Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Good Language Discussion

ThatMutt.com has a nice post and discussion on the issue of "guardian" versus "owner".

I have different opinions than Lindsay does, and I offer them in the comment section. It is good to make informed decisions, and I think both sides are represented in the post and comments.

I also like this paper which delves into this very issue: http://sjalp.stanford.edu/pdfs/Hankin.pdf.

Share your thoughts here or over at Lindsay's article. Play nice and respectful-like. :)

Celeste is Running

celeste sma

Celeste running is so fun to watch. She is gracefully powerful. Mina is not as pretty. She is a bowling ball of muscle. Where Celeste can stop on a dime, Mina sails fifteen feet past. Mina gave up on trying to catch Celeste. She just waits for Celeste to come barreling past and makes a valiant attempt at catching her. It rarely works, Celeste is so fast.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In a Far Off Land

There lives the Germingo. A rare Mexican Dingo bred with an all too common German Shepherd and birthed the almighty Germingo. Blue eyes optional.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Putz Didn't Sit on Command, Obviously Needed to be Killed

Last year, a woman was spit on and her dog kicked by her ex-husband. When the ex-husband went to punch the woman, the dog grabbed the man's wrist. He did not puncture the skin. He grabbed, nipped, and let go of the man's wrist.

The dog, Putz, was taken by Minneapolis Animal Care and Control, and was evaluated after three months of confinement. He was neutered, at the expense of his guardian. She paid for his kenneling costs as well.

And then they went and killed him.

"Minneapolis Animal Care and Control provided the following observations as justification for PUtz's euthanization:
•    That Putz was territorial and guarded his cage.
•    That he didn’t sit on command.
•    That he didn't respond to the vet’s touch. Ignored her patting."

I was unaware that being untrained constituted a reason to kill a dog. Or being a territorial, social animal. Or not responding to a strange person's touch in a strange environment. Who knew? I mean, shit, Mina doesn't always sit on command, I should probably just kill her. And Celeste? Like when she needs to poop, she has zero recall skills - BLUE JUICE FOR YOU!

""large, has great strength and no particular interest in pleasing people, it is my opinion he is not an acceptable pet.""

That's a veterinarian. For one, a veterinarian is not a behaviorist. She is not an experienced dog trainer. For two, like has she even had dogs? What would you expect of a dog confined for three months in a shelter with no appropriate social interaction and no outlet for his frustration or pent up energy? The size of a dog is moot. The strength of a dog is moot, considering this dog exhibited extremely good bite inhibition when he didn't just eat the guy's arm. Pleasing people is not a trait that is necessary in order for a dog to a) enjoy a home w/ people; b) be good around people or c) be adopted. Dumb reasoning to take the life of a dog.

The woman wanted him back. She could not have him back in the state of Minnesota, because as a person with a felony on her record, she can only own dogs under 20 lbs. According to the animal protection group advocating for Putz, a sanctuary was willing to take the dog and not adopt him out. A judge denied that option.

So instead the dog who showed incredible bite inhibition during an act of protecting a member of his pack is dead.

This woman was not only a victim of domestic violence and abuse, she was a victim of a system that provided more protection to her abuser than to the beloved companion dog who saved her from a sucker punch to the face, possibly worse.

26 Years Ago: The Challenger

From last year's post:

When I was five, I remember with excitement - along with all my other Kindergarten classmates - preparing to watch the first teacher, Christa McAuliffe, fly into space aboard the shuttle Challenger.

Schools across the country gathered their students, turned on the television to watch a teacher, one of our great educators, fulfill every child's dream of going to space, of traveling somewhere so foreign.

For 72 seconds, they were "normal" astronauts, lifting towards the stars. The next second, they disappeared.

For many of us young children, it was perhaps our first experience with death, that incomprehensible moment when a person, full of vitality and spirit, is here and then suddenly gone. I don't know if I understood the magnitude of that explosion, the arcing and billowing smoke. I knew it was not right.

How awkward it must have been for our teachers left on earth, left to face horror-struck children, left to try and explain what had happened.

