This is the newest member of the family, Remy the Pirate Girl. “Remy” because Melissa noticed she has cognac eyes. “Pirate Girl” because that’s what my three-year-old wanted. We’ll get an eyepatch for her for Halloween.
Until just a few weeks ago, Remy was a stray, picked up by Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue. They do great work, and I can’t thank her wonderful foster family enough. She loves the grownups, loves the kids, tolerates the cat, and mostly stays off the sofa when we’re looking.
(KSDK) Criminals are finding a new way to make money on other people’s pets. They’re flipping pets, and it’s happening across the country.
Flipping is stealing a pet and reselling it on places like Craigslist, Facebook, Ebay and other websites. Victims across the country said they tried to file police reports to report their pets stolen but many couldn’t. Law enforcement agencies wouldn’t take the report.
In Indianapolis, a full-time officer is hunting down the flippers and charging them.
Officer Theresa Redmon was able to get an older dog named Stewart back to his owners. He disappeared on his mother’s wedding night from his home.
“I hit the street, I was out looking for him,” said Jenelle Carr. She and her 5-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son and husband spent nine heartbreaking days looking for him. “I couldn’t sleep. He’s a Chihuahua. He’s deformed, he has no nails, no teeth.”
Carr knew somebody snatched Stewart. She switched from searching the streets to surfing the web. She landed on a website called Indy Lost Pet Alert.
My question is “how do you make money off a deformed Chihuahua with no nails or teeth? Are they that much in demand?
“If you found my kid, my child, my daughter, would you put her on Craigslist tomorrow? It’s the same thing” she said. “Pets are a part of their owner’s family.”
Really? Yes, pets are important but are they as important as a person? So many people are substituting “fur children” for kids that maybe it really is getting to be the same thing. Don’t get me wrong. It’s terrible that anyone should be stealing pets and the police should take a report and find them, but to equate a dog with one’s child seems a bit overboard to me. But maybe I’m wrong on this one, given all the books and TV shows on pets. America is obviously obsessed with them.
Napoleon Bunaparte, 8 weeks old, on the scales at the vet’s office.
I’ve noticed the requests to bring back Furry Friday, and what can I say other than it’s been a crunch of busy news cycles that bring me to 8 p.m. on a Friday with no furry text and work still left to do. There’s also been a lot of bad news out there, so what better to interrupt our cycles of chemical weapons, terrorism, and perpetual Washington infighting with something every lover of furriness can appreciate: bunnies.
Last year I moved into a bigger place along some of the Beltway’s ubiquitous urban woods, and also lost a few of the animals I’d previously written about due to old age: rat, guinea pig, hamster. Instead of getting more rodents, I wanted to bring different critters into the mix.
Checking out a new pet store in the neighborhood a year ago, I paused by their bunny pen, surprised that a chain pet shop was selling rabbits. The enclosure was tiny, the bunnies were without any hay, and the workers didn’t know which were male or female. Naturally, they called every breed thrown together “dwarf bunnies,” to lure kids wanting a tiny fluffy thing and mislead parents into thinking they wouldn’t get too big or take up much space. I noticed one cowering in the corner away from the lops and lionheads — a little Havana rabbit with grey feet bottoms that looked like he hopped through dust. The saleslady handed him to me, and as I rubbed behind his ears he gave me this definite look: Get me outta here. I always believe in adopting before buying, but I considered this a pet-store rescue: not only was I going to get him the nutrition, healthcare and space he needed, but I was saving him from being bought for some kid who’d probably pick him up by his cottontail before the family decided he was past his 15 minutes of Easter-gift fame and turned him into a shelter, like so many other unfortunate bunnies.
So Napoleon Bunaparte came home with me. The next morning, I took him to the best exotics-only vet in the area, which happens to be close to my home. Napoleon weighed in at a pound and was estimated to be eight weeks old. A couple months later he was old enough to be neutered, and lost an entire ounce when they took those away from him.
Juliana, a Great Dane, leapt into action after the device fell through the roof of her owner’s house in 1941.
It is thought that she put out the flames by standing over the bomb, lifting her leg and emptying her bladder.
Three years later the courageous pet alerted customers to a fire that was ripping through her owner’s shoe shop, earning her another Blue Cross Medal for courage.
