Saturday, June 23, 2018

Kitchen Coffee Table Book

I picked this book up in an art museum gift shop, of all places. Its 670 pages packed full of dog pictures and was only $20. You can that same deal here.

The Street Dog That Circled the Earth

In 1957, a Soviet street dog named Laika launched into space aboard Sputnik-2 and became the first animal to orbit the Earth. This is her story.

Trash Panda Has Skillz

Targeted Advertising?

Some unfortunate turns in my life made Facebook think this was the right ad for me.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Not funny. Dangerous.

The dog toy aisle in pet stores kills dogs and costs this nation a billion dollars a year.

Veterinary bills of thousands of dollars a dog are racked up as balls, squeek toys, and rawhide chews get consumed and lodged in canine stomachs, and teeth are shattered on splintering deer antlers.

George Will Says Throw the Republican Bums Out

“Amid the carnage of Republican misrule in Washington, there is this glimmer of good news: The family-shredding policy along the southern border, the most telegenic recent example of misrule, clarified something. Occurring less than 140 days before elections that can reshape Congress, the policy has given independents and temperate Republicans — these are probably expanding and contracting cohorts, respectively — fresh if redundant evidence for the principle by which they should vote. The principle: The congressional Republican caucuses must be substantially reduced." — GEORGE WILL

A Metaphor for the Nation?

I had to pick up some meds at Rite Aid and someone had hit this column which looks like it’s about to fall and take the front of the store with it. On close inspection, however, I discover it’s made out of STYROFOAM. Not kidding. The same kind of Styrofoam hey make the cheapest coolers out of.

A Bark Collar For Your Rooster?

Unending barking has probably resulted in the death of more dogs than any other canine behavior.

As true as that statement is for dogs, it's worse for male chickens. Where backyard chickens are allowed, roosters are generally prohibited due to their crowing.  That means any male chick that slips through the imperfect sexing job done at the hatchery is likely to lose its head at a very young age. 

In the world of dogs, electronic bark collars have saved a lot of canine lives by sending a small static shock to dogs when they bark for more than a second or two. Bark collars work like new money, and cost very little to boot.

But what about chickens?  Is there a "bark collar" for Chanticleer?

Not until now.  But something new and quite simple has come along, and apparently it works. 

NO CROW Rooster Collars work by diminishing the force behind roosters' crows. Reserves of air from air sacs (in addition to their lungs) are expelled all at once when they crow. When the NO CROW Rooster Collar is worn snugly around the neck (like a belt is worn around the waist) it tends to limit the force of the air and makes the crow quieter.

Collar fit matters, and the company instructs purchasers how to measure their pet roosters. Five different sizes of Rooster Collars are sold. The contraption itself is a small cloth cuff, 6-10" around, that closes with velcro.  The NO CROW collar can even be fitted with a bow tie for the ultimate in pet rooster fashion!

The web site says the "NO CROW Rooster Collar does not inhibit normal eating, breathing, or physical activities including preening, dust bathing and mating when used as directed."

I have not used the thing myself  (no chickens here) but would love to hear reports of success or failure in the comments.

British Class Signaling and Dog Ownership

"Etiquette expert" William Hanson writes about the sniffing pretensions and class distinctions of dog ownership in Britain:

As with humans, there is a social hierarchy when it comes to the dog world, too.

At the top of the social scale are Labradors, particularly black ones (yellow ones don't have the same cachet). Smart breeds also include Jack Russells, terriers, King Charles spaniels, Springer Spaniels, whippets and (of course) corgis. (It was The Queen's father, King George VI, who first developed a penchant for the breed.)

The uppers traditionally felt it was preferable to have a 'working' dog (even if it doesn't actually 'work') so maximum social brownie points if your dog is actually used for shoots and hunts.

The Dalmatians, English setter, golden retriever, Weimaraner and rottweiler breeds place your pet (and you) as upper middle class, whereas rougher haired terriers, great danes, wolfhounds, red setters and Cocker Spaniels are more mainstream middle class - largely due to the slightly pretty, more cuddly appearance and temperament.

The lower middle class usually hate all dogs - so have none - on account of the smell.

New money (i.e. celebrities and folk who used to be termed barrow boys) will usually have small, low-maintenance dogs like Yorkshire terriers, poodles, West Highland terriers and chihuahuas and see them more as accessories rather than practically, like the upper classes and gentry.

