Tuesday 29 July 2008

The Pact of the Fire

This is a Lakota Sioux Legend.

When the world was created, First Man and First Woman struggled to stay alive and warm through the first winter. First Dog struggled also. Deep in the winter, First Dog gave birth to her pups. Each night, she huddled in the brush of the forest, longingly watching the fire, which kept First Man and First Woman warm.

First Winter was severe, so cold that First Dog dared not leave her pups to search for food to fill her own belly, fearing that her pups would freeze to death in her absence. She curled around them, but the wind was bitter.

Her belly shrank with hunger, and soon she had no milk. The smallest pup perished, and First Dog felt her own life draining away as she struggled to care for the remaining pups. Fearing for the fate of the others, she knew she had no choice but to approach the fire and ask First Woman and First Man to share their food and the fire's warmth.

Slowly, she crept to the fire and spoke to First Woman, who was heavy with child. I am a mother, said First Dog, and soon you will be a mother too. I want my little ones to survive, just as you will want your little one to survive. So I will ask you to make a pact.

First Woman and First Man listened. I am about to die. Take my pups. You will raise them and call them Dog. They will be your guardians. They will alert you to danger, keep you warm, guard your camp, and even lay down their life to protect your life and the lives of your children.

They will be companions to you and all your generations, never leaving your side, as long as Mankind shall survive. In return, you will share your food and the warmth of your fire. You will treat my children with love and kindness, and tend to them if they become ill, just as if they were born from your own belly. And if they are in pain, you will take a sharp knife to their throat, and end their misery. In exchange for this, you will have the loyalty of my children and all their offspring until the end of time.

First Man and First Woman agreed. First Dog went to her nest in the brush, and with the last of her strength, one by one, she brought her pups to the fire. As she did so, First Woman gave birth to First Child, wrapped her in Rabbit skins, and nestled First Child among the pups by the fireside. First Dog lay down by the fire, licked her pups, then walked away to die under the stars.

Before she disappeared into the darkness, she turned and spoke once more to First Man. "My children will honor this pact for all generations. But if Man breaks this pact, if you or your children's children deny even one dog food, warmth, a kind word or a merciful end, your generations will be plagued with war, hunger and disease, and so this shall remain until the pact is honored again by all Mankind." With this, First Dog entered the night, and returned in spirit to the creator.

Tuesday 22 July 2008


Record numbers of dogs are being poisoned after being fed chocolate, grapes and raisins by their owners as treats, say vets. Vets have seen a surge of almost 50 per cent in the number of dogs falling ill after eating chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean, which affects the central nervous system and heart and can kill a dog. The danger depends on the dog's size and the type of chocolate. Darker and more expensive chocolate contains more theobromine. Humans, and cats, have the metabolism to cope with theobromine. Toxins in grapes, raisins or sultanas can cause renal failure in dogs. In some cases, small dogs have died after eating as few as four grapes. Vets believe many owners are unaware of the dangers and have fed their pets cake and biscuits containing chocolate or grapes as treats. In other cases the animals have helped themselves. There has also been a rise in the number of dogs eating painkillers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol and aspirin. These can sometimes be fatal.Vets believe the animals sometimes find the drugs lying around the house. In many cases, however, pets are given the pills by their owners when they are injured, as it is cheaper than going to a vet.

Monday 21 July 2008

Le plat pays qui est le mien

Today is Belgium's national day.
Amidst the political turmoil and the politicians inability to unite the country, here is what I have to say: Vive la Belgique, mes amis, ma famille et mes ancêtres. Lang leve België. Flemish dogs or Walloon dogs? Does it really matter?

Thursday 17 July 2008

Dogs in Art. The Movie.

Moira is one of my blogger friends. Please watch her film Dogs in Art. It’s fabulous. Follow the link below.
Moira is a Los Angeles based artist and writer. She worked for 10 years in the film business as a screenwriter and Kevin Costner’s assistant before she decided to focus on making collages of people’s pets. She started her own art and t-shirt company DreamDogsArt in 2002 and her blog Dog Art Today in 2007. Now she blending her past love for film with her passion for dogs and creating dog films like Dogs in Art to share on the Internet with the world.
In her blog called Dog Art Today she looks at the art world, past and present through the subject of dogs. She features stories about dog sculptures, contemporary dog houses, dog bowls, dog wine labels, and dog books. She is also an artist who creates custom collages of people’s pets using photographs from them and incorporating the pet’s personality into the final work.
Her film looks at the evolution of dogs in art through various art genres over a span of 5,000 years. Beginning with Anubis from Ancient Egypt and ending with “The Worlds Minimum” dog, just a handful of pixels on a white background, it includes dog art from Ancient Greece, Pompeii, a 15th century French manuscript, along with works by some of the greatest painters of all time; Picasso, John Singer Sargent, Hockney, Pierre Bonnard, Frida Kahlo, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol, to name just a few. There are 60 artworks in total all morphed together in 3 minutes.
Moira feels the piece also celebrates the constancy of dogs in our lives as companions and cherished friends. Looking at the works, it seems that little has changed in our devotion to dogs, a devotion strong enough to capture in art to save for posterity.

