Saturday, March 30, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Talking to Dogs, Watch Your Tone

When we talk to dogs, they hear our words.  However, our tone of voice speaks even louder.


For the past several years, I have been walking Client X.  We get along fine.  Client X is a self confident, reasonably intelligent dog.  He enjoys chasing Robins, smelling things, and finding large sticks which he then carries home to add to his collection (kept in an unruly pile just outside the backdoor).

The other day after we finished our walk, Client X stood at the entrance of his kitchen while I stood on the landing.  As I removed his leash, I knocked over my bag.  The bag tumbled down the basement stairs spilling its contents.  While I picked up the poop bags and business cards and extra leash and collar and lip balm and assorted other workday necessities that sprayed out of the bag, I released a series of animated curses and sundry cussing style vocalizations.

When I returned to Client X, he was cringing.  I had never seen him cringe before.  But then, I'd never before had a hissy fit in his presence.

The reaction of Client X is a good reminder that dogs do listen to us.  When we want them to obey a command, we use our authoritative voice.  When we want them to lick our face, we pull out the sing song voice.  When we yell expletives, they cringe - even if we don't want them to.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pop Culture Frenzy, Round 9

Welcome once again to Pop Culture Frenzy.  Let's get on with our question.

Fossil remains have been found in China, purportedly from 100 million years ago.  What are these fossils? 


Giant squirrels?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.  Cyndi?
Giant people.  You know, like really big.
  Like, dinosaur big?

Hostmaster:  incorrect.  Fluffy?
 Bird fossils with so called feathers on the legs. 
Now some scientists claim birds once had 4 wings.
Hostmaster:  correct.

 That's bogus.  I saw the pictures of these birds. 
If, and that's a big if, they are feathers, who says they are for flight? 
The structure of the legs are like legs for walking, not wings for flying. 
The four wing theory is weak.
Speaking as a bird, if there were 4 wings they wouldn't
 be at either end like arms and legs but 2 pair,
 side by side like a dragonfly. 
By the way, this is the End of Round 9.
That configuration does make more sense aerodynamically. 
Furthermore, the whole conjecture that these vague wisps
 on the fossil are feathers at all, stretches credulity. 
 If they are feathers, surely there are reasons
 for leg feathers other than for an awkward pair of wings.
Absolutely.  Leg plumage is often present for mating rituals. 
Some birds have feathery legs that protect them from
 briers and other environmental unpleasantness.
Feathers are pretty!
Yeah.  Some scientists noticed that the fossil bird
legs can't flap like wings.  So they suggest
 the feathers were  rigid and worked
like a parasail.
Like a flying squirrel!  Wait.  The trouble is,
 the parasail set up on the squirrel is a flap of skin
 like stretched in the armpit.  How could a bird
 have such feathers in his armpit?
How indeed.  Then some scientists suggest
 that the feathers on the legs are like the tail on a plane. 
 I want to know how in the heck the
 bird would hold his legs for that to work.
The tail idea is bizarre. 
 He'd have two tails that are legs and what?
 A regular tail too?
This interpretation of feathers and wings and whatnot,
sounds to me like scientists making stuff up to fit a theory- 
the way they did with Piltdown Man. 
Round 9
Fluffy/Molly  5
Bryan/Cyndi  4
 I hope next time the question is about
movies or fashion.  Science is boring.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Chameleons are reptiles, which means they are cold blooded and have scaly skin.  The Chameleon is a lizard, which means he has a elongated body with four legs and a tail.

Chameleons have a unique foot structure that gives them excellent mobility when walking on a branch but lousy mobility when walking on a flat surface.  The appendage at the end of the Chameleon's limb features fused toes so that the animal has the appearance of only two or three tong-like fingers.   Chameleons move slowly.  You might say they do a good sloth impersonation.  It is believed that to their prey, the Chameleon looks like a dried leaf moving in the breeze.  With that sort of camouflage, changing color seems unnecessary.

Speaking of changing color, the Chameleon does change color.  Apparently the color change is effected by both the environment and the animal's state of mind.  If sitting in bright light, the Chameleon is likely to become darker.  A Chameleon at rest is usually wearing his lightest hue.  When ready to mate, both male and female sport distinct coloration.

Very solitary and territorial, the Chameleons only get together at breeding time.  Males appear at the edge of a receptive female's territory and do battle.  These contests involve hissing, inflated body posturing, pushing, shoving, biting and head butting.  The vanquished male turns black and retreats.

Some Chameleon Facts

more than 85 species

-  range in size from less than an inch to two and a half feet long

-  they have a sticky tongue that is longer than their body.  The tongue is used to catch prey similar to a frog.

