Thursday 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Wishing all my family and friends and faithful readers of this blog a Merry Christmas.

Saturday 18 December 2010

A dog for life

A dog is for life, not just for Christmas. This slogan was created in 1978 by the Dog Trust and is still relevant today. At this time of the year people involved with dogs should raise awareness of the consequences of treating dogs as gifts or toys. Every year hundreds of thousands of children plead to receive a dog for Christmas and every year thousands of parents yield to their children’s whim. And yes, dogs make perfect gifts because they come up to everyone’s expectation. They are affectionate, cuddly, responsive, playful, receptive, easy to please, the latest fad, the coolest toy, the fashion statement par excellence but what happens when the novelty wears off? When the toy becomes a burden?

Dogs need structure and leadership. Rough games, shrill cries and cheers from children too young to take on the role of pack leader make training difficult. A young dog should be introduced in his new family with a calm and assertive energy so that he can get used to the new family hierarchy. Affection should be saved until the dog has settled. Cesar Millan says that it is sometimes a good idea to hold that affection until several days into your new relationship with your puppy; as much as a week is recommended. Now this sounds harsh when you want to take your new puppy to bed with you, to carry it in yours arms wherever you go or to cuddle it constantly.

Remember: a dog cannot be taken back to the shop and exchanged if the size does not fit. The new owner must be prepared to make a commitment for the dog’s entire lifetime and be prepared to accept the responsibilities that come with their new family member. There are many factors to consider. Can the vet’s bills be met? Can dog food be bought? Is the house dog friendly? Can the dog have his own space? Can the dog go on family holidays? Can the dog have regular exercise? Can the dog be properly trained? Can the dog receive sufficient attention? Will the dog have to spend long periods on his own because his new owners work out of the house all day? Is the chosen breed suitable as a family pet? Many questions which often remain unanswered and lead to dogs being discarded and abandoned and ending up in shelters. And then what?

Thursday 16 December 2010

Worth a visit

Leeds Castle, near Maidstone in Kent has a unique collection of antique dog collars spanning five centuries. Nearly 100 collars and related exhibits in the Leeds Castle Dog Collar Museum trace the history of canine neckwear from medieval to Victorian times. The museum delights more than 500,000 visitors from home and overseas every year.
Originally assembled by the Irish medieval scholar John Hunt and his wife Gertrude, who presented the collars to Leeds Castle in 1979 in memory of her husband, the collection has since been extended by the Leeds Castle Foundation.
The museum is also a tribute to the Castle’s last private owner, Olive, Lady Baillie, whose love of dogs inspired Gertrude Hunt to make the gift.
Many of the earlier collars dating from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries were designed to protect the dog. It was a time when wolves, bears and wild boar roamed the forests of Europe and the vulnerable throats of hunting dogs were shielded by broad iron collars bristling with fearsome spikes.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

More of the same.

These two little silver dogs are quite exceptional pieces. Indeed, although dogs are often represented in Iranian or Mesopotamian art, objects of this type - probably ornaments of dress - are rare.
They come from Bactria, a region situated between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Silver was frequently employed by Oriental goldsmiths, yet few examples of silver pieces still exist because these objects were seldom kept. This precious metal was particularly popular in Bactria. The region of Bactria had a strong tradition of decoration using animal figures. Wild animals (birds of prey, monkeys, camels, and wild boars) and fantastic beasts (dragons) were represented on arms, tools, vases, and dress ornaments.
These two little dogs, barely four centimetres long, are pierced vertically. It is possible that a thread was passed through the hole to hang them on a necklace, for instance, or - more probably - these elements were attached to a metal stem and used as pinheads or the tops of decorative staffs.
They date from the 3rd or 2nd millennium BC and are also exhibited in the Louvre.

Saturday 4 December 2010

Isn't this lovely?

This small gold dog pendant is one of the first examples of gold- and silverwork in the 4th millennium BC and it illustrates the dexterity of metallurgists active in Susa in the Late Uruk period, from 3300 to 3100 BC. (Susa lies in present day south west Iran).
The art of metallurgy was a skill acquired in that period. It encapsulates all the metalworking techniques known at the time, and also provides valuable information about one of the two principal breeds of domestic dogs in the Susian plain.
The breed of dog represented here is different from the long, narrow salukis featured on the ceramic painted vases that were found in the Susa I necropolis dating from the foundation of the city. This stocky animal with a curled-over tail was domesticated, as indicated by the collar around its neck. Such domestication was not recent, dating back to pre-Neolithic times. But the 4th millennium BC was marked by an increase in pastoral activity throughout the Near East, probably as a consequence of improved exploitation of ovine wool, and the dog became a highly prized assistant to man. Dogs often feature in the art of this period, particularly in Susa, in the form of statuettes and pendants.
This pendant is exhibited in the Louvre.

