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