Monday, November 29, 2010

85 NEW GUINEA SINGERS! OH, MY!

If you have a better memory than my mom does, you might remember that I wrote about New Guinea Singing Dogs last April.  And at that time, I told you there were hardly any singers left in the wild, and there weren't even all that many in captivity.

So that's why everyone was very shocked last month when it turned out that a man named Randy Hammond, who lives in Willow Hill, Pennsylvania, had 85 New Guinea Singing Dogs of his very own, right there on his property!  And the way the animal wardens found out about these dogs was because somebody heard them "singing," and phoned in a tip.

Mr. Hammond was charged with animal cruelty because he didn't have a license for his kennel, and also he didn't have a licenses and rabies shots for the dogs.  So now he owes $1,100 in fines.  He was keeping the dogs in pens outdoors, but the conditions were getting crowded because of the large number of dogs.  The rescuers said the dogs looked pretty healthy, but they were dirty and of course they should have had shots and vet care and stuff like that.






And all these dogs started from only two pairs of dogs.  Mr. Hammond bought the first pair as puppies at a flea market in the 1990s, which seems like a very strange place to buy a rare breed like the New Guinea Singing Dog.  And then later on, Mr. Hammond bought another pair of singer pups.  So all 85 of his dogs came from just these 4 dogs, which means that there was lots of inbreeding going on.






Sometimes, in these hoarding situations, the dogs are all euthanized, but in this case, people are trying to save the dogs and find new homes for them.  Mr. Hammond will be allowed to keep 10 dogs because he is cooperating with the animal control people and the rescuers.  But his 10 dogs will be spayed and neutered and vaccinated before he gets them back.


Meanwhile, a group called New Guinea Singing Dog International is trying to rescue the other singers.   This group needs donations, and they also need people who can give these dogs homes.  NGSDs are not the best kind of dog for just anybody to adopt, though, because they have a high prey drive, and they can climb trees and fences, and you have to be careful to keep them from getting out of your yard.  But if you think you might like to adopt one of these rare and interesting dogs, you can find out more on the NGSD International website.  And you can see tons of photos on the group's Facebook page.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

WHITE ELEPHANTS

At this time of year, people sometimes have parties, and they tell everybody to bring a "white elephant" gift.  And as far as I can figure out, this means you are supposed to bring something to the party that you don't want, and then you will give it to someone else who also doesn't want it.  Plus you will end up with another gift to bring home that you don't want, either.





And all of this seems kind of dumb to me, when I get to thinking about it.  Not that I really understand some of the stuff that humans do anyway.  But this white elephant thing brought several questions to my mind, such as:

1.  Are there really any elephants that are white?
2.  If so, is there something wrong with these elephants that makes people not like them?
3.  What do elephants have to do with giving gifts?

Anyway, after I thought up these excellent questions, I started doing my usual in-depth research, and I learned some interesting things.

First of all, I found out that there really are white elephants living in Asia.  They are albinos, and they are kind of rare.  Also they are not white-white, like my cute little feet are white.  They are just sort of a dirty whitish color, but mostly they are lighter in color than a regular elephant.

And the second thing I learned is that in the past, white elephants were considered very, very special in countries like Thailand or Laos or Myanmar, where they were sometimes even worshipped.  You could not use white elephants to carry stuff or do other work.  That's how special they were.  So a white elephant couldn't earn its keep, and only rich people such as emperors could afford to have white elephants.


Which is why white elephants made bad gifts.  People say that the King of Siam used to give a white elephant to somebody he didn't like anymore. And the person who got the white elephant couldn't use it to work, but still had to pay for its food and make it available so that people could come and worship it.  And in the end, the person who got the white elephant would go broke.






The term "white elephant" to mean a gift that is expensive to take care of without bringing you any money in return was first used in the 15th century.  Now it mostly just means that you are making a gift out of something that you don't want anymore.  But the person you are giving it to may not want it either.  I guess this is supposed to be funny, but it just seems kind of dumb to me, like I said before.



In June of this year, some people in Myanmar found a white elephant roaming around in the jungle, and they captured it and gave it to the king.  White elephants are still symbols that make people feel like they will be lucky and rich -- well, as long as they personally don't have to pay for the white elephant's food.







