not that history is ever a justification, but we've evolved together for a long, long time. Who would we be without each other?


OMG, it's Smoky on the cover of Bay Woof! OK, not really, but a cute little doppelganger. Donna at the Bad Rap blog sez:
This is the 'Ejicate the Landlord' article I've been meaning to write but haven't gotten around to. Authored by attorney Elaine Lee, who specializes in landlord-tenant law among other things. In Bay Woof this month. Thank you Bay Woof!

While the Net is filled with great info for scoring pet friendly rentals, we really should be working just as hard to show landlords why responsible pet owners make some of the most mature, committed and long term residents.
Visit the Bad Rap blog for more about finding and managing dog-friendly rentals.


Last but not least, Dr. Sophia Yin reminds us that 1) it's Dog Bite Prevention Week, and 2) Experts Say Dominance-Based Dog Training Techniques Made Popular by Television Can Contribute to Dog Bites. She quotes Meghan Herron, DVM:
“Studies on canine aggression in the last decade have shown that canine aggression and other behavior problems are more frequently a result of fear (self-defense) or underlying anxiety problems. Aversive techniques can elicit an aggressive response in dogs because they can increase the fear and arousal in the dog, especially in those that are already defensive.”
The whole post - and much more - over at

About a bark

Smoky is just the coolest. Also, as Henry Chappell and friends might say, "He's got a mouth on 'im."

My next-door neighbor D was in his backyard one recent evening, talking on his Bluetooth thingy to a friend who lives maybe three-quarters of a mile away. And Smoke fires up at something or other out by the back fence and the friend says to D, "Man, that's a loud bark" and D says, "You can hear him over the phone?" and the friend says, "I can hear him from here."

*Is proud*

Good thing Smoke sleeps inside and is 1) often inside with me and 2) always inside when I'm not home.

He's keen and smart and friendly as ever. 50+ lb now. Doing well in his obedience class. At ease with my other dogs. Runs and roughhouses for hours with the landshark, who loves him.

Yep, I still think he's pretty much perfect.

May 17, 2009

Get your quake on

Since downgraded to a 4.7. Screengrab from Recent Earthquakes in California and Nevada, via the SCEDC. Click to embiggen.

"Employees of a Starbucks located at Hawthorne and Artesia Boulevards work to clean up broken glass that shattered on the floor and reportedly injured one person who was taken to a nearby hospital." Photo by Jay Clendenin for the Los Angeles Times.

This puppy was felt from Arizona to Baja: check out the shakemaps. Where I live the quake was so mild that if I'd been walking around I wouldn't have felt it. The gentle rolling here actually went on for a surprisingly long time, though, maybe 12 seconds or a bit more: a clue for us earthquake geeks that this quake was bigger somewhere.

No sooner had the rolling stopped than the phone rang. My most excellent cousin from Orange County wanted to know whether I'd felt the earthquake.

And here is the cool thing: she and her family had felt the quake a full minute before, and it was much stronger. More clues! It's all about the seismic waves, people. You can read about P waves and S waves and those scary Love waves here, and play with wave frequency and amplitude here.

From the LA Times:
An initial assessment by the Los Angeles Fire Department found "no major structural damage, no serious injuries," according to spokesman Brian Humphrey's Twitter feed. [Twitter feed, OMG. I am now following LAFD on Twitter.]

At the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lennox station, deputies said the shaking was brief but intense. "It was pretty strong but over in about 10 seconds," said Lt. Kent Wegener. [Wegener...! Father of plate tectonics! This is just scary.]
The earthquake was "a bit deep," said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough – originating 8.4 miles below the surface. "That tends to make it less sharp – less of a jerky, abrupt motion," Hough said. As a result, most of the region felt the quake largely as a rolling motion, though some closer to the center felt more of a jolt.

