Archive for November, 2008

The Best Christmas Puppy?

Suffer from allergies?
Don’t have time to train or exercise a pet?
Hate the idea of having to deal with dog poop?
Live in a place that forbids pets?
Lack the money for vet bills or grooming?

But still think that you need a dog?

biscuit

Hasbro’s Fur-Real Friends ‘Biscuit’ is the perfect solution!

What do children love about real dogs? That they can be taught tricks. No child enjoys having to give a dog a bath or having to pick up after one, but they love being able to say “sit” or “stay” and have a dog listen to their commands. Training a dog to do these commands, however, can be a long and difficult process. Not for FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin Pup. When you buy FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin Pup, you not only get a soft and furry lovable friend for your child, you get one that comes fully trained!

Retailing for between $150 and $200 - Biscuit’s a Fur Real bargain as well. Not only weill he cost less to buy than the average backyard bred dog – Biscuit’s also cheaper to maintain. The batteries you need to keep him running will cost less than even the cheapest food for a real dog his size!

Best of all — if you or the kids get tired of Biscuit – you can sell him, put him away in the closet – or even toss him out with the trash – and feel no guilt whatsoever.

He is, indeed – the best Christmas puppy ever.

November 28, 2008 at 9:36 pm 1 comment

What The Duck?

whattheduck

From KARE11 News:

So, you’re driving down the road, it could be anywhere in the Twin Cities.

You pull up alongside a flatbed truck and you glance to your left, and, what the…duck?

The view through Joe Mansheim’s side window raises all sorts of questions. What for instance is a duck-hunting truck driver doing with a waterfowl riding shotgun?

This new twist on man’s best friend started with a dog that won’t hunt. For the whole story with video click here

November 28, 2008 at 6:43 pm 1 comment

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fall 2003

 turkeyhunter

Zorro 1 – Turkey 0

November 27, 2008 at 4:53 am 1 comment

Planning For Black Friday?

The only way you’ll get me into a store on Black Friday is at gunpoint. And to persuade me - you’re going need a really big gun. But for those of you whose tolerance for violations of personal space (both bodily and vehicular) and unbridled materialism exceeds mine - we’d like to offer a few suggestions to help you shop responsibly.

First the important not-dos.

  1. DO NOT BUY A PET FOR ANYONE ELSE. Much like choosing a spouse, acquiring a pet is an intensely personal matter. If it isn’t the right one at the right time - the relationship can easily turn into an exceptionally painful and prolonged patch of ugliness that neither of them will survive without hating you.
  2. DO NOT BUY A PET FROM A PET STORE. Both Gina and Heather have recently written exceptional posts on why there is no good reason to purchase on those adorable kittens and puppies displayed in glass cases. Don’t support the vile creatures whose cheif product is misery by buying one – whether you do it on impulse or in a fit of Munchausen’s by Purchase.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are a few socially responsible ideas for pet-related holiday giving.

Looking for something to give one of the men in your life? Perhaps one who’s a bit of a dawg himself? Get him some eye candy while supporting a good cause with the Pinups for Pitbulls Calendar

How about a gift for someone who’s fancy in nekkid people with dogs runs more toward the ironic than the exotic?  Try CaRPOC’s Naked Truth Calendar.

Interested in a bit of vaguely SmartDogs-related bling? Order a copy of this year’s calendar from the English Shepherd Club. Proceeds help support National English Shepherd Rescue and… a photo of Audie and Zip is one of the highlights!

Looking for something other than calendars? How about t-shirts? The Tees for Troops program prints shirts with the logos of military unit for overseas troops at no cost. The company sells shirts on their website to help offset the cost. Shirts with the logos of military K9 units are available here, here, here,  here and here.

Looking for something with a little more cachet? How about wine? Cru Vin Dogs Wine Group donates 10% of the proceeds from the sale of their wines to Canine Companions For Independence and the Morris Animal Foundation’s Cure Canine Cancer Campaign.  I’m thinking that that Yogi Cab-Syrah sounds like something we might need to try.

As for us – we plan to spend the day eating leftovers and hanging out with the dogs. No cars. No shopping. No big guns required.

November 26, 2008 at 6:38 pm 2 comments

Blog (Not Dog) Related

H/T CafeHayek

November 26, 2008 at 5:13 am Leave a comment

Iraq’s Stray Dog Dilemma

Life on the street is tough for dogs in Iraq. And unfortunately it looks like things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. According to the Canadian Press:

Baghdad authorities killed more than 200 stray dogs on Sunday, the opening day of a campaign to cull dog packs roaming the capital that was prompted by a spate of fatal attacks on residents.

Three teams of veterinarians and police officers used poisoned meat and rifles to kill the animals, said Dr. Hassan Chaloub, an official at the veterinary hospital supervising the effort. He said the capital has no dog shelters.

