Tuesday, 30 December 2008

classic poems about dogs

Tonight a good friend gave me a small book of old poems and pictures about dogs. It's called 'A Classic Illustrated Treasury; Dogs'. The illustrations and poems date from the 1890s to the 1950s.

I think my favorite would have to be the one by Rudyard Kipling
When the Man waked up he said,
"What is the Wild Dog doing here?"
And the Woman said,
"His name is not Wild Dog any more,
but the First Friend,
because he will be our friend
for always and always and always."

I thought that was a pretty good summary of a hundred thousand years of history - or fifteen thousand, depending on which archaeological study you believe.

And...I just noticed it is Rudyard Kipling's birthday today!

Monday, 29 December 2008

looking after the dogs of military personnel

It must be the week for reading feel-good stories about dogs. I loved reading about a charity in the US that looks after the dogs of military personnel who are posted overseas. It was lovely to browse the site and see all the happy dogs that are NOT in search of a new home! Their humans will be coming back to get them, as soon as they can, I'm sure.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

German animal lovers help pets in need

Penny was eating her breakfast as I sat reading The Age newspaper today. When I read an article about a German organisation called Tiertafel I realised how lucky we are to be able to feed Penny well.

With times so hard all around the world, many people are having to make the hard decision to give up a much-loved pet because they have to choose between feeding themselves (or their children) - or feeding the pet.

Many elderly pensioners are in this sad situation and we all know that if an old pet is given up to a shelter it's unlikely to be adopted.

Tiertafel was set up to stop people having to make this awful choice. Pet owners in financial difficulty, short term or long term, can get free food for their pets.

There are about 19 of these free food outlets in Germany now. I had a look at a lovely feel-good video clip showing the 'pet soup-kitchen' in action in Berlin. Even if you don't speak German, it's a nice video to look at. First it shows 'two-legs' patiently queuing with their four-legged pals and then explains that people need to prove they are in need. Then we see volunteers bringing in donations and a lady explains that she's donated some food because she feels for people in this situation.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Animals suffer just as we do

I just opened my regular email from 'Word of the Day' and it ended with this quote:
All the arguments to prove man's superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals.

The quote is from Peter Singer, philosopher and professor of bioethics (b. 1946)

This last few weeks or two I seem to have been confronted by the suffering of animals. First I read a short story by Annie Proulx that had something horrible in it, and even though I know it was a symbolic, mythological event, it disturbed me immensely. Then I received an email that was doing the rounds, describing something I couldn't believe humans would do to animals.

And I've been shopping for Christmas, determined to source only meat from animals that have not suffered during the time they were raised as a food source. Let me tell you, it's not easy to find meat that you can feel sure about.

So the thought for today seems very apt to me, as we celebrate Christmas together - I'd like to think we can live ethically alongside the other species that share our planet.

Monday, 22 December 2008

K9 Kompany christmas party 2008

Yesterday we attended the end-of-year party at K9 Kompany in Lilydale. It was great fun.
Penny was awarded second prize for doing tricks - weaving around my legs in a figure of eight.

We didn't enter the dress-up competition, because Penny shakes off any 'human' items if we try to put them on her.

The winners looked good, though!

I had great hopes for the 'Gambler's Agility' - in this game you race around the agility course, scoring points of different value, depending which activity you choose. The score goes back to zero if you choose an activity that the dog refuses - that's the gamble. Penny, as usual, did everything that was asked of her, so we should have done well - except that she did the weave poles in slow motion. Really s-l-o-w motion. Oh well, at least we gave the onlookers a good laugh.

We both had a great time. Here we are, laughing together.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

lost dog visits and Penny has fun

Each time we've found a stray dog and brought it home, Penny has been unfriendly. However, today I brought home a lovely little fellow who was wandering along a busy street and, surprisingly, Penny was overjoyed to have him here.

I'm wondering whether she behaved well because I had taken the visitor through the house and put him in a crate in the bedroom, closing the door and locking Penny into the other end of the house - I was late for an important appointment and didn't have time to take him to his owners. By the time I got home two hours later Penny was desperate to meet him.

They went for a stroll around the backyard before I took him home. Well, he strolled. Penny flew around him in circles, begging him to play. (He didn't.)

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Melburnians unite to save the Lort Smith animal shelter

The Age newspaper reported recently that the Lort Smith Animal Hospital will no longer be allowed to operate as a pound.
VICTORIA'S largest animal hospital has been banned from finding new homes for cats and dogs lost in the City of Melbourne, as local pounds brace for a sharp increase in the number of pets dumped over Christmas.

After helping to rehouse abandoned pets for the past 75 years, Lort Smith Animal Hospital has suddenly been ordered by Melbourne City Council to transfer all seized animals to a North Melbourne pound.

I think it might be that someone realised there was an agreement that councils would licence only one pound in each municipality and once that information was reported the Council had to act on it. I'm not quite sure whether this is the exact story behind it, but it does beg the question - couldn't whoever noticed the problem have kept it under his or her hat till after Christmas, when we humans celebrate by treating animals as disposable goods?

