Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My celebrity lookalike

You may have read my human lookalike post - where my human concluded that I look most like Samwise Gamgee from the Lord of the Rings - but, while looking at some old photos this evening, my human found my true celebrity doppelganger! It's the luckdragon Falkor from The Neverending Story. I think you'll agree that he and I must have been separated at birth!

Do you look like any mythical creatures or fictional characters?

Love, Oscar and the gang

A short note on aesthetics and genetics

If my human had a shred of observational or mathematical ability she would have wanted to study science, in particular genetics and evolution. She is fascinated by how all people are so similar and yet so different. She is also fascinated by the endless number of different species of animals that have evolved over time through slight genetic mutations. She has great respect for science and anyone who advances the way we think about our world and how it works.

Then again, she doesn’t really like the way some scientists are so absorbed by their work that they will do anything in the name of scientific advancement. My human’s friend was recently telling her about how she harvested rats (!!!). She is doing experiments which involve messing with rats’ blood cells so that they develop leukemia-like conditions then treating them with various drugs before harvesting various bits of the rats to see if the drugs were effective. This research is very important because it may lead to a cure for some cancer sickies and it’s even more important to my human’s friend because her dad died from a cancer-sickie.

Most people say that it’s ok to test various kinds of scientific things on animals because it could save the lives of many people and reduce the suffering of many more but my human is uncomfortable with this kind of reasoning. She says this argument only works if we accept that some lives are inherently worth less than others. If we accept this then we’d have to justify why some lives are worth less than others and figure out some sort of hierarchy of importance. Is an animal’s life worth less than a human’s? Is a child’s life worth less than an adult’s? Is a woman’s life worth less than a man’s? Is a black person’s life worth less than a white person’s? Is a gay person’s life worth less than a straight person’s? And even more complex questions like is a fetus’s life worth less than a baby’s? Is an embryo’s life worth less than a fetus’s? What about a stem cell? And so on...

Note from Timea: I thought I'd spare you a more accurate representation of a lab rat as this post is ranty enough as it is. :P Source.

No doubt some of you are feeling uncomfortable thinking about this. Well except regarding the first question. Most people just accept that it is acceptable to harm and kill animals by the thousands in order to test theories that may save the lives of humans. Maybe the reason people find it so easy to ignore the question regarding the worth of animals’ lives is because we cannot speak for ourselves. There can be no Rosa Parks of the animal kingdom because animals do not have a voice. My human is very uncomfortable with the idea that animals’ lives are worth less than humans’. But then again, maybe if her daddy had the cancer sickie she would feel differently.

Whoa….I digress. I better get back on topic because my head feels fuzzy :P

Anyway my human LOVES to read about different breeds of dogs and borrows all the dog encyclopedias she can get her hands on. She devours hundreds of pictures and can tell the difference between a King Charles Spaniel and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel by the length of their nose and the difference between a Norwich Terrier and a Norfolk Terrier by the shape of their ears. She loves dogs of all sizes, shapes and colours. But the thing she finds most fascinating….the thing that brings out her wannabe-geneticist tendencies and makes her hyperventilate with excitement (I’m not kidding) is a simple coat colour. Or should I say pattern. Blue Merle. You may think it’s silly but until September 2009 my human did not even know this colour existed. Her life changed forever when she attended the Royal Melbourne Show and met her first Australian Shepherd. She says she felt the earth shift and she stared, dazed at the beautiful dog for a good ten minutes before she gathered her wits and asked the owner whether she could touch its speckled coat. The dog was a champion. It was aloof and focused on its owner in the way working dogs, particularly highly trained ones, often are. It suffered my human’s strokes but didn’t interact. And yet, she fell in love. Imagine her delight when she discovered that the gene which creates the blue merle coat occurs in many different breeds of dogs. Enjoy….

Rough Collie. Source.

Smooth Collie. Source.

Shetland Sheepdog. Source.

