Tuesday, February 28, 2012


It's time to tell you once again about some more of the poor, homeless dogs at the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, because maybe some of my kind-hearted readers would like to adopt them.  And if you don't live in the Kansas City area, then you can go to a shelter near you, or else to a rescue group to find a dog to adopt.  But whatever you do, don't buy a puppy from a pet store!  Because if you do, you will be supporting the bad, evil, horrible puppymill industry, and I'm sure you don't want to do that!

Okay, so this first dog is Opal.  She's a fox terrier who is 8 years old and very sweet.  Mom loves Opal and wishes she could adopt her.  And the reason Mom feels this way is because Opal reminds Mom of her first dog, who was a Lakeland terrier named Cappy.  But of course, we can't adopt Opal because we already have our Legal Limit of Dogs.  Opal has some mysterious health problems because she has an enlarged liver and spleen, but she doesn't have any tumors growing on these organs.  If she doesn't start feeling better soon, she will have an ultrasound to try to figure out what is going on for sure.  Opal is a little overweight, so Mom finds it hard to believe she only weighs 15 pounds, like the website says.  Anyway, Opal is a total sweetie and loves to be petted and to go for walks.

Here's a dog named Pepper, and she is 3 years old.  She's a dachshund/terrier mix who weighs 14 pounds.  Pepper is a really cute, energetic dog, and she gets along well with other dogs.  She is a little bit shy with strangers, but once she knows someone, she is very friendly.  Pepper was a stray, and that's how she ended up at the Humane Society.  She needs to go to a home where there are no young children because she has a longish back, and we don't want her to get accidentally hurt while kids are playing with her.

Taffy is one year old, and she is a friendly, playful lab mix.  She likes toys, and she gets along fine with other dogs.  She might still grow and fill out a little bit, so she will probably be 50 or 55 pounds.

A puggle is a cross between a beagle and a pug, and that's what Maybelline is.  She is one year old, and she really likes to cuddle and get petted a lot.  Sadly, Maybelline got hit by a car, which caused her to have a broken pelvis and a bunch of nerve damage in one hind leg.  The leg could not be saved, so it was amputated, but now Maybelline is all healed up, and she gets around just fine.  Sometimes Maybelline is nervous around new people, but she is okay with most dogs.  She needs a home that is quiet and where there are no kids.

Here is Maddie, and she is a corgi mix.  She is 2 years old, and she weighs 21 pounds.  Maddie likes to sit in people's laps, and she is a good cuddler.  And besides liking people, she also likes other dogs.

Bunny has had a rough time of it so far during her short little 8-month life.  She was neglected in her first home, so Animal Control took her away from there.  Besides being malnourished, she also had parvo and pneumonia.  But now she is finally all well again.  She walks around on really flat feet because of the malnourishment, and maybe also because she was kept in a cage all the time.  Bunny is very sweet, but she is a little timid with people she doesn't know.  She is fine with other dogs.  When she is full grown, she will probably weigh 50 pounds, but she might end up weighing less than that.

So those are some of the nice dogs that need homes right now.  I hope someone will adopt them very soon because it's no fun being homeless, as I have said several times before!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Back in the 19th Century, there was an Englishman whose name was Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton.  But since his name was so incredibly long, he mostly just went by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.  He was born in 1803 and died in 1873, and during his life he was a politician, poet, playwright, and novelist.

Lord Bulwer-Lytton wrote a whole bunch of dime-novels that were very popular with Victorian readers, and he made a lot of money by writing them.  Which he probably didn't need, since he came from a rich family and lived in a great big castle.  But even though his writing was popular at the time, nobody much reads it nowadays, at least not the way they read Charles Dickens or George Eliot or Thomas Hardy.  In fact, there is a whole, big contest every year that makes fun of Lord Bulwer-Lytton's style of writing, and this contest is called the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC).

