Dog on a roof

Image courtesy Kare11 News

I haven’t been up on a roof in a while but I especially remember enjoying the get-away properties inherent in our flat-roofed house in Palma Sola, Florida. My older sister called in vain for me to come and do the dishes. I was happily ensconced  with a blanket and book and wouldn’t reemerge for hours (or until the dishes were done without me). I also had a favorite tree that I climbed that combined the same escape advantage with an excellent reading perch.

Well here is a story about a dog here in Minnesota whose love of climbing up on roofs lies in far more industrious motivations. Hayley, a golden retriever feels that she is part of the DeMars construction crew and ‘climbs a ladder as well as any other member of the crew.’

Kare11 News reports:

MANKATO, Minn. — It’s the slow time of year for the construction business, but when your public relations representative is a Golden Retriever named Hayley, jobs for DeMars Construction in Mankato seem to come a little easier.

No short of unusual, Hayley brings to the table a skill unlike any other dog-gone carpenter.

Hayley is able to climb up a ladder as well as any other on the team.

“She’s one of the guys, part of the crew,” said owner Max DeMars, who by the way is not directly related to the author of this story.

And like the crew, Hayley too can handle a two-by-four.

Since she was a pup, Hayley, now 10 years old, follows the crew wherever they go.

“One day we were up on the roof and there she was,” explained DeMars.  “Saying what about me.”

After hundreds of jobs over the years, she’s got a pretty good handle on climbing up the ladder, even when nobody else is up on the roof.

One cold January day her solo trip nearly got her in some hot water.

The crew was working on an addition for the Hosanna Lutheran Church in Mankato when a neighbor spotted her on top of the building.

The neighbor called police and a short time later an officer arrived.

Continue reading the story
Watch the video

Links of interest:
Rooftop Ice Skating Rink
Rooftops and Urban Agriculture
Lyrics to ‘Up On the Roof’ sung by James Taylor, Lyrics by Gerry Goffin – Carole King

The cat who got swine flu: first documented case of a cat getting H1N1

Image Annette Marie Hyder

In case you’ve been worrying about whether your cat can get H1N1 or not — it can.

A thirteen year old cat in Iowa is the first documented case of a feline with the new H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu.

The New York Times reports:

The cat, a 16-pound orange tabby, began acting lethargic and lost his appetite on Oct. 27. He is the only pet in the house and never goes outside. The cat, described as “large framed but not chubby,” stopped eating and drinking and stopped cleaning himself. He also rested by hunching on all four feet, rather than sprawling out on his side as usual, a sign of respiratory discomfort. A few days earlier, two out of three family members in the home had developed flu-like symptoms, with fever and body aches.

Read the entire article here.

Relevant link:

CDC’s (Centers for  Disease Control and Prevention  ) Questions and answers on 2009 H1N1 flu and you.

Fox has a thing for shoes and will steal to get them

Photo courtesy of bscrittersitterblogspot

Annette Marie Hyder

fox fashionista —
can such a thing really be?
vixen shoe fetish?

what does one pair with sly ears?
look in her den and you’ll see

Stunning collection

For more than a year, a thief in Föhren, Germany has been going around stealing shoes from resident’s doorsteps and garden terraces at night. The culprit has finally been discovered — and she’s a fox.

She has been dubbed “Imelda”, with an Imelda Marcos-size shoe collection amassed and snugly arranged in her nest.

SPIEGEL ONLINE International reports:

The bushy-tailed culprit, believed to be a vixen with a family of cubs, is still at large, and locals have two explanations for her kleptomania. Either she amassed them as toys for her children, or she simply likes collecting shoes, or both. So far 120 stolen shoes have been retrieved.

“She’s clearly got a thing about shoes,” Rudolf Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, the local count who lives in Föhren Palace, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “We found 86 shoes in the den and a further 32 in a nearby quarry where they like to play. That includes 12 or 13 matching pairs of shoes.”

