Friday, April 30, 2010

Another Exciting Update

Well!  You will never believe what we saw yesterday when we went to physical therapy!  We saw a beagle walking on two legs!  And it wasn't his back legs, like in that video that maybe you have seen on the internet of that little dog that was born without any front legs.  No, this dog was walking on his front legs and holding his back legs up.  He walked clear across the waiting room at the clinic and back again.  I had never seen anything like it before in my whole life, and neither had Gabe, and neither had Mom.  So we all just stared.  Mom wished she had brought her camera, but she hadn't, so she couldn't take a picture.

Anyway, this dog was there for physical therapy, just like we were, and we could tell this because the dog's dad was talking to Dr. Connie.  So later on, Mom asked Dr. Connie what was wrong with the dog's back legs, and she said it was two knee surgeries that had gone wrong.  And she said that the beagle was her special challenge.  And Mom asked Dr. Connie if she had taught him to walk on his front legs like that, and Dr. Connie said no, the dog had taught himself to do that.  And what Dr. Connie was trying to do was get him to walk on all four legs again.

Personally, I think it's much more interesting to see a dog walking on two legs instead of four legs.  I see dogs walking on four legs every day, but how often do you see a dog walking on two legs?  I think the beagle's mom and dad should put him in the circus or on "Funny Dog Tricks" or whatever that show is called on TV, and they could make a lot of money doing that.  But that is just my opinion, which I don't mind giving, even though nobody asked for it!

So while I am talking about physical therapy, I will just say that Dr. Connie thinks Gabe and I are doing really well.  Dr. Connie has told Mom more than once that I am a very smart dog and that I learn fast.  Of course, she also said that I am a little bit stubborn and quirky, but Mom already knew that.  Mom told Dr. Connie that I am so smart that I write a blog, and she gave Dr. Connie the blog address, but we don't know if Dr. Connie ever really read my blog or not.

Gabe didn't go to physical therapy last time because he was all full of stitches that stuff, but he went back there today.  At first he didn't want to go swimming, but after he got in the water, he remembered that it wasn't so bad.  Anyway, since Gabe and I are doing so well with our therapy, we don't have to go back for a whole month.

And speaking of Gabe, he got all his stitches taken out on Tuesday, and I went there, too, so I could get my toenails trimmed.  Gabe has this thing called a seroma where one of his cysts was removed on his side.  It's like a bubble sort of thing under his skin, and it's full of fluid that leaked out of his blood vessels.  Dr. Patricia used a syringe to suck out all the fluid one time, but then it came back.  So she said it was better to just leave it and let it go away on its own.

Here's a photo of Gabe's seroma.  He is embarrassed that he has to go to Texas looking so lumpy and all shaved like a patchwork quilt, but Mom has told Aunt Cheryl and Hank that they shouldn't laugh at Gabe and hurt his feelings.

Oh, and here's a photo of me playing nurse when Mom put some special ointment on Gabe's incision and then put a muzzle on him so he couldn't lick it off.  This ointment is supposed to taste nasty so that dogs won't lick it, but I like the taste of it, so I always lick it off as soon as Mom puts it on.  I was happy to be a good sister and help Gabe out with this little job when he couldn't do it himself.

Okay, I guess that is all I had better write about today.  Mom is busy trying to get some stuff done before we go on our trip.  Gabe and I are mostly resting up so we will be in good shape for all that sleeping in the car while we are traveling.  Mel and Barry have to go get their bordatella vaccinations this morning so they won't get kennel cough while they are staying at Pooches' Paradise.

Well, that's all for now.  Bye!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rhodesian Ridgebacks

I might have mentioned one or two times that basenjis come from Africa, but guess what!  They are not the only kind of dog that started out there.  Another breed from Africa is the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and today I will tell you some things about them.

If you look at a map that is up-to-date, you will not find a country called Rhodesia on it.  And that is because Rhodesia is now two different countries named Zambia and Zimbabwe.  These countries are kind of in the southeast part of Africa.  They changed their names when they became independent countries, but the Rhodesian Ridgeback did not change its name, which is probably just as well, because it is hard to keep track of names that are always changing.

Anyway, the Rhodesian Ridgeback got started back in the 18th century when this man named Cornelius Van Rooyen got the idea to make a breed of dog that would be good for hunting lions.  So he crossed his dogs with some native dogs owned by the Khoi-khoi people.  These African dogs had a ridge of hair on their backs that grew the opposite way of all their other hair.  I don't know why it grew this way, but I know that this funny ridge of hair got passed down in the genes, and that's why we call these dogs "ridgebacks."

