Saturday, September 30, 2006

NARP - Secret bad deeds...

(NARP: non-animal related post.)

Republican Representative Mark Foley resigned after he was caught emailing and IMing teenage boys
...get this, Foley was chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus and had introduced legislation in July to protect children from exploitation by adults over the Internet.
Haha! What a feakin' arrogant hypocrite. Did he think he wouldn't get caught?
The National Republican Congressional Committee was alerted to Foley's nasty little habit months ago, yet did nothing.
Doesn't this remind you of the Catholic church covering up their priests' sexual abuse for decades? That is just evil. WWJD? Not sneak around and refuse to help confused priests and traumatised children, that's for sure.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 — In six terms representing a wealthy swath of southern Florida, Representative Mark Foley, a Republican, became well known for his ardent efforts to safeguard the young and vulnerable, leading the House caucus on missing and exploited children and championing laws against sexual predators.

On Friday, Mr. Foley resigned abruptly after being confronted with a series of sexually explicit Internet messages he is reported to have sent to under-age Congressional pages. He stands accused of being the very kind of predator he had denounced.

“I am deeply sorry,” Mr. Foley, 52, said in a three-sentence statement released by his office, “and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent.” The statement did not refer specifically to the Internet messages.

The first e-mail messages to one male page, sexually suggestive but not explicit, were reported by ABC News on Thursday. Mr. Foley, a member of the House Republican leadership, dismissed them as “overly friendly” but not inappropriate.

But by Friday, other pages had come forward with more blatant instant messages. “What ya wearing?” Mr. Foley wrote to one, according to the network. “Tshirt and shorts,” the teenager responded. “Love to slip them off of you,” Mr. Foley replied.

ABC News said it had read him other messages that were far more graphic. Within hours, Mr. Foley resigned in a one-sentence letter to Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida. He left the Capitol without answering questions.

Diana wrote an excellent post on people hiding behind masks. Do you think there's anyone without a secret, without something they keep hidden out of shame? Even a little tiny silly thing they've never told another soul?
Frank Warren has been soliciting anonymous, confessional postcards for a few years - in fact he has published a book of them. Many are poignant, funny, sad and some quite lovely. He posts them here.
Lifechurch TV invites people to post anonymous confessions on their site - by posting here you are guaranteed prayer support. It makes for entertaining and sometimes unsettling reading - I hope people who put their secrets out there feel better.

Here's one. Well, I have told people this; it's not really a secret, just something I don't think about often. When I was three years old, my parents told me cats always landed on their feet. No matter how high they fell from. So, I dropped the family cat out of a third story window (we lived in an apartment in Edinburgh at the time.) The poor cat was very badly hurt and had to be put to sleep. I remember being very upset and confused because, well, because I'd been lied to, I guess. I knew I'd done something wrong but really didn't understand why. I imagined the cat would fly down and land unharmed; I was a curious kid and just wanted to see.
Little kids take things literally - don't lie to them!
OK, that last was sort of hard to write and I almost deleted it. I don't think I've ever actually written it down before in my life and I realise I still feel very guilty about it, over four decades later.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Yum yum chicken fingers. How pretty. CHOMP.

Between work, dog classes thrice a week, having a house guest (The dogs are very happy to have Cheryl around, they love company!) and life in general, I've not been spending much time online lately. But it's Friday night, I have the house to myself and I am cuddling up to my computer this very minute! Any of you remember when not getting dressed up and going somewhere on Friday night meant you were a pathetic boring loser? Ha. My how times have changed.
Anyhow, my good friend Erica moved away to North Carolina and started a blog!
Go there to read the story behind the photo of her Briard Phlash holding a chicken foot with pretty painted toenails. Right before eating it up. Yummy!
(If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the painted nails on the chicken foot.)

She lived right in my neighborhood, was great about coming by and giving the dogs food, cuddles and potty breaks when I had to work a long day - she's one of Cooper's favourite humans. Both Rotties get major wiggle-butt going when they see her. She ran a doggie day care here but has moved on to a job that doesn't involve several pounds of dog poop per day. I miss our Thursday girls' nights!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Would you like fries with that?

