Tuesday, September 16, 2014


When Mom was a little girl, one of her favorite books was Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell.  Mom's mom used to read it to her, and it was a book she liked to hear over and over.  The other most favorite books Mom liked to have read to her were Old Yeller, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and The Bobbsey Twins seriesAfter a while, Mom learned to read these books and more all by herself, which is good because if she went all the way through school and never learned to read, that would be very sad.

Anyway, not too long ago, Mom got the urge to read Black Beauty again, so she bought a copy of the book on CD.  The Year of the Horse seemed like a good time to reread this old favorite book, and now that I have done a little in-depth research on it, I will tell you about the book and its author.

First edition cover, 1877

Black Beauty was published in 1877 by Anna Sewell.  It was the only book she ever wrote.  She spent the last few years of her life writing it while her health got worse and worse.  She died on April 25, 1878, only five months after the publication of her book, but at least she got to see its early success.  Ms. Sewell died of either hepatitis or tuberculosis.  Her book went on to sell fifty million copies, which made it the sixth best-selling book in the English language.

Anna Sewell

Anna Sewell was born in Great Yarmouth, England.  She had one brother, who was an engineer in Europe.  At the age of 14, Anna fell while she was walking home from school in the rain.  She injured both of her ankles, and they never healed up properly.  So for the rest of her life, she had to walk with a crutch, and she could not walk far or stand for very long.  She began learning about horses, and they provided a good way for her to get around town.  Also, she drove her father to and from the train station every day so he could go to work.

This copy of the first edition of the book
was dedicated by the author to her
mother.  In June 2006, it was autioned off
at Christie's in London for £33,000.

Ms. Sewell's mother, Mary Wright Sewell, wrote best-selling children's books.  Anna helped edit these, and this was her introduction to writing.  Anna Sewell never married, even though she met lots of artists, writers, and philanthropists while she was visiting European spas.  She wrote Black Beauty between 1871 and 1877.  As her health got worse, she sometimes could barely get out of bed.  She wrote on little scraps of paper, and her mother copied these into a nice manuscript.  Local publishers, Jarrold & Sons, published the book when it was finished in 1877.

Beauty spent several years as a cab horse.
Life was hard for both the horses and the cabbies.
Black Beauty was not intended to be a children's book.  It was meant for people who drove and took care of horses.  It talked a lot about animal welfare and also about how to treat other people with kindness and respect.  The narrator of the book is Black Beauty himself, who tells his whole life story, which includes many different masters, grooms, and drivers.  He also does a lot of different types of work.  In each part of his life, Beauty talks about the good ways and the bad ways a horse can be treated.  He has some other horse friends that tell him their own experiences, such as when Captain talks about being a war horse.

One of the worst things for horses in harness was the "checkrein" (or "bearing rein"), which was a strap used to make the horse hold his head up really high.  This was supposed to make him look flashy, but it was very uncomfortable for the horse and could ruin his health.

Anna Sewell's house in Old Catton,
where she lived the last part of her life.

After reading the book, lots of people got angry about the conditions that horses were made to work in, and laws were passed to do things like ban the use of checkrein.  This happened in the U.S., too, where  two million copies of Black Beauty had been sold by 1879.

 Even today, people still recognize the impact the novel had.  The authors of The Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, Claudia Johnson and Vernon E. Johnson, called Black Beauty "the most influential anti-cruelty novel of all time."

I think it's a very good thing that Ms. Sewell wrote a story about a horse named Black Beauty.  Her book helped a lot of horses to have better lives, and I hope they are grateful!

Saturday, September 13, 2014


If I retired, I'm afraid I would be bored out of my tears.

I like my hot dog with cheese and onion and mustered.

Our phones were ringing off the lines.

A dog can sure burro into one's heart.

Some phrases seen in antique malls:

primitive plain

petrifide wood

chex pottery

chessy pizza

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


If you were paying attention at all back in April of 2007, you might have heard that NFL quarterback Michael Vick got busted for running a dog-fighting operation.  Dog-fighting is highly illegal, which it definitely should be, because it is cruel and horrible.  So Michael Vick had all his dogs taken away from him, and he ended up going to prison for a while.  A lot of stuff got written about the Michael Vick dogs, but I'm only going to talk about one of the dogs today.  If you want to read more, you can get a very good book called The Lost Dogs, by Jim Gorant.

