Thursday, October 14, 2010

Some Parents

I've touched on some of the stupid things humans do to animals, but never the silly things parents do to their own children.

While in a salon the other day, a woman came in with her six week old daughter to have the child's ears pierced. This was not a cultural thing -- the mother simply wanted her daughter to wear pretty earrings. As the child cried (okay, screamed), the mother snapped photos of the happy moment. To tell the truth, I'm surprised the salon agreed to do it. Am I out of the loop, or is this just too young for body piercing?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Here's $20 I'll Never See Again

A long time ago, I wrote about the best cat toy ever. I don't know what happened to it -- it's most likely in the bottom of the toy basket after my cat, Meeko, grew bored of it. So in an attempt to throw a bit of entertainment her way, I purchased her an "Emory Cat" scratching board.

I should have immediately clued in to her disinterest when I had to place her on top of the board. She stretched and scratched the surface once, then turned and sniffed the attached feather wand. After 30 seconds, she leapt off. A few days ago, I tried to encourage her to give it another go, but she'd have none of it. I swear, when I took the photo below, I heard her laughing at me:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thinking About a New Pet?

Choosing and naming our cat, six years ago, was completely out of my hands. The former wasn't difficult for my daughter because, at the time, Meeko was the only kitten available at the OSPCA. As for the name, I suppose it could have been worse.

I've always felt that choosing a pet is all about connecting with the animal -- you just know that this is the one for you (or she's the last of her kind at the shelter). But there is help out there. Here's a site that helps you decide what breed of dog or cat would best suit your family, your home and your lifestyle.

And naming your pet? You could, as my daughter did, go the Disney (Pocahontas) route, but you might also want to check out a list of most popular pet names in the U.S. and Australia.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bee Keeper

Because of the recent decline in the honeybee population, I was happy to see lots of bees flying about this summer (even though they're bumblebees). It took me a few weeks to realize that many of the bees were actually living under my front concrete step (you'll have to click on the photo to get a close-up). They would zoom past, with their little, pollen-laden legs, ignoring me as I watched them crawl into the nest. The buzzing, coming from the step, was incredible.

My husband was worried that they might sting someone, but we seldom use the front door. I know all of the bees will die once the cold weather sets in, but I'm not sure if the queen will remain in the nest. We should seal it up in the fall, but I'm concerned we might be trapping the queen inside. Any suggestions?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just When You Least Expect It ...

So I'm walking along the path into my backyard, when I sense it. I stop just in time. A huge (and I mean huge) spider's web stretches from the deck railing to those once-lovely shasta daisies. I can't see the owner of the web, but I return with a broom to sweep the web aside. I do this for the next five days, wondering why the energetic spider continues to rebuild. I do feel guilty, but there is no other way into my yard.

Today, armed and ready with my broom, I finally spot the spider, smack-dab in the middle of his handiwork. By the time I return with my camera, he's taken refuge under the handrail. He's huge, so big that I'm not even sure you have to click on the photo to enlarge:

Large Spider Ontario Canada

Now I'm afraid to go past the railing -- if he was able to jump all the way to the garden while spinning his web, he'd have no problem leaping out at me as I walk by.

I've emailed the photo to my daughter and husband, warning them about the hidden danger (and treasure) in our own backyard.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Garden Favourites

Back Cat in Garden

My cat, Meeko, likes going into the yard, but always ends up eating grass, which she promptly vomits once she's back in the house. That would be okay if my carpets were green.

Rose Campion and Coreopsis
Last year, I had to pull hundreds of my beautiful pink rose campions -- they'd seeded everywhere and threatened to overtake the garden. But I see that many seeds have sprouted, so I'll be able to enjoy them again next year.

Shasta Daisies
My shasta daisies were pretty spectacular this year, but the clumps are so huge, it's probably time to divide.

