Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Dog Haiku

My husband and I like to take photographs.

Every year we put together a calendar for our dog park as a fundraiser. The date pages usually have a quote related to dogs on a banner at the bottom of the page. This year the calendar committee decided that haiku written by dogs was a good idea, so I searched the web to see what I could find.

Every website I checked had the same dozen or so haikus. Some were pretty good, but I was irritated that everyone was just copying the same stuff over and over, and I didn't want to perpetuate that habit in our calendar, so I decided to write my own.

17 syllables (give or take). How hard could it be?

Not easy at all, as it turned out. I struggled with some of them for days, and I'm still not completely satisfied with my effort--but the calendar has a deadline, so here they are as they appear in the 2017 Canine Corners dog park calendar.
December 2016--our memorial page for dogs who died during the year. Dennis Rifkin took this photo of his dog, Beau, who passed away a few months later.
January 2017
February 2017
March, 2017--This dog kept running up to me & trying to put her nose on my lens .
April 2017
May 2017--I was pleased to get a photo of a dog barking.
June 2017

July 2017

August 2017. The front dog is our border collie, Caitlin.

September 2017
October 2017
November 2017
December 2017
Here are links to some of the dog haiku I found on the web
This looks like the original author:
Another set that might be original (& with photos)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Pawprints on my Heart

The day we arrived in England, our hosts took us for a walk around the largest of 5 or 6 lakes on their extensive property.
The lake from their back deck
Their house dogs came with us: Milo, Millie, Scooter, Willie, and Meg.
Milo and Millie feeling hopeful

While the people chatted, the dogs raced ahead scouting for rabbits. I lagged far behind taking photographs.

I was kneeling to get a low angle on the scene ahead, when suddenly Scooter came bounding back and threw himself into my arms.
The experience was less rewarding than it might have been, as Scooter had only just finished rolling in fox poop--which I can now tell you from personal experience smells just as bad as you'd expect.. It also  has staying power. Scooter and I both smelled like fox poop for several days.

The next morning, as I was lounging in a chair outside the kitchen, Scooter came bounding up and leaped into my lap.
He was often on my lap
The experience was less rewarding than it might have been, as Scooter had only just emerged from a cooling dip in the lake, and he now smelled of wet-dog-who-has recently-rolled-in-fox-poop --besides being dripping wet..
Scooter after a dip
Scooter quickly trained both Rob and me to hit tennis balls for him. He never got tired, and if he got hot, he simply made a quick detour into the lake before returning with the ball,
A game he never tired of
I get up early.  Every morning I'd go down to the kitchen, where the dogs are confined at night, and make myself a cup of tea. Then I'd go into the sun room and sit on the couch to drink it. Scooter would always come with me, plop onto the couch beside me, and lay his head in my lap while I drank my tea.
I was beginning not to care that he still smelled faintly of fox poop.

It is almost impossible not to fall in love with an animal who tells you at every opportunity that you are the most wonderful person he's ever met.

And Scooter did.

He waited patiently for Rob & me to return from our day trips, even refusing to leave with the other dogs when Clare took them out for walks. He wriggled from head to toe the minute we entered the room.

Usually we'd get the tennis racket out and one of us would hit balls for him. If we sat down instead, he'd get a ball and push it in between our bottoms & the chair back.

Scooter loves balls just as much as Caitlin does, but unlike Caitlin, he's not pushy about it. When I stopped hitting his ball, he'd trot happily back to the house beside me and cuddle instead. No shrill bark or laser-like stare to intimidate me into doing his bidding. No imperious paw slapped down onto my book or computer if I wasn't paying attention to him.

Scooter is a comfortable dog, the sort who would sit by the fire with you while you read & sipped brandy, and never ask for anything more than to be close beside you..

Unlike Caitlin (also known as  "psycho-dog" at the dog park), who is frenetic demanding, always busy, and wants your full attention NOW!

Clare rescued Scooter about 4 years ago from a family who basically never paid him any attention. Now he gets several walks a day. He can roam unfettered across 140 acres of farmland that has rabbits to chase, a lake to swim in, and fox poop if he feels like rolling.

But Clare says he's not really happy. He doesn't want to be one of a pack. He wants to be an only dog. Apparently he wants to be OUR dog. And she'd let us have him if we asked.
I couldn't help but love him
We are totally smitten with him, and we'd love to have him. He has left his paw prints on our hearts.

But we can't give him what he needs, although he doesn't know that.

We didn't take him back with us.

It feels like a betrayal.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dogs & Cats & 20 Furniture Malfunctions

I found these photos on the Life Daily website. Apparently they make money with targeted advertising (mostly for things I'd already bought). The ads were so obtrusive that I could hardly find the pictures. I think the photos are funnier without the ads..