Although I'm a bit uncomfortable with posting photographs of deformed animals for entertainment, I'm gonna do it anyhow. I was talking with someone about raising chickens for eggs and meat. When you behead a chicken, they often run about headless for a few mninutes - quite amusing for us children! Ha. Also amusing: by pulling the tendons on a chicken foot just so, you can make it give someone the finger.
Anyhow, I recalled Mike the Headless Chicken from Fruita, Colorado. Mike was destined for the soup pot but actually lived for 18 months with no head. He became quite the celebrity. His owners fed him by dropping food down his open gullet with tweezers.
The alternator in my truck went out in the middle of noplace, Utah, in 1999 while driving back from Mexico. (Driving through Mexico is fabulous fun, by the way but that's another story.) I was towed almost 90 miles to Fruita and spent a lovely (not) day there waiting for the alternator to be delivered by mule train. During this lovely (not) day I wandered around Fruita and saw the Mike Memorial.

Just for fun I looked for more photos of deformed chickens and found the four-winged chicken and the chicken-with-one-head-and-two-bodies.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Good deeds are easy.

I wrote about the wildlife rehabber lady a few days ago. For the longest time, I've been meaning to drop off some food or something - she works 24/7 at this with little help or money and I assure you she isn't wealthy. She told me they rarely drive their big old pickup truck because they can't afford the gas. She's federally licensed, I think through the DNR, and thus has to deal with a ton of bureaucratic bullshit like you wouldn't believe - in addition to providing care to all the critters in her care all day long.
While I was there, a couple stopped by with a female mourning dove that had got caught in the grille on their truck. Unfortunately she died shortly after their arrival. Carolyn also had two litters of kittens. One litter left in a box on her doorstep. Another litter some idiot had left on the side of the freeway! The police were kind enough to pick them up and bring them to her. Also she had a little bitty puppy that had been left almost dead on her doorstep when it was a few days old. The small back yard is a warren of enclosures and cages, with a little pond for waterfowl.
I was really impressed that she has three large dogs and several adult cats who do not kill any of the rescues. Because Carolyn tells them not to. She's better than me. I can't imagine having a house and yard filled with baby deer, racoons, birds, skwirls, groundhogs and such and trusting my crew!
Anyhow, I had a couple of cases of canned duck dog food that I bought at a remainder store and never used. I picked up several dozen cans of cat food too, and ran them over there. It was so not a big deal to do and I think I'll make it a regular thing. She lives in a little house about 15 minutes away, the food I brought over cost me about $20 (I spend that in 4 days on foo-foo coffee) and I know it was really appreciated. Plus, her back yard is really interesting.
If anyone reading this feels moved to do the same thing, go here, locate your local wildlife rehabber and donate a little something.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cute little toads.

I should look these up, don't know what kind they are - they were sunning themselves on the outside of a house I was painting today. One was up on a second story windowsill. How on earth did he get up there?
The other one was really tiny - compare it to the size of the screw in the blue shutter.

I think threecollie identified my critter. Thanks! You also told me what my house centipede was when I thought it was an interesting little space alien in my bathroom.
It is most likely a Gray Tree Frog - I thought it was a toad because the skin was fairly rough and warty. The little one is a male; the big one a female. Looking through various frog and toad sites, this is the closest match.

Poor Elvis! He had two teeth pulled.

Since Elvis was a stray who moved in I really don't know how old he is - vet figures anywhere from 4-7 years old. Anyhow, he had a ton of tartar on his teeth, they were nasty. Recently I noticed his breath smelled bad so I guessed he had a bad tooth, infected gums, or both.
Off to the vet for a dental and bloodwork (that was fine) and one tooth had a big cavity on the root & a canine was cracked and vulnerable to infection. I was astonished how big that canine looked - he's only a 10lb cat!
Poor dude, it's probably still hurts this morning. There are very few options for pain relief for cats - most pain meds are unsafe for them. He did get a pain shot before he came home but it's worn off now. He's been mostly crashed on the couch, but has eaten some canned food. Once he heals up, he'll be able to eat just as normally as before.

