Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WORDS!

pulchritude

Me, showing off my pulchritude.

This is kind of an ugly word to look at or say, but it actually means "physical beauty."  Go figure.  So if someone is beautiful, you can say that they are pulchritudinous, which sounds very impressive.  For example, I am a pulchritudinous little chihuahua girl.

The word came from Latin, and its first known use was in the 15th century.












coom

Coal Dust

You will mostly hear this word in Scotland or Northern England.  It refers to a lot of yucky stuff such as soot, coal dust, smut, grease, sawdust, or dust from a gristmill.  You can also spell it coomb.

This word dates back to the 16th century.



scry

The Crystal Ball
by John William Waterhouse, 1902

To scry is to foretell the future using a crystal ball or something else that is reflective or translucent.  Things that can be used for scrying include stones, crystals, glass, mirrors, water, fire, or smoke.  Many cultures have believed that scrying could provide visions of the past, present, or future.  These visions might come from gods, spirits, devils, or the psychic mind.

Scry is a shortened form of descry.













tyg

Tyg, 1649, Lead-glazed Earthenware and Slip
Victoria and Albert Museum

A tyg was a large English pottery mug with two or more handles.  It was meant for several people to drink out of, with each using a different section between the handles.  Usually, these mugs were decorated with slip, which was a raised design made by sticking little pieces of clay onto the mug before it was fired.

People don't drink out of tygs anymore, but TYG is now used as an internet acronym that can mean either There You Go or Thank You, God.







gabelle


A gabelle is a tax, and most especially, it was the tax that was imposed on salt in France before 1790.  The French people got so angry about this tax -- and about some other stuff -- that they started the French Revolution in 1789.

Originally, gabelle included taxes on all sorts of commodities, but after a while, it was only the tax on salt.  This tax was very unfair and unequal, so that's why the French people got rid of it in 1790.  Napoleon brought the gabelle back in 1806.  The French Second Republic abolished it again, briefly, but the gabelle did not go away for good until 1945.

The word came into Old French from the Old Italian gabella, which came from the Arabic word qabala, meaning "a tribute."



bubulcitate

A Cracker Cowboy
Frederic Remington

This word means "to cry like a cowboy."  What is different about the way cowboys cry?  I have no idea!




















woofits


If you have the woofits, you are feeling yucky.  Maybe you have a hangover, a headache, or feel depressed.

Personally, I think this word would be a good one to use to describe dogs who just can't stop barking, which is how my brother Tristan gets sometimes.  But I did not find this definition in any of the sources I looked at, unfortunately.





whelve


To whelve something means to hide it under a rock or a turned-over dish or some such thing.  Whelve can also mean to bury something.  Dogs bury stuff all the time, but usually they bury it in a hole in the dirt, which I guess is not exactly whelving.  But sometimes a dog buries something under a pillow or sofa cushion, and I think that probably meets the definition.



Monday, February 24, 2014

A DOG NAMED RUPEE

Rupee became famous last fall when he and his mom, Joanne Lefson, climbed all the way to the base camp on Mt. Everest, which is 17,598 feet up.  Why would a dog climb Mt. Everest?  Well, the answer is easy:  because it's there!



Except in Rupee's case, the answer is a little more complicated than that.  It all really started with Ms. Lefson's previous dog, Oscar, who was rescued from the SPCA in Cape Town, South Africa, the day before he was going to be euthanized.  In 2009, Ms. Lefson and Oscar started out on a trip around the world to tell people about the plight of shelter dogs and to raise money to help them.


Oscar at Machu Picchu
Photo:  Joanne Lefson

They went all sorts of places, like to the Pyramids in Egypt and to Machu Picchu and to Rio de Janeiro and to Pakistan and to Las Vegas.  Oscar's mom wrote a book about their travels, and it was called Ahound the World: My Travels with Oscar.  I have not read this book, but if you want to read it, you can get it on Amazon.

Ms. Lefson had planned to take Oscar on a trek up Mr. Everest but then, tragically, Oscar got hit by a car and killed in California in January 2013.  Later on in the year, in Ladakh, Northern India, Ms. Lefson rescued an 8-month-old puppy from a dump site.  "The little fellow had heart, I could tell that," she said later in an interview, "but he was very weak from having no food and water for days, perhaps weeks."