Pitbull. They get the gene from their staffy heritage but, strangely, I couldn't find a picture of a blue merle staffy. Source.

Poodle. Source.

Koolie. Source.

Great Dane. Source.

Pomeranian. Source.

Dapple Dachshund. Source.

Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Source.

Chihuahua. Source.

Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. Source.

Border Collie. Source.

Australian Cattle Dog. Source.

Australian Shepherd. Source.

Mudi. Source.

Some breed standards recognize blue merle coat colour while others consider it a defect. My human doesn’t pay much heed to what kennel clubs consider acceptable. After all, some clubs require breeders to specifically select for traits that are downright dangerous to the dogs (the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s ridge, the Pug’s nose, the Cavalier’s head, the German Shepherd’s hips, the Shar Pei’s skin folds, the Irish Wolfhound’s huge size, the Basset’s extremely short legs and long back all come to mind). However, it’s worth noting that the gene which creates the blue merle coat and blue or blue and brown eyes can also cause deafness and eye problems. So, if you have your heart set on a blue merle doggie, make sure you find a reputable breeder and make sure that at least one of the parents is not blue merle (as both parents being blue merle increases the risk).

Well, I hope you've enjoyed this word and image heavy post. To all my blue merle friends out there, I'm kind of jealous.

Love, Oscar and the gang

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dealing with the heat: pt 2!

What better way to deal with the summer heat than to go to the beach?!

Just last week my humans and I packed various necessities (for me, a portable waterbowl!) and hit St Kilda Beach. I love the beach! I normally go to offleash beaches a bit further out from the city - where there are less people and I can do zoomies to my heart's content - but this time we just wanted a quick trip somewhere central.

On this particular beach there were lots of doggies and people frolicking in the water. It was a bit bewildering. All I could do was sit close to my towel, eyes glued to the action. My human said it was like trying to get through to a brick wall. I was transfixed.

It couldn't have been a better day! I met some new friends and, for the most part, I wasn't scared of them. I also went into the water! What an achievement! I was watching other doggies do zoomies in the water and then my human started doing zoomies too (!!) and, before I knew what had happened, I found myself up to my chin in water! I didn't drown and no scary creature from the deep swallowed me up so, all in all, I would consider my beach trip a success! :P

Love, Oscar and the gang

Dealing with the heat: pt 1!

Summer has been really strange in Melbourne this year. The sun hasn't come out much and it rains most days. It's still hot, but incredily sticky and as my human eloquently says....gross. (Yes, I use words like 'eloquent' while my law student human uses words like 'gross'....just go with it. :P) It's almost like we're not living in Australia at all...

Australia has been in the midst of a terrible drought my whole life (and much of my human's life). But this year, mother nature has turned the tables. Instead of drought, we have floods. You may have heard of the floods in Brisbane where over a dozen humans have died and thousands have lost their homes and everything they own. We've also had flooding in rural areas here in Victoria. It's horrible for the humans but us animals often get forgotten in emergencies and are often hit hardest by natural disasters. Both pets and wildlife have been severely affected by the floods. Please join us in donating anything you can to help Queensland's animals.

Source: http://www.qt.com.au/story/2011/01/21/rescue-wins-hearts-/

We're all having a hard time dealing with the heat...what with having thick furry coats and all. So I thought I'd share some of the things our human does for us to help us cool down.

My human thought it would be good to use this cool blue ball that you may have seen in this post and was inspired by this frozen kong idea she spied on the Never Say Never Greyhounds blog. I don't love kongs so using a ball was a much better idea in my book.

Anyway, first my human boiled some yummy things like soup bones, celery and carrots.

When they were cooked, she chopped them up.

She grabbed a plastic bag that she normally uses to roast things and put the blue ball inside. She then taped the bag so that it hugged the outside of the ball so all the soup would be contained within the ball. She poured the soup in once it cooled and added the chopped meat and carrots. Then she tied the bag tightly with a rubber band and froze the ball!


Even Iris wanted a piece of the action!

