High altar of “art”

We just learned that “Artist” Guillermo Vargas may have yet another chance to starve a dog to death in the name of “art.” Maybe he feels his message, which he sent out in 2007, didn’t get across? What was this message again? That people generally don’t pay any attention to starving and dying stray dogs. Agreed, some probably don’t. However, does he really think anybody would change their mind after seeing his exhibit, the corpse of the dog? We all here very much doubt that.

At the same time maybe the topic that Guillermo selected is not so crucial, that’s why he might think he needs to repeat his act. You know, who cares about animals? Nobody! There are people starving and dying all over the world, here and there. Maybe Sr. Vargas should re-think his main theme and change it to human callousness toward other human beings, and especially toward artists. We are sure you have noticed that many artistic souls suffer from lack of attention and / or malnutrition. It has always been like that and maybe the time has come to make a statement about that! Make people notice this issue!

Go starve yourself do death in an art gallery, mister. Sacrifice yourself at the altars of art.

In the meantime, we sign out of the “artistic” discussion, as we prefer to sign the petition to prevent another animal from suffering for “art.”

Click here to sign the petition.

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A handsome stranger

Recently Nano had a crush on a total stranger. It all happened during one of our weekend walks. She is not very likely to fall in love at first sight, usually staying positively indifferent to various guys, but this time it was different. While they dated, we managed to create this photo report for you, paparazzo-style. Just forgive the quality of pics – those were really long-distance captures 🙂

Nano: “Wait! Look, there! See that guy come our way? Gosh, he’s handsome! How do I look?”

Just look at him!

We: “You look great, Nano. And, to tell the truth, you two look very similar… . “

Nano: “Similar? I don’t see that. Gosh, I forgot to brush my teeth today. And my rear is so big…”

We: “Oh, cut that, please! You’re beautiful as always. Your fur is shiny, and your complexion radiant. But the most important is that you are a nice dog, that’s what really counts. Not your looks.”

Nano: “Yeah, I know, I know. Looks will pass, brains will stay, this kind of stuff. Okay, here I come! Wish me luck!”

We: “You go, girl!”

Hello!

Nano: “Hello, my name is Nano, what’s yours?”

Dog: “Boris.”

Nano: “Where did you come from?”

Boris: “I live just across that field behind you. Managed to jump above the fence and decided to go for a walk.”

Nano: “I see. Wanna play tag?”

Boris: “Sure thing, I don’t get to play that game very often.”

Your turn now!

Nano: “Tagged, you chase!”

Boris: “We have started already? Never mind, I’ll catch ya!”

Boris chasing Nano

Boris: “I will catch you in no time, just wait a second…. And tagged. “

Re-tagged - Nano's turn to chase Boris

Nano: “You might have longer legs, but I am faster than the French AGV!”

Nano chasing Boris

Nano: “Almost there… And I got you!”

Boris's turn again

[Many many turns later…]

Nano: “Ha, I won again!”

Happy to win again

Well, we had to end this game, for none of the dogs wanted to be the looser. Besides, we started to worry about Boris. But he had a collar tag, with a phone number. We called his owner and it turned out that Boris was not lying to Nano about his jumping over the fence. We walked him home and then resumed our walk. However, from time to time Nano sighs for Boris, from the bottom of her lungs. We can also hear her call his name in her sleep. He seems to have burned in her memory.

Nano: “And why would I forget the guy? He was one handsome dog! And he was FAST!”

Ah, Boris...

Crisis tips: Ferret dirtpit

Not only for those of you who – due to the present (still) economic crisis – are not so well off comes this revelation. Ferrets (like many other animals) are not great fans of expensive and superfine ferret toys. If we were to create a list of our Top Three Toys (top being the most frequently used), it would be as follows:

1. Plastic shopping bag. Must be used under your surveillance (suffocation risk), but it is a source of multiple joys for your little ones. They can hop in and be carried around or rocked, they can tangle the handles around their waist and run with the bag filled with air, like a superhero/ine’s cape, or the bag may be filled with air, closed, and dropped to the ground for them to attack /  kill / bite;

2. Flexible pipe (at least 10 centimeters / 4 inches in diameter) that you can arrange below a chair, table or your bed. Our ferrets just love to crawl inside, possibly with some prey (like a smelly sock or the likewise). We use an extensible aluminum pipe often used in chimneys. Just smooth its rim (may be a bit sharp, as it usually stays in a chimney where it can hurt no-one), shape it as needed and offer it to your little ones;

3. Cardboard box. Starting with empty tissue boxes, thru any clean (not used to store chemicals – we exclude boxes after any possibly harmful stuff) container, to larger boxes used to pack books, or home appliances, you name it. Such boxes and containers are great hideouts.

