Cereal = Human Kibble?

Even fleeting comments can provide great blog fodder.

 

Now don’t get me wrong – I like cereal.  I like it for breakfast, as a snack (no milk denotes “snack” status), or as a quick meal when I’m pushed for time, out of groceries, or just plain lazy.

But when I put too much thought into it, lots of things about cereal strike me as very similar to commercial, dry pet food.

Is this photo of pet food or cereal?

The first obvious similarities are the physical properties kibble and cereal share.

They’re both processed, mass-produced dry foods that come conveniently bite-sized.  We put milk on cereal, and many people put water on their dogs’ kibble before serving.  Both cereal and kibble provide quick and easy meals, can be purchased in bulk, and unused portions keep and store well.

And both kibble and cereal are marketed to any specialty purchaser in a variety of price ranges.

Looking for a whole grain cereal?  They’ve got that.  Looking for a low-fat or low-calorie cereal to accommodate your diet?  They’ve got that, too.

Looking for a kibble “designed” specially for your dog’s breed, age or size?  Options abound!

And what about nutritional value?  A lot of our favourite cereals are “part of a complete breakfast”, right?  With lots of essential nutrients and whole grains?  Well, this website informs us that many of our trusted brands are not what they seem.  General Mills Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, a personal favourite, is reportedly 42% sugar – but what about all those whole grains? Do they count for nothing?!  I can’t  say this revelation will mean I’ll cease buying it immediately, but I’ll consider cutting back.

And what about those dog foods with pictures of meat on the packaging?

Well, even though the first ingredient of Iams Healthy Naturals is actually chicken, the inclusion of water content for the portion analysis means that after processing upwards of 80% of the volume is lost and it would no longer remain the main ingredient.  And the second ingredient is chicken by-product, which certainly doesn’t include those delicious-looking drumsticks.  The following ingredients listed by volume are rice, corn meal, whole grains, and barley.  What about all that promised meat and protein?

Which brings me to my final similarity between cereal and kibble:  the ingredients.

Ingredients: 

Corn Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Chicken Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Brewers Dried Yeast, Salt, Flax Meal, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Beta-Carotene, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of vitamin B2), Inositol, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Caramel, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate), Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, L-Carnitine, Rosemary Extract.

340 cals/cup

Ingredients: 

Corn meal, sugar/glucose-fructose, corn bran, fancy molasses, salt, oat flour, baking soda, colour, vitamins (niacinamide, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine hydrochloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid), minerals (iron, zinc oxide). BHT added to package material to maintain product freshness.

120 cals/cup

I put in bold above all of the duplicate ingredients between the two products.

Take out anything in kibble intended to represent meat and the two are quite similar, are they not?

What does this say about kibble? Or about cereal?

Wordless Wednesday 2: Stand-Stay

In the event anyone ever asks me what the point of long term sit-stays, down-stays, or stands is, my immediate response is always this:

For the photo ops.  Obviously.

Sure, there are many other reasons, but c’mon.  Priorities, people.

And a prime example serves as this week’s Wordless Wednesday.

Caption this.

The Canine Good Behaviour-Exercise Correlation

Brace yourself. I made you something, valued reader.

I think charts and graphs are a fun way to share information.  Perhaps I have too much time on my hands.  Perhaps I need a break from the xkcd.  Whatever the case, I made you one anyway.

The inspiration for the dazzling visualization below stems from a discussion in the comments of this post by fellow blogger, The Dog Park, of whom I am a fan.  Although, admittedly my glorious Paint creation comes nowhere near the beauty of some recent graphs and charts done by According to Gus.  But I’m okay with that.

The information is simple: based on personal experience and an abundance of anecdotal evidence from others, the graph illustrates how a properly exercised dog results in a well-behaved dog.  No exceptions.

A dog who is walked regularly is less likely to engage in destructive behaviours at home, and is more likely to pay attention to you while you work on training, whether it be obedience, agility or what have you. 

Though, do note the sharp drop-off at the end.  Yes, you can over-exercise your dog.  A dehydrated, exhausted dog is not going to be interesting in sitting or coming to you any more than a dog with a severe case of cabin fever.  After a long hike on a hot day, it’s not uncommon for Moses to lay down and do no more than raise a “make me” eyebrow to any requests made of him.

The moral of the story: Walk your dog.  It will be good for both of you.

You’re welcome.

Ode to Dyson

This is not product placement; this is a love story.