Anyway, the pit bull I'm going to tell you about is named Audie.  At least, that's his name now.  He was only a puppy when he was rescued from the Bad Newz Kennels.  At first he was just called Chesapeake 54902.  He and the other dogs that came out of those bad conditions had to first spend five months isolated in shelters, so that they could be evidence against Michael Vick.

In the past, when dog-fighting rings were broken up, the dogs were put to sleep after they weren't needed as evidence anymore.  This was because people thought that pit bulls who were bred and trained to fight were all vicious, and that they could not ever be family pets.  But in the Michael Vick case, a bunch of rescue groups, including BAD RAP in San Francisco, asked to have the chance to prove that all the old beliefs about pit bulls were wrong.

So nine temperament-testers worked with the dogs to find out how they acted in a bunch of different circumstances.  In the end, only one of Bad Newz dogs had to be put down because of a bad temperament.  After several months of tests, seventeen dogs were allowed to leave the shelter with people from BAD RAP, who had driven all the way across the country to get them.  One of these dogs was Chesapeake 54902, who was now given the name "Dutch."

But the couple who fostered Dutch didn't like his name, so they changed it to "Audie," in honor of the World War II hero Audie Murphy.   Audie had an amazing amount of energy, and he was very much focused on people.  His foster parents realized that he might make a good agility dog.  They also knew of someone who was looking for a new dog to train for agility, Linda Chwistek.  And even though Audie was full of nerves and crazy energy when she first met him, Ms. Chwistek said, "I could tell, deep down inside, he just really wanted to please everybody.  I think inside he had a rock-solid temperament, and there were just some environmental things he had to go through.  He's really just an ordinary dog who came through an extraordinary situation."

Linda Chwistek and husband, Bill Cook


At first, Audie was afraid of everything.  He didn't know how to go up stairs.  He ate weird stuff such as cigarette butts, and he had to have surgery because he swallowed a sock.  Later, he needed surgery on both knees.  While he was healing up, his mom spent a lot of time with him, teaching him to sit and do some other basic commands.  When he could go out again, Ms. Chwistek would take Audie down to the waterfront, where people got on the ferry.  At first, he was very nervous to be around all those people, so they had to sit a long ways away.  But they gradually moved closer.  It took about two years before he got used to all the activity and started making friends with people.

Audie was also afraid of dogs he didn't know.  If he heard a dog barking, he couldn't tell if the dog was happy or if it was about to attack him.  When Augie went to agility training, the other dogs in the class had to hide at first while Audie took his turn.  But finally he got more comfortable being around other dogs and people.

After two years of training and getting Audie used to everything, Ms. Chwistek registered him in the AKC's Purebred Alternative Listing program as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.  Then they started competing.

Audie has now earned a bunch of agility awards, plus his first title in the new sport of nosework.  Also, he earned his Canine Good Citizen® award.  In the future, Ms. Chwistek hopes to compete in obedience with Audie and maybe also do therapy work with him.

A woman named Dorothy Hinshaw Patent published a kids' book in 2011 about Audie.  It's called Saving Audie:  A Pit Bull Puppy Gets a Second Chance.

Audie also has his own Facebook page, which is where I got the photos for this blog entry.  Anyway,  I guess you could say that Audie has really "arrived."  Who would have ever though he would have a life like this, knowing how he started out?

Saturday, September 6, 2014


When Mom used to work at Hallmark, she got paid to write poems.  But now she is not paid to write poems.  She is paid to stand around and guard the artwork in the museum.  This is important and exciting work, and you would not think a person would ever get bored doing it.  However, once in a great while, Mom does get a tiny bit bored, so to entertain herself, she writes a poem, just like she used to do in her old job.  But now, when she writes, she has to scribble with a pencil in a tiny notebook, while she is still standing up, guarding the artwork.

Anyway, Mom said it was okay for me to share a couple of her poems, and since I couldn't think of anything more interesting to write about, that's what I'm going to do.  This first poem is about a special exhibit of photographs called Across the Indian Country: Photographs by Alexander Gardner, 1867-68.  Mom had to guard the photographs in this exhibit yesterday, plus count how many people went in to see it.  So she wrote a poem about people who don't even take time to look at the exhibit.  Of course, some people spend a lot of time studying the photos, but Mom gets annoyed at the ones who don't.  Mom just doesn't understand that not everybody is a history buff like she is.