Knebworth House, where Lord Bulwer-Lytton lived
The way this contest got started was that a professor at San Jose State University, whose name is Scott Rice, once had to write a graduate-school paper on a minor Victorian novelist, and he chose Bulwer-Lytton.  Mr. Rice discovered that the phrase "It was a dark and stormy night" was part of the first sentence of the novel Paul Clifford, which was published in 1830.  As you may know, Snoopy the Beagle was famous for starting all his stories with this line.  Here's how the entire sentence goes:

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

Lord Bulwer-Lytton also came up with some other phrases that people still use a lot today, such as "the pen is mightier than the sword," "the great unwashed," and "the almighty dollar."
Anyway, Professor Rice, who was always having to judge writing contests, got the idea of having a contest where people just wrote the first sentence of a really bad novel.  He liked this idea because it meant the entries would be short and also entertaining to read.  In 1982, the first contest was held, and it has been going on ever since then.  You can go to the website and read lots of the winning sentences, but I am going to tell you a few of the winners from 2011.  I hope you will like them because if you ask me, they are pretty funny.

First of all, here is the Grand Prize Winner, and it was written by Professor Sue Fondrie, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh.  Her entry is only 26 words long, which makes it the shortest-ever Grand Prize Winner in the whole history of the BLFC.
Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.

And here is the Runner-Up, by Rodney Reed of Ooltewah, Tennessee:
As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words.

The winner of the Adventure category, by Jack Barry of Shelby, NC:
From the limbs of ancient live oaks moccasins hung like fat black sausages -- which are sometimes called boudin noir, black pudding or blood pudding, though why anyone would refer to a sausage as pudding is hard to understand and it is even more difficult to divine why a person would knowingly eat something made from dried blood in the first place -- but be that as it may, our tale is of voodoo and foul murder, not disgusting food.  

The Fantasy category winner, by Terri Daniel of Seattle, WA:
Within the smoking ruins of Keister Castle, Princess Gwendolyn stared in horror at the limp form of the loyal Centaur who died defending her very honor; “You may force me to wed,” she cried at the leering and victorious Goblin King, “but you’ll never be half the man he was.”  

The Purple Prose winner was Mike Pedersen of North Berwick, ME:
As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue.

The runner-up in the Purple Prose category was Jack Barry of Shelby NC:
The Los Angeles morning was heavy with smog, the word being a portmanteau of smoke and fog, though in LA the pollutants are typically vehicular emissions as opposed to actual smoke and fog, unlike 19th-century London where the smoke from countless small coal fires often combined with fog off the Thames to produce true smog, though back then they were not clever enough to call it that.

And finally, here is the winning entry in the Vile Puns category, which was written by Joe Wyatt of Amarillo, TX:      
Detective Kodiak plucked a single hair from the bearskin rug and at once understood the grisly nature of the crime: it had been a ferocious act, a real honey, the sort of thing that could polarize a community, so he padded quietly out the back to avoid a cub reporter waiting in the den. 

Friday, February 24, 2012


A lot of people have heard of Manx cats, and that is probably because Manx cats don't have tails, which makes them different from most other kinds of cats.  The reason Manx cats end up with no tails is because they are born that way  And they are born that way because of a certain mutation in their genes that makes them have a shorter tail or no tail at all.

Manx cats come from the Isle of Man, which is an island off the west coast of England.  In the Manx language, the Manx cat is called kayt Manninagh, but I have no idea how you pronounce this.  And sometimes Manx is spelled Manks.  Another word for Manx cats is stubbin, but this is an old word that isn't used much anymore.  There were already tailless cats on the Isle of Man before the 18th century, and nobody knows exactly how they got there, but they probably came on ships from other places.

Over time, people made up stories about how the Manx cat lost its tail.  One of the stories was that Noah closed the door of the ark on the cat's tail when it started raining, and accidentally cut the tail off.  Another tale says that a rabbit and a cat mated, and their babies were tailless and long-legged, with a hopping gait.  But the real truth is that the cats ended up without tails because of a spontaneous mutation in their genes.  And then, because the tailless trait was dominant, and the gene pool on the Isle of Man was limited, this type of cat got to be pretty common there.

As it turns out, there are some other populations of tailless cats in places like Cornwall, in the south of England; on a Danish peninsula called Reersø; and on a Black Sea peninsula in Crimea.  So the Isle of Man cats might have originally come by ship from one of those places.