Dog stuck on a stool
Cat stuck in sofa

Dog in Chair

Kitten on Chair

Dog in Hammock

Cat caught in Clothes Hangers

Dog caught under chair

Puppies on table
Dog half way off sofa

Dog stuck in tight space

Cat Stuck in Chair
Large dog sitting on couch
Puppy stuck in dish washer
Dog is Stuck
Silly Dog Stuck in Furniture
Lazy dog on a sofa
Upside down cat
Awkward cat stuck
Cats in between cushions
Upside down puppy

Friday, September 25, 2015

Is Doing the Wrong Thing Better than Doing Nothing?

The animal rights movement got it wrong 175 years ago. 
Present day politicians are getting it wrong now.

Donald Trump thinks the solution to an "epidemic" of autism is to stop using vaccines.

Officials in India think the solution to an epidemic of dog bites and rabies is to kill dogs.

Lots of people (including me) think they're wrong in both cases.

Both cases have sparked widespread outrage and protest.

On the other hand..

Winston Churchill once said, "It is better to do the wrong thing than to do nothing."

My mother relayed that bit of wisdom to me when I was a young girl, only she attributed the quote to a famous big-game hunter.
Image result for charging lion
It made perfect sense to me. If you're facing a charging lion and you do nothing, you're dead.
If you shoot and miss, you might have time for another shot.

But there are some critical differences between a charging lion and an epidemic:  whether the epidemic is autism, rabies, plague, ebola, gun violence,..

or anything else where there may be multiple causes
some or all of which may not be well-understood
and the effectiveness of the solution may not be known for some time.

In the case of the charging lion, you have only a split second to decide whether to shout and wave your arms, run, shoot, play dead, or just stand there.

The outcome of your decision will be clear within a few seconds. If the lion abandons his charge or drops dead, you'll know you probably made a good decision. If he kills you, everyone will know you got it wrong. In either case, there won't be much doubt.

Your decision may have unintended consequences (The muzzle flash from your rifle ignited a grass fire. You shot Cecil, the beloved celebrity lion--You are buried under a tsunami of global outrage.)

but these consequences are relatively limited in scope
clearly linked to your actions
and you'll be made aware of them quite soon.

In most other cases, things are a lot murkier
For instance..

In 19th-century England, small street vendors, most of whom couldn't afford to buy a horse, used  dogs to haul their wares,
A Dutch or Belgian Milk Cart

At that time, the animal rights movement was just beginning to gain some traction. In 1822, Bill Burns became the first person put on trial for cruelty to an animal. (He beat his donkey.)
Image result for trial of bill burns
The Prosecution of Bill Burns
The newly minted Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had as its aim," not only “to prevent the exercise of cruelty towards animals, but to spread amongst the lower orders of the people ... a degree of moral feeling which would compel them to think and act like those of a superior class.”

The SPCA could hardly risk losing their influential donors by calling for a ban on fox hunting. 

Banning dog carts carried little risk--and still allowed them to take the moral high ground. 

After vigorous lobbying and an emotional press campaign, and despite a few protests that poor folks' lives depended on their dogs, Parliament passed the Dog Cart Act in 1842. In order to give the law some teeth, they also passed a tax on the dogs themselves.

Undoubtedly, Parliament and the SPCA truly wanted to stop dogs from suffering.

Instead, in the next few months, thousands of poor people either killed their dogs or turned them out to fend for themselves. A thousand dogs were slaughtered in Birmingham--and thousands more across the country. So many dead dogs littered the streets of Cambridge that the High Constable had to arrange a mass burial for them to mitigate the health hazard.**

SPCA got it wrong.  I think for some of the same reasons that Donald Trump and the government of India are getting it wrong.

The SPCA had plenty of evidence that cart-pulling was a dismal and sometimes cruel life for a dog.

Donald Trump probably has plenty of evidence that autism is a big problem. When other Republicans confronted him over his stance on vaccines, he simply reiterated his concerns about autism.

When authorities in Kerala were confronted with outrage over the culling of dogs, they repeated the scary statistics: "more than 23,000 people were bitten by dogs last year, and nearly half of them contracted rabies."

Anytime people face a dangerous or frightening situation, the gut response is, "We've got to do something!"

Anything seems better than nothing.
Usually, whatever intuitively seems right.
And whatever fits in with what we already believe..
Image result for there ought to be a law
The Solution to Every Problem
Doing the wrong thing might be a reasonable strategy if we're unsure of what to do..
And are willing to consider the possibility of being wrong, and ready to change course if necessary.
But we rarely are
There ought to be a law against that..

**Coren, Stanley, The Intelligence of Dogs, Bantam Books, New York, 1994, pp. 155-156
(source of link above),+victorian+england&source=bl&ots=2iyukQcLql&sig=V7KTEGTlPExbAtqt4LS_KsvWMfA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CD0Q6AEwBWoVChMI0fTIy-SSyAIVx5yACh0vUQxw#v=onepage&q=banning%20of%20dog%20carts%2C%20victorian%20england&f=false

Thursday, September 24, 2015

4 Reasons You Should Be Glad Dogs Love to Sniff Poop

Dogs have amazing noses. They sniff everything--especially, it seems, things that most of us humans find disgusting--such as rotting corpses and poop. They revel in the symphony of smells, appreciating every nuance, identifying every "note" of the complex mix of aromas with a precision far beyond the skill of any master perfumer.
Image result for dogs sniffing poop
Mmmm...Heart notes of skatole, with subtle undertones of flatulatus!
Lucky for us that they do!

