Monday 28 December 2009

What's in a word?

Ariel Leve, journalist and columnist with The Sunday Times Magazine in a recent article wrote about hybrid words or made up words such as: unfriend, sexting, tramp stamp, frenemy and more. Leve thinks: “Maybe it all started with the labradoodle. A crossbreed of a Labrador retriever and a poodle, these adorable (and hypoallergenic) dogs introduced a whole new area of possibilities for cute word combinations. In my building in New York, there’s a cockerpoo, a shnoodle, a spoodle, a doodle and an eskimoodle. Those are fine but then there’s also a bug. This is a boston terrier and a pug.
And therein lies the problem. No one will ever know what a bug is. It’s far too obtuse. As soon as you start saying you’re dog is a bug, you’re asking for trouble.”

Labradoodles do exist as the picture shows. Hence the word has its meaning even though the computer’s spell-check does not like it. Also you will not find it on the Kennel Club’s list of breeds or in the FCI’s (Fédération Cynologique Internationale ) breed standards.

If you want to read Ariel Leve’s article follow this link:

Friday 25 December 2009


Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas.
Mes meilleurs voeux pour un Joyeux Noël à tous.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

NY bikers

I read about the New York bikers in The New York Times.
They met on the local hot rod scene. They saw one another at tattoo conventions around the area, comparing bikes. They looked like heavies, a band of Hells Angels, with nicknames equally tough: Mike Tattoo, Big Ant, Johnny O, Batso, Sal, Angel, Des.
They meant no harm. Clad in leather, inked to the hilt in skulls and dragons, with images of bloodied barbed wire looped about their necks, they shared something else — a peculiar tenderness for animals, and the intensity needed to act on the animals’ behalf when people abuse them.
“I’m a vegetarian,” said Mike Tattoo, a former bodybuilding champion with a shaved head, great arms covered in art and a probing clarity in his blue eyes.
The group became a little larger over the course of about 15 years, with various animal-loving, tattooed bikers in the New York area joining the conversation. One member, Angel Nieves, a 47-year-old retired city police detective, grew up in the projects on West 125th Street and remembered taking in strays from the streets as a boy, as did many of his cohorts. He owns a tiny, white bichon frisé named Cris.
Having run in crowds where animal abuse was rampant, often involving pit bull fights, the men volunteered at shelters and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and they tried to solve cases of missing or abused animals that other organizations had neither the time nor the resources to address.
A man named Robert Missari pulled everything together. Mike Tattoo met Mr. Missari about 18 months ago at a hot rod convention called the Rumbler. Though Mr. Missari is not inked — he works in catering — he loves animals and broached the idea that the bikers should become more than just friends bound by a commitment to a common cause; he wanted them to become an organization. About a year ago, they took up the name Rescue Ink, and now work full time investigating cases of animal abuse.
Mr. Missari is the executive director and the dispatcher for this biker brotherhood, working from his office in Manhattan, where he spends some of his time phoning in leads to the men on the road (“Yo, we got a report of five pit bulls living in 55-gallon drums”). He gets up to 250 calls a day.
The men rescue pedigreed animals sold for a pittance to buy drugs, animals used for fighting and bait, and colonies of feral cats that angry neighbours have tried to shoot or poison. They have received calls from Australia (“Dingoes, I guess,” Angel said) and reports of a serial cat killer in Pennsylvania.
A large man with dark hair and a tidy goatee, Angel is built like a bouncer who might ruin someone’s night. A retired police detective with 20 years on the force, he investigated killings, narcotics and larceny, and speaks with the clipped cadence of a good film noir.
On his way to work, Nick Maccharoli, who goes by the name Batso, chats with Desi Calderon, known as Des, the Cat Man. Batso, 74, who holds a record for power lifting in Connecticut, wore a Fu Manchu moustache and a pointed beard. His head is shaved as bald as a snow globe, except for a skinny black ponytail. Tattooed spider webs creep about the back of his neck, a snake coils over an ear, and where the ponytail begins, the two wings of a huge bat conjoin. On his left calf, Jesus hoists a barbell.
There is, Big Ant, also known as Anthony Missano, waiting, reclining on his Harley, along with Mike Tattoo on a 1959 Honda.
Big Ant, “a little guy,” as the others describe him, is a little more than 6 feet tall and around 320 pounds. He was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt and sunglasses with small orange lenses. The tattoo of a red lightning bolt sliced down his enormous arm.
Other members of the squad arrive, among them Johnny O, a former bodyguard who once waded waist deep into a pond near a sewage pipe to rescue a duck; and Biagi, who is to dogs what Des is to cats: a psychic force.
Then there is Biagi, who uses only his last name for security reasons. Batso mentioned that he often took his dog with him to church.
“A lot of people think a pit bull fighting is millions of people sitting in a ring cheering,” Big Ant said. “It’s not. It goes on in an abandoned box truck. A van is perfect. Just two guys. They throw the dog in the back; then one guy goes in there and says which dog is dead. Two teenagers that think they’re tough.”
The men see a lot of pit bull fights in the city, most of it unreported. Mainly, they say, the fighting is organized by teenagers or young men, often in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Sometimes gentler breeds are used as training bait, their mouths duct-taped shut so they cannot fight back.
Rescue Ink works closely with law enforcement agencies, as members are quick to point out when they are accused of vigilantism. While they may get rough, they never break the law. “If Option A doesn’t work, we go to Option B,” Mike Tattoo said. “If that fails, there’s always Option C.”
Since they started doing this work, which takes up more time than most full-time employment, two of the men have lost their construction jobs. They spend their nights researching and making phone calls, and spend fair amounts of money on pet food and vet bills.