Some Manx cats have no tail at all, and others have a little short tail.  If you breed two Manx cats, you will get a litter of kittens with several different tail lengths.  And if you breed a Manx cat to a regular cat, you will get some Manx kittens and some regular kittens.

Here are the names for different lengths of Manx tails:

Rumpy or dimple rumpy -- no tail at all, except maybe there is a tuft of hair in the spot where the tail would have been.
Riser or rumpy riser -- the cat has just a bump of cartilage under the fur.
Stumpy -- there is a partial tail of fused vertebrae, up to 1" long.
Stubby -- with a short tail of non-fused bones, up to half the length of a regular cat tail.
Longy, tailed, or taily -- a cat with a tail that is half- to full-length.

I think we can all agree that these are really funny-sounding names!  They make me want to giggle, just reading them.  But now that I know what the categories are, I can tell you how our little Manx rescue kittens fit into them:  Jeeves is a rumpy, Janey is a stubby, and Jilly is also a stubby.  This means that only Jeeves could be entered in a cat show as a Manx , because the Manx class is only for rumpies, risers, and stumpies.  Stubby and Longy Manx cats have to go in the "Any Other Variety" class.  But of course, Jeeves couldn't really be in a cat show because he doesn't have any registration papers.

Besides not having a tail, one of the other things that makes a Manx cat Manxlike is that their hind legs are longer than their front legs.  This causes their rump be higher up than their shoulders, and their back to be arched or humped.  In size, the Manx is small to medium, and usually weighs between 6 and 10 pounds.

Manxes have round heads, long necks, and large eyes.  They can be short-haired or long-haired, but they all have a double-layered coat.  The most usual colors are tabby, tortoiseshell, calico, and solid colors.  A long-haired Manx is called a Cymric.

Farmers like to keep Manx cats around because they are very good mousers, and sailors used to take them on their ships for the same reason.  This breed is mostly social and friendly, but they might be a little shy with strangers.  They are smart and playful and active.  Sometimes they get so attached to their humans that they follow them around like a dog would.

There is a health condition called "Manx syndrome" or "Manxness," where the cats end up not just without a tail, but also with a spine that is too short.  If this happens, there can be damage to the spinal cord and nerves, which can cause problems with the bowels, bladder, and digestion.  Nowadays, this condition doesn't occur much because breeders have learned how to avoid it by breeding rumpy cats with stumpy cats.  Of course, our little kitties that came from a barn were not bred in any kind of planned way, so I hope they will not end up with "Manx syndrome" or with any other bad thing wrong with them.

Anyway, now that I have told you all about Manx cats, I will also tell you that I was shocked to learn that not all tailless cats are Manx cats.  This is because the same gene that makes Manx cats be tailless can mutate in any kind of cat, and then one or more kittens are born without tails.  This type of cat is called a Domestic Tailless Cat.  We can't call it a Manx because there is no way to prove that its ancestors came from the Isle of Man.  But I'm sure that our kittens are real, true Manx kitties.  We just need to take the time to trace their family tree back a little ways!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Mom thinks that most greyhounds are neurotic, but that I am may be the most neurotic of all.  Of course, she has not lived with all that many greyhounds, so it's quite possible that she is making a gross generalization.  I will admit to having a few quirks, but hey, who doesn't?  And it's their little quirks that make a person or a dog interesting, at least to my way of thinking.

Another thing Mom says about me is that I may be autistic.  We don't even know if dogs can have autism, but Mom believes that if they can have it, I've definitely got it.  One thing about some autistic people is that they like life to be always the same and very predictable, with everything in its place.  I'm like this, because if anything looks wrong, I get all flustered.  Like for example, if Mom hangs her coat on the stair railing, then the whole staircase looks different to me, and I don't know if it's safe to go up there or not.  Or if there is a kitten on the stairs, I really can't possibly think about going up those steps, because who knows what might happen!