There are some other names for this breed, including Van Rooyen's Lion Dogs, African Lion Hound, and African Lion Dog.  These dogs were good at hunting lions because they were brave and tough, and also they were smart enough not to get eaten by crocodiles or bitten by snakes.  The way they hunted lions was that they were sent out in a pack, and when they found a lion, they kept it cornered and busy until the hunters could come and shoot the lion.

In 1924, Ridgies got their very own breed standard, and they were registered with the South African Kennel Club.  By 1928, they were being shown in Great Britain.  But they didn't get registered by the AKC until 1955.  Rhodesian Ridgebacks are in the Hound Group, just like basenjis are.

You might be interested to know that there are at least three other dog breeds that have ridges of fur on their backs.  These breeds are the Phu quoc ridgeback dog of Vietnam, the Thai Ridgeback, and the Combai of Tamilnadu, India.

Originally, Rhodesian Ridgebacks could be any of several colors, but now the standard says they should be light wheaten to red wheaten.  It's okay for them to have some white on their chest and toes, and sometimes they have dark masks.

Ridgies are intelligent, loving, and loyal, but they don't always like strangers, which is also true of basenjis.  Ridgies like to protect their people, so they can be trained to be good guard dogs.  I have never met a Rhodesian Ridgeback in person, but they seem like they would be nice dogs.  I asked Mom if we could get one, but as usual, she said no.  Sigh.  Some days Mom is just no fun at all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ode to Basenjis

Here's a fine little poem I wrote myself, with only a little help from Mom's rhyming dictionary.  I hope you like it!










ODE TO BASENJIS

Here’s to basenjis,
  the best of all dogs!
They run and they hunt
  and they jump high, like frogs.

They come from the Congo,
  a very old breed,
They hung out with pharaohs,
  an honor indeed!

They’re red, tri, and brindle,
  but black is the best.
They have nice, white markings
  on feet, neck, and chest.

Basenjis are yodelers,
  they don’t really bark,
And if they’re annoyed,
  they are likely to snark.

They win in the show ring,
  at lure coursing, too,
They’re champs at agility
  also, woo hoo!
 
They’re cuddlers, especially
  under the covers.
Basenjis are naturally
  champion lovers!
 


Monday, April 26, 2010

FLEAS!

Fleas are horrible, awful bugs that bite you and make you itch, and they can also give you tapeworms, anemia or the plague.  Which is why I don't like them much.  In fact, I don't like fleas at all, and I think I am not alone in this!

Some dogs are allergic to flea bites, so when they get a bite, it makes them crazy with itching.  Luckily, I am not allergic to flea bites, but my brother Barry is, and so is Gabe.  Mel is not allergic to flea bites, and neither is Mom, but Mom gets very itchy from tick bites and chigger bites.  Anyway, if you are really, really allergic to flea saliva, it's called "flea allergy dermatitis."  Here's a dog who has it, and you can see that she has hardly any hair left.

Fleas aren't very big, and they are dark in color, so you can't see them very easily on a dog with black or brown fur.  Also, fleas have bodies like little armored tanks, so even if you catch a flea, it's hard to crush or mash it.  Fleas don't fly, but they have long back legs, so they are good jumpers.  Fleas can jump 7 inches up or 13 inches ahead.  This is like 200 times their body length, which means that the flea is one of the best jumpers of all known animals.

The only thing that adult fleas eat is blood.  So in this way, they are kind of like vampires, except not as handsome.  Here are some of the blood donors that fleas like best:  dogs, cats, humans, chickens, rabbits, squirrels, rats, ferrets, and mice.  After a flea eats a nice meal of blood, it doesn't have to eat again for two months to a year.  

Female fleas lay about 20 eggs at a time.  These eggs are laid on the host animal, but then they fall off.  This is why there might be a lot of flea eggs in your dog bed or cat bed.  The eggs take between two days and two weeks to hatch.

The little things that come out of the eggs are called larvae.  They look kind of wormlike, and they are very small and hard to see.  They eat anything organic that they can find, such as for instance dead insects, feces, and vegetable matter.  The larvae are blind, so they don't bother going out in the sunlight.  They just stay in dark little places like crevices and bedding.  

If the larvae can find enough food, they will curl up in a cocoon after a week or two.  Then after maybe another week, the adult flea is ready to come out and start the whole thing over again.  But if conditions aren't right -- like for instance, if it's wintertime -- the larvae or cocoon can just hole up and wait until spring or whenever.  This is why you probably won't get bit by very many fleas during the winter, but then in the spring, all the fleas come out again.

