Monday, April 20, 2015


Harvey was the mascot of the 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which means he fought on the Yankee side in the war.  And the Yankees won the war, in case you don't remember your history lessons.  Harvey came to the 104th Ohio when his master, Daniel M. Stearns of Wellsville, OH joined the unit.  Before that, the two of them had been with the 8th Pennsylvania Reserves.

Daniel Stearns was 29 when he signed up with the infantry.  Right away, he was made a First Lieutenant.  He was promoted to Second Lieutenant on May 9, 1864, and to Captain on January 6, 1865.  Lt. Stearns got a brass tag made for Harvey's collar that said, "I am Lt. D.M. Stearns dog.  Whose dog are you?"

The regimental historian described Company F of the 104th Ohio as having "an undue proportion of 'toughs' and 'deadbeats'," in addition to three dogs.  The other two dogs were named Colonel and Teaser, and because of them the regiment was called the "barking dog regiment."

One of the members of Company F, Captain William Jordan, wrote a letter to his children on Valentine's Day, 1864, telling them about the soldiers' pets.  He described Harvey and Colonel as "veteran soldier dogs" who "go into any of the tents that they want and lay down at night or stand with the sentinels on guard."  Teaser had only just joined the group, so Captain Jordan didn't talk about him.  Other mascots kept by the men of Company F included a cat, two tame raccoons, and a couple of squirrels.

Whenever the men sat around the campfire and sang songs, Harvey liked to sit with them.  Private Adam Weaver of Company I wrote in a letter to his brother that Harvey would bark and sway while the men sat around singing.  "My idea," he said, "is that the noise hurts his ears as it does mine!"  He also told his brother that Harvey had paid him a visit while he was on picket duty.

Harvey posing with the regiment's cornet band in Tennessee

Harvey was wounded at least twice when his company went into battle.  While they were involved in the Atlanta campaign, Harvey was wounded and captured on Kennesaw Mountain.  The next day, he was returned under a flag of truce.  In November of the same year, 1864, Harvey was wounded again in the Battle of Franklin, TN.  Luckily, he was able to recover nicely from his wounds.

Lieutenant Stearns, Harvey's owner, served for a time as an aide to Brigadier General James Reilly.  While doing this, he was badly injured when his horse fell while jumping Confederate entrenchments.  Lt. Stearns got well enough to finish out the war with his regiment.

The Ohio Volunteer Infantry mustered out on June 17, 1865.  During its time of service, 3 officers and 46 enlisted men from the regiment were killed or mortally wounded in combat.  Four officers and 130 enlisted men died of disease.  This added up to 183 men who died out of the 1,740 men who served at various times in the regiment.

After the war, the members of the 104th had a portrait of Harvey painted so that they could display it at reunions.  Harvey's image was also used on keepsake buttons.  There is really no record of what happened to Harvey himself after the war, but he probably went back home to Ohio with Captain Stearns.

1886 Reunion of the 104th Ohio, including portrait of Harvey
Photo from Massillon, Ohio, Museum

Because of his severe injury, Daniel Stearns was granted a pension after the war.  Sadly, he later became insane and was put in the Northern Ohio Insane Asylum.  He died there in 1890.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


When Mom was out doing the estate sale thing Friday, she bought a really old book with a really long title.  It's called Manual of Useful Information Embracing More Than 100,000 Facts, Figures and Fancies, Drawn From Every Land and Language, and Carefully Classified for the Ready Reference of Teachers, Students and the Family Circle.  It was compiled under the direction of J.C. Thomas, and it was published by The Werner Company of Chicago in 1893.

I went online looking to see if this book is out of print, because Mom said it is so old that it would be in the public domain unless its copyright got renewed.  What I found was kind of confusing because you can download the book to your iPad for 99¢ and you can read the entire text of it on the National Archives site.  But the only hardcover copies of the book are ones that you can buy from used book dealers.  So Mom said it was probably safe to quote from the book without running the risk of being sent to jail, which is not a place I would like to be sent to.  Although I'm small enough that I think I could squeeze between the bars pretty easily and escape!

