Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SLOUGHIS

Maybe you will remember that when I wrote about Pharaoh Hounds, I talked about mean old Hosni Mubarak, and how I wanted to just bite him on the butt.  Well, not long after that, he decided to quit being president of Egypt, so I think he heard about my threat and took it seriously!

But nowadays people aren't talking so much about Egypt.  Instead they are talking about Libya because it's the same sort of situation there, with a nasty ruler named Moammar Gadhafi, who is trying to stay in power by killing lots of people.  So I will repeat my threat.  If Mr. Gadhafi does not step down from office right away, I will be forced to go bite his butt.  So there!

Okay, that's enough talk about mean bullies.  Now I want to talk about nice dogs.  And the kind of dog I want to talk about today is the sloughi, which is pronounced SLOO-ghee.  This breed is very ancient, and it started out in North Africa, in the countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.  Some people think sloughis are related to salukis, which come from Arabia and around there, but really these two breeds are different, even though they are both sighthounds and they have kind of similar names.  The sloughi is more closely related to the azawakh, which is a breed that lives further south, like in Mali, where the Tuareg people live.

Sloughis are the dogs of the Berber tribes, who have used them for many years to hunt ostriches, hyenas, jackals, hares, foxes, and gazelles.  Also the sloughis guarded their humans' homes and flocks.  The Berber people called the dogs Sloughi Moghrebi, which means "sighthound of the Maghreb."  The Maghreb is the name for the arid northwest coast of Africa.  Europeans called it the Barbary Coast.

Anyway, sloughis were very valuable dogs, so in the old days, only chiefs and kings could own them, and these people were very careful to keep the breed pure.  The sloughi is the national dog of Morocco, and Moroccan breeders established the international breed standard.  Sloughis are recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), and by kennel clubs in the UK, New Zealand, and Australia, but not yet by the AKC.  In 1989, the American Sloughi Association was founded, and in 1997, the sloughi was accepted by the AKC's Foundation Stock Service, which is a first step toward recognition.

Male sloughis weigh 55-65 pounds, and females weigh 35-50 pounds.  They have short hair and drooping ears.  Some people think sloughis look sad because of how their faces are, but I don't think they really are sad.  Sloughis have long, flat muscles, so they don't look brawny like greyhounds do.  Their coat colors are usually some shade of tan or red, and they can be brindled, but they are not supposed to have white markings.  Also they might have a black mantle, mask, or ears.

Sloughis are very gentle and intelligent.  They bond closely with their owners and like to hang out with them.  Indoors, sloughis like to sleep on cushy beds, sometimes on their backs with their feet sticking up, or in other funny positions. Outdoors, they like to run, but they should only be allowed to do this in safe areas where they will not get hit by cars.

The only genetic health problem that sloughis have is Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and sloughi people are trying to breed away from this problem to get rid of it.  The life expectancy for a sloughi is 10-15 years.

I think it would be nice if we had a sloughi of our very own, but I'm not even going to ask Mom because I know she will just say no.  That's what she always says.  Sigh.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Man Who Married His Dog

I didn't know that dogs could get married, especially to humans, but that's what happened in a city called Toowoomba, which is located in Queensland, Australia.  Because a man there named Joe Guiso got married to his labrador retriever, Honey, in a special ceremony last November.

Mr. Guiso, who is 20 years old, adopted Honey when she was a puppy, and now she is 5 years old.  One day when they were walking in Laurel Bank Park, they saw a wedding taking place, and Mr. Guiso said to Honey, "That could be us."  Which was how he proposed to her, and she did not say no, so he went ahead and planned the ceremony.

The bride wore a white cape, and the groom wore a nice grey suit.  Thirty of their family members and friends came, some of whom were dogs.  In his vows, Mr. Guiso told Honey, "You're my best friend and you make every part of my day better."  Then he got down on one knee and gave Honey a kiss.

Some animal rights people didn't like the idea of a man marrying his dog, but Mr. Guiso told all the people at the wedding that "it's platonic."  Which means that they will not be trying to make any puppies together -- not that that would work very well anyway.  Mr. Guiso also said that the wedding was a chance for all his friends to dress up and get together and celebrate.  "You can't actually marry a dog," he told the press because I guess maybe they didn't know this.


Sadly, the honeymoon did not go very well.  Mr. Guiso reported that "I think [Honey's] a bit angry about all the publicity; she's been giving me the silent treatment."  Well, I don't blame her.  First her groom had a nice wedding ceremony with vows and everything, and after that he said, "You can't actually marry a dog."  What kind of mixed message is that?