It was fleas that made lots of people in the Middle Ages get the plague.  Dogs don't get the plague, but people can still get it, even today.  Of course, now we have medicine and stuff to keep people from dying.  Except that people in some parts of the world can't get the medicine.  The bubonic plague can kill two out of three people who don't get treatment for it.  So it is not a nice disease to have.

Sometimes plague is used as a weapon.  An example of this was in World War II, when the Japanese bred a whole bunch of fleas and then used them to give the plague to Chinese, Korean, and Manchurian civilians and prisoners of war.  

Another thing that you can get from fleas besides plague is tapeworms.  And the way this happens is that little pieces of tapeworms with eggs in them fall out of an animal that already has tapeworms.  Then the flea larvae eat the tapeworm eggs, and the eggs develop inside the flea.  After that, an animal swallows the flea while grooming itself, and then the tapeworm grows inside the animal's intestines.

I had tapeworms one time, not too long after I came here to live with Mom.  I was out walking with Mom and Gabe, and all of a sudden, a piece of a tapeworm came right out of my butt!  Mom was very surprised, but she went to Dr. Patricia's office and got some medicine.  And after I took the medicine, I was cured of the tapeworms.

Anyway, I just want to mention that the flea season is here now, unless you live somewhere like Australia.  So if you are a dog or cat, you need to make sure your mom or dad puts some kind of flea preventive stuff on you.  But don't get that kind that burns your skin, because that's not good.  My mom uses Frontline, and she rubs it on our backs once a month, and it makes any fleas or ticks that bite us drop dead before they can lay any eggs.  And that's a very good thing!



Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sumatran Tigers

Remember when I told you about the Siberian Tiger, which is the largest tiger that still exists in the world? Well, the Sumatran Tiger is the smallest.  And the reason I decided to write about this tiger is because there are two of them living right here in Kansas City, at the zoo.  Mom took a picture of one when she was there, but the other one was busy taking a nap, so Mom couldn't really get a picture of that one.

But the one she did take a picture of was chewing up a cardboard box.  This is exactly the kind of thing a dog might do, so maybe this tiger is part dog.  Anyway, I think the tiger likes to chew up boxes because it's something entertaining to do while spending time locked up in the zoo.

So now I will tell you about Sumatran Tigers, which come from the island of Sumatra, which is part of Indonesia.  Here's a map, just in case you don't remember exactly where Sumatra is, and the red spots show where the tigers live.  Scientists have tested the DNA of the Sumatran Tiger, and they figured out that this kind of tiger has been on the island for a long, long, time, because the seas rose and cut off the islands from the mainland.  So the Sumatran Tiger is different from all other tigers, including being smaller and having narrower stripes and having more of a beard and mane.

The Sumatran Tiger can swim really fast because it has webbing between its toes.  Sometimes it hunts by driving a hoofed animal into the water and then catching it because it can swim faster than its prey.  Sumatran Tigers like to eat stuff like wild boar, Malayan tapir, and deer.  But sometimes they also eat monkeys, fish, or birds.

There are only about 400 or 500 Sumatran Tigers left in the wild.  Some of them live in game reserves or in a national park, but others live in areas that are not protected.  A lot of forests are cut down in Sumatra because of people making palm oil, and this is not good for the tigers, who like to live in the forests.  And even the tigers that live in the game reserves are not really safe because poachers might kill them.  All of which means that the Sumatran Tiger is CRITICALLY ENDANGERED.

A bunch of people are working on trying to save the Sumatran Tiger by breeding them in zoos and then teaching them to live in the wild again.  I hope they are able to save these tigers, but I'm afraid it might take a really long time!

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's William Shakespeare's Birthday

Today is the birthday of a famous man named William Shakespeare.  He was born in 1564, which was a really long time ago, and he lived in England.  Mr. Shakespeare had a funny name that made him sound like some sort of warrior caveman.  But actually he was an actor.  And also he wrote lots of poems and plays.  Today lots of kids have to read Mr. Shakespeare's plays in school.  Some kids like doing this, but other kids think the plays are hard to read because they have words in them that nobody uses anymore.

Mom has read a bunch of Mr. Shakespeare's plays because she majored in English in college.  And this is why she remembers what day his birthday was and she made me write about him in my blog.  But the problem with Mr. Shakespeare is that we don't know much about his personal life, including whether he had any dogs or not.  In fact, we don't even know if he wrote his own plays or not.  It would be very shocking to think that someone else wrote Mr. Shakespeare's plays, but it might be the truth.