Meghan Markle's beagle, Guy, will be a good and appropriate addition to the canine cognoscenti when she marries into the British royal family in May.

It is reported that her other dog, a Lab-shepherd mix, will have to stay behind in the USA, for reasons that are unknown. (Perhaps as it's not pedigree?)

The upper classes will usually always prefer a pedigree specimen.

There are top drawer owners who have mongrels (to rhyme with 'dung') but they may outwardly lie in smart places and say that the dogs are lurchers.

Lower class households may have mongrels, too (but these rhyme with 'long').

For the record, both of Meghan Markle's dogs are rescues, and the larger older mix-breed (named Bogart) has health issues. Because of his age and health, Ms. Markle opted to leave Bogart in Canada with a friend and care giver that the dog has known his entire life. 

The lesson to learnThe Daily Mail is in the business of selling stories, not telling the whole and complicated truth.  Why let facts get in the way?

What Kind of Country Is Trump Creating?

Time magazine asks, After Trump's Border Separation Policy: What Kind of Country Are We?

Presidents have many jobs, and one is telling us who we are.

For the first 240 years of U.S. history, at least, our most revered chief executives reliably articulated a set of high-minded, humanist values that bound together a diverse nation by naming what we aspired to: democracy, humanity, equality. The Enlightenment ideals Thomas Jefferson etched onto the Declaration of Independence were given voice by Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama.

Donald Trump doesn’t talk like that. In the 18 months since his Inauguration, Trump has mentioned “democracy” fewer than 100 times, “equality” only 12 times and “human rights” just 10 times. The tallies, drawn from, a searchable online agglomeration of 5 million of Trump’s words, contrast with his predecessors’: at the same point in his first term, Ronald Reagan had mentioned equality three times as often in recorded remarks, which included 48 references to human rights, according to the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Trump embraces a different set of values. He speaks often of patriotism, albeit in the narrow sense of military duty, or as the kind of loyalty test he’s made to NFL players. He also esteems religious liberty and economic vitality. But American’s 45th President is “not doing what rhetoricians call that ‘transcendent move,'” says Mary E. Stuckey, a communications professor at Penn State University and author of Defining Americans: The Presidency and National Identity. Instead, with each passing month he is testing anew just how far from our founding humanism his “America first” policies can take us. And over the past two months on our southern border, we have seen the result.

On April 6, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero tolerance” policy toward those crossing illegally into the U.S. from Mexico. In mere weeks, over 2,000 children were taken from their parents and held, alone, sometimes behind chain-link fences, under the cold care of the federal government. In Texas, three “tender age” centers were set up for detained toddlers and infants. Incessant wails of “Mamá” and “Papá” were heard on audio from a Customs and Border Protection detention center. An advocate told of a child being led away from her mother crying so hard she vomited. In a case mocked by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, the child taken from a parent was a 10-year-old with Down syndrome.

The reality on the southern U.S. border was so difficult to reconcile with Americans’ vision of themselves that Trump did not even make the effort. The President’s first mention of the order to separate children from their parents was a May 26 Twitter post calling it “horrible” even though he had personally authorized it. Three weeks later, his motives were fully in the open: by driving attention to the border, his signature campaign issue, Trump aimed to force a vote on his long-promised border wall before midterm elections can undo the GOP majority in Congress.

The attention part certainly worked. A week after his return from the June 12 summit with North Korea’s dictator, family separation dominated the national conversation like no other political story since former FBI chief James Comey was shown the door. A steadily building wave of revulsion washed over the political spectrum, from MSNBC to the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal to Franklin Graham and into the White House living quarters, when a spokeswoman for the First Lady said she called for “a country that governs with heart.”

Which leaves us facing a question: What kind of country are we? The world has been nervously asking that since November 2016. And while Trump ultimately capitulated on the forced separation of children, his new order suggested that families would be detained not only together, but perhaps indefinitely. For many Americans, the forced separation of immigrant families left them looking into the void from which the brutal policy emerged: the dark space left by the words Trump does say.