A few months ago, Husband got me a shiny new vacuum cleaner for my birthday.

Not because he’s an insensitive spouse who was subliminally trying to tell me to clean more. No, it was because he is a thoughtful spouse who got me exactly what I wanted.

He got me a Dyson.

And not just any Dyson.  The Dyson DC25 Animal.

Sorry I missed Valentine’s Day, Dyson

And now you may be asking, what’s the big deal? Isn’t it just a vacuum?  No. Not it is not.  The Dyson will change your life.  And for pet owners, the Dyson Animal is a must.

You will never know until you experience yourself the Dyson Ball™ technology, manoeuvring around furniture with ease.  Or how about the Root Cyclone™ technology?  It doesn’t lose suction!  It has cylonic action! The centrifugal forces reach 100,000G! And it’s bagless! With washable filters!

It also came with all sorts of awesome attachments, a couple of which are so amazing I’ve never even used them:

  • Stiff Bristle Brush
  • Combination tool
  • Mini turbine head
  • Stair tool
  • Flat Out™ floor tool

And perhaps the best part is that three months after I registered our Dyson online, I got a cheerful little e-mail from Dyson Canada reminding me it was time to wash my filter in order to keep my machine in tip-top shape.  Which is great, because I wouldn’t remember that otherwise.  And I’m pretty sure I can expect these helpful reminders throughout the duration of my five-year warranty.

For pet owners, a Dyson is a must for getting rid of hair, dust, dander, and all those lovely extras that pets bring into to your home.  The first time I used it, I remember being astonished at how quickly that cylinder filled with dust and particles the old, obsolete vacuum missed; it was equally disgusting and impressive.  And I am pleased to report that in our household it’s just as effective on tile as it is on the carpet, which is a huge deal.

And when Moses starts his seasonal shedding, Dyson is the first place I turn to – it keeps the house clean, and therefore maintains my sanity.  Who says Newfs and neat freaks aren’t compatible?

So that’s it.  I adore my Dyson.  I don’t want to marry it or anything, because that would be excessively weird, but it’s definitely my favourite appliance.

In the pre-Dyson era (P.D.), brushing Moses and wine went hand-in-hand.

The “Pet Store Experience”

As you may or may not have heard, I would like pet stores to stop selling live animals.  And if the stores themselves won’t opt to stop selling pets by their own accord (and, happily, some do, such as Paradise Pet Centre in St. Albert), then I am not opposed to forcing their hand by way of municipal bylaw.

Back in November, during the course of my back and forth with a number of Petland employees in the comments sections here on my blog, the following was said about my position on the issue, by Petland’s Director of Animal Care and Kennel Operations:

“The thought of raising my children in a city where we can’t go to a pet store and experience the wonder, excitement, and joy of owning a pet is a sad thought indeed- and that is what Jen K is asking the City of Calgary to do.”

The Pet Store Grinch wants to rob you of childhood happiness.

Now, if she’s looking to silence her opposition, this is definitely the route to take because I nearly died of laughter.

But once I caught my breath, some immediate thoughts came to mind.

First, I’d like to note that I am intentionally disregarding any complaints I may have that the “pet store experience” is not actually all it’s cracked up to be, and, like a zoo, it can actually be a pretty depressing place.  Cages.  Fluorescent lights.  Ick.

But I’ve digressed, and I now have the following official objections to the attempted guilt trip.

1.  The Beloved “Experience” is Not Lost

I have suggested more than once that pet stores take the stance recently adopted by Paradise Pet Centre or Petland in East Liberty, PA, and start featuring only animals up for adoption by local rescue organizations.

In this scenario, I’m happy because the pets aren’t being commercially sold (the shelter or rescue will still control the adoption process) and more visibility is given to rescue organizations and their available adoptions.

And it also means that you can still take your child into the pet store, and they can still look at and play with the available puppies, kittens, birds and bunnies.  To the eyes of the child, nothing will change.

2.  You Will Still Be Able to Get a Pet

Pull your head out of your ass.

Ah.  Sorry.  I slipped.  Let me start over.

By advocating for a retail pet ban, I am not looking to ban pet ownership itself, which should be clear.  Instead, I am looking to encourage responsible pet ownership.  Pet stores market to that “puppy in the window” syndrome, and yes, impulse pet purchases happen.  And then surrenders happen and the rescue pet is created.