I have my ice cream and my shade....summer is pretty bearable I suppose.

In the future, my human said she will make a much smaller ball for me because there was no way I could eat that whole thing myself and it didn't stay frozen for very long. Also it made a loud clunking noise when I tried to play with it and I got scared! So smaller is definitely the way to go. She also said she wishes I would have eaten it on the grass because she had to clean the greasy soup stains off the pavers after me. :P I admit...I don't have the best table manners.

As for the three little pigs, my human always has to be very careful because they're very sensitive to high (and low) temperatures. So she always places their hutch between the big lemon and grapefruit trees so it's shaded all day. They also received a HUGE! water bottle for Christmas so they never run out of water. My human actually replaced this plastic one with a thick glass one (which was even better because it kept the water cooler), but the lady who was looking after us when our humans were on holiday broke it. So now it's back to the plastic one until she replaces it.

The guinea pigs also get a frozen bottle of water on really hot days. They lie against it and it acts as their own personal air conditioner!

What do you do to beat the heat in summer?

Love, Oscar and the gang

Summer update!


Sock Zombie here!


Sock, I am going to eat you.

Mmmm...fresh, juicy sock, a la Oscar!

I've been so so busy lately. I will be writing about my summer-time adventures in a series of themed posts to come, but for now I just wanted to quickly update you on some of the things that I've been up to recently as it's been a while since I've checked in with all my blog friends.

I've been doing more walking on Mullum Creek trail. I love it because I get to do two of my favourite things:

Posing prettily and...

making new friends!

These days really small, submissive female doggies are the only ones I'm not scared of. My human says it's getting ridiculous and embarassing so I have to start going to classes at the RSPCA. My human was quite dilligent about socialisation and when I was younger I was the friendliest, most confident doggie around. Then, around a year or so ago, I got attacked by a big doggie who was off-leash on an on-leash, narrow trail walk and had run away from his owner. It was lucky my human's dad was there or I would have been dog food as the big doggie didn't even stop to sniff my butt and went straight for my neck!

Then, a few months ago, my human and I were just walking down a nearby street, when two smaller doggies saw us from the other side of the road and squeezed under their fence and ran out growling mean things at us! That was the first time my human was actually scared of a doggie. She's walked all kinds of dogs at the RSPCA, even ones who don't like humans very much, but never had she seen such mean, aggressive doggies. Even worse, because there were two of them, they riled eachother up! My human scooped me up and just barely avoided having her legs shredded. I was so scared and, of course, because she was scared too (with good reason!) I became even more scared.

Since then I have become more and more timid with strange dogs and sometimes, if they look really intimidating, I will yell out some nasty things at them first so they know not to mess with me. Well, my human said that's not how she's brought me up to behave in public and I need to go back to school to have an attitude readjustment. Hmmph! It's not my fault!

Meanwhile, we've been practicing meeting different doggies nicely, and what better place than the beautiful and peaceful Mullum Creek Trail? Where we can admire pretty flowers.....

And feathery things who make strange noises...

After all that walking in the wild and overgrown jungles of suburbia, my human has to check me thoroughly for ticks. I figure, since she has to go to all that effort, I may as well donate some of my coat to make her a nice new jumper!

**Note from my human:

For any of you who are interested here is some info on Mullum Creek Trail.

Mullum Creek runs through several suburbs but the section we walk along is in Ringwood, close to Mullum Mullum Reserve. There are also a couple of Mullum Mullum Reserves in different suburbs so here is a map.

Love, Oscar and the gang

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Snow Monkeys!!

When my human was asked what she would most like to do in Japan she said, "See the Snow Monkeys!!" She thought you might enjoy this video of the day she finally saw them. It was snowing heavily and bitterly cold but she said it was all worth it to tick something off her bucket list. (The other things she ticked off her bucket list while in Japan were seeing her favourite whale - the Beluga - and going to Disneyland! :P)

P.S. That's my human (with the yellow umbrella) getting blown away!
P.P.S. About half of the clips in this video were shot by my human's ex-boyfriend. Thanks Myles!