I wonder how many cats have painful mouths because of cavities and infections because people don't get dental care for them? I admit, it was something that never ocurred to me with past cats. I always figured if they appeared healthy and ate their food, they were fine. Cats often hide pain very well, though, and we'd never know they were hurting until it got very bad. Not to mention the bacterial overload from chronic infection can weaken the heart and other organs - in any animal or human for that matter.
From now on I will be more vigilant about kitty dental health!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Wild critter care

A little over a year ago I visited with a federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator. I wrote about it (at the time I was doing some regular reporting for a local news monthly magazine) and since I've been ignoring my blog, thought I'd repost it here.

She is an interesting woman, and someone I know a little through dog classes has also become a licensed rehabber. If I had a: time and b: did not have dogs who think most wild animals are food, it's something I'd consider too.
Here's a link to finding local rehabbers.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Is it just me, or is this creepy?

A company called LifeGem will take the ashes of you dearly departed and bake them into a piece of diamond jewelry.
You can send this company fur brushed from your pet and they will make you a piece of clothing you can wear in memory.

I know everyone deals with death in their own way, but my personal take on wearing a piece of a dead loved one is....ewww, creepy! It seems somehow primitive. I suppose death is primal and elemental and scary and many people get comfort out of having something tangible - hence headstones and graves and all the rest. Even when I was a little kid, I remember saying I wanted to be fed to something, used for research, something useful, after I died. Never could see the point of taking up space with graves.

I am imagining wearing a scarf made from Bosco's dead fur. That dog was intelligent, Mr Personality, loved to run and hike and swim and play and eat. He would have hated being wrapped around my neck or hung from a peg! How insulting.
Or wearing my father on my finger? He wasn't a jewelry type guy and I'm pretty sure would've thought the notion of such a business ridiculous and some sort of bizarre example of conspicuous consumerism. I can imagine looking at a shiny little expensive rock and being unable to relate that to the wonderful man he was.

For the record, most of the pets I've let go, as well as my father, were cremated but I have not kept any of the ashes because I think that is creepy too.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

No fairy wings. Sorry!

I promised several people I'd have photos of Cooper with his fairy wings and pearls on - dressed for the Ren Fest.
Well, it was a rainy, windy day so I decided not to dress him (or myself) up since everything was going to get wet & muddy.
Of course he carried our stuff in his doggie backpack, got petted 8,167 times and ate a ton of junk food. We also answered the question "what is he mixed with?" about 500 times.

He's checking out the petting zoo and I don't think his keen interest was benign. The kiddies would've gotten a demonstration of the tooth and bloody claw of the wild, if he'd had his way with the cute little goatlings.

Charles and Cheryl being dog wranglers. Charles is shirking his wrangling duties and staring with wistful intent at the bellydancer's hooters.

The falconer's falcons. (What did you expect, hamsters?)

I took about twenty photos of Manolete.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Tribute to Steve Irwin.

By now, everyone knows about Steve Irwin's death. Leigh-Anne over at the Blogpound wrote of a lot of negativity around Irwin, and I thought I'd post this article published yesterday in the New York Times.
It's the nicest tribute to his life that I have read.


Published: September 6, 2006
When I heard that Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, had been killed by a stingray in Australia on Monday, my heart went out to a friend, a 6-year-old boy named Sean who considered Mr. Irwin’s the definitive example of a life well lived.

It was a life of strenuous exertion, of mud and blood and the tireless pursuit of muscular creatures with jaws, claws and the ability to eat you up. My young friend concocts his version with crayons, Legos and pointed sticks, and acts it out in the fevered jungle of his imagination. Mr. Irwin went after actual creatures, including crocodiles, vipers and, tragically, the ray that pierced his chest.