And the last one, combined with our Misio’s passion for walks outside, inspired us to create a home (okay, balcony) ferret dirtpit*. As you may know, ferrets love to dig. They will dig out your precious potted plants, remove trash from trash bin, steal dirty laundry from where you store it, and so on. If they go for walks outside, they usually do less of the walking and more of the digging.

Here are the ingredients:

1. Two empty cardboard boxes, covers are not needed, as you want to be able to see your ferrets play inside the dirtpit. Make sure they are clean and safe for your ferret. No sharp edges, no staples. Cut out two or three round (more or less) entrances / exits, a bit above the ground level to prevent excessive dirt “migration”. One box should be of a larger size – ours is 50 x 70 x 60 cm (60 being its height). The other should be small enough to fit inside the larger one and still leave some 7 – 10 cm of space between the walls of two boxes.

x 2 (larger and smaller)

2. An empty flower-pot. We suggest to take something not too shallow. Our pot’s depth is about 10 cm. Remember to take pots only after plants that are not harmful to ferrets (or just scrub those with soap and hot water before use).

Possibly shatterproof

3. Some dirt (can be sand, or just flower soil). We’d say you need some 2 – 3 kilograms, but that largely depends on the size of your dirtbox and the size and number of your pots.

Best toy ever, but we need to tame it in the box

4. Optional: some dry leaves. That ingredient is now available everywhere around – at least where we live.

Easy to find these days (autumn), but not after the autumn rains start

How to combine those? Just place one box inside the other, positioning their entrances / exits in such a way that it is not a straight way to the center of the dirtpit (adds to the difficulty and fun of the whole business). A TIP: If your boxes have thin walls and the dirt is not too dry, consider lining the bottoms of the boxes with some plastic cover (can be an old doormat). Then place the dirt-filled flower-pot inside the smaller box, add dry leaves here and there.

And – show it to your ferrets. Ours reacted like this:

1. Misio explores the brand new dirtbox which he assumes belongs to him and him only

2. Fuku discovers the dirtpit and wants to join Misio to explore it together

3. However, Misio proposes the dirtpit belongs to him - so GET OUT!

4. Upon such approach Fuku decides to retreat, but ...

5. She comes back after Misio is gone and test drives the dirtpit

And this is just a beta version, just imagine the next generation of dirtpits 🙂

Have fun!

* Dirtpit – by analogy with a sandpit for children.

Simple exercise

Misio decided to share with you the secret of his great physical and psychological well-being. It is a simple yet efficient exercise in which you must lie flat on the back and be covered with something on your chest – for example a pillow. Place your palms flat on the pillow and imagine it to be all your troubles. At first it may be hard to imagine the pillow is your debts or your nasty boss, but Misio assures that it gets easier with time and the number of repeats. Once its done (pillow loaded with all your life problems) quickly push it away, as you stretch out hour arms. Repeat a couple of times daily to ensure an increase of energy, optimism, and muscle tone up. The bigger the pillow and the more powerful the push, the better the effect.

Below you should be able to see Misio during his daily workout routine, pushing away all redundant grams and worries (if it is not animated – click on the image).

Misio during his daily workout (09/2011)

Need for a proof

A few day’s back Nano remembered about the fact we’d gone to observe the Draconid meteor shower – without her. After a brief chat with Misio she learned that we (humans) cannot be trusted, as we often say one thing and do the other. Or don’t do anything at all despite all the declarations. At least that was Misio’s observation, although he also said he was not sure that such unreliable behavior was guaranteed at all times, because he might have skipped one or two exceptions due to his habit of taking sudden naps. Fuku desperately wanted to add something to the discussion, but realized her experience with humans was still quite limited. She just remained silent, but followed the progress of events.

Was there ANY meteor viewing, huh? (10/2010)

Nano remained doubtful of our adventure (Did they really go there? Or maybe it was just a trick?) and she sat with Misio near the couch to consider the issue. It took quite a while – Misio even dozed off for a moment in the midst of the heated debate – but brought no solution of how to verify our declaration. For a brief moment it seemed they had a breakthrough, as they rushed to the hallway to sniff at our boots, but none was able to recognize whether their smell WAS or WAS NOT a Draconid.