Anyway, the first thing I did with the book was look to see if it had any useful information about dogs or cats, and I am sorry to say that it does not.  However, it does have a lot of useful information about humans.  There are chapters about mythology and history and weapons and science and all sorts of topics.  Most of the useful information is just lists of facts, kind of like stuff you might need to know if you were playing a trivia game or if you wanted to amaze your friends.

Here are a few quotes from the chapter called RACES AND TRIBES OF MEN.  You will see that they are just a bunch of facts, listed in random order.

Blumenbach divided man into five races--Mongolian, Malay, American, Ethiopian and Caucasian.
The most influential of the people of Hungary are the Magyars.  In Language they are closely related to the Finns.
The Calumet is the pipe of peace smoked by the North American Indians, both in their councils and on the conclusion of a peace.
Craniology or the study of the skull has proved a valuable though not entirely trustworthy aid in the investigation of racial differences.
The three types of man differ much in temperament.  The Ethiopian is sensuous, unintellectual, cheerful and even boisterous, but fitful.
Avebury stones are supposed to be the remains of Druidical structures at Avebury, in Wiltshire, and are the largest in England.  They are upright stones of about seventeen feet in height.
Three primary divisions of man, as indicated by Latham, are the Indo-European, the Mongolian and the African.

According to a recent writer, it is impossible to give any close figures on the number of persons who have lived on this earth.  It is generally considered that one person in every thirteen dies each year.  At this rate the population would be renewed every thirteen years.  Assuming that the population of the world is 1,000,000,000 and that it has been 1,000,000,000 at any time during the last 6,000 years, we find that the population has been renewed about 461 times; that is, that 462,000,000,000 have lived on this earth since its creation.  This, of course, is vastly in excess of the real number, for the world, so far as we can tell, is more thickly populated now than ever before.  Probably if we were to cut those figures in two we should still be above the actual number, with a total of 231,000,000,000 persons.

And here is some advice from the chapter called HEALTH, HYGIENE AND PHYSIOLOGY:

Don't sleep in a draught.
Don't go to bed with cold feet.
Don't stand over hot-air registers.
A bag of hot sand relieves neuralgia.
Warm borax water removes dandruff.
Salt should be eaten with nuts to aid digestion.
Don't sit in a damp or chilly room without a fire.
Homeopathy began in the United States in 1825.
Don't sleep in a room without ventilation of some kind.
Medicine was introduced into Rome from Greece in 200 B.C.
It rests you, in sewing, to change your position frequently.
Don't try to get along without flannel underclothing in winter.
Oxygen, the life element, was discovered by Dr. Priestly in 1774.
Don't stuff a cold lest you should be next obliged to starve a fever.
Well-ventilated bedrooms prevent morning headaches and lassitude.
A cupful of strong coffee will remove the odor of onions from the breath.
For a cold in the head, nothing is better than powdered borax, sniffed up the nostrils.
In 1874 all London houses were compelled for the first time to be connected with sewers.
A popular proverb says that "a man is either a physician or a fool at forty."

Okay, well, I hope you have found this information to be really useful.  Another day I will tell you a bunch more useful things.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


As soon as I started looking at pictures of these cute little goats, I knew we needed to have one right here in our house!  I told Mom so immediately.  Pygmy goats make excellent pets because they are small and gentle, and they are good with kids.  They eat stuff like alfalfa and grain and grass, so they wouldn't be trying to steal our dog food.  Also, they give lots of nice milk.

Photo from Belfast Zoo
I told Mom that if we had a pygmy goat, she wouldn't have to hire somebody to mow the grass.  And we could also take it for walks on a leash or to Petsmart, where Mom saw a woman carrying a little pygmy goat around one time.

But somehow I don't think Mom was convinced.  She said she didn't even know where to buy alfalfa and grain here in town. Also, a goat would eat all her flowers.  And she said that goats are very social, so if you just have one, it will get stressed and lonely and neurotic.  But I learned, while doing my in-depth research, that these little goats will bond with all kinds of other animals, such as sheep and horses and even dogs.  I'm sure that with a whole house full of dogs and cats, our little goat would never be lonely.

