Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Update #1:
The day Mom went to Oregon, Zest got adopted.  Mom found out about it when she was checking her email on her new iPhone while riding the tram thingy at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.


Update #2:
Alec got adopted on Monday, so Mom did not have to bring him home from PetSmart when she brought the other kittens home.


Update #3:
The other six kittens have been growing, and they are now almost as big as Dorrie.  They do a lot of romping and scampering through the house, which makes it hard for me to take a decent nap.


Update #4:
Mom also brought Audra home from PetSmart.  She was the mother of five of the kittens, as you probably remember.  She had not been here for several weeks because first she was staying at the shelter until her milk dried up.  Then she got spayed, and then she went out to PetSmart, where she stayed for two weeks, but nobody adopted her yet.

We think that the only thing Audra did since she left here is sleep and eat, because now she is kind of plump.  She growls at everybody in the house except for Mom, but we hope she'll get used to being here again pretty soon.  Audra even growls at her own kittens, but maybe she forgot who they are.


Update #5:
Yesterday Mom brought home some new foster kittens because she's an old softie and also crazy.  Before she went to Oregon, Mom saw two little kittens at the shelter who did not have a foster home to go to.  One of the kittens is named Seth.  He is a black kitten, and he is totally blind.


The other kitten is Buttercup.  At first we thought she was blind in one eye, but now that eye looks better.  It just has some scarring and is kind of filmy-looking.  So she maybe can see light and dark and some shapes with that eye.  Seth will probably have to have both his eyes taken out, but Buttercup will get to keep both of hers.

Seth and Buttercup

Anyway, on Monday Mom told Aunt Tania Monday that she could foster Seth and Buttercup.  Then yesterday, Mom went to the shelter to get them, and guess what!  There was a third kitten in the cage with them, and his name is Chief.  Some fire fighters found Chief under a bush by their fire station.  Chief's eyes are fine, but he is very small and bony.  His head is too big for his body, so he looks like a little bobble-head kitten.


Aunt Tania said that Mom didn't have to take Chief home, but that Chief was bonded to the other two kittens now, and he would be lonely without them.  So like an idiot, Mom said she would take Chief home, too.  All three of these kittens are supposed to be about 7 weeks old, but they are small for their age because they didn't get enough yummy food when they were babies.  We think Seth's mom might have abandoned him because he was blind, but we don't know how the other kittens got lost from their mothers.

Mom and I think "Chief" is a strange name for a kitten, but we didn't get to choose his name.  Maybe he got named that because a fire chief brought him to the Humane Society.  That is the only reason we can think of why he would have that name.


Later on, I will have some better pictures of the new kittens.  Mom took these with her iPhone, and she is not very good at using it as a camera.  Also, the kittens refused to hold still and pose nicely for their photos.

Anyway, if you ask me, there are way too many cats and kittens in this house.  Sometimes I just feel like crawling under the bed to get away from the whole situation, but I'm afraid I might get stuck there and not be able to get out!

Monday, July 29, 2013


Well, Mom finally came home from Oregon, and she rescued us from where we were being boarded.  So now we are home again, all except for the foster kittens, and they are coming home later today.  We had an exhausting week, but now we are happy to be home where we can rest up.

View of Mt. Hood from Mom's plane

Mom took a lot of pictures while she was on her trip, and she learned a lot of stuff, but there is way too much for me to deal with in one blog entry.  So I thought I would just talk about one thing today, which is a mountain called Mount Hood.

Satellite view of Mt. Hood;
north is to the right

The way Mount Hood got started was that it was first of all a volcano.  Then every time the volcano erupted, it gradually piled up layers of lava and ash and all the other stuff that comes out of volcanoes.  So in that way, the mountain got to be taller and taller.

In the last 15,000 years, Mt. Hood has had at least four periods of eruptions.  The last three of these happened within the past 1,800 years, and the most recent period was between 220 and 170 years ago.  The last really big eruption was in 1781-82.  There was another, smaller one right before Lewis and Clark showed up in 1805.

