From Pets

New OK Go music video highlights shelter dogs

The latest music video from the band OK Go features the group’s usual high level of cinematic choreography, but with a special focus. The video for ‘White Knuckles’ features dogs rescued from animal shelters that are specially trained as animal actors. Proceeds from the sale of a downloadable copy of the video will go to the ASPCA to help their battles against puppy mills and animal cruelty.

The video is new and only available on the offical OK Go YouTube channel, so you’ll have to follow this link to view it. In case you’re not familiar with OK Go’s videos, here are a couple of their older ones, featuring synchronized treadmilling and a Rube Goldberg machine. These videos are impressive enough, until you realize they’re a single shot from start to finish, and then it gets downright amazing.

Lynn, MA passes ill-conceived ‘pit bull’ ordinance

The city of Lynn, MA just passed an ordinance requiring ‘pit bulls’ to be muzzled when off owners’ properties. Now, if you know me, you know that I’m a big opponent of breed-specific legislation in general, for many reasons. Often, animal control officers or the victims themselves mis-identify breeds, and I’ve personally seen situations where ACOs have identified dogs as ‘pit bulls’ that later turned out to be Golden Retrievers! Furthermore, the idea that a particular dog is pre-disposed to violence is incorrect, and is perpetuated by sad stories like the Michael Vick dogfighting case.

Besides the general issues I have with breed-specific legislation, there are a couple of things about the Lynn case that are just downright appalling. Let’s consider the last paragraph of the story linked above:

City officials are considering a colored collar tag for pit bulls that have received behavior training and are allowed to walk the streets leashed but not muzzled.
Pit bull owners must also post a sign on their property that warns “Beware of Dog” or notes that a pit bull is on the premises. Further, no single household can have more than two pit bulls.

Seriously? A specially-colored tag that must be worn for registered and approved pit bulls? A sign that must be placed on every owner’s property? I’ll try and be respectful to the politicians of Lynn here, because I think for the most part they’re reacting to an angry constituency afraid for their children because of a highly publicized attack on a baby (please note, I have 3 dogs, and I would never advocate leaving them unattended with children…I also don’t think children should be left unattended in bathtubs surrounded by plugged-in toasters, but I support crispy bread and cleanliness in a more general sense). But forcing people who have done nothing wrong to identify their houses and their pets should really, really sound wrong to anyone who has ever studied even a little bit of history.

If you’re still worried about your children’s safety, please read this article from the MSPCA (which opposes breed-specific laws like the one in Lynn) that explains how the problem of bad dog owners can be addressed properly. With increased penalties against owners for bites by unneutered and unspayed dogs of all breeds, along with good education about dog ownership and responsibility, dog bites in a community can be reduced. Fear and hatred, however, only breeds anger and lawsuits. After all, Lynn tried this 25 years ago and a judge ruled the law unconstitutional. The new law is much more cleverly worded, but it will inevitably be challenged. We can only hope the Constitution still holds weight in Lynn today.

Save the endangered Shoe Fox!

Residents in a small town in Germany are up in arms (ok, maybe I should rephrase that–they’re mad) about a local fox with a kleptomania problem. Apparently, the fox has stolen over 100 pairs of shoes from local residents, who have a tradition of leaving them outside to ‘air’ overnight. Now, the townspeople want Count Rudolf Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, who owns the land on which the fox’s burrow was finally discovered, to pursue and shoot the fox. The Count is having none of this, and a legal battle promises to ensue. Here’s the article from the LA Times:

A fox in Föhren, Germany, hasn’t quite reached Imelda Marcos’ level yet, but her collection of more than 120 shoes certainly counts as excessive for an animal that doesn’t even wear shoes.

More than a year ago, residents of the small western German town began reporting that the shoes and boots they left on their doorsteps had gone missing. The identity of the shoe thief has been a mystery until recently, when a forestry worker found a stockpile of shoes in a fox’s den in woods near Föhren.

It’s unclear just what about the shoes holds such appeal for the fox, who’s believed to be a female with pups. One theory, given added weight because many of the newly located shoes have bite marks on the shoelaces, is that she intended the shoes to serve as toys for her pups.

“We found 86 shoes in the den and a further 32 in a nearby quarry where they like to play. That includes 12 or 13 matching pairs of shoes,” Rudolf Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, the local count, told the German news source Spiegel Online. Count von Kesselstatt had the found footwear laid out in his palace and invited the townspeople to come and reclaim their lost shoes and boots.

The count noted that, even after word spread of the fox’s thieving ways, more shoes had gone missing in the days before his Spiegel interview. Though he suspects she has more shoes tucked away in her den, neither he nor the people of Föhren seem inclined to disturb her by going in to retrieve them. Taking a common-sense approach to the situation, he simply said, “People should simply make sure they take their shoes in at night.”

Föhren residents haven’t yet given the fox a name, but Spiegel kindly pitched in with a suggestion — naturally, it’s Imelda.


Support NH HB 1417!

NH HB 1417 would allow ‘well-behaved’ dogs into restaurants if the owner of the restaurant approves. This law has been a long time coming, and it makes good common sense. Currently, the bill is before the Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee–you can find a list of Senators on that committee here. Below is my letter to Senator Reynolds in support of this bill. Feel free to use it (or parts of it) if you would like to write to her (or your Senator).

Dear Senator Reynolds,

I am writing today to express my support of HB1417, ‘allowing companion animals in certain parts of restaurants.’ There are several reasons this bill would be beneficial to the economy of the state, as well as to its residents.