Across the Indian Country
Photographs by Alexander Gardner, 1867-68

What’s wrong with you, I want to say.
How can you just glance in,
then turn from this display  
of photos, made in 1868?

Can’t you appreciate the fragile
plates of glass, the heavy camera,
jolting cart, the photographer’s art
carried out in a primitive darkroom tent?

Are you not curious to see this history,
to view these long ago events?
The Indians and their tipis, the signing of
the so-called peace treaty?

How can you not take
even a single look
at history’s open book?

This other poem is about all the questions that people ask the security officers every day, which can sometimes be a lot of questions if it's a busy day.  Mom said the question people ask the very most often is where the restroom is.  Also they want to know if they can take photos.

Sometimes people ask Mom very strange questions.  Like for instance, yesterday a young woman asked Mom "Is this the building that blows up every night?"  Mom was shocked by this question until she realized that the woman really said "Is this the building that glows up every night?"  Mom had not ever heard the phrase "glows up."  She had only heard "lights up."  But anyway, the Bloch Building, where Mom was working yesterday, really was the one that glows at night because it has walls of translucent glass.


where is the restroom the gift
shop the restaurant the
elevator the monet
the van gogh the exit
the restroom the chinese
temple the caravaggio the
gift shop the great big buddha
the nearest restroom the stairs
the thomas hart bentons the
impressionists the rodin exhibit
the garage the knight on
the horse the mummy
the mummy the mummy
where is the mummy?

can we take pictures
are all these paintings
originals how did the artist
get that  texture which style
of baroque is this how do they
keep the silver from tarnishing
is that a real live mummy is
photography allowed what does
b.c.e. mean do you have
any more caravaggios
who decides which
pieces to display what type of
stone is this are those the
original frames do you
have any watercolors

don’t your feet get tired
after standing all day?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


On October 14, 1862, a bunch of men from Waukesha and Walworth Counties got together and formed the 28th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.  They joined up because of President Lincoln's second call for volunteers.  I couldn't find any explanation of why they didn't answer Mr. Lincoln's first call, so don't ask me why they didn't.  All I know is that during the summer of 1862 about 1,000 men got recruited to join up.

These men were divided into 10 companies, and their commander was Colonel James M. Lewis.  They spent 9 weeks training at Camp Washburn, near Milwaukee.  Then, on December 20, they got on the train and headed south to Arkansas, because that was where the action was.

One of the men who enlisted in this Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry as a private was named Peter Bodette.  He was born on January 30, 1819 in Lower Canada, which still belonged to Great Britain in those days.  His father was Elazar Salom Beaudet, and his mother was Marie Lafleur.  So as you can see, his ancestors were of French descent.  Probably, he changed the spelling of his name so that people of English descent could figure out how to pronounce it.

When Peter Bodette was 15 years old, he came to the U.S. and settled in Vermont.  He married a woman named Louise Mellette, but she died in 1846.  After that, he married a woman named Josephine Orcutt.  The Bodettes moved to Waukesha County, Wisconsin in 1857.  All together, Mr. Bodette fathered 15 children.  All but one of his children outlived him.  The one who didn't was his oldest, Peter Jr., who had joined the 8th Vermont Regiment.  He was killed only one week before his father joined up in Wisconsin, at age 43.

Peter Bodette
Nowadays, you would not even be accepted into the army if you were 43 years old, but during the Civil War, the military pretty much took anybody who could carry a gun.  And if he knew how to shoot it, that was even better!

Okay, so like I told you, the 28th Regiment of the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry got shipped to Arkansas to do some fighting at places like Helena, Montana Elba, and Mark's Mills.  When the soldiers were in Fort Bluff, Private Bodette found a little puppy.  He was black on his sides and back, and yellow underneath.  The pup soon grew up to be a fairly good-sized dog.  The men liked having a canine mascot around, so they fed him and took care of him.

One morning in the summer of 1864, Captain Thomas N. Stevens was riding past the barracks right at dawn.  The dog ran out and started barking, which spooked the captain's horse, and he was almost thrown off.  He was so mad that he pulled his pistol out and fired 3 shots at the dog.  Two of the shots hit him, but the men nursed their mascot back to health.  When Colonel Edmund B. Gray heard about the shooting incident, he named the dog Calamity, which everyone called him after that.  I couldn't find any information about what Calamity's original name was, even though I'm sure they must have called him something before he was Calamity.