“The shoes may well be intended as toys for the cubs because there are bite marks made by little teeth on the shoelaces,” he continued. “It’s impressive that she found the time to steal them in addition to getting food.”

Count von Kesselstatt had the retrieved shoes laid out in the palace on Wednesday so that the townsfolk can come and collect them.

Pink dolphin photographed

Photo courtesy of The Guardian

Not sheer pink or light pink or blush pink or coral, but really pink — bubble gum  pink, cotton candy pink, Barbie high heels pink — a pink so pink it looks fake.

This pink dolphin has been photographed by charter boat Captain Erik Rue, 42, who has
been studying the dolphin since it first surfaced in Lake Calcasieu, an
inland saltwater estuary, north of the Gulf of Mexico in south-west
Louisiana. Rue originally saw the rare albino dolphin, which also has
reddish eyes, swimming with a pod of four other dolphins.

The Guardian reports:

A rare pink bottlenose dolphin has been spotted in a Louisiana lake.
The albino dolphin has been making a splash with locals and visitors to
the area since it was first spotted last year.

“I just
happened to see a little pod of dolphins, and I noticed one that was a
little lighter … I had never seen anything like it. It’s the same
colour throughout the whole body,” said Rue.

“The dolphin appears
to be healthy and normal other than its coloration, which is quite
beautiful and stunningly pink,” Rue said he had seen the dolphin 40 to
50 times.

“As time has passed the young mammal has grown and
sometimes ventures away from its mother to feed and play but always
remains in the vicinity of the pod,” he said

Regina Asmutis-Silvia, a senior biologist with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said: “I have never seen a dolphin coloured in this way in all my career.”

is a truly beautiful dolphin but people should be careful, as with any
dolphins, to respect it – observe from a distance, limit their time
watching, don’t chase or harass it.”

Read the entire article here.

Tidal Wave
Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in The Cayuse Press

Love was a goddess
a body of water
large and salty and brown.

Her surface puckered
dimpled and moved
in synchrony
with your hands.

She transfixed you
with her trident
and tsunami strength.

That she was brown,
muddy, from all of her
vast experience
her churned up depths
made you long
for muddiness too.

of her sucking whirlpools
and teeth like rocks,
her entangling seaweed hair
you hurled yourself
in a dolphin’s
or porpoise’s
perfect arching dive.

The fear
that you could drown —
a feathered lure —
ticked your fancy.

Your only wish
to be buried at sea.

Sea Kittens?

Here kitty, kitty…

Photo courtesy of sucktheday

Ever wonder what a “sea kitten” is? Me neither. But now I know, thanks to the fine folks over at PETA who have declared the “retirement” of the name “fish” and the birth of “sea kitten.”

So yeah, they are serious about this with sea kitten stories and sea kitten
“facts” and a sea kitten petition for you to sign to bring about the
cessation of the promotion of hunting of sea kittens.  A peek at their ponderings:

“People don’t seem to like fish. They’re slithery and slimy, and they have eyes on either side of their pointy little heads—which is weird, to say the least. Plus, the small ones nibble at your feet when you’re swimming, and the big ones—well, the big ones will bite your face off if Jaws is anything to go by.

“Of course, if you look at it another way, what all this really means is that fish need to fire their PR guy—stat. Whoever was in charge of creating a positive image for fish needs to go right back to working on the Britney Spears account and leave our scaly little friends alone. You’ve done enough damage, buddy. We’ve got it from here. And we’re going to start by retiring the old name for good. When your name can also be used as a verb that means driving a hook through your head, it’s time for a serious image makeover. And who could possibly want to put a hook through a sea kitten.”

From PETA’s Save the Sea Kittens website

I wonder when they will take up the plight of those sensitive and oppressed denizens of our planet, plants. Plants have a reputation for being good to eat and I’m sure that PETA should get right on that so that we can start protecting the apple pups and broccoli snuggles from being abused in that way.

