On the Internet, everyone knows you’re a dog



The iconic New Yorker cartoon, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog” (published July 3, 1993), slays me. I remember seeing it when it first was published and loving it not only because I was very interested in the Internet plus I am a big dog lover. It strikes me as funny today as it did twenty years ago.

Boy, do I feel old right now. But I digress…

Today, I saw a blog post by Glenn Fleishman on BoingBoing about it called Everybody Knows You’re a Dog, and had to share.  He uses the cartoon as an illustration of how things have changed regarding anonymity online. Now, our information is out there for everyone, whether we choose to be transparent or we’re known by the “breadcrumbs” we unwittingly leave behind us as we traverse the web.  People live in an increasingly transparent culture. It’s an interesting read.

This Joy of Tech cartoon sums the change up nicely:




Especially for those not tech savvy enough to hide their tracks, the day of anonymity online is gone.



Dogs die from being left in hot cars

I came out from Walmart today to find a dog baking in a hot car next to mine. The one back window facing my car was down about 5 inches.

The dog was an older beagle mix, grey muzzled with slightly-clouded eyes. It was panting heavily and salivating. While I stood watching it, the dog alternated between standing with its front paws on the armrest between the front seats, climbing down into the shaded spot on the floor in front of the passenger seat, standing on the back passenger arm rest with its head tipped up out the open window, and lying on its side on the back seat. Its sides were heaving as it panted; it was obviously hot and in distress.

I hoped the owners would be right out, so waited eight minutes before I called the non-emergency number of the local police. I was on the phone with the dispatcher when the couple approached their car about two minutes after I placed the call.

The woman saw me standing behind her car as I was talking to the dispatcher. She said, “Why are you looking at my license plate?!”

What, this one?

I told the dispatcher the owners were just coming up to their car. I turned to the woman and said in a low, calm tone, “I am reading your license plate to the police. I called to let them know there was a distressed animal in a hot car here.”

The woman snapped, “We were only in there five minutes!” I replied that I had been next to their car for ten minutes at this point.

She said, “The back windows were both down!”

I said, “M’am, do you have any idea how quickly a car reaches dangerous temperatures for an animal on a hot day like this, even with the windows down?”

When it’s 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car — even with the windows cracked — can soar to 102 degrees in 10 minutes and 120 degrees in just half an hour. On hotter days, the temperature will climb even higher. Outside temperatures in the 70s can be dangerous, as well. Source

The dispatcher took my contact information and ended the call. The patrolman arrived just after that and came over to the passenger side of my car (the opposite side of my car from the couple’s) and leaned down to talk to me. He asked me what happened, and I told him what I’d seen.

While he was talking to me, the woman yelled, “Both the back windows were down!” The officer glanced her way and said in a flat tone of voice, “I’m not talking to you right now. You’ll get your chance.” He leaned back down and said to me, “You can’t control who has kids or pets.”

Can I just say, I *heart* that officer? When I left, he was walking over to their car. I hope he educated them about the dangers of leaving a dog in a hot car. I hope he encouraged them to soak their dog down with cold water as soon as possible. In the end, there wasn’t anything else I could do.

I know I made a couple of enemies by my actions today (woof, if looks could kill!), but how could I keep silent when faced with an animal suffering in the heat? Several times each summer, we read stories about people whose children die due to being left in hot cars. Sometimes we hear about dogs that die from the same cause. It even happened recently with a K9 officer whose partner left him in the patrol car.

On a hot day, a car reaches uncomfortably high temperatures even if you park in the shade and have all your windows down. It amazes me that some people lack the common sense to realize it’s not safe to leave a dog in the car on warm days. These same people would never choose to sit in their car, on a sunny, 87-degree day (that’s the temperature in the shade, mind you), out in a parking lot.

What if, in addition to that, they were forced to wear fur coats and lacked the ability to sweat and cool off by evaporation? This is exactly the treatment to which they subject their dogs.

I guess the only thing we can do is report the situations as we see them and try to educate people about the issue. The website, mydogiscool.com is a tremendous resource for the latter. Give it a good read through and print off a few of their free educational posters and fliers in PDF format. This one gets the point across:

This double-sided brochure contains facts every dog owner should know:

If you can’t print them yourself, you can order them for $3.00/25 pieces. Bulk pricing is available. See the website for details. It might be just as cheap to take them to a local copy-print place. Who knows, if the owner’s a dog lover, you might even get a discounted rate.

However you get them off the screen and into your hands, keep some in your car’s glove compartment for those times you see a dog left in a hot car. Go out on a limb and possibly save the life of a dog. If the owner comes out before you leave, great! Hand him a flier. At the very least, tuck a flier under the windshield wiper on the car as you make a call to the police.

Please spread the word. People don’t mean to put their pets’ lives in jeopardy. What they don’t know could cost them their beloved family member.

