Wednesday, 29 June 2011

bushwalking with dogs at Narbethong

Last Sunday Penny and I went to Narbethong to walk in the bush with Cindy's dog group.

We set off from The Black Spur Inn, a historic building that survived the terrible 2009 bushfires and acted as a relief centre fot the region in the time after the fires.

It was wonderful to see how the bush is regenerating after the fires. The greenery was a sign of hope, and the blackened trunks a reminder of the helplessness of humanity in the face of nature's overwhelming power.

There's been lots of welcome, life-giving rain over the last few months. Which, of course, means there are some lovely puddles (lovely, depending on your point of view, of course.)

What dog could resist such a great puddle? Certainly not Penny.

And there was a great stick in one of the puddles.

Penny had a bath when we got home!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

dogs, logic, jokes, public transport and bars

Honey's human, Hsin-Yi, commented on my last post about dogs on public transport. She remarked that service dogs are allowed on all forms of public transport.

Which reminded me of a joke I read recently. I think I have finally got a sort of understanding of formal logic, after reading a short, funny book called You've Got to Be Kidding; How Jokes Can Help You Think. I'd really recommend this book as an enjoyable introduction to critical thinking. I laughed all the way through and drove my family mad constantly telling them jokes and explaining the logic point behind them.


the joke was about a bar, but it could apply to public transport.
A guy goes into a bar with a German shepherd dog and sits down at the counter. The bartender says, "You can't bring that German shepherd in here! Dogs ain't allowed!" The guy replies, "But this is a Seeing Eye dog." The bartender says, "Well, in that case, I guess it can stay." After awhile the guy and the German shepherd get up to leave. As they are heading out the door, another guy with a Chihuahua is coming in, and the first guy says, "The bartender won't like you bringing a dog in here, but if you tell him it's a Seeing Eye dog, maybe he'll let you stay." The second guy looks dubiously at his tiny Chihuahua, thinks a few seconds, thanks the guy, and goes in. The bartender says, "Hey! You can't bring that chihuahua in here!" The man stares straight ahead and exclaims, "What! They sold me a Chihuahua?!"
And you may be wondering what you could learn about critical thinking from this joke...Well, you'll have to buy the book.

Monday, 27 June 2011

life with a dog but no car

I've been reading about the efforts in Europe to persuade people to abandon their cars and move around on foot or by bicycle. I'm all in favor of this, as I worry that our present use of private transport is unsustainable.

But I'd like to know how those governments are planning for people to travel with their dogs.

In Melbourne, for instance, we are allowed to take dogs on trains, but not on trams, buses or country trains (unless they are small enough to be carried in a container). The dogs are supposed to be muzzled, but I've never seen that happen.

Today I went to the Royal Botanic Gardens, to take photographs and meet fellow enthusiasts. I left Penny at home, but I saw quite a few dogs there. So I thought perhaps I'd go there another time, by train.

And according to the signs, dogs are welcome, as long as they are on lead. There was even a dog drinking bowl at the outside tables of the cafe. There was no water in it, though, and the cheeky mynahs seemed to think the bowl belonged to them.

The gardens are extensive and beautiful. I'm sure Penny would enjoy sniffing around these palms, for instance.

At least twice a week, if not many times more, I put Penny in the car and head off to a walking spot some distance from our house.

But should we all be conserving fuel by only walking around our own localities?

Sunday, 26 June 2011

did humans breed into dogs the desire to bark?

Slavenka has a link to an interesting article about the possible evolution of barking in dogs.

In part, the article quotes Eugene Morton, a zoologist and animal communication expert at the National Zoo, [I'm not sure which zoo that is]:
“Barks are used by juvenile wolves, by pups. It’s neotenic — something derived from a juvenile stage, and kept in adults. That’s probably what we selected for,” said Morton. “We don’t want dogs who are dominant over us. The bark might go along with that breeding for juvenile behavior. Or it could have come with something else we selected, such as a lack of aggression.”
That reminds me of an amusing idea I once heard, that dogs are wolves that never really grow up, and we like playing with them, because we are apes that also never grow up! Whenever Penny and I are running around the house playing keepings-off with a soft toy, I think of it, lol.