So that's the story of white elephants and why you don't want anyone to ever give you a real, live one unless you don't mind going bankrupt in order to feed it.  But guess what I found out!  There is a really pretty hosta plant called "White Elephant," so you could get one of those, and it would be easy and cheap to take care of, and you could tell everybody that you had a white elephant, and you would not be telling a lie!

Friday, November 26, 2010

President Johnson's Dogs

President Lyndon B. Johnson was a man who really liked dogs, so I'm sure that made him a very good president.  He first became president on November 22, 1963, after President Kennedy got killed.  Before that, Mr. Johnson had been the vice-president.  And before that, he was a congressman and then a senator.  In fact, President Johnson was one of only four presidents who got elected to all four of those offices.  I don't know who the other three were, so you will have to figure that out all by yourself!






Anyway, Mr. Johnson was born in 1908 in Texas, not too far from Johnson City.  This town got its name from Mr. Johnson's father's cousin, James Polk Johnson, who had moved there from Georgia.  The original Johnsons were Scots-Irish, and some were even English royalty.

Mr. Johnson went to Southwest Texas State Teachers College, and then he taught school for a few years.  After that, he decided he wanted to get into politics, so he did.




In 1934, he married Claudia Alta Taylor, who was mostly called "Lady Bird."  They had two daughters, Lynda Bird and Luci Baines.  Mr. Johnson, who was often called by his initials, LBJ, liked everybody in his family to have the same initials, so that is why he gave those names to his daughters.  And also he had a beagle called Little Beagle Johnson.  He told people that it was cheaper if everybody had the same monogram.




Mr. Johnson got elected to Congress in 1937, but then when World War II started, he joined the Naval Reserve.  He wanted to go into combat, but President Franklin Roosevelt asked him to inspect some shipyards and then go to the Pacific area as an observer to find out what the Navy needed.  So Mr. Johnson did that, and he came back to Congress and asked for more money for planes and ships and stuff like that to defeat the Japanese.

When Mr. Johnson got into the Senate in 1948, he worked his way up and became really important.  Then he ran for president, but John F. Kennedy got the nomination and asked LBJ to be his vice-president.  But then after President Kennedy got shot, Mr. Johnson became the president, like I already told you.

So at the time when the Johnsons moved into the White House, they had two beagles, and the names of these beagles were Him and Her.  President Johnson was really the first president to allow a photographer to follow him around all the time and take lots of pictures, so there are several photos of him with his beagles.



One time, the President thought he would help pose one of the dogs for a photo, and he lifted him up by the ears.  This photo made lots of dog lovers angry because they thought LBJ was abusing his dogs.  I wouldn't want anybody picking me up by the ears, but I also don't think this is the worst thing anybody could do to a dog.  Still, if President Johnson had it all to do over again, I hope he wouldn't pick up his beagles by the ears!




Him and Her pretty much got to run around everywhere in the White House, and the President always carried dog treats in his pockets.  Sometimes when there were lots of people outside, protesting against the Vietnam War, President Johnson felt better if he spent a little time with his dogs because, as he said, "They like me."

President Johnson also spoiled his beagles by letting them go swimming with him and ride in the presidential limo and fly to Camp David in his helicopter.  And sometimes they got to hang out when important leaders from other countries were visiting, even though one time Him made a puddle on a chair.

Him fathered a litter of puppies, and these puppies were named Freckles, Kim, Little Chap, Dumpling, and Crasher.  The President said that there was nothing he loved more than a "basket full of fresh, wiggly puppies."

Another dog that lived in the White House at this time was a white collie named Blanco.  I couldn't find any photos of Blanco, but I read that he was neurotic, so maybe he didn't like having his picture taken.  One time he peed on a sculpture by Alexander Calder that the Museum of Modern Art in New York had loaned to the White House.

Now I have to tell you a sad thing, which is that both Him and Her died in tragic ways at a young age.  Her died because she swallowed a rock, and Him got hit by a car.  Later on, the Johnsons got another beagle who was named Edgar because he was a gift from J. Edgar Hoover.  Mr. Hoover was the head of the FBI, and he was always looking for ways to make the president like him.  Blanco, the weird collie, bit Edgar on the nose, and Edgar had to get stitches.