So anyway, there are a couple of things we can learn from this story, and one is that you shouldn't just marry anybody who asks you, even if you've already been living together for 5 years.


And the other thing we can learn is that Toowoomba is a really strange name for a city, but it's kind of fun to say.  I really wanted to know what the name Toowoomba means, so I did a little research, and I found out that no one knows absolutely for sure, but they think it's sort of an attempt at pronouncing an Aboriginal word for "The Swamp."  Which mostly only describes one part of the town that used to be sort of swampy.

Toowoomba has a population of 90,000, and a really nice climate, because it almost never snows there, and the average high temperature is 81º F.  It is called "The Garden City" because its 150 parks are full of flowers.  Also they have trees there that turn pretty colors in the fall and lose their leaves, which doesn't happen in very much of Australia.  Oh, and in 2008, Toowoomba was named Australia's Tidiest Town.

But getting back to the subject of the man who married his dog, I asked Mom if she would ever want to marry any of her dogs, and she said no, not really.  She said she'd much rather be able to claim us all as dependents on her tax return, so she could deduct all our vet bills!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

IS IT SPRING OR ISN'T IT?

I am so confused about what season it is these days.  The calendar says it is spring, and for a while we had some nice, warm sunny days that made a dog want to go out and roll in the grass.  But now it's cold and icky, which is not how spring is supposed to be, at least in my opinion.  Yesterday, for example, the weatherman said we would get snow.  Not a lot of snow, but a little snow.  But we didn't get snow.  Well, we got some snowflakes that fell down from the sky, but as soon as they hit the ground, they turned into wet spots.  So that was not what I would call real snow.  But my point is that we should not get any kind of snow in the spring, real snow or unreal snow.
Also we were supposed to get rain yesterday, but we didn't get that either.  And it's been cold and cloudy, which is not very springlike at all.  Whenever I go outside, I just do my stuff and come back in the house right away because it's much warmer and nicer in the house.
The flowers are trying to bloom and do the things that they do in the spring, but it is hard for them.  Our weeping cherry tree is sort of blooming, but it "lacks enthusiasm," as Mom says.
And our star magnolia opened a few flowers, and then it stopped and is waiting for more warm weather.  But if the temperature gets below freezing, the magnolia flowers will turn brown and fall off.  This has happened sometimes in other years, and it's very ugly and sad.
Our very first daffodil opened yesterday, but it does not look very happy.
The temperature never even got over 40 all day yesterday, and that is just wrong.
The tulips that Mom planted a few weeks ago are coming up, and so are the day lilies.  Yes, Mom knows that you are supposed to plant tulips in the fall, not the spring, but she got a whole bunch of bulbs for free, so she went ahead and planted them.  And now they are coming up, but we don't know if they will really bloom or not.
Nicky got in trouble the other day because he was out in the yard, eating Mom's day lilies.  And he dug a  hole that's about a foot deep, which also made Mom grumpy.

Then yesterday morning, Nicky was in the flower bed, eating the leaves of the coral bells.  After that, he came in the house and puked them up.  I know why he did this.  It's because his tummy felt icky and he needed to puke and make it all better.  Sometimes I feel that way, too.  But I usually just eat grass instead of eating Mom's flowers.
Okay, well, here's the last picture Mom took yesterday.  This happens all the time out in our yard.  When Nicky is getting ready to poop, Barry follows him all around until Nicky finally starts pooping, and then Barry sticks his head in there to get the nice, fresh poop.  After which, Mom gets annoyed with Barry because he comes in the house with poop all over his ears and head and neck and collar, and she has to clean him off.

I've started eating Nicky's poop too sometimes, and in this photo, you can see my cute little rear end while I'm waiting for my chance to do that.  I don't stick my head under Nicky's butt because Barry is usually there first, and Barry might bite me.  That's the kind of evil big brother he is!

Anyway, that's all for today.  I think I will go curl up in a blanket now and wait for it to really be spring!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Dog Named Beatha Lee

You'll never believe what happened in a neighborhood association in Annandale, Virginia:  they elected a DOG as their president!  And they didn't even know they were electing a dog.  Ha!  I think this is hilarious, and it serves them right because none of the humans in the group wanted to run for office.


Okay, so what happened was that this man named Mark Crawford had already been elected the president of the Hillbrook-Tall Oaks neighborhood three times, and the rules said he could not be elected again.  So he went around and asked lots of people if they would please run for president because somebody needed to be president.  But nobody would do it because they all said they were way too busy.