I would truly appreciate it if someone would explain to me how encouraging people to find a reputable breeder or go through a more thorough adoption process with a rescue agency are negative consequences of a pet store ban.

No, I admit you won’t likely be able to take your new pet home within a day or even a week of deciding you want one, and you may have to spend some time and jumping through a couple of hoops before your adoption is approved.  But at the end of it all, you will have matched your family with a suitable pet who will bring you years of joy, wonder, and excitement.

Even The Grinch had a pet. In fact, in the movie from 2000, The Grinch’s loyal dog Max was played by six different mixed-breed shelter rescues.

3.  There Will Be No Pet Shortage

There are already enough dogs, cats, rabbits, and other pets out there who need good homes without adding commercially bred and sold pets into the market.  Taking away the ability of Petland and others to sell animals is not going to result in a sudden decrease of available pets.

Take Calgary and area, for instance: there are lots of rescues and shelters overburdened with pets in need of good homes.

Here, a compiled list for you in alphabetical order:

Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS):  A non-profit organization whose mandate is to rescue abandoned, surrendered or abused small animals (dogs and cats) from First Nations Communities in Central Alberta and place these animals in the safety of a foster home system while awaiting suitable placement in forever, adoptive homes.

Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF):  ARF’s mission is to rescue stray and unwanted dogs and cats from First Nations and rural areas and place them in loving, permanent homes while providing programs to reduce pet over-population.

Calgary Humane Society:  It’s even organized like a pet store, where you can see and meet adoptable cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, chinchillas and aquatic animals.

City of Calgary Animal Services:  Give a rescued or surrendered dog or cat a second chance.

Cochrane & Area Humane Society:  Re-homing dogs, cats, non-companion barn cats, and other animals such as rabbits.  The Cochrane Humane Society is a charitable organization dedicated to promoting and preserving the well-being of animals, sustained by volunteers and the community.

Furever After Rescue Society:  A non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue of dogs from high kill shelters, disasters, neglect and other tragic situations from Canada and the United States.

Heaven Can Wait Animal Rescue Foundation:  Providing shelter, care and nourishment to abandoned, abused and homeless domestic animals (dogs and cats) within High River and the surrounding area.

MEOW Foundation:  MEOW Foundation is a registered charity and humane society with a no-kill mandate. We facilitate the adoption of the stray and abandoned cats that we rescue into new loving, permanent homes.

Misty Creek Dog Rescue:  Misty Creek Dog Rescue takes in dogs from pounds, reserves, other shelters and voluntary owner surrenders providing them with medical care, vaccinations, and behavioural training with the aim of finding them forever homes. Because of the strict no-kill mandate, dogs may stay at the shelter for years until they are successfully placed with a suitable family.

Oops-A-Dazy Rescue and Sanctuary Society:  Helping adoptable dogs, cats, and even pot belly pigs and other farm animals such as donkeys, goats, and alpacas.

Pawsitive Match Rescue:  Pawsitive Match saves dogs facing life-threatening circumstances in Canada, United States, Mexico, Turks and Caicos, and the Northwest Territories. The dogs come from shelters that have no choice but to euthanize due to over-crowding or because they are shutting down.

Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue:  Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue is dedicated to rescuing and finding homes and adopters for dogs and cats.  We frequently rescue dogs that have been abandoned, found starving, often traumatized and freezing, on the Morley Reserve near Calgary.

Not in Calgary or the surrounding area?  Canada’s Guide to Dogs has a rescue directory for each province.

And if you think that’s a lot (and I’m sure I missed some), the foregoing list also does not even include any of the breed-specific rescue organizations out there.  For example:

Want a Great Dane?  Check out For the Love of Danes Rescue.

A pit bull?  How about Pit Bulls for Life Foundation of Alberta?

A basset hound?  Then there is Calgary Basset Rescue.

Labrador Retreiver?  See Calgary Purebred Labrador Retriever Rescue, unless you’d prefer a Golden Retriever.  Or a Chihuahua?  A Jack Russell Terrier?  A Daschund?  Looking for a bird?  How about Birdline Canada Ltd.?

 Basically, if you have a certain breed, or even species, in mind, try this:

 Google:  [breed] + rescue + [City/Province]

By now I hope I’ve sufficiently illustrated that there is an abundance of rescued or surrendered pets out there in need of permanent homes.  

