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Tag: damage

Night at the museum

In our final days in Baltimore, Ace and I shifted from a house that was empty to one that was very full – of art, and art supplies, and things that, in the homeowner/artist’s view, could, with a little work and imagination, be turned into art someday.

Artist J. Kelly Lane, having an out-of-town house-sitting gig of her own, offered to let Ace and me stay Thursday and Friday in her South Baltimore rowhouse, which, she warned me ahead of time, had its quirks

You know you’re in trouble when you arrive to find a note titled “Weird stuff about my house…” and it’s two pages long.

You know you’re in bigger trouble when, in a house full of art works, you break one of them.

In the wee (literally) hours of the morning, I rose off the downstairs futon to make my way upstairs to the bathroom. I was stepping carefully through the darkness, but my knee hit a stand-up ash tray and knocked it over.

If that alone weren’t bad enough – it’s hard to find ash trays at all these days, let alone the stand up, three-foot high kind — Kelly had apparently applied her artistic skills to this one.

I’m guessing (and hoping) it was a thrift store find –as opposed to a family heirloom — one that, while already the perfect combination of form and function, she saw as being in needed a bit more pizzazz.

Someone, I’m guessing Kelly, had painstakingly painted both its post and the two serpents that make up its handle, which is the part that broke when it fell to the ground.

Now it’s 4 a.m., and I can’t go back to sleep. In addition to the guilt I feel for breaking it in the first place, I’m feeling guiltier yet for what’s popping into my mind:

Glue it back together. There’s a glue gun right there on her shelf. She’ll never know.

Blame it on Ace. With a dog as big as him, in a house filled with so much art, an accident is bound to happen. Right?

Staying at Kelly’s house was like spending a night at the museum. Her paintings cover the walls. Walk in the front door and you’re in what looks like a studio. Enter then next room and you’re in what looks like a studio. Keep going back and you enter what appears to be a studio.

She’s applied her flair to the dwelling, too – like the stair rail and stairway risers painted in leopard skin motif. In addition to painting canvases, Kelly paints house interiors, and she’s into a host of other crafts, like hand-made Valentine’s cards and decorating items like the stand-up ashtray whose handle is now broken.

Bad dog!

No. Making the dog the scapegoat isn’t a good option. On top of not being fair, what a person’s dog does is, in the final analysis, the person’s responsibility.

True, I have in the past blamed him for gaseous eruptions that did not originate from him, but that’s different – dogs are more easily forgiven than humans for that.

Then too, blaming him for the mishap would tarnish his image as the perfect dog. In reality, he’s not perfect – and I wouldn’t want him to be – but he comes a lot closer to it than I do. And when it comes right down to it, I – wrong as it might be – probably care more about his image than mine, except when it comes to farts.

Like a lot of dog people, I worry more about my dog – his health, his reputation, his “proper” behavior – than I do about my own self in those regards.

From previous visits, I knew there would be some risks at Kelly’s house – that a wagging tail, or Ace going into rambunctious “let’s play!” mode, could result in serious damage. As it turns out, it was I, in my pre-coffee, bathroom-seeking clumsiness — as Ace soundly slept — that sent things a kilter. And a standalone ash tray, no less – a true antique that harkens back to the days when smoking wasn’t a misdemeanor, and ash trays were respectable enough to be an entire piece of furniture.

I’d gone more than a month in our previous location – also somebody else’s house — without breaking anything. But then, it being an empty house, there was really nothing to break.

Now I must break the news, and somehow make things right.

Then, and only then, will I be able to go back to sleep.

(Postscript: Kelly was very forgiving, and didn’t seem mad at me. To find out more about her art, contact her at easelqueen@yahoo.com)

Fiberglass dogs raise $24,000

dogdays-299x240Remember those fiberglass dogs displayed around Lafayette, Indiana as part of an outdoor art exhibit — the ones that, between vandals and thieves, weren’t always treated too kindly?

They’ve gone on to raise $24,000 for the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine and the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, co-sponsors of the “Dog Days of Summer” exhibit.

More than 150 people bid on 25 of the the life-sized artworks over the weekend, Channel 6 in Indianapolis reported.

Forty-one painted and decorated dog statues were placed in outdoor sites around Lafayette and West Lafayette in the exhibit, though many were later moved indoors after theft and vandalism.

Only one dog, Alfie the Alpha Dog, was too damaged to be preserved.

Organizers and art lovers, though dismayed that the statues weren’t safe in the community, said they are pleased with the auction results.

Are our economic worries affecting our pets?

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If your dog has been showing some uncharacteristic behavior problems of late, blame the economy.

According to Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance, some 3.35 million cat and dog owners have reported behavioral problems in their pets over the past 12 months, and “it is no coincidence that this comes at a time when many people are wrought with stress and anxiety” over the economy.

The study found that millions of troubled pets have caused damage to furniture, while others have suffered moodiness, aggression and loss of appetite.

Joanne Mallon, Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance manager, said this could all be due to the stress owners are under during the current economic climate.

“Cats and dogs can be very sensitive to their owner’s feelings and behavior, so changes in mood such as irritability, distress or remoteness could be sensed and leave the animals themselves agitated or depressed,” she said.

The findings come after the Sainsbury’s Bank revealed earlier this year that some 270,000 cat and dog owners have refused their sick pet veterinary treatment in the past because they could not afford it.

Flea collars found hazardous to pets, people

Some flea collars for cats and dogs leave cancer-causing chemicals on their fur that are hazardous to the pets and their owners, the Natural Resources Defense Council says.

The council has filed a lawsuit, asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency to order the removal of two chemicals — propoxur and TCVP, or tetrachlorvinphos — contained in many flea collars. Up until now, the EPA has said exposure to the chemicals in flea collars is insignificant.