In the first days of the Trump Administration, the State Department moved to drop two words—just and democratic—from the list of qualities the U.S. sought to promote beyond its borders. The change did not go through, but the effort signaled a retreat from idealism that is re-ordering the world. In the name of “America first,” a slogan that first surfaced to keep America out of World War II, Trump is angrily sawing away at the global structures the U.S. spent decades building after prevailing in that conflict, which left America not only as the globe’s only intact major economic power, but also holding the moral high ground. Imperfect in myriad ways (lynching was still common in 1945; women had been allowed to vote for just a quarter-century), the U.S. looked plenty good beside the Third Reich and Imperial Japan, and vowed to do better. In a postwar world divided between the West and communism, America assumed the role of beacon. Presidents spoke relentlessly of democracy, humanitarianism and universal rights....

....What’s lost in Trump’s approach is any expectation of higher purpose. He makes no apology for lavishing praise on authoritarian leaders that past U.S. Presidents dealt with at arm’s length—Egypt’s Abdul Fattah al-Sisi (“somebody that’s been very close to me from the first time I met him”), the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte (“great relationship”) and Russia’s “strong leader” Vladimir Putin. When China’s Xi Jinping announced he would be President for life, placing 1.4 billion people deeper under government control, Trump offered congratulations.

American deference to authoritarian rulers now extends even into the nation’s capital. When Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan directed his security detail to beat protesters in full view of the press on a Washington, D.C., street on May 16, 2017, there were no consequences. Federal charges against his bodyguards were dropped in March, a day before Erdogan was scheduled to meet with Trump’s Secretary of State.

The story we tell the world is also the story we tell ourselves. Trump began June by blowing up the G-7 gathering of the world’s leading democracies by refusing to sign a joint statement endorsing “shared values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and our commitment to promote a rules-based international order.” He slapped tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union, advised France to drop out of the E.U., and urged Germans to support right-wing anti-immigrant parties intent on deposing Chancellor Angela Merkel. The leaders of France and Canada replied by citing “values,” but Trump had moved on to Singapore, where he praised North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un, whose regime actively operates a network of gulags, as “a funny guy … very smart … his country does love him. You see the fervor.”....

....“Without a Border, you don’t have a Country,” the President wrote on June 19. Everyone knows that. The question is, what kind of country?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

My Letter to Paul Manafort

Mr. Paul Manafort
Inmate number 00045343
Northern Neck Regional Jail
PO Box 1-60
Warsaw VA 22572

Dear Mr. Manafort:

There is nothing to be done about the past, but the good news is that every day is a new day and a new opportunity to change direction.

I suspect you know that most religions have some element of confession to them. Confession is not a weakness, but a strength -- it means you are tough enough to face what you did and to atone for it.

No, it is not fun. Yes, it is humbling. But it is not a weakness.

Can you take what comes next? I don’t know. Probably -- at least for a time.

You are smart and a hell of a salesman. You made your living in the persuasion business. But be careful; your intelligence and ability to rationalize and “talk pretty” are no longer a super power that will hold you in good stead. You may be able to kid yourself (always the easiest person to fool) but you are not going to be able to turn a judge, a jury, or the seasoned federal prosecutors that are now riding out against you.

So what now?

Who is your client?

What should be your goal?

Let me make it simple: your family is your client.

They need you to make choices that obviate your spending the rest of your life in prison.

You know what to do. It’s not a weakness, but a strength. If it is not the last thing you do, it is the most important thing you can do for your family at this critical time.


(name and address)

Trump Is Saving Us From the Aliens?

Watch This. Worth It. I Promise.

This is the most AMAZING ad, story, narrative, and production I have ever seen in a political ad.

The Accidental God

From a letter of Charles Darwin to Charles Lyell, April 1860:

I must say one more word about our quasi-theological controversy about natural selection, and let me have your opinion when we meet in London. Do you consider that the successive variations in the size of the crop of the Pouter Pigeon, which man has accumulated to please his caprice, have been due to ‘the creative and sustaining powers of Brahma?’ In the sense that an omnipotent and omniscient Deity must order and know everything, this must be admitted; yet, in honest truth, I can hardly admit it. It seems preposterous that a maker of a universe should care about the crop of a pigeon solely to please man’s silly fancies. But if you agree with me in thinking such an interposition of the Deity uncalled for, I can see no reason whatever for believing in such interpositions in the case of natural beings, in which strange and admirable peculiarities have been naturally selected for the creature’s own benefit. Imagine a Pouter in a state of nature wading into the water and then, being buoyed up by its inflated crop, sailing about in search of food. What admiration this would have excited — adaptation to the laws of hydrostatic pressure, etc., etc. For the life of me I cannot see any difficulty in natural selection producing the most exquisite structure, if such structure can be arrived at by gradation, and I know from experience how hard it is to name any structure towards which at least some gradations are not known.

