Friday, December 31, 2010

ANCIENT ROMAN DOGS


Mom has been watching these videos she bought, and the name of this bunch of videos is I, Claudius.  These videos tell the true story of some people who lived a long time ago in Ancient Rome, and they all wore strange clothes and had funny-sounding names.  Some of the really important men are named "Caesar," but none of the women are named "Caesar."


And there's this one woman named Livia who is very evil and mean, and she keeps poisoning people.  It doesn't matter who they are, even if they are her sons or grandsons or husband.  If she doesn't want them to be Caesar, she poisons them.  In fact, you can pretty much figure that if anybody important dies, it is because Livia poisoned them.

Well, I watched a few of these tapes, but I thought the story was all very confusing, and I kept wanting to bite Livia on the leg.  And also there were no dogs in the show, so I stopped watching.  Mom is still watching it, but she says that sometimes it is hard for her to remember who is who.


Anyway, I decided it would be more fun to learn about the dogs in Ancient Rome, because I was quite certain that the Romans were smart enough to have dogs.  And sure enough, it turns out that they had lots of dogs!  So now I will tell you all about the Roman dogs.


Back in those days, there were no cameras, so the Romans could not take pictures of their dogs.  But they did the next best thing, which is that they made mosaics of their dogs in the floor of their houses.  And sometimes they made a mosaic dog even if they didn't have a real dog, and they wrote CAVE CANEM in mosaic letters, which means BEWARE OF THE DOG.  People still put this kind of sign on their houses today, but usually if they put this sign out, they really do have a dog.  In Ancient Rome, the people sometimes just wanted intruders to think that there was a dog guarding the house, even if there wasn't one really there.  I guess, in the long run, it was cheaper to make a mosaic of a dog than to have a real dog that you had to keep feeding.


So anyway, we can learn from this that one thing Romans used dogs for was to guard their houses and also their sheep and other livestock.  The type of dog used most for this was called a Molossus.  These dogs were very scary and fierce-looking, which is why they made good guard dogs.  Sadly, they were also used as war dogs and in the arena to fight, which was not such a nice way to use them.  The descendants of these dogs are the breeds that we call Neopolitan Mastiffs and Cane Corsos today.


Another way the Romans used dogs was for hunting.  Most of the hunting dogs that are in mosaics or murals or statues look like greyhounds or other kinds of sighthounds.  These dogs were used to hunt boars and deer and rabbits and probably some other yummy stuff.


And then the Romans also liked small lap dogs, such as the Maltese.  This breed was a favorite with the Roman women.  The men probably thought it was too fru-fru for them.  But Roman men liked the Italian greyhound, because one thing these little dogs would do was go under the bed covers and keep their masters' feet warm at night.


So now you know all about the Ancient Roman dogs.  I don't know why they didn't put any of them in that show I, Claudius.  In my opinion, it would have made the show lots better and more interesting.  Next time somebody makes a show about Ancient Romans, I hope they will ask me first, because I can tell them how to do it right!

Dog preserved in Pompeii during Mt. Vesuvius eruption in 79 A.D.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Dog Named Roxy

This is the true story about a dog who saved her whole family's life on Christmas Eve.  And here's how it happened:  Roxy, who is the hero of the story, is a 15-year-old boxer who lives in Cape Breton with her mom and dad and three other dogs.  And if you are like me, you are saying to yourself, "Where is Cape Breton?"  So I asked my Mom this question, and she said she wasn't sure, but she thought it might be somewhere in Canada.


Well, that wasn't a very good answer, so I did some research, and I learned that Cape Breton is an island, and it is part of the province of Nova Scotia, which is kind of at the eastern end of Canada, except not as far east as Newfoundland.  So at least Mom had the country right.

But getting back to Roxy's story -- on Christmas Eve, Roxy was just sort of hanging out in her mom's office, like she often did, mostly sleeping, which she also often did because that's what old dogs do.  And Roxy's mom was in the office, and her dad was in the kitchen.  Then all of a sudden, Roxy got up and went in the living room.  And she started making really strange noises which her mom said were "sounds that I have never heard come out of her in all of her 15 years."  Then Roxy ran back into her mom's office and grunted at her.  And then she went back in the living room and then back to the office.

