Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yes I know ... I missed Wordless Wednesday

Barbie's new pose - the 'dead cockroach'

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I don't like it - let's BAN it! Breed Specific Legislation in Australia

Ever get sick of having the same argument over and over again, with people who you thought were otherwise reasonable and logical thinkers?
There was recently a tragic dog attack in Melbourne where a toddler was killed. This kind of emotive reporting from The Australian newspaper about the issue has the public calling, once again, for a breed ban. The article itself states the dog was a pitbull cross but doesn't state how it was identified, and it recounts other recent serious dog attacks which involved Bull-Mastiff crosses, pig hunting dogs and a Siberian Husky.

This kind of reporting, with the typical emotive quote from someone who is far from a dog expert, is very common here:

"I don't mind saying I hate seeing these dogs walking the streets," Superintendent Graham Kent said. "They look mean -- they usually are."

The proposed solution - banning all pitbulls and pitbull crosses is a reflection of a society where if anything upsets enough people - it is banned or heavily regulated. Pitbulls are already heavily regulated. They must be sterilised, there are requirements about the houses they are kept in, they must be on leash and muzzled at all times in public. They can not be imported. These rules mean that for pitbulls to even exist in Australia in the first place, they have come from shadowy corners of society. They have a reputation for being stoic, fierce and loyal and that is why shadowy people want them.
If there were no pitbulls (or dogs that look like pitbulls but aren't necessarily), another powerful, stoic, guarding type breed would become the favorite of these people - Rottweilers perhaps, or Dobermanns, and they would be the next dog on the banned list.
Some argue that tougher criminal penalties should apply to the owners of dogs that attack unprovoked. That may well be the case, but another route that is available is the civil one - sue for compensation. That is a route that is available in the here and now. Then the facts of the case can be examined in the open light of day instead of a partial story being trumpeted by an emotion fuelling media who are just in it to get more hits to their webpages.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday Flashback

I did this back in 2005.... inspired by my first dog, Lucy (RIP)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Dogs & Cats of Europe

I find it hard to be away from my pets for a long time, though sometimes if I can pat and play with other doggies and kitties, it helps a little. The problem was that in France, the dogs weren't interested in talking to me. Firstly, they didn't understand what I was saying to them! I learned that the French word for dog is 'chiot', or the plural is 'chien'. I found I could get their attention by saying that word, but the problem was I couldn't really speak to their owners without an elaborate pantomime.

I met this dog in the Pyrenees in a town called Bareges. We were in town looking for somewhere to get dinner, and I decided to check out an outdoor store. I had decided I needed a new rucksack, because the kit bag that I bought to carry my clothes around in was showing signs of breaking at an inopportune time (maybe when I was trying to haul it to a tight train connection, along with rolling the massive Samsonite suitcase which contained my Bike Friday). He was hanging around outside the shop, and seemed totally disinterested in me until I called him 'chiot'. Then he came trotting over for some attention. I saw him again the next night, and I called to him. He trotted towards me but then got distracted by another dog which was with it's owner in the nearby park. I never figured out who his owner was, he had a collar but he seemed to just wander freely all over town.

This kitty was the first campsite-kitty that we met. We were hanging out in the common room in Olonne-Sur-Mer, and watching Sarah Connor Chronicles on my tiny netbook. We then heard fireworks (it was the pre-tour-de-france party), so Nic went rushing outside. I saw kitty sitting on a tree stump just outside, so I started talking to him. Unlike the dogs, the cats didn't seem to have a language barrier. I think maybe cats don't recognise as many individual words, and go more by body language than dogs do. Anyway, he came into the common room and had a good smooch. After the fireworks, one of the campsite staff came to lock up the common room, and he told me the kitty did many 'bad things' around the campsite. He couldn't really specify what those bad things were, language barrier again, but regardless of his alleged misdeeds, I thought he was lovely, if a little dirty.

We met this kitty when we stopped for lunch - we had been to the local patisserie and bought lunch, and sat down on a park bench to eat. I spotted this kitty staring us down from it's position on a nearby side street. After I'd finished eating I decided to say hello. It didn't take much before this kitty was purring and carrying on! There was another cat nearby who was sitting underneath a parked car, but it didn't want to chat. It showed a passing interest but when N tried to get near it, it retreated further underneath the car.

We took a wrong turn trying to follow the bike path to Karlsruhe and ended up meeting this kitty. She was strutting along the path, probably on patrol, or on the hunt. She actually acknowledged us as we were riding towards her with a little 'brrrt', so I had to stop for a pat.

