Friday, July 4, 2014

Breed Profile: Boxer

The Boxer is an athletic amiable dog, prone to antics. 

Due to his strength, eagerness to do things with his people and a short nose allowing for a good grip, the Boxer was originally used to hunt and hold large prey such as bears, wild boar and deer.  In Germany during the 19th century, the Boxer worked with police, performed in circuses and as Butcher's Dogs, their job to keep cattle in slaughter yards under control.

During the World Wars, Boxers served as pack-carriers, sentries and messengers.

Some Boxer Facts

- life span:  10-12 years

- height at shoulder:  21-25 inches

- weight:  50-80 pounds

- the coat is short and smooth.  Colors:  fawn, brindle, with or without white and black markings

Boxers are cheerful sturdy dogs that enjoy being with children.  They usually do OK with other dogs but can sometimes be aggressive with dogs of the same sex.  Cats and Boxers can live in harmony as long as they have been raised together.  Boxers tend to chase small animals such as rabbits and rats (even if you consider these creatures part of the family).

Boxer Manifesto

don't call me high strung.  I am exuberant.

-  I am not an outdoor dog, unless we're doing something fun together outside.  After-words, I expect to return with you to the comfort of your bed

-  those who call me stubborn are obviously not intelligent enough to merit my obedience

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pop Culture Frenzy, Round 27

Welcome once again to Pop Culture Frenzy.   Superpowers are a popular topic lately. 

In order to maintain the pretense that we care about current prattle, today we'll each explain which superpower we would choose to possess if we had the chance.

I want to be able to read
minds.  Then I could tell
when I'm up against
the narrow minded.
Hostmaster: oh boy.
Molly, what superpower would you want?
I would like the agility of a squirrel.
Not just any squirrel, though. 
A flying squirrel.
Hostmaster:  How about you, Bryan?
I want superpower to write aphorisms. 
Hostmaster:  so you want to be a writer?
I want to be a gnomist.
Hostmaster:  you're dreaming with the super heroes, pal.

I don't need a superpower. 
God has that covered.
You know, Fluffy.
 It's narrow minded people like you
 who ruin it for everybody.

Hostmaster:  oh boy.
Who do you think won this round?
God, of course.
You, da gnomist! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Not so Alarming

The last few weeks have been a blur of hyper vigilance alternating with crazed inertia.  Truly, I'd forgotten the enormity of mental exhaustion that accompanies the presence of a young puppy in the home.  (It has been seven years since the last puppy!)

Henry is now about 14 weeks old.  He's getting the hang of things.  He knows his name.  He sits on command.  He has a good grasp on where the bathroom is, except now and then when he forgets.

Henry sleeps crated in the bedroom with us.  The other dogs sleep at large on various blankets that blanket the bedroom floor.  This arrangement makes it convenient to zip Henry outside during the night to relieve himself.  Yes.  Convenient.  Well, as convenient as can be expected as you stand in your nightgown on the lawn shining a flashlight beam on a squatting puppy, proclaiming in sleepy enthusiasm, "good boy!".

When the alarm goes off at 5:30am, lately, it feels earlier. 

Over the years, I've experimented with different sounds for the alarm clock.  Buzzers, bells, music.  Buzzers startle me.  Bells annoy me.  Music has the unfortunate tendency to stay in my head all day, a couple of bars repeating maddeningly.  I've finally found what works: the radio set on a talk station - but it must be in a language I don't understand.  This, curiously, is the most neutral way for me to wake.

How do you like to be awakened? 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Sven Swoons

Not much singing going on these days, following a huge spike in Canary music.  Why?  Spring hormones and whatnot.

The boys sang.  The girl tweeted (tweet, as in a bird's vocalization, not some electronic gadget's recording of someone's every fleeting notion).


The hen decides which male she wants for a mate. 


Kimber seemed to prefer Sven.  When Sven was placed in the cage with her.  He fainted.


In spite of this, Kimber layed an egg and sat on it for nearly two weeks.  She and Sven shared the cage with the egg.  A couple of times, briefly, Sven was seen spreading his wings in a manly display.  Kimber hissed at him.

The egg was found broken at the bottom of the cage.  Sven was relocated to his own cage.  He grew light headed upon arrival but did not faint.


Friday, May 30, 2014

New Resident, Bad Dog Ranch

How about them Cowboys?