So finally, Roxy's mom got the idea that Roxy was trying to tell her something, and she went in the living room, and she saw that one whole corner of the room was totally on fire!  She started yelling at her husband, and they grabbed the dogs' leashes and they all made it out the back door just in time, before a ball of fire came rolling down the hallway.

Everything in the house got burned up except for two angel ornaments, but the dogs and the humans were safe, and it was all because Roxy was so brave and smart.  The other three dogs are now staying at a kennel, but Roxy gets to stay with her mom and dad at a hotel.

The fire probably started because of an electrical problem with the Christmas lights, which is how a lot of fires get started at this time of year.  So if you have Christmas lights inside your house, you should be very careful, and also you should have a very smart dog like Roxy around to let you know if your house happens to catch on fire.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

CATS TEAR THINGS UP, TOO!

Well, yesterday my kitty friend Dodi wrote a comment saying that his mom thinks he's destructive.  I was surprised, and I asked Chloe and Charlie, my kitty siblings, if cats could ever be destructive.  They told me that, unlike dogs, cats were always perfectly well behaved and never destroyed anything.  But when Mom heard this, she said au contraire!  Which is French for "They're lying to your face!"

That's when I decided to do a little research, and guess what!  I found a bunch of pictures of stuff that cats had torn up.  So now I will show you some of those pictures, just to prove that cats really are destructive, too.


Cats have very sharp toenails that they call "claws," and they are always having to sharpen their claws on things, like for instance on the corner of the mattress or on the recliner.  This is probably the biggest kind of damage that cats do.


Also cats dig stuff up in the garden, just like dogs do.  But the reason cats dig in the garden is because they are covering up their poop.  Dogs don't usually cover up their poop.  Dogs just like to dig because it's fun, and also they can bury a bone or something and come back for it later.  Or they can make a nice, cool hole to lie in on a hot day.  I think dogs have better reasons for digging than cats do, but that is just my opinion.





Cats also like to play with things and tear them up just for the fun of it.  Or maybe they are doing it to relieve stress.  Anyway, cats and dogs are sort of alike in this way.








And if cats can find some nice food to get into, they will do that, which is very smart of them.  Cats are short, but can jump up high onto counters and get to the food that way, and also they can sometimes open cabinet doors.  At our house, Chloe is the only one who knows how to open the cabinet doors, but Mom doesn't keep any food in the lower cabinets.  Chloe can get into the trash can, though, because she can open the door to the place where it lives.  One time she left the door open and then Barry got into the trash and ate some dog treat wrappers. Well, okay, he started eating them, and then Mom caught him doing it, so she took them away from him.


Feral cats can make a big mess, too, because they like to rip trash bags and get the chicken bones and other yummy food out.  This happens in our neighborhood sometimes on trash day because we have feral cats and we also have trash bags, so it's a perfect combination.













Okay, so now I know that Charlie and Chloe were pulling my leg when they said that cats never destroy anything.  And now that I think about it, I remember that Chloe has got into trouble a few times for sharpening her claws on the box springs.  And Charlie peed on the bed when he didn't like the kind of litter Mom was using in the kitty boxes.  Which means that those cats aren't the angels they pretend to be, so there!

Monday, December 27, 2010

DOGS WHO TEAR THINGS UP

As a dog, I would first of all like to say that tearing stuff up is loads of fun!  And not only is it fun, but it releases stress and gives a bored dog something to do until his humans come home.  Also, tearing things apart is perfectly natural if you are a carnivore, which dogs are.  And this is because when you catch some yummy prey that you are going to eat for supper, that prey does not come with a carving knife, which is why you have to use your teeth to rip it into more bite-sized pieces.






So now that I told you that, I will also tell you that back in September of 2008, an insurance company in the UK did a survey of 3000 dog owners to find out which breeds were the most likely to do expensive damage in the house.  And the first thing they learned was that 60% of those dog 3000 owners had paid to have repairs done on something that their dogs had destroyed.