Mom said she would take my proposal "under advisement."  I'm not sure what that means, but I suspect it means "no."  Darn it!  Mom is always so unfair!

Okay, well, I guess I can go ahead and tell you all the other interesting things I found out about pygmy goats.  Originally, they came from the Cameroon Valley of West Africa, and they started being imported to the U.S. in the 1950s from European zoos.  At first they were put in American zoos and were used as research animals.

After a while, private breeders got some of them, and the goats became popular as pets and in petting zoos.  They are friendly, animated, good-natured, and hardy.  Pygmy goats do well in all kinds of climates.  The females weigh between 53 and 75 pounds, and the males weigh 60 to 86 pounds.  The lifespan of the goats is 8 to 18 years.

Natural History Magazine
Photo by Brian Squibb
Pygmy goats are very good at producing kids, which what baby goats are called.  The females are known as does, and the males are bucks.  Does can produce between one and four kids every 9 to 12 months.  Usually, does are not bred until they are 12 or 18 months old, even though they would be capable of conceiving as early as 2 months of age.


The baby goats spend about 5 months developing inside their moms, and then they are born.  They start nursing right away, and by the time they are a week old, they are already eating grain and roughage.  By 10 weeks of age, they are weaned.  Bucks are sexually mature by the time they are 9 to 12 weeks old, and does usually come into season for the first time when they are between the ages of 3 and 12 months.

If you have a goat of your own, you should provide it with some kind of shelter in your yard.  Also, you need a tall fence that the goat can't jump over.  Pygmies are usually not able to jump on top of cars, unless the car is very short.  Also, they don't jump on children, so in that way they are better than a lot of dogs.

Maryland Zoo, Baltimore

I intend to keep working on Mom, and maybe I can still convince her that every chihuahua needs a little goat.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 2, 2015


I am sorry I didn't write for so long, but Mom and I and all the other dogs and cats have been very busy lately.  And now I am going to tell you what we have been up to.

First of all, Mom has become an entrepreneur.  This is a big word that comes from the French language, and it means "someone who goes into business and makes a ton of money."  Or at least we hope that's what it means!  The business Mom went into is selling antiques, so maybe it wasn't such a waste of time and money all these years when she kept going to antique stores.

The way Mom went into business was that she rented a booth in an Antiques Mall that is called A Fabulous Find.  Mom got to move into her booth on April 1, which was yesterday, as well as being April Fool's Day.  But I will not talk about the connection between fools and business!


Anyway, we have all been really busy digging up old stuff here in the house that Mom didn't want anymore.  She had this stuff because it used to belong to her parents or her aunt or else it was something she bought herself, a long time ago.  All these things had to be cleaned up and have prices put on them.  Sometimes Mom had to go on the internet to find out what certain items are worth.  Also, she has bought some stuff at estate sales and flea markets just for the purpose of selling it in her booth.

Last Friday while Mom was out going to estate sales, she had a little wreck with our car, which is a 2002 Subaru Forester, so it's pretty old.  Mom was turning left, and she thought she could make the turn without getting hit by another car that was coming towards her, but she was wrong.  So this other car hit Mom's car in the right rear door and also in the right rear wheel.

At first, it didn't seem to be a big deal, but it turned out that the wheel was all screwy, and it rubbed on the car when it turned.  So Mom drove very slowly to the repair shop, and the mechanics said they would have to order a bunch of parts to fix the car, if it could even be fixed.  And to make a long story sort of short, Mom has been driving a really big, black rental SUV because that was the only thing they had at the car rental place.  And meanwhile, it turns out that our poor Subaru is "totaled" because it would cost more to fix it than it is worth.  Which means that Mom will be buying us a new car, but right now she is waiting to find out how much the insurance company will pay us for the Forester.

It's kind of hard to tell, but the tire is totally flat.
Also, the top of the wheel is tilting in, which it should not be doing.

Another thing that is going on is that Mom has sort of got a freelance writing job, but she and the people who want her to write for them haven't quite figured out yet what type of assignment works best for her to do.