It's the same with coming in the back door from the yard.  I have lots of trouble deciding if it's okay to come in, or if it's the right time to come in.  When another dog is anywhere near the doorway, then I get very nervous about going through it -- especially if it's Barry, because sometimes he attacks me in doorways.

Here's where Mean Old Barry bit me on the face last week,
but Mom has started "managing" the situation,
and we hope it won't happen again!

While I'm trying to get up the nerve to come in the door, I always make circles, and I always go to the left, which is also called counterclockwise.  I don't know why I go this direction.  It just seems like the way I should go.  If I went the other way, that would feel all wrong.  But sometimes while I'm making circles on the patio, trying to decide whether to go in the house, Mom holds the door open so long for me that Jason runs out into the yard.  Then Mom mutters bad words and goes out in the yard to try to catch him, which used to be easy when he was just a little kitten.  But now he's a big kitten, and he knows lots more tricks to avoid being caught.

So in order to keep Jason from running out the door, Mom will pick him up and hold him while she's waiting for me to come in.  But it looks strange for Mom to be standing at the door, holding a cat, and that makes me think maybe it's not safe to go in there.  Or sometimes, just when I am about to go in the door, Mom makes a grab for Jason because he is about to run out the door.  And that's very startling to me, so I have to go back to making circles for a while.

This is such a great place to take a nap!

Actually, there are a lot of times when I'd rather just stay out in the yard, especially if the temperature is nice, like in the 30s or 40s.  I enjoy watching the squirrels in the trees, or digging holes, and I also find it pleasant to lie down in the sun and take a little nap.  Mom gets frustrated sometimes if I won't come in when she thinks I should, but she's getting better about just leaving me outside for a while.  One day she forgot I was out there, and she went away for several hours.  I entertained myself by digging holes, howling at sirens, and snoozing.  Luckily, it didn't rain or snow or even get very cold that day.

I spend a lot of time contemplating the scariness of the kitchen floor.

Anyway, once I do come back into the house, there is the matter of crossing the kitchen floor.  The kitchen floor is a treacherous area because it has no carpeting or rugs.  So before I can cross it, I usually have to work up my nerve by circling numerous times, and then I rush across to the living room, where there are some rugs.  Mom says that there is a lot of texture in the kitchen floor tiles, so it shouldn't be all that slick.  Also she says that if I would just walk across it in a normal way, like a regular dog, it wouldn't seem so scary.  But I find it hard to believe a lot of the things that Mom says, and this is one of them.

The landing is just big enough for me to do some serious circling.

The stairs pose another huge problem for me because, let's face it, greyhounds are built for running, and not for climbing stairs.  So whenever I decide to go upstairs, I usually have to do the circle process again.  What I find to work best for me is to circle first at the bottom of the stairs, and then to go up the two steps to the landing and circle there for a while.  Each time I come around to face the stairs, I have to decide whether I should go on up or not, and often I decide it's not quite the right moment.  Sometimes it takes me five minutes or more of circling before I can finally go up the stairs.

The decision to go down the stairs is usually easier, although I find it helpful to stop dead in my tracks at the top of the steps before proceeding.  This way, Mom can almost fall over me, then change her course to go around me and start down.  That assures me that the plan really is for all of us to descend.  I have to be careful not to go too fast, though, because a couple of times I have been known to trip and run head-first into the closet door at the bottom of the stairs.

My favorite place to sleep is on the big, round dog bed in Mom's bedroom.  It's the kind of place where I can sprawl out in perfect comfort.  If Mom has to go into the bedroom for some reason, like to answer the phone or to get ready for bed, I don't mind if she steps over me.  Some dogs like to bite people who step over them, but I'm not that kind of guy.  If Mom did what that silly obedience class instructor said to do, she would make me get up and move every single time instead of stepping over me, but she didn't like his methods, so she just steps right on over me.

Mom says I make funny breathing noises when I sleep,
but I wouldn't know about that because I don't stay awake to listen!