So finally Mr. Crawford got frustrated and told the nominating committee that his dog would run for the office.  His dog was a soft-coated wheaten terrier named Beatha Lee.  And her first name is pronounced bee-ah-tah.  So the committee checked the bylaws, and they found out that Beatha Lee had the right qualifications, which were (1) she lived in the neighborhood, and (2) she was a legal adult in age, which she was in dog years.  The bylaws did not say that officers had to be humans.

Anyway, the committee decided to nominate Beatha Lee for president, and when people came to the meeting to vote, they learned that the nominee was a fairly new resident, that she was interested in neighborhood activities and the outdoors, and that she had experience in Maine overseeing an estate of 26 acres.

Everybody was glad to have a volunteer running for president, so they all voted for her.  Then they ate some ice cream, watched a karate demonstration, and went home.  A few weeks later, they read in the association's newsletter that their new president promised to "govern with an even paw."  There was a photo of Beatha Lee, and the headling said "Dog Rules, Humans Apathetic (Pathetic)."  Well, some people were really mad because they had been tricked into electing a dog, and other people were embarrassed, and some just thought it was funny.


Beatha Lee has quite a few duties now that she is president, including running meetings, appointing committee members, co-signing checks, and speaking at public meetings.  But she manages these things by delegating them to her vice-president, who is her dad, Mark Crawford.  Sometimes she attends board meetings, which are held at her house, and she sits under the table and listens.  Then if she gets bored, she asks to be let out.

The people in the neighborhood have sort of accepted their doggy president now, and the board members hope that more people will run for office in the future.  Or maybe Beatha Lee will run again.  One woman was asked if she would vote for the dog again, and she said, "No... I'd vote for my cat though."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

MY VISIT TO THE DOGGY DENTIST, by Nicky

On Tuesday, Mom took me to see the doggy dentist, and when I say "doggy dentist," I don't mean a dog who is a dentist.  I mean a veterinarian who specializes in dental care for dogs and cats.  Usually when Mom takes one of us to see a specialist, she takes us to Mission MedVet because that is closer, and lots of people know her there now because she is always bringing some animal and spending lots of money to get the animal cured.  Well, except for Gabe, who couldn't be cured the last time he was there.

But there is no dental specialist at Mission MedVet, so we had to go to a place called VSEC, which stands for Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Care.  Except that recently they changed their name to Blue Pearl Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Care.  Mom and I think that "Blue Pearl" is a strange name for a veterinary hospital, but that's just our opinion.  We don't even know if there is such a thing as a blue pearl, although we have heard of white pearls, black pearls, and pink pearls.  So maybe there are blue pearls, too.

Anyway, on the VSEC website, it explains why they have this new Pearl name, and the reason has something to do with some other veterinary hospitals in other parts of the country that are also called Blue Pearl, and they are all related somehow.  But it was too much information for me to want to read, so I didn't.

The main point is that Mom took me to this clinic, and the doctor we saw was named Dr. Modrcin.  He came out to the lobby to meet us, and he said I was a handsome boy and very nice, so I immediately knew that he would be a good doctor.  Then we went in the examination room, and he listened to my heart and looked in my mouth at my teeth.  And he noticed what nobody else has noticed when they examined me, which is that my front teeth really hurt if somebody touches them, so I don't like people to touch them.

Dr. Modrcin told Mom that the fact that my canine teeth are kind of brownish and stained-looking means that they are abscessed.  An abscess is an infection that happens when bacteria get down inside your tooth, like through a crack or a hole or because you broke your tooth off.  I only have 3 canine teeth instead of the usual 4 because one of them was extracted in the past.  I don't remember exactly why this happened or when.  It's the kind of thing a guy just prefers to forget about, so I did.

Anyway, Dr. Modrcin said my other canines that I still have left are abscessed, and that's why they hurt if somebody or something touches them.  Mom asked the doctor whether he would just pull the teeth, but he said he didn't want to do that because they have really long roots, and if you extract the teeth, you lose some of the bone, too.  Dr. Modrcin said it would be much easier and faster to do root canals on the teeth.

Mom has had a root canal herself, so she knows about them.  What happens is that all the inflamed pulpy stuff gets drilled out of the tooth, and then the space is filled back up with some other stuff.  But you can only do a root canal if you have enough bone and tooth root left to hold the filler that is put in.  If not, you might have to extract the tooth.