Photo:  Caters News Agency

She named him Rupee and took him home with her to South Africa.  After he started getting good food and good care, he made a quick recovery.  Rupee's vet said that he was healthy enough to make a trek up Mt. Everest.  In fact, since Rupee was born and had lived in a town at 11,000 feet, he would probably do better in the thin air on the mountain than lots of human trekkers would.

Photo:  Caters News Agency

So in October, Rupee and his mom went back to India.  Ms. Lefson planned the trek up the mountain, including hiring a filmmaker, Dev Argarwel, to go along to document the journey.  She also brought along an extra porter in case Rupee couldn't make it the whole way and needed to be carried down.

Photo:  Caters News Agency

Some news sources reported that Joanne Lefson and Rupee climbed all the way to the summit of Mt. Everest, but this is not true.  They only went as far as the base camp.  Which is nothing to sneeze at because, like I told you, the base camp is at an altitude of 17,598 feet.  Even the people who said that Rupee was the first dog ever to make it to Base Camp were probably wrong.  Some veteran climbers of Everest have said that they see one or two stray dogs every year from the Khumbu Valley in Nepal who follow trekkers up and then settle in at Base Camp during the climbing season.

Photo:  Caters News Agency

Anyway, it took Rupee and Ms. Lefson eight-and-a-half days to make their "Mutt Everest" trek.  When they got to Base Camp on October 26, they set up a pair of embroidered flags in honor of homeless dogs.  I don't know whether Ms. Lefson will write a book about Rupee, like she did about Oscar.  I think maybe she will, but first the two of them might have to travel around and do some other exciting things.  I don't know if they will climb another mountain, though.  Once you've done Everest, what else is left?

Friday, February 21, 2014

OUR NEW BROTHER, MARIUS

Well, guess what!  Tristan and I have a new brother who is a long-haired chihuahua, and here's how we got him.  On Saturday, Mom took the two of us dogs to Petco to meet some other dogs.  The cats didn't get to go.  First we met Max, who is a 2-year-old long-haired chi.  He was very cute, and he was the dog Mom most wanted us to adopt.  But there was somebody else who already put in a nice application for Max, so we were number 2 in line to adopt him.




We didn't know when the number 1 people would show up, and Mom didn't want to wait around for hours and hours to see if they really did show up.  So we met another dog named Hammie.  He was 6 years old and shyer than Max.  Also, he was not quite as good-looking, at least in my opinion, but we liked him okay, so we ended up adopting him.

Hammie has tall ears that stand straight up, and a pointy muzzle like a fox.  He has a lovely, feathery coat, all except for his tail, where there isn't much hair at all.  I think he looks like a tiny little sheltie with a dachshund's tail.  Hammie doesn't have any eye liner, which I think a dog ought to have, personally.  Maybe I'll ask Mom if she can buy some for him at the drug store.

Anyway, Hammie came from the same rescue group that Tristan came from.  It is called LL Dog Rescue.  Hammie and Max and some of their other chihuahuas had all been living together in a home in a small town called Lakin, which is in southwest Kansas.  The woman who owned these dogs got in trouble for being a hoarder, and a lot of her dogs were taken away and put in rescue groups.  But at least she wasn't a terrible hoarder, because she kept the dogs well-fed and in pretty good condition.  They just weren't very well socialized.  And they weren't spayed or neutered, which is probably why she ended up with too many dogs.



As soon as we adopted Hammie, Mom knew she had to change his name because we all hated it.  So she came up with a list of possible names, and she sent the list to Aunt Cheryl to get her opinion, and finally Mom decided to use "Marius."  She chose that name in memory of a giraffe who was killed in a Denmark zoo last week because his genes weren't needed in the giraffe breeding program.  There was a lot of publicity about this, but I don't want to go into the topic because I don't want people flaming each other in the comment section of my blog.  But if you want to read about the incident, you can go here.  Oh, and besides the giraffe's being named Marius, it turns out there was also a character in Les Misérables with the same name, but Mom had forgotten about that.

