Archive for May, 2010

Got Eggs?

Poor lonely little blog. I’ve been away so long I wonder if there’s anybody out there?

With weeks of fine spring weather and a fully functional right arm, I’ve been spending lots of time gardening, hiking, working dogs and focusing on other non-computer projects. Most of the garden is in and spring cleaning is mostly done, so I hope to get back to regular blogging this week.

Along with gardening and other chores I’ve also been doing a lot of cooking, which leads to this morning’s non-dog-related post.

With summer weather and almost 16 hours of daylight, each of the girls has been laying an egg almost every day. This means that we’re getting about four dozen eggs a week – a lot more than we typically use and consequently I’ve been looking for ways to use them up. With a bit of experimentation, I came up with a winner this week – Freezer French Toast. It’s simple to make, the recipe uses up a dozen eggs, it stores well – and the results are delicious.

Freezer French Toast

*   Two loaves of day-old bread (raisin bread is best if you can get it)
. (save the bags the bread came in)
*   A dozen medium to large eggs
*   1/2 Cup milk
*   1/2 Cup maple syrup
*   1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*   2 teaspoons cinnamon
*   1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*   Oil of your choice (I used bacon fat)

Mix all ingredients except bread in a flat-bottomed container large enough to set a slice of bread in.

Heat a large fry pan or griddle – the bigger the better, as you’re making a large batch. I used a griddle set at 350F.

Oil griddle, dip slices of bread in batter to coat both sides and fry about 3 minutes on each side or until browned.

Cool slices on a rack. This is perhaps the most important step in the process because if you cool them on paper towels or a plate, they’ll get soggy and icky. Leave the slices on the rack (I used the shelves from my oven, they worked just fine) until they’ve cooled to room temperature. Then spread them out in a single layer on cookie sheets and put them in the freezer. In about four hours they should be frozen solid. Put the frozen slices back into the bread bags, close them up and store in the freezer.

To prepare, turn your toaster up high and pop them in. With the raisins, cinnamon and syrup in the recipe – these were great as finger food fresh out of the toaster with nothing on them at all. They were absolutely scrumptious covered in applesauce.

May 31, 2010 at 8:42 am 10 comments

Good Things

Still busy and somewhat lacking in inspiration so here’s a bit of linky goodness:

Lab Rat’s excellent diatribe on closed registries

Heather Houlahan on how to become a dog trainer

CarpeK9 on killing dogs

Lou Reed and his wife Laurie Anderson compose and play high frequency music for dogs

… and, just in case you needed it –

Further proof that squirrels are evil

May 18, 2010 at 10:54 pm 4 comments

Small Wonders

On Sunday a small group of people and dogs gathered at our place. This is not an unusual thing, many dozens of similar groups have met at our place in the five short years we’ve been here.

This may look like a typical group of happy dogs and dog owners –  but it’s not. All the dogs in this picture are alumni or current fosters with National English Shepherd Rescue and all but two of them are members of the infamous Montana English Shepherds.

Less than a year ago, these dogs were still be held as evidence in an animal cruelty case. Today they’re all living in homes in and around the Twin Cities area. And while most of them still have a few issues to work on (don’t we all!), these dogs and their owners have accomplished incredible things.

I had a marvelous time meeting and working with everyone, but the part of the experience that will stick with me will be Stanley (the handsome blond boy on the far left). Stanley crawled in flat on his belly and shaking like a leaf – but based, I’m sure, on months of patient loving help from his foster mom Nancy – he recovered and found the courage to not just to sit up tall and straight in a room full of strange people and dogs, but to smile for the camera.

We worked a bit. We talked a lot. We made new friends and we plan to do it again.

Of course I couldn’t resist the chance to fit in a bit of training. Here I am trying to get Louie to work for a treat:

Louie is being very polite, but (like nearly all the Montana dogs) he’s telling me he just simply can’t take treats from a stranger. That’s okay. There are a lot of tools in my training bag.

Here I am introducing Louie to the e-collar.  Note how even with my assistant’s nose up his butt, Louie’s more engaged with me in this picture. I’m using very soft pressure with the collar combined with subtle body language and verbal encouragement to communicate with Louie. I was able to show his owner how to accomplish this in just a matter of minutes.

Louie lives on a farm near us and his owner would like to be comfortable giving him more off leash freedom. I suspect that more e-collar training will be in his future.

Chuckie, who earned a reputation as a Horrid Little Dog in Montana shows he’s not so horrid any more. Chuckie *hearts* his e-collar.
Many thanks to Miare Connolly for the wonderful pictures. And thanks to every one (two- and four-legged) who joined us. We had a wonderful time!

May 17, 2010 at 10:55 pm 7 comments

The first second

Of Audie’s life is posted here.