We are all little moments in time. Beautiful, perfect moments. Cherish the seconds you have. It means something. I know it meant something to me as a 5-yr-old kid sitting in that California classroom. It means something to me now. For McAuliffe and the other astronauts, those 72 seconds were amazing and chilling and wondrous. But I wish I could erase that 73rd and bring them all back to be with us here on earth. I'm sorry I can't.

The Perfect Dog

Is this not the most perfect dog?

Friday, January 27, 2012

True Story

Yesterday I ran an errand before work, so I was an hour late.

I get a call from my friend and colleague.

Hey, what's up?

I was just calling to make sure you weren't dead in a ditch somewhere.

Um, thanks? Glad to know that's your first thought when I'm not on time!

But it did get me thinking - would anyone do that for you? Personally, I am glad to have a friend who checks in, even if it is to see if I'm dead in a ditch. : )

The Only Body Part Showing

When Mina sleeps - always under cover - the only body parts she likes exposed to the world are her feet. Sometimes her nose, but mostly her feet. This is her valiant attempt at thermoregulation until she is forced to emerge from the blanket world and pant like a normal dog.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

This Dog Peed on My Car

This is the resident Chihuahua at a local print company. He saw Mina in the car and was all HEY HOT STUFF! and Mina was all LITTLE DOG, BE MY FRIEND! OR ELSE! and then he escaped out into the parking lot and peed on my car. Jerk.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Holding Back the Beast

For reals. It took all my strength to avoid a major mauling from a 35 lb dog of doom.

Begging, It's How I Roll

As you know (just pretend you do), this is my year. If it is my year, it is also Mina's year. Hence all these posts and photos about Mina.

Anyways, this is how Mina begs. She sits and falls asleep. On numerous occasions I have told her this is lousy begging. She responds by nearly falling over unconscious. I feel so bad for her near collision with the floor that I let her lick the plate.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oh My, What a Large Head You Have

It is one of the many reasons why I love Pit Bulls. Their heads. I feel this way about any dog with a disproportionately large and smooshable head. Mina's head is not as squishy as the heads of other Pit Bulls, but it still exceeds the narrow, hard edges of Celeste's noggin.

When I try to manipulate Celeste's face, there isn't enough skin. And she gets annoyed with me. And she yells at me. And she runs away from me and tells me to stop it or she will go back to Mexico and start bottling water for a living.

But Mina! Mina revels in the stretching of her ample mouth-cheek skin. She loves it when I pinch her cheeks. She tells me to invest in plastic surgery and give her MORE skin. I tell her that she will keep getting more skin as she ages. She thinks this is grand.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What "Go" Means to my Mina and Celeste

Whereas *I* envision "go" to mean "leave this room now and do not come back until i'm done eating", Mina and Celeste translate "go" to "if she cannot see my eyes, she cannot see me lying here reverse begging".

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Toys Should Not Crawl up Sofas

It's like that postal service commercial with the creepy clown. If you get what I'm talking about, your Awesome Sauce Points went up in my book.

Anyways, this is a dog toy. It's a snowman climbing up my sofa. IT IS CREEPY.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tail to Nose

Mina uses her tail to cover her nose or just drape it casually over her face.

On stars

From the sweetheart season:

The stars have always made people feel small. Depending on what size you think people ought to be, this message is either cold or comforting. It is only us and only now, after all those centuries, finally drowning them onto silence with our own innumerable lights.

Painted Flowers

Not made by me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Come Hither or Go Away, You Decide

I cannot tell if this is Celeste's "come hither" look or one of her "i am so tired of you photographing me" looks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stop Internet Censorship

Do it.

Censorship is ugly. It is a form of oppression. The internet is one of the few places where real expression - good and bad - is permitted without much oversight from outside sources.

The Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA is trying to deny you your free speech rights. Seriously, it is personal.

"On Jan 24th, Congress will vote to pass internet censorship in the Senate, even though the vast majority of Americans are opposed. We need to kill the bill - PIPA in the Senate and SOPA in the House - to protect our rights to free speech, privacy, and prosperity. We need internet companies to follow Reddit's lead and stand up for the web, as we internet users are doing every day."

If you so choose, you can blackout your website or blog tomorrow in support of preserving free speech on the internet.

Tomorrow, I will be posting. But it will be censored.