Anyway, the part about whether he had a dog or not is what I am most interested in.  While doing some in-depth research, I found out that a man named Leon Rooke wrote a book called Shakespeare's Dog.  I have not read this book, but it got a 5-star rating from two out of two readers who posted reviews on Amazon.com.  The book is about a dog named Mr. Hooker, who lived during the time when Elizabeth the First was the queen of England.  Which was the same time that William Shakespeare was around.  These two readers said the book was very good.  I asked Mom if we could buy it, but she said no, because we already have too many books that we don't have time to read.

So anyway, the fact that there is a book called Shakespeare's Dog does not really prove that William Shakespeare himself had any dogs.  Back in those days, dogs were not treated as nicely as they are now, which is very sad.  If you called someone a dog, for example, it meant you did not have a good opinion of that person.  Like, for example, in one of Mr. Shakespeare's plays, The Merchant of Venice, here is what Shylock says:  "Thou callest me a dog before thou hast cause.  But since I am a dog, beware my fangs."

Here's a quote I like better.  It's from A Midsummer Night's Dream:  "Bulldogs are adorable, with faces like toads that have been sat on.  My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind; So flew'd, so sanded; their heads are hung with ears that sweep away the morning dew..."  I looked up flews and learned that it is what you call the parts of a dog's upper lip that hang down.  Basenjis don't have droopy lips, so we don't really need to use a word like flews very much.  I'm not sure what it means to say that a dog is "sanded," but this person in the play seems to be saying that he likes bloodhound-type dogs better than smushy-faced dogs like bulldogs.

Anyway, that's the problem with Mr. Shakespeare.  He was always using words that you have to look up in the dictionary.  And also he didn't write an autobiography or give interviews to the press so that people could learn about his personal life and whether he liked dogs or not.  One thing we do know about him is that he was probably born in this house, which Mom has actually visited.

Okay, well, that's pretty much all I can tell you about a man that we don't know much about.  I just wish he had written some plays about dogs.  That would have been a really good thing to do.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ALL THE LATEST NEWS

Yesterday morning, Mom did not do the regular routine that we dogs are used to, so this made us all nervous.  What she did was, she got up and she let us outside, but then instead of giving us Breakfast of Dogs, she went back upstairs and put her clothes on.  Then she drove away in the car!  And there we were, left at home without our breakfast!

But pretty soon, Mom came back, and she didn't have the car anymore because she took it to The Shop so that it could get a check-up and stuff like that.  Then she gave us Breakfast of Dogs, and we mostly forgave her.  And the best part about having the car in The Shop was that Mom couldn't go anywhere very far away, so she had to stay home with us all day, which we liked a lot.

Mom took us for long walks and then she repotted some plants and then she ate lunch.  And after that, she wrote a letter to her new sponsored child, whose name is Sharon.  The reason Mom got a new sponsored child is because the girl she was sponsoring in Nepal moved away from where she was living, so she couldn't be sponsored anymore.  And Mom got to choose a new kid to sponsor.  She was going to choose another girl in Nepal, but there weren't any on the website to choose, so she chose a girl in Kenya instead.  Kenya is in Africa, so it's not anywhere near Nepal, but I think it's good that Mom chose a girl in Kenya.

Here's a picture of Sharon.  She is 11 years old, and she is from the Luo tribe, which is the same tribe that President Barack Obama's father belonged to.  Sharon lives in a village that is close to Lake Victoria, which is the biggest lake in Africa and the second-biggest freshwater lake in the whole world.  The girls in Kenya shave their heads, so it is hard to tell them apart from the boys.  Of course, dogs can always tell the difference between a boy and a girl by using their superior sense of smell, but people can't do this.

Anyway, I don't think there are any basenjis in Kenya.  At least, I have never heard of any basenjis in Kenya.  Mostly I have heard of basenjis in the Congo and in places like Benin, which is in West Africa.  And Kenya is in East Africa.  The Rift Valley runs through Kenya, and there are lots of interesting animals that live there, but I don't think any of them are basenjis.

But that's enough about Africa.  My other latest news is that Gabe and Mom and I are GOING ON A TRIP!  And guess where we are going!  We are going all the way to Austin to visit Hank and Aunt Cheryl!  Oh boy!  It will be fun!  But we aren't leaving for a couple of weeks yet, so I have to be patient.