Here are some of the reasons the world should be glad that dogs like excrement:

1. Dogs can count grizzly bears at a fraction of the usual cost.

In 1999, Sam Wasser, a scientist at the University of Washington wanted to learn how human activities were affecting bears in the Canadian Rockies. He thought that dogs sniffing out bear scat might be able to do a better job than radio-telemetry and hair-snag stations.
Image result for canadian grizzly bear
A Canadian Grizzly
Despite skepticism from most biologist, Wasser's dogs proved him right. The dogs' noses found 4 times more grizzly bears in each square mile of the project than hair-snag stations did. Nineteen bears who had been trapped and collared provided lots of information, too--but after 3 years, showed the same bear distribution as the dogs had found. Moreover, the radio collaring cost a million dollars. Wasser's dogs cost $30,000.
Grizzly Being Collared

Another downside to radio collars-- the trapping killed two grizzly bears and badly injured another. "High stakes for a population of only 100 threatened animals,"*

Analysis of the dog-nose data showed evidence of grizzly bear poaching.. The scientists recommended keeping off-road vehicles out of remote areas as much as possible so the poachers would find it harder to get in.
Feeding them causes all sorts of problems
They also concluded that tourists in Jasper National Park were probably feeding the black bears (but not grizzlies)--to the detriment of the bears' health. They recommended more stringent monitoring of tourist behavior in the park.
Image result for conservation canines
Conservation Canines
Wasser's bear study was the beginning of Conservation Canines, Here's another project his poop-sniffing dogs dogs are currently working on:

2. Dogs can monitor whale populations without traumatizing the whales.

As of July 1, 2015, only 81 killer whales were resident in the waters of Washington state and Alaska. No babies were born last year, and 2 whales died. In 1997, 97 killer whales made these waters their home. The decline has scientists worried. In order to find out what was happening to the whales, they need whale poop and they need to get it without traumatizing the whales. 

Who'd have thought that dogs would be good candidates for such a job?
Black labrador dog leaning over the bow of the motor boat,
Tucker on a Whale Hunting Expedition

Tucker, a black lab (who, ironically, is afraid of water), started his training by sniffing out whale poop on land. Then the trainer floated the poop on a styrofoam platform and took Tucker out in a canoe to find it. Now Tucker can smell whale poop over a mile away from the research boat. No styrofoam required, since luckily for the study, whale poop floats--at least for a while..
Killer Whales in Puget Sound
Early indications are that the whales aren't getting enough to eat, probably because their favorite food, Chinook salmon, is also in decline. Another likely culprit--whale-watching boats.

The big question: Can the researchers find a way to bring the whale numbers back up to a healthy level? If they do, dogs like Tucker will have been key to their success.

I'd need an entire book (probably several) to name all the ways that poop-sniffing dogs are helping wildlife and the environment.

They're also helping human beings directly.

3. Dogs can detect colon cancer more accurately than any standard test.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer other than skin cancers. In 2015, over 93,000 people are expected to learn that they have it, and 700 are expected to die from it. A trained dog who sniffs your poop can detect it with 95% accuracy.  

    Image result for canine cancer sniffers
    A medical detection dog at work

That's way more accurate than a colonscopy (60% - 70% accuracy). Another bonus. You don't have to drink a gallon of nauseating liquid the day before and you don't have to have anything stuck up your rear end! Unfortunately, canine cancer detectives aren't going to be checking your samples anytime soon. but scientists hope to isolate the exact molecules the dogs are sniffing and use them to come up with a more accurate screening test of their own.

Dogs can detect many (maybe most or all) human cancers by sniffing breath and various body fluids They provide an exciting avenue for new research into this terrible disease.

4. Poop-sniffing dog projects are saving lots of dogs who would otherwise be killed.

Almost all the dogs who sniff poop for a living came from shelters.
These three were at-risk shelter dogs
They got there because they were hyper-dogs--obsessive, way too energetic to settle down comfortably in a family, and so ball-crazy that they drove their owners nuts.
They probably weren't going to leave the shelter alive.

But those are the exact traits needed for some kinds of working dogs, and especially for poop-sniffing conservation dogs. They must be able to endure harsh conditions and difficult terrain and still stay focused on the job at hand.
Looking for caribou, moose, and wolves in Alberta
Dogs who sniff poop are helping wildlife and our environment all over the world. They're helping manage human disease. And they're helping provide a second chance and a meaningful life for many dogs who otherwise probably wouldn't make it.

We should all be glad that dogs like to sniff poop.