Every year, there are several "earthquake swarms" at Mt. Hood.  This is when a whole bunch of little bitty earthquakes happen, instead of one big earthquake with some aftershocks.  Sometimes there are fumaroles on Mt. Hood, which means that steam and gases start coming out.  Also there are some hot springs.  Mt. Hood is thought to be the volcano in Oregon that is most likely to erupt.  But there is really only a 3% to 7% chance that it will erupt in the next 30 years.  The U.S. Geological Survey calls this kind of volcano "potentially active," but mostly people think of it as dormant.

A flower called vetch,
and also Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon, and it is one of the highest mountains in the whole country.  Every time someone measures the height of Mt. Hood, they seem to get a different number, so I will just pick a number from a 1993 scientific expedition.  They said the mountain was 11,239 feet tall.  If you want to get a better idea of what this means, you can just imagine stacking 5,619.5 basenjis on top of each other, and that would pretty much equal the height of Mt. Hood.

The Multnomah Indians called the mountain Wy'east.  But white people like to use their own names for things, so in 1792, British explorers called the mountain Mt. Hood, in honor of Admiral Samuel Hood.  Lewis and Clark first saw the mountain on October 18,1805.  They called it the Falls Mountain or Timm Mountain, which was the native name for Celilo Falls.  Later, Clark noted that the mountain was the one Vancouver's expedition had named Mt. Hood.
Mt. Hood glaciers

There are 12 glaciers on the mountain.  Palmer Glacier is the one that the most people visit, either for skiing or for climbing.  Above 7,000 feet, about 80% of the mountain is covered with glaciers and snowfields.  Between 1907 and 2004, the glaciers have gotten 34% smaller in size.

Mt. Hood has 6 ski areas.  At one of these areas, Timberline, you can ski all year round and even ride up to the top of the ski slope in a lift during the summer.  This is the only place in North America where you can do this.  Another thing that people do on Mt. Hood is go climbing.  Every year, between 15,000 and 20,000 people try to get to the top of the mountain.  There are 6 main approaches to Mt. Hood, and 30 different ways to reach the summit.  The climbs range in difficulty from 2 to 5.9+.

As of May 2002, more than 130 people had died while climbing Mt. Hood.  About 25 to 50 people need to be rescued in the recreational area every year.  This number has not grown, even though there are four times as many people visiting the mountain these days.  This is mostly because more people have cell phones and GPS devices.

Group from Mom's bus tour

When Mom was in Portland, she got to see Mt. Hood a whole bunch of times.  She did not go skiing or try to climb the mountain, which I think was very wise of her.  Mom just liked to look at the mountain because we don't have anything like it here in Missouri.  Which is kind of sad, when you think about it, because mountains are nice to look at.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Mom is abandoning all of us dogs and cats again, which is a horrible and mean thing to do, if you ask me.  And the reason she is doing this is so that she can go to the convention of the Oregon-California Trails Association.  Last year, the convention was in Lawrence, Kansas, and Mom abandoned us to go there for a week.  But this year, the convention is in Portland, Oregon, which is a long, long ways off, like practically all the way to China.

Anyway, our foster kittens are going to spend a week at PetSmart, where maybe somebody will see how totally cute they are and adopt them.  Dorrie will be at Pooches' Paradise.  She went there one day last week to find out if she would like it, which she did because she got to play with another chihuahua named Moose.

The cats and I will have to stay at Dr. Patricia's office all week.  Mom said that all I do is sleep anyway, so there is no reason to pay extra for doggy daycare.  And maybe she is right.

Here's a picture of Mt. Hood, which is a famous mountain in Oregon.  Mom will get to see it.

The city of Portland is very close to Mt. Hood, so there is a good view of the mountain from there.