Mom wanted her car to be in good condition for the trip, so that's why she took it to The Shop yesterday.  Of course, it turned out to be expensive to take the car to The Shop, which Mom says is always true.  She says it is just like taking a dog to the vet.  There is always something expensive wrong that has to be fixed.  Anyway, Mom's car needed a new wheel bearing, whatever that is, so she told the mechanic to put it on, which he did, and the bill came to over $400, but this was still less than Mom had to pay last week for Gabe's dental and having all his cysts cut off of him.

Oh, and Gabe said to tell you he's healing up nicely, but he still has to wait another week before he can get his stitches out.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

DOG NOSES

As I have mentioned before, dog noses are the best noses ever.  They can sniff out all sorts of important stuff, such as food, drugs, insects, bombs, dead bodies, trails, game, criminals, and cancer.  And the reason dog noses are so good at doing this is because of the way they are made.

First of all, a dog's nose is usually wet, and this is a good thing because the little tiny pieces of scent, which are called molecules, stick to a wet nose.  So when the dog goes around sniffing the ground or somebody's luggage or somebody's crotch, the scent molecules end up on the dog's nose.  And after that, they go inside the nose, where there is a whole bunch of sticky mucous.  The mucous is in these folds of skin called membranes, and there are lots of mucous membranes inside a dog's nose.  In fact, if you took all of a dog's membranes and spread them out flat, they would be as big as the state of North Dakota.  Hahahaha!  I'm just kidding!  Actually, they would only be as big as a handkerchief, but that's still pretty big.  Especially when you know that the mucous membranes inside a person's nose would only be the size of a postage stamp.

So anyway, when the scent molecules get inside the nose, they go into these spaces that have all these membranes with scent receptors.  A dog has about 200 million of these receptor thingies, and a person only has about 5 million.  This is why dogs can smell stuff soooooo much better than people can.

The scent receptors are connected to nerves that go to the brain, and the brain sorts everything out and makes sense of what the dog is smelling.  So for example if a dog sniffs a spot where a cat has been, the dog can tell that a cat was there, whether it was male or female, how long ago it was there, and which way it was heading.  Maybe a dog can learn even more than that from a scent, but I do not want to betray my fellow canines by giving away all our secrets!

Okay, and here's another interesting thing about dog noses.  Dogs inhale through the central nasal tubes, but then exhale through the slits in the sides of the nose.  This makes the air go outward and sideways when it is exhaled, and that stirs up more scent molecules.  Clever, huh?  And dogs with long ears, like bloodhounds and bassets, stir up scents by dragging their ears through the grass.

Another thing you might be interested to know is that dogs with long noses can detect smells better than dogs with short noses.  This is because there is more of that mucous membrane stuff inside a long nose than there is inside a short nose.

Anyway, I'm glad I have a fairly long nose and that I can smell all sorts of fascinating things.  Dogs get a lot of pleasure from life by smelling things, which is something that humans don't really understand.  If humans really "got it" when it comes to noses, they would sniff each other's butts like dogs do when they meet, instead of just shaking hands.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Some Really Cool Doggy Trivia

Trivia #1:  Dogs can only sweat from the bottoms of their feet, instead of all over their bodies like people and horses do.  So the way that dogs mostly cool off is by panting.  Some dogs also cool off by jumping in the lake, but personally, I'd rather just stay inside an air-conditioned house!


Trivia #2:  If you think of the average lifespan of a dog as 11 years, then the cost of owning a dog is $13,350.  Which is money well spent, if you ask me.


Trivia #3:  Dogs can make about 100 facial expressions, mostly using their ears, and this is one way they communicate with other dogs.  Except that some dogs, like bull dogs and pitbulls, can only make about 10 expressions, so they get into fights sometimes because other dogs don't understand them.  Basenjis have especially good facial expressions because of all their cute little wrinkles.


Trivia #4:  Maybe you have heard the phrase "three dog night," which is the name of a rock band.  But before it was a rock band, this phrase meant it was so cold that you needed three dogs in your bed in order to keep from freezing.  Some people say this phrase comes from the Aborigines in Australia, and others say it comes from the Eskimos.  I don't know who is right, but I think it's an excellent phrase that tells where all dogs should be sleeping on cold nights.


Trivia #5:  People used to think that dogs were color blind, but now people have got smart enough to figure out that dogs can see some colors, but maybe not all the bright colors that people see.  Dogs can see blue, yellow, and gray, but not red and green.  This is not a big deal, in my opinion, because some people can't tell the difference between red and green either.