I'm going to miss all the colours, once winter arrives, but I can always bring the gardens indoors by pulling out one of my vintage tablecloths:

Vintage Tablecloth with Daisies
Vintage Tablecloth with Pink Flowers

And why am I writing about vintage tablecloths in my animal-related blog? Just to let you know that I've started another blog about vintage stuff I own, called "Vintage Hoard". If you're interested in that kind of thing, then why not take a look?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This is Just Wrong

I don't have a photo, but check out these sites for pics of cats whose owners should slapped upside the head:

I don't even like football

I am not a poodle

My owner is an idiot

Help, Get Us Outta Here!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sun, Sand and Surf

Just got back from a driving trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina. My husband and I aren't really into the beach, but we sacrificed ourselves for our sun-loving daughter and her best friend. Despite the searing temperatures, we had a wonderful time. I'd hoped to catch a glimpse of some interesting wildlife, but I mustn't have been looking hard enough because this is all I came up with:

Bicycle Stand
If you look very closely, in the centre of the pic, (and magnify the photo by clicking on it), you'll spot a bunny munching on the scarce grass by the stand of bicycles. His colouring is perfect camouflage for the beach.

Hilton Head Beach Crow
A crow. Yeah, we have loads of crows in Canada too, but I thought how much nicer the winter must be for them in South Carolina.

I did see tiny geckos streaking through gardens and up trees, but by the time I reached for my camera, they'd disappeared. Loads of pelicans -- I'll bet they're glad they don't hang out in the Gulf of Mexico. And cockroaches. Big cockroaches. Thankfully, outside where they belong.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Early Morning Ant Activity

AntsHonestly, just because I wrote about ants here and here, I don't really have a special interest in them -- they just seem to be making an appearance more often (though, thankfully, not inside my home).

For the past few days, around 6:30 in the morning, thousands of ants have been exiting their nest under my front walkway (click on the photo for a creepy close up). They race around, seemingly without any purpose other than to get a bit of fresh air before the heat of the day sets in. By 8:30 a.m., the ants have returned underground. But how far underground do they go? Check out this plaster cast of an ant colony in Wikipedia. Anyway, it looks like my ants have done some major excavating, and I wouldn't be surprised if the walkway begins to sink -- I'll have to sweep in some sand this summer before my interlock begins to heave.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


FirewoodThe town recently cut down a tree on my neighbour's front lawn because of root damage. Only in the past few years had the 20-year-old elm stretched its limbs far enough to provide a wonderful canopy of shade. Kind of sad, but residential trees live a very precarious existence, their lives hinging on the whims of humans.

My concern was the chance that birds or squirrels had nested in the tree. For awhile, I debated whether to ask the men if they'd found a nest -- did I really want to know? Well ... of course I did.

They told me they always check before cutting, and if a nest with young is found, they'll wait a few weeks until it's vacant. Unfortunately, sometimes they don't see the babies and nest until it's on the ground. At that point, apparently there's nothing they can do. That's the part I didn't want to know (I'm notorious for sticking my head in the sand). Luckily, there was no nest in this tree.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fixing A Hole Where The Rain Gets In

antsThe other day, I pulled a small weed/plant/green thing from between the interlock leading to my front door. As soon as I did, a bunch of ants raced out. I'm sure if I could see their little faces, they would show looks of concern and confusion, and they would be yelling, "What the hell just happened to our roof". The ants immediately set to work, gathering nearby grains of sand and filling the tiny hole. Within five minutes, the hole had disappeared. You'll definitely have to click on the picture to see them.

There seems to be a lot of ants around. Last year, they'd made a home in the mailbox. This year, they've invaded my compost bin. Apparently, the ants help aerate the pile, so I won't worry about them, but I dread using it because the nest appears to be right where I'd shovel out the compost. I've always been surprised that I enjoy gardening so much because there are so many creepy crawlies lurking in the plants. But we seem to have come to an understanding -- they leave me alone (stay out of my hair), and I leave them alone.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Time for Animals

BP oil spill, negligent and abusive pet owners, hunters and poachers, fur-wearing fashionistas, and all the other brain-spared people of the world -- maybe it's time for humans to move out and let animals and nature have a chance. Yes, there's many of us who do care (especially the wonderful readers of this blog), but there just doesn't seem to be enough of us. With these disheartening thoughts, I knew I needed something to lift my spirits -- hope you enjoy:

Animals nurturing animals

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Cat Sleeping in basketIt's taken me almost a month to write about this because ... well, because it's so horrendous. The SPCA, where I volunteer, experienced a ringworm outbreak they were unable to contain. After a few months of temporary closures and massive cleaning attempts, the vets recommended that the animals be euthanized.