-  most have prehensile tails which are kept coiled when not in use

-  their two eyes are situated on turrets that allow them to see in all directions, each eye independently

-  they do not seem to have keen hearing.  There is no external auditory membrane.

-  diet:  bugs, small birds, mammals and reptiles

-  the designated sleeping area is adorned with spit to mark the spot

-  some species lay eggs (the young are born with an egg tooth), some species live birth.  The size of the clutch varies from 14 to 120

Keeping Chameleons as pets is challenging.  They require a vast assortment of food, mostly insects.  A monotonous diet often leads to refusal to eat.  Chameleons don't drink from a water dish but from moisture off of leaves, thus, frequent misting is necessary.  In addition, the temperature requirements of many species require daily variations to mimic their natural habitat.  Even when given very attentive care, a captive Chameleon rarely lives longer than two years.

See a nice picture.  See another nice picture.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fluffy and the Flute Player

Is that what it appears to be?
I have heard troubling stories.  It seems that a dog once lived in that dog house.  He used to stand on top of it, much like this cat does, and  play a violin.  Apparently there was a skirmish, a disagreement, a fight, between the cat and the dog.  What happened is unclear.  Maybe the cat dislikes the violin or Bach.  It seems the dog played a lot of JS Bach.  As you no doubt noticed, the cat is playing Claude Bolling.  Anyway, neither the dog nor his violin have been seen in quite some time. The stories don't all agree except for one element.  All who speak of this mention the words:  CAT GUT. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Breed Profile: Collie

Farmers in Scotland used dogs to herd sheep.  They were called Colley Dogs.  Both the rough coated Collie and the smooth coated Collie are thought to have come from these Colley Dogs.  Most farmers used the smooth coated Collie as drovers and the rough coated Collie to stay with the flock, their coat allowed them comfort on the job in all sorts of weather.
Around 1860 Queen Victoria took a liking to Collies and the breed became popular among the upper classes.
Meanwhile in America, there was sheep herding going on.  Collies were brought to the states and put to work.  Soon their delightful personalities as pets and companions and baby sitters gained attention.

Some Collie Facts
- life span:  8-12 years
-  height at shoulder:  22-26 inches
-  weight:  50-75 pounds
-  two coat versions: Rough - soft undercoat, straight, harsh, long outer coat, and Smooth - soft undercoat, short and flat outer coat
-  coat colors:  tri color (white, black, tan),  fawn, cream, gold, sable with white, and blue merle (originally called tortoise shell)
 Collies are not only accomplished at herding, they have also racked up success in the show ring, obedience, acting in movies, delivering messages in wartime and as trustworthy family members. 
Like most breeds originally bred to do a job, it is important to offer a Collie regular exercise to keep him from getting antsy. 
The Collie is friendly with most everybody but is also discerning.  In other words, you may be fooled by a con man, but your Collie won't be. 
Collies are gentle and patient, making them terrific with children and baby ducks.
Collie Manifesto
-  yes, Lassie was a goody goody.  You got a problem with that?
-  I love kids and other dogs and birds and cats and people and sheep and cows and horses and assorted other critters I haven't met yet.  I love to round them up.
Next Breed Profile:   Irish Wolfhound!  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Anatomy of an Ad

One morning a few days ago, as I stood on the gray sidewalk rubbing my left hip, an idea emerged. 

Businesses advertise.  Naturally, Dog Walkers advertise too.  While it is true that many of my clients came to me by referral, many too came to me via advertising.  What drew them in? 

My years of experience?  That Pet First Aid certification?

While my own dog stood beside me in the fading darkness of the early morning, I gazed at the ice on which I'd just slipped.  "I really ought to carry a cymbal for such events,"  I told Lois. 

As Lois stood silently waiting for me to finish rubbing my backside, it occurred to me that even though we were tethered together by a leash, when I fell down, Lois did not.  Did I land on my left side because I willed it so?  Was I protecting the dog at the end of the leash in my left hand by falling toward her?  Had I fallen away from her, the leash would have propelled her down with me.  Thanks to the slack in the leash, Lois stayed on her feet while I landed on my derriere.  The same thing occurred a few years ago when I fell down while walking a client dog named Lucy.  I landed on my left buttocks while Lucy remained safely on all four feet.  It happened another time when I was walking a client dog named Hank.  And another time while walking a client dog named Luca.  And there was that time with a client dog named Dakota.

Is this pattern a unique selling point that could be utilized to increase my business? 

How might I use this in my advertising? 

Hire me as your Dog walker and I promise to keep my pratfalls to myself? 
Rest assured, no dogs are harmed during dog walker spills? 
I'll fall all over myself to keep your dog safe?

Is there a slogan somewhere in this slippery affair?