Posts

Showing posts from January, 2011

Morton the Wonderdog

Image
From the age of 3½ until the week before I returned home from my freshman year in college, I shared my life with a mutt named Morton.  Now Morton was an interesting dog for many reasons, but mostly because she was our dog. That’s right.  To begin with, Morton was a girl. Aah - the 70s. From all accounts, Morton was a terrier-beagle mix who liked her Gaines burgers and Liv-A-Snaps a little too much if you know what I mean . She was medium height, white with a brown patch over one eye, two brown ears, and a large brown spot on her back near her tail. She shed like nobody’s business, hated the newspaper boy, and was deathly afraid of fireworks. And even with these detractions, I’m pretty sure she was the world’s best dog. She’d have to be to live with my father. Sure, as a kid, I dressed her up, hated brushing her, generally used her as an all-around playmate when it was convenient for me, and my mother, who wanted nothing to do with that dog when my father brought home the scrappy

Wilderness Adventures

You remember the ill-fated nature walk of Charles Gough I told you about last week, right?   Well, Gough’s fall and subsequent attendance after death by his dog is not a singular event.   There is no doubt about it – some dogs just won’t leave their owners in the woods – dead or alive. Much later than Charles Gough’s hike in the mountains of the English Lakes District, in January 1990, Graham Nuttall went on a train ride and then a walk in the Welsh mountains with his constant companion – his dog, Ruswarp (pronounced Russup ). Unlike Gough, when he didn’t return that evening, his neighbors immediately called the authorities.   Sadly, no trace of Nuttall was found, until eleven weeks later when his body and his badly emaciated border collie were found near a stream. The dog was given medical attention and survived long enough to attend his owner’s funeral where, it was reported, the dog let out a loud moan. A statue commemorating Ruswarp now sits at the train station he and his owner

Coveting a Cane Corso

Image
One of the new breeds showcased at the WKC dog show this year will be the Cane Corso, and it’s a beauty. A well-muscled, big-boned, light molossian dog, popular in 19 th century Italian art, whose history includes it among the Roman dogs of war, the Cane Corso has made a comeback from the edge of extinction, not only in its native southern Italy, but across the world. WKC photo. As a big game hunter and farm working dog, the Cane Corso fell out of favor when its work was no longer valued. Loss of game and new farming methods made its skills unnecessary, and the breed, all but obsolete. Through the dedication of a few Cane Corso enthusiasts, the breed is rebounding in popularity as a guard dog (its name Corso, probably comes from the Greek KOHORS for protector).  I found several sites dedicated to this magnificent breed, but this breeder ’s site is my favorite. Its write up on Cane Corso Security Systems is quite entertaining. ·           Voice Activated and Controlled. ·    

Friday Fun: When Dogs Fly (In Inclement Weather)

Image
Ready for Takeoff A Mid-Air Scare Experiencing Some Turbulence Cruising Altitude Preparing to Land A Ruff Landing (All photos found on BuzzFeed .) And here’s what happens when they don’t wear their seatbelts. (via NoodleFood )

Objectivist Round Up #185

I am pleased to be hosting this week’s edition of the Objectivist Round Up.  This blog carnival is a collection of posts written by individuals who are advocates of Objectivism: the philosophy developed and defined by Ayn Rand. If you are new to Ayn Rand and would like to discover more about her philosophy, I recommend you read her two greatest novels, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead .  If you are interested in her non-fiction, I recommend my two favorite essays, “ Man’s Rights ” and “ The Nature of Government .” The Ayn Rand Institute and the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights provide relevant information and commentary. Roberto Sarrionandia presents The Experiment That Failed Twice posted at Roberto Sarrionandia , saying, “Prohibition failed, twice.” David Lewis presents Arbitrary Retirement Plan Rules, Part 2: IRAs posted at A Revolution In Financial Planning , saying, “Saving for retirement? Lots of folks use Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA), but should you?

Cave Canem (Beware of Dog)

Image
Mosaic from the vestibule of the House of the Tragic Poet It's generally thought that domestic dogs (Canis lupis familiaris), a subspecies of the grey wolf (Canis lupis) have been around for more than 10,000 years; the exact process of their domestication remains somewhat of a mystery. It could be the dog came nearer in search of food and shelter, or that man grabbed and kept a few of the more tame beasts, or a combination of both. While plenty of pictorial evidence of them has been found to exist as early as 2000 BC, early written records are less prominent. As they began to appear regularly in the written record, dogs were categorized by their basic function: guardians, herders, and hunters. There was some discussion among the early Greeks and Romans of what made for the best dogs of each type.  Happily, among those people were writers who cared enough to put their thoughts about the matter down on papyrus. In his De Re Rustica (vol. VII), Columella , a first century Roman,

The Twa Dogs

Image
In honor of Robert Burns birthday (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796), I am posting the beginning of his poem The Twa Dogs (the remainder and modern English translation of which can be found at the link – you’re welcome). Mr. Burns wrote the poem in honor of his beloved dog, Luath, who was killed the night before Burns’ own father died.   He wanted to memorialize his friend as he knew best. A Tale 'Twas in that place o' Scotland's isle,   That bears the name o' auld King Coil,   Upon a bonnie day in June,   When wearin' thro' the afternoon,   Twa dogs, that were na thrang at hame,   Forgather'd ance upon a time. The first I'll name, they ca'd him Caesar,   Was keepit for 'his Honor's' pleasure:   His hair, his size, his mouth, his lugs,   Shew'd he was nane o' Scotland's dogs;   But whalpit some place far abroad,   Whare sailors gang to fish for cod. His locked, letter'd, braw brass collar   Shew'd him th

