Friday, July 30, 2010

DOG BITES!


Okay, now I'm going to tell you more about dog bites, just like I promised you, but I found a ton of information on the internet about this topic, and I can't fit it all into one blog entry, so you will have to be happy with however much I decide to write.  Ha!

First of all, if you want to avoid getting bitten by a dog, there are some situations that, if you see them, you should stay away from them, and here's what they are:

1.  If a dog is alone in its own yard, and its humans are not there.  In 2008, 78% of the people killed were by dogs in their own yards.

2.  The breeds of dogs that have killed the most people are pit bulls, rottweilers, akitas, and chows.  Which is not to say that other kinds of dogs won't bite you.  But in 2008, 65% of fatalities were from pit bull attacks.


3.  If there are a whole pack of dogs, stay away, because a gang of dogs get a thing called "pack mentality," where if one dog decides it would be fun to bite someone, the other dogs all decide to do it, too.

4.  Dogs that are chained or tied up are three times more likely to bite.


5.  Male dogs are lots more likely to attack than female dogs are, and dogs that aren't neutered can be the most vicious of all.

6.  A dog that just came to live in a new home is more likely to bite for the first two months he is there.  Or if a new person comes to live in a home where a dog is already living, it's more likely that the dog will bite the person during the first 60 days or so.

Some cities have tried to solve problem #2 by making laws against owning a certain type of dog.  This is called breed-specific legislation (BSL).  Pit bulls are the breed that is probably banned most often, but sometimes other breeds are, too.  A lot of people have spent a lot of time arguing about BSL, because it doesn't really seem to work very well, plus it's unfair to the dogs because a lot of times it's their owners who are the ones who make them turn into mean dogs who will attack and kill people.  Anyway, it's all very complicated, and I don't want to use up a lot of blog space right now talking about it.  But I will just mention that at least 25 different breeds have been involved in 238 people getting killed by dogs.


Many times, the people who get bitten are children.  There are several reasons for this, like for instance that children might not know how to behave nicely around dogs, so the dogs get scared and bite.  Also, if kids start running, a dog might think they are some kind of prey to chase, and so they will go after them.  And it's sad but true that children are short, so their faces are much closer to a dog's teeth, and this is why 65% of bites are on a child's head or neck.


Here are some scary numbers about kids and dogs:  50% of dog attacks involve children under age 12, 70% of dog-bite fatalities are children under 10, boys are more likely to get bitten than girls, and babies that nobody is watching are 370 times more likely to be killed by a dog than an adult is.  All of which means that if you are the parent of a young child, you should always supervise the child with dogs, and also you should teach the child how to act around dogs.

Okay, so here are some things humans do that make dogs sometimes bite them:

1.  Taking away the dog's food or a chewy or something the dog doesn't want to give up.
2.  Coming into the dog's territory or threatening the dog's pack members, including human pack members.
3.  Trying to handle a dog who is sick or injured.
4.  Approaching a dog who is feeling scared and insecure.


5.  Using rude and threatening body language, like staring directly at the dog or reaching over the dog's head to pet him or hugging the dog.
6.  Acting like prey.  For instance, if the person runs away or jerks their hand away or somehow makes the dog think about chasing and attacking him.
7.  Doing something that the dog thinks is an attack, like stepping on him or pulling his tail or waking him when he's asleep.

So don't do any of these things, okay?  Especially with dogs that you don't know very well.  Personally, I hate it when people come up and try to love on me like I'm their BFF, even though we've never met before.  And sometimes people who do stuff like this will say, "Dogs like me!" Which is a stupid thing to say, if you ask me.

Oh, and if a dog growls at you, he is just being nice enough to let you know that he is not happy with the  current situation, and if you keep doing whatever you are doing, he may have to snap at you in order to make his point more clear.  So you should just be glad that he gave you a warning rather than biting you with no warning at all, which is what some dogs have learned to do because people scolded them for growling.

Well, that's pretty much it, except that I will just say that dogs bite because biting is the only way we have of defending ourselves.  If we had hand guns, we wouldn't need to bite.  Any dog will bite if pushed far enough, but with some dogs it takes a lot of pushing, and with others, not much at all.  So if you think that your dog would never, ever bite, you should maybe think again!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mom's Horrible Adventure!

Well, yesterday I was so busy telling you about my Big, Scary Adventure that I didn't have time to tell you about Mom's adventure, which happened on Monday.  And Mom's adventure was that she got BIT BY A DOG when she was at the Humane Society.  And the way it happened was that Mom had been playing with dogs for a while, and then she got ready to go eat lunch, and she went in the Quarantine Room, where she is not really supposed to go, but she just stepped inside the door so she could tell Aunt Joyce, who takes care of the dogs on Mondays, that she was going to lunch.
A dog who is thinking about biting someone!