Anyway, the first night Marius was here, he kept running away from all of us, and especially from Mom.  He did the same thing the next day, too, but now he's getting braver.  The cats have decided that Marius is no threat to them, so they mostly ignore him.  Well, except for the time Jason attacked him and scared him half to death.





Tristan and Marius like to play

At first, Marius spent a lot of time howling.  We weren't sure why he was howling, but maybe he was trying to make contact with Max and the rest of his old buddies from Lakin, Kansas.  Mom says that if a person were lost in the Sonoran Desert, the howl of a wild chihuahua would definitely strike fear deep into the heart!

















Tuesday night Marius started having diarrhea, and that continued Wednesday and Wednesday night.  We don't know if he was having this problem because of the stress of being in a new home, or the change of food, or what.  Yesterday, Mom took Marius to visit Dr. Vodraska, and Mom also took a nice poop sample for the lab to look at.

Dr. Vodraska checked Marius all over and said his hips were  so painful and stiff that he wouldn't even let her extend his legs.  Mom had thought the problem was his knees, but she was wrong, which is why it's a good thing she's not a vet.









So Mom decided to pay for an x-ray to find out what was going on with Marius' hips.  And what the x-ray showed was that the hip joints were shaped all wrong, and they probably had been that way since Marius was a little puppy.  Dr. Vodraska said it wasn't exactly like hip dysplasia, and there hadn't been any injury or anything like that.  It might be that Marius had something called Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease.  In this disease, something keeps the blood from getting to the head of the femur, and part of the bone dies and doesn't grow like it should.  After a while, new blood vessels grow in, but the femoral head is always sort of weak and deformed.  Which can lead to osteoarthritis.






http://www.2ndchance.info/hipsurgery.htm



Sometimes this condition can be fixed by doing surgery called Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO).  In this surgery, the head and neck of the femur are removed, and then the bone is held to the pelvis with scar tissue and connective tissue that grows in to fill the space.  Dr. Vodraska will send Marius' x-rays to an orthopedic surgeon to get an opinion on whether it would help to do this type of surgery.  If not, Marius can take pain pills for the rest of his life, and that should help him get around better.  Mostly, right now he has trouble jumping up on things, and it's also hard for him to hold up his back end when he's pooping.

Okay, well, that's all the exciting news about our new brother.  I'm sure I will want to write more another time.





Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SOME CHINESE SCULPTURE AT THE MUSEUM

One day when Mom was working at the art gallery, making money to buy dog food for us, she got assigned to some of the Chinese galleries.  While she was there, she took several pictures of the sculpture that she liked.  And here are some of the pictures she took.


The first one is the head of a really big guardian lion.  In China, there are lots of lions guarding all sorts of places such as temples and tombs.  This lion was made out of grey limestone in about 681 C.E.  He used to guard the Longmen, Zhiyun Cave in Henan Province during the Tang Dynasty.  Personally, I think he looks like he's smiling or laughing, so he doesn't seem very scary to me.  Maybe he looked more fierce before all his canine teeth got broken off.  Anyway, he is a total of 55.5 inches tall, but Mom only took a picture of his head, which is bigger than two or maybe even three chihuahuas put together!

There are lots of caves in China, and people use them as temples and shrines and things like that.  Mom went in a couple of caves when she was in China, and there was writing all over the walls and ceiling of the cave.  Of course, Mom could not read the writing because it was in Chinese.  The cave Mom went in was very small, but there are also lots of bigger ones.





This carving is from the ceiling of a cave chapel at Tianlongshan, Shanxi Province.  It was made in about 570, during the Northern Qi Dynasty.  The carving shows a Flying Heavenly Being, also known as an Apsara.  To me, it looks like he is holding a piece of pita bread in his right hand, and I'm thinking it might have some juicy lamb or pork inside it.  But the information card that explains the artwork does not mention pita bread.  Instead, it says that some of the apsaras are portrayed with musical instruments, so maybe he has half a tambourine or else a castanet.  Anyway, I like the way he is smiling and looking happy.




Here's the bottom part of a statue, with only the legs.  Mom says that if she just had the bottom half of something, she would probably go ahead and throw it away.  This is why it's a good thing Mom is not a museum curator!  But what's amazing about this piece of artwork is that the card on the wall has a complete description of what the missing part of the statue looks like!