And if this still isn’t your preferred route, there is a large population of reputable breeders out there to apply to as well, and Canada’s Guide to Dogs has an extensive directory for them, too. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to also note what is explicitly outlined in the Canadian Kennel Club Code of Ethics:

Section III, General Responsibilities, subsection (g).  No breeder shall sell or donate dogs for the purpose of their being auctioned, raffled or to pet stores.

So now I’d like to go back to the original question and ask:  What exactly am I robbing the City of Calgary of, again?

Max knows.

February is ‘What’ Month?

Is it just me, or do an overwhelming number of causes seem to be staking their claim to the month of February?

Without raising awareness for any number of causes, February is already pretty busy with perhaps some of the most ridiculous cultural observances.  Groundhog Day is on the 2ndWorld Nutella Day is on the 5th (not ridiculous).  Valentine’s Day is on the 14th.  Family Day also brings the year’s first long weekend (also not ridiculous), and occasionally February has an extra day, which isn’t very remarkable and is mostly a just pain when it comes to calculating certain kinds of interest.

February 5: World Nutella Day

I don’t exactly know what it is about February that is so attractive for Random Cause Awareness, and I also don’t know why it just struck me this year, but there seems to be a lot going on these 28 days.  Is this because it provides for the shortest possible campaign?

First and foremost is Black History Month, which is not only the most legitimate cause staking claim to the month, but it’s also been in place since 1976.  The rules of shotgun are pretty clear.

Second most renowned would probably be American Heart Month, drawing attention to heart health and cardiovascular disease, and marketing the connection with Valentine imagery.

And as I’ve recently learned, people concerned with our teeth have also decided February is the month to target (not November – post-Halloween?), declaring it both National Dental Month and National Pet Dental Health Month.

So, while questions arise about whether or not an awareness month means we can or do neglect certain issues the rest of the year (I don’t know about you, but I brush and floss outside of February, too), I also wondered, what other ‘month’ is February?

As it turns out, lots.  Perhaps winter boredom means we have more time to dedicate to various causes?  Or perhaps certain companies have figured out that declaring a day or month in the name of something leads to easy and efficient marketing?  And is there something to be said about the plethora of odd February causes detracting from the few legitimate ones?

In any event, some of February’s highlights include:

Great American Pies Month
Library Lovers Month (maybe this should be year round)
National Bird Feeding Month
National Boost-Your-Self-Esteem Month (after those failed New Year’s resolutions?)
National Canned Food Month (because winter means less fresh food?)
National Care About Your Indoor Air Month
National Get To Know and Independent Real Estate Broker Month
National Grapefruit Month (canned?)
National Hot Breakfast Month
National Snack Food Month
National Chocolate Lover’s Month (buy yourself Valentine’s chocolate without the guilt?)
National Sweet Potato Month
National Time Management Month
National Weddings Month
Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
Spunky Old Broads Month

It’s getting a little ridiculous, isn’t it?

Now, instead of having to pick and choose where your focus will be throughout February, I think I’ve figured out a way to knock out all of less significant observances in one shot: one meal at a library with a spunky old broad who just happens to be a real estate broker, serving heart-shaped crepes with Nutella and canned grapefruit, and a side of sweet potato hash browns, finished off with a slice of pie and some pretzels.  While heading out to brush you and your pets’ teeth, you scatter some birdseed and breadcrumbs, and return a couple of shopping carts –all while wearing formal wedding attire.  I think completing all of the above would be some excellent time management, which, of course, should boost your self-esteem.

Done.

Burt Reynolds celebrates his birthday in February. Isn’t that interesting?

Pet Insurance? Or Assurance?

I’ve been asked more than once about whether or not I’d recommend pet insurance, and I’m always sorry to say that there’s unfortunately no clear answer to that question.  Not that you’ll get from me, anyway.

Moses is insured.  And personally, I’m very glad he is, because that didn’t always used to be the case.  And then – BAM!  Bloat.  At midnight.  On a Friday.  In another city.

Yep, we sure wish we were insured then.  Because even though we would’ve had to fork over the cost of his emergency surgery up front anyway, at least we would’ve got $5,000 of that back under our current plan.

To Buy or Not To Buy?

But I can really see why many people opt not to get pet insurance.  Heck, that was our first decision, too.  And our cats still aren’t insured.

The reasoning is simple: if you have a well-trained dog and put them on a good quality diet, those are insurance policies of their own.  The quality diet can prevent against many illnesses and allergies, and a well-trained dog is less likely to get into some sort of rare kerfuffle or incident that could result in medical attention.  Simple.