I will tell you more after Mom gets home and brings me some new pictures.  Until then, I guess my blog will have to be on vacation.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Amur leopards are CRITICALLY ENDANGERED, which is right next-door to being extinct in the wild.  In 2007, only 14-20 adults and 5-6 cubs were counted in habitat, which is not very many.  They live in an area of about 1,200 square miles along the border between China and North Korea.  Some of them used to live in Russia, but there are none there now.  Other names for the Amur leopard are Panthera pardus orientalis, Far Eastern leopard, Korean leopard, and Manchurian leopard.

There are more Amur leopards in captivity than there are in the wild.  As of December 2011, there were 176 of them in zoos around the world.  Recently, we got our very own Amur leopard right here at the Kansas City Zoo.  Her name is Natalia, and she is 10 years old.  Mom wants to go see her, but not until the weather is cooler.

The Kansas City Zoo's Natalia

Anyway, there is a group called ALTA (Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance) that is trying to save the Amur leopard.  They are doing this by helping fight poachers, and by educating school children about the leopards.  Also, they are trying to get more of the animals that leopards like to eat back into the leopards' range.  And eventually, they may try to put some Amur leopards into the wild again.  Other problems that make life hard for wild leopards include loss of habitat, climate change, and inbreeding due to the small population.

Male Amur leopards mostly live by themselves until it's time to mate.  The territory that a leopard claims for him- or herself can be anywhere from 19 to 120 square miles.  As long as there is plenty of food within this territory, the leopard will stay in it.  The favorite things Amur leopards like to eat are roe deer, sika deer, Manchurian wapiti, musk deer, moose and wild pig.  If none of those are available, they might prey on hares, badgers, fowl, and mice.

Photo by Mark Hughes
The coat of an Amur leopard is thicker than the coats of other leopards.  Their fur is soft, long, and dense.  A male's body is about 42" to 54" long and 25" to 31" high at the shoulder.  Males weigh between 71 and 110 pounds, and females between 55 and 94 pounds.  An Amur leopard can run 37 mph, jump more than 19 feet horizontally and 10 feet vertically.

Mother and cub, Minnesota Zoo
Photo by Makeenosman

When Amur leopards are about 2 or 3 years old, they start making baby leopards.  They can keep doing this until they are 10-15 years old.  After a pair mates, it takes about 90-105 days before the cubs are born.  Usually there are 2 or 3 cubs, and they weigh about a pound or 1.5 pounds when they are first born.  When they are about two months old, they come out of their den and might start eating some meat.  But they can still nurse until they are 5 or 6 months old.  After that, the young leopards may stay with their mothers for as long as 2 years.  We know this because of radio tracking.

I hope those people who are trying to save the Amur leopards are able to do that because they are very cool-looking cats.  But I would not want to be close to one in person because I think it would just eat me, which wouldn't be pleasant!  I might want to go see Natalia at the zoo, but dogs are not allowed there, so I guess I will just look at the pictures of leopards!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


This is the true story of a woman named Annie Edson Taylor, who was a real person.  And the reason she has a story to tell is because she was the first person ever to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and end up alive afterwards.

Francis J. Petrie Photograph Collection

Annie Edson was born on October 24, 1838 in upstate New York.  Her father owned a flour mill.  He died when Annie was only 12 years old, but he left the family enough money so that they were pretty well off.  Miss Edson went to school and learned how to be a teacher.  She married David Taylor, and they had a son.  Sadly, their little boy died when he was still a baby.  Then not long after that, Mr. Taylor got killed in the Civil War.

After that, Mrs. Taylor wandered around the country, teaching and doing different things.  For a while, she lived in Bay City Michigan, and she started a dance school there so she could teach dance.  Then she moved to Sault Ste. Marie to teach music.  From there, she went to San Antonio and then on to Mexico City with a friend.  When they couldn't find work in Mexico City, Mrs. Taylor went back to Bay City.