Saturday 27 November 2010

It's raining cats and dogs

Why “cats and dogs”?
In 1738, Jonathan Swift published his “Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation,” a satire on the conversations of the upper classes. One of his characters fears that it will “rain cats and dogs.” Whether Swift coined the phrase or was using a cliché, his satire was likely the beginning of the phrase’s popularity.
Etymologists have suggested a variety of mythological and literal explanations for why people say “it’s raining cats and dogs” to describe a heavy downpour. Here are some of the popular theories:
1. Odin, the Norse god of storms, was often pictured with dogs and wolves, which were symbols of wind. Witches, who supposedly rode their brooms during storms, were often pictured with black cats, which became signs of heavy rain for sailors. Therefore, “raining cats and dogs” may refer to a storm with wind (dogs) and heavy rain (cats).
2. “Cats and dogs” may come from the Greek expression cata doxa, which means “contrary to experience or belief.” If it is raining cats and dogs, it is raining unusually or unbelievably hard.
3. “Cats and dogs” may be a perversion of the now obsolete word catadupe. In old English, catadupe meant a cataract or waterfall.
4. A false theory stated that cats and dogs used to cuddle into thatch roofs during storms and then be washed out during heavy rains. However, a properly maintained thatch roof is naturally water resistant and slanted to allow water to run off. In order to slip off the roof, the animals would have to be lying on the outside—an unlikely place for an animal to seek shelter during a storm.
5. Swift also wrote a poem, “City Shower” (1710), that described floods that occurred after heavy rains. The floods left dead animals in the streets, and may have led locals to describe the weather as “raining cats and dogs.”

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Boy with dogs

This picture by Titian was painted sometime in the 16th Century.  1565 to be precise.   Look at the nursing bitch in the detail of the picture on the right.  She has Belle's eyes.  Now this is extraordinary because at that time most household dogs were small dogs, lap dogs.  So why is this little boy out in the countryside with these big dogs?  One a sheepdog and the other one a Labrador retriever type.  There are some grapes by the boy's left hand.  Is this Rennaissance symbolism at its best?  Definitely Belle's eyes and that's all that matters to me. 

Sunday 21 November 2010

Wine dogs

Wine Dogs is the definitive guide to dogs living and working in the vineyard, winery and tasting rooms of wineries around the globe.
Established in 1997, Wine Dogs is the original encyclopaedia of the winemaker’s best friend – their faithful hound, the winery dog. The first Australian Wine Dogs book was published in 2003 and quickly became a best seller. There are eight volumes of Wine Dogs editions including the latest Wine Dogs Australia 2, Wine Dogs USA 2 and Wine Dogs Italy editions and a host of other products such as our very popular Wine Dogs Calendars.
Here is the address:

Thursday 18 November 2010

Dogs in the Bible ( cont. )

Leonardo da Vinci's self portrait
In the Book of Tobit, included in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox canon of the Bible, but designated as apocryphal in the Protestant tradition, we hear of Tobit, a devout Jew in exile and his son Tobias. Despite his many good works, Tobit is mysteriously blinded and despairingly begs God to take his life. At the same time in Ecbatana one Sarah, who is afflicted by a demon, Asmodeus, that has killed her seven husbands on their wedding night, also asks God for death. God hears both prayers and sends the archangel Raphael to help. Sent by his father on business to the distant city of Media, the young Tobias and his dog are guided by Raphael (in the form of a young man) to the house of Sarah. There Tobias marries Sarah and, following Raphael's instructions, exorcises the demon. They return to his home, where Tobias cures his father's blindness.  The young Tobias and his dog with the angel have been a favourite subject of Christian iconography.