Juliana’s story was only revealed when auctioneers carrying out a house clearance at a property in Bristol discovered the second medal plus a portrait of the pet.
A plaque attached to the picture reads: “Juliana – awarded a medal for extinguishing an incendiary bomb April 1941. Awarded another for alerting the occupants of her master’s burning shop November 1944.”
About eight years ago, I had to take my 18 year old Siamese, Vashti, to the vet for what I knew was her last time. She had lymphoma, and I’d been taking care of her as she failed slowly, until finally I was feeding her baby food with an irrigation syringe. Still, she’d always seemed grateful; she purred, however faintly, when I petted her, and she woulld sleep for hours on her special sheepskin rug, which I kept in my lap. But one morning I looked at her, and I heard her say, as clearly as if she’d spoken in words, that she was ready. So we went to the vet, and I held her, and as the vet was putting the needle into her vein, she died peacefully, before the vet even gave the injection.
Afterward, there were people who scolded me for waiting so long; and there were people, New Age hipsters, who said that as a Buddhist I should not have taken her to the vet, shouldn’t have participated in killing another sentient being. And I wondered myself if I’d waited too long, out of selfishness — but Vashti wasn’t just my cat, she was like my familiar, and you could make a good case that she’d been the only really successful relationship with a female of any species I’d ever had.
In any case, I was no longer uncertain after she’d died, because I was sure that I’d done as Vashti had wanted.
So last week we talked about metta, “good will” or “lovingkindness”, one of the virtues exhibited by the Buddha that we try to learn to recognize in ourselves through metta practice. If you’ll remember, in metta practice, you try to invoke that feeling of metta in yourself, and then direct it toward yourself and toward others, even people toward whom you feel hatred and anger.
Metta has another virtue, karuna or “compassion”, with which it is paired. Metta is wishing good to others; karuna is understanding the suffering of others. Buddha, when he was Enlightened, could have chosen simply to reside in nirvana, but because of his feelings of metta and karuna chose to teach the Way of Liberation instead. The two things together are really the basis of Buddhist notions of morals: your good will to others goes along with your recognition that the other person is really, at heart, another person like yourself, and so you try to avoid causing suffering and try to help them also avoid suffering.
Scientists think dogs might be feeling empathy for their owners when they do what humans often do with one another: contagious yawning.
Dogs yawn more frequently when the human yawner is their owner than when it’s a stranger, researchers said in a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.
“Our study suggests that contagious yawning in dogs is emotionally connected in a way similar to humans,” Teresa Romero, who conducted the study with colleagues from the University of Tokyo, said in a statement.
So, go ahead and yawn. If he yawns back, he loves you. If he doesn’t, perhaps you DO bore him.
This is better than my cats who show their affection in other ways — which is why the bookI Could Pee On This is “poems by cats” not “poems by dogs.”
It feels a little like you’re doing something illicit.
Thirteen years ago, my first batch of cats (all of them rescues) was fast nearing late middle age, with Petronius The Arbiter (Cat from Hades – but in a good way) nearing fifteen. The youngest of that batch was D.T. Burroughs at 14. Perhaps because this coincided with our younger son leaving toddlerhood, and we hadn’t managed to have another one (we wanted eleven. It didn’t work out), I started wanting a kitten.
I talked my husband around to it by telling him that as the four older cats got old and crotchety (yes, four; no, I’m not even close to the crazy cat lady of science fiction), it would do us good to have a little kitten around.
My husband — uncharacteristically — said if we were going to get another cat, he wanted a Cornish Rex. Now, there were practical reasons for this, including that Cornish Rexes have very short, curly fur. While they are not hypo-allergenic, they are easier to bathe and there is less of their hair around. My husband and I are both mildly allergic to cats. (Not even close to the crazy cat people of science fiction. Trust me.)
Also, Cornish Rexes are supposed to be petite, very smart, and very people oriented.
I confess if I were doing this today, we’d have looked at one of the Cornish Rex rescue sites, first and possibly exclusively.
I wonder if my husband’s hope was that I wouldn’t find a kitten close enough to us to get. If so, his hope backfired, because I looked in the paper under pets and there was an ad for Cornish Rex kittens.
I called. The cattery was up the road.