If Mom happens to be carrying something, though, like for instance, a laundry basket, I will jump up and run frantically out into the hallway.  That's because I think it's very scary when Mom is carrying something.  Who knows what she might drop on me?  I could get killed!  In general, I find that Mom is pretty klutzy, and she often drops things or bangs things around, all of which I find terribly unnerving.  If she bangs a pan in the kitchen, for example, I will go scrambling up the stairs without even taking the time to circle first!

But getting back to the circling, it's not always about uncertainty and decision-making.  Sometimes it's about being excited.  Like if Mom is getting out my leash so she can take me for a walk, I go leaping around in circles because I'm so happy.  And if it's dinnertime, and Mom is about to give me a nice bowl full of dog food, I will spin a whole bunch of circles in hungry anticipation.  But I always circle to the left, as I said before, never to the right.  Circling to the right would just be wrong.

Here I am sleeping with my head propped against the bed frame.
I think it makes an excellent pillow.

Well, I think I've gone on long enough about my charming idiosyncrasies.  You can judge for yourself if you think I'm autistic or neurotic or if I just have a colorful personality.  Mom says she still loves me, in spite of everything.  And in the end, I'm glad that I'm not like other dogs, or even like other greyhounds, because what fun would that be?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


This coming Sunday night, the Academy Awards will be given out, but sadly, Uggie will not win one.  I know this for sure because Uggie was not even nominated for an award, and the reason for that was because he is a DOG.  I hope you can see that this is discrimination of the very worst kind, since Uggie is clearly a Very Important and Talented Movie Star, and he should be recognized as such.

Uggie is a very cute and energetic Jack Russell Terrier who was born in 2002, the very same year that I was born!  His first two owners gave him up because he was "too wild," and he was about to end up in the dog pound.  But then a man named Omar Von Muller heard about Uggie and took him in so he could find a new home for him.  Mr. Von Muller is a well-known trainer of dogs and other animals for the movies.  He decided that Uggie could maybe be a movie star because he was smart and was willing to work hard for yummy sausage treats.  Also, Uggie wasn't afraid of things that he might find on a movie set, like for instance lights and cameras and strange people and loud noises.

So that's how Uggie started living with the Von Mullers and their 6-year-old daughter in North Hollywood.  There are seven other dogs in this same household, and all of them work in the film industry.  Uggie started his career by being in commercials and having small roles in the movies What's Up Scarlett, Wassup Rockers, and Mr. Fix It.  His big break came when he played the role of Queenie in Water for Elephants.  After that, Uggie went on a tour of the United States and South America with "The Incredible Dog Show."  All the dogs in this group did tricks to entertain the audience.  Uggie's trick was riding a skateboard.

A scene from Water for Elephants

The next big thing that Uggie did was he played the role of Jack in a silent movie called The Artist.  This movie was made in the style of a movie from the 1920s, but it is really a very modern movie that only just came out in 2011.  It got lots of Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, but Uggie did not receive any nominations because of being a DOG, like I mentioned before.

A scene from The Artist

While he was filming The Artist, Uggie had two stunt doubles, Dash and Dude, but mostly he did his own stunt work.  Since the movie was silent, Mr. Von Mueller could just say the commands out loud instead of having to give hand signals.  When the film had its premiere, Uggie got to walk on the red carpet with all the other stars.  And when there started being a lot of Oscar buzz about The Artist and how it might get a bunch of nominations, an editor from Movieline, S.T. VanAirsdale, started a Facebook page called "Consider Uggie."  But alas, Uggie did not get nominated for Best Actor or even Best Supporting Actor.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) got questions from their members who wanted to know if they could vote for Uggie for Best Actor.  And here's what BAFTA said:  "Regretfully, we must advise that as he is not a human being and as his unique motivation as an actor was sausages, Uggie is not qualified to compete for Bafta in this category."  Which is just silly and discriminatory, in my opinion, because if you give a convincing performance as an actor, who cares if you were inspired by pieces of sausage?  Human actors are inspired by paychecks, aren't they?  So what is the difference?