Sunday 20 December 2009

Thursday 17 December 2009

Celeb's dog

There are so many Chihuahuas at shelters in California that they have started shipping the dogs to other states.
Chihuahuas make up 30 per cent or more of the dog populations at many California shelters. And experts say pop culture is to blame, with fans imitating Chihuahua-toting celebrities like Paris Hilton, then abandoning the dogs.
Among the reasons for the glut is the breed's popularity in movies like "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" and as celebrity pets and over breeding by backyard breeders and puppy mills.
Chihuahuas are the most popular breed of dog in Los Angeles, so it is understandably the most abandoned breed. The problem is so bad that shelters all over California that were built for big dogs had to remodel to accommodate the little dogs.

Monday 14 December 2009

Swiss rules

I found this on a Swiss website specifically intended for foreign nationals wanting to bring dogs into Switzerland. I have reproduced the text verbatim and have added the specifications for the canton of Geneva because I found some additional sensible requirements. I was very interested to read that every dog owner has to complete a training program with his dog. Here goes:

“A recently passed Swiss Federal Ordinance advises of regulations for the humane treatment and care required for all dogs contained within Swiss borders in order to lessen incidences of animal neglect. Articles 22 and 68 of the Ordinance state that:
• Dogs must have access to human interaction (and interaction with other dogs, if possible) daily.
• Dogs kept in an enclosed space with limited play area must be released and permitted to expel energy daily, in accordance with their unique activity requirements.
• Choker chains are prohibited when tying dogs.
• When tying dogs, enough lead and accessible area must be supplied so that the dog can access a minimum of 20 square meters (24 square yards).
• Outdoor dogs must have access to adequate shelter and a constant water supply.
• The dog must be contained in a way that prevents injury to, or endangerment of, humans and other animals.
• The use of spike collars is forbidden.
• Harsh physical punishment and warning gunshots for the purpose of disciplining dogs are prohibited.

However each Swiss canton (region) has its own specific dog ownership requirements. And for the canton of Geneva:
• All dog owners in Geneva must complete a dog instructional program, designed to ensure that dog owners are aware of the unique needs and behavior of dogs, along with the legislation that they are subjected to. This training is made available by a certified instructor or Geneva veterinarian.
• A policy must be purchased from a private insurance provider to cover the dog under civil-liability insurance.
• Pets’ rabies vaccinations must be updated every 3 years.
• Attention should be paid to signs at park entrances. Some public Geneva parks require that dogs be leashed, and others disallow all dogs.
• Geneva’s veterinary office considers 15 different dog breeds to have the potential to pose threats to humans or other animals. The veterinary office can list these breeds for you and supply you with information needed to request official permission to own one of these marked breeds, along with special training obligations.
• Any of the 15 potentially dangerous dog breeds need to be muzzled when in the public’s access. “

Without wishing to enter into a political discussion, perhaps we should hope for a European directive on this.

Monday 7 December 2009

Deaf dog

For anyone who thought sign language was just for humans, this dog has proved otherwise.
Deaf canine Spot will sit, stay and come at the command of his carers after learning to understand their signs. He even knows when he has been naughty or good.
The Jack Russell cross was handed to the Blue Cross Southampton adoption centre six months ago when his owner discovered he was deaf.
Animal behaviour assistant Tasha Cole said: “Spot had never lived in a home. He came from a man who had bought him and his two litter mates as working dogs and they lived in a stable. But the man discovered he was deaf and didn’t want him.
“When he arrived he didn’t know anything. He was very sociable with dogs and people but in the home he had no concept of how to behave.
“I started taking him with me at the end of the day so he could get used to a home environment and when he first saw the television he nearly fell off the sofa he was so shocked. He got stuck on the stairs too. It was like having a toddler in the house.
“The hardest thing was not being able to communicate with Spot so we worked with him to get him to understand sign language, using food to help his training. For example I would hold food in my hand and turn it into a gesture so he learned ‘come here’. “
Tasha said now that Spot can communicate, he is much happier.
She added: “He used to get really frustrated but we can converse now and he has an understanding of what we want from him.
“He’s a lot more settled now and he’s really quite responsive.”
Now Spot is looking for a loving home with owners who can carry on his training.
Tasha said: “We are really hoping he will find a home. He is one very special boy and it has been amazing to watch him progress. I am so proud of what he has achieved.”
Find out more about Spot.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

New album

Love the dog. Do not know Norah Jones but I think she is big! Click on the link if you want to have a sample of her music.