Tobias and the Angel
Find the dog by the Angel's right foot

Tobias and the Angel is painted on wood.  It is believed to be the work of different artists but it is attributed to Perugino who worked in Andrea del Verrochio's workshop in Florence during the 1470's.  Parts of this painting and especially the dog were painted by Leonardo da Vinci who was also a pupil of Verrochio at the time. Look at the dog in Leonardo's self portrait and the dog in the painting.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Dogs in the Bible

I am not getting very far with my research on dogs in the Bible.  They are often mentioned in the Old Testament but they are almost always regarded with scorn and hatred by the Hebrews who held them in low esteem.  Dogs often were the carriers of rabies, they smelled bad, were living in packs outside the cities and villages and were hostile towards humans.  It is not until later that man and dog teamed up together, each benefiting from each other’s company.  As the years progressed, different types of dog evolved, some to hunt, others to guard and to work in different ways and others purely as companions.

Friday 12 November 2010

Biblical history

"The dogs will eat Jezebel in the plot of land at Jezreel, no one will bury her." 2 Kings 9:10.

I came upon this quote and wondered why Jezebel was the recipient of such a unnoble treatment.
The Bible and the Hebrew text portray Jezebel as a power behind the throne. Ahab and Jezebel allow temples of Baal to operate in Israel, and that religion receives royal patronage. After Ahab's death, his sons by Jezebel, Ahaziah and Jehoram, accede to the throne. The prophet Elisha has one of his servants anoint Jehu as king to overthrow the house of Ahab. Jehu kills Jehoram as he attempts to flee in his war chariot. He then confronts Jezebel in Jezreel and urges her eunuchs to kill the queen mother by throwing her out of a window and leaving her corpse in the street to be eaten by dogs. Only Jezebel's skull, feet, and hands remain. Jezebel's last act, equipping herself in all her finery before she is murdered, has led to her being represented as a kind of prostitute.
I am lead to believe the greyhound is the only dog mentioned in the Bible but I am not convinced about that. I must do some more research on this. Watch this space.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Poor innocent dogs

Islamic terrorists tried to down a US cargo plane using exploding Bulldogs, it emerged yesterday.
Two animals, stuffed with bombs and detonators, were found by US officers at Baghdad airport. The bombs had been primed to explode during the aircraft's flight to LA.
But the dogs were never loaded on board as they had been killed by the lethal substances inside them.
The discovery, kept secret for two years, was revealed in France, days after explosives were found inside printer cartridges last week on a cargo plane from Yemen.

Friday 5 November 2010

Animal blessing

Christians everywhere celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4 by having their pets blessed in the spirit of this patron saint of animals.
The parish of Saint Rita in Paris holds this mass every first sunday of November and this year several animals were present: cats and dogs of course but also camels, zebras, lamas, tortoises, fish, rabbits, snakes, ...

Tuesday 2 November 2010

A bit of history

The history of the domestic dog was first chronicled in English in the 15th century.
Dame Juliana Berners (Barnes or Bernes) ,in her treatise on hunting in the Boke of St. Albans, which was first published in 1486 by a schoolmaster at St. Albans, gave what was the first list of recognised breeds to be printed in English. The classification was very limited, but it served to illustrate the importance attached even at that time to certain breeds of dogs and their purpose which have to this day retained their original nomenclature.
Dame Juliana's book was very popular.
A complete classification of dogs was published in 1570. It was called De Canibus Britannicus and was written in Latin by Dr Johannes Caius who was the physician to Queen Elizabeth I and the founder of Caius College Cambridge ( Gonville and Caius College ). It was first translated into English in 1576.
The book is divided into sections and is the first modern reference which classifies the dog’s purpose. The hunting of “beasts”, the hunting of fowl, finding game on water, finding game on land, retrieving, poaching, lapdog, scent hound, bloodhound. Section four is devoted to farm dogs and especially the Shepherd’s Dogge or Canis Pastoralis. In Bewick’s History of Quadrupeds, published in 1790, there is a woodcut of the shepherd’s dog. It bears a strong resemblance to the Border Collie of today. See picture.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

RIP Belle

Sadly Belle is no longer with us.  After 14 years without a day's illness, she succombed to liver cancer and became only a shadow of her former self.  I learned everything I know about dogs from her.  She will be sorely missed by me and my family.