Lucy Jones, seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, said the earthquake appears to be consistent with a rupture on the Newport-Inglewood fault. (She said the quake was too small to break the surface, so they can't definitively identify faults.) Jones said this fault isn't typically thought to be capable of a large quake, like the San Andreas Fault. But it was responsible for the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, which measured about 6.3 in magnitude. The Long Beach quake is about as big as seismologists expect from this fault, she said.
Nothing about the quake or its aftershocks looked unusual, she said. "It's a real garden-variety California earthquake so far."
For the record, my dogs stood up when the rolling/shaking started, wandered around for a minute, got a drink, and then all lay down again and went back to sleep. Californians [affectionate eye roll].

May 6, 2009

Of cow parts and dog parts

Body part puzzler of the day: why is it cruel to dock cows' tails, but kind to cut out the reproductive organs of young puppies?

I'm talking about the mandatory surgical removal of a puppy's reproductive organs — and you better get it done by six months, sez California's SB 250, because the minute your pup is six months old the existence of his reproductive organs will transform your irresponsible self into a for-reals dog breeder who must pay the state higher licensing fees on account of all the unplanned-for and unwanted puppies you'll be dropping off at the pound, you heartless witch, you. [Apologies for posting the SB 250 link: it's mainly a mashup of AB 1634 materials brought to you, once again, by Judie "if you have an intact animal, you're part of the problem" Mancuso.]

I'm wondering about the irony of it all because I'm not convinced dairy cows need their tails more than a Rottie mix, say, needs his balls. Cows use their tails to swat flies, which is certainly important. A Rottie needs his [or her] reproductive organs until he [or she] is at least a year old, to ward off a greatly-increased risk of bone cancer. Very, very important. [Don't take my word for it: read the PubMed link.]

I'm wondering because over in enlightened Scandinavia, Norway's Welfare of Animals Act prohibits the spay/neuter of dogs "unless it is necessary from a medical point of view." Sweden's Animal Protection Act concurs: it's unethical to spay/neuter without medical cause.

So what's up with animal welfare in the US? How is it that being a "responsible" pet owner here in California might soon involve mandatory surgery on your pet rather than, you know, actual responsibility? What kind of state mandates removal of your dog's reproductive parts - then turns around and punishes people for cutting tails off cows?

"The ASPCA does not support local laws that mandate the sterilization of all cats and dogs."

I would love to ask State Senator Dean Florez about all this, since he opposes the docking of cow tails and is the author of SB 250 -- the "Pet Responsibility Act" -- but the senator is a very busy man. Seriously, a state senator has so many things on his plate that he needs aides and lobbyists to help him examine all of the issues in depth, or "in depth."
Jennifer Fearing, a lobbyist for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) [...] and her boss, HSUS president Wayne Pacelle, sat down with Florez in December to talk strategy.

"Twenty years of attempting to pass modest reforms on animal welfare have gotten us nowhere," Fearing said. "Does it really have to be this way? We posed that question to Senator Florez as someone who had really supported Prop. 2."

Senator Florez reads Michael Pollan and comes to his position as chair of the Senate Food and Ag Committee with a farmworker's perspective, and I think that's great. Such a perspective is badly needed.

But Senator Florez may not know that the HSUS leadership opposes animal agriculture. I suspect that when the ag industry reps worry about Florez, it's because they understand the HSUS goals and ideology better than he does.

And I'm not sure Senator Florez knows what it means to dog owners when HSUS CEO Pacelle tells author Ted Kerasote, "I don’t want to see another dog or cat born." When dog owners protest bills like Florez' SB 250, we are protesting, among other things, the involvement of lobbyists like Pacelle in decisions that should be left to individual dog owners and their veterinarians.

I'm opposed to the docking of cows' tails. I think it's terrific that Senator Florez has authored a bill to phase out the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in animals meant for human consumption. I, too, read Michael Pollan. And as the granddaughter of Mexican migrant workers, I'm glad that Florez [who, like my dad, grew up picking crops] has a voice in California's ag policy.