This is what Lort Smith says about the present situation.

I have enough faith in the humanity of our councillors to imagine that they are dismayed to have to act in such an inhumane way right before Christmas, the season of pet abandonment and cruelty. I'm hopeful that they are working hard to resolve the issue. But it never hurts to let them know we care.

I went to the site where the email addresses of the Councillors are listed and wrote to them all.

If you would be able to write a letter to the Melbourne City Councillors, it would be great. If you want some ideas, there are letters that others have written, here and here.

I said:


I have read that the Lort Smith Animal Hospital has been forced to cut back its shelter operations due to a Melbourne City council decision, as reported in The Age newspaper.

For some years I have been a supporter of the work done by the Lort Smith Animal Hospital and I would like to register my disappointment with the Council’s action.

I realise that the decision may have come about through a discovery that the Hospital was inadvertently not complying with regulations, but I would hope that Melbourne City Council can work with the Hospital to urgently put some arrangements in place to care for lost animals at this critical time of the year.

Lort Smith provides an essential service for us all, in making Melbourne a place where animals are treated humanely, so that we can take pride in our city. If the Lost Dogs’ Home has to take on the numbers of animals who would otherwise have been sheltered at Lort Smith, I fear there will be an even greater number of innocent animals euthanased.

If Lort Smith has operated as a shelter under successive Councils for 75 years, without anyone acting on this discrepancy, it must appear that this newly elected Council is overly bureaucratic and inhumane – not a good image.

I urge you to work with the Hospital to resolve the issue in an imaginative and humane way, so that Melburnians can have faith that you are the leaders we want you to be.

Nina Ottosson toys for intelligent dogs to play with

Hooray! The toys from Clean Run arrived last Friday.

The one toy I am really waiting for is the super duper Dog Tornado that my friend is bringing from New York. I didn't think I could afford the postage, so she said she'd bring it in her luggage. She arrives tomorrow!

And then Johann told me there was to be a free postage offer from Clean Run for a short while, so I ordered the Spinny, the Brick and Dog Magic. I ordered them through Johann's site. (Now that I know the toys are lighter than I thought, and come so quickly, I'd be keen to order more things in the future.)

I ordered them on the 4th of December, so it took them only eight days to come to Australia. I'm amazed. And excited.

The first one Penny and I played with was quite easy - The Dog Spinny.

When Penny was confident with it - which took about three minutes! - I added a plastic bone that makes the task harder. She had to figure out how to get the bone out before she could turn the Spinny and get the treats.

Today we advanced to the second game, The Brick. We've only played the simplest version, so far.

When she is confident, I'll place more of the plastic bones in the middle spaces, to make it hard.

I can't wait for the Tornado - it looks like the hardest of them all.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

dogs walk in the lovely rain in Darebin Parklands

Rain, lovely rain has been falling in drought-stricken Melbourne for the last twenty- four hours.

We set off to see how it has affected the Darebin creek in our parkland - and found the creek is reaching the top of its banks. Our favorite swimming hole usually looks like this:

But today it looked like this:

In the second photo you can see just the top of the rocks on the left of the first photo.

The creek looked rather scary so we kept Penny on lead along the path, even though it's an off-lead area. I'm glad we did, because the ball she was holding in her mouth dropped into the raging waters and she lunged after it. It took a bit of convincing to get her to acknowledge that it was gone for good!

When we got to the bridge we usually cross to get back home we realised we'd have to take the long route today:

That's the bridge in the centre of the picture, surrounded by the junk that came down with the flood waters.

And guess what? As we made our way along the path, what did we see?

Yes, our tennis ball, caught in the flotsam!

We saw other dogs walking with their people, but it seemed as if only dog walkers were out braving the rain.

Friday, 12 December 2008

great pet health blogs

Dolittler (aka vet Dr. Patricia Khuly), who has a great blog, has compiled her own list of favorite pet health blogs. Definitely worth a visit!

dog groomer who lets owners watch

Today Penny visited a grooming salon where owners are welcome to watch the grooming through a big glass window. I'm very happy with the result.

The groomer not only welcomed me to stay, but was also quite willing to discuss what cut I wanted Penny to get. He told me how he would usually style a dog like this, but was happy to accommodate my wish that Penny's fur be left long on top.

As you can see, Penny also got a Christmas card!

I've been envious in the past of posts by Amber-Mae about the grooming salons in Malaysia that let people stay with their dogs - and now we have one too!

By the way, for those who live in Melbourne, the salon is Yuppy Puppy, in Macleod.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

more on the recall of KraMar dog treats

Here is a link to the KraMar media release on the recall.

And here is the text of an email that is circulating. I notice that it seems to be by Miles Kemp, author of the article I linked to in my previous post, but the text seems to be somewhat different. I think it's worth posting here for the extra information it contains.

poisoned meat is causing kidney damage in small dogs

By Miles Kemp

The Advertiser

December 09, 2008

Poisoned meat

Alert ... hundreds of small dogs have been affected by poisoned meat as
experts try to track down its source.