Happy third birthday sweet boy.

May 9, 2010 at 7:54 pm Leave a comment

Pure Paranoia

According to Wikipedia:

The term paranoia was derived from the Greek term Paranous, which roughly meant “beyond the mind”. It was used to describe a mental illness in which a delusional belief is the sole or most prominent feature. In original attempt at classifying different forms of mental illness, Kraepelin used the term pure paranoia to describe a condition where a delusion was present, but without any apparent deterioration in intellectual abilities and without any of the other features of dementia praecox, the condition later renamed “schizophrenia”. Notably, in his definition, the belief does not have to be persecutory to be classified as paranoid, so any number of delusional beliefs can be classified as paranoia.

I thought that the term paranoia only referred to an intense delusional belief that people or institutions are conspiring against you. I did not know that the word originally referred to a broad spectrum of limited delusional beliefs.

Can social animals suffer from paranoia? Unlike us, they cheerfully nurse their young in the middle of a herd, regularly engage in public sex and sometimes defecate at the dinner table. When one considers these kinds of animal behavior, they certainly don’t appear to suffer from the same hangups about being judged by others that we do.

I watched a doe nursing her fawn from my deck yesterday. They were a hundred yards away so I watched the little family through binoculars. They looked calm and happy, and I doubt they were aware of being watched.

While staring at a human mother nursing her child would have been unspeakably rude, my observation of the deer was a sweet moment, the kind we enjoy a lot in our home in the woods. And while I was careful not to disturb the deer’s peace and tranquility – did I violate their rights?

As quoted recently in Science Daily:

Dr Brett Mills from the University of East Anglia argues that while wildlife programmes can play a vital role in engaging citizens in environmental debates, in order to ‘do good’ they must inevitably deny many species the right to privacy.

That’s right, Dr. Mills believes that animals have an inalienable right to privacy.

Call me speciesist if you like, but I have a hard time taking this seriously when there are human beings in the world who are still fighting for their basic needs and rights.

I’m further annoyed because I suspect that Dr. Mills’ opinions have more to do with his own pecksniffian ideas about oppression and fairness than with a sincere concern for how living, breathing, thinking animals really feel though, ironically, Mills himself points out the fact that animals don’t understand the concept of privacy the same way that we do:

Unlike human activities, a distinction of the public and the private is not made in the animal world. There are many activities which animals engage in which are common to wildlife documentary stories but which are rendered extremely private in the human realm; mating, giving birth, and dying are recurring characteristics in nature documentaries, but the human version of these activities remains largely absent from broadcasting.

Dr Mills said: “It might at first seem odd to claim that animals might have a right to privacy. Privacy, as it is commonly understood, is a culturally human concept. The key idea is to think about animals in terms of the public/private distinction. We can never really know if animals are giving consent, but they often do engage in forms of behaviour which suggest they’d rather not encounter humans, and we might want to think about equating this with a desire for privacy.

“When confronted with such ‘secretive’ behaviour the response of the wildlife documentary is to read it as a challenge to be overcome with the technologies of television. The question constantly posed by wildlife documentaries is how animals should be filmed: they never ask whether animals should be filmed at all.”

Wild animals don’t avoid the proximity of people because they’re worried about what we think of them. That kind of neurosis (or paranoia) is uniquely human.  They avoid us because we’re weird and unpredictable and potentially dangerous. They avoid us because they don’t want to have to watch out for us, not because they’re uncomfortable being watched.

Animals are a wonderful PR tool for people like Mills. If he took on a real human cause he might inadvertently choose an individual or group that disagreed with his ideas. They might even (horror of horrors) take their cause up for themselves thus eliminating the need for a savior cum spokesmodel.  Animals, on the other hand, are perfect political pawns because they can’t talk and they can’t liberate, or even lobby for, themselves. Unlike human victims, animal victims need a human agent to speak for them and decide what’s best for them.

And therein lies the rub. I suspect that Mills’ campaign, like many others in the animal rights movement, is based more on massaging his ego and whoring for publicity than in mindful consideration to the kinds of things that are really important to animals.

It’s pure paranoia.

May 7, 2010 at 7:16 pm 6 comments

Life’s hard

When you’re a fat dog

Part of a new campaign for Chilean lo-cal dog food. It may be amusing but the scene is not presented accurately. Not only are the happy couple doing it missionary instead of doggy style, in my experience canine voyeurs typically react more like drunken frat boys than forlorn, pensive cuckolds.

May 6, 2010 at 8:08 pm 5 comments

This is not an English Shepherd

They don’t come in merle 😉

May 3, 2010 at 10:05 pm 7 comments

Because A Dog’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste


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May 2010