And Aunt Joyce was cleaning out runs in the Quarantine Room, and she had one dog out of his run because she was cleaning the run.  And this dog's name was Mars, and he was  a feral dog.  So when Mom came in the room, which is a pretty small room, Mars was in a corner, kind of behind a big trash can, and he backed up even farther and barked at Mom, but she is used to having dogs bark at her.  So she just said something soothing and cheerful like, "Oh, are you afraid of me?" and then she didn't pay any more attention to Mars because she was just going to talk to Aunt Joyce, but all of a sudden, Mars ran out from behind the trash can and bit Mom really hard on the knee and then ran back behind the trash can again.

Mom says it feels worse than it looks!
Mom said it really, really hurt when Mars bit her, and she backed out of the room in a hurry, and Aunt Joyce pushed the trash can over in front of Mars to make sure he didn't run out again.  So Mom had this kind of puncture wound on the left side of her knee and a bruise on the back of her knee, from the two places where Mars' canine teeth hit her.  And the wound was bleeding and it hurt a lot whenever Mom bent her knee.  Then Aunt Joyce and Aunt Jessie, who takes care of the kitties, helped Mom clean the wound and bandage it and everything like that.

Then pretty soon everybody at the shelter started finding out about how Mom got bit, and Mom kept saying it was all her fault because she shouldn't have gone into the Quarantine Room.  Then Aunt Karen, who is in charge of all the adoptions and stuff, told Mom that Mars was supposed to go to another group where someone was good at working with feral dogs.  But after Mars bit Mom, he now has to be kept at the Humane Society for another 10 days.  Mom thinks Aunt Karen was mad at her, even though Aunt Karen said she wasn't, but Mom is on the Board of Directors, so Aunt Karen can't say what she really thinks.  Ha!

Anyway, when Mom came home from the shelter, she walked kind of funny, and all of us dogs sniffed at her leg a lot.  Then in the evening, her knee hurt more, and she really, really walked funny, especially when she was going up or down the stairs, and that made all of us kind of nervous because we were afraid she would fall down and land on one of us and crush us.  So mostly, Mom sat around all evening with ice packs on her knee and watched TV.  Then we all went to bed.

Oh, and remember when I hurt my toenail last May and then it got all icky, and Aunt Cheryl gave Mom some cephalexin for me to take?  Well, Mom still had some of that left, so she started taking it after she got her dog bite.  And then on Tuesday, Mom went to see the doctor, and the doctor gave her a prescription for more cephalexin and also gave her a tetanus shot because Mom was supposed to have got one last year, but she forgot to get it.  And yesterday Mom said her knee felt better, and she even mowed the front yard.  And she doesn't limp anymore except maybe a little when she is going up or down stairs.  So we think Mom is going to be all normal again soon, which is good because we don't like it when Mom is not being her regular self.

Gabe's toothwork!
This was not the first time Mom got bitten by a dog.  Mostly, it was Gabe who bit her, and he's done it twice.  The last time he bit her was right after he got attacked by the greyhounds, so he was hurting and all crazy and snarly like he gets after he's in a fight, and Mom tried to unhook his leash, and he bit her on the hand.  But that was her own fault because she knows how he gets, so she should have been more careful.

Well, I was going to tell you a whole bunch of facts and other fascinating information about dog bites, but I have already spent way too much time just writing about Mom's dog bite.  So tomorrow I will try to tell you all the other stuff, like for instance that 4.7 million dog bites happen every year in the U.S.  And now, after Mom's horrible adventure, that number is 4.7 million and one!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Big, Horrible, Scary Adventure!

OMG!  You will never believe what happened to me yesterday!  In fact, if I had known it was going to happen, I would never have got out of bed.  But the day started out just like any other day -- well, except that Gabe peed in Mom's bed again -- so I was fooled into thinking that it was going to be just a regular day.

So anyway, we got up and some of us went out to potty, and Mom gave us Breakfast of Dogs, and then some of us went out to potty again or else maybe for the first time or maybe just to see what was going on outside and if there were any cicadas to eat.  And I went out to pee and poop on the patio, kind of around on the side, and then when I went back to the door, it was LOCKED and I was left out there in the yard all by myself!