One way that the dog was useful to the regiment was that he would go out with the men who were foraging for food.  The men were not allowed to shoot any hogs, but if they could kill them, they could have them to eat.  So Calamity would chase down a hog and then hold it by the ear until the men could come and kill it.  I don't know why the men weren't allowed to shoot the hogs, but maybe a gunshot would give away their position.  Of course, a hog being held by the ear by a dog would not be very quiet.  So maybe the foragers were trying to save ammunition.  I wish my sources would have explained this, but they didn't.

The Battle of Spanish Fort
After the 28th Wisconsin finished fighting in Arkansas, they were sent to Alabama, where they fought at a place called Spanish Fort.  This was a big siege that went on for over a week before the Union forces won.  Spanish Fort turned out to be the last major battle of the war.  On the first of June, 1865, the brigade was sent from Mobile, Alabama to Texas.  They mustered out at Brownsville on August 23, 1865.  All in all, the regiment lost 1 officer and 12 enlisted men who were killed in action or who later died of their wounds.  Six officers and 221 enlisted men died of disease.

Peter Bodette's fellow officers gave Calamity to him at the end of the war, and we have to assume he took the dog back to Wisconsin with him.  I wish I had some information about what happened to Calamity after that, but I don't.  What I do know is that the Bodette family moved to northwestern Wisconsin in the early 1870s, and Peter spent the rest of his life there.  He died at Boyceville on July 29th, 1897, of kidney disease and congestive heart failure, and he was buried in Downing Cemetery.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Okay, so here's what has been going on in La Casa de las Chihuahuas.  First of all, I would like to say that the weather has been way too hot, and I don't like that.  Mom told me that during some summers the weather gets even hotter, but in my opinion, it's already much hotter than it needs to be.

Next, I will tell you that Mom continues to feed us twice a day, which is a good thing, because that way we don't starve to death.  Marius and I are the biggest members of the pack because we weigh over six pounds each.  Tristan and Daphne are little shrimps who only weigh between five and six pounds.  I would be perfectly happy if Mom gave us more food, but she thinks fat chihuahuas are gross, so she wants us to stay in shape.

Marius has to wear a belly band to keep him from peeing in the house.  On the package, it's called a "male wrap," but we know what it really is.  It's like diapers or Depends.  If Marius wasn't all the time marking everything in the house, he wouldn't have to wear the thing.  Tristan also likes to mark stuff in the house, but he doesn't do it as much when Marius isn't doing it.  Mom wouldn't mind putting a belly band on Tristan, too, but she thinks he would growl at her and try to bite her, which is what he does when she just tries to put a sweater on him.

Several times a day, we go outside in the yard.  Daphne and I are pretty good about peeing in the yard, and sometimes we poop there, too.  Other times, we pee and poop in the house.  Sometimes we even use the pee pads, like we are supposed to.

I think I look pretty sitting in the green grass.
Maybe green is "my color"!

The boys also pee and poop in the yard UNLESS Henry is out in his yard nextdoor.  If he's out there, Tristan and Marius run over to the fence, and they all bark furiously at each other.  This is called "fence fighting," even though they are not really fighting with the fence.  Marius particularly likes fence fighting, so he will sit outside on the patio or by the fence for a long time, just waiting for Henry to come out of his house.  Then Mom has to go out and carry him inside.  Anyway, when the boys are busy fence fighting with Henry, they forget to pee and poop, so they have to do it after they come inside.

Daphne is starting to feel right at home here now.  She plays with Tristan and Marius, and with me if I decide I'm in a playful mood.  She goes out in the yard, which she was too scared to do the first week she was here.  Unfortunately, Daphne has also started barking at the cats, especially Latifa and Anderson.  Sometimes she even chases Latifa.  Mom hates it when Daphne does this because Mom thought she had finally found a nice, quiet girl like me who would not bother the cats.    Which just goes to show that you never know what you're going to get when you adopt a dog.

Oh, and we found out there is a name for dogs that are chihuahua-dachshund mixes.  They are called "chiweenies."  So maybe that's what Daphe is, but we won't know for sure unless we get a DNA test done.