Uggie with Michel Hazanavicius, writer/director of The Artist,
and Penelope Ann Miller.  (AP photo by Chris Pizzello)

But anyway, at the Cannes Film Festival last year, Uggie really did win an award, and it's called the Palm Dog Award.  This was the 11th year for this award, which is given for the best canine performance.  And then in France, Uggie got a special mention at the Prix Lumiere Awards, which is the French version of the Golden Globes.  Also, because of the "Consider Uggie" campaign, Uggie is now in line for a Pawscar, which is an award that the American Humane Association gives to animals in films.

Another scene from The Artist

Then, best of all, on February 13, at the Golden Collar Awards, Uggie won in the category of Best Dog in a Theatrical Film.  This was the first year for these awards, which were given out by Dog News Daily.  Other dogs who were nominated in this category were Denver, the greyhound in 50/50, Hummer in Young Adult, and Cosmo in Beginners.

At the Golden Collar Awards

One dog that didn't get nominated at first was Blackie, a Doberman who was in the movie Hugo.  But the film's director, Martin Scorsese, made a big stink about it, and about how it was unfair because Blackie played an antihero dog instead of a hero dog.  So there was a write-in campaign, and after Blackie got 500 signatures, he was put on the ballot.  But he still didn't win, because Uggie won.

Uggie takes a bow on the Graham Norton Show

For a while, there were rumors that Uggie would appear at the Academy Awards ceremony, and that he would do a little skit with Billy Crystal, who is the host.  But it turns out that these rumors are false.  Uggie's trainer has said that Uggie will retire now, except he might be willing to do some small roles in films or on TV.  But he doesn't ever have to work all the long hours that he did when he was in The Artist.  Which is good, because retirement is good.  Just ask my mom, if you don't believe me!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Yesterday Mom took Jeeves, our little yellow, tailless foster kitten, to the shelter to get some surgery.  This was not just the regular boy-type surgery -- although they did that, too.  This was a more complicated surgery because Jeeves had a hernia.  Maybe you remember that I told you Mom felt a weird lump in the lower part of Jeeves' tummy area, but she wasn't sure what it was.  Well, it turned out that it was a hernia, and Dr. Regan said it should be fixed right away.

Jeeves' incision

A hernia, in case you don't know, is where some part of your inside organs start poking out through a hole in the muscle wall that is supposed to hold everything together inside your body.  There are lots of kinds of hernias, and you can get them in lots of different ways.  One way to get a hernia is by lifting something heavy and making a rip in your abdominal wall, and then your guts start kind of squishing out through the hole.  Usually, a hernia needs to be fixed because if your insides get stuck partway through the hole, they can get strangulated, and then very bad things will happen, including you might even die.

We think Jeeves got his hernia because Aunt Linda ran over him by mistake a few months ago.  She was driving really, really slowly on her driveway, so that she would not run over any cats, but then she heard one screeching, so she pulled forward and got out to see if she had killed a cat or what.  And Jeeves came out from under the car, and he was limping a whole bunch with his back leg.  So Aunt Linda kept him inside for a few days, and he got better and stopped limping.  After which, she thought he was fine.  And when Mom saw him, she also thought he was fine, because he didn't walk funny or anything.

A dog with a really, really big hernia

Anyway, Mom took the kittens back to the shelter on Wednesday, and Dr. Regan looked at Jeeves, and she said he definitely had a hernia, and she said she didn't do hernia surgery because it was tricky, and sometimes the repair didn't hold together.  But then Aunt Tania and Mom talked to Dr. Regan for a while, and finally she said she would try to do the surgery, but she couldn't promise that it would work.

So yesterday Mom took Jeeves there to get the surgery done, and she got to watch Dr. Regan do it, because she is used to watching Dr. Regan do spays and neuters, which is mostly the only kind of surgery that she does.  Except one time Dr. Regan and Dr. Beth amputated a cat's leg, and Mom said that was kind of icky to watch.  Oh, and another time Dr. Michelle took out a dog's eyeball.  Ewwww!

A hernia in a human

Dr. Regan had to go very carefully and slowly to do the hernia surgery because Jeeves' body had tried to repair itself by growing some new blood vessels and tissue over the place where the intestines were sticking out through the rip in the muscle wall.  You couldn't even see his intestines at all because they were under all the new stuff that grew there.  But Dr. Regan wasn't trying to find Jeeves' intestines.  What she wanted to do was find all the edges of the hole so that she could sew it up.  And after a while, she found the original hole and then she pushed everything back inside and sewed the hole shut.