Sunday 26 September 2010

New puppy

My friend, AT, the vet, has been without a dog for two years after the death of Prozac and has just acquired a puppy. Isn’t he sweet? 
He is an Australian shepherd dog actually. At first I mistook him for a Bernese Mountain dog. Perhaps because of his colouring. He is 4 months old and is called Jhappy.
This is what AT has to say:
“Voici mon nouveau chiot : Jhappy ... Non, non, ce n’est pas un Bouvier Bernois, mais un modèle réduit : le berger Australien , plus connu en couleur Merle qu’en tricolore...
Il m’a fallu plus de 2 ans pour me décider à reprendre un chien après mon beau Prozac, mais comprenez pourquoi j’ai craqué sur celui-ci !!!! »

Sunday 19 September 2010

Blue suede shoes

Police dogs in Düsseldorf will soon be equipped with blue plastic fiber shoes.
"All 20 of our police dogs — German and Belgian shepherds — are currently being trained to walk in these shoes," a police spokesman said. "I'm not sure they like it, but they'll have to get used to it."
The unusual footwear is not a fashion statement but rather a necessity due to the high rate of paw injuries on duty. Especially in the city's historical old town — famous for both its pubs and drunken revelers — the dogs often step into broken beer bottles.
The dogs will wear the shoes only during operations that demand special foot protection. The shoes comes in sizes small, medium and large and were ordered in blue to match the officers uniforms.

Sunday 12 September 2010

My Dog Tulip

Look out for this beautifully animated film featuring the voices of Christopher Plummer, the late Lynn Redgrave, and Isabella Rossellini.  My Dog Tulip is a bittersweet retrospective account of author J. R. Ackerley’s 16-year relationship with his adopted Alsatian bitch, Tulip.
The distinguished man of letters, Ackerley hardly thought of himself as a dog lover when, well into middle age, he came to adopt Tulip – a beautiful, yet intolerable 18-month-old German shepherd. To his surprise, she turned out to be the love of his life, the “ideal friend” he had been searching for in vain for so many years. In vivid and sometimes startling detail, the film reveals Tulip’s sassy, often erratic behaviour (and very canine tastes) and Ackerley’s fumbling but determined efforts to ensure an existence of perfect happiness for her.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

No way

Can you believe this? A male long-coated chihuahua dubbed "Love-kun" was born with heart-shaped markings on his coat in Odate, Japan on August 3rd. His older brother "Heart-kun" sports a heart-shaped pattern on his back.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Visit to garden centre

 Are these two the new garden gnomes?Would you like these two to protect your drive?

Thursday 26 August 2010

Dog wash

We visited a huge and well stocked garden centre and we came across this dog wash machine. 

Here are the instructions.
Click on picture to enlarge.

I cannot image putting Belle in one of those.  She would hate it!

Monday 23 August 2010


The other day we had tea in our favourite beach café run by a New Zealand lady on one of the most spectacular beaches of North Cornwall.  Best saffran cake in the world, incidentally!
RW decided to have tea with his 5 year old Labrador, Murphy.
We chatted about this and that.

Wednesday 18 August 2010


We saw these people running around on a secluded beach in North Cornwall and witnessed their collie rounding them up until they eventually were together in a group. It turns out they were scattering their granny’s ashes!
Click on picture to enlarge.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Brave dog

A perky black Labrador whose bomb-sniffing exploits helped save lives in Afghanistan was decorated for canine courage in a ceremony at the Imperial War Museum a few months ago.
Eight-year-old Treo joins a menagerie of heroic animals honoured over the years with a special award known as the Dickin medal, including 32 pigeons, three horses and a cat.
Sgt. Dave Heyhoe, the black Lab's handler, said he was "very proud indeed," adding the award was not just for him and his dog but "for every dog and handler working out in Afghanistan or Iraq."

Friday 6 August 2010

RIP Kookaï

My friend, EdN, lost her dog a few months ago.  I asked her to write a few words and this is what she wrote:  "Merci de penser à ma petite KOOKAI adorée que nous aimions tous beaucoup malgré sa mauvaise santé depuis le début et son air un peu simplet et ses tonnes de médicaments tous les jours !
En fait elle est retournée sur ses terres pour mourir !
Née dans les Carpates en Pologne chez un apiculteur le 30 janvier 2004 et morte à Krzeczyn Maly en Silésie le 16 mai 2010 !Snif ! snif !"
EdN lives in Brussels.

Sunday 1 August 2010

Surfing USA

More than 60 dogs showed up for the 5th annual Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog competition in Imperial Beach, California this week to compete for an adorable, if odd, honour. In 10 minutes the dogs had to prove their physical prowess to the judges who were looking for confidence and length of ride.
A dog owner spoke to a journalist about his pup Buddy saying: "He's really passionate about it. He sees this as a game and he wants to play. I'm sure he's ridden more waves than any other dog. My job is to get him into the critical part of the wave."
This year's contest raised money for the San Diego Police Department's canine unit.