But in the end, President Johnson's favorite dog turned out to be a little stray terrier that his daughter Luci found at a gas station in Texas.  This dog was named Yuki, and LBJ took him everywhere, like to cabinet meetings and to the East Room when he signed important laws like the Wholesome Meat Act.  He even danced with Yuki at his daughter Lynda's wedding, and he wanted to include Yuki in the family wedding photo, but Mrs. Johnson said that was not going to happen.




Best of all, President Johnson and Yuki liked to howl together, and they often did this for photographers and for guests.  I wish I could have heard them because I am sure it sounded very nice.





Anyway, because of the Vietnam War and some of his other foreign policies, President Johnson became less popular, so he decided not to run again in 1968.  He retired to his ranch in Texas.  Then in January of 1973, he had a heart attack, and Yuki was at his side when he died.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

MOM IS BEING MEAN TO ME! by Gabe

Lately I haven't been feeling so hot because of my inflammatory bowel disease.  Some days I just don't want to eat anything, no matter how much coaxing Mom does.  In fact, last Friday I wouldn't eat my breakfast even after Mom added a scrambled an egg to it.

Here's a picture of the spot on my chest
and the one in my armpit.
Well, Mom got really worried after that, so she took me to see Dr. Patricia.  I hate it when she does that!  Also Mom had noticed some funny-looking spots on my chest and in my armpit, and she was worried about those, too.  Mom is good at worrying, but I guess she's had a lot of practice because of all of us dogs and cats.

Mom had already made an appointment with Dr. Patricia for Friday afternoon, and it was supposed to be an appointment for Charlie the cat to go and meet Dr. Patricia for the first time.  But Mom decided to take me instead.  And she also made Piper go along so she could get her toenails trimmed.





Dr. Patricia was kind of worried about me, too, and when she gets worried about somebody's pet, she always draws blood and sends it off to the lab.  That seems to be her way of dealing with a worrisome situation.  So sure enough, she told Mom it had been 6 months since my last blood test, and that we should do another one.  Mom agreed, even though it meant she had to pay for all this bloodwork stuff.

The spots on my chest and in my armpit were rather puzzling to Dr. Patricia, so she photographed them and sent the pictures to Dr. Senter, the dermatologist.  Dr. Patricia thought I should take some antibiotics because maybe there was something called heliobacter in my intestines.  I'm not sure exactly what heliobacter is, but the word always makes me think of helicopters.  And if I have helicopters inside me, no wonder I feel so crappy!   Anyway, now I have to get 4 ml of this liquid junk squirted in my mouth twice a day.  Mom says it is not "junk" -- it's actually amoxycillin, but it still tastes like junk to me.

On Saturday, Nurse Debbie called Mom and told her that my blood tests showed that I have a low ALT, which has something to do with liver proteins.  And also I have a high platelet count, which means I have some kind of infection. So besides the amoxycillin, I now also have to get baytril, which comes in really big tablets that are hard to swallow, and it's pretty expensive.

But here's the real kicker.  I had to go on a special diet that is supposed to clean out my intestines and make me feel all better.  Mom has to cook it herself, but it only has two ingredients, so it's not too hard.  The two ingredients are potatoes and whitefish.  Mom could have used turkey instead of fish, but she decided to use fish.  And the fish she chose is flounder.

In this picture, you can see me eating my boring food
and also wearing my sweater.
Saturday night I didn't want to eat my regular food, but then Mom cooked up a big batch of my new diet food.  She offered me some, and I thought it was pretty tasty, so I ate it.  And I ate some more of it Sunday, but then Monday I decided maybe I didn't like it as much.  So Mom got worried again, and Dr. Patricia was worried, too.  But yesterday I ate both my breakfast and my supper, so everybody is less worried.

The bad part is that I have to eat this same boring food for three whole weeks.  And I can't have any snacks or anything else at all.  This means that Mom has to shove all of my pills down my throat because she can't hide them in cream cheese or anything like that.  This is why I say that Mom is being mean to me -- because she is feeding me boring food, and she won't give me any treats, and also she's making me take a whole bunch of pills.