* Hundreds of dogs hit in poison scare
* Experts try to track down source
* Meat from China suspected

UNIVERSITY experts are urgently trying to track down the source of a deadly
poison which has struck hundreds of small dogs, with pet food meat from
China the suspected cause.

The Australian Veterinary Association has issued a national warning to all
vets to report any serious kidney damage in small dogs in the past month.

"We have only become aware of this in the last three or four weeks, and we
need to make people aware there are some clear indications there is a
problem out there," AVA national president Mark Lawrie told The Advertiser

Mr Lawrie said the AVA had discussed the cases with a prominent pet-food
supplier suspected to be the source of the poison, which the AVA would not
name for legal reasons. Vets and small-dog owners have been told to look out
for warning signs:

INCREASED thirst and urination.

Related Coverage,

REDUCED appetite and lethargy.

VOMITING and weakness.

University of Sydney researchers have issued a national alert over the
kidney-destroying poison - but after a legal threat from the company, have
been banned by the university from making any public comment.

The AVA had also warned vets - in a national alert to all members to be
aware of the problem - against making comments to the media about the case.

One university researcher, who would not be named, said there was enough
evidence to recall the product but the safety message had been hampered by
threats from the company.

"We have not been able to call for cases and an open call to vets for cases
has just been made and we are aware of dozens of cases and suspect there are
hundreds," he said. "What is important is that the meat is sourced in China
and I think pet owners can trust the product if all the ingredients are
sourced in Australia."

The researcher said owners should be concerned about any breed but
especially dogs the size of a small terrier.

Studies of dead dogs are also being carried out to identify the cause, with
one brand of meat suspected of causing symptoms.

Vets have been urged to contact the University of Sydney Faculty of
Veterinary Science via email A.Arteaga@usyd.edu.au if they have suspected
cases of the poisoning.

KraMar chicken treats recalled - made in China

On the ABC news tonight there was a report that KraMar dried chicken treats are being recalled because of a suspicion that they are poisoning dogs.There is also a report on the AdelaideNow site.
Dogs who are affected may be drinking and urinating a lot, be unusually lethargic or vomiting.

I'm glad now that I'm a worrier. A couple of months ago I stopped feeding these great-looking treats because I like to read the fine print on things and I noticed they are made in China. Nowadays I don't feed anything to Penny unless I know all ingredients were sourced in Australia or New Zealand or unless the packet specifies no ingredients come from China.

I actually have a packet of these KraMar treats in the cupboard. I didn't want to feed them to her, but the treats appeared so healthy that it seemed a pity to throw them out.

Now I will throw them out!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

a crostic puzzled based on a book about dogs

When I mentioned to one of my brothers that I had read an interesting book about a dog, he decided to make up a crostic puzzle based on an excerpt from that book. He regularly posts crostic puzzles but I've reproduced the puzzle here because when he changes his puzzles the old ones are lost.

I keep telling him to start a blog, so his puzzles can be archived!

Here it is, for your enjoyment. You would need to print the puzzle grid and the clues if you want to solve it. They are images, so I think it won't be too hard to print them.If you have problems getting them here, you could go to his website and print them. (There are links to clues on his site, if you get desperate.)

Let me know if you enjoy puzzles like this and I'll ask him to make up more (with a dog theme).

This kind of puzzle is called a Crostic.

The diagram is not a crossword. It is an exerpt from a piece of writing. Words end at the shaded squares, not (necessarily) at the end of lines. No punctuation is given.

Answer the clues as best you can, then transpose the letters to the squares with the matching numbers. (The letter in the square tells which clue it is from.) Then you try to recognise words on the diagram, and complete them. Then you transpose those letters back, etc., until the whole thing is finished. Three letter words may be "the", one letter words are usually 'a' or 'I'.

As an extra help, the first letters of the answers usually spell the name of the author, and the work the extract is from. (That's where the name, Crostic, comes from.)

The diagram, and the clues, are pictures, which I hope you can download and print (or it's going to be a very difficult puzzle!)

This one has three clues about dogs, and is based on a book about a dog, but it should be fairly straighforward. One of the dog names is unusual.

Grid (click on the grid to get a bigger image):

Clues (click on the clues to get a bigger image):

Thursday, 4 December 2008

free shipping of nina ottosson toys over the next couple of days

Johann's mum added a comment on my post about intelligent toys for dogs and told me that the US company Clean Run is shipping items with free postage until 8th December, if you spend more than $100.

I just had to give it a try, even though the Australian dollar is so bad compared to the US dollar at the moment. It sure seemed as if the items are going to ship to Australia with no cost for postage. To say I'm excited would be an understatement, as I've ordered THREE of the Nina Ottosson toys. I ordered them through Johann's own site, where part of the profits go to shelters and rescue organisations.

If they come by sea, I guess it might be months before I see them, but it will be fun waiting for them. I can't remember who said it's the journey that counts, not the arrival. Similarly, we Australians are experts at enjoying the anticipation of a parcel sailing across the planet to us.