These dogs do not look happy to me.  I do not agree with Buddy's owner. 

Sunday 25 July 2010

Poor dogs

Just 10 years ago, dogs were still eaten in public restaurants and raised on farms for that purpose in Taiwan. Traditional Chinese medicine held that so-called "fragrant meat" from dogs could fortify one's health.
Now, selling dog meat is illegal, and violators can be slapped with a nearly $8,000 fine, according to Huang Ching-Jung, secretary-general of Taiwan's Animal Protection Association. Eating dog is viewed by many Taiwanese as an embarrassing reminder of a poorer time.
Instead, Taiwanese have embraced dog-owning culture with a vengeance. Dogs are brought into restaurants, fussed over in public, dressed up in ridiculous outfits and wheeled to the park in frilly custom-made buggies.
Huang chalks up the rapid change in attitude to several factors. Taiwan's education level has risen rapidly, and animal welfare groups like his have successfully campaigned for better treatment of animals, with the media's help. The island has grown richer, meaning Taiwanese can now afford many types of meat, and can buy other medicines.
"You don't need dog meat to make you healthier, and we don't need dogs as a source of meat," said Huang. "So dogs have become our friends and companions."
Also, Taiwanese are increasingly shunning marriage and deciding not to have children (the island has one of Asia's lowest birth rates). Raising a dog has become a substitute. "It's like having a child — it becomes family," said Huang.
Finally, there's one all-important factor: "Dogs are very cute animals," Huang said.
The picture was taken at this year's Pets Show Tapei which took place earlier this month.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

What next?

A new ice cream van with tasty treats specifically for canines will have man's best friend howling with delight. Instead of offering the traditional vanilla whip cones topped with a flake, these frozen feasts contain gammon and chicken ice cream - complete with a crunchy canine biscuit bone. A team of scientists investigated the perfect combination of temperature, texture and taste, ensuring the treats would be delicious to dogs and completely safe.
They came up with two flavours - 'dog eat hog world' - a gammon and chicken sorbet topped with a biscuit and served in a cone - and 'canine cookie crunch' - a combination of mixed dog biscuits and ice cream.
The K99 van can be found in British parks this summer and, rather than the traditional chimes, the van will be playing the theme tune to Scooby Doo.

Monday 19 July 2010

Le Tour

Did you see this chap cycling up the Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France?

Wednesday 14 July 2010


The African wild dog, also called Cape hunting dog or painted dog, typically roams the open plains and sparse woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa.
These long-legged canines have only four toes per foot, unlike other dogs, which have five toes on their forefeet. The dog's Latin name means "painted wolf," referring to the animal's irregular, mottled coat, which features patches of red, black, brown, white, and yellow fur. Each animal has its own unique coat pattern, and all have big, rounded ears.
African wild dogs live in packs that are usually dominated by a monogamous breeding pair. The female has a litter of 2 to 20 pups, which are cared for by the entire pack. These dogs are very social, and packs have been known to share food and to assist weak or ill members. Social interactions are common, and the dogs communicate by touch, actions, and vocalizations.
African wild dogs hunt in formidable, cooperative packs of 6 to 20 (or more) animals. Larger packs were more common before the dogs became endangered. Packs hunt antelopes and will also tackle much larger prey, such as wildebeests, particularly if their quarry is ill or injured. The dogs supplement their diet with rodents and birds. As human settlements expand, the dogs have sometimes developed a taste for livestock, though significant damage is rare. Unfortunately, they are often hunted and killed by farmers who fear for their domestic animals.
African hunting dogs are endangered. They are faced with shrinking room to roam in their African home. They are also quite susceptible to diseases spread by domestic animals.

Friday 9 July 2010

A fun day out!

Of all the wonderfully weird roadside attractions in Michigan, this one stands out as one of the most bizarre. The Hoegh Pet Cemetery in Gladstone, Mich., offers factory tours where visitors can learn the history of pet burial and see all the steps required for making a pet casket. You can also take a tour of the pet cemetery and attend a mock pet funeral, complete with eulogy, floral arrangements and images of teary-eyed loved ones. The blurb says: "It's fun for the whole family!"

