Monday, August 23, 2010

Help from the audience, please


Rattlesnake vaccine: should I get it for Zelda? Up until 2 weeks ago, I lived in an area with no poisonous snakes (except ringnecks which really don't count). I'm out of my element. I'm leaning toward getting her vaccinated because my brain sez "VACCINES R TEH AWESOME!!". However, it may be too good to be true, and/or I may be blowing the risk out of proportion because I'm not used to it.

Here's what I know: Early results are promising, but currently there is insufficient data on the vaccine's efficacy and potency. Most sources recommend getting a booster at least yearly, some say every 6 months. Even if it works exactly as advertised, all it does is lessen the effects of the venom and give you more time to get to a vet.

Three out of four of my local vet hospitals stock it (and go to the trouble to advertise this on their websites).

Dogs are much more likely to be bitten than humans (for which most rattlesnakes are actually a fairly low risk - if there were a human rattlesnake vaccine, I wouldn't bother to get it for myself)

I'm waiting for a call back from county extension for more info about local rattlesnake information.

There's no way I'm mitigating this risk by keeping her on leash all the time when we go hiking. She loves exploring off leash; what's the point of protecting her life if she doesn't get to actually LIVE it? She isn't terribly interested in other animals. She doesn't chase, go off the path much, or dig, but she might approach a snake out of mild curiosity. She's under fairly good voice control. If I told her to leave it, she would. If I saw the situation in time, that is.

So. Anyone reading (especially those who live in pit viper territory): Thoughts? Recommendations? Admonitions? Anecdotes?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

changes in latitude, changes in attitude

I've moved from coastal rain forest to semi-arid desert.

Less lush, uncontrolled plant growth and newts and delicate, dew-covered flowers




...and a lot more sagebrush, foxtail, ants, and darkling beetles.




I've gone from being the bread winner in the family to being unemployed. My dog went from almost constant access to a 5 acre yard to one of the mystical and dreaded Condo Collies(r).



This is my entire garden, now.

Yeah. Still adjusting.

On the bright side, the country around here is beautiful.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Poe goes to the dentist

Continuing with our apparent theme of boring animal hygiene posts, I give you: the amazing Poe getting his teeth floated!

First, the happy juice:

Poe 3

Then droopy-face sleepy-times:

Poe 4

Poe on happy juice doesn't need anyone holding his head.

Poe 6

Poe 7

Tune in tomorrow, when I'm sure I'll have a fascinating photo essay of the cats getting their nails trimmed.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bull snake "fishing" for cliff swallows

I got this email forward from my father-in-law today. This begs to be shared.

Here is the description from the photographer (apparently Adam S. Johnson of Great Falls MT - PS if you're out there, let me know if you've posted these photos elsewhere, I'd love to link):

I pulled over at the Loma bridge fishing access site just outside of the UMBNM north of Fort Benton MT on Sunday afternoon around 4:30PM to photograph the Cliff Swalows tending thier nests. What I found was an enormous Bull Snake fishing for Cliff Swallows from 30 feet above the racing Missouri River. I observed it for over 2 hours slink in and out of about 5 nests consuming the chicks. Bulge after bulge runing down it's body. Then snap, he grabed one of the adult swallows who had dared to swoop by to pester his dining. When it had had its fill it kicked itself free and dropped into the rushing river. It was a truely incredible behavior to observe and magnificent specimen.

Ixchel gets a bath

Whenever she's getting ready to shed, I put Ixchel in a tub to soak. She gives every indication of hating being forced to sit in luke warm water for 30 minutes, even though she will occasionally soak in her water dish of her volition.





I'm mean to my pets.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't be a dick: feeding your dog edition

You know how it is. Someone is wrong on the internet again. For some reason this recent post over at Ruffly Speaking about vegan dog food was so irritating to me I couldn't keep my trap shut. (EDITED TO ADD: well, it showed up in my RSS feed a couple days ago, but the post is actually a couple years old. Oh well, I'll respond anyway). It's not even directed at me. I don't feed my dog a vegan diet. But I also smell a sprinkling of BS in that post too strong to ignore.

When it comes to domestic species, especially dogs, if it works, it works. There are plenty of dogs thriving on a vegan diet. Just like there are dogs thriving on a raw meat diet. I'm dubious of both, and can't see myself using either exclusively, but hey, it seems to work for many people. The fanatical "you must do this, all other ways iz RONG" is both prideful and annoying. It also seems to be a common attitude running through the BARF crowd at higher levels than other pet owners.