This exact same thing has happened to me twice before when Mom didn't know I was still in the yard and she closed the back door.  And both of the other times it was when we had our chainlink fence, so I was forced to climb over it and go around to the front of the house.  And when I got there, my brothers saw me through the front windows, and they got very excited and started barking and stuff.  So Mom came to see what was going on, and she found me at the front door, and she let me come back in the house.

Then after that, Mom was a little more careful about trying to make sure all the dogs were in the house before she closed the door.  And usually it's Mel who is the last one to come in because he likes to wander around in the yard looking for poop to eat, but sometimes it's me who's the last one.  And that's exactly what happened today because I was out there pooping, which Mom didn't realize.  So she shut the door, and she went upstairs to do a bunch of totally unimportant stuff like get dressed and look at her email, and meanwhile I was stuck out there in the back yard, all alone!

And right away, I started feeling panicky because I didn't know how to get back in the house, which is where I wanted to be.  So I tried scratching on the door, but nobody came to open it.  And then I tried whimpering and crying, but nobody heard me.  And after that, I realized that what I had to do was go around to the front door because that worked before when I got left out in the back yard.

Except back then we had that nice chainlink fence that was pretty easy to climb, and now we have a tall wood fence.  So I checked the gates, and they were closed and I pawed at them, and they didn't come open.  And then I saw that there was kind of a space under one of the gates, so I made myself very, very flat and skinny, and I wiggled my way out of the yard!

Then I trotted around to the front door, but nobody was there to see me!  My brothers weren't even looking out the windows, which is what they should have been doing because it's their job to guard the house.  So then I really didn't know what to do!  And I went down the driveway, and I sort of wandered down the street a little ways, like Mom and I do when she takes me out to potty, because I thought maybe if I did that, Mom would magically appear, but she didn't.

It was scary out in the street, and it made me nervous being there, and I felt horrible and scared like when I used to be a Poor, Homeless Dog in Houston.  But then one of our neighbors came out of her house because she saw me out in the street.  And this neighbor's name is Shirley, and she likes to rescue cats and do that trap, neuter, release thing with feral cats.  But she's a nice person, even if she likes cats better than dogs.  So she talked to me, but I didn't let her touch me because I don't know her very well, and she walked down to my house, and I followed her.

And meanwhile, Mom finished doing all her email and stuff, and she went downstairs, and she was going to give treats to all of us dogs, but there were only three dogs there!  So Mom thought she must have shut me up in the bedroom because sometimes she does that because I like to hide under the bed.  But when she went back upstairs to the bedroom, I wasn't there!  

Then Mom thought she must have left me out in the yard, which is exactly what she did, but when she looked out there, she didn't see me because I wasn't there anymore.  And Mom went and looked at both gates to make sure they were closed, which they were.  And just when she came back in the house, someone knocked on the door, and it was Aunt Shirley!  And Mom came to the door, and Aunt Shirley said "Is this one of your dogs?" and Mom said yes and that she had just figured out that she couldn't find me anywhere.  Then Mom came and picked me up, and she and Aunt Shirley decided I must have squeezed out under the gate.  And Aunt Shirley said I didn't look very happy wandering around out there.  Then Mom took me inside, and my horrible ordeal was over, and I spent the rest of the day resting up.  Whew!







Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Steller's Sea Cow


As you know, I don't like water much, so I am not too terribly interested in things that live in the water, except for maybe fish, because our dog food is made of fish.  And the kind of fish it's mostly made of is herring and salmon.  But I'm not going to talk about fish today.  Instead, I am going to talk about Steller's Sea Cow, which was a great, big fat mammal that used to swim around in the ocean, but now it's EXTINCT.  Which is actually very sad because according to my in-depth research on the internet, the Sea Cow was very tasty, and just one of them could feed 33 men on a ship for one month at sea.

Of course, you are probably wondering who Steller is and why he named the Sea Cow after himself.  Well, it turns out that his whole name was Georg Wilhelm Steller, and he was a naturalist from Germany.  And in 1741, he was out sailing around on a ship with a guy named Vitus Bering, who had the Bering Sea named after him.    And while they were sailing around in the Bering Sea, which is kind of north of the Pacific, way over by Russia, they found these Sea Cows, and since Mr. Steller wrote down a description of them and also made a drawing, they got to be called Steller's Sea Cows.


The Sea Cows are part of a group called Sirenia, which also includes dugongs and manatees, both of which of still in existence.  If you ever read the Odyssey, by Homer, or saw the movie, you will know that there were these "sirens" that were singing on an island, and they were trying to lure Odysseus and his crew onto the rocks.  Well, if the sirens looked like Steller's Sea Cows -- which in my opinion are pretty ugly -- I can't see what the attraction was for Odysseus.