I guess the only other big news I have for you is that our "Z" kittens were all adopted, and they all got to go home on the same day.  Two of the boys went to the same home together, but the others went to different homes.


Tuesday Mom drove over to the shelter and brought home some new foster kittens and their mom.  The mama cat is named Felicity, but the kittens didn't exactly have names, so Mom and Uncle Rob came up with some "F" names for the kittens.  They are all light grey tabby in color, except for one of the girls, who is solid grey like her mom.  The kittens look so much alike that Mom had to put colored bands around their necks so she can tell them apart!

See?  They all look alike!

Sunday, March 22, 2015



This means having way too much of something.  Other words for nimiety are excess, overabundance, exorbitance, or intemperance.

The word comes from the Latin word nimius, meaning "too much."  Its first known use was around 1564.


If something is described as putative, that means it is assumed or commonly accepted.  Some other words that mean the same as putative are supposed, reputed, presumed or apparent.

Putative came from late Middle English in 1400-50.  The Middle English word is from the late Latin putativus, meaning "considered" or "reckoned."


Peripatetic people are always going here and there.  They wander around a lot and make journeys related to their jobs.  Another word for peripatetic people is itinerants.

A follower of the philosopher Aristotle is also called a Peripatetic, but in this use, you have to capitalize the "P."

The word peripatetic originated with the Greek peripatetikos, from peripatein.  This second word meant to walk up and down, talking about philosophical subjects, which is what Aristotle used to do.


In Greek mythology, Zeus had a special gold shield call the Aegis.  Athena also had one.  In the center of the shield there was a picture of the Gorgon, who was a scary monster-woman with snakes for hair.  Anybody who looked at the Gorgon got turned into stone.

Anyway, Zeus or Athena could use the aegis to protect you, which was a really good form of protection.  Nowadays, aegis means any kind of protection, sponsorship, or support.

The word came from the Greek word aigĂ­s.  This word, in turn, came from a word meaning "goat" because shields were often made of goatskin.


This is a word used in Scotland and Northern England to mean wakeful or alert.  Mostly, this is wakeful in the sense of not being able to sleep, even though you want to.

The word came into English in the 15th century from the Scots Middle English walkrife.  Walken means "to wake" and ryfe means "rife."  So if you are wakerife, you are rife with wakefulness.

I don't know what you call it if you are sleepy -- maybe "sleeprife"?

Is this the REAL nacarat.....

Nacarat is a color I never heard of before.  It's a little confusing to read about it because one place says it is "bright orange-red," and another describes it as "a pale red color, with a cast of orange."  Oh, and then I also read that it is "a shade of yellow color."

....or is this?
A fine linen or crape that is dyed pale red with an orange cast is called nacarat.  And then there was a famous steeplechase horse in the UK, and his name was Nacarat, even though he was a light gray color.  Nacarat retired recently, at the age of 14, but then he died early this month because of "a paddock accident."  I tried to find out what the accident was, but I couldn't learn any details, even though I spent a good 5 or 10 minutes looking.

But getting back to the color nacarat, apparently it can be anything from yellow-orange to bright red-orange.  It became an English word in the mid-18th century, from the Middle French nacarade and Old Spanish nacarado, with maybe some Arabic and Latin thrown in.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Today is St. Patrick's Day, which means it's time for me to write about another Irish dog breed.  The Kerry Blue Terrier is a breed that some people think should be the National Dog of Ireland, but it has never been given that name officially.

Kerry Blues come from the mountains of County Kerry, in the southwest part of Ireland.  Their original use was for killing vermin such as rats, rabbits, badgers, foxes, otters, and hares.  Later, people started using the dogs to do things like herd cattle and sheep, and to act as guard dogs.

The terriers were also good hunters and retrievers.  It's quite possible that the peasants used Kerries to poach the grounds of the nobility, where the noblemen themselves hunted with Irish Wolfhounds.