And then yesterday it got cold, so she made me wear a sweater.  I don't like to wear sweaters, so I snarked at Mom while she was trying to put the sweater on me.  But then she got out my muzzle, and I had to let her put the sweater on me.  After ever since I've been wearing it, I will admit that I have felt warmer.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I am really tired of having IBD now, and I wish I could stop having it and go back to being a normal dog who can eat normal stuff like other dogs do.  But Mom says that is never going to happen.  Darn!  Why is life so unfair?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Dog Who Chewed Off His Owner's Toe

This is a true story about a dog named Kiko, who is a cute, sort of scruffy-looking, brown-and-white terrier type of dog.  Kiko lives with his human mom and dad, Rosee and Jerry Douthett, in Michigan.  And one day last August, Kiko saved his dad's life by eating his toe.

Here's how it happened.  Kiko's dad's big toe was really sore and icky-looking and smelly, but he didn't want to go see a doctor, so he mostly ignored it.  Then Kiko's mom, who is a nurse, saw the toe, and she told her husband he should really go to the doctor, but he still didn't go.

Then one night Kiko's mom and dad went out drinking, and Kiko's dad had several margaritas and several beers.  So when he got home, he passed out and slept all night.  Then when he woke up, he started screaming because there was all this blood on his foot, and when he washed it off, he saw that his big toe was gone!  And Kiko had been lying beside him on the bed, right by where the toe used to be.

Kiko's mom took Kiko's dad to the hospital, and the doctors found out that Kiko's dad had a bone infection in his toe that was caused by his having Type 2 diabetes, which he didn't know he had.  So the doctors cut off the rest of his toe and told him he was lucky that Kiko had let him know about the problem.


And that's how Kiko became a hero.  He had to be quarantined for a while to make sure he didn't have rabies, which he didn't.  And Kiko was very smart to do what he did because he only ate the infected part of his dad's toe, so he knew that part was bad and shouldn't be there.  A lot of dogs can tell when their diabetic humans have a blood sugar problem.  And when this happens, they can let the person know by whining or barking or licking.  Some dogs are specially trained to do this, but other dogs do it without even having to be trained.

Of course, as all of us dogs know, rotting flesh smells really great, so I think that is why Kiko got interested in nibbling on his dad's toe.  And since his dad's blood sugar was high, the toe probably tasted quite yummy.  Kiko's dad was so drunk that he didn't really notice his toe was being gnawed on.  Also his toe might have been numb because of the diabetes and the infection.

Anyway, now Kiko's dad knows that he has diabetes, and he is taking better care of himself.  For one thing, he has stopped drinking.  And just to be on the safe side, he wears shoes to bed every night.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Case of the Stolen Meerkat

A very shocking thing happened recently right here in Kansas City:  someone kidnapped a meerkat from the zoo!  When the zookeepers first noticed that the meerkat was gone, they didn't know if a person stole it or if a hawk ate it.  But then the meerkat showed up again in an aquarium that was left outside a Petco store.  So the people who work at Petco called the police, and they came and got the meerkat, and they took it back to where it belongs at the zoo.  And one exciting thing is that the Petco where this happened is the very same Petco where Mom often goes to buy us some dog treats and stuff like that.  But Mom was not there at the right time to see the meerkat.

Anyway, after that, the mystery was solved of what happened to the missing meerkat, because now we know that some person stole it from the zoo.  And the reason this person probably did that was because meerkats are very cute, and they have their own TV show, Meerkat Manor, and people think they must make nice little pets.  But this is not true at all, because meerkats bite and they can claw you with their long, sharp claws.  Also they are stinky and they spray pee on stuff.










Another reason why meerkats make bad pets is because they like to live in groups that are called "mobs," "gangs," or "clans," and if one meerkat is all by itself, it can totally freak out and get really aggressive.  In the UK, there are people who are selling and buying meerkats as pets, and it can cost 1000 pounds to buy one.  Then you have to keep it caged because otherwise it will destroy stuff in your house, but keeping it in a cage isn't good for it, and the meerkat can get all stressed.  And that's why there is a group called Captive Animals' Protection Society (CAPS) that is working on trying to keep people from buying meerkats as pets.


So anyway, the real way that meerkats should live is where they have always lived, which is in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and South Africa.  A clan of meerkats can be maybe 20 animals or as many as 50.  And usually all the meerkats in one colony are related to each other.








Meerkats belong to the mongoose family.  They are active during the daytime, and they like to stand up on their hind legs, which it's easy for them to do because they use their tails to help balance themselves.  A meerkat weighs about 2 pounds, and it has a body that is about 12 inches long.  They have black patches around their eyes, and these are kind of like natural sunglasses.  They can close their ears when they are digging, so that the dirt won't go in their ears.