Trivia #6:  About a million dogs in the U.S. are named as the primary beneficiary in their owners' wills, and this means they will inherit a whole bunch of money to buy dog treats with.  Which is a good thing.


Trivia #7:  People spend $1.5 billion every year on pet food.  This is about four times the amount that's spent on baby food and just goes to show that pets are way more important than babies.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Dog Named Rin Tin Tin

Here are some important things to know about Rin Tin Tin:

1.  He was a real, live dog.
2.  He had a big career in movies and on TV.
3.  He was the sire of lots of puppies, and one in each generation was named Rin Tin Tin.
4.  The current Rin Tin Tin is Rin Tin Tin XI.
5.  The Rin Tin Tin name is copyrighted, so I will probably have to go to jail because I used it in my blog.
6.  Rin Tin Tin is a weird name for a dog, but it's fun to say.

So now I will tell you the true story of this famous German Shepherd dog.  It all started in France during World War I, where a dog kennel got bombed, and an American soldier named Lee Duncan found a mother dog and her five puppies.  These were not just stray dogs.  They were Dogs With Pedigrees.  And at that time, the puppies were only five days old.

Corporal Duncan and his battalion took the mama dog and her pups back to their camp.  Later on, Corporal Duncan found out that the German Kennel Master from the bombed kennel had been captured by the Americans, so he visited him in the prison camp and learned more about the dogs and about the German Shepherd breed, which he didn't really know much about.

When the war ended two months later, Corporal Duncan took two pups on the ship to go back to the U.S.  These two were Rin Tin Tin and his littermate Nannette.  During the trip, Nannette got sick with distemper, and shortly after she got to America, she died.

You may be wondering where the name Rin Tin Tin came from, and now I will tell you.  In France, the children used to play with little puppets named Rin Tin Tin and Nannette.  And the children gave these puppets to the American soldiers for good luck.  This luck must have been pretty good because it helped the Americans and their allies win the war.

Anyway, after Mr. Duncan got home to Los Angeles with his dog, he taught Rin Tin Tin to do a bunch of tricks, including jumping and stuff like that.  And Rinty (which was his nickname) performed in dog shows, where a film producer saw him and decided that he could be the next Strongheart.  Of course, you will remember that I already told you about the famous movie star dog, Strongheart.

So Rin Tin Tin began his film career by playing the role of a wolf  in The Man From Hell's River in 1922.  And he played a wolf in some other films, even though he didn't really look much like a wolf.  Rinty's first starring role was in Where the North Begins, which was made in 1923.  This movie made so much money that it probably saved Warner Brothers from going bankrupt.

Rin Tin Tin went on being a movie star for some years after that, and he was also the star of a radio series. He did his own sound effects on most of the radio shows until his death.  After that, his son, Rin Tin Tin, Jr. took over.

When Rin Tin Tin died in 1932, he was 14 years old.  Mr. Duncan had Rinty buried in his home country in the Cimetiere des Chiens.  This is where Barry, the famous St. Bernard, is also buried.

In 1954, Rin Tin Tin IV starred in a TV series called The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.  This series was on TV until 1959.  Mom remembers watching it when she was a little girl.  She liked it because she liked dogs.  She also liked horses, but her parents wouldn't let her have either a horse or a dog, which doesn't seem fair to me, but I wasn't even born then, so nobody asked for my opinion!

Anyway, in this TV show, there was a boy named Rusty, and he was an orphan because his folks got killed by Indians, and Rin Tin Tin was his dog.  And Rusty got adopted by a cavalry unit, and they all lived at Fort Apache in Arizona in the late 1800s.  They had lots of adventures, and Rin Tin Tin was the hero who bit the bad guys and saved a lot of people.

Mr. Lee Duncan, the original owner of Rin Tin Tin, died in 1960, and a woman named Jannettia Brodsgaard Propps continued breeding Rinty's descendants in Texas, and then her granddaughter, Daphne Hereford, went on doing it after Mrs. Propps died.  The current Rin Tin Tin has his very own website here:  http://www.rintintin.com/rttcom/  and travels all over the country making appearances.  On April 10, he was at an art auction to raise money for a library in Danville, and last year on July 4, he was right here in Kansas City at the World War I Museum.  If I had known Rinty was here, I would have liked to meet him, but I didn't know, and neither did Mom.