Firstly, as a resident of Plymouth, I frequently see dogs accompanying shoppers on Main Street, even sitting in outdoor areas such as in front of Chase Street Market. These people represent potential customers for the many Plymouth restaurants, but the lack of outdoor seating at all but two restaurants (and the frequently inclement weather) prevents dog owners from patronizing any of these establishments with their pets. I have personally spoken with restaurant owners who have expressed a desire to allow patrons to bring their dogs into their restaurants, but who cannot because of existing law. I suspect this situation is repeated across the state, from town to town.

Secondly, allowing dogs within an establishment would give restaurant owners the ability to easily avoid staff issues involving service animals. The current legislation surrounding service animals is often difficult for owners to explain to staff, with the result that many simply tell their staff to allow any dog into the restaurant if the dog’s owner claims it is a service animal. In reality, asking the dog’s owner any additional questions could result in legal action against the restaurant, and simply letting in any dog that a person claims is a ‘service dog’ is the easiest and safest course of action. HB 1417 would alleviate the awkwardness of this process, as owners could simply allow all dogs into the public areas of their restaurant and inform staff of that policy.

Finally, in response to the position that allowing dogs into a restaurant poses a health risk, I would offer two counter-arguments:

1) If dogs posed a significant health risk in the public areas of a restaurant, such risk should (and probably would) outweigh the benefits of allowing service dogs into an establishment. Clearly, this is not the case.

2) While there are numerous regulations pertaining to hygiene in non-public areas of a restaurant (e.g. ’employees must wash hands’), I am not familiar with any which govern the hygiene of an individual patron of such an establishment. In fact, I believe that BFOQ for positions in non-public areas of a restaurant are such that individuals requiring a service dog to perform their job may be refused employment, as that animal’s presence in food prep areas would violate health codes. Despite this, a restaurant’s patron may use the bathroom facilities, not wash their hands, and proceed to exchange money with their server. It is difficult to imagine how a dog’s presence could increase the risk of disease transmission when compared with this example, yet this behavior is perfectly legal.

Based on these reasons, I ask that you support HB 1417 as it is reviewed by the Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee. Thank you for your time and your service to our community.


Vasken Hauri
Plymouth, NH

Dubious Trademarks: Mutts and Butts

The following is an expired trademark listed on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s electronic database of trademarks (TESS). Now, while I suppose there’s such a thing as a one-stop shop, I’m not sure this is exactly the right combination of trade goods to be offering. If you check a little further, it turns out there is actually still a Mutts and Butts pet shop on Long Island, but they’ve changed their image and logo and seem to just be a pet store now. Check out their site if you like…especially if you’re on Long Island and need pet supplies.

Mutts and Butts

Design Search Code 03.01.08 – Dogs; Puppies
03.01.24 – Stylized cats, dogs, wolves, foxes, bears, lions, tigers
10.01.02 – Cigarettes; Holders, cigarette and cigar
Serial Number 73185363
Filing Date September 12, 1978
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 1138715
Registration Date August 12, 1980
Affidavit Text SECT 8 (6-YR).
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Cancellation Date March 13, 2002


Got a beardie? Check out

Squirrel Does the Cactusleap
While I’ve got a couple of tips on this site about caring for beardies, mostly based on my personal experience with them, has got pages upon pages of care and feeding instructions and discussion. If you’re interested in reading more about beardies, or you want more details than are on my Caring for Bearded Dragons post, you should check out this site!

Save your pooch from a Donner Party nightmare

Concerned that, in the event of a tragic plane crash hundreds of miles up in the Sierras, or perhaps a misled jungle expedition into the deepest recesses of the Amazon, your dog won’t have a fair chance of survival? Look no further, my friend, than the new pet emergency jacket with food compartments, which premiered at a recent expo in Tokyo. The jackets, which cost between $250 and $425 dollars, means that Fido will neither go hungry nor get wet, should he become an unwilling participant in your emergency situation.

Dog Rescue Kit

I’m inclined to agree with one blogger who argues that this stuff is a little ridiculous. After all, the same thing can be effected by adding a small packet of dog food into your emergency supplies, presumably in a Ziploc bag to keep it dry. As for the all-weather protection, consider that dogs have a rather long and mostly successful history of running around naked in all sorts of weather, before deeming it necessary to zip up the hoodie on your Schnauzer.

Of course, you could also have my dog, Bonny, who absolutely flips whenever you try to take this sweater off her. It’s not normal, but it’s undeniably cute…

Bonny with Sweater

dog, sweater, emergency kit, clothing, survival

Mikey, the Noto(rious) Viridescens

Mikey, the Noto(rious) Viridescens

Mikey, pictured above, is an Eastern Newt (Latin name Notophthalmus viridescens) whom we found on the doorstep of our house this summer. Since he seemed inclined to the domesticated life, we put him in a 10 gallon tank, and he’s been happily munching on flightless fruit flies ever since. If you happen to find one of these amphibians (and there are hundreds in New England during wet summer nights) and decide to keep it as a pet, I would highly suggest the fruit flies as a staple diet. I spent a couple of weeks trying everything from pinhead crickets to hand-caught pond skimmers, all to no avail. Once I found that Petco has vials of fruit flies, though, at the reasonable price of $5.99, I made the hour-long trip to the nearest one and bought two vials. NOTE: If you buy them online, they’re almost $30. Definitely worth the drive if you have a Petco anywhere near you.

One of the great things about the fruit flies is that they reproduce for several generations in the vials, as long as there is enough medium for them to eat. I have also started experimenting with breeding my own flies, with some materials bought from Ward Scientific (more on breeding flies and how much money it can save you in a later post). I finally had my first generation of home-hatched flies born in one of my cultures, and so far they seem even larger and juicier than the imported generation.

fruit flies, eastern newt, newt care, flightless, petco