Anyway, Mr. Steller thought there were a whole bunch of Sea Cows, but later on, scientists figured out that there were probably only about 1,500 left at the time that Mr. Steller discovered them, so they were already in danger of being extinct.  And once the Europeans found out about them, they started hunting them and managed to kill them all off in only 27 years.

The Sea Cows were very easy to hunt because they just kind of bobbed around, eating kelp, and they were mostly happy, easy-going animals who didn't realize that humans were their enemies.  So the humans killed them and used their skins for boats and ate their meat and burned their fat in oil lamps.

Scientists who have studied the evolution of the Sea Cow say that it originally used to live in the warm waters near Peru.  And at that time, it had flippers and finger bones.  But as it evolved and moved north, it started just eating kelp, so its teeth turned into a couple of plate things that were good at crushing kelp.  Also its flippers turned into just these stubby armlike things, and it stopped diving down in the water because the kelp was all mostly at the top of the water, so there wasn't any reason to dive.


So anyway, that's pretty much the whole story of the Steller's Sea Cow, which became extinct in 1768.  But this might not be the end of the story, because there have been people saying they saw Sea Cows ever since Sea Cows supposedly went extinct.  Like for instance, on Bering Island in 1830, a naturalist from Poland said he saw Sea Cows, and in 1910, a Sea Cow might have washed up on the coast of Siberia.  Also some Russian sailors on a whaling boat said they saw several Sea Cows in 1962.  So this is kind of like what happened with Elvis Presley, where people are always saying they see him someplace, even though he is dead.

I had an idea that maybe we should ask Sarah Palin to keep an eye out for Steller's Sea Cows, because she can probably just see them from her porch, and if she was busy watching for them, it might keep her busy and out of politics.  Hahahaha!  Just kidding!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A White House Full of Dogs!

The president that maybe had the most dogs and other pets of any president was Theodore Roosevelt.  And besides all those animals, he also had six kids and a wife, and they all loved animals, too.  Mr. Roosevelt started out being the vice-president, but then in 1901 when President McKinley got shot and died, Mr. Roosevelt became the president.

But before he got to be president, Mr. Roosevelt did a whole bunch of other stuff.  He grew up in New York City, but he was sick a lot as a child because he had asthma.  He liked to read books about nature and animals, and he started doing stuff like boxing to make himself stronger.  Then he went to Harvard, and after that he was in the state legislature.  He wrote a book about the Navy, lived in the Badlands for a few years, fought in the Spanish-American War, and then was governor of New York.

So as you can see, Mr. Roosevelt was a very busy man.  And when he became the president, he was only 42 years old, and that meant he was the youngest man to ever be the president.  Oh, and another thing he did was he got married, but his first wife died right after their daughter, Alice, was born.  Then later Mr. Roosevelt married again, and he and his second wife, Edith, had 5 children.  Their names were Theodore Jr., Kermit, Ethel, Archie, and Quentin.  Sagamore Hill, which was the name of their family home, was in a town called Oyster Bay, on Long Island.

Kermit with Blackjack
Anyway, that's enough about the people.  Now I will tell you about the animals that the Roosevelt family had.  I don't know if all of these lived in Washington at the White House, but at least some of them did.  The dogs were:  Pete, a bull terrier; Blackjack, a Manchester terrier; Rollo, a St. Bernard; Gem, a mixed breed; Skip, a rat terrier; Peter, a terrier; Manchu, a Pekingese; Sailor Boy, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever; and Susan, a mixed breed.

Quentin with Eli Yale
The cats were named Tom Quartz and Slippers.  Also there were 4 Guinea pigs named Dr. Johnson, Fighting Bob Evans, Bishop Doane, and Father O'Grady.  There was a rat named Jonathan, a pig named Maude, a macaw named Eli Yale, a small bear named Jonathan Edwards, a garter snake named Emily Spinach, a pony named Algonquin, another pony named Fidelity, a badger named Josiah, a hen named Baron Spreckle, and a one-legged rooster.

So as you can see, the Roosevelt family liked to give their animals interesting names!  President Roosevelt's favorite dog was Skip, the rat terrier.  He found Skip while he was hunting bears in the Grand Canyon and brought him home.  Skip was very affectionate and liked to sit on the president's lap. Sometimes President Roosevelt took Skip hunting, and if Skip couldn't keep up with the hunters, he got to ride on the president's horse with him.  The children liked to play with Skip, and Archie especially liked to run races with him in the halls of the White House.