Euthanized. For ringworm.

Initially, it was reported that 350 animals would be put down. But after protesters descended on the shelter, and community vets offered facilities for the animals, the centre had a change of heart. Still, 100 animals were euthanized.

I have gone through so many emotions, but despair ranks highest. The shelter has appointed an outside investigator to figure out what went wrong (I can tell you what went wrong -- they needlessly killed animals). As well, they've had experts come in to go over their protocols.

Understandably, there are a lot of angry people out there. Yet, I'm bound and determined to continue volunteering. There have been a few comments on my other blog that tend to disagree with my decision, but I can't walk away from the future animals who come into the centre. I also want to show my support of the wonderful staff who are devastated by the loss of the beloved animals in their care.

Man, just writing about this makes me cry.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Duck Crossing

Mallard duckAt 5:30 this morning, while driving along a busy four-lane road, I spotted a Mallard duck. He sat, unmoving, in the middle of the oncoming lane. After stopping and putting on my four-way flashers, I hopped out and wrapped my jacket around him. There was blood on the pavement and a small amount near his nostrils, but he was alive. He freaked out, just a bit, on the floor of the passenger side of my car as I sped to the vet's, where I knew the emergency vet number was posted on the door.

I called, and they advised me to bring him in and they could euthanize him. Uh ... no. Not knowing the extent of his injuries, I couldn't do that. So I drove home and placed him in my back garden. I gave him some water, cooked rice and sunflower seeds. I have no idea if any of that interests him, but I hope it will tide him over until I figure out what to do.

I might call the OSPCA because they do take in wildlife, but considering what's been happening there lately, they might be a little too busy (more on that in a later post, but you can read a bit about it in the May 2010 posts on my other blog.) When I went out to take this photo (click to enlarge), I frightened him, and he flew into the cedar hedge, then bounced off. At least he's able to fly now, so perhaps he just needs some time to rest.

Update: The investigators have taken the duck away. I do hope they find he's just a little dazed, and he'll soon be back with his family. Hmm ... I must find out how and where they release ducks after they've been rehabilitated. I suppose, with all his natural duck homing instincts, he shouldn't have a problem. Should he?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bird Brains

WindowI say "bird brains" with the utmost respect because I believe most birds are pretty darn smart. Unfortunately, we humans are in the habit of putting windows in places they don't belong. If you look closely at the photo (click to enlarge), you'll see the outline of the crow that flew, with great force, into my living room window. I'm sure he was a little stunned, but he did fly away. He must've seen the sky through the dining room window, at the opposite end of the room from this one, and headed for it. I now keep the dining room drapes closed. Poor guy.

And, last week, I saw a robin do something unexpected. He was eating the shelled peanuts I'd put out for the chipmunks and squirrels. The bird chomped on the peanut with his beak, then gobbled down the tiny pieces . I've never seen robins eat anything but worms. Perhaps the lack of rain has affected the worm supply, or I've just never paid enough attention.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Raiding the Henhouse

Eggs on vintage tableclothUntil last year, Brazilian howler monkeys were believed to have been strictly vegetarian. That's when researchers spotted the primates investigating birds' nests and chicken coops. Although some of the howlers ate the eggs, most simply examined then returned them to the nest. Now, as interesting as the diet change is, I think it's even more interesting that the monkeys put the eggs back where they found them. I wouldn't have been surprised if the researchers reported that the monkeys tossed the eggs or played with them. Replacing them shows some kind of understanding and consideration I didn't expect. Perhaps by returning the eggs, the howlers were ensuring a new generation of egg-layers, and food for the future. Or maybe they were just being nice. Whole story here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Break Time is Just About Over