Then the insurance company made a list of the breeds who were the most destructive and the breeds who were the least destructive.  And when Mom and I looked at the list of the most destructive dogs, we were shocked to find that basenjis weren't on it!  Because most people who have basenjis think that this breed is very likely to chew up your furniture and eat your underwear and maybe also dig in your flower bed.  And it's not just basenji puppies who do this.  Lots of older basenjis do it, too.  So we think maybe the 3000 dog owners that were surveyed didn't include enough basenji owners.  Otherwise, how can you explain the results?


Anyway, now I will tell you what the survey showed, and the number one destructive dog on the list was the Great Dane.  Probably, since Great Danes are really big dogs, they not only chew things up but they also bump into things and knock them down and break them.  Plus they have long tails that can do a bunch of damage, too.








So it is not too surprising that Great Danes are number one on the list.  But what is surprising is that the number two dog is the chihuahua.  It seems like chihuahuas would be too small to do much damage, but I guess this isn't true.  They have sharp little teeth that can tear stuff, and they might also ruin a lot of carpets by peeing behind the sofa or in corners and sneaky places like that.  But I'm just guessing about this, so I could be wrong.






Anyway, here's the whole list of most destructive dogs, in order from most destructive to least destructive, with the average amount of insurance claims for damage:

  1.  Great Dane  £700
  2.  Chihuahua  £638
  3.  Mastiff  £586
  4.  Basset Hound  £564
  5.  Whippet  £519
  6.  English Setter  £485
  7.  Bulldog  £446
  8.  Dachshund  £445
  9.  Boxer  £404
10.  Beagle  £400
11.  Greyhound  £393
12.  Dalmatian  £388
13.  Doberman Pinscher  £380
14.  Rottweiler  £200
15.  Border Collie  £179
16.  Labrador  £172
17.  Rhodesian Ridgeback  £170
18.  Newfoundland  £163
19.  Jack Russell  £161
20.  Golden Retriever  £149

The kind of damage that was done most often was stuff like soiled carpets, scratched doors, chewed door frames, ripped sofas, chewed wires, ruined clothes, and broken ornaments.

There was one story about a Great Dane who thought the patio doors were open, so he ran right into them and knocked both the doors and the frame out of the wall.  And then there was a border collie whose tail hit a glass of red wine and spilled it onto a brand-new cream-colored carpet.  But in my opinion, it's crazy for anybody with pets to get a white carpet.

Also there was a labrador puppy who chewed up three pairs of his owner's Nikes that were worth £75 each.  It seems to me that the owner should have learned after the first pair of shoes got chewed up, but I guess this person was kind of a slow learner.









Anyway, if you are looking for a dog breed that is not so destructive, here's a list of the 10 least destructive breeds.  The pug turns out to be the very least destructive of all, but all of the owners of the dogs on this list made insurance claims of less than £1.

  1.  Pug
  2.  Saint Bernard
  3.  Pointer
  4.  Poodle
  5.  Corgi
  6.  Highland Terrier
  7.  Old English Sheepdog
  8.  Cocker Spaniel
  9.  Border Terrier
10.  King Charles Spaniel



A lot of dogs do damage in the house if they have separation anxiety or if they are not properly house-trained.  Some breeds of dog are more likely to get separation anxiety than others, but that is a topic for another time.  Also, a lot depends on the individual dog.

Anyway, if you don't want your dog to chew up your stuff, my advice is to keep your stuff away from the dog, or keep the dog away from the stuff whenever you can't be there to watch what's going on.  And if you want to have a perfect house where nothing is ever harmed or broken, you should not have any pets or children.  At least that's what I think!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

RUDOLPH!



Everybody knows the story of Rudolph, the reindeer with the red nose, so I am not going to tell you that story.  But I hope you will not be shocked if I tell you that Rudolph is not a real reindeer.  He is what you call a fictional reindeer, which means that somebody dreamed him up.  And the person who dreamed him up was named Robert L. May.

The reason Mr. May dreamed up Rudolph, which he did in 1939, was because a company called Montgomery Ward wanted to make a coloring book to give to kids at Christmas.  Actually, they had been giving away coloring books for several years already, but they used to always have to buy the books from somebody else.  And they decided it would be cheaper to make their own books.