Sagamore Hill
The top dog at the White House was Rollo, the St. Bernard.  He was very friendly and got special treatment from the president.  But Pete the bull terrier was a naughty dog.  He nipped a naval officer on the leg, snapped at some cabinet members, and tore the pants of the French Ambassador.  So Pete had to go live at Sagamore Hill after that.

Alice with a dog
Manchu, who was a little black Pekingese, was given to Alice by the Empress Dowager Ci-Xi of China.  Alice said that one time she saw Manchu dancing on her hind legs in the moonlight on the White House lawn.

President Roosevelt was reelected in 1904, but he didn't want to run again in 1908.  After he stopped being president, he went on a safari in Africa, where he killed some elephants and rhinos and other animals, which I think was not very nice of him.  In 1912, he decided he would run for president again after all, and he started the Bull Moose Party.  But he lost the election to Woodrow Wilson.  Then he went on a trip to South America, where he got malaria, and after that his health was always kind of bad, so he died in 1919 when he was only 60.

Anyway, even though he was always going hunting and shooting animals, President Roosevelt did a lot of good stuff, like for example making the first National Parks.  Also he helped end the war between the Russians and Japanese, so he won a Nobel Peace Prize.  He was the first American to ever win this prize.

And of course, I have to mention the Teddy Bear, which was named after President Roosevelt.  This happened because when Mr. Roosevelt was out hunting for bears one day, he refused to shoot a mama bear that was with her cub.  So a toy maker asked if he could name his stuffed bears "Teddy," and Mr. Roosevelt said that would be okay.  And that's how the world ended up with Teddy Bears!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's too HOT!


The weather is totally disgusting!  It's been really hot every single day for like forever, and every day we have a thing called Excessive Heat Warning.  And what that means is that you should not go outside your house except maybe really fast, just to potty, because if you go out there, you might DIE from the excessive heat!  At least that's what I think this warning means, and I am taking it very seriously.

Mom is also taking the warning seriously, or else maybe she is just using it as an excuse to be lazy.  But she doesn't make us dogs go for walks now because it is too hot.  And she hasn't mowed the grass lately either because it is too hot.  So we all mostly just stay inside where it's cool.

Sometimes we have big rain storms, with lots of thunder and lightning, and this makes Barry and Mel be very scared.  But I'm not scared of storms.  I am very brave.  But after the storms, I don't like to go outside because I am afraid of getting my feet wet.  Gabe feels the same way, so Mom has to take us out on special potty trips in the front yard and in the street.

Oh, and guess what happened one night last week!  Gabe was sleeping with Mom, and Mom woke up and she found out her whole sleeve was wet!  And the reason why it was wet was because Gabe peed in bed!  But he didn't really mean to pee there.  The pee just sort of came out when he was asleep because he forgot to pee before we went to bed.  He might have even forgot to pee all day long, but we're not sure about that.

Anyway, Mom got out of bed and she took Gabe to the back door, but he wouldn't go outside because it was starting to rain.  So she had to take him out the front door, and she was barefooted and wearing her nightshirt, and it was sort of raining.  But luckily, it was trash day, so there was a trash bag nearby that Gabe could pee on.  Then Mom had to take all the sheets off the bed plus also one pillow that got wet, and she had to try to clean up the mattress, and she had to put clean sheets on the bed, and also she had to change her nightshirt.  Then after that, we all went back to sleep.  Whew!

Anyway, besides cleaning up after us dogs, Mom has been doing some stuff to get ready for the big cactus club show and sale, which will happen next month.  And one thing she did was that she and Aunt Barbara put labels and stamps on a whole bunch of postcards, like 1,040 (but who's counting?) so that they could get mailed out to tell people to come and spend lots of money buying plants.

And then what Mom did all day yesterday was she got a bunch of artwork ready to take to Art Unleashed, which is that big auction thingy that I told you about last year where they sell artwork to raise money to help the poor, homeless dogs and cats.  Anyway, Mom bought some artwork that she is going to donate for the auction.

Then after that, Mom made a piece of artwork herself, which is a collage of weird stuff all glued together.  It's supposed to look like a cat, but I think it just looks like a bunch of junk glued together.  We don't know if anybody will buy it, but maybe someone will pay a couple of dollars for it.  Mom is not really an artist, which you can tell just by looking at this collage thing.  I guess if people start laughing at Mom's artwork, I can just claim I don't know her!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

BADGER DOGS

"Badger Dog" is English for Dachshund, did you know that?  And the reason dachshunds got this name was because they were bred to hunt badgers.  Some people think that there may have been dachshund ancestors in ancient Egypt, but the breed we know today comes from Germany, and it's made up of several types of hounds and also terriers that all got mixed together to make the perfect badger-hunting dog.