Black cat
I've been a bad blogger, lately, haven't I? My only excuse is that my mind is mush and I needed a break. Is it possible that, after almost three years, I've simply run out of animal-related ideas? No, couldn't be. Until I get it together, here's a picture of my cat, Meeko, in our backyard. Doesn't she look shiny and sleek?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Latest Scoop on Fashion

Vintage necklaceAt a recent technology trade fair, inventor, Karl Friedrich Lenser, unveiled his dog poo necklace. Made from his Jack Russell's feces and microwaved until diamond-hard, the necklace may just be the next big fashion trend. At least, that's what the inventor hopes:

"I saw when it was in the microwave that it becomes hard. It becomes beautiful and it is like a jewel. People always have a tendency to be individual. If they see it they want to have it. I am sure it will become a fashion."

Two thoughts on this: I hope he didn't use the office microwave, and what the heck possessed him to microwave poop in the first place?

It's a bit like a pet rock, isn't it? If this does take off, why buy one when you could easily pick it up from your yard? Note: the necklace pictured here is not made of poop. At least, I hope not because it belongs to me.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Protecting the Rights of Animals

Switzerland is leaving other countries in its dust when it comes to the rights of pets. In March, they'll hold a referendum on whether domesticated animals should have the right to be represented in court by lawyers. The country already has a law protecting guinea pigs and goldfish from being kept without mates as they are considered social animals. Although extreme, I think the Swiss have the right idea.

In Canada, the SPCA does its best to protect animals from abuse and neglect, but the courts appear unwilling to get on board. Yesterday, while volunteering at the animal shelter, I met two cats who had been found in a taped-up box, at the side of the road -- someone had left them there to die in the cold! I've always believed that "what goes around, comes around", so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Winging it Across America

Last week, I watched Nova's "The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies", which follows the 2000 mile migration of the Monarch butterfly. These amazing creatures are found throughout the world, but it's only in North America that they make such an arduous, obstacle-filled journey. I was saddened by our own miserable contribution to its decline, but uplifted by the butterfly's never-say-die attitude. I know, you're probably kicking yourself because you missed it, but wait! You can watch it online. It's informative and moving. I did learn that it takes four generations of monarchs to complete the journey. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dairy Rabbits

Bunny RabbitRead an interesting little news item this morning: Scientists, at a biotech company called Pharming Group, have genetically modified rabbits whose milk will be used to treat heart patients. The rabbit herd's milk contains a protein that helps control inflammation in the human body.

This has just got to be some kind of hoax, don't you think? I can't imagine how one would even go about milking a bunny -- I'm picturing doll-sized pails, and dairy farmers with really tiny fingers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I've Got a Bat and It Isn't Even Baseball Season

Yesterday afternoon, while putting garbage in the garage, something flew overhead. For a few moments, I hung onto the hope that it was a bird, but with some dread, soon accepted that it was a bat. I opened the large door, spotted the bat on the floor, and tried to shoo it outside with a broom. He was so darned scared (and cute), and wasn't about to budge. That's when it hit me -- I never see bats in the winter. I closed the door, went back into the house and checked Google for some bat information.

Bats hibernate and will die if put out in the cold. So now, my garage is a bat cave. Luckily, there's no door leading directly from the garage into the house, so I don't have to worry about that. But I do get a bit of a shiver when I have to go out to my car. I have no idea where he's hanging out -- there's hundreds of great cubby holes where he could hide -- but I hope he's only here until spring (and I keep saying "he" because a "she" could have babies later and decide to take up year-round residence).

In my second book, Return to Aten, Jodie, the main character, ventures into a cavern which, it turns out, is chock-full of bats. As all teenage heroines must do, she continues on despite her fear. She's much braver than I am, I think.