Falling Gough: A Romance

Image
Sometime in 1805, a young man went out walking in the mountainous Lakes District in England with his dog. He never returned and no one looked for him. Three months later, a shepherd climbing through the same region heard barking and found the young man’s remains on a promontory, having clearly fallen to his death, still guarded by his faithful companion. That’s how the Romantic poets Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth both described the scene in 1806, and how Edwin Landseer painted it years later. While the truth of what happened to Charles Gough may have been far less romantic , it does not change the fact the Gough’s dog remained with his body for three months. Helvellyn By Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)                            I climbed the dark brow of the mighty Helvellyn, Lakes and mountains beneath me gleamed misty and wide; All was still, save by fits, when the eagle was yelling,   And starting around me the echoes replied. On the right, Striden-edge round the Re

Be Not Afraid of Greatness:

some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them ."  - Twelfth Night , or What You Will , Act II, Scene V. In considering the different lives dogs lead, I immediately thought of this quotation, but quickly rejected it. It’s near sacrilege to apply it to dogs; greatness , as in of character , is a term which should be used only for men. It is merely the conditions under which some dogs show their mettle that was relevant to my connection. Because Shakespeare did not actually specify “men” in this memorable one-liner, I trust you will indulge my use of it here to add to, rather than counter, my point. It is the sheer differentiation between the man-chosen aspects of appearance, temperament, and behavior of purebred dogs that draws me to the dog show – these dogs are born to show their carefully bred characteristics. It is the long-term symbiotic relationship between man and dog that draws me to the species in general – we feed them, they work

Professional Phodography

Image
In the midst of this pile of purebred poo, I realized that there is one thing that makes me stop and smell the daisies:  a really good photograph of a dog . . . being a dog, a rascal, a family pet, a loyal companion. If you can manage to get the owner(s) in there without ruining the image, so much the better – it’s just much harder to accomplish. I am very impressed with the work of this one Montana photographer, Lauren Grabelle . I don’t recall how I found her, but her work is really fun to review. Check it out – if you love dogs, I don’t see how you could be disappointed. Another terrific photographer, Illona Haus , of Scruffy Dog Photography provides a little background to go with her clients’ fabulous photo sessions on her blog . I've always been a sucker for dog stories. My daughters and I recently spent an icy afternoon scrolling and ooh ing and  aww ing through the images from these two photographers. Some might balk at the expense of a professional photograph of a pet.

Friday Fun: Four Know Your Breed Games

Image
1. Odd Dog Out One of these dogs is not like the others, Two of these dogs are kind of the same, Now you should guess which one is not like the others, Before I finish my game. Seriously, that one was pretty easy.  For extra points, name the breeds. 2. Doppelganger Which of these breeds stars in Because of Winn Dixie ? Which does not? Hint: It’s the French relative of Jean-Luc, the other is Belgian, silly. This one is much harder. 3. Swapping Spitz Match the breed names with the dogs left to right: Shiba Inu Icelandic Sheepdog Finnish Spitz I often have a difficult time distinguishing between the smiling faces of these sweet spitzen. Spitzi? Spaetzle ? 4.  Puppy or Papa Purebred? When I grow up, I want to be a Groenendael , said the ____________________. It’s easy to see which one is different, but it’s a little harder to tell me why. Good luck!

Maybe the Carolina Dog Ate Your Baby

Image
It is just me, or can you also not hear the word “Dingo” without hearing  Julia Louis-Dreyfus channeling   Meryl Streep while she, in turn was acting the part of Lindy Chamberlain regarding the disappearance of her baby in the Australian Outback?  Yeah.  I thought as much. Say it with me now, Deen ' gow' eh . Anyway, this post is about the Carolina Dog, the Yaller Dawg , the American Dingo, thought to be a primitive dog  found in America.  Gigi, the Carolina Dog Another American Dingo (Canis familiaris) Some years ago, an ecologist from South Carolina, I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr., studying pariah*/feral dogs including the Dingo , and the New Guinea Singing Dog , was surprised to find a local stray at the pound that so strongly resembled that original Australian bad boy. Since he found that this stray was one of the types of free-ranging dogs that roamed the less populated areas of South Carolina, he theorized that the dogs in his own state, and those he studied in Australi

The Italian Job: When 16 is Old Enough

Image
One of today’s big news stories regards the credentials of an Italian official. In this high stakes game, as we get incrementally closer to the final judgment day, we start to look more closely at the judges themselves. For the first time since the beginning of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, the Best in Show judge is an Italian. As released to the press by the WKC: Paolo Dondina of Monterchi, Italy, will become the first Italian ever and the first person from outside of North America since 1930 to judge Best In Show at the legendary Westminster Kennel Club's Annual All Breed Dog Show when he takes on that assignment in 2011. And Mr. Dondina has had a number of breeds, and has bred Beagles, Basset Hounds, English Springer Spaniels, Lagoto Romagnolos and Jack Russell Terriers. He has had great success as an exhibitor, including as the co-owner of Brookwire Brandy of Layven, the Wirehaired Fox Terrier that captured Best In Show at the famed Crufts Dog Show in the United Kin

The Politics of Barking

In surfing the dog blogs around the country, I was surprised to find the following: OPPOSE MA: H344 passes house. Bill would end debarking in MA Goes next to Senate Here is the actual bill and, sadly, despite the lack of support from the two major animal welfare groups, the MSPCA, and the Animal Rescue League, as well as strong opposition efforts of the AKC , Mass Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners , and the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association , the bill passed in April of 2010.   So why did it pass? Debarking opponents likened the procedure to slitting your mother’s vocal cords in one article, referred to as cruel and unusual punishment – for a dog?—leaving it barkless in another, and mostly portrayed as a cosmetic fix for people who couldn’t be bothered with behavior modification. While making for good press, it seems as though none of these is reality based, however. Debarking, or devocalization, doesn’t slice vocals cords and the dog is not left barkle