When I first read this, shades of the recent Chinese pre-Olympic dog purge went through my mind. But… sad as it is to hear of hundreds that dogs are being killed in the streets of Baghdad, it sounds like this time it’s not just a case of politicians run amok:

Thirteen people died in August alone in the capital after being attacked by dogs, according to Baghdad’s provincial council, which is overseeing the campaign.

People in some neighbourhoods have been too frightened to go outside when the dogs are present.

“For many days, people, including me, could not go to work in the morning because of these dogs,” said Jinan Abdul-Amir, who lives in the Sadiyah neighbourhood in southwest Baghdad.

[Related sidebar: the fellow finishing the tile job in my kitchen today just got a call from his girlfriend - she can't leave the house because there is a large, aggressive stray dog in her garage. I told them to call the police - this is not a situation you should deal with on your own.]

It would be nice if there was a shelter for Iraqi dogs. But I imagine that what with the IEDs, suicide bombings, rapes, kidnappings, power and food shortages, random gunfire and other human-related violence, the residents understandably have more pressing issues to deal with than saving stray dogs.

What can we do? Well, Operation Baghdad Pups was recently organized through SPCA International. The group’s stated goal is to bring stray dogs from Irag to the U.S.  Each dog must have a pre-arranged home to go to before it is vetted and transported. This sounds like a good thing but I decided to do a bit of checking.

And look what I found….

In May of this year the New York Times published and article called An E-Commerce Empire, From Porn to Puppies about Richard J. Gordon, who was a key player in the development of e-commerce. According to the Times:

While Amazon.com and eBay were still fledgling enterprises, the companies that Mr. Gordon founded in the early 1990s were already laying the groundwork for electronic transactions conducted with credit cards — a development that opened the doors to the first generation of e-commerce start-ups.

And if the Internet is for porn, as the hit Broadway show “Avenue Q” asserts, perhaps it was only natural that many of Mr. Gordon’s early clients were purveyors of X-rated entertainment.

What’s this got to do with Baghdad Pups? Well, again from the Times:

As the Web has evolved since the early days of e-commerce, so has Mr. Gordon. Although he fashioned his early career around credit card transactions and helping Internet pornographers, he has more recently adopted an ecumenical approach to business as the shepherd for an altogether different endeavor: a Christian charity.

Until last week, Bold New World, his Los Angeles-based Web design firm, had a lucrative contract to design sites for the American Bible Society — the 192-year-old philanthropy based in Manhattan whose mission is to make a Bible available to every person in the world.

Bold New World has also created the Web site for a charity called SPCA International, which fights animal abuse; it helps members of the armed forces bring dogs home from Iraq. That charity has been stirring controversy in the animal-rights world because it owns no animal shelter and is unaffiliated with older and more established societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

Hey – I don’t care if you make a fortune in pornography (as long as it doesn’t involve minors). And I really don’t care if you want to raise money for give a bible to every person in the world. But I do care if you operate a big bucks charity and mislead your donors about where the money they donate is spent. And Mr. Gordon certainly has a questionable history:

IN 1979, six years after being honorably discharged from the Navy, Mr. Gordon found himself on the bad end of a bust. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested him after finding him hiding in a closet of a friend’s apartment in Washington, D.C. On a living room table were four round-trip Concorde tickets to Paris.

According to a 1981 review of the case by a federal appeals court, New York State authorities had been investigating accusations that Mr. Gordon, who then lived outside Albany and ran insurance and financial planning companies, had dipped into customer funds. When he learned of the investigation, according to the court documents, Mr. Gordon closed his businesses and fled Albany, planning to go to Europe.

He was ultimately convicted in 1980 of mail fraud, interstate transportation of a stolen check and making a false statement to a bank. He served more than two years of a seven-year sentence in federal prison in Danbury, Conn., and Lompoc, Calif.

After serving his sentence, Gordon went on to become a pioneer in web-based credit card transactions. From the Times:

He appears to have created and run many companies in the ’90s, though they were all related and shared office space, according to Mr. Peisner and other former employees. In addition to Electronic Card Systems and a related entity, Electronic Authorization Systems, Mr. Gordon was involved with magazine publishing, long-distance telephone service and an interior decorating company, among other pursuits.

In 1999, to take advantage of the dot-com gold rush, Mr. Gordon combined many of these companies into a single entity, CreditCards.com, according to a company press release at the time. But the company was having financial problems. Former employees say they remember paychecks occasionally bouncing and leased furniture being repossessed.

According to documents filed with the bankruptcy appellate panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Mr. Gordon brought in new partners from Nashville in 1999 and borrowed several million dollars from them, using his stock as collateral.