Since Dr. Modrcin didn't have any x-rays of my front teeth, he couldn't tell what condition the roots and bones are in.  So he is going to send Mom an estimate of how much it would cost to do root canals on my teeth or how much it would cost if some teeth had to be extracted.  Also there is the matter of my incisors, which are those little bitty teeth in the front, between the canines.  Some of those teeth might have abscesses, too.

The good news is that I don't have CUPS, which is that stomatitis thing that Piper mentioned before.  And the other good news is that although my 4th premolar on each side is chipped, neither one of those teeth is abscessed.  Still, it's worrisome to think about all the dental work I will have to have done, especially if it is painful.  Mom is not looking forward to paying whatever it will cost because she is sure it will cost a lot.  I do have to admit, though, that it would be nice to have teeth that don't hurt whenever I bite into something.

In the meantime, before I have to go get my dental work done, Mom is supposed to brush my teeth every single day.  Of course, she is just going to brush the ones in the back.  They don't hurt like the ones in the front, but the gums hurt back there because I have gingivitis.  Dr. Modrcin told us that gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease.  You can cure gingivitis, but you can't cure periodontal disease, which makes your gums recede from your teeth and then the bone is exposed.  Mom has periodontal disease, but it is not too terrible as long as she keeps her teeth clean and goes to the dentist or the periodontist every 4 months.

Dr. Modrcin told Mom not to bother with doggy toothpaste.  He said she could use beef bouillon, so she's been using that for the last couple of nights, and I thought it was quite yummy.  First she is just taking her finger and rubbing my teeth with it so that I get used to having something in my mouth, and later she will start using a toothbrush.  The main thing that cleans the teeth is the brush rubbing the bacteria off.  The toothpaste doesn't really do anything, so that's why Dr. Modrcin said we could just use bouillon.  Chicken bouillon is okay, too.

So that's the story of my visit to the doggy dentist.  I wish that greyhounds didn't have such lousy teeth, but most of us do.  I guess I'm just lucky to have a mom who is willing to go into debt to get my teeth fixed!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

President Clinton, Socks, and Buddy

Mr. William Jefferson Clinton got elected the 42nd president of the United States in 1992, and when he took office, he did not have a dog.  All he had was a cat, and this just seems wrong to me!  Of course, I do have to admit that Socks was a pretty cute cat, and that's mainly because he was black-and-white, and a tuxedo cat, just like my brother Charlie.







Socks was adopted by the Clinton family when they lived in Little Rock, where Mr. Clinton was the governor of the state of Arkansas.  And what happened was that Chelsea, who was the daughter of Bill and Hilary Clinton, was leaving her piano teacher's house one day in 1991, and Socks just jumped into her arms.  So I guess Chelsea talked her mom and dad into letting her keep the cat.  No one knew exactly when he was born, but the best guess was that it was in March of 1989.




Then in 1992, Mr. Clinton got elected President, and the Clintons moved to the White House.  Of course, Socks went along, and he assumed the important position of First Cat.  Sometimes he shared his food and water with a stray tabby named Slippers, but mostly Socks was the one who got all the publicity.  He often went on visits to schools and hospitals, so I think he must have been a very sociable and friendly cat.







There was a cartoon version of Socks who was the host of the children's White House website, so lots of kids knew about Socks and wrote letters to him.  Representative Dan Burton, who didn't like President Clinton very much, said one time that it was a waste of White House staff, postage, and stationery to answer mail addressed to Socks.  But luckily, most people didn't feel that way.




So anyway, Socks was the only First Pet during President Clinton's first term in office.  But after the second term started, the Clintons decided to get a dog.  So they adopted Buddy, who was a chocolate lab.  Buddy was born in September 1997 in Caroline County, Maryland, and he moved into the White House when he was three months old.  President Clinton named him after his great-uncle, Henry Oren "Buddy" Grisham, who had died the previous June.











Buddy was a frisky, happy puppy, and right away Socks hated him, and never stopped hating him.  So the two First Pets had to be kept in different parts of the White House living quarters.








President Clinton used to go out running with Buddy, and he also played fetch with him and got his picture taken with him pretty often.  So everybody knew about Buddy, including lots of children who wrote letters to him.  After a while, Mrs. Clinton wrote a book that was called Dear Socks, Dear Buddy:  Kids' Letters to the First Pets.  This book came out in 1998, and it had more than 50 letters in it and more than 80 photos of Socks and Buddy.