One winter night, in 2000, we left our friend Charles babysitting the kids after telling him we were going to look at Cornish Rexes. (This led to him, later on, when he saw the kitten, saying “but it’s not a Cornish Hen!” which is what he’d understood.)
There are many ways in which a dog can make you feel better. Scientists have conducted numerous studies that examine how you might benefit from having a four legged friend.
Some of the best-known research, run by Erika Friedmann at the University of Maryland, and outside colleagues, investigated the possible relationship between dog ownership and cardiovascular functioning. After carefully following the recovery rates of patients who had suffered a heart attack, Friedmann discovered that those who were dog owners, compared to those who were without a canine pal, were almost nine times more likely to be alive twelves months later. This remarkable result encouraged scientists to explore other possible benefits of canine companionship, resulting in studies showing that dog owners coped well with everyday stress, were relaxed about life, had high self-esteem, and were less likely to diagnosed with depression.
…Interestingly, the same cannot be said for cats. Some studies show that living with a cat may help alleviate negative moods, but is unlikely to make you feel especially good, and others suggest that cat owners may actually be more likely than others to die in the twelve months following a heart attack.
On the upside for cat fans, the failure of cats may be related to some sort of consistently horrible defect in the sort of people who prefer cats over dogs, as opposed to the general awfulness of cats as pets.
But, all kidding aside; this makes perfect sense. Dogs are loyal companions who are thrilled out of their minds every time you return home while cats are generally indifferent to your existence, but are willing to tolerate you as long as you are giving them food and they’re allowed to use you as a scratching post.
Week 5 of my second 13 week season; low carb diet and more exercise, tracking my weight, blood glucose, and body fat. You can follow me at my 13 Weeks Facebook page for daily updates, and you can join Fitocracy and follow my daily exercise.
It was hard this week. On Friday morning, I got up and found my 13-year-old Abyssinian cat Radar, apparently peacefully asleep in his favorite spot — except he didn’t look up when I came down the stairs. He had died during the night.
Now, i’m one of those people for whom my cats are like my kids, and Radar hadn’t shown a sign of distress the night before — he met me at the door as usual, fought me for bits of chicken before I was ready as before. So it was a shock. I took care of him, but I was useless the rest of the day, and in fact all weekend. The other two cats — Ali’i and Kaleo — were clearly missing him too, and they’ve been very clingy all week. Still, I think we’re all recovering, finally.
Radar — not a great picture, but he didn’t like cameras.
But the week continued to be ridiculously stressful, with work issues and all, and then — the depression I always have to watch started creeping up on me, probably as a result of stress and poor sleep (and like the old Catskills joke, not only was the sleep bad, there wasn’t enough of it!)
And here I am, on week five of the second season.
Sticking to the diet and exercise plan when I feel like this is really tough. I took to putting my workouts in Fitocracy before I did them, because then I’d be too ashamed not to actually do them. Even so, I only worked out four times this week. The stress also apparently affects blood sugar — the morning Radar died I had the highest blood sugar I’ve had in weeks at 127 and it’s stayed high.
All in all, if I could take a week off from the column I would.
The thing here being that I didn’t, and I haven’t slipped on the diet anyway — and really haven’t slipped far on the exercise, as I still got in 1093 points, or just 61 fewer than the week before, thanks to having raised the weight I did on my heavy lift days. So my blood sugar is up a little, my weight is actually down a pound from last week (but still basically flat) and my body fat hasn’t changed much in a week either.
I’m always stumbling across strange items early in the morning as my dog Maura and I run around our San Fernando Valley neighborhood. Today we found this pair of broken sunglasses sitting on the stoop outside an apartment building.
I popped it into my pocket and as we continued jogging up the street my mind speculated over the range of possibilities: whose were they? How did they get broken? Did somebody break them by accident? Or were they intentionally broken? How come whoever left them didn’t bother to throw them away? Were they forgotten?
Are cats really the Honey Boo Boo of the animal world? No, Honey Boo Boo is the Honey Boo Boo of the animal world, while cats are more like the Lindsay Lohan of the animal world — difficult, unpredictable, hard to like, and probably high on catnip. Oh, cats look cute when they’re in the bobblehead kitten stage or swatting away at yarn, but as you get to know the little beasts, you start to realize that they’re merely trying to lull you into complacency so they can steal your breath after you fall asleep. An old wives’ tale? Well, is it just an old wives’ tale that if a cop beats a hippy with his nightstick then he’ll have good luck for seven years? I think not. On the other hand, dogs are superior to cats in every way and if you don’t agree, well then, good luck with your empty life without a soul.