This kitty was also in Bareges. We stayed at that campground for 4 or 5 nights, and we only saw this kitty once. It came to investigate our tent and figure out if we were approved to be on it's turf. Turned out to be a friendly kitty, but it went home after it was satisfied we should be permitted to camp on it's land.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

In the Netherlands, even the cats ride bikes!

During our visit to Utrecht, NL, we went to a 'clocks and music' museum. It would have been a really horrifying place for both my dogs with it's massive street organs - they are loud because the louder they are, the more people you can attract, and the more money you can make. I had never seen nor heard of street organs before but they are pretty awesome things.

This one was my favourite, mainly because it was still on wheels and the Perlee family, despite selling it to the museum, still came to borrow it every now and again and use it the way it was intended. It struck me as a bit cheeky - like could I sell you my car but then come back to use it whenever I want?

We spent a few hours in the museum, and when we got outside, we spotted this gentleman, perched atop one of the many bicycles that line the streets.

He posed for the camera, while I admired his poise and balance. He even managed to do it with a bucket on his head! My cats could barely get around with buckets on their heads, let alone jump onto a tiny bike seat and balance there while watching the world go by!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Keeping your dogs in the kennel for long periods of time...

Recently we went on an extended holiday in Europe and had to sort out the dogs and cats. We were gone for 47 days, and after much deliberation and angst we decided that the kennel was the best place for the dogs - that way we would know they were safe and wouldn't get into any bad habits. For the cats, we found a housesitter - for half the time. For the other half of the time we needed to use a pet sitting agency that sent someone around to feed them, take out the rubbish and bring in our mail.

The dogs stayed at The Paw House with Claire and Leigh. The dogs have stayed with them twice before, and they both really love dogs. All dogs. The dogs seem to enjoy it there as well. When we checked in they asked if the dogs wear coats, and I said that they probably would just take them off. They said they would try and give the dogs coats anyway but they would also get blankets to curl up in. They encouraged us to email them for an update when we were away, so we did. At that point, Bender wasn't wearing his coat, he kept taking it off, but Barbie was accepting hers. About a week after Leigh sent the email, Barbie started removing her coat, so now she is really really fluffy!

See! That is one fluffy greyhound butt! For those of you who don't have greyhounds, the butt area is where they often lose hair in kennel environments!

She does have a couple of flaky spots which Leigh pointed out to me before we left - one on her thigh, and there is one on her chest. He said he had been watching and hadn't seen her licking it so I am not that worried. I'm sure it will clear up with her indoor life but she will moult all of that beautiful fur she has grown too, so I will have to make the most of it.

Understandably, after 47 days they were very happy to see us.

As we left though, it seemed that the dogs were quite attached to Leigh. They both had eyes on him until we pulled out of sight. When we got home we didn't leash them, they both went straight to the front door and Barbie practically pushed past Nic to get inside. They both pranced around the house to investigate. Bender spent more time snuffling around as there were two people he didn't know in the house during the time we had been gone. Neither paid any attention to the cats. Froufrou got up in Barbie's face, and Barbie just ignored her. Bender almost trampled her as if she didn't exist. Both of the cats seemed a bit put out that the house, and the humans, were no longer exclusively theirs.

The cats were looked after for the first three weeks by a student who does housesitting. The cats took a little bit more time to get used to him because they are used to being in a house full of women. They seemed to do OK with him though and he gave us some email updates as well. After he moved onto his next housesit, Paws in the Park took over. The cats got plenty of cuddles and attention from Lauren, though they took over the house. There were no boundaries any more. When we got home, the cats were waiting in the window and they were hungry. They were both competing for attention, but Froufrou was still the boss. When we ignored them they started climbing all over the kitchen bench and walking along the TV cabinet like it was a normal thing for them to do. We had to start enforcing the rules again. They did interrupt our sleep a little when they decided they wanted attention - Mittens by sprinting into the room and jumping onto the bed, and Frou by doing these strange little meows until I told her to shut up.

Anyway, we have a few days now for everyone to settle back into life before we have to go back to work.

Now, I have decided that I will give a shout out to a new blog each Thursday. I am going to mention blogs that I like, blogs that are new, blogs that maybe don't have many followers yet. I want to introduce them to the pet blogger community that I have enjoyed so much.

So for this Thursday Blog Shoutout, it's 28 Legs!

While I've been away, Desma (who is the trainer who helped me get Barbie to get her Canine Good Citizen Award), has been working on her blog, 28 Legs. Desma is particularly interested in animals in film and TV, and she has gotten TV roles and ads for many of her animals. The latest one was an IKEA ad involving her Bengal cat, Gunny. Her dogs also do agility and tracking. Check it out and say hi!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

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