The NRDC, in a report released yesterday, says the chemicals left residue high enough to pose a risk of cancer and neurological damage to children that is 1,000 times higher than the EPA’s acceptable levels.

“Just because a product is sold in stores doesn’t mean it’s safe,” said Dr. Gina Solomon, a physician and a toxicologist with the environmental group and an author of the study.

(To see a full list of flea and tick control products, the chemicals they contain and the risks they pose, click here.)

The federal agency had no immediate response to to the petition, or allegations that it failed to safeguard the public and their pets from dangerous pesticides, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The lawsuit, filed in California’s Alameda County Superior Court, claims 16 retailers and manufacturers, including chain pet supply and grocery stores, failed to warn consumers that they were exposed to unsafe levels of propoxur in violation of state law.

The group conducted tests on nine dogs and five cats. The tests for TCVP were conducted on Hartz Advanced Care 3-in-1 Control Collar for Cats and Hartz Advanced Care 2-in-1 Reflecting Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs. Tests for propoxur were done on Zodiac Flea & Tick Collar for dogs and Bio Spot Flea and Tick Collar for dogs.

Pet owners calling the National Pesticide Information Center have complained that dogs and cats wearing collars containing the ingredients had stopped eating or drinking and showed symptoms including vomiting, twitching, diarrhea. There was no confirmation that the collars caused the problems.

In the tests for TCVP, after three days, 60 percent of the dogs and 40 percent of the cats had residue levels that exceed the EPA’s acceptable level for developing brains of toddlers who spend an average amount of time with a pet. For toddlers who have a lot more pet contact or have more than one pet, residue levels on 80 percent of the dogs and all of the cats would exceed the acceptable level.

In the tests for propoxur, after three days, all of the dogs had residue levels that would exceed the EPA’s acceptable level to for developing brains of toddlers spending an average amount of time with a pet.

You can read the NRDC press release here.

Read more »

Despite 3 deaths, Iditarod likely to continue

“Two dogs died in the name of sport this week, and this time it wasn’t Michael Vick’s fault.”

So begins an Associated Press commentary by national sports columnist Tim Dahlberg that recounts the final hours of Dizzy and Grasshopper, two members of musher Lou Packer’s team. The two were among three dogs that died in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

“Listen to race supporters and they’ll tell you that, unlike Vick’s dogs, the 5-year-old huskies died doing what they loved. Read the official Iditarod Web site and you’ll find out that sled dogs are pampered and loved by their masters…”

On the other hand, Dahlberg wrote, “They don’t have a problem with chaining up big packs of dogs and running them to within an inch of their life for sport. They accept the fact that the Iditarod is a part of the state’s heritage, and its biggest sporting event. A lot of us in the Lower 48, though, just don’t get it.”

He goes on to ask the question on the minds of many animal right activists: “How many dog deaths are reasonable? How many more must die before the fun is finally sucked out of the sport?”

Read more »

Dogs shoo birds at 20 U.S. airports

Here’s one way to reduce the number of birds at airports, and cut down on accidents like the forced Hudson River landing of US Airways jet last week.

Her name is Sky.

Sky (click the link above for the video) is a 1-year-old border collie about four months into her job shooing birds away from Southwest Florida International Airport.

“She’s not aggressive at all, but to the birds, she looks like a predator — a wolf or a coyote,” said James Hess, airport operations agent and Sky’s handler. Big birds or flocks of birds, in addition to getting sucked into jet engines, can disable wing tips, dent the fuselage and break windshields.

Southwest Florida International is among about 20 airports nationwide using dogs for some form of wildlife control, according to Rebecca Ryan, owner of Flyaway Farm and Kennels in North Carolina, which has supplied dogs to both military and commercial airfields.

Southwest Florida International was among the first U.S. commercial airports to employ a bird dog, beginning in 1999, according to airport director Bob Ball. Sky is the third generation of her breed to patrol the airport southeast of Fort Myers.

According to USA Today, Charleston (S.C.) International and Canada’s Vancouver International also use dogs for wildlife control.

Chihuahuas in the limelight

If you’re a Chihuahua these days, you take the good with the bad. They’re the topic of a soon-to-be-released major movie, devoted to their churlish, tenacious and persnickety ways. But they’ve also taken some raps in recent studies.

First came this one — designating Chihuahua’s second only to dachsunds on a list of the most aggressive dog breeds. The study rated the aggression level of 33 breeds and concluded smaller breeds might be more genetically predisposed towards aggressive behavior.

Now, a study by Esure, a British pet insurer, has ranked them second again — this time to Great Danes — in terms of destructiveness.

According to the survey, Chihuahuas destroy $1,376 dollars worth of stuff during their lifetimes, compared to $1,420 dollars for Great Danes.

Bulldogs, dachshunds and beagles also made the top 10, with pugs, saint bernards and pointers among the least ruinous, according to an article about the study.

The survey of more than 3,000 UK dog owners found the items most often damaged were soft furnishings and electrical goods – used as makeshift chew toys – and vases and lights, knocked over by wagging tails.

Most of the damage was done during puppyhood, according to the study, which concluded a dog’s size had little bearing on its wrecking ability.

So, take note — and take a pointer, Weimaraner, or Rottweiler – all you apartment owners, hotels managers and others who set an arbitrary weight limit on the dogs you allow. Size, at least in this particular area, doesn’t matter.

And take note, too, all those who might fall into the trap of rashly getting a Chihuahua when the movie propels the breed into even more of a fad. Make sure you’re willing to invest the time. And money. Chihuahua’s are also atop another list, as the most expensive breed of dog to maintain.