Minty fresh puppy dog breath

We’ve begun leaving the girls out while we’re gone. For years, we’ve crated the dogs or put them in the bathroom with a couple of big, fluffy dog beds. Now that Sarah, the Trash Destroyer Extraordinaire  is gone, though, we thought we’d let the pups have the run of the living room and kitchen in our absence. We’re not stupid, though — We put the kitchen trash up on a barstool, just in case. Emma has a penchant for trash, and I’m sure Stella would help her once the can was tipped.

When we arrived home this evening, everything seemed to be in its correct place. There were no disemboweled couch cushions or chewed houseslippers. Score! After dinner, I went to the office to do some paperwork.

Not long after this, I heard Howie’s voice. “Hon”, my hubby queried from the other room, “did Stella get into something? Her breath smells minty.”

Minty? I was preoccupied with a project and told him I couldn’t imagine what she could have found.

Twenty minutes later, he walked into the office and deposited this on the desk.

Evidently, Stella prefers C.O. Bigelow's spearmint, just like I do.

Fortunately, there wasn’t much left in the tube. It had been on our bookshelf headboard in the bedroom. The dogs were closed out of the bedroom while we were gone, so she must have sneaked it out of there at some earlier point and stashed it. While we were gone, she got her chance to really enjoy it.

Granted, her breath does smell better than the usual butt breath. However, I was concerned with the ingredients. I learned last year that Xylitol, an ingredient common to just about every sugar-free gum, is highly toxic to dogs. I looked on the tube and saw that saccharin is listed, but not Xylitol. Saccharin is not poisonous, at least not in the amount she received from the leftovers in that tube. Whew!

I’m more concerned about that tube’s petroleum jelly and its possible gastronomic after effects.

Nylabones and a crib mattress: indispensable for our dogs

First off, we love Nylabones because, more importantly, our dogs love Nylabones. Plus, they hold up to some tough chewing. They stand daily abuse, but last months.

Nylabones FTW!

But yesterday, I noticed both Nylabones in our possession look like they have flesh attached to them. Yeah, ewwwwww.

Let me back up a little bit first. Follow me, here. Friends of ours bought a new crib mattress for their American bulldog to use as a dog bed. Well, Crazy (yeah, the bulldog) didn’t like it, so our friends gave it to us. The girls, even the Pointy One with her skinny frame, didn’t want anything to do with it the first night we bedded them down on it.

They whined so pitifully, we let them up in bed with us. We sometimes let them up in bed with us even when they don’t whine pitifully, but we were really tired and it was especially irritating that night. We thought the mattress was a lost cause, so I propped it up along the bedroom wall to get it out of the way.

brindle dog chewing bone

Fast forward a few weeks. We had friends coming over and knew the couch needed to be a people-space, not the dog bed. So, I brought the crib mattress out into the living room and covered it with a fleece Cleveland Indians blanket my husband bought at Jacobs Progressive Field during that freezing, April home opener we went to a few years back.

Miracle of miracles, with a few treats and her toys, I convinced Stella to lie down on the bed. At first, she high stepped on it or just leaped over it rather than walking on it. I think the feel of it is what freaked them out at first. Eventually, with lots of praise, she settled down on it and took a nap. Emma followed suit. It’s a keeper.  As usual around here, we kind of run our household around the dogs. So, we re-arranged the furniture so the mattress took center stage by the picture window.

When it became obvious that the blanket would not stay tucked neatly around and under the mattress when the dogs dug around on it to make a nest, I had the idea to use some old suspenders to hold the blanket in place underneath. Howie fine-tuned the process and the blanket is now tight-fitting and able to withstand the most energetic digging.

Now that I’ve given you the back story, you’ll have a sphere of reference with which you can understand how the Nylabones appear gore-tipped. You thought I forgot about the bones, didn’t you? We haven’t!

Now that they have prime comfy real estate from which to survey their hilltop domain, the dogs spend a lot of time on that mattress and that blanket. They flop down on the bed, prop the bones up between their front paws, and happily chew away. In the process, the fleece fuzzes and sticks to the rough, chewed edges of the bones. They end up looking like this:

Dogs, grief and gratitude

sarah-greyOur year ended on a sad note as we said goodbye to our sweet old girl, Sarah. She was our coffee-loving, bean crunching girl. We got her in 1999, the same year we bought our house. Howie and I both grew up with dogs and loved them, but as renters we’d not been able to own one the first seven years we were married. So, with the new house came the decision to add a dog to our family.

The girls We found her by way of a classified ad offering her puppies. When we got to the house, Sarah greeted us enthusiastically, wagging her tail and rolling over for belly rubs. Her pups were four months old and still nursing her in addition to eating puppy food. Unlike their mother, however, they were shy and fearful. We asked if they were trying to find a home for Sarah and they said yes.

Her owners said she was born in 1997 or 1998, offspring of one of their beagles (which they raised for hunting) and a chow. The beagle genes were readily apparent, but the chow didn’t contribute much. If her daddy even was a chow.