As she got older, Mrs. Taylor worried about ending up in the poorhouse, so she tried to think up some way to make a bunch of money.  Several people had done stunts around Niagara Falls, such as crossing it on a tightrope or riding through the rapids below the Falls in a barrel.  But nobody had tried going over the actual Falls.

Mrs. Taylor decided she should be the first one to do this crazy -- I mean "brave" -- thing, so she ordered a special barrel to use in doing it.  The barrel was 4.5 feet high and was made of oak and iron.  There were straps to hold her steady, and a mattress and pillow to cushion her.  A small air hole with a rubber tube let her breathe fresh air.

Two days before Mrs. Taylor went over the Falls, a cat named Lagara was put in the barrel and sent over.  If you ask me, this seems pretty unfair to the cat, who didn't have a choice in the matter, but at least it was a cat and not a dog.  Everyone was pleased when the cat made it through the trip with only a cut on its head.  The cat was probably the most pleased of all, and it posed with Mrs. Taylor for photos.

On October 24, 1901, which was Annie Edson Taylor's 63rd birthday, she and some men went out in a boat to a place about a mile above the Falls, near Goat Island.  They put the barrel in the water, and Mrs. Taylor climbed into it.  She was holding her lucky heart-shaped pillow.  There was an anvil in the bottom of the barrel to serve as ballast.  Mrs. Taylor's crew used a bicycle pump to compress the air in the barrel, and then they let the barrel go.

It took about 20 minutes for the barrel to get to the Horseshoe Falls, which are on the Canadian side.  Then the barrel went over.  After that, it was another 20 minutes or so before the rescue team could catch the barrel and saw the lid off.  Then Mrs. Taylor climbed out, kind of bruised and with a concussion, but still alive.

Later on, she told the press, "If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat... I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall."

Mrs. Taylor was able to earn a little money talking about her experience, but then her manager ran off with her barrel.  She used her savings to hire private detectives to find the barrel.  Finally, it showed up in Chicago, but later it disappeared again.  She spent the last years of her life selling souvenirs and posing for photos with tourists.  She also tried to earn some money on the stock market, by working as a clairvoyant, and by trying to write a novel.  In 1906 she talked about going over the Falls again, but she soon gave up that idea.  On April 29, 1921, Annie Taylor died at the age of 82, in Lockport, NY.  She is buried in the "Stunters Section" of Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, NY.

Photo by Knightflyte

At least 15 other people have gone over Niagara Falls since Annie Edson Taylor did it in 1901.  Some went in barrels and others in boats, inner tubes, and on a jet ski.  Sadly, several of these people did not live to tell about their experience.  But others survived and then went back to do the stunt a second time.  Nowadays it is illegal to try any stunts at Niagara Falls, and if you do, you can end up in jail, with a fine of $25,000.  Personally, I would not want to go over Niagara Falls, even if you paid me $25,000.  It's true that a dog could buy a lot of treats with that amount of money, but what good are treats if you're all smashed to pieces at the bottom of a waterfall?

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Yesterday my doggy brother Mel went to the Rainbow Bridge, which is where my other doggy brothers, Gabe and Barry and Nicky already went.  I guess it's a popular place for old dogs to go.  Anyway, Mel went there because he wasn't having any fun being alive anymore.  His neck hurt him and his back hurt him, and when he walked around, he had to walk in a very stiff way.  Also, he had trouble lying down and getting back up again.

This is one of our favorite pictures of Mel.

Mom took Mel to see Dr. Vodraska a few days ago, and Dr. Vodraska thought Mel had some kind of problem with his nerves which made his brain not remember exactly how to pick up his back feet and put them down again.  Dr. V said that Mel should go see a neurologist and also maybe get a spinal tap.  Mom thought all of this sounded kind of expensive, but she made an appointment with a neurologist for Thursday.