I also love dogs. I adopt dogs and train dogs and read about dogs and spend lots of money on dog care. I wish there were some way I could sit down with Senator Florez and explain why the AVMA, the CVMA, the ASPCA, No-Kill leader Nathan Winograd [pdf link] and countless other groups and individuals - responsible, caring, educated groups and individuals - are so opposed to mandatory spay/neuter.

Because no matter what Judy Mancuso and Wayne Pacelle say, MSN doesn't work. It hasn't worked anywhere, and it doesn't help animals. All the spin in the world won't change that.

Oh, and did I ever tell you about the Aussie that I pulled from the pound up in Hanford? She was wormy and her coat was falling out and no one wanted her, but she was quite wonderful and now she lives a fine life with a nice man in San Diego and by the way, she'd been spayed before she wound up at the pound. Perhaps by the same "responsible" owners who never came looking for her, if such a thing can be believed.

Then again, I'm just a border collie & pit bull person who favors late spay/neuter and shudders at the thought of politicians telling me what medical procedures must be performed on my dogs, so what do I know.

Now living the life of Riley - thank you for your help, SoCal Aussie Rescue!

Link to AVMA position statement on dog and cat population control. Excerpt:
The AVMA does not support regulations or legislation mandating spay/neuter of privately owned, non-shelter dogs and cats. Although spaying and neutering helps control dog and cat populations, mandatory approaches may contribute to pet owners avoiding licensing, rabies vaccination and veterinary care for their pets, and may have other unintended consequences.

Link to ASPCA position statement on mandatory spay/neuter laws. Excerpt:
To the knowledge of the ASPCA, the only method of population control that has demonstrated long-term efficacy in significantly reducing the number of animals entering animal shelters is the voluntary sterilization of owned pets (Clancy & Rowan 2003; FIREPAW, 2004; Secovich, 2003). There is also evidence that sterilizing very specific, at-risk sub-populations of companion animals such as feral cats and animals in shelters can also contribute to reductions in overpopulation (Zawistowski et al., 1998; Clancy & Rowan 2003; Levy et al., 2003; Lord et al., 2006; Natoli et al., 2006). In contrast, the ASPCA is not aware of any credible evidence demonstrating a statistically significant enhancement in the reduction of shelter intake or euthanasia as a result of the implementation of a mandatory spay/neuter law.

"Smack dab in the middle of lion country"

"Receptionist Emily Ransom, right, points to the injuries Hogie received after being attacked by a mountain lion [...] Hogie protected his owner, William Morse, while walking at Falcon Campground in Santa Ana Mountains, Calif. Tuesday. He was taken to Clinton Keith Veterinary Hospital in Wildomar, Calif. and received about 40 stitches." [Photo by Cheryl A. Guerrero for the Orange County Register.]

Hero to zero for Hogie, the lab mix injured by a mountain lion mere miles from my cousin's home in Orange County. OMG!

Original reports described a courageous dog defending his owners against an attacking lion, yay Hogie! Updates describe an [illegally] off-leash dog harassing wildlife in the Cleveland National Forest. Ruh roh. Bad owner - bad! From the O.C. Register:
State Fish and Game authorities called off the hunt for a mountain lion Tuesday night after a Wildomar man whose dog was injured by the lion revealed that the cat likely acted in self-defense.

“It doesn’t look like the lion was interested in the dog as a meal,” said Fish and Game Lt. Dan Sforza. “It was just defending itself. We have a policy to determine if this is a public safety threat and I am not classifying it as that.”

The incident happened around noon Tuesday. William and Candy Morse had been camping at El Cariso Campground. They went for a hike on a trail at Falcon Campground, next to Blue Jay Campground north of Ortega Highway. The campground was closed, but the couple hopped the chain. They were walking near the restroom area with their 5-year-old Queensland Heeler/Labrador mix Hoggie.

Morse, 41, was ahead of his wife when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a mountain lion crouching near the restroom, about 40 feet ahead.