So they asked Mr. May to write the book, which he did.  First he thought he would call the reindeer "Rollo" or maybe "Reginald," but then he decided to name him "Rudolph."  The book was written as a poem in the same meter as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  In the first year of this book, Montgomery Ward gave out 2.4 million copies.

Later on, Mr. May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, decided that the story of Rudolph should be a song, so he wrote some music for it.  Mr. Marks was a radio producer, and he had studied music in Paris, so he knew how to do this kind of thing.  The first person to sing the song on the radio was Harry Brannon, in 1948.


Then in 1949, Gene Autry recorded the song, and that's when it got to be really popular.  During the week of Christmas in 1949, the Rudolph song was #1 on the charts, and then the very next week it fell off the charts completely.  But it sold 2.5 million copies the first year, and eventually it sold 25 million copies, which made it the second-best-selling record of all time until the 1980s.

Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1950, and after that a whole bunch of other people recorded it, including Spike Jones, Red Foley, Dean Martin, The Chipmunks, Paul Anka, The Supremes, The Temptations, and The Jackson 5.

Meanwhile, Rudolph was starting to be famous on film and in books.  He first appeared in a theatrical cartoon short in 1947 and in a children's book in 1958.  In 1964, he got to be in a TV stop-motion animation special, and in 1998, he starred in an animated feature-length film.  Also he was in a bunch of comic books between 1950 and 1962.



Besides that, Rudolph has been on a whole bunch of products, but if you are making something you're planning to sell that has Rudolph on it, you have to pay for the right to use his picture.  This is called a royalty.  When Mom used to work at Hallmark Cards, they could never show a reindeer with a red nose on a card because then they would have to pay a royalty, so they used reindeer with black noses.  Which, when you think about it, is more natural anyway.  But if you look around at Christmastime, you will often see stuff that has a reindeer with a red nose on it, and you have to wonder if all these people paid for the right to use this picture.


And anyway, it's pretty silly to think of a reindeer with a red nose at the front of a sleigh because the law says that red lights go on the back of vehicles, not the front.  So Rudolph really should have had a white light, like a headlight, on his nose.  Otherwise, people would be confused about whether they were looking at the front of the sleigh or the back of the sleigh.

Sometimes people dress their dogs up to look like Rudolph, which is just nuts.  But you already know how I feel about dogs wearing costumes.




A much better idea I found online is a Rudolph dog toy.  Now, that's something I could really have fun with!










Or cookies made to look like Rudolph.  Yum!











And this might be the very best of all.  It's a place in Alaska.  I wonder if they ship.  I'll have to ask Mom to check into it.

Anyway, have a merry Christmas, everybody!  Or enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!

At this time of the year, people like to put lights on their houses to make them look pretty for the holidays.  But some people have so much fun doing this that they really don't know when to stop.  I can't explain why this happens.  I just know that humans are strange, as I might have mentioned before.  


Anyway, I started doing research on Christmas lights, and I found this website that is all about ugly Christmas lights.  So I borrowed some photos from there, and I am going to show them to you, and if you like them, you can go to the site and look at lots more photos of the same type.

So, like I already said, there are people who just don't know when to stop putting lights on their houses, and the result is that you get very confused when you look at these houses because there is way too much to look at.  Here are some examples:










The one below is a vet clinic, but I think I would be afraid to go there after dark, when all the scary lights were on!



You don't have to have a house in order to decorate, though.  There are other things that can have lights on them, like for instance, a truck:


Or a car:


Or even a porta-potty:


And a lot of people include animals in their Christmas lights, such as elephants:


Or the traditional moose on the housetop:


Scooby Doo:


Or even the Abominable Snowman and Snoopy:


Sometimes the reindeer get a little frisky, but that is how baby reindeer get made.  Hahahaha!


If you don't like lighted animals, you can have lighted palm trees instead.


But my opinion is that if you are going to put up Christmas lights, you should just put up a few nice ones and not overdo it.  Because the money you save by not putting up so many lights will buy a whole lot of yummy dog food!