And what we learn from reading the card is this:  "The missing upper part of the image would have shown the nude torso of Maitreya, the Buddha of the future, with head bent forward resting lightly with its cheek upon the finger tips of one hand of an arm sharply bent at the elbow."  So if you have a good imagination, you can picture exactly what this statue used to look like.





Okay, so here are some more guardian lions, or else they are guard dogs.  The Chinese seemed to think that lions looked a lot like dogs, and sometimes it's hard to tell the difference if you are looking at Chinese sculpture.  In my opinion, they could have just used some nice rottweilers or mastiffs to guard their temples instead of lions.  But of course, nobody asked my opinion.

Anyway, between the two lions, there is a man or an ape or somebody, and he is holding up the world on his shoulders.  Which is what Atlas did in Greek mythology.  Or maybe it was Roman mythology.  I'm sure there is a very interesting story here, but I don't know what it is.




The lions in the lower panel here really do look more like lions than like dogs.  This was carved on a stele, which is a pillar or monument stone.  I like the way the lions have curls at the ends of their mane hairs and their tails and their tongues.  And the flowers are pretty, too.




Well, now I will show you some actual dogs, which you would never mistake for lions.  They were painted on a great big folding panel that had lots of hunting scenes and other kinds of scenes on it.  These dogs are sighthounds, and they are helping their humans hunt deer.




Then, finally, here is a scroll with calligraphy done by a modern artist.  The translation on the wall card says, "The Law of the Dao Is Its Being What It Is."  Does this mean that the saying "It is what it is" actually comes from an ancient Dao saying?  I will have to research this and find out.




Saturday, February 15, 2014

LANDING ON YOUR FEET, by Anderson, the Kitten

As you probably know, cats always land on their feet.  Well, almost always.  Kittens learn to do this by the time they are 6 or 7 weeks old, and they don't have to be taught how.  It's just something cats do without thinking.  I've been doing it myself for most of the 10 months of my life.  This is why Mom said maybe I should research how it's done and then write a blog entry about it, which I decided was a good idea.



Photo: Igmur.com

First of all, I would like to say that being able to land on their feet makes cats way cooler than dogs or other animals.  There are several reasons why cats are so talented, and now I will tell you what those reasons are.

(1)  Cats have a really flexible backbone which has 30 vertebrae in it.  People only have 24.
(2)  Cats don't have functional shoulder blades.  This helps them be flexible and also fit through skinny openings.
(3)  Cats' small bodies, lightweight bones, and their fur help create "drag" to slow down their fall.
(4)  Cats have tails, but it turns out that has nothing to do with it, because you can land on your feet perfectly well without one.




So anyway, when a cat starts falling, he first has to figure out which way is up and which way is down.  There are two ways to do this, and one is by just looking, and the other is by using something called the vestibular system.  I had never heard of this before, so I didn't even know I had one.  I guess it's a little bit like a GPS system that's built into your ears.  It tells you where you are in relation to the ground, such as whether you are upside down, in motion, or off balance.

As soon as a cat notices he is upside down and falling, he turns his head until it is right-side up.  Then he arches his back and twists his spine.  This makes his front feet and then his hind legs move into the proper position under him.  His back end is the last thing to get turned around.  The cat holds his front paws close to the face to keep from slamming his face into the ground.

If his fall is long enough, a cat can start to relax and spread his body out more like a flying squirrel, which also helps him not land so hard.  The speed the cat is going at the end of the fall is called the terminal velocity.  A cat that has turned itself right-side up has a terminal velocity of 60 mph.  A person would have a terminal velocity of 130 mph.







Another way to slow terminal velocity

A lot of cats fall out of high-rise buildings because they are maybe trying to catch a bird, and they go through an open window or the screen comes loose or they fall off the balcony railing.  This happens so often that there is actually a name for it, which is high-rise syndrome.  A few years back, veterinarians began to notice that cats who fell from greater heights actually had fewer injuries than cats who fell from lower down.