They weren’t that different. Mr. Irwin, with the thick Aussie accent and khaki outfit that mean “explorer” in any language, tromped around subduing dangerous animals and spouting exclamations like “She’s a beauty!” and “Crikey!” He was 44 going on 6, and lived, like Sean, in a world of fun and excitement that seems a lot richer than most people’s.

It was easy to parody Mr. Irwin’s boisterous shtick, and many people did. It is easy, too, to shake our heads at the relentless peddling of nature as TV entertainment, and to lament that the only animals people ever bother thinking about are either fuzzy-cute or man-eating. It is all too obvious that Mr. Irwin was no biologist, that exploring the world on cable TV is a lot different from actually plunging into it, that wild animals really are dangerous, and blah blah blah.

But there are far worse ways to view the natural world than through the eyes of a young child, and Mr. Irwin offered a far more temperate version of the classic 6-year-old-boy approach, which is to confront a wild animal, marvel at its strength and ferocity, and then try to hit it with a rock. For Mr. Irwin, wild nature was something to wonder at, and he did so with an enthusiasm indistinguishable from love. Animals — even deadly ones — are good, poachers are evil, and, crikey, that’s pretty much it.

Call that simple-minded, call it dumb, but it resonates. Future environmentalists and conservationists have to come from somewhere, and if the energetic wonderment of the Crocodile Hunter has seeped into the brains of significant numbers of children — as it did that of Sean, who went trick-or-treating as Mr. Irwin last year, who turned 6 with a crocodile cake, who wears khaki and boots and fills notebooks with meticulous drawings of reptiles — then Mr. Irwin used his 44 years remarkably well.

Monday, September 04, 2006

On long coated dogs and recessive genes.

Every time I'm in public with this dog, I am just inundated with questions about him - sometimes I am tempted to hang a sign on him - FAQ!

Mostly people want to know what he's mixed with; the Rottweiler part is obvious but the long coat isn't. He has an absolutely classic, beautiful male Rottie head, great colour and heavy bone and almost perfect proportions (almost square, straight back, etc.)
The long coat is rare and comes from a recessive gene. Meaning, both parents carried the genetic DNA for long coats, although neither had the trait. He had one litter-sister with a long coat, though hers isn't nearly as heavy.
Currently there is no way to ifdentify the gene, so no way to know if a dog is a carrier. Cooper had contributed DNA (cheek swab) to a veterinary researcher at MSU vet school, who is studying this.
So, even in the most careful of breedings with health-tested, sound dogs, this can happen - as can elbow and hip dysplasia!
Both his parents are champions, both working and conformation. His sire is Evrmor's U R The One. He is a gold sire, meaning he's produced many champions, and the kennel name is quite well known - Rottweilers of that line show up at Westminster just about every year.
He is AKC registered but has a "limited" registration. This means he can compete in any AKC venue except conformation (long coat is a disqualifying fault) and no offspring would be eligible for registration. I had a contract with his breeder that he must be neutered by 24 months, though she wanted me to wait until he was at least a year old.
I didn't wait the full 24 months (wish I had) because he was developing terrible dominant aggression towards other dogs and was a complete butthead! Still is, actually. Don't let that fluffy face fool you.
He was born in New Mexico, and I got him in Denver (at 8 weeks old.) So I call him the Rocky Mountain Fleece Edition Rottweiler.
I just noticed - you really see how his front feet turn out in this photograph.

Bad elbows - the other dysplasia.

Most people know what hip dysplasia is, but elbow dysplasia is also quite common, although often asymptomatic. Many dogs compensate for the structural fault in the joints by developing good musculature. This is one reason it's really important to keep dogs (and people) lean and well exercised. In some dogs, ED can be crippling and without corrective surgery they probably should be put down if it's severe.
If you look at the photo above, you will see that Cooper's front feet turn out a little. He has elbow dysplasia - UAP in both, FCP in the left elbow. Slightly rotated feet are a common indicator of unsound elbows.
This is the most comprehensive and clear article I have ever found on ED.