Sunday 4 July 2010

Ugliest dog 2010

Princess Abby, a grey, brown and black Chihuahua with a curved back and legs and a scrunched-up left eye, was named 2010 World's Ugliest Dog before a packed crowd at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California. Entrants came from across the US including Arizona, Florida and New Jersey. Princess Abby's owner, Kathleen Francis, won first prize of $1,000, but will have many new opportunities for fame as she and Princess Abby will be guests on television shows throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Princess Abby was picked up five months ago on the streets as a malnourished, flea infested stray. Francis adopted the dog from her vet. Other entrants in the contest have similar hard luck stories and stand out as strong survivors of abandonment and neglect. Their owners and the contest help to carry the event’s organisers’ message: ”Princess Abby is the poster child for spaying and neutering your animals. Her looks probably stem from being inbred."

Friday 2 July 2010

Nail varnish

There is something seriously wrong with people who would consider buying nail varnish for their dog.  What is wrong with our society?

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Merde alors!

Never mind what I think about personalised dog bowls or initialled dog blankets or diamond studded collars or spraying a dog's fur pink or putting a dog in a Halloween costume or palatial dog houses but what in the world is a poop freeze spray used for?

Saturday 19 June 2010

Happy 65th

65 today and still under house arrest.  Let's not forget Aung San Suu Kyi and her plight for the people of Burma.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Let's not forget

Edith Cavell was an English nurse, born in Norfolkshire in 1866 and the daughter of a clergyman. In 1907 she established a training school for nurses in Brussels in which hundreds of Belgian and German nurses were trained. In August 1915, during the German occupation of the city under the civil governorship of Baron von der Lancken, Cavell was suddenly arrested and imprisoned. She was charged with having aided English and Belgian young men who had come under her care as a nurse to escape to Holland and to England. Following trial in a military court on October 7th and 8th , she was condemned to be executed. In view of the fact that Cavell had devoted her life to humane service, and that the death penalty had not previously been inflicted for the offense with which she was charged, the American minister to Belgium, Brand Whitlock, endeavoured by all means in his power to prevent her execution. When Whitlock's secretary, Hugh Gibson, on the evening of her execution, sought the offices of the civil governor, Baron von der Lancken and his staff were found attending a disreputable theatre. After first denying, though later admitting, both the sentence and the order of execution, Von der Lancken refused to delay her execution or even to grant permission to telephone the Kaiser on her behalf. When reminded that her murder would rank with the burning of Louvain and the sinking of the Lusitania in stirring the civilized world with horror, Count Harrach, the civil governor's aide, remarked that his only regret was that they did not have "three or four more old English women to shoot." Despite all efforts of the American minister, Cavell was executed at 2 am on October 13th 1915.

After the war in May 1919, Cavell's body was exhumed and returned to England. With great ceremony, she was taken to Westminster Abbey for a memorial service attended by King George V and then was reburied in Norwich. Today a statue stands in her honour at St. Martin's Place near Trafalgar Square. The statue is engraved with a statement made by Cavell to her last English visitor before her execution. It reads: "Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness for anyone." A special service is held there every year at the anniversary of her death.

Sunday 13 June 2010

Chill out

Dr. Deborah Wells, senior lecturer in the School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland conducted a study of the effects of music on dogs in animal shelters. The study found that the type of music dogs heard had a dramatic affect on their disposition and mood. Heavy metal music caused quite a bit of barking, while pop music had about the same effect as human conversation. But when dogs were exposed to classical music, they were far more relaxed, and quiet.
Since the study was released, animal shelters in the UK have played classical music to soothe their dogs. While this makes dogs more relaxed at the shelter, it has another added benefit, though it hasn’t been scientifically documented. When people looking to adopt pets enter a shelter, soothing classical music also relaxes them, and seems to cause them to spend more time looking around. And, when dogs appear calm and relaxed, rather than nervous and anxious, they are more appealing, thus more adoptable.

Monday 7 June 2010

Fido and Aeneas

On Saturday 5th June the Sydney Opera House hosted a concert for dogs as part of the “Vivid” Light Festival. Organised by American musician Laurie Anderson and her rock legend husband Lou Reed, the Music For Dogs event featured a surreal concerto of high-pitch whistles, synthesizers and strings.