If you have a pure bred dog and did extensive breeder research beforehand, there’s another important precaution taken care of.

Easy initial and daily preventative measures can mean a long, healthy, high quality life for your dog, and also mean that pet insurance for you just might turn out to be a waste of money.

Alternatively, to prepare for any sort of “freak” incident, many people simply put away what they’d pay in premiums into a savings account, so the money is there if you need it, but still in your possession if you don’t.  That was our plan, too, but when Moses bloated at 18 months old, we had barely $500 in the Contingency Account.  So perhaps a large lump sum early on is the way to go with this plan.

For us, however, it took one Several Thousand Dollar Event to change our minds on pet insurance (even though we have yet to make a claim on it – knock on wood).  And, unfortunately, I know more people who didn’t have pet insurance and later really wish they did, than who did purchase a plan and later found it to be an unnecessary expense.  Of course, I also know many people who don’t have pet insurance and have never needed it and are quite content.

So I’m afraid I can’t offer any clear advice; it’s a pretty personal decision.

However, I can offer some important considerations.

Finances. If you’re rolling in dough and won’t be financially affected by paying several hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for a procedure, I probably wouldn’t worry about it.

If you’re leaning towards insuring your pet, you also have to consider your long-term investment and what you can afford monthly or annually in premiums.  For example, $40 per month over the course of a 14 year lifespan would mean paying the insurance company $5,760 at the end of it all.  Do you think you will recover this amount in claims?  Or is your “peace of mind” worth that much?

Your Pet’s Age.  Just like our own health insurance, premiums for pet insurance are cheaper the younger your pet is, so if you’re on the fence, it’s often better to make a decision sooner than later, and see if the policy has any guarantees about premium increases over time.  Some breeders, like ours, even insure your puppy for you up to 6 months old, so it could be an easy procedure to just maintain that policy.  Some companies won’t even insure a pet once they’ve reached a certain age, so it’s worth looking into.

Old age will also be a consideration, because even if a certain procedure is covered and can prolong your pet’s life, questions about quality of life may arise.  Insurance is nice because it takes out the “can we?” when it comes to a major medical procedure, but you can’t neglect the “should we?” considerations.

Medical History.  You have to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions beforehand when applying for insurance or you risk voiding your policy, so it’s best really best to obtain the insurance before anything arises.  We disclosed that Moses had previously bloated, so our insurance coverage now excludes future episodes of bloat (obviously).  Thankfully, his stomach is now tacked and future bloat isn’t a huge concern for us, but this could be a deal breaker with many other medical issues.

Breed.  Shop around when considering a policy, and check to see how different companies assess insurance for your dog (or cat)’s breed.  When we were looking, some companies listed Newfoundlands (among several others) in a riskier category as other breeds, and wouldn’t cover certain things like bloat or hip dysplasia regardless of the particular dog’s medical history.

Lifestyle.  Is your dog well trained?  Does he or she get a quality diet and plenty of exercise?  Are you diligent about keeping him/her out of harm’s way?  If so, you may not want to bother with insurance.  What about considering who else looks after your pets – dog walkers, dog/cat/house sitters?  Sure, unusual and unpredictable things can happen, but, on the other hand, how much are you willing to pay for the rare just-in-case scenario?  This is why our cats aren’t insured:  they stay in the house, are fed well, are miscellaneous stray-mixes, and neither of them have any self-destructive habits such as eating plastic, live electrical cords, or poisonous plants, so serious medical problems or injuries really aren’t a major concern for us.  Could we have made the wrong bet?  Sure, but that’s a bridge we’ll cross when we get there.  (Fool me once…?)

Type of Coverage.  Like any other form of insurance, pet insurance comes with many different levels and inclusions and exclusions.  If you just want to insure for the just-in-case scenario, but take on daily preventative care issues yourself, most companies can accommodate.  If you want 100% coverage, including regular medical check-ups, dental care, and even massage or acupuncture (not kidding!), they have that, too.

Vet Considerations.  Some companies allow you to see any veterinarian you want, which means you can keep your current one (if you like them).  Read the fine print and make sure the company you’re considering doesn’t just allow for claims from certain vets in your area, unless you’re already using one or want to make a change.