What do Lois and Mabel think of this new creature?
Interloper.  Irritant.
He is called Henry.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pop Culture Frenzy, Round 26

Welcome once again to Pop Culture Frenzy.  On to our question.

A Maine teenager was walking in a Florida park and decided to take a picture.  His first inclination was, naturally, to take a selfie.  Then he noticed a squirrel sitting on a nearby rail.  The teenager shoved his face up to the squirrel and snapped his selfie. 

What happened next?

The squirrel demanded payment for use of his image?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.
The picture has gone viral, raising awareness of the
need for conservation of the
squirrel's habitat?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.
The squirrel yelled for help. 
A bunch of his friends came and
wrestled the teenager to the ground.
They took his wallet and ran up
a tree.  Then they
chattered and taunted the kid by
tossing each item from the wallet on
his head?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.
A hawk swooped down and snatched the
 cell phone from the kid's hand.
  The hawk flew to a nearby swamp
and dropped the phone
into the water.  An
alligator then swallowed
the phone?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.
Nobody wins this round.
Here's what happened.
After the teenager snapped
 the picture, the squirrel leaped
on him and crawled
under his shirt.  The teenager
threw himself on the ground,
drop and roll style.  All the
while, the teenager's mother
 took video.  Finally, the
squirrel escaped
and fled. 


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbirds are found throughout the United States and much of Canada.  They are roughly the same size as a Robin.  RwB have black plumage with a red patch bordered in yellow on each shoulder.  The plumage of the female RwB is brown with lighter streaks and a hint of red on each shoulder.

In early spring, the males fly to their breeding grounds to stake out a territory.  A couple weeks later, the females arrive.  Typically, one male attracts three females to his territory.

Favored habitats of the Red-winged Blackbird are ponds, open fields, marches, shorelines.  The female builds a nest in thick vegetation, in shrubs or among reeds and grasses.  She weaves grasses to make the nest, located about 3-8 feet off the ground.

The female does all the incubation and most of the nestling feeding.  Once the youngsters are fledged the male helps out with feeding.  RwB eat bugs, seeds and plants, especially aquatic plants.

Both parents guard the nest and surrounding area.  They can be quite aggressive about it too, as anyone who has ever wandered remotely near a RwB nest can attest.  Their main predators are Crows.  Sometimes males will join forces to chase away a Crow.

Some Red-wing Blackbird Facts

-  broods per year (females):  1

-  eggs per brood:  3-5

-  incubation:  11 days

-  nestling: 11 days

-  fledgling:  7-10 days

-  length:  7-9.5 inches

-  wingspan:  12-15.5 inches

Around September the birds molt.  Around October large flocks gather, usually segregated by sex,  sometimes along with Grackles and Cowbirds, fly south to their winter territory.

A Red-winged Blackbird dive bombing your head is worth two in a bush.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Seeing Pearl

Pearl's patterns have changed in recent weeks.  She spends more time on the floor of the cage than she used to.  She has not been seen swinging on the swing in quite a while.  She rarely uses the perches.

Leonard and Pearl

What can it mean?  She doesn't seem ill.  She is eating and drinking and bathing.  No puffed up feathers or lethargy.  When there is a bit of fresh food clothes-pinned to the wall of the cage, Pearl finds it, eats it.  She and Leonard still groom each other, they continue to spend nights nestled in their grit cup. 

Wait a minute!  Her eyes look different.  There is a cast.  That glow of light present in the eye of a bird does not move as Pearl moves.  There is instead, a small dull circle on each of her eyes.  Great balls of illumination!  Could it be that Pearl is blind?!

Now, didn't I read somewhere that light pigmented Society (aka Bengalese) Finches are prone to blindness?  Let's see now, according to Northwest Bengalese Finches it is a misconception that albinos have eye problems.  They do however, have trouble with bright light due to lack of pigment in the eye- albinos have pink eyes.  Very interesting, but Pearl has black eyes.  She is not albino. 

Again, according to this Bengalese breeder, it IS true that white birds, particularly white pieds with fawn ancestry, tend to have eye problems as they get older.  They tend to get cataracts.  Pearl is a white bird, is she a pied of fawn ancestry?  The only way to find out would be to breed her and look at her offspring.  We won't be doing that.  Pearl is an old gal with cataracts.

It's OK.  Pearl will be just fine. Leonard is there for her.