Ever yours,

C. Darwin.

Darwin's point, of course, is that Mother Nature and Father Time create variance.  Most of the time the variance is of no use and disappears back into the genetic morass.  Sometimes, however, the variance has a utility and, after the fact, we create a story to assume that the need created the variance rather than the variance created the opportunity.  What is assumed to be intelligent design is, in fact, dumb luck whose odds are quite good as they are magnified by deep time and the fecundity of life.

Teddy Roosevelt's White House Zoo

Teddy with baby Josiah and adult Josiah with young Archie Roosevelt.

President Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-1909 had a veritable zoo at the White House, including:

  • Bleistein, Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite horse
  • Renown, Roswell, Rusty, Jocko Root, Grey Dawn, Wyoming and Yagenka, all horses
  • General and Judge, carriage horses
  • Algonquin, Archie Roosevelt’s Shetland pony
  • Pete, a bull terrier
  • Rollo, a Saint Bernard
  • Sailor Boy, a Chesapeake Bay retriever
  • Blackjack (Jack), a Manchester terrier
  • Skip, a terrier from John Goff
  • Manchu, Alice Roosevelt’s Pekingese
  • Emily Spinach, Alice Roosevelt’s snake
  • Snakes belonging to Quentin Roosevelt
  • Eli Yale, a Hyacinth macaw belonging to Quentin Roosevelt
  • Tom Quartz, a cat
  • Slippers, a cat
  • Josiah, a badger
  • Peter, a rabbit
  • Two Kangaroo Rats
  • A Flying squirrel
  • Guinea pigs named Admiral Dewey, Dr. Johnson, Bob Evans, Bishop Doan, and Father O’Grady

Also in and quickly out of the White House were gift animals: a lion, a hyena, a wildcat, a coyote, five bears, two parrots, a zebra, a barn owl, a lizard, roosters, a hen, a pig, and a raccoon.

Teddy and Rollo

The Pedigree of Pedigree

The world "pedigree" comes from the french "pied de grue," as branching family tree diagrams were thought to resemble a crane's foot

The English surname Pettigrew has the same origin as pedigree. Harry Potter fans might recall that Peter Pettigrew took care of Voldmort (the devil himself) and that he later hid himself as Ron's rat, Scabbers.

Darwin's Tree of Life,

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Sometimes the Sheep Herd the Dog

This Was the 1933 London Dog License Amnesty

This was the scene at the 1933 London dog license amnesty.

Just six year later, people were lining up to have their pets killed prior to an expected German invasion. More than 750,000 pets were killed in a week as the RSPCA and People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals panicked people about food shortages and widespread violence they said were sure to come on the heels of an imminent German troop landing.

A German landing, of course, never happened.

Are You In Your Skinner Box on Your Way to Work?

A nice combination of CHEESE AND CHOKE CHAINS harnessed to AWARENESS.

This is Nobel Prize-quality law enforcement.

Every car is a Skinner box.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Country Has Lost Its Morality

If this is your idea of Christianity, you don’t know much about Jesus or the Gospels.

As a nominal Methodist, I am proud of the headline below.

As an American, however, I am ashamed at all those who stand silent or support this fascist and unnecessary policy. 

Tough American Women

An American grandmother
was attacked by a rabid bobcat and strangled it to death with her bare hands.

DeDe Phillips, of Hart County, Georgia was taking a picture of a new bumper sticker on her truck when the neighbor's dog frantically begin to bark. When she looked up, the Bobcat was just steps away, and then it jumped on her. "It came for my face,” she told the Athens Banner-Herald.

It caught me slightly on my face, but I got him before he could do much damage there. I took it straight to the ground and started inching my hands up to its throat. I knew that was the only way I was getting out of this.

Phillips squeezed the cat’s neck, forcing herself not to scream in case her 5-year-old granddaughter came outside.

When the Bobcat appeared lifeless, Phillips yelled for her daughter-in-law and told her to call 911. In quick order her son arrived with a gun and a knife, but the bobcat was stone dead -- choked to death by Ms. Phillips.