Friday, 24 June 2011

great new veterinary blog

I've been following the new veterinary blog by Dr Renee O'Duhring. It's great to read her take on animal health, because she approaches it from a proactive direction - ie, keep your dog healthy rather than try to fix up problems after they occur.

She has written a post about 'the physical and mental benefits of providing your pet with a natural diet. '

I was interested to read it, because she discusses the question of whether dogs are purely carnivores or whether they do well with some plant matter in their diet. Penny definitely likes some vegetable matter in her diet and will scavenge it for herself if we don't include it - grass, horse poo, possum poo, you name it - she's dining on it when left to her own devices.

I asked Dr Renee a question that I've been trying to research on the Net and in the Yahoo groups, without any luck, and received a most interesting and informative reply.

Here's the comment I put on her post:
Dr Renee, thanks for this great post! I try to feed a varied and natural diet, but sometimes I start to worry that I'm not doing enough. It's hard to resist the blandishments of the big pet food company [companies], whose advertising is in my face every time I enter a pet food shop. (Though I do mostly feed things I buy on special at supermarket meat departments, or through my own butcher, or plant-based ingredients that are similar to what we eat ourselves.

I'd love to ask you something I can't find any information on. I asked at one of the Yahoo Groups I am a member of - won't name it, as I'm disappointed and angry about the only response I got, which was that my question was inappropriate, because I should only feed meat, as this is the only "species appropriate food". Not true, as you have noted, given that in a natural environment, dogs will scavenge some plant matter.

My question is this: I grow yakon, which is a very different plant food, in that it has inulin in it (a great food for human diabetics, might be interesting to know if it would be useful for diabetic dogs...). My dog, Penny, LOVES it, and I occasionally give her tiny scraps.

Do you know of any studies that look at the effect of inulin on dogs?

And if you can give me some advice, wuld it be okay to post your reply on my own website? (Fine if you prefer not, of course.)

And here's the reply, which she said was fine to post here:
Hi Parlance. Interesting question about yakon, and funny timing as I have been experimenting with it myself! There is one study I have come across in the Cambridge journals on the effect of oligofructose (which is the carbohydrate in yakon) in companion animal diets, as well as a few on PubMed. One study showed that inulin "may favourably alter the composition of the colonic bacteria", which is one of its functions as a prebiotic. There is certainly nothing suggesting yakon would be harmful included in the canine diet (in moderation). Some pet foods include chicory root as a source of inulin so it seems that pets do benefit from it. Read more about that here:
Not sure whether it would be helpful for a diabetic pet or not, as pet's nutritional requirements are very different from humans. Hope that helps, and glad to hear Penny enjoys foraging for all things delightful!
I'll certainly continue to follow Dr Renee's blog.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Loukanikos and the Greek protests

I've read that Loukanikos ('sausage'), the political dog, is out on the streets again with the Greek people protesting about their politicians' mismanagement of the economy.

The Australian recently led an article with a mention of Loukanikos.
A veteran protester, Loukanikos, dared to show his face among rioters wearing balaclavas in December 2008. He dodged tear gas last year and he faced down riot police last week.

But Loukanikos is an unlikely mascot for the violent uprising. For "Sausage" - as his name translates - is a furry stray dog. This underdog has come to symbolise a struggle threatening to bring down the euro.

I looked at old footage of Loukanikos on the streets, and the last still photo is interesting. How come he has tags on his collar if he's a stray?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

DWTDS and Heide Museum of Modern Art

Penny had a quiet day today, while I sat at the computer looking at the THIRTY-ONE entries for Honey's dancing competition - Dancing With The Doggy Stars or DWTDS.

However, there was still time enough for a walk, of course. I couldn't decide which of the many lovely places to visit, so I thought I'd just head off towards the Yarra and see what nice spot we came across. And we got lucky! I headed down into Banksia Park, thinking we would have to walk on lead, and noticed a sign pointing to a 'dog friendly' area at the rear.

It was quite small, but beautifully designed, with one looping path, strong fences all around, and clumps of undergrowth to break it up into smaller areas so the dogs wouldn't have to be all in one place.

It even had a special entry with double gates, like a kind of 'air lock', to protect the dogs from the cars in the car-park,

and drinking bowls with taps.

After we'd walked around for about thirty minutes, I gave in to Penny's wishes - she had headed to the gate each time we passed it. I thought she must be tired. However, once I put her on lead she seemed to get a fresh lease of life and we headed off to explore, even though it was getting dark.