Relevant links:

Top 10 ugly fish
National Geographic Fish

Sushi places I like (in Minnesota):
Fuji Ya
Azia Restaurant
Chino Latino
Sushi Tango

Canine envy, scruples and heroics in the news

Photo courtesy of findingyourownfrontier

Envy, scruples and heroics

Through the long course of our history together and mutual evolution, humans have influenced and shaped dogs.
Interceding, we shrunk their brains so a wolf-sized dog has a brain
around 10 per cent smaller than its wild ancestor. We planted envy in
their hearts and scruples in their minds. Stories about dog heroics and
loyalty abound. This week a Pit Bull took three bullets for its family:

An Oklahoma City
family is calling a beloved pit bull a hero after the dog took three
bullets while fending off an intruder, KWTV reports.

Roberta Trawick said
she was sitting in her living room when a man came through the front
door, holding a gun. The family’s pit bull, D-Boy, raced in from
another room, ready to attack. The intruder then began shooting,
hitting the dog three times before fleeing the home.

D-Boy is back with his family, having recovered from his bullet wounds.

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Howl across the ages

Genetic accommodation is not a one way street and I wonder how and in what ways dogs have changed us. Did our nails get softer, our teeth blunter and our sense of smell retreat as we came to depend on our canine’s abilities to smell-track prey, catch and rend–deliver the killing bite?

People who live with dogs successfully have to change their world view; must accommodate their dog’s pack hierarchy view of the world.

And people are able to understand the information contained in dog’s barks; differentiate between the
emotional ‘meaning’ of barks produced in various situations, such as
when playing, left alone and confronted by a stranger:

Dr Peter Pongracz from
Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, and colleagues have produced
evidence dog barks contain information that people can understand.

found even people who have never owned a dog can recognize the
emotional ‘meaning’ of barks produced in various situations, such as
when playing, left alone and confronted by a stranger.

His team
has now developed a computer program that can aggregate hundreds of
barks recorded in various settings and boil them down to their basic
acoustic ingredients.

They found each of the different types of
bark has distinct patterns of frequency, tonality and pulsing, and that
an artificial neural network can use these features to correctly
identify a bark it has never encountered before.

This is further evidence that barking conveys information about a dog’s mental state, reports New Scientist magazine.

They also discovered people can correctly identify aggregated barks as conveying happiness, loneliness or aggression.


Links to interesting new studies

Scenario: You are
with a friend when a stranger comes up and asks you each to do
something. You each comply and
the stranger gives your friend the equivalent of 50 dollars –but doesn’t give anything to you. How would you feel? Well dogs don’t like it either.

Dogs can feel a simple form of envy, researchers have found.

Are dogs moral?

Living with humans has taught dogs morals, scientist claim.

Dogs can classify complex color
photographs and place them into categories in the same way that humans
do.  And the dogs successfully demonstrate their learning through the
use of computer automated touch-screens, eliminating potential human

New studies show that our canine friends are able to form abstract concepts.

Some favorite books for young adults that feature canines:

Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George, weaves a fascinating and empowering story of a young girl’s struggle for survival, cultural crisis, and self-discovery. 

Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell, is based on the real life account of how Karana, a Native American girl, is left behind on her island when her tribe leaves and how she forages on land and in the ocean, clothes herself, and secures shelter.  She battles wild dogs and tames the leader of their pack.  She names him Rontu, because of his yellow eyes. A suspenseful, uplifting tale.

Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls, about a boy who buys and trains two Redbone Coonhound hunting dogs.

To hear human words curling from a bird’s tongue is entrancing

Painting of parrot: the claudia moss galleries

can bark, cats can meow, chimps can even use sign language, to
communicate with us. Communication that falls outside of human language
is complex and diverse, from the waggle dance of honey bees (video) to the chemical communication of  plants and trees (article).
But there is something marvelous about a non-human creature that can
speak to us with language, with our own language, with human language.
To hear human words curling from a bird’s tongue is entrancing. But do
those words mean anything? Or is it just mimicry? Is there intent
and/or emotion behind a parrot’s words and actions?