So that's pretty much all the exciting news about us dogs.  Now I will tell you about the cats.  When it's hot weather, the cats like to lie around a lot and not do much.  Latifa sits on top the refrigerator sometimes.  She looks like a little panther getting ready to pounce.  But what she's really doing is checking out the food that Mom is fixing down below on the counter.

Anderson likes to hang out on top the fridge, too, but he doesn't look like a panther.  He looks more like a piece of Spanish moss drooping down out of a tree.

Our poor little Jason has a bad ear infection.  Mom took him to the vet's office yesterday, and Dr. Vodraska looked in his ears and then made a slide out of ear gunk to look at under the microscope.  It turned out that Jason has two different kinds of bacteria, and they are making his ears all itchy and smelly.  Mom thought he had a yeast infection, but she was wrong.  Anyway, now Jason has to take Prednisone to keep from itching so much, and Clavamox to kill off the bacteria.

This is Jason's left ear.  It's worse than his right ear,
but the right one is also infected.

Okay, well that's all of the most urgent news.  The only other thing of importance is that last week when she was assigned to work in Coat Check at the gallery, Mom was sharpening pencils, and she was shocked to learn that she had been spelling "ornge" wrong all these years.  Hahahaha!

Sunday, August 24, 2014


A long time ago, in 1789, a horse named Figure was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts.  He turned out to be the founding sire of the Morgan horse breed.  The way this happened was that in 1792, Figure was given to a man named Justin Morgan to pay a debt.  After a while, Figure got to be known as "the Justin Morgan horse," and the breed of horses that came from him were called Morgans.

Photo:  Ken Martin
No one knows exactly who the parents of Figure were, even though a lot of people have tried to trace his history.  One of his parents may have been a thoroughbred, but as I said, nobody knows for sure.  Anyway, we think that Figure was about 14 hands (56 inches) tall, and that he weighed around 1,000 pounds.  He was a good-looking, athletic horse with a fine temperament, and he passed these qualities on to the horses he sired.  Sadly, Figure was kicked by another horse in 1821 and later died of his injuries.  He was buried in Tunbridge, Vermont.


Black Hawk, who was sired by Figure in 1849, was used as a foundation sire for the Standardbred, American Saddlebred, and Tennessee Walking Horse breeds.  He was known for his unbeaten harness racing record.  One of Black Hawk's colts, Ethan Allen, was born in 1849 and was also very fast in trotting races.  He went on to be another important sire in the Morgan breed.

Photo by Dave and Andy

The main uses of Morgans in the 19th century were for pulling coaches and for harness racing.  They were also good for general riding and for light driving.  During the California Gold Rush, miners often used Morgan horses, and they were the horse of choice for the U.S. Cavalry during the Civil War and afterwards.


In 1907, the USDA established the U.S. Morgan Horse Farm in Middlebury, Vermont.  The reason they did this was so that the breed could be carried on and improved.  Later, the farm was transferred to the University of Vermont.  The Morgan is the state animal of Vermont and the state horse of Massachusetts.


The Morgan Horse Club was founded in 1909.  Later it changed its name to the American Morgan Horse Association.  By 2012, about 179,000 horses had been registered since the organization began.  More than 3,000 foals are registered every year.  There are probably between 175,000 and 180,000 now worldwide.  The breed is most popular in the U.S., but there are also Morgan horses in Great Britain, Canada, Sweden, and other countries.

Photo by Dave and Andy

Registered Morgans are usually bay, black, or chestnut.  They can also be gray, roan, dun, silver dapple, palomino, buckskin, or pinto.  They are compact and refined in build.  The height standard is 14.1 to 15.2 hands (57 to 62 inches).  Morgans are known for their intelligence, courage, and good dispositions.

Combined Driving


Horse owners use Morgans in a lot of different ways.  Of course, they are good for just general pleasure riding or as stock horses.   However, they can also be shown in both English and Western events, including dressage, show jumping, Western pleasure, cutting, and endurance riding.  In driving competitions, they might be in combined driving or carriage driving.  Also, they are so gentle and steady that they are good horses for kids to ride, or for use in therapeutic riding programs.

Photo by Dave and Andy
So that's the story of how America made its first home-grown horse breed.  And I think that for a first effort, it was pretty darned good!