The diet of meerkats is mostly insects, scorpions, lizards, snakes, spiders, worms, birds, and eggs.  Also they eat tubers and roots.  Scorpion venom doesn't hurt them, which is why meerkats can eat scorpions.  Since they can't store up a lot of body fat, meerkats have to spend time every day looking for stuff to eat.  And while everybody is looking for food, one of them will watch out for predators.  They take turns doing this.  And if the sentry sees a predator, he barks loudly or whistles, so everybody can run into their burrows.  The main predators of the meerkats are jackals and martial eagles.

Meerkats live in long networks of burrows that they share with ground squirrels and yellow mongooses.  The alpha pair mates and makes baby meerkats three or four times a year.  Each litter has one to five pups in it.  Other meerkats in the group help out by babysitting the pups while the mom and dad are out looking for food.


There are still lots of meerkats living in the Kalahari, so we don't have to worry about them becoming extinct.  And of course there are a lot of meerkats in zoos.  The Kansas City Zoo will be changing the meerkat exhibit during the winter so that it's not as easy for someone to get over the wall and kidnap a meerkat.  This is kind of sad because Mom says it was nice to be able to see the animals up close.

If we had a meerkat at our house, I would just eat it, and then we wouldn't have to worry about it getting stressed or peeing on the furniture or anything like that.  But I don't think Mom will let us have a meerkat, so I'm not even going to ask.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Some More Sponsored Kids

Mom has been busy trying to catch up on some stuff, like scanning new photos of her sponsored kids and updating her SmugMug gallery.  Some of Mom's sponsored kids got old, so they graduated from the program and couldn't be sponsored anymore.  And whenever that happens, Mom gets a brand new kid to sponsor.

One of the new kids lives in the Philippines, and her name is Kimberly.  She is 11 years old.  Before this, Mom was sponsoring a girl named Eva in the Philippines, but now she has Kimberly instead.









In Haiti, there is a new girl for Mom to sponsor, and her name is Ashanta.  She is 11, just like Kimberly.  The only problem is that in Haiti, everything is still a mess because of that big earthquake last January.  So there is no mail service or anything, and Mom can't write a letter to Ashanta until the mail service gets fixed.  But the good news is that Ashanta lives about 70 miles from where the earthquake was, so she didn't get hurt by it.






Mom used to sponsor a girl in Indonesia who was named Sri.  She was only 1 year old when Mom started sponsoring her about 6 years ago.  But things got better in the area where Sri lives, so the organization left there, and they gave Mom another girl to sponsor in another part of Indonesia.  This new girl's name is Andriana, and she is 6 years old.







So those are all the new kids Mom got recently, and she is still waiting for one more, which will probably be in Pakistan.  Mom has been sponsoring a boy named Tariq there, and he turned 18 last month, so Mom can maybe sponsor one of Tariq's younger brothers or sisters.  Or else she might end up sponsoring a kid from a whole different family.  Anyway, she is waiting to find out who the new sponsored kid will be.

Here's a picture of Tariq, which Mom just got a week or two ago.  He looks really grown-up now.  The update said that Tariq will be going to college, so that made Mom happy.  We just hope he will think of Americans as nice people and won't turn out to be a terrorist or anything like that!


AP photo
UH-OH!  HERE'S SOME HORRIBLE, SAD NEWS ON A DIFFERENT TOPIC:
I just found out last night that Target, one of the three heroic dogs I wrote about on Veterans' Day, got euthanized because she escaped from her yard.  The Animal Control people picked her up and they said it was a mistake that they euthanized her, but we don't know if they are telling the truth or not.  You can read more here.  Anyway, we just learned about this last night when we were going to bed, and so we were feeling very sad when we went to bed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another Update on My Exciting Life

Well, guess what!  I have a sexy problem!  Okay, Mom says it's not really a "sexy problem" -- it's a problem with sex hormones.  And the reason I know this is because yesterday I had to go see Dr. Senter, the dermotologist.  Mom made me go there because my coat is thin, and you can see my skin down under the hair, as you can sort of tell in this photo.