On the website, I found out that you can buy a puppy from the Rin Tin Tin line for a cost of between $1,250 and $2,500.  These puppies were born on March 29.  I asked Mom if we could get one, and she said no because we can't afford one, and also we already have our Legal Limit of Dogs, as she keeps telling me.  So maybe I will just get an autographed photo of Rin Tin Tin.  That only costs $6.99.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

IN STITCHES! by Gabe

On Tuesday Mom took me to Dr. Patricia's office to have my teeth cleaned.  I had a bunch of tartar on my teeth, and that's why I had to get them cleaned.

Okay, well, that wouldn't have been a big deal because I've had it done before, and it's not so bad unless you have to have a tooth pulled.  But that never happened to me yet, although it happened to Barry and to Trixie.  So I was just going to get my teeth cleaned, and Mom also mentioned that I had a little tiny cyst thing that Dr. Patricia wanted to check out by sticking a needle in it.  But I've had that kind of thing done before, too, so I wasn't worried about it.

Well, guess what!  Dr. Patricia decided that my cyst should be totally cut out of my skin, and while she was at it, she found two other cysts that she thought should be cut out, too.  One of those cysts has been there for several years, and nobody ever wanted to take it out before.  But Dr. Patricia believes in No Cyst Left Behind, which I think is some kind of religion they teach in veterinary school.  So while a poor, defenseless dog or cat is under anesthesia, she takes advantage of the situation and gets very handy with her scalpel.

So when I woke up, I had stitches all over my back and side.  Mom says I look kind of like Frankenstein.  And to add insult to injury, I have to wear that annoying basket muzzle thing so that I won't lick my incisions or chew on the stitches.  Sheesh.  What kind of life is that for a dog?

Oh, and then Mom kept taking photos of me, even though I would have preferred to just be left alone.  But she said if I wanted to write in Piper's blog, I would need some pictures to use so that people could see that I am not exaggerating and that I really do deserve some sympathy.

The only good thing about this surgery business is that I don't have to go to physical therapy today.  Piper will just have to go by herself.  Maybe in a couple of weeks, I can go back again.

Well, that's all I have to say about me, but I guess I should mention that it's Mom's birthday today.  She's pretty old -- 58 to be exact.  In dog years, this is 406, which is the kind of big number that really blows my mind!  Anyway, April 15 is an important day for several reasons:

1.  It's income tax day.
2.  It's the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
3.  It's the anniversary of the day that President Lincoln died.
4.  It's MOM'S BIRTHDAY!

So I guess we had better be extra nice to Mom today, but frankly, after she betrayed me by taking me to the vet and saying I was just going to have my teeth cleaned and that was all, I'm not sure how nice I feel like being.  At least I haven't growled at her or tried to bite her since I've been in stitches.  Is that nice enough?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

President Jefferson's Dogs

Today is the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, who was the third president of the United States.  Mr. Jefferson was born in 1743, and if he hadn't already died, he would be 267 years old today.  But Thomas Jefferson did die, and it was on July 4, 1826, which was the exact same day that John Adams died.

People say that Mr. Jefferson was a very smart man.  He started studying Latin and Greek and French when he was 9 years old.  Then when he was only 16, he went to the College of William and Mary, and he graduated two years later.  After that, he studied law and became a lawyer.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jefferson's father died and left him 5,000 acres of land plus a whole bunch of slaves.  So Mr. Jefferson built a house called Monticello on that land.  He lived there for about 70 years, all together, and during that time, he owned over 600 slaves.

Mr. Jefferson did not like dogs when he was a young man, which makes me think that he was not nearly as smart as people say he was.  The reason he didn't like dogs was because dogs kept bothering his sheep and sometimes they killed and ate his sheep, which would be a perfectly natural thing for a dog to do, in my opinion.

But Mr. Jefferson was very unreasonable about this, and here's what he wrote in a letter to a friend:  "I participate in all your hostility to dogs and would readily join in any plan of exterminating the whole race.  I consider them the most afflicting of all follies for which men tax themselves."  Mr. Jefferson also thought that dogs should wear collars with their owners' names on them, so everyone would know who to blame if a dog didn't behave himself.  This may be how the idea of license tags for dogs got started.

Anyway, Mr. Jefferson went from his colony of Virginia to attend an important meeting called the Second Continental Congress, and he was part of a committee that wrote the Declaration of Independence.  In fact, Mr. Jefferson wrote the whole first draft of this paper, so he got most of the credit later.  Then the men who were at the meeting signed the Declaration, and this made the British mad, so the Revolutionary War got started.

