Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Breed Profile: Great Dane

The history of the Great Dane is slightly murky.  We are reasonably sure it was fully developed in Germany some 400 years ago.  However, there is some discrepancy in what went on prior to that.  Some say a Great Dane-like dog was seen and described in China around 1100 BC.  Some say there are pictures of dogs resembling Great Danes in Egyptian tombs.

The Dane is thought to be a product of crossing the now extinct Molossus war dog (believed to be the progenitor to the English Mastiff) and a Greyhound or an Irish Wolfhound or both. 

One look at the Dane of today, Mastiff qualities are obvious -especially the head and Sight Hound qualities are obvious -especially the deep chest and tucked waist.

Why is a dog from Germany called a Dane, you ask?  It was called German Boarhound for a while, but later, somehow Great Dane stuck.  One theory is that the name came from the French "grand Danois" which means big Danish.  Of course, that still fails to explain why a dog from Germany is called a Dane.
Great Danes were originally used to hunt wild boar.  Later they were used to guard estates.  After that, they took the job they hold today:  companion.
Some Great Dane Facts
-  height:  28-36 inches
-  weight:  110-180 pounds
-  life span:  7-11 years
The short haired Great Dane comes in a variety of colors/patterns: fawn, brindle, black, blue, harlequin, mantle.  The coat is easy to care for, requiring occasional brushing and bathing as needed.  The ears are naturally droop.  Some Great Dane owners crop the ears into an upright point. 
Great Danes are affectionate, friendly, calm dogs that prefer to be inside the house with their people.  They are intelligent enough to be trained, but not so bright that you have to forever entertain and challenge their minds.
Great Dane Manifesto
-  yeah, I'm a Gentle Giant.  That's why I'm asking you politely to move over so I can take over the couch
-  the cat and the other dogs can squeeze in next to us

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

American Crows

Looking for murder?

During non breeding periods, American, or Common, Crows congregate in large flocks.  A flock of crows is called a murder.  Hundreds, even thousands of Crows may be part of a murder.  In the morning, the birds leave their murder, flying as far as fifty miles to feed.  In the evening, they return to the communal roost amidst raucous cawing. 

When a bird of prey is flying in the area, a bunch of Crows take flight to surround the predator.  The gang of Crows shriek, chase and lounge at the predator bird.  You might say, they escort the unwanted guest out of town.

Crows are all black, their feathers, their beaks, their legs and feet.  The sexes look similar.  Crows are roughly the same size as a gull, that is, 18-20 inches in length. 

Crows are often confused with the larger Raven (approximately 24 inches long).  In flight, the Raven has a fan shaped tail while the Crow's tail is more straight and narrow.  The Raven's beak is thicker than the Crow's beak.

The American Crow is found throughout the US and in most of Canada.

During the breeding season, Crows break off into smaller groups.  Soon the business of courtship and mating commences.  Crows do not appear to make the big production out of courtship that some birds do.  However, in spring, you may see Crows bobbing, cooing and spreading their feathers alluringly.  The voice of the Crow is softer at this time.  Rather than the harsh sounding CAW usually uttered, the Crow emits a Rattle-call.  This is apparently the Crow's version of a love song.

Nests are typically built in trees, 20-60 feet above the ground.  The nests are about 24 inches in diameter, with an inner diameter of 7 inches- where 4-5 eggs are laid.  Nesting materials include, bark strands, sticks, twigs, grass, moss, string and cloth.  A pair of Crows may have one or two broods per year. 

After the youngsters are fledged, they join the murder.

Hear the voice of a Crow and see some pictures here. 


Friday, August 16, 2013

Pop Culture Frenzy, Round 15

Welcome to Pop Culture Frenzy.  Let's get on with it.

The Washington Redskins are feeling some heat lately from voices asserting that their team name is offensive. What team name could they (or any sport team for that matter) choose that won't offend anybody?


Maybe they could use alphabet letters. 
 Like Team X?
Then there'd be complaints that
that dominant alphabet excludes
 the differently alphabeted.
Football is violent and encourages
 men to be physically hostile.
Football is a game.
A game that many people enjoy playing
 and watching.  I hope the Redskins
 refuse to change the name of their team.
So you don't buy the assertion
 that "Redskins" is offensive?
Of course not.
"Redskin" is an old fashioned informal word
 referring to a North American Indian.
  It conveys courage, toughness.
  You know, the very qualities one
 would want in a competitive team.  
Some Native Americans have complained
 that the name is offensive.
So?  Every time somebody complains that they are offended,
 we have to change something?  That doesn't make sense.
  I am offended that I must be on a leash in public. 
 If I complained and made self centered
 demands,  I'd never get to take a walk.
Native Americans are special.
  We took their land from them and stuff.
Yes, many early settlers mistreated the Indian.
  We all know that.  What is pathetic is how Native Americans
 have been turned into helpless waifs dependent on government
 and fed a steady dose of rancor against their "conquerors". 
 What present day people with Native American blood really
 are, or ought to be, are Americans.  Rather than accepting
 history and learning from it, why must we keep apologizing for it?
It's their heritage, their identity.
There's a difference between having a connection
 to the past, your heritage, and expecting
 special treatment because of it.
I had a feeling this pop culture frenzy question
would prove unanswerable.
Yeah well, ha!
  Let me tell you something.
  I self identify as a dolphin.
  Dolphins are intelligent peaceful
 docile creatures ill suited to the hostility of football.
  I demand that Miami change their team name!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Rose Learns a New Command

In a couple of months, Rose will celebrate her sixteenth birthday.  According to the chart on the wall at the vet's office, she is about 85 in people years.

Sometimes, she moans.  Oft times, Rose moves stiffly, carefully.  We're not really sure how much she can see or hear.  The baby gate at the top of the stairs remains closed.  Rose simply does not do stairs with as much alacrity as she used to.
This is where the new command comes in.  Poor Rose.  Her Terrier heritage screams out to be independent, yet she must learn to depend on others more and more. 
Therefore, when Rose must go down the stairs, we tell her, "let me help you".  Rose pauses, we grip the stair rail with one hand, her collar with the other and walk down the stairs backwards, keeping Rose on her feet and moving in a reasonably straight line all the way down.
When it's time to ascend the stairs, Rose must be carried.  "Let me help you."  Rose still wants to help herself, so she does a little hop as you pick her up.  Once in your arms, she thrusts her legs out in a rigid, almost cartoon manner.  Rose maintains this position until we've completed the climb and she is placed on the floor, on her feet.
Rose has taught us many lessons.  Such as:
Independence is relative and sometimes fleeting.
Patience and a sense of humor may not make things easier, but they help. 


Thursday, August 8, 2013

More George and Fluffy the Dogwalker

I've noticed something unique about you, Fluffy. 
 You are not constantly playing with a phone.

I hold the old fashioned notion
that when you are with someone
it is rude to play with a toy
unless you are sharing it.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


The most fabulous feature in my yard is a pond.

A place where fish and frogs frolic.

This year the frog population is down.

Could it be because the Heron decoy isn't fooling anybody?