Tuesday, 30 June 2009

enjoying a dog walk in the green Darebin Parklands

This morning Penny set off with two of her humans to visit Darebin Parklands. Once we got there, the "pack" split up, Penny and one human to have fun walking and chasing balls, the other human to have a different kind of fun, planting baby grasses in the Hidden Valley.

Looking at the soft wet soil, it seems impossible to remember the burning heat of summer, and I'm optimistic that the baby grasses will grow successfully before everything dries out again.

The other day, we looked at the grasses we planted last year. They've done well.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

a dog thinks through a problem

Today two household humans and a non-dog-owning visitor witnessed Penny solving a spatial problem. She had been outside with us as we looked around the garden and she missed out on coming in through the door with us, so she had to come in through the little swinging doggy door.

But there was a problem. Penny had a stick in her mouth and the stick was too wide to fit through the door. She tried a time or two but got stuck. So she took a grip on one end of the stick and tried to open the door with it, but couldn't get enough pressure on the swinging door to make it open. We stood and watched her, convinced there was some level of problem-solving occurring. However, it seemed more of a trial-and-error process than a logical thought sequence.

But...she stepped through the door without the stick, seemed to be considering the situation and then pushed the door open with her head, grabbed the stick end-on and pulled her head back into the room.

It sure looked like problem-solving to us.

Here's the door.

And here's the stick after some enjoyable chewing. (It was a soft stick so we thought it was safe to leave her with it. Anyway, any dog who had worked so hard deserved the enjoyment of the fruits of her labor.)

Friday, 26 June 2009

how to clean dog hair off a carpet

After Penny had her bath today (made inevitable by the fact that she rolled in unmentionable things on recent walks), I thought I should clean the carpet, and this is the only effective way I know that doesn't use chemicals. (The vacuum cleaner can't suck strongly enough.) I get down on my hands and knees and rub with a wet cloth. It's rather relaxing, actually.

And how does the hair get on the carpet? Well, Penny immediately demonstrated her technique.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

beautiful duckweed in Darebin Parklands

Penny escorted her humans through Darebin Parklands today, a bit of a novelty seeing we haven't been there for a couple of weeks. We were all struck by the layer of green across the frog pond, but wondered how quickly it might have grown there, because we rarely go to that side of the Parklands - it's the home of the ducks and other wildlife that don't want to be disturbed by dogs.

Penny seemed to be interested in going for a walk on the smooth surface, so maybe it was lucky that this is an on-lead area. (But perhaps I underestimate her intelligence on that one. Maybe she just wanted a closer look.)

A list of water plants considered to be weeds in Victoria didn't include this one, so perhaps this growth isn't a big problem. Maybe when the seasons change it will disappear. I remember that when I had garden ponds - unfortunately, mostly removed because of the ongoing drought - I would get a growth of duckweed in certain seasons. However, I never had such a carpet as this one.

But it's certainly a beautiful sight.

I thought this was an interesting quote about duckweed:
The tiny duckweed plants grow fast in the cooler months when the water hyacinth slows down, helping to suppress mosquitoes and also purifying the water. It also provides lots of rich food for the compost. Duckweed is also regarded as a serious pest -- "a severe nuisance when present in large masses" -- as well as "the most promising plant for the twenty-first century". "Duckweed has potential for use in controlled ecological life support systems for human exploration and development of space." (NASA)

Monday, 22 June 2009

artful canine

One of Penny's humans went to a Fibre Forum at Ballarat some weeks ago. As expected, she encountered a wide range of artworks, but it was surprising that a dog was allowed into the conference.

Alright, you've guessed it wasn't a real dog...It was a grass sculpture made by Roby Sainsbury-Vale in a workshop run by artist Adrienne Kneebone.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

fun canine optical illusion

Penny stares at us if she wants something. Last weekend I wanted to watch "New Tricks" before serving dinner, so Penny's meal was quite late. She sat between me and the television and STARED at me for fifty minutes.

Today I received an email from Dog Trick Academy, with a link to a fascinating doggie optical illusion. Now, as if it isn't enough to have Penny staring, staring, staring, we've got a small paper dog doing the same thing.

It took me ages to realise the trick to making it work is that you fold the dog's face INWARDS. Here are two picture to help.
In the first one, looking from above, you can see the face folded inwards.

In the second, you see that you get the best effect by crouching to look up at the face from below.

The Dog Trick Academy clip on YouTube is better than my one!

And if I had only gone to their site earlier I would have seen how to fold it!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

organic is best for dogs and for humans

Whenever possible, we buy organic, for our own health and for the sake of the planet, so I was pleased to see a new range of organic dog biscuits in our local supermarket. They're called Biopet Organic dog bones and they contain only good things, as far as I can judge, though of course there's the question of feeding dogs grain products.

The manufacturers are Australian and say on their site they try to source reginal produce. (They're in in Bellingen on the Mid North Coast of NSW.)

I brought the box home, emptied the biscuits into a jar, fed one biscuit to Penny and threw the empty carton into the recycling pile.

Hmmm...I think they taste nice. Penny spent the next few minutes checking that the carton was definitely empty.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

US approves new drug for cancer in dogs

The dog-blogging world has many posts about the first drug to be approved specifically for veterinary use. I first saw the reference at Dog Blog and then follwed the trail to articles in the Baltimore Sun and The Oregonian.

But for me the best post is by Dolittler, a veterinarian and blogger from Miami, Florida in the US. She discusses the pros and cons of this new treatment compared to traditional therapies such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, and looks at the costs and possible side effects.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

a famous dog blogger - not!

Flush - a Biography. It's the title of a book by Virginia Woolf. What a discovery! If such a great literary figure thougth it was okay to write the life story of a dog, we doggie bloggers can hold our heads high!

Woolf published Flush in 1933 and it's a fictional biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog.(Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an English poet of the Romantic Movement, born in 1806 in England.)
Here's a little of the opening of chapter one. (Which of course has a different literary style from a modern blog, lol.)
Many million years ago the country which is now called Spain seethed uneasily in the ferment of creation. Ages passed; vegetation appeared; where there is vegetation the law of Nature has decreed that there shall be rabbits; where there are rabbits, Providence has ordained there shall be dogs.
The text of the whole book is available free at Project Gutenberg.

Friday, 5 June 2009

dog jokes from The Friday Funnies

The Friday Funnies come into my mailbox each week and always make me feel good, so I'd like to share a couple of dog-related ones.
A French poodle and a collie were walking down the street.The poodle turned to the collie and complained, '“My life is such a mess. My owner is mean, my girlfriend is having an affair with a German shepherd and I'’m as nervous as a cat.”'

'“Why don'’t you go see a psychiatrist?'” asked the collie.

'“I can'’t,'” replied the poodle. '“I'’m not allowed on the couch.'”

And this one rings true to me:
"Some days you are the dog ...Some you are the tree."

And, just to put into perspective That Other Species That Sometimes Lives in Our Houses:
"Well, a new study has found that having a cat makes you forty percent less likely to die of a heart attack. Not that the cat could care less either way, really."