Anyway, Dr. Senter looked at my skin and my hair, and he scraped a little skin off my tummy, which sort of hurt and made a red spot.  Then he went somewhere and looked through a microscope to make sure I don't have mites, which I don't.  After that, he told Mom that my problem was probably due to sex hormones, which means I don't have enough of them or I have the wrong kind of them or something.

Anyway, he is going to get all my blood test records from Dr. Patricia, so that Mom doesn't have to pay for another blood test.  In the meantime, Mom is supposed to give me something called melatonin, which she needs to go buy at the drugstore.  She's supposed to give it to me for 3 months to see if that makes my hair grow back.

So that's all the latest news about me.  Gabe has been eating his breakfast for the last three days, which makes Mom very happy.  On Sunday, Gabe kept shivering, and Mom thought maybe he was cold, so she got out all the doggy sweaters and tried to put one on Gabe, but he didn't want her to do it.  So she just got the part put on that goes over his head, and then she couldn't get his legs through the holes because he tried to bite her.  So he had to go around with the sweater hanging off his neck until later, when he let Mom pull the sweater off him.

It's starting to get cold, so we have had a fire in the fireplace a few times.  Also Mom raked some leaves one day, but there are lots more that she still needs to rake.  She says she has to wait until they fall off the trees, but I think she is just being lazy about it.

On Saturday, Mom went to an Open House party thing at Dr. Patricia's office, but she didn't take any of us dogs or cats with her.  Instead, she took a puppy from the Humane Society, because the purpose of this Open House thing was to get people to donate food for the Humane Society and for two other shelters.  So Mom went there to represent the Humane Society, and she took Oakley, the puppy, who is blind.

Everyone thought Oakley was adorable, and he behaved himself very well, except for peeing on the floor.  And he got a paper cup out of the trash and chewed on it and played with it.  One lady thought she might like to adopt Oakley, so she took an application form home, but Mom doesn't know if the lady will really adopt him or not.







Well, the other thing I'm going to tell you about is this weird bird that Mom bought.  It's made out of clay, and it doesn't look like any kind of real bird I ever saw.  Also it doesn't smell like a real bird.  Mom bought this bird at an estate sale.  Now it is just going to sit on a shelf and get dusty, which is what happens to stuff that you don't need but you buy it anyway.  If you ask me, it's much better to spend money on something useful, such as dog food!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

THE MOA BIRD

I will start by telling you the sad part first, which is that the moa is EXTINCT.  But before it was extinct, it was this really big bird that walked around all over New Zealand.  There were actually 11 species of moas, and the very biggest ones were 12 feet tall and weighed more than 500 pounds.  But some of the smaller moa species were only about the size of a turkey.

Moas didn't fly, mainly because they didn't have any wings.  They didn't even have any little flipper things that showed where maybe they used to have wings.  Nope, they were totally and completely wingless.



The moas evolved about 85 million years ago, when New Zealand separated from a big chunk of land called Gondwanaland.  Moas were part of a group of birds called Ratites, which was made up of ostriches, emus, and the elephant bird of Madagascar.  The elephant bird is also extinct now.

Anyway, the moas had a good thing going for them in New Zealand because they hardly had any predators, except for the Giant Haasts Eagle.  And if you are wondering why you never heard of this eagle, it's because it is also extinct, maybe because it ran out of moas to eat.






The only way we have to know about the moa birds is to study their fossil bones and fossil eggs and fossil poop.  Fossilized poop is called coprolites, which is maybe a new word for you, just like it was for me.  So now you know a new word that you can use to impress people next time you go to a party.  But anyway, some of the moa coprolites that have been found are a foot long, which is a really long piece of poop, if you ask me!



Several fossil moa eggs have been found, and the biggest ones are over 9 inches long and 7 inches wide.  Most of the eggs are white, but the upland moa had blue-green eggs.  The eggshells of some species were very thin, so probably the male birds sat on these eggs to keep them warm because males were smaller and lighter than females.  But a lot of eggs still must have got broken.

Moa nests were not very fancy.  They were probably just scratched-out places in the dirt inside caves or under rock shelters, and it is likely that moas didn't nest in colonies.




So anyway, life was pretty much hunky-dory for the moas until the Maori people arrived in New Zealand, which happened in about 1300 A.D.  The Maori found moas to be extremely yummy, so they hunted them a whole bunch, and also they cleared out some of the forests and places where the moas used to live.  So then the moas got to be extinct, probably before any white people even got there to see them.




