Mosaïcultures Internationales 2013
An amazing exhibit of Mosaiculture, including this living sculpture of Hachiko, the Loyal Dog, can be found at Montreal Botanical Garden this summer. I saw this article on Houzz, where it was noted that:
It's not an invasion from the zoo — it's mosaiculture, a type of horticultural art as wild as it sounds. Mosaiculture designers install carefully selected and pruned plants onto two- and three-dimensional designs, creating massive and surprisingly realistic living sculptures. In this exhibit visitors walk along a 2-kilometer (1¼-mile) path to see the work of 50 participants from more than 20 countries. Each designer worked with a set plant catalog to sculpt something from his or her country's culture.
Living Sculptures Delight at the Montreal Botanical Garden */ Architecture, interior design, and more ∨
Home improvement can start with something as minor as installing track lighting or a unique ceiling fan.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Jim Buck preferred dogs to office work
Best known for his dog walking business that cared for up to 150 dogs a day, Jim Buck is considered the first professional dog walker in New York City. (In New York, they often refer to him as the first professional dog walker, but as a person who lives elsewhere, I can’t help but notice how often “first” and “first in New York” are used synonymously. For example, his obituary says, “Mr. Buck . . . is widely described as the first person to professionalize dog walking in New York City and, by extension, the United States.”)
Buck came from a wealthy family, but chose a path different than most. He dropped out of college and chose to walk dogs rather than work at an electronics company, as he did for a while. He said he preferred walking his own dogs and other people’s dogs to suiting up and going to the office.
He was a tall, thin man, often described with a comparison to slender breeds of dogs such as the sight hounds. He was also an original thinker, realizing that there was a business opportunity in providing dog walking services to people working long days in the city. His business, Jim Buck’s School for Dogs, employed dozens of people to help him walk client’s dogs. When he started, his was the only such business in New York City, though now there are huge numbers of them.
Among the stories about Buck and his business is the tale that he used to test potential employees by having them walk an Otterhound nicknamed both Oliver the Artful and Oliver the Awful. Oliver regularly entered phone booths and refused to come out. Buck wanted people who would solve the problem by gently coaxing him out rather than attempting to use force. He claims to have preferred to hire women because he thought they were generally more compassionate to dogs who misbehaved.
It was a different era, and Buck dressed well, as was typical at that time. He wore through his fancy shoes every two weeks, employing the services of a cobbler to repair his shoes regularly. He could easily afford his expensive clothes and shoes because his income as a dog walker was around five times that of the average American and he made more through his business than he ever did at his office job.
Jim Buck retired about 10 years ago and died at the age of 81 on July 4, 2013.
Bazz, wearing his new bee-proof working gear, is Australia’s first apiary dog. Beekeeper Josh Kennett devised this suit so that his Lab, and working partner, Bazz could help sniff out a virulent bee disease, the American foulbrood.
Dogs can’t get near a hive of bees without being aggressively chased away. So Kennett got the idea to train Bazz from his American counterparts but in the U.S. the colder temperatures negate the need for protection.
“Their winters are far colder than ours, with snow over the top of beehives. We don't have that situation here in South Australia.
“So I’ve tried to develop a suit the dog can wear and hopefully avoid being stung.”
He also said that he tried a variety of prototypes because he wanted a suit that “doesn’t restrict him too much,” so had to do a lot of trial and error, especially with the head part.
After a long training period that was started by a professional detection dog trainer, and refined by Kennett to get Bazz used to the suit and to the hives, the beekeeper team is now ready to go
“We’ve now proven the concept, he can find the infected hives.
“To fully cover a dog up and expect it to do the same thing, it takes time to change how he behaves and to get used to that suit.”
Source: ABC Australia
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
The silverware question
A friend stopped by while I was preparing a Kong to put in the freezer for later. After stuffing in some treats, some kibble, a biscuit and the canned food to hold it all together once it was frozen, I cued Super Bee to wave. When she lifted her paw properly in response, I held out the spoon I had used to scoop the wet food in and she began licking it. She looked so dear to me as she daintily (there’s no other word for it!) used her tongue to remove what was stuck to the spoon.
