Monday, October 30, 2006

What wild animal is most likely to kill you?

Any guesses?
If you're in the Midwest, it's likely to be a deer. I'm in Michigan - we're the number two state for auto-deer collisions (PA is number one) and this time of year is awful for deer on the roads. They're running about eating as much as they can and forgetting to look both ways. Spring is almost as bad - they're both looking for food and mates!
Actually it's awful for many wild critters - roads can be littered with squirrels, possums, raccoons, ground hogs, even wild turkeys and geese. But deer cause about 150 deaths every year and who knows how many serious injuries and car wrecks...I know people who've wrecked cars by hiting deer, and knew a guy with a broken back from a car-deer wreck in Nebraska.
So anyways, be alert because the world needs more lerts, try not to run over Bambi.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Who does the vacuuming in Heaven?

I'm going to preface this by stating I respect others' faiths, no problem. I have faith in things like gravity keeping us stuck to the ground and most likely the sun will come up tomorrow, based on reasonable expectation of continued reliable performance of such things. I do not, however, have any certainty there is an afterlife or a Rainbow Bridge. I know these are very comforting concepts to many although I don't think it's very logical. In fact I reserve the right to poke fun at glurge like the Rainbow Bridge poem. You can read the text here.
The basic premise - when an animal that has some sort of connection with people dies, it goes to a sort of heaven, becomes well again, and frolics happily until their human also dies and comes comes to hang out with it in this heaven for eternity.
I guess wild animals, or feral domestic animals, just - what? Go to another place? Do they get made whole and get to frolic happily into eternity, or do they get shafted? This is not made clear.
What if the pet had two owners it liked very, very much? Will it just ignore the second one who gets there?
What if the pet loved its human, but the human doesn't want to be eternally together with said pet? I can think of several devoted pets I've had that I don't particularly want to meet again.
Come to that, some of us are going to have one hell of a crowd of animals hanging around us for all eternity.
Who vacuums up all that dog hair?
What if the first owner loved the pet very very much, but died and got to heaven first. Then, a second owner adopts the pet and loves it very very much. Then the pet dies. Does it go find the first owner, thus making eternity blissful for that person who has been waiting anxiously for the jooyful moment? Or does it gambol about with its own kind and wait for the second owner? Seems one way or another, at best eternity is going to get awfully complicated for many folks, or at worst will be a sad and lonely eternity.
Do tarantulas, fish and slugs count, if people cared for and loved them?
How would that work, really?
What if the owner loved the pet very very much and gave it a great life but was otherwise a horrible person who tortured and murdered people. Does that person go to the Rainbow Bridge Place, or do they go to another place thus leaving the pet waiting for eternity?
What if the loving owner dies pregnant. Then gets to the Rainbow Bridge Place where pet is waiting. Then gives birth to a psychopath who becomes one of those children who tortures animals?
Well, you get my point. I think this is a very tenuous fantasy, fraught with complications.
I believe what I have experienced over the last 48 years. People, plants and animals die. You never see or hear from them again because they are, well, dead. Then you die and nobody ever sees or hears from you because you are, well...dead.
The End.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Big dog porch.

Someone posted this link to my agility class mailing list. Go read the October Dog of the Month, it's really sweet and applies to any size dog.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Welcome to Pond Flintbegone.

Crazy week.
Going to see Garrison Keillor tonight - we're second row in front! Yeah!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Photos for my mom (Hi Mom.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I am cruel to my dog and someone is concerned.

