June 30, 2006


in a liquor store, tonight: in walks a woman with a big, well-behaved dog (some kind of shepherd mix) on a leash.

clerk: "sorry, dogs are not allowed in here".
woman: "oh, i'm sorry, i thought...."
clerk: "i was only joking. dogs are super-allowed in here".

don't you just love it? super-allowed?

June 16, 2006

at the dog wash

if you ever had to clean up a bathroom (not to mention the drain) after giving your dog a bath at home, you'll generously overlook silly ideas such as "peach silk conditioner" and will become a regular customer at your local dog wash.

they work pretty much like those do it yourself car wash stations. first you get your dog into the tub. then you "rinse".

then you shampoo...rinse...condition...rinse...colormax (whatever that is). do not get distracted by your dog's pleading eyes.

then you rinse for the last time...

then you tie a towel knot around your dog's head to add to the amusement.

and finally, give your clean smells-of-wet-dog dog a favorite treat, and all is well again.

June 14, 2006

there are dogs that like to chase balls...

and there are dogs that don't even get excited about the soccer world cup. right now germany is playing poland, but this household member couldn't care less, even if pushed:

in germany, the soccer world cup is a big deal. you can't go anywhere without being reminded that the country is hosting it. here's a shot of the public phones at frankfurt main station:

June 13, 2006

bright carpet eyes

another snippet from the new york times:

Q. When I photograph a person using a flash, I often get "red eye," but when I photograph my dog, I get "blue eye." What difference in their eyes accounts for this?

A. The difference lies in the layers of cells at the back of the eyeball, where the flash of light strikes. When people are photographed in dim light, their pupils are wide open to let in enough light to see. As the flash hits the retina, which is richly supplied with blood vessels that are close to the surface, a red reflection may result.

In most dogs, and in most cats as well, there is a reflective layer beneath the light receptors of the retina called the tapetum lucidum, Latin for bright carpet. This mirror helps the animals maximize their seeing ability in dim light by reflecting any light not absorbed during its first passage through the retina back for a second opportunity to be absorbed.The color of the tapetum varies, and with it the color that is reflected back to the camera, but for most adult dogs the resulting flash is blue or green. Blue-eyed dogs and cats may lack pigment in this layer, and so huskies and Siamese cats often show red eyes in photos. Puppies and kittens are also likely to show red eyes because their eye structures have not finished developing.

In case you don't know what these people are talking about:

this picture was taken at a fancy boarding kennel. two caregivers tried hard to make brandy look really happy. but how happy can you look with bright blue carpet eyes?

they won't let the bed-bugs bite

dogs have a highly developed sense of smell. we all know that. but did you know that dogs are trained to sniff out bed bugs in posh hotels? from an article in today's new york times:
Dogs and Their Fine Noses Find New Career Paths

A year ago, Jada, a frisky black mutt, was living in a Florida pound, her days numbered. Today she commands hundreds of dollars an hour at some of Manhattan's most exclusive hotels and apartment buildings. Her fate turned on her newly gained ability to sniff out something reviled in New York these days: bedbugs.

Last month, the Motion Picture Association of America started using two dogs, Lucky and Flo, to sniff out DVD's in the cargo area of Heathrow Airport in London, a major transit point for pirated DVD's. [...]

Dogs have long been partners in law enforcement's searches for narcotics, explosives and people (both dead and alive). But now their keen noses are being put to use in a wider variety of areas, like medicine, environmental protection and anti-piracy efforts. The number of dogs with the new, specialized skills remains but a fraction of the number trained for more traditional law enforcement uses.

Still, dogs are entering new career paths, learning to sniff out mercury in Minnesota schools, invasive weeds in Montana, cancer in people — even cows in heat. "The dogs do better than bulls," said Lawrence J. Myers, a professor of veterinary science at Auburn University, who wanted to increase the success rate of impregnation attempts, a pressing demand in the dairy industry. Dr. Myers, a leading expert on dogs' sense of smell, added that because dogs "have no innate interest in cows in heat," it takes repetitive training to teach them how to know when the cows are ready. (The bulls do not benefit from the dogs' work. Dairy cows are usually artificially inseminated.) [...]

"You can train a dog for anything that has a unique or mostly unique odor," Dr. Myers said. In the case of DVD's, the smell that Lucky and Flo have been trained to detect is polycarbonate plastic. In the case of cancer, scientists believe that dogs may be picking up biological compounds, like alkanes and benzene derivatives, that are not found in healthy tissue. [...]

Because dogs have 20 to 40 times the number of nasal receptor cells that humans do, they can detect the tiniest levels of odors, even a few parts per billion, Dr. Myers said. In addition, the dogs' nasal anatomy is very effective at sampling air, so much so that researchers are studying whether they can adapt it for a mechanical detector.

To be sure, dogs are but one animal with an extremely acute sense of smell (think European pigs and truffles), but being man's best friend helps with employment opportunities. "I don't think you could ever get a police officer to get a pig around a car for a narcotics search," said David Latimer, a dog trainer in Birmingham, Ala. [...]

The training process is similar for almost all odors. For months, the dogs are given multiple items in succession to smell. When they come to the target odor — bedbugs or mold, for example — they get a reward. Eventually they associate the odor with the reward. "All animals strive for food, sex and praise," Mr. Whitstine said. "We can't give them the middle one, but we can give them the food and praise." [...]

unfortunately, for brandy the link between smell and food must be direct. she'll wake up from the deepest sleep if someone unwraps a piece of cheese. so far, however, she hasn't helped me figure out where i put the latest netflix dvd.

knight of the canine blog order

a link from dog lady herself! i only noticed it this morning when i was googling "schnaufblog" on a new computer (without bookmarks). it feels like being knighted!

[the /k/ in "knighted" is a good example for the disparity of sound and spelling english is known for. in old english, the /k/ was still pronounced (as it is in the related german word "knecht"). it was dropped rather recently, around the 17th century, when the spelling of the word had already become more or less fixed. pronunciation changed, but spelling didn't follow - the source of many apparent inconsistencies in english spelling.

here are some early examples of "knight", as listed in the oxford english dictionary:
  • 1470-85 He was a passyng good knyght of a kynge, and but a yong man.
  • 1556 There was slayne kynge Henrys sone and many other lordes and knyttes.
  • 1577 Knights be not borne, neither is anie Man a Knight by succession.
  • 1596 Alexr Leuingstoun knicht..is elected gouernour of the Realme.
  • 1648 The estates..of the lords, knights, gentlemen, and free~holders..of Connaught.]