Still smiling at the sight of her lovely face, I looked up at my friend, whose face looked significantly less lovely at that moment. It had a look that combined horror and disgust. She asked me, “Is that a spoon you plan to use to eat?”
“Yes, after it goes through the dishwasher,” I answered. She still looked aghast, so I added, “We wash all of our silverware after anybody uses it. Then it’s clean so we can use it again.” This made such sense to me that I felt silly saying it, but obviously my friend found it troubling.
She went on to tell me that most people with dogs or cats would never share their spoons with each other. She said she didn’t mean to make me feel bad, but that what I was doing seemed really gross and didn’t I agree? I did not agree so her speech didn’t make me feel bad, but it did surprise me.
I don’t want to use a spoon after my kids (or any other humans) have used it without washing it first, but then I treat it as clean and ready to go, and I feel the same way about spoons that dogs have used.
Are your dogs ever allowed to lick your silverware?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine "foster parent" inspires people to help out a family in need
When seven-year old David Mbogo and six-year old Mary Wanjiku were abandoned by their drug-addicted mother in Dagoretti, Kenya, they were taken in by their grandmother. Unfortunately she is often busy tending to the five other grandchildren that live with them and trying to make money to support the family.
Enter canine "foster parent" Oscar. Two years ago, the lovable mutt started caring for the two siblings and have now developed a regular routine. At 6 a.m. Oscar waits for the kids to get ready for school and escorts them to the compound. Then he waits for class to end and walks them back home. The lovable mutt has even rescued the kids on many occasions when they got lost.
David and Mary's grandmother has been dealing with a number of problems, including a leaking house and finding the money for warm clothes, food, and school fees. She has a very limited income selling cabbages. Her daily pay averages 200 Kenyan Shillings ($3) and school costs 2,400 Kenyan Shillings ($30) per term. Fortunately, since Oscar's story has gone viral, the pup has inspired many people to send donations for the kids.
Everyone knows that there are families struggling to make ends meet, but it's easy to forget. In this case it's interesting to see how a common love of dogs moved people all over the world to learn more about this family and to send support. It's also cool to see the how fundamental and universal the human-canine bond is. No matter where you are you can find people developing deep relationships with dogs.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Survey helps determine when to make the most difficult of decisions
Deciding when to euthanize a sick pet is one of the hardest decisions that we have to make. When my cat of 18 years became seriously ill, my family was too emotional to make objective decisions. In hindsight, I think we waited too long to put him to sleep, but we wanted to make sure that we tried everything to extend his life.Now a new survey, developed by researchers at Michigan State University, may help us make clear decisions in these stressful situations. The pilot version of their questionnaire was created to help assess the quality of life of dogs undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. In their study, families completed a questionnaire at the time of diagnosis comparing the dog's current behavior with their typical behavior six months prior. Follow-up surveys were filled out three and six weeks later to document changes in behavior as the pups underwent chemotherapy. The veterinarians also filled out shorter questionnaires based on their observations. The separate surveys aimed to balance the more subjective, but complete view of the people who live with the dogs (since they see the day-to-day behavior changes) and the objective, scientific view of the veterinarians. The researchers found that family and veterinarian responses were fairly well-matched, showing that the questionnaire can be a helpful way to find common ground for treatment decisions. The answers were particularly aligned on three questions involving changes in the dogs' play behavior, clinical signs of disease, and perceived canine happiness. Agreement on those questions led researchers to use them as effective indicators of quality of life that could be used in animal cancer clinics. Now the team is planning a follow-up study with hundreds of dogs and their families so that the survey can be adapted to a wider range of illnesses. This tool could potentially help countless stressed families make educated decisions for their pets.