Deputies with the Hart County Sheriff’s Office eventually arrived but Ms. Phillips drove herself to the local hospital. There, she was treated for a broken finger, as well as claw and bite marks to her chest, arms, hands, and and legs.

And what did that bumper sticker she was putting on her truck say?

Believe it or not:

"Women who behave rarely make history.”

True Tales from the Suburbs

There Be Dragons

The story is as the headline says:
For the second time in barely more than a year, an Indonesian villager has been swallowed whole by a python.

Wa Tiba, 54, left her home on Muna island to visit her cornfield Thursday night, according to the Jakarta Post.

The field was about a half mile from her house, surrounded by cliffs, caves and a certain number of reticulated pythons, the longest snakes in the world.

The snakes normally feed on smaller mammals. Attacks on humans are supposed to be as rare as winning the lottery and being struck by lightning at the same time, as Amy B Wang wrote in a Washington Post report. Nevertheless, just such a horror took place on an adjacent island last year, when a man's body was extracted from a 23-foot-long python, in an incident captured for a gruesome YouTube video.

Tiba had been concerned about wild boars, not so much snakes, as she walked through her cornfield that night, the Jakarta Post reported. The pigs had been raiding the crops lately, thus the inspection.

When she had not returned by sunrise, her sister went to the field to look for her.

She found only Tiba's footprints, her flashlight, her machete and slippers.

In the morning on Friday, about 100 people from the village of Persiapan Lawela combed the fields, Agence France-Presse reported.

They found the snake a few dozen yards from Tiba's belongings. It was 23 feet long and so bloated it could barely move. A long bulge midway down its body had a foreboding look to it.

The villagers killed the snake and laid it out on the ground. The villagers crowded around it, clamoring and crying, with some making videos as a man knelt and carefully cut across the bulge with a machete.

He parted the snake flesh, and the result was much as it had been on the other island a year earlier. Tiba lay intact inside the snake, clothed just as she had been when she went to check the corn.

British Bobbies Can't Catch a Cold

According to The Sunday Times in London, only four percent of robberies in England and Wales in 2017 were solved. Only three percent of burglaries were solved. In short, thieves and robbers can pretty much go at it with impunity.

Here in the US, I think the numbers are not much better. I ask all the time, and NO ONE feels safer when a police car is behind them, and NO ONE has ever told me they had stolen stuff returned to them by the police.

Suffice it to say that in both countries, Sherlock Holmes is on the fiction shelf.

Fresh Out of the Bath

The wee terrorists, fresh out of the bath and drying off in the greenhouse.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Dog Man, the Dick Russell Story

This movie is about Dick Russell or, as the blurb says: "A story about the life and legacy of a Louisiana dog trainer, and the global footprint he left after training an estimated 30,000 dogs."

Available for your TV pleasure from Amazon.

French Bulldogs Overtake Labradors in the UK

The Kennel Club reports that the #1 registered dog in the U.K. is a french mutant with serious health issues:

Kennel Club warns people about the welfare impact of bad breeders cashing in on the latest trend

  • French Bulldogs have overtaken the Labrador Retriever as the UK’s most popular dog breed for the first time since records began
  • French Bulldog, owned by celebrities, has seen an astronomical 2964 per cent increase in the last ten years and is likely to be 2018’s top dog – a title held by the Labrador for almost three decades
  • Kennel Club warns that people buying the breed on a whim and without awareness of health concerns could lead to a welfare crisis
  • Puppy buyers urged to consider a wider variety of breeds, including the UK’s ‘forgotten breeds’ at risk of disappearing because their numbers are so low.
The French Bulldog, a breed favoured by celebrities such as the Beckhams, Lady Gaga and Hugh Jackman, has overtaken the Labrador Retriever as the UK’s most popular breed of dog, according to statistics released by the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club.

In the first quarter of 2018 there were 8,403 French Bulldog puppy registrations, compared to 7,409 for the Labrador. This represents a 23 per cent uplift on the first quarter of 2017, whereas Labrador numbers have only risen by 7 percent in the same period. This is the first time that the French Bulldog has topped Labrador registrations in any quarter and if the trend continues the Kennel Club forecasts that the breed will be the most popular dog breed in the UK by the end of 2018.