Dachshunds have those long bodies so that they can dig down inside badger holes.  And their feet are wide like paddles, which makes them extra good at digging.  They have ear flaps that help keep dirt and grass and stuff from getting down inside their ears, and they have those cute little curled tails so that people can grab them and pull them out if they get stuck in a hole.

There are three types of dachshund coats:  smooth, long-haired, and wire-haired.  And there are also three sizes:  standard, miniature, and kaninchen, which means rabbit.  The rabbit size is very small, like only 8-10 pounds.  This size of dachshund is not recognized in the U.S. and the U.K., but it is in the 83 countries where there are kennel clubs that belong to the World Canine Federation.

Wikipedia says that a standard dachshund weighs between 15 and 28 pounds, and a miniature dachshund is less than 11 pounds.  So if you weigh between 11 and 15 pounds, I don't know what kind of dachshund you are, and it seems like you would feel kind of left out.  But if you have a nice home to live in, I guess that doesn't matter.

Anyway, dachshunds can be all sorts of different colors, except that some colors, like white, may get you disqualified from being a show dog.  The most common colors are red or black-and-tan.

Dachshunds can be very stubborn and hard to train, or at least that's what I read while I was doing my in-depth research on the breed.  Of course, people say the same thing about basenjis, so I know that you can't always believe everything you read.  And stuff like that was probably written by people with border collies or labs, which are dogs who can't think for themselves and just do anything they are told to do with no questions asked.

But besides being stubborn, dachshunds can also be playful, clever, lively, devoted, and loyal.  Many of them don't like strangers or children they don't know, so they might not be the best kind of dog for a family with young kids.

Because of their long backs, dachshunds often have spinal problems, such as intervertebral disk disease, which means that those disk thingies that keep the bones of your back from rubbing together stop being all soft and cushiony.  Gabe has this problem, which is why it hurts him to go up the stairs sometimes.  Maybe this means that Gabe is actually part dachshund!  And guess what -- the other big health problem that dachshunds have is luxating patellas, which I have also had, so maybe I'm part dachshund, too!

Anyway, one reason I decided to write about dachshunds is that I wanted to tell you how you can get one of your very own, because right now there are THREE dachshunds at the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City.  Mom has played with all three of these dachshunds, and she says they are all very nice dogs.  And you should believe her when she says this because she is not really a big fan of dachshunds, but she likes all of the ones that are at the shelter.

So I will tell you about them.  The first is Liza, who I maybe told you about before.  She is 6 years old and weighs 14 pounds.  She is kind of shy at first, but she likes to sit in people's laps and get petted and be told how pretty she is.  Liza gets along fine with other dogs and probably would be okay with cats, too.

Then there's Gus, who is 5 and weighs 18 pounds.  He is a total lap dog and also likes to be petted and fussed over.  He doesn't like other dogs, though, so he needs to be an only dog.  He and Roger were brought in together to Animal Control by their owner, and at first they were in a run together, but then they had a terrible fight and really chewed each other up, so now they can't live together.

Roger is 7 years old and has some grey on his muzzle, but he acts like a puppy.  He really loves to play with toys, and he's very entertaining to watch when he's playing.  Of course, he also needs to be the only dog in his home.

So that's all I'm going to tell you about dachshunds.  They aren't the perfect breed for everybody, but they are for some people.  And if you're one of those people, you should run down to the Humane Society right away and adopt Liza or Gus or Roger!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Horton Plains Slender Loris

You will never believe what happened!  A cute little animal with a big, long name was found again after everybody thought it was extinct for 60 years!  How cool is that?

I had never even heard of a loris, but it's a primate, just like monkeys and lemurs and humans are primates.  There are other kinds of lorises, but the one I'm going to tell you about is the Horton Plains Slender Loris.  The Horton Plains are in the country of Sri Lanka, which in case you forgot your geography lessons, is located just below the tip of India.  Part of the Horton Plains is a national park.  I found some photos of it, and it looks like a very pretty place.

But over the years, a lot of this area got cleared out so that people could make farms and tea plantations, and this made it so that the Horton Plains Slender Loris didn't have very many nice places to live.  Because where they like to live is in forests that are way up high, and these forests are called "cloud forests."  And even though there are some cloud forests left, there is no way for the lorises to get from one patch of forest to another one.  So they can't easily go out and find other lorises to mate with.