1) Dogs are much smarter than cats.
Can you teach a cat to sit? To roll over? To come when it’s called? No, because cats are stupid. Granted, dogs are stupid, too, but they’re probably on the same level as your two year old. A cat is closer in intelligence to a geranium — if a geranium had claws and a certain feral cunning it could use to track, torment, and kill smaller plants for its own amusement. Is that what you’d want for a plant you loved? To be at the mercy of a hateful geranium? You cat people are just sick! Sick!
Last Sunday, after publishing my article on President Barack Obama’s ideological influences, my wife April and I caught a matinee of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, a traditional family film you shouldn’t miss. Today, having swallowed last night’s bitter pill, I really want to go back and watch it again. The film’s fantasy — to bring your best friend back to life — speaks to a need many of us feel today as we recognize the America of years past no longer exists. We are not a “center-right” nation any more.
The black and white, stop-motion film remakes an early Burton short of Frankenstein reinvented into ’50s suburbia. Clever references to classic horror abound from the visual style to the characters’ names and designs. Victor, Burton’s adolescent alter ego, spends his days shooting amateur monster movies in his back yard with his dog Sparky. He’s an oddball amongst the picket fences and perfect lawns but he has his loving dog and a drive to create.
Then Sparky dies and Victor’s life collapses.
He goes to school, bored and depressed until his science teacher, a Vincent Price-inspired, Martin Landau-voiced Mr. Rzykruski, shows what happens to a dead frog with a few zaps of electricity. This moves Victor to attempt the dog-version of the classic 1931 Frankenstein sequence:
Today, October 27, is National Pit Bull Awareness Day. Whether you are for pits or against them, it’s important to remember, in this election season, that these dogs were once a proud symbol of American virtue and valor, appearing in World War I propaganda posters as an emblem of our country’s courage.
All month long, dog advocates have been working hard to get the word out that at many animal shelters across this country, as many as 90 percent of the deserving dogs awaiting adoption are all-American pit bulls or pit mixes. And yet too often these dogs are overlooked or given a wide berth because potential adopters are so terrified by horror stories about pit bulls they’ve heard in the mainstream media — which, as we’ve seen before, doesn’t spill much ink on, or give much air time to, pits who perform heroic deeds or spread cheer at hospitals and nursing homes; sensational stories about dog attacks are deemed more “newsworthy.”
Surprisingly, one major mainstream media player has taken a huge step to help raise awareness of pit bulls: Hugely popular, handsomely compensated Sirius XM talk-show host Howard Stern, one of the MSM’s most powerful players (if not its MVP), leveled criticism at Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and convicted animal abuser Michael Vick over Vick’s decision to acquire a pet dog (the type and gender of which has not been revealed).
Here are some choice excerpts from Stern’s rant:
“Well, when I saw the news I was dumbfounded. It baffles the mind, really. Here’s what you gotta think: Everything has calmed down for this guy, he’s got his career back on track … things are quiet. So, instead of keeping things quiet, the way he should, he decides he’s going to get a dog. I mean, what the [expletive] is that all about? It’s like if somebody is convicted for being a child molester then moves next door to a playground — you don’t do it…. Michael Vick should never own a pet.”
“This is no different than Rihanna getting back together with Chris Brown. You sit there and go, What kind of crazy move is this?”
“Get the dog away from him. There should have been something written where he could never own a dog. You know, it’s like if I was convicted of taking five Koreans and locking them in my basement and making them sex slaves, then I get out and the first thing I do is move a Korean in with me.”
“Isn’t there someone in his life that says, ‘Listen, Michael, You’re a dopey guy, you’re a big, dumb [expletive] jock. You’re a football player. Let me think for you. You cannot have a dog. You can’t have a cat. You can’t have a hamster, you [expletive]! You blew it. If you really want a pet, it’s not in this lifetime. And your kids when they get older can get one.’”
“I mean, no one sits this guy down, from a p.r. standpoint? This [expletive] guy should not be around dogs. He’s got a hostility to these dogs. I don’t know what happened in his life, but he shouldn’t be allowed to be near a … it’s crazy.”