The popularity of the breed has seen an unprecedented rise in recent years, with a 44 per cent increase from 2016 to 2017 alone and a staggering 2,964 per cent increase over the last ten years (2008 to 2017).

The Labrador has been the most popular dog breed in the UK since 1990 – the year it overtook the Yorkshire Terrier.

The Kennel Club is concerned that the dramatic increase in numbers of French Bulldogs – a favourite with celebrities and advertisers – is due to people choosing the breed because of how it looks and because it is considered to be a fashionable choice, rather than because it is the most suitable breed for their lifestyle.

Furthermore, Kennel Club registrations only account for around 30 per cent of the total population of dogs in the UK. Amongst the undocumented and unregistered French Bulldogs will be many that have been brought into the country illegally from Eastern Europe and those that have been bred by puppy farmers.

Dogs from such backgrounds will often have serious health problems due to poor welfare conditions and this is even more concerning in the French Bulldog, which is a flat faced (brachycephalic) breed. This means that it can be affected by health problems related to its breathing.

The Kennel Club, of course, is entirely responsible for this turn of events. These folks, after all, continue to embrace standards for deformed dogs, continue to give ribbons to deformed dogs, continues to give zero points to health, and continue to mandate breeding dogs within a closed registry.

The Kennel Club's message is not that these dogs are MONSTERS and should be banned and outlawed as continuing animal cruelty, but to repeat the fiction that there are "good ones" out there and you can find them by going to an "assured" Kennel Club breeder. 

It is, of course, pure bullshit (pun intended).  The dog pictured at top is from a Kennel Club preferred breeder web site!

Want to Take a Picture Deep in A Den Pipe?

This waterproof WiFi wireless endoscopic camera gives you 9 feet of flexibility to photograph in the dark, and it's available in the Boing Boing store for $39.99

This is the type of "poop shute" camera a doctor might use to peek inside a patient.  It streams 1080p HD footage straight to your smartphone via WiFi. Its IP68 waterproof rating makes it ideal for working in damp areas like drains, and the eight powerful LEDs let you see in dark spaces. Compatible with Mac, PC, iOS, and Android.

Neverthess, She Persisted

Neverthess, she persisted.

On this day in 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor. Designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, this massive statue became a symbol of freedom and opportunity to immigrants arriving from overseas.

Today, America seems to have lost the plot, and it is with great sadness, and considerable alarm and fear, that we now now find that we live in a country where immigrant children are being ripped from their mothers and fathers under the pretext of them being "sent for a shower". General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and the National Security Agency, notes that one other country used to do this:

Will liberty persist? My bet is yes. But it is not inevitable. Fascism and hate, the building blocks of death camps, mass killings, and civil rights abuse, have reared their heads in every culture and at every time in recorded history. It can come here, and it is here in the form of Donald Trump and his enablers in his family, White House, and Administration, to say nothing of the cringing cowards on Capitol Hill, the press corps, and in the Republican party.

Which way to the death camps? This way. This way....

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s day to all the stud dogs out there. You know who you are.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Before There Were Mobility Scooters

Max J. Engle and his dog Carlo. "Max lost his legs in an accident on the D. L. & W Railroad in 1890. This photo was taken to commemorate a trip made by Carol and Max from Buffalo to New York City. At the time of this photo, Carlo had been pulling Max's cart for five years." Source.

A Blind Man and His Dog?

This illustration is from the 1300's and I wonder if it's supposed to be humour as the "dog" looks suspiciously like a fox.


Ella Fitzgerald singing at Mr. Kelly’s, Chicago, 1958, photos by Yale Joel.

Cerberus on the Chain

From a castle in Warsaw.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

President Tyler's Wolfhounds?

Dogs from different ends of the sight hound scale.

Over at the Presidential Pet Museum web site they tell us that:

President John Tyler (1841-1845) took over the Presidency upon the unexpected death of President William Henry Harrison. Like preceding Presidents, John and his wife Julia had pets during the Presidency, including a pair of Irish Wolfhounds.

Irish Wolfhounds are huge dogs, standing at a minimum of 30 inches and clocking in at roughly 105-120 pounds. Luckily for the Tylers (and the White House staff) these dogs are “gentle giants” and generally non-aggressive.

The Tylers’ Wolfhounds had to be imported from Ireland, and were a gift from John to his wife Julia. They must have been a quiet pair, as they received little lasting attention from the media or historians. Which is good for the Tylers, but makes it impossible to locate much information about them.