Except that nobody can agree on exactly when the moa bird went extinct.  In the 1800s, people sometimes said they saw these birds while they were out looking for gold in remote parts of the South Island.  And then there were supposedly some other sightings of moas in 1931, 1960, 1989, and 1990.  And the latest time was in 1993.  Most scientists say the moa is definitely extinct, especially the biggest kind of moa.  They say it's possible that one of the smaller kinds has been living in the forest, and nobody has seen it, but this is not very likely, because there are many hikers and hunters in New Zealand.



I wish the moa wasn't extinct because it would have been really nice to eat a moa egg the other day when it was my birthday.  In fact, I could have eaten part of the same egg for breakfast and supper, and there would still have been enough left to share with my brothers and with Mom and with the cats, too!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Queen Elizabeth and Her Corgis

Queen Elizabeth II is the most important royal person in Great Britain.  She started being Queen on February 6, 1952, after her father, King George VI died.  So this means that she has been Queen for 58 years.  And ever since she was a little girl, she has really, really loved horses and dogs.


The kinds of dogs that Queen Elizabeth loves most are Welsh Corgis, which are a short-legged type of herding dog.  This breed of dog probably first came to Wales with Flemish weavers in the 1100s.  Then they bred with local herding dogs and got to be really good at herding cattle and other livestock.  The word corgi is Welsh for "small dog," so it kind of fits, even though corgis aren't as small as some other types of dogs.

King George VI brought the first corgi into his family in 1933, and this dog was named Dookie.  Later on, Princess Elizabeth got her very own corgi, who was named Susan.  Most of the corgis in the Queen's family have Susan as their ancestor.


Queen Elizabeth liked to breed her corgis, and she let each female have one litter of puppies.  She kept some of these puppies, but she gave the other ones to friends and relatives.  The Queen also crossed corgis with dachshunds to make a dog she called a "dorgi."  One time a photographer asked her how these two breeds of dog could mate, since one was taller than the other, and the Queen said, "It's very simple.  We have a little brick."


In 2009 the Queen decided that she would stop breeding her dogs.  And the reason for this is because she is now 84 years old, and by the time the last dog she has gets old and dies, she will be in her 90s.  Also two of her dogs died of cancer last year, which made the Queen very, very sad.


So the corgis she has left now are Linnet, Monty, Holly, and Willow.  And her dorgis are Cider, Berry, Candy, and Vulcan.  All of these dogs live like royalty, so to speak.  They have their very own Corgi Room, where they sleep in wicker baskets, but they also can run around the royal apartments wherever they want to.  And in every room there is a big pile of blotting paper, in case someone has an "accident."

The daily menu for the corgis is typed up and posted on the kitchen wall.  Some days the corgis have chuck steak, and other days there is poached chicken or liver or rabbit.  The meat is chopped up and mixed with boiled cabbage and white rice.  Besides fixing this yummy food for the dogs, the royal chefs also bake buttered scones to serve the Queen every day at tea.  Except she never eats these.  She gives them to the dogs instead.


Whenever the Queen travels to one of the other castles, she takes the dogs along.  If they go in a plane, the dogs have to be carried up the steps of the plane.  Usually it is the Queen's footman who gets to do this.  One time, a footman named Paul Burrell, was taking nine corgis on leashes down some steps at Sandringham, and the dogs pulled so hard that he fell down and got knocked out.


Some other people in the royal family don't like corgis as much as Queen Elizabeth does.  This includes Prince Philip, her husband.  One time someone heard him saying, "Bloody dogs!  Why do you have to have so many?"  And Prince Charles prefers labradors to corgis.

Nobody is allowed to discipline the dogs except for the Queen.  And because they are herding dogs, the corgis sometimes nip people on the leg.  And by "nip" I mean "bite."  The royal clock winder got a bad bite one time, and the guard officer had the seat of his trousers torn out.  Even the Queen got a nasty bite on her hand once when she was trying to break up a fight between two corgis.

Anyway, after doing my research on Queen Elizabeth and her corgis, I'm thinking that living in a royal palace might be a very good thing.  I wonder if the Queen would consider adopting a cute little black-and-white basenji girl.  Maybe I'll send her my resume and find out!