The documents, filed as part of litigation relating to business disputes at the company, say that when Mr. Gordon could not pay his partners back, they removed him. The company is now called iPayment and is based in Nashville.

Gordon may have been dumped, but he walked away from the litigation with $2 million in funds and many of his business relationships still intact. Among them was Paul Irwin, the head of the American Bible Society, and from 1996 to 2004 — chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States.

In his two decades preaching animal rights, Dr. Irwin, an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church, turned the Humane Society into the largest animal welfare charity in the world. But his tenure was also pockmarked by scandal.

USA Today reported in 1987 that the society spent $85,000 renovating Dr. Irwin’s vacation cabin in Maine. A decade later, a judge ordered the organization to pay $1 million to the Humane Society of Canada for soliciting donations in Canada and then transferring funds to the United States.

It was toward the end of his tenure, in April 2003, that Dr. Irwin first hired Mr. Gordon. Tax returns for the Humane Society show that the organization paid $881,000 to Mr. Gordon’s new venture, Exciting New Technologies.

In May 2003, according to a press release at the time, Mr. Gordon also hired Dr. Irwin’s son, Christopher, as director of business development at Exciting New Technologies. The younger Mr. Irwin could not be reached for comment, and it is not clear how long he worked there.

So, Paul Irwin, who was a key player in moving HSUS to its current business model of soliciting funds in the name of saving animals to drive direct mail campaigns used to raise money to lobby for the end of all use of animals… is the face behind SPCA International? And a convicted felon is one of his business associates? Lovely… According to the Times:

Mr. Gordon’s company designed the SPCA.com site, and James D. Winston, a longtime business associate of Mr. Gordon, is listed on tax documents as the organization’s executive director. SPCA International declined to make Mr. Winston available for an interview.

It’s not clear how much Mr. Gordon profits from his work on SPCA International. But the chief executives of petsupplies.com, an e-commerce partner listed on the SPCA.com site, and Pet-Togethers, an advertiser on the site, both say their company’s financial relationship is not with SPCA International but with a separate entity, the SPCA Foundation.

According to California corporate records, the foundation was registered as a for-profit company last August by Mr. Gordon’s lawyer, Mr. Woodlief.

As for SPCA International, Mr. Gordon appears to have no operational role there. Even so, the group is involved in a range of initiatives. Every few weeks, the SPCA International selects a “shelter of the week” from around the world and then asks for money for that shelter.

Four of five shelters that were awarded this distinction over the past two months say that they received a $1,000 check and a plaque for the honor — but not a percentage of any donations. The fifth shelter, Welfare of Our Furry Friends, in West Sacramento, Calif., says it received $48.

Hmmm… What percentage of SPCA International’s ‘Shelter of the Week’ proceeds do you suppose $48.00 represents? Given the shady background of key staff and the apparently tiny percentages of their funds that go to actually helping animals – we do not recommend that you you’d have to be a`fool to donate to SPCA International or their subsidiary, Operation Baghdad Pups.

What can you do to help? Donate your money – or your time – (or both) to a reputable local shelter or rescue group. There isn’t a single one who’s not in need of both.

What about the heart-breaking situation in Iraq? Given the circumstances, Iraq’s stray dog population obviously needs to be controlled. And considering the degree of violence and hardship the Iraqi people already have to deal with on a day to day basis - a humane death is, unfortunately, the only option available for most of these dogs. While I’d prefer to see them euthanized in a more humane way than being shot or poisoned – it’s difficult to say what else can be done. In a country where many of the schools, hospitals, streets and utilities have been destroyed by war – is it reasonable to ask people to fund shelters, capture/euthansia, or trap/neuter/release programs?

November 24, 2008 at 10:04 pm 11 comments

Waking up with Audie

funny-dog-pictures-with-captions-oh-good-your-up
From LOLDogs

November 23, 2008 at 3:40 pm 1 comment

World Philosophy Day

Hey – today is World Philosophy Day

brassai

To celebrate a photograph taken in 1944 after Picasso’s play “El deseo pillado por la cola” Standing from,left to right: Jacques Lacan, Cecile Eluard, Pierre Reverdy, Luoise Leiris, Pablo Picasso, Zanie de Campan, Valentine Hugo, Simone de Beauvoir, Brassaï. Sitting from left to right: Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Michel Leiris, Jean Aubier.


Rumor has it that the dog featured in the center of the photo was the true architect of the idea of the existential attitude – the sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world. As all good dog trainers know, this is a concept most dogs are quite familiar with.

November 21, 2008 at 3:35 am 4 comments

Stray Dog Saves Woman and Toddler

From a ZooToo story posted earlier this month:

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — The wandering 65-pound Pit Bull mix might have seemed menacing to some passerby, but one woman will always remember him as her “guardian angel.”