Jeeves' hernia looked sort of like this one,
but lots smaller, because he is a kitten and not a human.

We hope that this will solve the problem, even though Jeeves will probably still have a little bit of a bulge.  Dr. Regan is worried that Jeeves might have some problems with his bladder later on because his bladder was also sort of involved as part of the hernia.  She said it would be better to wait until he is older before finding him a new home because it's important to make sure his bladder is working okay.

When Mom brought Jeeves home, he was still kind of out of it, and he just sat in his cage like he didn't know where he was or what the heck happened to him.  But later he started acting more perky, and he tried to climb out of his cage, and Mom took him out and held him for a little while.  Jeeves has a really long incision, and a whole bunch of hair got shaved off his tummy.  Mom gave Jeeves a crate of his very own so that he wouldn't start trying to play with his sisters and hurt himself.  Maybe in a week or so, Jeeves can move back in with the girl kittens.

Hey!  Let me out of here!

Oh, and do you know what?  I have a hernia, too!  My hernia is called an umbilical hernia, and it's right where my belly button is.  I've had it my whole life, but it's not very big, and it doesn't bother me, so I don't have to get hernia surgery like poor little Jeeves did.

Friday, February 17, 2012


One of the things that is wrong with our new little foster kittens is that they have ear mites.  It turns out that cats tend to get ear mites more often than dogs do, which is not to say that dogs don't get them.  Ferrets also get them, and so do bunnies.  But humans don't usually get ear mites because they are always taking showers and cleaning out their ears.

Anyway, you can often tell if a cat or dog has ear mites by looking in its ears, and if you see this yucky black stuff that is sort of like coffee grounds, that is a good sign that there are some ear mites lurking in there.  The black stuff is not the ear mites.  It's just the waste or poop or whatever you call it that the mites produce.  If you see the actual ear mites, they look white.  You can see them without using a microscope, but they are very, very tiny.

View of an ear canal through an otoscope

Ear mites like to live in dark, warm, moist places, so an ear canal is a perfect sort of place for them.  They don't burrow under the skin, but they might bite into it.  And what they mostly like to do is eat ear wax and other stuff that the ear canal secretes.  But the problem with having all these tiny ear mite bites is that bacteria or yeast can get in there and cause an infection.  And if the infection gets too bad, it can make your eardrum burst, and you might even lose your hearing.

This is why, if you are a cat or dog, and you have itchy ear mites, you need to start scratching in a dramatic way and rattling your dog tags and doing whatever you have to do so that your human notices the problem and takes you to see the veterinarian right away.

The life cycle of the ear mite is only three weeks long, and here's how it goes:  First the female lays her eggs inside the ear or else in the fur around the ear.  After four days, the larvae hatch out of the eggs, and then they start eating the yummy ear wax and skin oils.  They do this for one week, and then they molt into a protonymph, after which they molt again into a deutonymph.  Now here's the really weird part:  the deutonymph doesn't know if it's a male or a female until it mates with an adult male.  If it ends up full of eggs, then it's a female.  If not, it's a male.

Ear mites are very contagious, partly because the mites can move around easily and can survive away from a host animal for several weeks, if they have to.  Now that we have kittens with ear mites here at our house, we all are at risk of also getting ear mites, so Mom is watching us closely to see if we start scratching our ears.  But since the kittens are staying in their crate most of the time, except when Mom takes them out to pet them for a little while, we are hoping that nobody will get ear mites.