This is how the Sydney Opera House’s website presented the event:
“The World Premiere of a unique concert experience on the Sydney Opera House Forecourt, for you… and your dog!
Laurie Anderson has composed a 20 minute work to create a shared experience for you and your dog.
The morning will be an inter-species social gathering on a scale never seen before in Australia. The site will open from 9am where breakfast can be purchased at our specially created doggie cafe, including freshly brewed coffee, egg & bacon rolls and doggie biscuits. This is an event that you’ll be yapping about for years to come, an absolute must for any dog and their two legged friends!
Unfortunately there is no public transport for you and your dog, however the Sydney Opera House car park is dog friendly and offers you a $15 flat rate for this event!
The wet weather contingency venue will be under the Sydney Opera House vehicle concourse.

And this is what the press had to say after the event:
“The program did not go as far as listing The Barker of Seville or The Marriage of Fido, but for the hundreds of dogs who gathered at the Sydney Opera House, it was still an unusually cultured day out.
While some of the pieces were beyond the range of human ears, they sent the concert's four-legged patrons into a frenzy.
"It was really so fantastic. All the dogs were really grooving on the music. They really seemed to enjoy themselves," said Ms Anderson.
The 20-minute concert opened with a set featuring whale calls and soothing white noise, before moving through a rhythm and beat section to a discordant crescendo almost drowned out by hundreds of barks and howls.
"We've got some singing dogs down here in the mosh pit (*)," joked Ms Anderson, who led the four-piece band with a variety of instruments including slide whistle, violin and synthesizers. Organizers said that dog owners brought around 1,000 pets to enjoy the free event.
"The dogs were really wonderful audience members," Ms Anderson added. "And there were no dog fights. We were very relieved about that, everyone was very well behaved."

(*) For those of you less familiar with “youth speak” here is the definition of mosh pit: “Moshing refers to the act in which audience members at live music performances push and/or slam into each other for the purpose of fun activity and in a non-hateful way most of the time. It is most commonly associated with concerts featuring more aggressive musical genres, such as hardcore punk and heavy metal.
Moshing primarily takes place at live shows, though it can be done to recorded music. In the 2000s, many variations of moshing exist, such as "thrashing," and is typically done in an area in front of the stage which is referred to as the mosh pit or simply pit.”

Friday 4 June 2010

Me and myself

Eurodog is my nom de plume!  Or is it?

( Thank you for the cartoon, BB. )

Monday 31 May 2010

Sailing with dogs

I was looking through Compass 24’s catalogue which is a water sports catalogue for the largest mail order house for yachting equipment in the world. Our favourite pets can enjoy sailing too and for their comfort and safety the following two items are a must.
1. the boarding ladder, suitably named Paws Aboard, offers the fastest and safest way out of the water for our four-legged friends. Reduces danger of injury for dogs of all ages. Extremely safe non-slip rungs. Fast and simple to fit. Central hinge ensures compact stowage. UV and corrosion-resistant material. Easily cleaned with a mild detergent. It will cost you 189,95 £
2. the premium dog swim jacket, an attractive and above all safe swim jacket for your dog. Not just for wearing on board. With soft padded, adjustable chest belt and two adjustable belly straps. Retro reflective patches, lifting becket and small pocket. Cost : 22,95 £

I would just like to add that these are not luxury items as dogs can fall overboard just as easily as humans and can drown just as quickly. Dogs find it very difficult to climb on board and need help.  If humans are more than happy to help their dogs back on board after a voluntary or involuntary swim, they will end up with terrible scratches ( and possibly teeth marks ) on their arms, back and torso as the dog tries to clamber back on board.

Wednesday 26 May 2010


My friend LPC who lives in Antibes sadly lost her husband recently . Kenza, a Maltese Bichon belonged to a young woman who worked in the kitchen of a busy restaurant and who had impossible hours. On her day off, she would lunch with her friends, go clothes and grocery shopping, have her hair done, go to the dentist, take her car to be serviced, have tea with an elderly relative, go to the post office to pick up a parcel, pay a few bills, update her Facebook profile, attend to domestic chores such as cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, do the ironing and so on and so forth.  Poor Kenza was left alone for hours on end and her owner eventually took pity on her and put an ad in the local newsagent. LPC’s son went to buy a packet of cigarettes, saw the add, called his mother and brought Kenza home. When I asked LPC if she had anything to add, she said: “You can always add that she is the best little doggie in the world and that she is 2 years old”.
Kenza is very suspecious of me and barks at me when I look at her.
She is the only frequent flyer dog I know as she and her mistress are regulars on the Brussels-Nice run.