Link to the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpIp0Ebao8k
Link to Moira’s blog: http://dreamdogsart.typepad.com/art/

Monday 14 July 2008

Plat du jour

Beijing has asked hotels and restaurants in the city to take dog meat off the menu for the duration of next month's Olympics and September's Paralympics.
A directive from the Beijing Food Safety Office issued last month ordered hotels and restaurants which are expected to be popular among foreign visitors not to provide any dishes made with dog meat “to respect the dining customs of different countries”. Beijing is concerned that canine dishes might offend animal rights groups and Western visitors.
The directive advocated that all restaurants serving dog suspend it during the Olympics but made no mention of the many popular establishments with donkey on the menu.

Thursday 10 July 2008

Friend or foe.

The conclusion of a recent study to identify the most and least aggressive common dog breeds at the University of Pennsylvania claims that little dogs such as Chihuahuas and Dachshunds tend to be feisty, while certain breeds, like Golden and Labrador Retrievers, are as mellow as their reputations suggest. The study is one of the most extensive of its kind and is the first to report aggression related to breed. Although certain pooches appear to be more cantankerous than others, Chihuahuas and Dachshunds scored higher than average for aggression directed to both humans and dogs, putting them towards the top of the list. "Small size very likely plays a large role in the development of fear-based aggression among some breeds. Smaller dogs may feel more threatened by other dogs and people -- a perception that may be well founded.” The study goes on to say: "There is some evidence that smaller breeds are more often the targets of aggression by other dogs. And small breeds, particularly Dachshunds, are more prone to injury due to rough handling by children, so this form of aggression among small breeds may be a learned response due to negative past experiences." Akitas and Pit Bull Terriers, which have "bad boy" reputations, mostly scored high for dog-directed aggression. When they did injure humans, however, the injuries tended to be more severe than those inflicted by the scrappy, smaller dogs. Other breeds with a greater tendency to bite humans included Jack Russell Terriers, Australian Cattle Dogs, American Cocker Spaniels and Beagles.On the "least aggressive" end of the spectrum were Basset Hounds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Brittany Spaniels, Greyhounds and Whippets. Interestingly enough, several of these dogs also rated low for "watchdog behaviour" and "territorial defence" behaviours, suggesting that they tend to be lovable family pets, but are less vigilant watchdogs than Chihuahuas and Dachshunds. Having a tough appearance, however, can make up for a lack of skill. "Certain breeds, through either their reputation or their size, are inherently more intimidating than others even if they show little or no aggressive behaviour," it is further reported. The researcher’s advice which I totally agree with is this: “Anyone looking to bring a dog into their home should find out as much as possible about the individual dog's history and temperament. Certainly some breeds are better with children than others on average. However, it wouldn't make sense to pass up a well-socialized, well-trained, non-aggressive Rottweiler for an atypically aggressive Labrador Retriever."

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Let's have fun.

Belle would not like this at all. What about Sparky, Simi and Mopsa I wonder?

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Let's get down to work

Newfoundlands are valuable members of beach rescue services in Italy and in France. The dogs are trained to jump out of helicopters and boats and swim to the rescue of struggling swimmers. They are credited with having saved several lives by taking lifebuoys to swimmers and towing them to safety. A strong relationship with the handler is fundamental, especially in the water. It takes three years to train a dog completely. The training is rigorous and only top dogs graduate but it's their natural qualities that serve them best. The flaps of skin between their toes make them strong swimmers, and their thick layers of fat insulate them from cold waters. The dogs get very excited when they see someone in the water — and that's a good thing. It means they react quickly and without hesitation when someone is in need of rescue. The four-legged lifeguards are always teamed up with human partners, but it's the dogs who do most of the work. They often pull several people in at once — even boats — to safety. These rescue dogs are heirs to a centuries-old tradition across Europe, where they've long been loyal companions to fishermen.
In previous posts I referred to two rescues which went down in history:
1. Napoleon is rescued from rough seas in his attempt to escape from Elba
2. the Newfoundland who saved lives after the Titanic went down