“I mean, why would he stir this up? He’s insane. This guy’s insane, that’s all. Of course he’s insane. Who could look at a little dog and kill it? That [expletive] maniac.”
Stern was, of course, responding to the outrage felt by many of this country’s animal lovers, who were appalled to learn — via a Twitter photo of Vick’s young daughter doing her homework at the family kitchen table, an image that was quickly photoshopped to redact a telltale box of Milkbone biscuits in the background — that Vick is now a dog owner again, despite having pleaded guilty, in 2007, to the federal felony of dogfighting. Among Vick’s more heinous acts during his stewardship (if such it may be called) of Bad Newz Kennels was — by his own admission — hanging, electrocuting, drowning, and savagely beating dogs to death.
I’m no fan of Michael Vick, as I’ve made clear before. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I distinctly recall Howard Stern singing a distinctly different dog tune back in 1988 or 1989, long before he signed his famously lucrative 2006 satellite deal, back when his base was the radio station WXRK.
Among the cruelest truths of biology is this: A dog’s life is considerably shorter than a human’s life. The math is unforgiving; if you love a dog, you will lose a dog, and you will suffer the pain and biting lessons that death brings — probably several times over.
A million things are wrong when your dog dies. Here’s just one: You become invisible.
My Lucky passed away a year ago this spring and my loss was profound; those of you who’ve been through this understand; those of you who haven’t, I’m not nearly a good enough writer to describe it to you. My grief was complicated because, as my reporting sidekick for many years, Lucky was a mini-celebrity. He had completed several cross-country trips with me as we chronicled American life. We even had a theme song (“It’s Bob and Lucky’s/Hidden Fee Tour of America!”). He was a fantastic journalist. And he died suddenly, just as we were going to leave on a new trip, so I had the task of disappointing readers and sources from coast to coast, telling them that Lucky wouldn’t be sticking his head out my Jeep window this time.
But my sadness grew even deeper as I realized that my entire life, right down to how I interact with the world, had changed. Pet owners know the “You’re Fido’s owner!” phenomenon well. Plenty of neighborhood folks knew me only by my dog. They knew his name, not mine. When he passed away suddenly, I felt like I’d disappeared.
I sit outside on the Sprinkles bench. People stop and stare at the Cupcake ATM. Sometimes, they pose in front of it, holding up their box with a cupcake in it and smiling.
One of the selections from the Cupcake ATM is a Doggie Cupcake. It has a sticker on the box with a bone on it and a little edible bone on top of the frosting so you don’t get confused and eat it, thinking it’s for humans.
Later, I will show Jake the Doggie Cupcake. Jake will not be aware it came from a Cupcake ATM and will not care. He will smell it and smile widely. He is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever and blessed with a sunny disposition. I will hand him the Doggie Cupcake, which he will take to his dog bed, where he will eat the cupcake with gusto. Finished, he will look at me expectantly, wanting more.
Not long ago, I took my dog Shiba for an afternoon workout at our town beach on the Ottawa River, a lovely crescent of yellow sand and shade trees patronized by visitors from as far away as Montreal. A pure Siberian husky packing the energy of the Big Bang in her muscles, Shiba looks forward to these outings when she can entertain herself swimming furiously toward the horizon after lobbed twigs and tennis balls. With her striking white pelt, blue eyes, children-loving temperament and dolphin-like swimming motion, she is generally the center of attention and has made many admiring friends among the company of beach-goers.
Not everyone, however, is appreciative of Shiba’s playful and rambunctious presence. As I was about to launch another tennis ball for her to retrieve, I was approached by two attractive, deeply tanned young women who objected to Shiba’s performance, or, rather, to Shiba herself. They demanded that we cease and desist. When I inquired why I should comply, I was informed that dogs were unclean creatures and that Shiba prevented them from bathing since the water would be polluted by her thrashing about.
Needless to say, I was initially taken aback. After all, Shiba was a community favorite who posed no threat to anyone. Moreover, the women were not local residents but visitors from the big city. Additionally, my municipal taxes paid for the upkeep of the beach, which they enjoyed at no cost to themselves. The plain fact was that they had no stake in the matter and were, to put it somewhat wryly, completely out of their depth.