But then Fuku, who had been until then patiently listening to the debate from a pillow on the couch, suggested we should be asked to draw a sketch map of how it was organized, all this suspicious Draconid observation thing. Our animals decided it could constitute a final proof they might accept.

The think tank: Fuku in the foreground, Misio trying to hide behind the pillow (09/2011)

SO, here it is. On their clearly articulated demand comes the following evidence of our actually staying on top of the old limestone quarry, with all the equipment and skills we used to observe the meteors. We solemnly swear that on October 8th, from 7 pm to 11 pm the events were EXACTLY how they got depicted below.

Draconid meteor shower viewing (Kazimierz Dolny, 08/10/2011)

On allergies

Recently a friend was generous enough to give us a lift, and being able to comfortably transfer the pack from my parents’ house to our place was really great. So great it made my mind dwell on the issue of traveling with animals.

Travels with animals BUT without a car (our style) are usually quite educational. They made us relatively skilled in logistics, planning, and wrapping stuff up. Since our pack is not that small – the two of us plus the dog, plus two ferret carriers (hopefully the little guys will end up sharing one) – we surely constitute quite a view. Well, at least to some fellow passengers on a public bus or on a train. However, we always try to make our presence as unobtrusive to everybody around, as only possible. We try to keep a little distance from everybody else, the dog wears a small strap muzzle when there’s somebody around (a requirement of our public transportation service). And when it is rainy we have a towel to dry her. The ferrets are, as said, in their carrier boxes. We don’t place them on seats, unless there are many of those free.  Nano is always next to us, or under our legs (if we sit), leashed.

Train corridor is not a nice place where to spend the journey (10/2010)

Most people don’t pay any attention to us, which we take as an evidence of our advanced inconspicuousness skills. From time to time somebody starts chatting with us about animals, and then we learn the stories about their dog or cat, or answer questions about our zoo. This is usually nice. We can learn from their experience and share ours.

And then there are the THEM. The frustrated would-be owners of the world, always pushy and mean to you (my experiences), who don’t receive enough respect from everybody around (I wonder why…), but are convinced they deserve the bow and the respect, just like that. They usually want your seat, and never mind there are tons of places to take. Your presence near them should be silent and almost non-existent. They are just not happy to see you too happy – by their standards.

For some reason, many of these persons regard animals as filthy and dangerous creatures that should not be there ( = where they themselves happen to be). I suspect it might be similar with small children, but from my observations comes that they are usually a bit more forgiving in this respect, especially if the kid is their kin (child, grandkid). However, that’s only as long as the latter is not too loud or pushy (or filthy / dangerous).

Although I sometimes fail to implement this in my personal life (sorry, family. Will try to improve) I strongly believe that one of the basis of good living with others is communication. Don’t assume people will know you’re not feeling well and you would like to take their seat. Ask for the favor and then say your thank-yous. This kind of thing.

And yet, from time to time, I stumble across a person whose lack of communication skills astonishes me. Bad luck, I guess? Or maybe I cause it? You know, with my difficult character. Food for thought.

Situation: I am on a public bus, with Nano (muzzle, leash) and Fuku (in the carrier). The bus is moderately crowded, some seats are free, but it is difficult to get to those with the dog, the carrier, and a backpack, plus it is not worth the effort as it is just a 30-minute ride. The pack is then stationed in the larger load space (no seats there). Nearby are two seats occupied by an older couple, chatting. Time passes, bus rides, couple continues to whisper, I look out of the window, animals are quiet. Towards the middle of our ride the bus jerks while stopping and due to that Nano steps one inch closer to the couple. Muzzle on, mind you.

The man snaps [harshly], “Tame your dog, now. Take it away!”

The woman says nothing, her face is turned to the man, she just observes us with the corner of one eye. I draw the leash and position the dog a bit further from the couple, but we all stay in the larger load space, as it would be difficult to move the whole pack for lack of room anywhere else on the bus. A few more minutes pass before I realize that the couple are actually chatting about me and the animals. And their manner is far from friendly. When I look at them, the strangest thing happens. The man explodes in rage.