When Mom first took the kittens to the shelter, they got their ears cleaned out with cotton swabs, and then they also got some drops put in their ears that are supposed to kill the mites.  I think they will get more drops later to take care of any mites that hatched out since the first treatment.  There are several kinds of medications that kill ear mites, but the ones you buy in the drugstore don't work as well as the ones you get from a vet.  At least that's what I read on the internet.  Also, flea and tick preventives such as Frontline or Revolution will work to kill ear mites.  All of us had our Frontline treatment just last week, so that's another reason we are hoping we won't get ear mites.  Because life is hard enough without having itchy ears, at least in my opinion!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Photo by Seth Wenig/AP
If you watched the second night of the Westminster Dog Show, you already know that the winner of the Best in Show award was a Pekingese named Malachy, or CH Palacegarden Malachy, if you want to use his formal name.  This was not the dog that Mom and I and Mel and Barry wanted to win.  Our first three choices were:
1.  The Dalmatian
2.  The Doberman Pinscher
3.  The Kerry Blue Terrier

Well, except for Barry, who wanted the German Shepherd to win.  Nicky was busy taking a nap upstairs, so he didn't have an opinion.  But mostly, Mom kept saying, "Any dog except the Pekingese."  But then the Pekingese won, and we were all disappointed.

AP photo
It's not that we have anything personal against the Pekingese breed.  We just don't like the way the dogs are groomed when they are going to be shown, because they look like some kind of mop with a black bug face sticking out of it.  Or at least that's how they look to me.  Also we don't like how these dogs have been bred to have a certain look, which causes them to have a lot of health problems.

But since Malachy the Pekingese won Westminster, I decided I would tell you a little bit about him and about his breed.  Last year, Malachy, who is 4 years old, was also in the BIS group, but the Scottish Deerhound won instead.  When Malachy won this year, it was the first time since 1990 that a Pekingese has won Westminster.  For Malachy himself, it was his 115th BIS win.  The judge, Cindy Vogels, said that Malachy was "a super dog who had a stupendous night."

Pekingese dogs come from the Chinese city of Beijing, which used to be called Peking.  This was where the Emperors lived, inside the Forbidden City.  Only members of the royalty were allowed to own these imperial dogs, and if you stole one, you could be put to death.  Pekingese dogs were thought to be semi-divine  because they looked like Chinese guardian lions, who kept the evil spirits away.  When people who weren't noble visited the Emperor, they had to bow to his dog.  And when an emperor died, his dog was killed and buried with him so that it could protect him in the afterlife.

During the Second Opium War in 1860, five Pekingese dogs were captured by British soldiers and given to Queen Victoria.  These five were the beginning of the Pekingese breed in the West.  The first time Pekingese were shown in the UK was in 1893, and the breed was recognized by the AKC in 1909.

All that DNA testing that scientists have done lately with dogs has shown that the Pekingese breed is over 2000 years old.   This means it was one of the first dog breeds to develop from wolves, which is also true of basenjis.  Of course, if you look at a Pekingese, you would not think that it looks much like a wolf, but we have to believe what the DNA tells us.

Pekingese have a compact, muscular body, and bowed legs, which means they walk funny and not very fast.  The ancient Chinese may have bred the dogs to have legs like this so that they would stay around and be nice little lap dogs, and not run off all the time.  Pekingese have double coats, and they can be lots of different colors, although the most common are gold, red, or sable.  They weigh between 7 and 14 pounds, and they are 6 to 9 inches tall.  There are smaller pekes that only weigh about 6 or 7 pounds, and these are called "sleeve pekingese" because the emperors and empresses used to carry them around inside their big sleeves.

Writer Edith Wharton with two pekes

Because they have such flat faces, Pekingese may have breathing problems, and they can catch colds easily.  Also they might have trouble with their eyes, such as getting eye ulcers or dry eyes or progressive retinal atrophy.  Since they have long backs, they can sometimes injure the disks in their spines.  But if they stay healthy, pekes can live for about 10 or 15 years.

The temperament of this breed is sensitive, independent, and very loving.  They were bred to be companion dogs, and that is what they are good at, but they also make good watchdogs.  If they are fed too much, it's easy for them to get too fat, and sometimes pekes can be difficult to housebreak.

So that's the story of the breed that won at Westminster this year.  Malachy is supposed to be an excellent example of all that is best in his breed, but who can tell anything about him, under all that hair?  Which is why I personally still wish the Dalmatian had won!