So a study was done on this topic, and in 1987 it was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  The study included 132 cats who were brought into the New York Animal Medical Center after falling from buildings.  Out of the cats they treated, 90% survived and only 37% needed emergency treatment to keep them alive.  The number of injuries per cat increased according to the height fallen, up to seven stories, but after that the number of injuries decreased.  One cat that fell 32 stories onto concrete ended up with just a chipped tooth and a collapsed lung.  He got to go home after only 48 hours in the clinic.  The authors of the study thought that longer falls allowed cats to reach terminal velocity and then relax in order to create more drag.





Okay, so now I have told you the secret of how cats land on their feet.  Mom says that if I could give classes and teach people this important skill, we could get really rich.  But somehow I don't think people could ever learn to do it properly.  And anyway, it's nice to have something special that only cats can do!



Thursday, February 13, 2014

MONGOLIAN HORSES

Mongolia is a country that is located just above China on the map.  In fact, Mongolia sort of snuggles down into China like a bird in a nest.  But back long ago, the fierce Mongol warriors were not very snuggly.  They were mostly trying to conquer China, which is why the Great Wall got built.


The 13th-Century warrior, Genghis Khan, and his mounted armies managed to conquer a lot of land in Europe and south of the Great Wall.  These "Hell's Horsemen" could ride up to 80 miles a day, crossing deserts and mountains that everyone had thought couldn't be crossed.  Eventually, Genghis Khan established an empire that stretched from Hungary to Korea and from Siberia to Tibet.  And the main reason the Mongols were able to do this was because of their horses.

Mongol warrior reenactor
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/5168702.stm

The Mongolian people have always been nomadic, which means that they moved around from place to place, and they carried their houses with them.  They were able to do all this moving around because as far back as anyone can remember, the Mongols have had horses.   In fact, there are records to prove they had horses at least as long ago as 2000 B.C.E.

Hustai National Park, Mongolia
Wikimedia Commons, Photo by Chinneeb

When scientists tested the DNA of the Mongol horses, they found that they had the largest genetic variety of any other type of horse.  This means that these horses are a very ancient breed that has just bred naturally without humans interfering.  And another thing it means is that lots of other horse breeds descend from Mongolian horses.

Mongolian family and their ger
Photo by Kikutake Yuji

About a third of the people of Mongolia live in cities, and the rest of them live in the country as nomads.  Their houses are called gers.  The nomads own more than 3 million horses, which is more than the country's whole human population.  Besides horses, they also raise cattle (including yaks), camels, sheep, and goats.  But horses are the most prized.  There is a traditional saying that "A Mongol without a horse is like a bird without wings."

http://thediplomat.com/2013/08/the-mongol-horse-supreme-on-the-steppe/

Most Mongol horses are actually semi-wild.  They are not kept in barns or pastures.  Instead, they stay outdoors all year without shelter.  In the summer, it can be as hot as 86ºF and in the winter it gets as cold as -40º.  The horses have to find their own food to eat because they are not fed hay or oats or sugar cubes or anything like that.  The horses that are handled and broken to ride become quite friendly.   Each Mongolian family member usually has a horse or two that are his favorites, but the horses aren't given names.  They are just thought about sort of the same way Westerners think of their cars.

Besides being used for riding, horses can also be a source of meat.  Fermented milk from the mares is used to make the national beverage, airag.




Mongolian horses are stocky, with short, strong legs.  In some ways, they look like ponies, but they are tall enough to be classified as horses.  They range in size from 12 to 14 hands (48" to 56").  The mane and tail are very long, which provides nice hair for making braided ropes.  The tail hair can be used to make violin bows.  These horses have strong, tough hooves, so they don't usually need shoes.  The horses have great stamina and can gallop for 6 miles without a break.

Photo:  Ohno Satoshi

Riding a horse in Mongolia is different from riding in Europe or the U.S.  For one thing, the Mongolian saddle is very tall, with a wooden frame.  The rider can't really control the gait of the horse.  Instead, the rider lets the horse choose the gait that seems right for whatever task is being done, such as herding cattle.  Cantering is the gait often chosen.  Mongolian horses have five gaits instead of four.  The fifth gait is a running walk.

Photo:  Kikutake Yuji

Horse racing is very popular in Mongolia.  Lots of times, children ride in these races.  Most of them have been riding since a very early age, and they are quite good at it.  The horses are trained to keep running, even if their riders fall off, so people have to wait at the finish line to catch any riderless horses.