A Shiny Bauble for the Road

I have this fancy hair thing that is shiny. I never wear it, but it sure is pretty. Mina would look good wearing it. If she had hair.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mina Loves "Grandpa" and Football

Just kidding about football, Mina could care less. But her caregiver (me) and minion (me) was happy to see the Giants win so that the 49ers could beat them next week in SF. Truth.

It is very true that Mina loves my dad.

True story: When I first adopted Mina, my dad was scared of her. She liked licking him, especially around the face and throat (she still does) and he thought this disconcerting. This was 10 years ago. She was this adult Pit Bull from a shelter with an unknown history and he thought she might turn on me, like those Pit Bulls in the news. As a joke, I told him "no problem!" and shared with him my secret knowledge of Pit Bull "pre-mauling" behavior.

Like when a Pit Bull gets on their belly and crawls across the floor. Or when a Pit Bull spins in a circle, does the frog maneuver or taste-tests your throat. All pre-mauling behavior.

There was a moment when my dad honestly believed me. He glared at me for awhile after I confirmed it was a lie. But it's a running joke, even today.

It did not take long for Mina to worm her way into my dad's heart, and now he is an avid defender of Pit Bulls or at least of Mina.  :) As you can see, my dad will even interrupt watching football to give Mina some affection and attention.

I love them both.

Oh My Darling Clementine

I love Cuties Clementines. It's one of the easiest ways for me to get my daily fruit requirements, because I am a lazy vegan. True. They have no seeds, are bite sized (two bites, if you're me), and easy to peel (no sticky mess). They are a hit with lazy vegans and children alike.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What is on your head, little one

I am hoping by scheduling this post for 10 days after I actually wrote it, that I will be pleasantly surprised and overjoyed to see Mina's sad little face staring balefully up at me from the computer screen.

Mina is styling in headgear I created. It's a new art I am encouraging dog lovers to explore. Take a stuffed toy, let your dog de-stuff, then strap that bad ass toy to your dog's head. Take a picture. Use instagram to snazz it up. Or don't. Whatever.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I Hate You

Wow, that was a glare to end all glares. I knew Mina had a lot of mournful gazes, but snotty glares? Not so much.

She is mostly annoyed that the rest of her body isn't covered in blankets, only her nose. The nose is the most important appendage to protect, though, and she does it valiantly and with scorn.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Celeste Scares Children with her Eyes

In my effort to spend more quality time with Celeste, I've been taking her on every other day walks around the neighborhood. Ideally, we will do these every day, but I don't want to overwhelm myself.

Celeste is my prim and proper lady on leash. She walks with a loose lead, is responsive to my voice and body language, and she just has a good time. Mina can barely handle a mile walk these days, and the ones I take Celeste on are 2-3 miles at minimum.

Yesterday, Celeste and I were walking. I did not notice a child sitting behind a chain link fence close to the sidewalk. Celeste did, though, and as we walked by, she had to sniff him through the fence to scope him out. She was hoping for butt skritches.

The child bolts up, screams "HER EYES!!" and runs off. Crying. I have never seen a child cry so quickly. Celeste and I were both perplexed.

Most people find Celeste's eyes beautiful. When she's being bad, I tell her that had her eyes been brown, I would have sent her back to Mexico by now. She wags her tail, because apparently she thinks life as a street dog is actually pretty neat.

But every so often, Celeste's big blue eyes cause children to cry.

Sometimes I Wear These

You know, wherever. Just kidding, around my neck mainly. I am forever grateful that gaudy fashion jewelry is in style. I've always thought it stylish, but whatever.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Adopt This Dog - Ian the Border Collie

Ian is an adorable Border Collie available for adoption through Border Collie Rescue of Northern California. His original pictures were not that great, so a colleague asked me to take some updated pictures of him. She was trying to foster to adopt him, but he did not quite fit in with her home and two cats. He's a real sweetheart. He loves walks and has medium energy levels.





Snoozing is serious business

Napping is an epic adventure for Mina. This pose occurred after a lengthy soapbox oration on the evils of blankets that don't clump into snuggable devices. Annoyed, Mina flung herself dramatically down and wedged her beautiful pink nose beneath the covers.