She had a strong prey drive and a busy beagle nose. She was fine with our indoor cats, but woe to any animals she encountered outside! I think the only animal to ever stand her down was an opossum who turned to face her. Suddenly Sarah had other pressing business.

What she really lived for was squirrels. If she saw one, she’d chase it to a tree and sit at the tree’s base, staring up, as long as you’d let her. If you clicked your tongue in a vague mimicry of a squirrel, she’d perk up, whine and go to the nearest window to look for one. She never tired of this! She knew squirrels lived in trees, so when we’d go by trees while out driving, she would get very excited. Yes, she was just a little obsessed with them. 🙂

Cheeky squirrelWe even had one particularly cheeky squirrel who would come right up to the front window and tease her. At times, they’d be staring each other down, nose-to-nose, with only a double-paned window between them. She also loved to watch the fish in our pond. And she was very interested in the large pleco fish in our aquarium.

sarah-bw-patio-naps-1-wBut she was also the most obedient dog we’d ever had — and no thanks to us! From the day we brought her home, she stayed right by us and came when called. She routinely dashed out the back door and made a circle through the neighbor’s yard when we let her out (scouting for squirrels), but she came right back when we called her. We wished we could take credit for her manners!

She was our constant companion in the garden, our “moley dog” who burrowed beneath the covers every night, and our fearless watchdog. Actually, the only person she guarded us against was the mailman; she really hated the mail carriers and pitched a fit whenever one would come and dare to drop mail through the slot in our front door.

Sarah had her fifteen minutes of fame in this video:

She won second place in the contest. My photos of her and our other dogs were also pictured on Innova Pet’s line of Karma organic dog food promotional materials. That story is here.

Sarah had some sort of episode overnight and on the morning of December 28, she appeared to have had a stroke. Her head was cocked to one side and her eyes darted rapidly back and forth (nystagmus). She could not stand and walk, but stumbled as she tried to balance. From what I looked up, strokes are rare in dogs and she most likely had canine vestibular syndrome (also called peripheral vestibular syndrome), a common ailment of the inner ear and one which she might have recovered from.

Sarah woofs for her bean However, we had to look at the hard facts. She was fourteen years old and had recurring problems with her hind legs. No one in our household is physically capable of bending and carrying a 35-pound dog multiple times a day; considering the dizziness made her so she could barely stand, let alone walk, she would have to be carried outside to go potty. Dogs with this condition can take weeks to recover, and often must be given anti-nauseal drugs because the vertigo makes them sick to their stomachs (imagine being severely seasick all the time).

We couldn’t see putting our old girl through all of this. Our vet said it could also have been caused by a brain tumor. Given the many visible lumps and bumps all over our old girl, it well could have been a tumor causing the symptoms. It could also have been a stroke, though unlikely. Our vet advised that we’d likely be prolonging the inevitable if we tried waiting it out. So, with hearts brimming with sadness, we made the difficult decision to euthanize her.

Sarah begs for her beanHopefully it will be many years before we have to face this heartache again. Those of you who have loved a pet deeply know how we feel, know that those who dismiss such grief with “it’s just a dog” don’t get it. Losing a pet is so painful, but they joy they bring to our lives fills me with gratefulness.

Our vet sent us a lovely sympathy card, one which our brindle girl Stella sniffed out of the pile of mail as soon as it hit the floor. She then tried to open for us. Having come from the vet’s office, the paper must be redolent with all kinds of interesting smells. We’re so glad we have our remaining girls to make us laugh!

This is a picture story that illustrates one such gift of laughter from Sarah:

Norah Jones sings to her dog

This new release from Norah Jones’ album, The Fall is great! Any dog lover should appreciate it, especially any single dog lovers. Here are the lyrics to her new song, Man Of The Hour:

Man of the Hour

It’s him and me
That’s what he said
But I can’t choose between a vegan and a pothead
So I chose you, because you’re sweet
And you give me lots of loving, and you’ll eat meat

And that’s how you became
My only man of the hour

You’ll never lie and you don’t cheat
And you don’t have anybody tied to your four feet
Do I deserve to be the one?
Who will feed you breakfast, lunch and dinner
And take you to the park at dawn?
Will you be my only man of the hour?

I know you’ll never bring me flowers
Flowers they’ll only die
And though we’ll never take a shower together
I know you’ll never make me cry
You’ll never argue, you don’t even talk
And I like the way you let me lead you
When we go outside and walk
Will you really be, my only man of the hour?
My only man of the hour
My only man of the hour

I love The Fall’s album cover, with the big St. Bernard!

You can listen to the song over at Amazon and, if you like it, buy it for under a buck. Ain’t technology grand?

An aside: Don’t you just love how we can pick and choose what songs we like now instead of having to buy an entire LP? Even when singles were released on CD, cassette or — dare I say it — 45RPM record (now I’m showing my age), you couldn’t always find that one particular song you wanted unless you sprung for the whole album. When I think of the hoops we used to jump through to make a mix tape of songs we liked, I am soooo thankful for the technology today.