“How dare you? How DARE YOU! My wife is allergic to animals, and you dare stand here, with your smelly dog, and with this, this cat! That is not acceptable!”

He continues hollering on such a note for a minute or so, while I just keep looking at him, in sheer astonishment, speechless as I’ve never seen anything like that before. A quick glance at the women for signs of allergy and I can only see disgust, but then, maybe she is just beginning to feel the effect of our animal presence? Suddenly I remember a guy with a dog,  who was right behind them for like ten minutes and just left the bus one stop ago. They did not see him though. Is her allergy only to what she CAN actually see? Hmm… But then, what do I know about her. A sigh and I manage to compose myself.

“Sir, I am not able to read minds, but you could have told me that my staying here with the animals constitutes a problem for your wife’s health.”

Is she unable to speak her mind? She can speak for sure, I heard them mumble to each other.

Man, “This is unbelievable, animals should not be allowed on buses! My wife is unwell, blah, blah!” His raised voice starts to get on my nerves, I’d even say he’s screaming at me. I feel in a moment I will suggest for him to take a taxi if he cannot stand others on the bus. Then, again, I take a sigh.

Me, “Sir, this is public transportation, everybody is allowed to use it as long as they do not disturb others. I did everything possible not to disturb other passengers, but of course I’m moving further away now, as you can see. However, for the future, please note that you should communicate with others about any problem that you might have with their presence. And please, do it in a polite way, for your screaming at me is definitely not such. Everybody’s lives would be easier this way, why spoil other person’s day?”

Man, “… terrible young people, so rude… animals … unwell … sick … how dare you!”

Me [moving away and now a bit fenced], “I think your biggest problem, Sir, is the allergy to the world. It is not as nasty a place as you make it, but you’d first have to change your approach to it from warring to a bit more open in order to see that. Just try to be nicer to others, you know.”

Before I finally got off the bus on the next stop, I could hear them go on discussing that rude animal freak in a rather not very polite way. Did their parents do such a lousy job teaching them manners, or is it something that comes with time, as you get frustrated with life? How not to succumb to that? Food for thought #2.

But then, the reverse situation may happen. Once we were on a train, with the whole pack as always, looking for a compartment where to sit for the journey. Usually, when there is somebody inside we ask if it is okay for us to enter with the dog and the ferrets. This time there was a women inside and she said it was okay, we could join her with the animals. As we got in, placed our backpacks, positioned the carriers on our laps and the dog between our legs, we noticed that the woman had tears welled up in her eyes. We sensed a problem.

“Are you, by any chance, allergic to ferrets? I asked.

“I don’t know, but I am a bit allergic to rabbits,” she replied quietly.

“Oh, then you are likely to be allergic to ferrets too, so we’ll go somewhere else.”

“No, no, please, that’s nothing. I can leave, you will stay. No problem.” (WHAT? Pinch me, for I don’t believe what I’m hearing.)

And she went on in this manner. Apologetically. Of course we moved somewhere else, for the poor lady was quickly getting from the watery eyes stage to the swollen & red face stage. She was in fact VERY allergic to ferrets.

***

I mean, none of the approaches presented above is good, but it is easier for me to deal with people of the second kind. They are usually overly polite, not wanting to disturb anybody with their problems, and willing to suffer in silence instead. However, once you notice that a mutual solution can always be found to the problem, for communication with them is definitely possible. With the other kind – unless you are really ready to fight – the only way out is to leave the situation. You are anyway a freak to them, and they don’t seem to be willing to learn anything.

So you say I don't have any travel skills? (09/2011)

Maybe it is a time to become less Planet-friendly and get a car? Food for thought #3.

Draconids: How to make up for NOT taking your dog to a meteor shower viewing

Okay, so it happened again. Nano didn’t get to go with us someplace. Since she knows that particular someplace well, she was quite disappointed with the fact we left her home and set out to get there – without her. And we did take our backpacks, our thermos flask full of hot tea, and our cookies. Plus a blanket, a foam pad, and oh so many other things which usually are a sure sign of a very long walk that is about to begin.

And yet – although the fact was entirely incomprehensible from her dog perspective – she was to stay.