In the meantime, Mel started having all kinds of stomach problems, and he didn't want to eat his food.  Then he would go out in the yard and have a bunch of diarrhea.  So when Dr. Ortinau, the neurologist, saw Mel, she tapped his joints with a little hammer thing, and she felt his spine, and she also squeezed his tummy.  Mel did not like this at all because it hurt!

Mel and I used to play sometimes, but we were much younger then.

Dr. Ortinau said that she would have to do two MRIs on Mel to see what was going on with his spine.  But first, he would have to go see Dr. Nikki, the internist, to find out what was wrong with his gut.  Dr. Ortinau said Mel would need a sonogram and some bloodwork and x-rays, and all that would add up to $700 or more.  Then after that problem was fixed, she could start working on the spinal stuff.  Mom said she might just decide to have Mel put to sleep because he was 13 years old, and she couldn't afford to spend so much money on an old dog who wasn't going to live a whole lot longer anyway.

I liked how Mel would let other dogs take his food or treats
or toys away from him.  I tried to do that sometimes,
but Barry usually got there first.

So Mom came home and called Dr. Patricia's office and made an appointment for Mel for yesterday morning.  When Dr. Patricia saw Mel, she said she thought he looked very miserable and like he didn't feel good at all.  She thought Mom was doing the right thing in letting Mel go to the Rainbow Bridge.  So that's where he is now, and I think he's running and playing keep-away, just like he used to do with Mom in the back yard.

Mel was afraid of storms, and he slept under Mom's bed
whenever we had one.  He just barely fit, so I was afraid he would get stuck!

Back in the days when we all did the Group Howl,
Mel liked to join in.  He was a good howler.

Mel used to sleep in a funny way like this.
Maybe it was because his neck hurt him,
or maybe it was just because he was weird.

Friday, July 12, 2013


A water moccasin is the same thing as a cottonmouth.  The name cottonmouth comes from the fact that this snake's mouth is white on the inside.  But I'm not sure why it is also called a water moccasin, because it doesn't look much like a moccasin to me.  And I don't think you would want to wear moccasins in the water because if you did, they would get all wet and soaked.  After which, your feet would get wet and cold and you might catch pneumonia.

But getting back to snakes, the scientific name for the water moccasin is Agkistrodon piscivorus.  In English, this means "hooked-tooth fish-eater."  Other names for the water moccasin are swamp moccasin, black moccasin, gapper, or viper.  The water moccasin is poisonous, so you should try to avoid getting bitten.  Instead of slithering away when it is frightened, it is more likely to stay put and face you and make a big threat display.  If you step on one or pick it up, it will bite you.

Map by Craig Pemberton,
based on original map by Jwinius

Cottonmouths live in the southeast part of the U.S.  They like to hang out near water, such as in shallow lakes, marshes, and streams.  They are good swimmers, and sometimes they even cross short pieces of the ocean to go live on islands near the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.  They are the only semi-aquatic venomous snakes in the world.  They are usually about 24" to 26" long, and the males are bigger than the females.

The main things that water moccasins like to eat are fish and frogs, but they will also eat other stuff that comes along, such as snakes, lizards, small turtles, baby alligators, mammals, and birds.  Since they are pit-vipers, they can sense the heat of prey or predators.  Water moccasins usually go hunting after dark, especially in hot weather.  They like to lie in the sun on rocks or branches near the water, but they don't usually climb high up in trees, like some snakes do.

Cottonmouths mate in early summer.  The males fight over the females, and then the females have litters of 1-20 live young.  The baby snakes have stripes around their bodies and also bright yellow tips on their tails.  Older snakes get darker in color, and some are almost black.

Here are the main ways you can tell the difference between a water moccasin and an ordinary water snake:
1.  Water moccasins have bodies that are much thicker and heavier than the bodies of water snakes.
2.  Water moccasins have big, blocky heads and definite necks.  Water snakes don't.
3.  The pupils in a water moccasin's eyes are vertical, and the pupils in a water snake's eyes are round.
4.  Water moccasins swim with their whole bodies on top the water, unless they are trying to hide.  Water snakes swim with only their heads out of the water.