Her ears are pinned back concerned, because she knows I am documenting it as evidence to use against her.

Cat Gassed Twice, Does Not Die, Shelter Volunteers Want Lethal Injection

A cat at the West Valley City animal shelter survived cabon monoxide gassing twice. 

Let us rewind a bit.

This healthy, adoptable pet was put on the kill list because she had not been adopted in 30 days. There was nothing medically wrong with her. She was not aggressive. By all accounts, she was a perfectly healthy, adoptable pet waiting for a new home. Ergo, there was no valid or logical reason to have sent her to the gas chamber.

She was gassed once. She survived. She was gassed twice. She appeared dead and was placed in a cooler. At a later point in time, someone found her in a bag, in the cooler, vomiting on herself. Alive.

Staff decided this cat really wanted to live. This is always the response shelter staff make when an animal does not adhere to the one-gas-chamber-fits-all rule and does not die. I hate this response. It is demeaning, cruel and callous. It disregards the strong will of any animal to live. No animal wants to die. All healthy animals avoid pain, fear, suffering, and all have a biological and behavioral drive to be in existence. You do not need to be a philosopher to get that.

Everyone in this article diminishes the intrinsic value of the amazing, wonderful dogs and cats who did not survive the gas chamber.

Every single animal who has and is being put into the gas chamber at this shelter wants to live. That is not unique.

But instead of rallying to the aid of all the shelter pets, folks just want to see the animals killed differently.

There is literally no outcry that a healthy, adoptable companion animal was shoved into a gas chamber and "killed". There is no outrage that many adoptable animals are killed at this shelter.

Instead, it's all about lethal injection.

Consider me underwhelmed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sociabulls featured in Chicago Tribune

Our friends over at Two Pitties in the City started a dog walking "club" back in August. About 20 dogs go on a designated walk each week. Dogs don't generally interact with each other, so it is a great venue for improving reactivity on leash. Dogs pick up on the energy of other canines, so a properly run dog walking club is a great way to teach calmness while having a lot of fun exploring. I love the idea immensely.

The group, SociaBulls, was recently featured in the Chicago Tribune. Congratulations for a positive news article.

What I love about this concept is that it shows dogs being dogs, regardless of their breed. When you see a person working with their dog or 20 dogs being walked in a responsible manner, you cannot help but associate positive things with the people and their dogs. Sure, there will be people who are blinded by their fear, but mostly, I think people who see well-managed dog walking clubs are impressed.

Give a hoot

Don't pollute. Tell litter-bugs that copper owl necklace says so.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Don't Cry for me

I can do that myself, thanks. Just when you think Mina could not look any sadder, she does.

Mina hates it when I smoosh her eye boogers, but when I don't, she looks like this. 

Burnished. But Shiny.

I love this necklace. It's much more colorful and shiny than this picture leads you to believe. True story.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Getting Older

Excuse me, I may be spending more time this year blogging about Mina. She has graced me with her presence for ten years, and I am hoping for at least five more. I just want to capture all of her moments. Like right now. She has her butt wedged against my side. This is not uncommon. Her back paws are draped over her front paws. Also not abnormal. She is sound asleep, in her own subconscious. I am using every ounce of strength to not lean over and contour myself to her.

Mina turned 13 last November. Thirteen! I can't believe I missed out on the first three years of her life. When I see a Pit Bull puppy with a patch on her eye, I swoon. I imagine Mina was cuter. I narrowly avoided being killed by her adorable 8-week-old face, her perfect romp at 9-mos-old, her awkward self at 1-yrs-old.

I'm not the only one to notice their beloved pup pals getting older.

Luce is getting older too. I love her big red face and those perfectly devilish ears.

Mr. B and Miss M. are becoming the best of real live "velveteen rabbits".

It is nice to know me and Mina are in such good company. I wish all of our beloved companion dogs many more years of zest, laziness, and joy.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mina Hearts Fire

If she could, Mina would live inside of a lit fireplace. She makes do with my space heater and sweaters and extra blankets, but what she'd really like is a toasty fire to accompany her wherever she goes.