Wikimedia Commons
Photo: JaniKajala

The most famous race is the Mongol Derby.  In 2010, it earned a place in 2010 in the Guinness Book of World Records as  the world's longest horse race.  The race course is 1000 km (621 miles) through the Mongolian Steppe, following the ancient postal route set up in 1224 by Genghis Khan.  Along the course of the race, there are 25 horse stations and rest stops.  Every day each rider has a new horse, and since they've never ridden these horses before, that adds more challenge to the race.  There are rules about how long people can ride each day, and at night they can stay with local nomads or camp out.

http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/walkingthewall/2006/09/10/the-land-of-the-horse/

So anyway, Mongolia is probably the only country that still has a horse-based culture, even in the 21st century.  One herder, who was quoted in an article I found, said, "We Mongols respect horse as our companion of night and day.  The horse is the source of joy and pride of a Mongolian herder.  And we are nothing without our horses."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

HI, I'M TRISTAN!

I can't believe my sister Dorrie thinks she can just take over writing Piper's blog without even letting me help!  Maybe she got the idea that she's a better blogger because she knows more big words than I do, but that's silly.  I can make myself understood perfectly well.  I can bark louder and longer, for one thing, which annoys Mom.  She says my bark is shrill, but I can't help what kind of bark I was born with.  And why have a bark if you're not going to use it?  That's what I want to know.  I have to bark so that I can keep the house safe from the scary mailman and anybody else who comes around.  One time when we had some men here working outside, they called me "Killer," so they knew right away that I'm a very good guard dog.

Okay, and another reason I should get to write in the blog is because I am really smart and clever.  You don't have to know big words to figure out how to do things.  For example, I figured out how to open the kitchen cabinet door to the place where the trash is.  The trash smells really good, and it is full of fun things to rip apart and play with.  Here's a picture of me getting into the trash basket.

Mom bought me a little blue shirt that says,
"Cutest in the Family."  Which is what I am!

If I open the door and pull on the trash bag enough, then one of the cats can jump in there and bring out all sorts of fun goodies that we can all play with.  I've decided that it's handy to have cats in the family, just for this very reason.  For example, Anderson is very good at getting into all sorts of trouble and into places where he's not supposed to be.  And so is Latifa.

Well, that's enough about how clever I am.  Now I will tell you the story of my life, which is very interesting, at least in my opinion.  I started out in a place called Garden City, Kansas.  I don't know how it happened, but I was kind of roaming around in the street, and I couldn't find my way home.  So some people called Animal Control picked me up and they stuck me in a cage.  Then some people from a group called LL Dog Rescue came and got me.  I had to ride in a car for a long, long way.  Then I was in Kansas City, which is where I still live now.

Here's me with Mom and my foster dad Jack.

Next I went to live in a foster home, and my foster dad's name is Jack.  He's an artist at Hallmark Cards, which is the same place Mom used to work, but she and my foster dad didn't know each other back then.  So anyway, I lived with Daddy Jack and some other chihuahuas.  I had to go to the veterinarian and get shots and also a little bit of "boy" surgery.

After that, I got my picture put on Petfinder, and I went to Petco every other weekend to show people how cute I was and that they should adopt me.  And pretty soon, a lady did adopt me.  But then she brought me back because she decided she had too many dogs already.  I was sad about this, but I liked being with Daddy Jack again.

I like to help Mom go shopping at Petco.
Then an older couple adopted me.  They used to have a miniature schnauzer, and it died, so they adopted me.  But after a little while, they also brought me back because they decided they really, really wanted another schnauzer instead of me.  So again I had to be brave and not feel all rejected and depressed.

And finally, Mom came along, and she had Dorrie with her, and we met at Petco, and Mom decided to take me home.  Dorrie was just kind of "Whatever" about the whole thing, but I think she has learned to love me now, just like a big sister should.  Dorrie cleans my eyes and ears every day, and sometimes she plays with me.  Piper probably never loved me.  She just sort of put up with me.  This is the same way I felt about her, which is why I have to admit that I don't miss her, now that she's gone.  Dorrie misses Piper, though, because they were good snuggling buddies.

In this picture, Dorrie is busy cleaning my face.