That might be because Tyler did not import Irish Wolfhounds from Ireland for his wife but Italian Greyhounds from Italy. One dog weighs 125 pounds or so, the other less than 10.

The young Julia Tyler (she was a 25-year First Lady, while her husband was 51) had the very first dog (named LeBeau) to actually live in the White House:

As the opening of the new season approached with the return of Congress in early December, the First Lady busied herself with last-minute preparations for her "auspicious reign." She persuaded the President to obtain for her an Jtalian greyhound, a fashionable breed she believed would add Continental sophistication to the decor of her Court. Tyler dutifully placed an order for the animal through the American consul in Naples.

Two Presidents actually did have Irish Wolfhounds, at least for a time: Herbert Hoover and JFK.

Julia Gardiner Tyler was the first First Lady to be photographed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

American Rabbits Are Not Walt Disney Rabbits

Baby Eastern cottontail rabbits in a typical scrape nest. 

Proof that most Americans spend far too little time in field and forest is the startling level of ignorance about American rabbits and hares. It seems most people know more about the rabbits of Watership Down and Warner Bros. cartoons ("Shhhhh, we're waa-bit hunting!") than they do the living, breathing bunnies that live in the parks and pastures within walking distance of their homes.

First the simple fact: No North American rabbit or hare dens underground. Though there are a lot of rabbit species in North America, all are "cottontails" -- various species and subspecies of the Sylvilagus genus.

No species of Cottontail Rabbit digs earth dens like its European counterpart, nor do North American rabbits or hares have their young underground. The North American rabbit (Sylvilagus genus) is not closely related to its European counterpart (Oryctolagus genus) -- they split from each other hundreds of thousands of years ago.

This is not to say a rabbit will not tuck itself under an old truck, under a pallet of wood near a barn, or between hay bales, especially in the presence of dogs or humans. They will also dive into a groundhog hole to avoid a dog or to get out of the weather if a really strong storm sweeps in, but they do not dig the holes, nor do they enter them very deeply, nor do they stay in the mouth of a hole for very long.

While European rabbits make permanent communal burrows, North American rabbits make solitary (and well-concealed) "scrapes" on the surface of the soil. These scrapes (sometimes called "forms") are 6 or 7 inches long, about 5 inches wide, and about four inches deep. They are often shielded from view by tall grass and weeds. The mother rabbit will pull her own belly fur out in order to line the scrape and further hide the young (see picture, above). The mother rabbits will generally avoid the scrape during daylight hours when she might be seen, returning only under cover of darkness to feed her young. The baby rabbits, which are born without fur and with shut eyes, will be covered with fur and have open eyes in about 2 weeks, when they will begin to leave the nest and eat vegetation on their own.

The nesting density of cottontails is habitat-specific. In an unkempt orchard with thick grass you might find one rabbit next every 2 acres, while densities are likely to be about one nest per 7 acres in a rich hayfield, and 13 to 14 acres per nest in woodlands and dry rocky pasture.

A home range of three or four acres is very common for cottontails which, if chased, will stay within their home ranges rather than bolt cross country.

North America has hares too -- most of them we call "jack rabbits." Jack Rabbits and Snowshoe Hares are larger than most cottontails, have much larger ears, and are also faster. Unlike baby rabbits, which spend two or three weeks helpless in their nests, hares are born fully furred, eyes open, and ready to run "right out of the box". Hares build no nests of any sort.

Rabbits and Hares are "lagomorphs" -- a kind of primitive placental mammal dating back to the Paleocene times, about 62 million years ago in Asia. Along with rabbits and hares, this Order also includes the Pikas we find in the western US.

Lagomorphs practice "coprophagy" -- i.e. they eat their own feces. "First pass", rabbit pellets are greenish in color and are collected right from the animal's own anus. These rabbit pellets are then re-chewed in order to absorb all the nutrients in hard-to-digest plant material, much as a cow chews its cud.

By engaging in coprophagy, rabbits and hares are able to spend relatively little time exposed to predators in the field while feeding.

European rabbit warren near Susex, England.  The only American native rabbit that dens underground is the pygmy rabbit (about 1 pound in weight) which is extinct in its native Columbian Basin, with one species still extent in southern Idaho.