To my surprise I discovered we were just behind the Heide Museum of Modern Art and dogs were allowed into the gardens.

We wandered around, Penny using her nose to explore, and I using my eyes to enjoy the massive sculptures, and then we even went into the kitchen garden.

By this time it was quite dark, which by the way explains the terrible quality of the photos. Also, I only had my phone. Next time I'll take my camera. We will definitely be exploring this spot again.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

a different kind of dancing

If you want to feel good, go over to Sparky's blog and watch him dance.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

how dogs drink

A couple of weeks ago had a post about how dogs drink. It seems they use the same technique that cats do, and it's quite a complex action. There's a clip showing a slow motion x-ray view of a dog drinking.

The description of the action says the dog creates a column of water from the dish, and then closes her mouth, trapping the water. I think it's more clearly visible in this slow motion video. When I saw this clip, some years ago, I thought there was a kind of vacuum, but now I do see how the dog traps water. It appears that it takes three laps before any of the water reaches the throat.

In this clip we see another dog drink, but I also enjoyed the human trying to drink like a dog!

In this one you can clearly see the column of water rising to the dog's mouth.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

dogs and grass eating

Many's the time Penny takes herself outside to eat grass. Sometimes it's plain that she isn't feeling well, and is using the grass to clear her bowels (the folded leaves come out the other end looking just the same as they went in!). Other times she eats grass and vomits it up, presumably for a similar reason.

But sometimes she just eats it for no apparent reason. I've posted about this once or twice. Or three times, to be exact.

So it's interesting to read a post at Green Kingdom - at last, a blog by an Australian vet, and a holistic one at that! - about the value of greens in a dog's diet. In part she says:
That proves how great grass is at cleansing and detoxifying!! Sprouts, leafy greens, herbs like parsley or dandelion leaf, grasses like wheatgrass or the easily accessible couch grass (also known as 'dog grass'!), and seaweeds like chlorella, spirulina and kelp are all very beneficial in the diet of your pet.
Wow! Couch grass! We have that. We have it all over the place - growing through the raspberry bushes, twining through the nasturtiums, weaving its way underground to emerge between the chives...

We have it everywhere! Lucky Penny.

we over-vaccinate dogs in Australia

Recently I looked on the site of the Australian Veterinary Association for information about the optimum vaccination timetable for dogs. I've read many times that it is no longer considered necessary to vaccinate dogs every year, so it was great to see the recommendations of the AVA.

And I've noticed a similarly informative page at Roar Kingdom, the site of Dr RenĂ©e O’Duhring, a holistic veterinarian and Michelle Southall, a veterinary nurse.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Penny's working for The Man

Well, it was the Big Moment in our kitchen tonight. Due to the fact that our technical help - ie the only person who maybe could press the remote on the iPod and hold a camera steady at the same time - would be unavailable for the next week or so, we realised we'd better get our entry in to Honey's dancing competition.

Penny entered into the spirit of things, soldiering on through myriad practices and dress rehearsals - actually, totally chaotic attempts at the routine - until we came up with this final version.

I'd be the last to admit that Penny added in some moves of her own as we went along, but I guess perceptive viewers might work that out, so I'll come clean. And you might also notice her casting longing glances at the BIG BISCUIT on the kitchen bench, the intended reward for her hard work.

And yes, she did get the biscuit.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Brodie Bodie inspires us to practise our new trick

Honey has posted a YouTube clip of Brodie Bodie the Border Terrier doing a doggy dancing routine based on Happy Feet. And Penny and I are thrilled to see that just at one minute and fifteen seconds into it he does the trick Penny and I have been trying out. Inspiration to keep practising!

And the other thing that's so great about the routine is seeing how effective and striking a simple costume can be. I love the outfit 'Mumble the Penguin' is wearing. And - the idea of using flipper on her feet makes the whole thing come alive.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Penny's dancing routine is sort of almost ready

Well, the fun continues in our kitchen, thanks to Honey's idea for a no-stress doggy dancing competition.

To be quite honest, the competition part of it isn't the attraction for us - rather, it's the fun.

And as you'll see in this sneak preview of a bit of our routine, it's all about laughing and enjoying ourselves together. I think Penny's wagging tail speaks for itself.