Past Experiences.  This will probably be the biggest factor: experiences you’ve already had with your pets, or perhaps ones your close friends or family members have had.  If your gut simply tells you to get insurance, and it will make you feel more secure, then just find a good option and go for it.  If you’re certain it will be a waste of money, then who is to say otherwise?  It’s Colbert’s “truthiness” at its finest.

Can you believe it has taken me this long to work Colbert into my blog?

Really, the hard part when considering pet insurance is to think about it as objectively as possible.  And this is tough not only because our pets are generally considered beloved family members, but also because each company selling pet insurance “fear mongers” to a certain extent, playing on your love for your pet and how you “want the best for them”.  You do have to remember that these companies wouldn’t exist if there weren’t a profit to be made.  Like we put off writing our own Last Will and Testament, considering the what-ifs is just one of those necessary evils of being responsible.

No, it is true, I will never come right out and tell someone not to get pet insurance, simply because if they do turn out to be part of that population that opt out and then something terrible happens, I could never live with the guilt; I prefer to err on the side of caution, thus accounting (now) for Moses’ insurance policy.

On the other hand, I can’t (won’t) tell you outright whether to get pet insurance, either, but I will certainly advise to do as much research as possible and be sure you’ve made an informed decision, whatever that decision may be.

In conclusion: there are more questions and considerations than answers.  Sorry ‘bout that.

Moses had both had and not had insurance. Each time, we've been content with our decision.

The Puppy Bowl: Ridiculous or Sheer Genius?

Apparently there’s some big football game on today.  Whoop-de-doo.

Actually, this year will be the first time I check out Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl.

Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl VI garnered over 7 million viewers. Puppy Bowl VII airs today.

The story behind the creation of the Puppy Bowl kills me – opportunity at its best. Animal Planet wanted a way to fill the rarely watched space opposite the Super Bowl, and decided to create the Puppy Bowl, where rescue puppies play on a mock football field, earning “puppy touchdowns” if they bring a toy into the end zone.  After 6 years, the Christmas yule log-like time filler has become quite the success.

And don’t get me wrong, cuteness is guaranteed, and no one can knock Animal Planet for featuring adoptable rescue pets.  I checked out a couple of short clips on YouTube, and they’re certain to put a smile on your face.

… if you watch in 5 minute intervals.  It doesn’t take long for my inner cynic to take over and start to zone in on the cheese.

Kitty half time show?  Hamsters in a blimp?  Bunny and/or chicken cheerleaders?  And apparently this year they will introduce a mock “kiss cam”.

I am beginning to think I’m not the intended audience.

Perhaps the funniest/most ridiculous is the human referee. I caught a glimpse of this fascinating job on some of the YouTube clips, and can’t decide if this guy is really lucky … or not. His job is to monitor the play, interrupt “unnecessary ruff-ness” between the puppies, and clean up any “penalties”.  I’m just picturing this guy in a pub, talking to a pretty girl: “Actually, I’m on TV… ever hear of the Puppy Bowl?”  Then again, this could also totally work in his favour – who’s to say?

“]

Clearly the pups didn't see the flag. (Photo: animal.discovery.com)

In any event, I like puppies more than I do the NFL, so the PVR is set and I’ll check out as much as I can stomach. (Though, to their credit, at least the puppies aren’t dressed up.)

If you’d like to check out the Puppy Bowl’s starting line up, check out Animal Planet’s website here.

I’m not sure if anyone out there calculates the odds for the Puppy Bowl, but I’d put my money on Mae for MVP.

Mae: 9 weeks old, Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland mix (photo: animal.discovery.com)

To read more Super Bowl day blog entries, visit today’s blog hop, hosted by the All Things Dog Blog.

Wordless Wednesday 1: Now, with words!

I’m not sure if it was through Twitter or by following other bloggers, but when I first learned about Wordless Wednesday, I thought it was a very interesting idea.  Many bloggers have adopted the trend, and all you simply do is post a funny or interesting photo, and leave it up to readers to suggest the appropriate caption.

It sounds fun, easy, and ingenious.

Therefore, I am herein jumping on the bandwagon.  Not with weekly intentions, but instead as I see fit or as I come across or take an intriguing photo. I often think my blog is a little word-heavy, anyway.

And after yesterday’s post, I’d really just like to lighten the mood for a moment.

Granted, this has already become a rather wordy Wordless Wednesday, so let’s have at ‘er!

Your mission: caption this photo:

Nope, it’s not a dog photo.  I surprise even myself sometimes.