Okay, well, now that I told you all about water moccasins, I will just say that I think everybody should stay far away from any swampy, wet places where these snakes are likely to hang out.  And the reason for this is, for one thing, you might fall in the water and drown, and for another thing, a water moccasin might bite you and you would die from the snakebite.  In either one of these cases, you would be dead, and that's not a good way to be.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
     Henry Miller

And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles.
     Walt Whitman

Earth cannot escape heaven, flee it by going up, or flee it by going down; heaven still invades the earth, energizes it, makes it sacred.
     Meister Eckhart

I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.
     William Shakespeare

Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
     John Muir

I am at two with nature.
     Woody Allen

At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.
     Jean Houston

Not just beautiful, though – the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing.  And they’re watching me.
     Haruki Murakam

Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson

And then there are the times when the wolves are silent and the moon is howling.
     George Carlin

Photo by Bob King

Sunday, July 7, 2013


On Tuesday, two of our foster kittens got neutered.  And the ones who got neutered were John and Andrew because they were the biggest.  The rest of the kittens also went over to the shelter on Tuesday and got booster shots plus more deworming.  And they got weighed.  They were all either over 2 pounds or very close to 2 pounds.  So Mom scheduled them for surgery next Tuesday.  The smallest kitten is Adrian, and he might not be 2 pounds by Tuesday.  If he's not, he'll have to wait another week.


So anyway, yesterday Mom took Andrew and John to PetSmart to the adoption event.  On the way over there, one of the kittens pooped in their carrier.  Then just when Mom was parking the car, John started puking, and his puke went all over Andrew.  So Mom had to take them to the women's restroom and give them a bath in the sink.  She managed to get them mostly clean, and then they finished cleaning and drying themselves up while they were in their cage with people looking at them because they were the first kittens to arrive.

Anyway, 9 kittens went to PetSmart, and 4 got adopted.  One of the ones who got adopted was Andrew!  Mom was happy because our kittens are kind of ordinary-looking, and she didn't know if they would be adopted.


But the way it happened that Andrew got adopted was that a woman who works at the Banfield Clinic, right there inside PetSmart, brought over a yellow tabby kitten and showed it to Mom.  She said the kitten was a stray and that she and her boyfriend were going to keep her, but then the kitten started picking on their dog and making him so nervous that he was peeing everywhere in the house.

So the woman said that if Mom's group could take this kitten, she would adopt a different one and even pay the adoption fee.  Plus all the vetting had already been done on the kitten, except she wasn't spayed yet.  Mom called Aunt Tania, and they talked about this plan, and Aunt Tania also talked to the woman with the kitten.  Which is how it all got agreed on.  And then when the woman's boyfriend came, they looked at 2 or 3 kittens, and they chose Andrew.


Mom and the other women who were working there talked about names for the yellow kitten, who seemed like she would be really crazy and energetic and always getting into mischief.  Mom suggested the name Zest, which is the name of my basenji friend in Colorado.  Everyone liked this name, so now that is the kitten's name.

Zest behind bars

Right now, Zest is staying in a big crate in the kitten room.  She keeps hissing and growling whenever anybody goes near her.  I just ignore her and try to pick up any food crumbs she might have knocked off her dish.  Mom is going to try to get Zest spayed this week, and then she can be adopted.  She is probably about 4 months old.

Adair, Adrian, Anderson

Anyway, now I will show you a few pictures of our other foster kittens.  Since they are all so cute and fluffy, we hope they will get adopted pretty soon after they get neutered.  Abra and Adrian are already going to be adopted by a couple who saw them a few weeks ago, but the other kittens will need to be posted on Facebook and they will also probably go to PetSmart.

Alec, the fluffiest kitten of all!




Abra, Adair, and John having fun