Monday, March 30, 2009

Irritated Feet, Irritated Homeowner

I have lots of ideas and thoughts about what I "should do" someday. One of those has been becoming more active in our neighborhood's homeowner's association. It's been easy to put-off, until NOW. After a trip outside, Baxter and Kirby proceeded to start madly licking their feet. My husband washed them thoroughly, but they have remained irritated -- particularly Baxter -- all day. On the same walk my husband noticed a guy out spraying around the houses and we looked into it. Apparently our HOA's landscaping service sprayed some toxic pesticide today and didn't bother to warn anyone about it.

I checked with the landscaping service (very helpful) and found out they have never been asked to notify us in advance or post signage about spraying having been done. Meanwhile we have LOTS of dogs and a few children who actively play in the greenspaces and yards around our neighborhood. Not to mention the protected wetland smack in the middle of the neighborhood. I was just remarking yesterday what a lovely variety of birds I can hear singing in the wetland. In addition to killing bugs that make your lawn a little less golf-course-like, this pesticide is very toxic to birds, bees and a variety of water creatures...not to mention dogs, cats and humans. Of course, I don't know the quantities they're using and I'm no expert on toxicity. But a day of constant foot-licking is not an insignificant warning sign in my book.

We have a new landscaping service this year and I'm wondering if the "perfect lawn" people are in charge of the HOA board? Or perhaps the "we don't care what you guys use, just make it pretty" people who don't ask questions and don't even give a thought to how pesticides are used around our homes and green spaces. In any case, I think it's time for the more environmentally-aware parents and pet lovers to become involved in the HOA. I'm fired-up. At the very least I'm going to advocate for posting signage when spraying occurs, and, if possible, I'm going to suggest we look for less toxic alternatives.

I guess this is my cue to "act locally." I'm just sorry that it took poor Baxter's and Kirby's sore feet to get me off my derriere to do it!

(Next stop after pesticides...getting solar panel approvals!)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Black Wolves and Dog DNA

Since I'm on the subject of dog DNA these days, I took particular interest in an article in this month's Smithsonian magazine. In the "Wild Things: Life As We Know It" section there's a small, but interesting little blurb about black wolves. Most wolves have grayish coats. A few are white. But, says the article, the only place where black wolves can be found is North America. Intrigued by this unusual coat color, researchers at Stanford University and elsewhere compared wolf DNA with DNA of coyotes and dogs.

"The black coat gene, the researchers found, appears to have come from dogs. Some North American wolves likely interbred with domesticated dogs, now extinct, that accompanied people who crossed the Bering Strait from Asia more than 10,000 years ago," the article states.

We all know there's wolf ancestry in every dog...but it's kind of interesting to see that a bit of ancient dog found its way back into the wolf's DNA as well. The result is stunningly beautiful and mysterious.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bloodline Bingo is ON: Guess Kirby's "top 3" ancestral breeds...

Yep, after much fanfare about ordering the DNA test kit, I'm finally getting around to doing the actual test. I swabbed the little guy's cheek this morning, and sent the test kit off to Canine Heritage. I should be hearing back in a couple of weeks with a certificate and information about Kirby's ancestral breed heritage...that is, the breeds which have the closest DNA profiles to his.

So, I invite my readers to send me your best guesses on Kirby's "top 3" breeds. And in a couple of weeks I'll post the results.

In the meantime, for review... a look at Kirby's sisters and brothers -- I wish I could see how they turned out! Kirby was the only black-and-tan puppy in the bunch.

And Kirby's mom...we were so happy to hear that she had been adopted as well.

Soon, the Bloodline Bingo mystery will be solved! Well, sort of. There's no way we'll ever know for sure, but at least we'll have fun guessing!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another Kirby Cousin?

We encountered yet another Kirby-esque scruffy at the beach a few weeks ago... one of many. There must be something very basic about Kirby's DNA, something very old that comes out again and again among little scruffy dogs. And every one of them is a little heart-melter.

Of course, I always find it interesting that when we go places with Baxter and Kirby, everyone asks what kind of dog Baxter is. He's pretty striking, well-built and has the look of a purebred something-or-other. On the other hand, almost NO ONE asks about Kirby. This is because he is just one of those little scruffy black-and-tan terrier types one sees at shelters, running along beaches in Mexico (so I've heard) and just about everywhere else.

So here's to all the scruffy little unremarkable Kirby-kin out are adorable and sweet and our lives wouldn't be the same without you!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Children : Dogs

I've seen this sign in a number of establishments...usually coffee houses. It always makes me smile. I think few things could be more destructive than a caffeinated toddler and a puppy together. This got me to thinking once again about going places with dogs. In France, dogs are welcomed in most restaurants. Children, while tolerated, are not as often seen. I've read that the French tend to think of eating out in a nice restaurant as an adult activity that calls for Grandma or a babysitter to entertain the little ones elsewhere. There must be some grain of truth to it, because I see far fewer children in restaurants in France than I do here. Granted, I'm not going to the French Chuck-e Fromage's when I'm on vacation, but still.

The thing is, most of the dogs I've seen in restaurants in France...scratch that, make it ALL of the dogs I've seen in restaurants in France are well-behaved. I cannot say the same for the human children. The dogs lay quietly under the table and the floor is cleaner when they leave than when they came in. Again, quite the opposite with human children. (Bless the thoughtful parents who pick-up the five dozen Cheerios beneath the high-chair before they leave...most don't.)

Now, if we just allowed well-behaved dogs in restaurants here in the US, the Cheerio problem would largely be solved.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Dog Beard Patent

I'm thinking of taking out a patent on a new invention...if I can isolate the special material from which scruffy dog beards are made, I will have discovered a material that is capable of holding and transporting extremely large amounts of water. Imagine the uses...light weight vessels for carrying water from distant sources in the Sahara, streamlined backpacks for hiking in the desert... I would just need to figure out how to keep it from dripping between here and there.

I just know it would sell. Better than a Sham-Wow!