Do your dogs like fires?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

If This is Your Best, Your Best Sucks

Meanwhile, the city is issuing requests for proposals from private organizations to run the shelter, an idea which Councilman Joe Brown said he opposed.
"We have a better staff of employees at the shelter than any other shelter in the region," said Brown. 'There's no reason for outsourcing."

I point you over to Yesbiscuit, because Shirley has a boatload of stories and images depicting the best the Memphis region has to offer.

This is a shelter that
* hires felons who steal dogs for breeding purposes,
* hires staff that allow puppies to sit in their own filth,
* employs people who lie about the feral state of a dog, then refuse to help rescuers get the dog to a sanctuary
* permits their staff to handle two unknown, powerful dogs at the same time (on their way to the death room) and trains them the best way to break up a dog fight is to beat the dogs or just stand there and smile.
* most heinous of all, allows their staff to kill healthy, adoptable pets.

If this really is your best, you have one of two problems.

Problem A: You are lying.

Problem B: Your best sucks.

The Concern of a Dog

I think she learned this from Mina. Celeste is concerned about many things, but especially any type of photographic device. It did not matter that my phone was facing below her line of sight or that I was whispering encouragement and praise, she just hates having her photo taken.

And she lets you know. Great dramatic sighs. Restless shifting. Head on her paws. Turning her face away. All signs she is annoyed with the photo-taking.

Remove the camera or phone and bam, a different dog. Soft eyes, happy ears, wagging tail, submissive smiling and brave attempts at gentle licking (which are actually submissive mouth grabs and are not always so gentle).  

How do your dogs handle cameras?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Window to Someone Inside

To a dog, the soul is found through the nose. I am positive of this. A human sees things differently. Literally. Our world is rich in color, tones and hues. It is visual, the soul is in the eyes. Dogs see colors, of course, but their visual world is much shorter, more narrow than our own.

When I look into Mina's eyes, I know a person in there. Those bright amber eyes. A living being who has thoughts and feelings. When I watch her nose twitch, parsing through every individual scent making up the whole, I know she is not just processing but also feeling and comprehending, thinking.

Mina is a concerned soul. That is what I have learned after ten years of living with her. She is also joyous and proud and prone to petty, jealous acts. She loves warmth and the touch of another alive creature, but she especially loves wedging herself behind her beloved humans...on anything, sofas, chairs, wherever she can squeeze her petite body.

I may not always understand the why of Mina, the times she acts like a petulant juvenile, but I know, in a deep, profound way that Mina has a great big mansion of a soul. You can just see it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I've decided this will be my year. I'm going to succeed this year, because I believe I cannot fail.

You too can kick butt this year. I will succeed, that should be your mantra.

Current Read: The Night Circus

And it is strange. Also, it's the large print version and weighs a ton. Not literally, but they used a heavy weight paper.

Monday, January 2, 2012

If Your Resolution is to Eat Better

and you cannot commit to a completely vegan diet (YET!), then check out No Meat, No Dairy, No Problem

Each week, pick a day to eat a completely plant-based diet. It is not hard to do. For breakfast, replace dairy milk with soy, almond, hemp, coconut or rice milk in your coffee and cereal. Or try coconut milk yogurt or soy yogurt with fresh fruit. It is easy to make pancakes by replacing cow's milk with nondairy milk and butter with soy-based margarine.

For lunch, you can rely on peanut butter and jelly sammiches or a fresh tomato soup with some french bread to dip in. Salads are easy to veganize. If you live in an area that offers Daiya (Raleys, Safeway) in the "natural" food section, you can make a mean grilled cheese sammich too!

Dinner can be bean burritos or fajitas or pesto pasta or veganized lasagna, if you're fancy.

There are far more vegan food items available than non-vegan ones. Far more. Replace your favorite dishes slowly. Your taste buds will adjust and you will probably find yourself more open to new tastes and flavors.

Still in bloom

The weather here has been unseasonably warm and dry. Flowers are confused, many still blooming. Last year, reservoirs exceeded 150% in many areas. Not so much anymore. I am eagerly awaiting rain and cold and all that preparation for spring and summer. The flowers? Probably going to regret their continued bloom.

Sunday, January 1, 2012