Good and Terrible News of the Day

Yesterday’s news was a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster for anyone paying attention.

I will start with the good.

The good news is that Fort Collins, Colorado, has added its name to the list of cities considering a ban on retail pet sales.  Citizens in favour of the ban filed their petition last Friday and the issue will be in front of city council in April.  The ban in Fort Collins is one of the more extensive ones, proposing to ban the sale of dogs and cats, as well as birds, reptiles, rabbits, rodents, and other small animals.  This is awesome news, and I tip my proverbial hat to the petitioners in Fort Collins who took action.

Unfortunately, the good news of the day was severely overshadowed by the bad news of yesterday.   And while it completely depresses me to even think about it, I’ve decided I can’t go without mentioning it and ranting a little.

Unless you are living under a rock, you will have heard about the slaughter of 100 sled dogs that took place in Whistler, B.C. last April.

The rage and nausea that comes with this story is overwhelming, and it is so far beyond words that it’s hard to blog about without just reiterating the awful, gruesome details of the event and letting them speak for themselves.

Boycotting Howling Dog Tours Whistler Inc. should probably go without saying.

A number of whys and what-ifs ran through my head at lightning speed once I gathered the courage to actually read the full story (the headline is really bad enough).

Why did this just become known when the employee responsible for the “euthanasia” filed for compensation due to PTSD caused by this event?

How was shooting/throat slashing by a staff member the acceptable option when the chosen vet refused to participate in the “cull”?

Why didn’t the company try to sell/give away/donate the dogs to another sledding company?  Or a rescue organization? Or try to re-home the dogs as family pets?

The dogs were killed after a post-Olympic decline in business?  Does that suggest that the company obtained extra dogs just for the Olympic boom, with a following decline being obvious, and should have been accounted for?

And why the hell is the senseless killing of 100 perfectly healthy working dogs not somehow illegal?

Is really the only way the company is going to be forced to be held accountable because of some technicality – the “euthanasia” was not humane – and this otherwise would have been a-okay?  Yes, the instances of the dogs’ death is disgusting and horrifying, and anyone can see how PTSD would result, but the deaths themselves are really pretty upsetting.  (Outdoor Adventures has since ensured that all future euthanasias will be “treated at a vet’s office”.  Gee thanks.)

… Something tells me my “city/urban” understanding of dog guardianship results in the disconnect I have to the event, as evidenced by my last couple of questions, but I don’t really care.  “Working dogs” or not, I don’t like it.

So what now?

Well thankfully many other companies in Alberta and B.C. have come out against what Howling Dog Tours Whistler Inc. did, restoring some faith in the industry, and have even made a public request for mandatory inspections in their field.  While the proportions of the Whistler event may be staggering, these companies advise that it’s not unheard of for other organizations to euthanize healthy dogs when faced with hard times.  When contacted by the media, Canmore companies have spoken out against what happened in Whistler, ensuring that their policies are that euthanasia is only performed by a veterinarian and only in circumstances of severe illness or advanced age.

So what next?  Well, the RCMP are investigating (and will be attempting to locate the mass grave) and the BC SPCA will be seeking any relevant charges.

Update (Feb. 1, 2011): According to their website, Outdoor Adventures at Whistler has voluntarily suspended operations of the sled dog operator, Howling Dog Tours Whistler Inc. (unrelated to a Canmore company with a similar name).  Outdoor Adventures advises that it was aware of relocation and euthanization of dogs in April 2010, but did not instruct the euthanization of the dogs, and expected any actions to be carried out in a “proper, legal and humane manner”.

Federal animal cruelty laws in Canada fall under the Criminal Code.  And the horrible circumstances the dogs were “culled” under should certainly fall under “wilfully causes or, being the owner, wilfully permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal”.  So really, conviction should not be that difficult.

What about punishment?  And herein lies the problem.  Animal cruelty in Canada is not an indictable offence (unless cattle are involved).

So the maximum punishment? $2,000 and/or 6 months in jail.  That’s $20/dog.  Disgusting.

Since this event happened in B.C., it is also subject to B.C.’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which increases the fine to $5,000 ($10,000 for a second offence).

Not. Good. Enough.

Nunavut Tourism: Nunavut Sled Dogs

 

Update (February 23, 2011):  The Fort Collins pet store ban didn’t get through to city council because the petition fell short over 1,000 legitimate signatures.  So I guess this could really be re-titled to: The Bad and Terrible News of the Day.