When President Clinton's second term ended, the family moved to a house in Chappaqua, New York, but this house was too small for them to be able to keep Buddy and Socks separated.  So Socks stayed with Mr. Clinton's secretary, Betty Currie.





Buddy moved to New York with the Clintons, but in 2002 a very tragic thing happened, which was that Buddy got hit by a car and killed.  The Clintons weren't home at the time, but some Secret Service officers were taking care of the house and of Buddy.  A contractor came over to do some work, and when he left, Buddy was playfully chasing after him, and that's when he got hit by the car.

Three years later, in 2005, Mr. Clinton got another chocolate lab that he named Seamus.


Socks, meanwhile, went on having a nice life with Betty Currie until he got cancer of the jaw.  On February 20, 2009, he had to be put to sleep.  He was almost 20 years old by then, and he had had many adventures, including living in the White House.  Not many cats can say that, or dogs either!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We Love Sleeping!

At our house, we all love to sleep.  The dogs love to sleep, and the cats love to sleep, and even Mom loves to sleep.  So because we love to do it so much, we get a lot of practice, and we are very good at it!  Mom likes to take pictures of us sleeping because she thinks it's cute or something.  Of course, she doesn't take any pictures of herself sleeping, since that would be kind of hard to do.

It's also hard to get pictures of the cats sleeping because cats sleep with one eye open, or at least that is what I have been told.  So whenever Mom tries to get a picture of the cats sleeping, they wake up before she can even get her camera turned on.  But anyway, sometimes Charlie and Chloe sleep together in the green plastic tub.  They didn't do that last summer because I think it was too hot, but they do it a lot in the winter.
At night, the cats like to sleep with Mom.  First it was just Chloe who mostly slept with Mom, but then Charlie started doing it, too, after he figured out that he could walk into the bedroom without being eaten by Nicky.  So now Charlie sleeps with Mom almost every night, and Chloe also sleeps with her most nights, so Mom says that it is kind of crowded in her bed.
Sometimes when Mom is getting ready for bed, Chloe or Charlie will decide that the closet would be a good place to sleep because there are some old blankets and quilts in there.  Also, when it is time for Mom to do the laundry, there are dirty clothes all over the floor, and they smell like Mom, so that makes them nice to sleep on.  But Mom doesn't like for us to sleep in the closet because she is afraid somebody might decide to chew on her clothes.
Of course, I am very cute when I sleep.  Usually I like to sleep all curled up, because it's warmer that way.  Except in the summer, and then I sleep more spread out.
Sometimes I sleep with my head and front legs hanging off the sofa.  Mom thinks this is really funny, for some reason.
Mom says I snore when I sleep, but I find this hard to believe because it seems so unladylike.  Mom says I don't snore very loud, but that I definitely do snore.
Mel barks sometimes in his sleep, which is pretty silly-sounding because he barks without opening his mouth.  Also I guess he dreams about running, since his legs start twitching.
Barry sleeps in some strange positions, too, like with his head hanging over the arm of a chair.  I was too lazy to dig out the photo Mom took of him sleeping like that, but here's one of him sleeping on the bed with his foot in his face.  Barry doesn't bark in his sleep like Mel does, so maybe he doesn't dream the same kinds of dreams.
I like to snuggle with my brothers, if they will let me do that.  Mel gets very nervous when another dog tries to get in bed with him, and he will get up and go in another room.  So I can't snuggle with him.  But sometimes Barry will let me sleep next to him.
Nicky is getting better and better about letting me snuggle with him.  And sometimes he even leaves enough space for me to curl up in without falling off the edge of the bed!
When Nicky sleeps, he almost never curls up, even when it's cold weather.  He likes to sprawl out and take up a whole bunch of space.  Also he breathes really loudly through his mouth when he is sleeping.  It's not exactly like snoring.  It's more like when a horse blows out its breath through loose lips, if you know what I mean.  Anyway, that's the way Nicky breathes when he sleeps.  And sometimes he moves his legs a whole bunch, which we think means he is dreaming about being a race dog.  Either that or he is dreaming about chasing squirrels!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

AXOLOTLS

To tell you the honest truth, I had never even heard of axolotls until one of my most faithful fans asked me to write a blog entry about them.  So I looked them up, and I found out that they are these funny-looking Mexican salamanders that only live in one lake in the middle of Mexico.  And since that lake is mostly all dried up except for a few polluted canals, the axolotl is CRITICALLY ENDANGERED in the wild.