Anyway, after the Horton Plains Slender Loris spent 60 years supposedly being extinct, some researchers thought they saw some lorises in 2002.  So the Zoological Society of London plus some people from Sri Lankan universities went out looking for the lorises, but they had trouble finding them because they are really small, like only about 8 inches long and they only weigh 11 ounces.  But they have big, red eyes like space aliens, and their eyes reflect light, so that's how the scientists finally found them.  And after they found them, the scientists took pictures, and also they examined the lorises and got some DNA samples.

All of this happened in late 2009, but the photos just now got released so that people could see them.  I don't know why we couldn't see the photos sooner, but maybe the scientists were hogging them.  Anyway, what they said, after studying the Horton Plains Slender Loris, was that there are maybe only about 100 of the lorises left.  And also they think these animals they found might be a whole new species of loris because they have shorter legs and thicker fur than the lorises that don't live high up in the mountains.

So now the scientists and conservationists want to do some things to try to help the Horton Plains Slender Loris have a better life and be able to find more mates and food and stuff like that.  I wish there were enough of them left so that we could have one as a pet, but I guess that won't happen anytime soon.  I also keep wondering if they are yummy to eat, but Mom says, "Don't even think about it!"

Oh, and Mom also says I should tell you that the photos of the Horton Plains Slender Lorises were taken by the Zoological Society of London, and I hope they won't send me to jail because I used them in my blog!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

POSSUMS!

A couple of nights ago, we dogs found a possum up on the fence in the back of our yard.  We got really, really excited because possums smell like they would be totally yummy to eat.  Even people like to eat possums, so it's no wonder that dogs like them, too.  Mom came out in the yard to see what all the excitement was about, but the possum had already got away by that time, so we didn't get to catch him and eat him.

One time we really did catch a possum, though, and it was two or three years ago.  We caught the possum and we killed it, or at least we thought we did because it looked dead and it smelled dead, too.  It was just lying there on the ground, and then it started smelling kind of icky, so we weren't sure what to do with our possum.  Then Mom came out with a flashlight and looked at it, and she thought it was dead, too, because it really did look dead.

But Mom was afraid to try to pick it up or anything, just in case it wasn't totally dead, so she made us come in the house, and she called Aunt Cheryl and asked her what to do.  Aunt Cheryl said maybe the possum wasn't really dead, and she said Mom should wait an hour or so and then go look again.  So Mom did that, and surprise!  The possum was gone!

So anyway, last night I decided to do some research on opossums, and I learned several very interesting things.  One is that these animals have a special talent for pretending to be dead, and this is called "playing possum."  And it turns out to be more than just deciding to lie very still.  Because it's something that the possum's body does without the possum even having to think about doing it.  So the possum actually is sort of unconscious, and its lips are drawn back, and it might foam at the mouth and let out some stinky fluid stuff from its butt.  Then after a while, when it's safe again, the possum wakes up and trots off.

As you might already know, possums are marsupials, so their babies are only 12 to 14 days old when they are born.  Then they have to crawl to the mother's pouch and go inside the pouch and attach themselves to a teat.  This is not easy for a teeny tiny baby to do, so even though lots of possums are born, most of them don't make it all the way to the pouch.  But sometimes as many as 13 can attach, which seems like it would make the pouch pretty crowded.

Here's a picture of baby possums inside their mom's pouch.  She is sleeping in a safe place, so the pouch got relaxed and you can see inside it.

Baby possums sometimes hang by their tails from branches, but adult possums can't do this because their tails aren't strong enough to hold them.  So what they use their tails for instead is to help them climb or to carry stuff to their nests.

Possums aren't fussy about what they eat.  They like stuff like roadkill, frogs, insects, birds, snakes, small mammals, earthworms, apples, and persimmons.  They also like to go dumpster diving for leftover people food or pet food.

Here's another interesting fact:  possums have more teeth than any other land mammal!  The word opossum comes from the Algonquian word wapathemwa, which means "white dog."  The Virginia Opossum is the kind of possum we have in the U.S. and Canada.  At first it lived mostly in the east part of the country, but during the Great Depression it got introduced into other parts of the country as a food source.  Possums used to be hunted a lot in the South, and they were usually baked or sometimes made into a pie.  Older editions of The Joy of Cooking had possum recipes, but nowadays not as many people eat possums.  I sure do wish I could eat one, though!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

ANIMAL HOARDING!

This is a very horrible and sad subject, not to mention being complicated, so I can't tell you everything there is to know about it.  Even scientists don't know everything about it, but they are studying people who hoard animals so maybe they can understand better why they do this bad thing.