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
The biter's suffering continued
There was a lot of blood, which is typical for bites to the ears. The little white dog who was bitten was sitting calmly in her guardians lap while her injury was attended to. Despite having been surprised by a totally uncalled for bite as she entered the backyard to join the party, she was doing okay. She was clearly hurt, but this stable dog was accepting the loving comfort of her guardian and didn’t seem as upset as one might expect.
If only the dog who had bitten her had been in such good shape, psychologically speaking, but he was a mess. He had no physical injury, but he was traumatized. He is a fearful dog who had been overwhelmed by the party long before another dog—his biggest fear—had shown up. I had been watching him uneasily for a little while before the incident and had told my kids to stay away from him. I had no way of knowing that he would end up biting, but I could see that he was scared, which put me on red alert because I know that’s the cause of so much aggression.
I didn’t see the bite happen, but I heard a ruckus, and hoped that it was just noise and nothing worse. We were attending an event where we knew almost nobody and in the introductions, I had mentioned that I work with dogs and specialize in aggression. After the bite, the guardian of the dog who had bitten called me over with the plea, “I need you!” Luckily, the dogs had already been separated, which is the only thing that went as I would have advised all day.
The guardian of the dog who had bitten asked me, “What should I do?” and I told her that the kindest thing she could do for her dog was to get him out of this situation. We agreed that he was very afraid, which is why he had bitten, and she told me that he can’t tolerate other dogs at all, but that he had been letting people at the party pet him, which was big progress. The dog may not have behaved aggressively to people petting him, but he was tongue flicking, tucking his tail, trying to move away from them, and his pupils were dilated. He wasn’t just nervous—he was terrified.
The woman did not want to leave the party and said so. I urged her to go home and let her dog escape a situation in which he was clearly miserable, but she didn’t want to go, and stayed there with that poor scared dog for hours. I felt so bad for him and wished that I could have persuaded her to take him home.
I also wish that I could have been more proactive about preventing the bite in the first place. Long before the bite, I thought it would have been a good idea to take the dog home, but if I told people to take their dogs home every time I saw them in situations that seemed beyond what they could handle, I would say it so often I would make the boy who cried wolf seem uncommunicative. It’s not advice that most people want, and I don’t give it in settings when I am not working unless I am asked. And even in this serious case with a bite involved, I was asked and that advice was not followed. The few other times that something bad has happened and I’ve advised people to get the dog out of the situation, they did, so this guardian’s decision to stay was exceptional.
It’s no fun to leave a social event or even to leave your dog behind and attend on your own, but so often these actions are in the best interests of the dog. I feel so bad for both dogs, and I also feel bad that I wasn’t able to lessen the suffering.
Sometimes our dogs communicate with us on levels that are surprising and revelatory. A case in point, having three dogs means that when I work from home, I’m kept busy doing door duty for them—they constantly ask to go out into the backyard, and a few minutes later, after they erupt into a chorus of “chase the squirrel,” I need get them back inside. There they’ll settle down for a few minutes, but then their asking to go out begins anew. Lola, our seven-year-old Pointer, takes her duties on squirrel-patrol very seriously. The two smaller dogs support her cause and cheer her on with a cacophony of barking, whining and high-pitched baying.
One day last week, I finally had it (as I’m sure the neighbors had as well) and decided that the dogs had to stay inside if I were to do any work. Charlie, our newest family member, is a gem of a Terrier boy and if he isn’t already glued to my side, he has spot-on recall, so he came in first. Kit, our Kentucky coy-girl, takes more coaxing but rattling a bag of treats did the trick. Lola is another story, she gets totally transfixed staring up at the taunting-bushy tails, who inspire her to run circles around the trees up on her back legs, like a crazed circus dog. This resulted in a sweaty and not-so merry chase as I tried to grab hold of her. But I finally got her, so in she went too.
I sat down to my computer, and within a few minutes, Lola walked up and looked at me motioning to the back door. I told her, no way am I going to let you out again, but she did this a few more times, even using her chin to gently tap on my hand. But I held firm, and ignored her pleas. A few minutes passed and I decided to go into the office after all, and take the dogs with me, so I called to them to get leashed-up.