Philip Doyle with his dog "Terri" at the Killarney Show, 1916

In spite of Irish politics, the first show of the Dublin Irish Blue Terrier club took place outside curfew hours and was entered by people on both sides of the fight to establish an Ireland republic.  The Dublin Irish Blue Terrier Club was so successful that it led to the founding of the Irish Kennel Club, with a Kerry Blue as the first dog registered.

Kerry Blue during a dog show in Katowice, Poland
Wikipedia, Pleple2000

Because an aggressive prey drive was intentionally bred into Kerry Blues, the Irish Kennel Club originally required dogs to pass "gameness" tests before being judged.  The tests included catching rabbits and bringing a badger to bay.  Modern breeders have tried to keep the breed's high spirits while breeding out the aggression.

Kerry Blue Terriers, circa 1935

The first Kerry Blues arrived in North America in 1918-19 and began appearing in shows in the early 1920s.  The breed was officially recognized by the AKC in 1924.  During the Westminster show of 1924, a group of Kerry fanciers met at the Waldorf-Astoria and organized the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of America.

Kerries are energetic dogs who need plenty of exercise.  They are intelligent, adaptable, alert, and vigilant.  They make good watchdogs and companions for children.  They are eager to please and are highly trainable, but they can also be stubborn and independent-minded.  The breed is well-suited for agility, obedience, sheep herding, earthdog trials, and tracking.  They have even been used for police work in Ireland.

Kerry Blue puppies are born with black coats that eventually fade to various shades of blue-gray.  It usually takes 18 months for the pups to reach their adult color.  The coat is soft and wavy, with no undercoat. It does not shed, but continues to grow all year.  This means that Kerries need regular grooming so that their coats don't get matted.

In general, Kerry Blue Terriers are healthy, but they do sometimes develop genetic problems such as dry eyes, cataracts, entropion, hip dysplasia, and hypothyroidism.  The life span of the breed is from about 9 to 12 years.

Even though a Kerry Blue won the big Crufts dog show in the UK in 2000, the breed is still what you might call "unfashionable."  It has a lot of good things to recommend it, but a Kerry is not the best choice for first-time dog owners.  Besides having high energy levels and high grooming needs, a lot of Kerries tend to be dog-aggressive, especially if they are not well-socialized as puppies.  So this is something that dog owners have to worry about when out in public with their dogs.

My mom says she has had a few dog-aggressive dogs in the past, and she does not want any more of them.  I agree, so we will definitely not be getting a Kerry Blue Terrier anytime soon.  I think it's just enough to know that Kerries have a very special Irish ancestry and to celebrate that on St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Galway ewe with lambs

In just a few days, it will be St. Patrick's Day, so I decided to write about an Irish breed of sheep.  These sheep come from a part of western Ireland that is known as Galway, so that's how they got their name.

These sheep have white faces, and they do not have horns.  On the top of their heads, Galways have cute little bobs of wool.  They also have wool on their legs.  Their fleece is fairly long, with a close and fine texture.  Buyers pay top price for this type of wool.  And people who spin by hand especially like it because of its fineness.

Photo by Dick Keely,

But even though they have really nice wool, Galway sheep are often raised for meat as well.  Galway ewes are sometimes crossed with Suffolk and Texel rams.  The average litter size is 1.45.  They are a hardy breed that can easily adapt to different types of climate.

A Galway Ram at the Tullamore Show 2012
Credit: Finnegas/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Old photo of sheep fair at Killarney, County Kerry

The Galway sheep is one of the oldest breeds in the U.K.  It has been in existence for about 300 years.  In the big Irish landlord estates that were around until the beginning of the 20th century, the Galway was the major breed of sheep.  Some people say that there is no other native Irish sheep besides the Galway.  Others think there were actually many types in existence before the famine, including the mountain sheep.

The town of Claddagh, in Galway County

A woman spinning wool into yarn
The number of Galway sheep breeders is growing.  In 1990, there were only 14 breeders, but by 1999, the number of true-to-type sheep had increased to 1000,  in 39 flocks.  Almost all of the breeders are west of the Shannon River.

So that's all I can really tell you about the Galway sheep.  If I had been able to find more information, I would have shared it with you, because that's the kind of generous and helpful dog I am!