Of course, the people who are hoarding the animals don't think they are doing a bad thing.  Usually, they will tell you that they love all their animals very much and take really good care of them.  They don't want to give up their animals to anybody else, like especially not to a shelter, because they are afraid the animals will be put to sleep.


So they keep the animals, and they get more and more of them, and the real truth is that they can't take good care of the animals, and so the animals don't always get enough to eat and also they might have to sit around in cages in their own pee and poop.  And they have to breathe all the bad smells from so much pee, which can hurt your lungs and your heart.  Oh, and the animals don't get shots and medical care, and sometimes they keep having puppies or kittens, and that makes the situation get even worse.


Mom and I have been reading a book that's called Inside Animal Hoarding:  The Case of Barbara Erickson and Her 552 Dogs.  This book was written by Arnold Arluke and Celeste Killeen.  It's about this woman and her husband who lived in Oregon, and in 2003 they had 552 dogs taken out of their house.  Some of the dogs were dead already, and some had to be put to sleep because they were too sick to be saved.  But more than 300 of them were saved by shelters and rescue groups.  Mrs. Erickson had to go to jail for a while, and one of the authors, Celeste Killeen, talked to her a whole bunch and found out about her bad childhood and tried to understand why Mrs. Erickson would hoard so many dogs.


If you are interested in reading this book, you can get it from amazon.com or else you can get it from this website: http://www.animalhoarding.com/ which also has a lot of good information about animal hoarding.

Okay, so maybe you have several dogs or cats or ferrets or whatever, and you are wondering if you are an animal hoarder.  Well, here are four things that you will usually see in people with this problem:

1.  They don't give their animals enough clean space to live in, enough food to eat, or veterinary care.
2.  They don't realize that they are failing to take good care of their animals, and that the animals are getting sick, and that their house is becoming yucky and smelly and not a nice place to live.
3.  They just keep on getting more animals, even though they already aren't taking good care of the ones they have.
4.  They deny that there is any problem with what they are doing, or that it is having a bad effect on the animals and the people that live in their house.


There are about 3,500 new cases of animal hoarding discovered each year in the U.S., affecting 250,000 animals.  These are really big numbers, but the sad part is that lots of animal hoarders are not reported.  This is because they usually don't invite people to their homes, on account of they don't want anyone to know how many animals they have.  And if they keep most of the animals inside most of the time, it's hard for neighbors to know how many there are.  Also the Animal Control people can't go into a house without a paper called a search warrant, and they can't get one if they don't see animal abuse going on outside the house.


Back in 2003, there was a case of animal hoarding right here in Kansas City, and the animals being hoarded were mostly basenjis!  Mom told me all about this shocking event, and I found some old reports about it on the internet.  What happened was that a woman and her daughter were breeding basenjis, but they stopped showing them or selling the puppies, and they ended up with more and more dogs.  So when the Animal Control people finally came, they found about 160 dogs and 32 cats in a 5-room house and a few outdoor kennels.

The cats all had to be put to sleep because they were in very bad shape.  But the Basenji Club of America raised about $10,000 to pay for medical care for the dogs.  Then people drove to Kansas City in big trucks and vans, and they took the basenjis off to all different parts of the country to be fostered and adopted.  And at the end, when the rest of the dogs had to be moved out by a certain date, Mom brought 6 of them to our house and put them in the garage in crates.  They had to stay in the garage because they all had worms, and Mom did not want to give worms to her other dogs.  And also she didn't think Gabe and Trixie would like having these dogs in the house.


Anyway, two of the basenjis left the next day to go to Kentucky, but the other 4 were here for several weeks.  Mom started calling them "The Garage Girls."  She took care of them and fed them and did all that kind of stuff  for about 5 weeks.  Two of the dogs coughed all the time, and the doctor said it was because they had bad hearts due to all the nasty air they breathed while they were in their first home.  Also they had really bad teeth and not very strong leg muscles and they were scared of everything -- even more scared of everything than I am!

Well, I think that's all I'm going to try to tell you about animal hoarding.  But I will just mention that the Animal Planet channel is going to start showing a series of 6 shows this Wednesday, July 21, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.  And the name of this series is Confessions: Animal Hoarding.  You can read more about it and see some little short clips from it here.  And another place you can find out more about the sad subject of animal hoarding is at the site for The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium.  Remember how I told you that scientists were studying people who hoard animals?  Well, these are some of the main people who are doing the studies, so you can read about what they have learned so far.