The dog, which authorities think is lost and not a stray, successfully thwarted a robbery attack on a mother and her 2-year-old son, who were held at knifepoint Monday afternoon.

hero

OMG! This fellow’s not only handsome – he’s a four-legged Guardian Angel!

“I don’t think the dog physically attacked the man, but he went at him and was showing signs of aggression, just baring his teeth and growling and barking. It was clear he was trying to defend this woman,” Animal Control Lt. Brian Jones told Pet Pulse.

“I don’t know what this man’s intentions were, but it is very possible this dog saved her life.”

The exceptional part of the story, Jones said, is that the dog had never met or even seen the people it quickly jumped to defend.

Because he was fit, healthy and well-mannered; animal control workers and shelter staff who are caring for the dog believe he was lost rather than abandoned. The woman that he rescued has said that she plans to adopt “Angel” if his owner doesn’t come forward to claim him.

November 21, 2008 at 12:27 am Leave a comment

What Really Controls MN Wolf Populations?

Parvovirus and the year 1978 will forever be bound together in my mind. That was the year I lost a kitten and my wonderful 5-year old pet Chinchilla to the disease. As soon as the kitten got sick I contacted my vet. He assured me that Chin wouldn’t catch the disease from Mandy… But a couple of days later my sweet boy sickened and then quickly died.

I never went back to that vet again. But – was it his fault my pet died or was Chin the victim of a newly mutated disease that had not affected chinchillas – or canids – before?

From today’s StarTribune:

About half of the wolf pups born in Minnesota each year are killed off by a highly contagious disease called canine parvovirus, according to new research published by a team of Minnesota researchers in a national journal.

The disease has stunted the growth of the state’s gray wolf population at a time when wolves are increasing rapidly in number and expanding their range in Wisconsin, Michigan and western states.

“That’s not happening in Minnesota, because there aren’t quite enough of these wolves to do more than just maintain the population,” said David Mech, senior research scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey and lead author of the study.

According to most sources, parvovirus first began to affect canine populations in 1978. Since it first appeared, canine parvovirus has spread to every continent in the world (except Antarctica – where dog teams are no longer used to protect seal populations from the disease). The virulent spread of the disease is partly related to its incredible hardiness. The bacterium is resistant to extreme hot and cold temperatures and it’s not harmed by detergents, alcohols or common disinfectants. Add to this the fact that it can be transmitted directly when an infected dog, its stool, or a flea that bit that infected dog comes in contact with a healthy dog and that virus particles also spread easily on shoes, hoofs, paws, clothing and other inanimate objects that come in contact with infected animals or their feces — and you have a pretty good recipe to create an epidemic.

Add to that the difficulty impossibility of keeping wild canid populations separated from domestic ones and of keeping them immunized against the disease – and frankly it’s a wonder they haven’t been wiped out already. And… not everyone agrees with Mech that parvo is the primary factor controlling Minnesota wolf populations. From the same StarTrib article:

It’s true that Minnesota’s wolf population grew steadily until the late 1990s and has stabilized over most of the past decade, said Stark, but disease may not play the largest role in keeping the population in check. Wolf pups also die of starvation and attacks by black bears and raptors, he said. An increase in roads and human interference also probably limit wolves from expanding into agricultural areas to the west and south, Stark said.

Before the agricultural and industrial revolutions, the natural dynamics in predator and prey relationships keep both types of species in balance. But that balance was dynamic – not static. One did not go to a specific area of – say the paleolithic midwestern prairie and find the same proportion of wolves to mule deer year in and year out. Some years wolf populations thrived and others deer populations thrived. And in some years – neither fared well.

That’s the thing with natural systems – they’re dynamic, not static. And it’s those changes in balance that create the interesting stuff – the mutations, the extinctions, the catastrophies and the discontinuities. For some reason modern humans seem to be obsessed not with that interesting dynamic stuff  that is the true basis for all the good and wonderful new things that arise in the universe – but with a bastardized form of static sameness that we think will insulate us from all risk.

So when things change, we freak out. Whether we need to or not.

And one of the things that’s changing in a big way right now are the dynamics controlling wolf populations in Minnesota. To get a handle on this first you need to understand that a wide range of factors interact to control wild animal populations and, like it or not, you also have to accept that today those factors are all affected by humans. For wolves, being hunted, exposed to the effects of habitat fragmentation, having a greater risk of disease, dealing with changes in prey animal populations and population densities, competing with other predators (including domestic dogs) for resources, dying as road kill and being trapped, poisoned or hunted as pests are all consequences of living in an ecosystem dominated by men.

So — is it really parvo that’s controlling wolf populations here in Minnesota - or is it an ecosystem that has been changed in nearly all aspects by man?

November 20, 2008 at 5:48 am 2 comments

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