Dorrie and I also do a lot of snuggling together, which is good because it's hard to keep warm in cold weather if you don't snuggle.  Usually we don't snuggle with cats, except every once in a while we do.  Mostly, we like to snuggle with Mom.  When we go to bed at night, Mom has started making all the cats stay out of the bedroom.  So now it's just me and Dorrie and Mom.  Dorrie and I like to sleep under the covers, which is where it's the warmest of all.  My favorite place is right in Mom's crotch because it's shaped like a little dog bed, and it smells just like Mom.  Dorrie usually just snuggles up to Mom's left hip.

Sometimes I fall asleep in Mom's lap while she's watching TV.

Well, there are lots more things I could tell you about my exciting life here with Mom and Dorrie and the cats, but Mom says it's time for me to stop writing.  I'm just trying to show that I can write a really good blog entry all by myself, without any help from Dorrie, and Mom says I have more than made my point.  So maybe I'll get to write again soon!

It's tough for little chihuahuas to go out in the deep snow!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

STONEWALL: A CIVIL WAR DOG

Stonewall was a black-and-white puppy who wandered out of the woods during a battle near Richmond in 1862.  He seemed to know where he was going, because he ran right up to Sergeant John Van Lew McCreery.  The Sergeant named the puppy Stonewall, after the Confederate General, "Stonewall" Jackson.

Sergeant McCreery taught Stonewall to carry a little pipe around in his teeth.  Then when they went to roll call, he took the pipe out of Stonewall's mouth and stuck it between the toes of his paw.  The dog had been trained to know this meant he should stand at attention, with eyes facing forward, until the company was dismissed.




The group that Stonewall had joined was the 1st Company Richmond Howitzer Battalion.  The unit was formed soon after John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry in late 1859.  By 1861, the battalion had grown into three companies.  It was an elite unit that served in most of the campaigns of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, starting with 1st Manassas and ending with Appomattox.

The soldiers in the three companies were mostly young businessmen and clerks from Richmond.  Many of them had been to college.  There were also some young men from the country, and they were from very good families.  The more educated men seemed to prefer serving in artillery units rather than being ordinary foot soldiers.

Stonewall Jackson

General Thomas Jonathan Jackson, whose nickname was "Stonewall," was maybe the best-known Confederate commander after Robert E. Lee.  Some military historians think General Jackson was one of the best tactical commanders ever, at least in the early battles he fought.  Unfortunately, at the Battle of Chancellorsville, on May 2, 1863, some pickets accidentally shot General Jackson.  He had to have his arm amputated, which he survived, but then he died of pneumonia eight days later.

Anyway, the puppy Stonewall, like the general, was very brave and intelligent.  Whenever there was a lull in the battle, he ran around barking at the enemy.  The men in the regiment worried about Stonewall's safety, so if he started getting too close to the cannons, they would put him in an ammunition box until the battle was over.

Confederate Howitzers

Soon other regiments in the Army of Northern Virginia heard about Stonewall, and they began playing pranks on the Richmond Howitzers.  For instance, they would kidnap the puppy during a battle and hide him, so that his own unit had to go looking for him later.

The Louisiana troops that were commanded by Brigadier Gen. Harry Hays were especially fond of Stonewall.  When this group got sent off to fight in a different part of the war, Stonewall disappeared, and the Richmond Howitzers never saw him again.  It's possible he got hidden so well that they couldn't find him, but it's more likely he ended up "joining up with" the Louisiana regiment.


I couldn't find any pictures of Stonewall or of his favorite soldier, Sergeant McCreery.  Of course, no one knows what became of Stonewall, but I hope he survived the war and went on to live a long, happy life.  What I did learn, though, was that Mr. McCreery was 23 when he enlisted as a Private on April 21, 1861.  He got to the rank of Sergeant in 1862.  At the end of the war, he was paroled at Richmond on April 18, 1865.  After that, he went into the hardware business.  He wrote some newspaper articles and pamphlets about his experiences during the war, which is how we know about Stonewall, the puppy.

There's no information about whether Mr. McCreery got married or had children, but most people did in those days, so he probably did, too.  I hope he also had a bunch of dogs.  On January 31, 1904 at the age of 66, Mr. McCreery died, and he was buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.