Hoggie jumped between Morse and the mountain lion, which Morse estimated at double the dog’s size.

According to Sforza’s interpretation of Morse’s account, both animals seem to have spotted each other at the same time. The lion started to run off and Hoggie ran after it. Then, Sforza said, it appears the lion turned back and attacked the dog, grabbing him by his underbelly and ripping him open.
And from the Press Enterprise:
Biologist Kevin Brennan of the California Department Fish and Game, said Fish and Game officials are not searching today for the mountain lion, which was estimated to weigh about 100 pounds, because they do not consider the confrontation "a public safety situation."

"The dog had attacked the mountain lion," Brennan said today.

Brennan, though, added that "when mountain lions are a public safety threat, we have no choice but to destroy the offending animal."
Lucky Hogie is expected to recover from his injuries.

See also -
Mountain lion posts: let me show you them.

In related news, we have bears. [Image from FFFFOUND!]

May 5, 2009

Where avocados come from

They come from beautiful SoCal and the beautiful Central Coast, and just thinking about the Pauma Valley and good fresh guacamole [with cilantro!] makes me feel better [cough, sniffle].

Visit Avocado Central here to learn more about the best fruit ever. And how about a delicious avocado shake? Nectar of the gods, and good for what ails you, believe me. Just look at it...!

Cinco de Mayo 1 - swine flu 0. Aguacate and mescal recipe here.

May 3, 2009

Eject, Porkins!

Guess which city "introduced a broad series of public health measures to contain the flu within two days of the first reported cases"? More here.

From the swine flu H1N1/2009 front, here are several links that may prove of interest. The first is Swine flu: the overreaction overreaction, from the most excellent public health blog Effect Measure. Excerpt:
The irony is that the overreaction backlash will be more severe the more successful the public health measures are. If, for example, the virus peters out this spring because transmission was interrupted long enough for environmental conditions (whatever they are) to tip the balance against viral spread, CDC and local health officials will be accused of over reacting. It's another example of the adage, "When public health works, nothing happens." On the other hand, if local officials do nothing and things get worse, they will be accused of being slow.

It's not just the current reputation of local officials that concern me, however. If this virus does wane with the summer months (something we expect to happen), it's current mildness and its disappearance may lead citizens and decision makers back into the kind of reckless disregard of public health facts that has produced our current weak and brittle health infrastructure. But flu season will come again next fall, and it would be no scientific surprise if this strain is part of flu's repertoire.
And from the Orange Satan comes H1N1: Why Do Schools Close, And When Do They Open? Money quote:
[I]mplementation likely needs to be early enough to preclude the initial steep upslope in case numbers. That's the answer to "but there's only one case! Why are we doing this?" If you wait for "the steep upslope", it's too late to matter.
Meanwhile, to the north, come reports of the first pig cases:
There is much concern that pigs infected with this H1N1 might become infected with a dangerous influenza virus from fowl, like the H5N1 that causes avian influenza, leading to a dangerous superbug. But [Christopher] Olsen [a swine influenza researcher at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, Madison] says this is unlikely on large hog farms. "Most modern swine production facilities are single species. The days of a small farmer having pigs and fowl and other animals all mixing together is really unusual in terms of modern commercial swine. My opinion is modern swine facilities have better biosecurity than old-time farms."
I'd add some thoughts of my own, but I've been sick all weekend and am currently coughing up a lung, so maybe tomorrow or whenever. I'm not sick enough for it to be H1N1. I'm not sick enough for it to be H1N1. I'm not sick enough...

H5N1 - News and Resources about Avian and Swine Flu [H/T: Effect Measure]
The Swine. Influenza in Mexico City [H/T: H5N1]
Intersections [Daniel Hernandez in el D.F.]
Smithfield, you’re forked now: Photos of Granjas Carroll de Mexico pork factory are sickening, even with no flu connection [The Ethicurean]