Love, Oscar and the gang

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Animal Welfare Law and Post-Exam Shopping Spree

You'll be happy to hear that both my human and I survived the dreaded and evil time of year commonly known as exam week (or the 'week of death' as my human likes to call it) only a little worse for wear. To be fair, it's my human that's a little worse for wear.

This is what we do: study, study, study.

One of her assessments this semester was a 5,000 word essay for a subject called Animal Welfare Law. My human was very excited to be able study this subject as it's the first time it's being offered in our state. The essay was worth 100% of the mark for the subject and my human had to research into Australia's animal welfare legal regime and put forward a proposal for reform. My human says the current legal regime is really silly (my words, not hers): we have different laws in each state, different regulations in different council areas, even different laws for individual industries and different laws relating to different animals. The result is inconsistent and inadequate protection for animals. For example, the greyhound industry code of practice allows for greyhounds to be kept in cages smaller than the domestic dog code allows for toy breeds. Anti-cruelty legislation also only protects against "unreasonable" cruelty leaving room for perpetrators to argue that the circumstances justified their being cruel to their animals.

Worse still, some animals are completely excluded from the protection of anti-cruelty legislation, like livestock for example, and some animals may lose this protection simply by being transported across state lines (fish aren't considered animals in some states and so aren't protected). In certain industries (such as those exploiting animals for scientific experimentation or for food) the very bodies who develop protective instruments and are charged with enforcing them are those who stand to gain the most from allowing cruelty to go unpunished. Some of you may know that Australia exports live animals, like sheep, to other countries to be slaughtered. What you may not know is that when deciding whether the minimum standards of welfare are met in relation to these live shipments the body responsible for this decision acts on the advice of the representative body for exporters. In other words there's a huge conflict of interest between protecting the welfare of animals and promoting commercial interests. Finally, most of the enforcement of anti-cruelty laws is done by the RSPCA, a not for profit organisation with very limited resources.

Australia does very little to protect one of its icons - the kangaroo - allowing kangaroos to be killed for profit or even for recreation (!!) with little to no enforcement of welfare standards. Photo credit: Voiceless. Follow the link to read about commercial killing of kangaroos in Australia. Don't worry, there are no graphic pictures. However, if you're interested in the reality of 'humanely' killing joeys via a 'blunt force to the head' a quick YouTube search will show you how humane it really is. :(

My human was very grateful to have the opportunity to learn from so many inspirational people about an area of law that sadly receives very little attention, especially in Australia. So she was very proud of her essay and asked me to pass on a little of what she's learned. She'll soon be able to put all that knowledge and the skills she aquired to good use as she recently successfully interviewed for a position as an animal welfare policy research assistant at the RSPCA. My human has been volunteering at the RSPCA in the kennels for about 6 months but she also wanted to use some of the skills she's acquired at university to help doggies.

Anyway, as soon as exams finished my human did something apparently lots of lady humans do to make themselves feel better. She went shopping! And here are some of the things she picked up for me (I'm so excited!):

I got a new collar and leash from FuzzYard. My human said it was time to get a grown up collar and leash because I've had the same short, thin leash and harness since the first day she brought me home.

Yes...my human considers multi-coloured space invaders 'grown up'.

I also got a special shampoo for doggies with sensitive skin. You may have noticed that I got a hair cut. Well....what a disaster! The groomer clipped my hair so short that she left me red raw around the bum and whatever products she used made my skin so itchy I wanted to scrape it all off. Sadly, I think the grooming business has been sold and my old groomer is no longer working there. Needless to say, I won't be going there again.

My human bought the Fuzzyard products from the RSPCA Store in Burwood East, Victoria. She also bought me a fun new ball from PETstock in Mitcham. I love balls! Especially blue ones!

If any of you are interested in learning more about that state of animal welfare protection in Australia, have a look at the following links:

Love, Oscar and the gang