Pet parrot saves choking toddler

a pet Quaker parrot in the Denver, CO area, is being credited with
saving 2 year old Hannah Kuusk’s life. The toddler was choking on a pop
tart when the parrot began screaming and repeated the words “mama baby”
and over. The toddler’s caregiver was able to respond to the warning
and save the 2-year-old’s life. Read the full news story, with video, here.

Pensive parrot

parrot in the news is Fred, from Somerset England, who has had to be
put on antidepressants because of depression after his owner died.

Helen Dance said the death nine months
ago of her husband, George, who had raised the parrot from a chick,
took a heavy toll on Fred, an African Grey parrot, The Sun reported

said experts told her the parrot seemed to be suffering from a deep
depression because he could not understand George Dance’s sudden
absence. The
widow said Fred had bitten off all of his neck feathers and spent most
of the day bobbing his head up and down.

However, she said the bird seems to be coming out of his inner
darkness now that he’s on a twice-daily liquid form of Prozac designed
for birds, known as Clomical.

Read the entire United Press International article.

Parrot perspicacity

about just how smart birds are abound. There’s also fascinating
scientific evidence delineating how bird intelligence works.

Alex the parrot, probably the most famous parrot ever, died this year at 31. Dr. Irene Pepperberg
bought Alex from a pet store in 1977. He subsequently became a research subject for scientists at Harvard. The scientists
were amazed by his ability to learn language. He could differentiate
colors and shapes and knew more than 100 words. . The New York Times wrote:

Alex showed surprising facility. For example, when shown a blue paper
triangle, he could tell an experimenter what color the paper was, what
shape it was, and — after touching it — what it was made of. He
demonstrated some of his skills on nature shows, including programs on PBS and the BBC. He  shared scenes with the actor Alan Alda on the PBS series “Look Who’s Talking.”

Alex’s last words to Dr. Irene Pepperburg were, ‘You be good. See you tomorrow. I love you.’

You can read about the remarkable relationship Alex had with Dr. Pepperburg in 
Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World
of Animal Intelligence — and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process
by Irene Pepperburg

And here’s an interview with Dr. Pepperburg at Scientific America.

Parrots in folktales and legend

Eighteenth century engraving of Kamadeva

Parrots feature in folk tales and legends from around the world.
One I particularly like is The
Parrot That Talked Too Much

the handsome Hindu god of love, rides a parrot as he wields his famous
bow and arrows. The bow is made of sugarcane and strung with honeybees
while his arrows are five flower tipped shafts of desire that overcome
the five senses.

Shuka Saptati, also
known as Seventy Tales of the Parrot and as Parrot Speak, is a
collection of stories originally written in Sanskrit in which a parrot tells 70
stories in order to prevent a woman from pursuing a disastrous course of
action. Full of erotic and taboo material, it was compiled in the 6th century
AD by an unknown author. It was translated into Persian during Ala-ud-din Khilji’s
time (1296-1316). It was later translated into Turkish, German and French and
finally into English.

Pretty Polly,
Appalachian folk tale, is a cautionary tale in which a woman named
Pretty Polly
is persuaded against her better judgment to go to visit three men she
knows of
limited acquaintance. When she protests that she will not be able to
find the
way, they promise to leave a trail of ashes for her to find her way.
They tell
her that if they are not there when she arrives she is to go right in
and help
herself to the plentiful food they will leave on the table. She follows
trail of ashes, finds that they are not at home, goes in and helps
herself to the food. She
finds a severed hand in her food, and realizes just what type of food
she is eating and that they want to murder her. A
talking parrot warns her about losing her heart’s blood. Polly hides just before the men return home
and while she is hiding another severed hand lands right beside her. It
is that of her cousin and Polly is present while this woman is
murdered, before
she escapes with the help of the parrot, and exposes the men.