Cooper started limping at about 9 months of age. The ED was diagnosed by my vet a couple of months later (at first we thought it was a sprain; ED can be tricky to detect.) We were referred to an ortho specialist, and finally to MSU vet school for further exams and to discuss surgery. Yikes!
Well, this whole process took several months, and by the time he was 14 months old the limping had all but stopped. ED doesn't "cure" itself - the joint will always be somewhat deformed - but many factors (including probably luck) can determine
He wasn't overweight, but I slimmed him down even more. Under all that fur he is really very lean and muscular.
He has been on glucosamine/chrondritin/MSM since the initial diagnosis. He also gets fish oil; among many benefits it's highly touted as being good for joint health.
He gets lots of exercise and I get him into water as much as possible.
Considering his speed and athleticism in agility, at 5 years and 9 months old, he is doing awfully well!

One other thing that may contribute, especially in male dogs:
Later neutering, or not neutering at all. Male hormones play a large part in development of strong bones and dogs neutered early (before long bone growth has stopped between 12-18 months old) may have significantly higher rates of bone cancer and joint problems. The down-side of early neutering is not generally discussed, of course because advocates are more concerned with stemming the tide of unwanted animals, and quite rightly so. However if I have any say in the matter, future dogs of mine will be neutered late, or not at all. Cooper was neutered at 17 months old, and the late neutering may well have played a role in the improvement.

Cooper says water exercise is just the best!!

Friday, September 01, 2006

NARP - The Ghetto Grocery Store.

I live in the ghetto, the inner city, the 'hood. Never a dull moment around here what with shootings and crack deals and the lovely hookers and barking pitbulls.
OK, so the local grocery store (affectionately known as the Ghetto Kroger) is kind of nasty, and I don't often stop there. The produce looks sad, there's whole aisles just for uber-generic canned goods and the store just isn't as shiny and clean as other Krogers. Twice I've bought half and half that despite being well within the "sell by" date, was rancid - maybe they cut costs by keeping the fridge temps a bit higher.
There's no deli or fresh bakery, no make-up or frippery-type items (they get pocketed too easily.) The wine and beer is kept in a locked cage. There is a security guard by the registers at all times.
You probably won't find fresh broccoli, but there's an entire aisle of cola type drinks, and this evening they had a whole display for Pimpjuice (I am Not Making This Up.)
Fat young women with black eyes and bruised legs yell swear words at broods of children, crack-skinny biker types and obese people in dirty spandex leggings or greasy jeans hobble through the store leaning heavy on the carts, nervous senior citizens clutch their purses and regular working folks shop; people aren't friendly around here. They're suspicious and self-protective. This is a far cry from the upscale suburban Kroger just a couple of miles away!
Anyhow, tonight I stopped in for a couple of staples. The lines are usually slow - understaffed registers and frequent issues with people overloading their Bridge cards. I amused myself reading about Angelina's new bump and who really killed Jon Benet while waiting for the mumbly guy ahead of me to finish up. As he went through the door into the parking lot, there was a brief and loud altercation between him & the security guard. Then the guard came back in, shrugged and said "He got the charcoal."
Turns out, Kroger employees are not allowed to stop shoplifters once they've gone through the door, for fear a shoplifter might get hurt somehow and sue the store. So, if someone makes it as far as the door, they get to keep whatever they lifted. This guy was apparently a repeat offender - he buys a few things, then snatches one of the big sacks of charcoal right by the exit doors and leaves.
I asked how often this happens - the cashier, the security guard and a manager all said - about every other person leaves the store with something they didn't pay for, but once they get to the doors, they are home free.
The employees also cannot deny even a known chronic shoplifter access to the store, in case they get sued for discrimination. (For what it's worth, this particular individual was a white guy.)
I have to assume this is common throughout the country. I guess who one gets angry at - shoplifters, welfare grifters, Kroger corporate policy, Republicans, Democrats, lawyers - depends on one's personal world view.