Heh. Well, I am all for positive training, but I also will not lie to my dog. I don't believe in nagging or cajoling - I think it's better to make one big scary fear-for-your-life, unequivocal correction than to make tons of little wheedling ones a dog is largely going to ignore. Because, when I say something, I mean it - I'm not gonna lie! Dogs are incredibly honest creatures, we owe them the same courtesy.
I am talking about correcting a behaviour the dog knows is incorrect, of course - not scaring the crap out of your dog while teaching it something new.
So, Cooper is a real pig about other dogs. To make things really clear and easy for him, he is not allowed to interact with other dogs, at all, ever, when we're at class, or at a trial. No sniffing, no looking, nada. It's less confusing for him than saying, well this one looks friendly and your body language is OK - but don't look at that dog over there.
And, usually he is really good about this, even in crowds of dogs. If he and another dominant dog start keying off each other or posturing, a quick word from me gets his attention away.
Cooper does not like Boxers, haven't a clue why. In obedience class there's a nice, friendly Boxer and on Monday he stared at Coop - I told him to leave it, and he did. Five minutes later, Boxer stares at Coop again, who decides to do the idiot lungeing cussing dog thing when I wasn't paying attention.
So...he gets put on the ground very emphatically because he knows that was wrong! I held him down and impressed on him what a terrible and bad dog he was, until his eyes went soft and his ears went back.
For the rest of the class he was a model obedience dog, making a big point of NOT looking at the Boxer; instead looking at me as if saying "aren't I just the bestest dog here, look how well I'm doing!" He was quite proud of himself for doing the right thing. It's good for a dog to get a sense of self-satisfaction for a job well done, not merely working to please their human.
Apparently the Boxer's human was quite distressed by this - whether she thought I was too overbearing, or cruel, or was making my dog mean, I don't know. The trainer told me later...and Boxer Mom wasn't at the last class so I hope she didn't get scared away! I really do well with Cooper's bullying ways - I worked REALLY hard to get him to be a gentleman - otherwise he'd never get to play agility, obedience, go to the the Ren Fest or any of the other things he so loves.
I've been told plenty of times that people are relaxed around him with their dogs because I do stay on top of it. I've very rarely had to put him on the ground and shake his little head until his eyeballs rattle (not really) but it sure makes an impression. He is a confident and strong-minded dog who isn't going to get stressed by much. Mainly, he knows there are consequences for acting out and I will not lie.
I'm far from a perfect trainer and make mistakes and learn from every the time I'm 300 years old I might be pretty good...
Anyways Boxer Mom, I guarantee Coop won't do that again!

Friday, October 13, 2006

The LionDrover.

A wildlife park near Stirling, Scotland has provided their lions a device intended to trigger prey drive and enrich their lives - the lion drover.
It's a small remote controlled ATV, painted with zebra stripes and carrying a pile of zebra dung.

"The machine was the work of four students from Strathclyde University's department of design, manufacture and engineering management.

It will be tested with a number of lion prides, packs of wolves and African wild dogs around the UK, while a third LionDrover is currently under construction.

Gary Gilmourm, manager of Blair Drummond, said: "The LionDrover has in many ways brought the Serengeti to Stirling, which makes for a more authentic life for the lions and a more authentic experience for our visitors." "

I listened to an NPR interview with the park manager last night. The lions will lose interest after they've "killed" the LionDrover. They're fed right after they kill it, to further replicate the hunt experience. He said the stripes were painted on it for visual appeal; the lions don't care one way or another but park visitors preferred it painted.
That's got to be one tough little machine!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Milkweed bugs.

Milkweed bug nymphs
. I took all the photos at the same time, but one looks like it was dark out because I used the flash.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Skidboot the Dog

A great clip from the Hill Country Reporter taken from and uploaded here cause it is smaller and google rocks.

If y'all don't have tears in your eyes after watching this....

Monday, October 09, 2006

Fall colors.

My brother, my friend Charles and I took the dogs for a pretty walk along the Flint River Trail over the weekend. I was going to post photos of fall colors but everyone is doing that this time of year! I took these under the freeway overpass, so here's my city of Flint fall color photos. They look a bit like some Jackson Pollock paintings, in his early years.

New front deck and stray cats.

This is a photo of my new front deck; the guy did it last week. Big improvement!
And those are two of the stray cats I feed. The black one is one of two tomcats I can't tell apart; I think they are brothers. So, I call them the Black Brothers.
The other one I call Annie - check jackie sue's Sept 23 post about her new cat, also called Annie after Ann Richards. "My" Annie is short for Annoying. She has taken up residence around my house (well duh, I am putting out food) and comes running up meowing and weaving around my legs every time she sees me. Very sweet and talkative cat. Anyone want her?
According to some neighbor kids, her name is actually Sassy. She was a kitten and some people a block down had her, but put her outside when she got fleas. "Do they feed her?" I asked. No, they said, they used to but not any more. Poor little cat; she really wants to come inside and is very affectionate. I do not want another cat, though. I even put Revolution flea treatment on her. Talked to my vet - he says they often have people looking for cats, so I will get a good photo of her and put a flyer in his office. I'll even spring for spaying her.
The other two cats are all pretty wild and probably don't want to be owned.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It's a cake. No, really.

Yesterday was Larry's 69th birthday (yes, jokes were made - in a store full of guys you can't utter the words "sixty nine" without jokes being made) - he owns the paint store I use most often. Someone had made him a big-ass cake - spice cake with cream cheese frosting, very tasty. I had two pieces.
It reminded me of kitty-litter box cakes. I've never made or even seen one in real life. Which is fine by me actually, although it would probably taste good.
Here's the recipe. The photo above is courtesy of; there's a recipe there also.