But loyal Charlie was missing, and once again, Lola looked at me, and ran to the back door. I then heard a little whimper, and opened the door to find that Charlie had been locked out and was softly crying to come in. His cries were so muted, that I hadn’t heard him, although big sister Lola had. Now that the door was opened, I thought that Lola would bolt out, but instead she and Charlie did a merry little dance, greeting each other as if they had been parted for hours (and not the few minutes it was). I thought that was so touching, and so telling too. All along Lola was signaling not that she wanted out but that Charlie was stranded—but I didn’t have the good sense to figure this out.
It was an eye-opener to me, marking a “Lassie” moment for Lola. It was the first time—or the first time that I “got” it—that she was trying to cue me not for herself but for someone else. Could this be an altruistic act? What do you think, have your dogs done something similar?
The Art of Michael Ballou
If you are in the Brooklyn area, you still have a couple days to check out the work of Brooklyn-based multimedia artist, and great dog-lover, Michael Ballou at the Raw/Cooked exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. The show runs until July 7.
Ballou’s practice incorporates sculpture, performance, and collaboration, and he has altered three spaces in the museum with site-specific installations. Connecting them is his interest in the appearance, behavior, and inner lives of animals. Spilling out of a large-scale vitrine in the fourth-floor Decorative Arts galleries, Ballou’s Dog Years is a monumental construction of over sixty dog head sculptures, modeled on animals of his acquaintance.
New York Times art critic, Roberta Smith, commenting on a previous exhibit of the artist, observed that “Mr. Ballou has a light but distinctive touch and a wonderful feeling for life's little moments of absurdity and beauty, both found and conjured.”
We’ve been trying to find out if these amazing dog heads are for sale, if anyone knows, or has a way of contacting the artist, do let us know!
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Deciding when to euthanize
Not everybody is at ease with the idea of euthanasia under any circumstances, and I understand that. Many people have moral conflicts with deciding to end the life of a pet, no matter what the reason. My perspective is that this is a highly individual decision but that I personally am comfortable with euthanizing my pets once their quality of life is so compromised or they are in such pain that keeping them alive feels like it’s more for my sake than for theirs. It’s my view that a peaceful death by euthanasia frees them from pain and misery, and is the final gift of love I am able to provide. I know many disagree, and I’m not suggesting that one way or another is right—I’m just describing my own personal take on this issue.
That doesn’t mean that I haven’t cried buckets and been inconsolable when I’ve euthanized a dog. It’s horrible beyond imagination, and I’ve never really recovered from it in any case. I always hope for any dog (or any person for that matter) to surrender peacefully to death while sleeping. When that doesn’t happen in time, facing the tough decision of when to euthanize is a challenge. Sometimes it’s obvious when it’s time because the dog has reached a point of literally being unable to move, being in constant and unmanageable pain, showing no joy at all or no recognition of anything or anyone.
In other cases, it’s not so clear, which is why a new tool that helps guardians and veterinarians decide when that moment has arrived may be useful. Researchers at Michigan State University developed a survey for probing into the specifics of a dog’s quality of life when undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. The idea is to develop an objective way to assess quality of life, which is such an important consideration when deciding whether to continue life-prolonging measures or to face the possibility that it is time to say good-bye.
Questions address a range of behavioral issues and observations before treatment, a retrospective on the dog’s behavior six months prior, and continued observations throughout their treatment at regular intervals. The questions address aspects of dog behavior including play, measures of happiness, and signs of disease. Both guardians and veterinarians have questions to answer based on their own observations. A small pilot study of 29 dogs found high levels of agreement from clinicians and guardians. Researchers plan to expand their original work to a study with hundreds of dogs and to other illnesses and medical issues as well.
Do you think an objective tool such as this might help you decide when to euthanize a dog, or do you feel comfortable with just “knowing” when that sad day has come?
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