But what I also learned is that axolotls are easy to breed in captivity, and they are used a lot in research.  Also they are kept as pets in the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, Japan, and some other countries.  Sometimes they are called wooper loopers, which I think is a cute name, and it's easier to say than axolotl.

There are several things about axolotls that make them different from most salamanders.  First of all, they don't go through all the parts of a normal life cycle that an amphibian is supposed to.  A frog is an example of an amphibian, and frogs start their lives in the water as tadpoles.  And then later they grow legs and lose their tails, and they crawl out on the land and become frogs.  Also they breathe through gills when they live in the water, and they use lungs after they get to be frogs.  And going through all these changes is called metamorphosis.

Salamanders usually have this same sort of life cycle like frogs do, but axolotls are different.  And the way they are different is that they never leave the water when they grow up.  They just stay there and keep breathing through gills.  We don't know why they don't leave the water.  Maybe they just like it better than living on land.  Or maybe they were safer living in the water, so they just never evolved to live on the land.  Scientists think that axolotls don't have the right thyroid hormones to make them go through metamorphosis and live on land.  But anyway, when an animal stays in a juvenile period of its life like this, it's called neoteny.


So that's one thing that is unusual about axolotls.  And another thing is that they can heal themselves in amazing ways.  Like for instance, if an axolotl loses its leg or its tail, it can grow a brand new one that's just as good as the one that was lost.  Also if you do something like transplant an eye from one axolotl into another one, it will grow there and be a nice, usable eye.  Researchers are really interested in all this stuff because it helps them understand how embryos develop and how transplants can be done and that kind of thing.


Axolotls are about 9 inches long when they are full grown.  Their gills are on stalk-like things on the outside of their bodies, and they look kind of like lacy collars.  Also axolotls have fins all the way down their backs.  They have wide heads and skinny little legs and toes.  The way they eat is they lunge at their food and suck it in.  Then they swallow the food whole because they just have little nubby tooth things that never grow into anything they can really bite with.

What axolotls like to eat in the wild is stuff like worms, insects, and small fish.  In captivity, they eat earthworms, bloodworms, waxworms, blackworms, whiteworms, brindal worms, daphnia, mealworms, and brine shrimp.

There are four main colors for axolotls.  The two colors that you would normally see are wildtype, which is some shade of brown with spots, and melanoid, which is a fancy word for black.  Besides that, there are two mutant colors, and they are leucistic (pale pink with black eyes) and albino (golden, tan, or pale pink with pink eyes).



The name axolotl comes from the Aztec language, and it means something like "water dog."  Of course, these little salamanders don't look anything like dogs, at least in my opinion.  But there used to be this Aztec god named Xolotl, and he would change himself into a water animal to avoid being sacrificed.  So that is supposedly where the name axolotl comes from.  I'm not sure why the Aztecs would be trying to sacrifice one of their own gods, but this part wasn't explained in what I learned about axolotls.


Anyway, back in the old days, when the Aztecs lived in Mexico, in the middle of a bunch of lakes such as Xochimilco and Chalco and Texcoco, there were tons of axolotls living in the water of the lakes.  This was exactly the kind of environment that axolotls liked to live in because it was fresh water at a high altitude.  And the Aztecs ate axolotls as part of their diet.




But then Mexico City got built where the Aztecs used to live, and all the lakes got drained and filled in to make land to put the city on.  So all that's left is a few canals of Xochimilco, which is a big tourist place where you can go and take a ride on a boat that is all decorated with flowers.  Mom was there and rode on the boats back in 1972, when she was much, much younger.  She told me that the water looked very dirty even back then, so now it must be lots worse, and it is pretty surprising if any axolotls can stay alive there.





Also besides the pollution, there is the problem of African tilapia and Asian carp being put in the water there, and they are eating the baby axolotls and the axolotls' food.  One scientist who has studied the situation made an estimate that there are only about 100 axolotls in every square kilometer of wetlands now, even though estimates were 10 times higher in 2004, and 6 times higher than that in the 1980s.  So this is why they say that the axolotl is so critically endangered.





But like I told you before, lots of people have these little salamanders as pets because they are pretty easy to keep if you have an aquarium and the right kind of water at the right temperature and some worms to feed them.  You can go online and read all about how to take care of your axolotl, and there are discussion groups, plus you can even buy axolotl plush toys and t-shirts.  Personally, I think a dog or a cat would make a better pet because they are cuddlier and smarter, but I guess some people have different ideas about pets!