When the War was over, George Washington got to be the president, and he picked Thomas Jefferson to be the United States' minister to France.  So Mr. Jefferson was in France from 1785 to 1789, and while he was there he probably started messing around with one of his slaves, whose name was Sally Heming.  And more importantly, he discovered a kind of dog that he liked!

This dog was a native French sheepdog, which was called the chien berger de Brie.  Mr. Jefferson liked these dogs so much that he bought a pregnant female to take back to America, and she had two puppies on the boat.  Mr. Jefferson called her Buzzy, and he was very fond of her.  Later on, Monsieur LaFayette sent Mr. Jefferson some more of these dogs from France, and Mr. Jefferson bred them, and they ended up being the start of a line of American briard-type dogs.

Mr. Jefferson gave pairs of briards to some of his friends so that they could breed them, too.  But he warned everybody that if they neglected their dogs or let them go hungry, they would go out and kill sheep and ducks and turkeys and pigs.  So in this way, Mr. Jefferson was teaching people to be responsible dog owners.

The first time Mr. Jefferson tried to be the president, he lost to John Adams, so Mr. Adams was the president, and Mr. Jefferson was the vice-president.  Then Mr. Jefferson ran again in 1800, and this time he tied with Aaron Burr, so the House of Representatives had to decide, and they picked Mr. Jefferson.

I don't know if President Jefferson had any dogs with him in the White House or not, but I do know that President Jefferson's secretary, Captain Merriwether Lewis, was chosen to go explore the new Louisiana Purchase land that the U.S. bought from France.  And Captain Lewis was smart enough to buy a good dog, the Newfoundland Seaman, to take on the trip with him.  But of course, I told you all about Seaman in a previous blog entry.

So after Mr. Jefferson got done being president, he went to Monticello to live with his dogs and his slaves and at least one of his daughters, because his wife had died many years earlier.  And the only other thing I will say about Mr. Jefferson is that I'm glad he finally started liking dogs, and I wish he hadn't made all those people be his slaves.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Springtime Adventures While Walking

There are gobs of things to see and hear and smell when we go out walking with Mom in the springtime.  Mom thinks it's all about flowers, but to be honest, I don't care much about flowers unless some dog has peed on them, and then they are interesting to sniff.  The tulips are blooming now.  They come in lots of colors.  We used to have some yellow-and-red ones like these, but they stopped blooming, so Mom dug them up and threw them away.

The dandelions are also blooming but Mom doesn't like dandelions much, even though yellow is her favorite color.  I'm not sure why she likes yellow tulips, but not yellow dandelions.  I'll probably never understand humans!

Here's a picture of a tulip tree.  It doesn't really have tulips growing on it, but the flowers look sort of like tulips.  Some years the tulip trees start blooming, and then the weather gets really cold, and all the flowers turn brown and fall off.  Which makes them really ugly.  But that didn't happen this year.

This tree is at our house, and it's called a star magnolia.  I guess the flowers are supposed to look like stars, but they are very droopy stars.  Aunt LaDene says the flowers look more like kleenexes than like stars, and I think she is right.

Mom planted a bunch of pansies this year in 3 different pots.  This is the one she calls the "goat pot."  Mom couldn't decide which color of pansy she liked best, so she got lots of colors.

Okay, well, that's enough about boring old flowers.  Here are some other things that are happening in our neighborhood.  Some men from AT&T keep digging holes and sticking cable things in them.  There is one place down the street from us where they put in some boxes with a bunch of wires and stuff.  It has taken them a long time to do this, and there is somebody there working on it almost every day.  I don't like to walk there because it's very scary, so if we get too close, I make Mom turn around and go back the other way.

Here's a new fence that a man built around part of his yard.  A black lab lives there, and she is a nice dog.  She doesn't fence fight or anything like that.  Gabe would like to fence fight with her, but she doesn't even usually come over by the fence.  The people who used to live there before had a boxer, and he could jump right over the fence.  We saw him do it a couple of times.  But now the lab lives there, and she does not jump the fence.

We think this big, white house is probably one of the first ones built in this neighborhood.  And the reason we think that is because it looks different from all the other houses, which are mostly what is called a Tudor style.  Except in our block, where the houses are colonial or Cape Cod style.  Anyway, this big, white house is very nice-looking, and they have a really big yard.  Last summer, the people who live there built a garage, which you can see in the left side of the photo.

And here's the last thing I'm going to show you today, which is two stone lions that guard the sidewalk in front of this one house.  Mom says we don't need lions to guard our house because we have dogs to do that!