But, as my readers have surmised, they were of the Islamic persuasion. True, they were not garbed in traditional dress and seemed for all intents and purposes to be “modern” young women; yet they had no compunction against affirming their traditional and, indeed, alien values, which they attempted to impose as of right. I did my best to remain polite, but could not resist suggesting that they find some other beach to visit and that Shiba, whose license I had also paid for and who was more of a resident than they were, was far more entitled to the privilege of the river than interlopers from elsewhere.
Why can’t doctors be more like vets? With medical breakthroughs quietly taking place in the field of animal medicine, it’s a question more Americans should be asking — whether or not they have pets.
Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, pets have access to more superior medical care than humans do. Dogs that suffer from arthritis may undergo stem cell regeneration therapy, in which their own autologous (adult) stem cells are harvested from their own fatty tissue and then injected into their joints. The healing benefit is remarkable, as I have witnessed myself with two of my own dogs. Unfortunately, this particular therapy is not yet available for humans in the United States.
Meanwhile, in Florida late last year, a Yorkshire terrier underwent a routine spay procedure, but something went very wrong during the anesthesia process and the dog emerged from resuscitation with cortical blindness. Veterinarians advised the dog’s owner that euthanasia might be the kindest option in this case. Then, a quick-thinking vet at Calusa Veterinary Center in Boca Raton suggested hyperbaric oxygen therapy; with nothing to lose, the dog’s heartbroken owner consented. Thirty-five HBO2 treatments later, the dog’s blindness was reversed.
Meanwhile, hyperbaric medicine is available to human patients with one of 15 Medicare-approved conditions — but alas, cortical blindness is not one of them. Dogs, on the other hand, may receive hyperbaric treatment for a much broader range of medical conditions — about 50 — so the chamber is being used to address problems ranging from Lyme disease to pancreatitis.
Veterinarian Diane Levitan, of Peace Love Pets Veterinary Care in New York, also offers her clients hyperbaric medicine for their animals. “Hundreds of thousands of people have been helped by HBO2, and it will help innumerable animals,” Levitan says. “Most of what we vets do is a result of what’s practiced by doctors on people; experiments are performed on dogs and mice and other animals, but this is one of the few situations where that’s reversed, and we’re applying a treatment modality to animals that humans tried first. It would be great if the human medical community would embrace HBO2 more. Hyperbaric medicine is not in the forefront of people’s minds, but it would be great if it could be in the forefront of physicians’ minds. That would create more cases, so that Medicare could see evidence-based medicine — and more people could be helped.”
It doesn’t help matters that the mainstream media reports on HBO2 with the same disparagement it normally reserves for stories on adult stem cells. The MSM sensationalized HBO2 by showing the late Michael Jackson asleep in his own private hyperbaric chamber, then trivialized the treatment by citing Keanu Reeves’ use of HBO2 for insomnia. If you get your news only from the MSM, you’d be convinced that HBO2 is just another one of those dangerous, experimental treatments that smack of quackery, just like adult stem cell therapy, and should be avoided like the proverbial plague.
Lady Gaga is hitting back at PETA after the animal rights organization blasted the singer for wearing fur when she had said in the past she didn’t sport the material.
In an open letter to Gaga, PETA suggested the pop star was a “turncoat” for going back on her views, and compared her to “the mindless Kim Kardashian,” who was infamously flour bombed by a animal rights activist.
Now, Gaga is firing back at the organization — and defending Kardashian as well.
In a post on her website LittleMonsters.com, Gaga writes to her fans, “I want you to know that I care deeply about your feelings and views, and I will always support your philosophies about life.”
She adds, “I do not however support violent, abusive, and childish campaigns for ANY CAUSE.”
Lady Gaga is the latest celebrity to draw outrage from PETA, with the animal rights advocacy group suggesting that she’s a “turncoat” for professing to be anti-fur but wearing it in recent public appearances.
In a letter to the pop star (SEE BELOW), PETA vice president Dan Mathews starts by saying he’d “long admired” Gaga for telling Ellen DeGeneres, “I hate fur, and I don’t wear fur.”
But Mathews then links to several pictures of Gaga “in fox and rabbit and with a wolf carcass,” leading him to wonder if she has “amnesia.”