For every anecdote a BARFer has of a dog living to age 20 on raw meat, there's one out of there of a dog living to age 20 on a vegetarian diet. Or, for that matter, a stories of dogs on a raw diet with health problems (funny how with the fanatics on all sides, all positive health changes are attributed to their diet, but anythning negative is attributed to something else, like genetics, but it's vice versa if the dog was on a diet they don't agree with).

No one in this matter gets to say that only they have science or morality or common sense (whatever that means) to back them up. Not the greedy kibble companies, not the crazy vegans, not the fanatical BARFers. The plural of anecdote is not data, but experience. A raw diet works for you? Great. Keep it up. Tell others what worked for you. Cheap kibble is working for you? Fine. Your dog is thriving on a vegan diet? Fine. As long as you're paying more attention to your dog than your ego, and you're honest about it, who cares?

What you don't get to get away with is to get up on your high horse with a made up story about what 'nature intended' using a smattering of cherry-picked facts about dentition and digestion systems to suit your agenda. Dogs are not wolves. They are dogs. It's quite likely that they evolved by living off human garbage, and they continue that wonderful legacy today.

Do you really think many ancient dogs, living in association with hunter-gathers, got to have very much fresh meat? Or, for that matter, at any other point in the last however-many-thousand years that dogs have been evolving in association with us? Until very recently, most humans wouldn't have had the luxury of feeding their dogs meat every day, if ever.

So spare us all the 'evolutionary prey diet' story you made up out of daydreams and wishful thinking and be honest about it: dogs are very closely related to wolves. It seems logical that they should have similar diets, but there's no proof that it's necessary, and plenty of dogs thrive without raw meat so maybe dogs aren't exactly like wolves in that regard.

i can haz evolutionary diet?

I also hate BARFers who change the definition of 'carnivore' to fit their agenda. Dogs are omnivores. They eat both animal and plant matter. The end. The fact that they don't digest plant matter as efficiently as a primate or a horse or whatever doesn't change the fact that they eat, enjoy, and digest both. An example of an obligate carnivore is an eagle or a shark. Notice the difference, there? These are species that really truly can not digest plants. There are many levels of omnivore, and none eat the same ratio of meat:vegetable. Rats, humans, bears, whatever example you use, they aren't dogs either. What's more, you seem to keep forgetting that dogs are domestic animals with unusually flexible phenotype. Some breeds so contrived as to look like aliens. You really think it's useful to compare the teeth of a pug to that of a wolf?

Again, your anecdotes are not somehow better than others'. For every story you have of a pair of dogs taking down a deer on instinct (which is actually a very cool story, btw), you can find a matching story of dogs eating berries right off the bush, begging for carrots sticks, and scavenging other animals' feces.

Packs of wild/feral dogs have been known to hunt together, yes. They are also well known for hanging around garbage dumps and begging humans for hand outs. Wolves don't do this, but for a dog, it's pretty damn 'natural'.

You also don't find many people advocating for high pup mortality, untreated disease and internal parasites, yet these are also things that are very 'natural' for wolves and feral dogs. That's dumb, I hear you say. It's only right to vaccinate and deworm your dog. But what is it, exactly, that makes you choose one natural state over the other? It's either science, or lacking that, experience. And much as you hate to admit it, BARFers, your experience is no more important than a vegan's.

This sort of snooty, finger-shaking attitude is especially hard to take from a person who purposefully breeds animals that by some definitions are crippled and that wouldn't survive one day in the wild where their distant wolf ancestors lived; who thinks it's fine and dandy that bull dogs can't give birth without a c-section; who on the same blog has defended many other controversial practices in modern dog breeding that are about as far from 'natural' as you can get. All that and yet, what? Never mind all that other extremely unnatural things I choose to put in my dogs' lives, in the case of diet, well, of course then you must be as 'natural' as possible, even when no one actually knows exactly what that might be?

Whatever. Feed what works for you and your dog. Share your experience with others. But don't be a dick about it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010



I'm finally moved. Four months in transition living with my parents with nothing but my clothes and the dog was... a little stressful. My parents are great, but it's much better being settled into my own place again.

More about that later. I'm off to California for a week. (What was that about being settled, again?)

Zelda, as always, takes everything in stride.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Moving week Links

The milkman in California still delivers local farm fresh milk

Fugly horse of the day with another great post about abuses in the gaited horse industry

Creative mixed-media art

The Illustration Art blog talks about the stigma of painting/drawing from a photograph rather than life. I rather agree with the author's conclusion.

Aw. Marines rescue kittens: (via Ginmar)

Animal sounds from different countries. (I freaking love onomatopoeia) (via)