Which was a very good thing, because we went to an abandoned limestone quarry. The quarry is a good spot (read: dark for lack of any human presence in the vicinity, which presence usually involves lots of street lamps, neon signs, beams, gleams, and traffic lights) from where we could observe and record the Draconid meteor shower. The Draconids were nice, the equipment was recording, but the night was just so very cold. We managed to stay (although “stay” does not reflect all the jumping jacks and jogs that we had to do to keep ourselves decently warm) on top of the quarry from 7 until 11 pm, happy that Nano was not with us. The poor girl would first have died of boredom (there was no walking, just sitting in one place) and then she would have frozen to death (it was like 5 degrees Celsius – not that cold, but very humid, which really made us go numb).

So the next day we took Nano for a walk to make up for not inviting her to join us the other night. We went to the beach where she loves to run, fetch the old tennis ball, and wade in shallow water. As it turned out, she was the only one without a running nose or cough, but with enough energy to realize all the exercise program I planned for myself for the whole upcoming week (even the month).

Lucky you, Nano.

Where did the other dog come from? (09/10/2011)

Her chasing the tennis ball was usually ending with her coming to a halt with such a vehemence and ruthlessness, that it somehow reminded us of the Decepticons’ way of arriving on Earth.

[Silence…. Entering the atmosphere…. HisssSSSSS…. INCOMING!]

Almost there! (09/10/2011)

[KaBOOM!!!…. Clouds of dirt / sand / mud everywhere…. Now, what’s that shape inside this big hole in the ground?]

Gotcha! (09/10/2011)

Oh, that’s just Nano landed.

– ‘What’s that you say, Nano? Hard to understand, as you’re speaking with your mouth full of sand. Plus that tennis ball.’

– ‘It is great here. I am no longer mad at you for not taking me yesterday to look for stones falling from the sky.’

– ‘Draconids. Those are called the Draconids. And we are glad to hear you are no longer angry, although you seem a little mad. But this time it seems to be about your tennis ball.’

Ferretunculus view of the “world”

In response to Sue Brown’s splendid challenge to draw a map (click here for details) comes the present map of our little flat as seen from the ferret perspective.

Ferretunculus (10/2011)

Will you be able to give them a pill?

Many of our vet appointments often end up with the necessity to give our little ones medicines. Some are in the form of injections, some are syrups, while others come in the most dreadful form of the pill. Of course injections are usually not nice, but once you’ve learned how to do these, they’re surprisingly simple. Just grab the patient, hold them tight and do your thing. Sting. But you cannot ask a ferret to take a pill, swallow it, and wash down with water. And for some reason or another the most important pills – those our ferrets have to take no matter what they think about the whole idea – are usually the worst in taste. Bitter, sour, nasty. Usually they’re also rather tiny plus extremely hard to divide into the prescribed one-eighths per day with our kitchen knife. Once you press hard on the blade, they turn into projectiles and disappear without a trace but with a nasty snap. Due to that we have a whole pharmacy stuffed under and behind our kitchen units, so just let us know if you need whatever pill. We probably have it.

However, when our vet asks us (while handing us a prescription on which we can spot “In tabl.” and “1/25 per day”) – ‘Will you mange?’, we jointly reply – ‘Yes, we sure will.’

What is our secret then? A disguise. We just dress up the pill as something totally else. And here’s how we do it.

Stuff used by us to disguise a nasty tasting pill to pass for a treat (10/2011)

Some operations are necessary to be performed with the use of the above shown kitchen utensils and ingredients. These are explained in the following drawing. Do remember to guard the pill with one hand as it is being divided or pulverized. Or just make sure to  clean up the debris from under your cupboards after you’re done with the pill application task. It accumulates as days go by and your little ones might end up eating much more than one-eighth of the pill daily. At least it is one of our great life worries.

Four easy steps to make sure they do not recognize it is the nasty pill (10/2011)

In the case of our pack the effects are as can be seen in the following pictures. They do not notice anything, lick their plates or bowls squeaky clean and even sometimes say ‘Thank you.’ I guess it is a method well-known to many parents all over the world, but it seems to work with animals too (at least with our furry friends), and lets us avoid forcing the pill down the poor things’ throats.

Misio finishing his "treat" (09/2011)

Fuku - done with the bowl, licking the spoon clean (09/2011)

Kayaking without Nano

Pnyks – “Nano, come up here darling. I have to tell you something.”

Nano – “Oh, I sense that might not be good news at all, but hopefully I am mistaken. So let’s hear it. Go ahead.”

Fire away! (09/2011)

Pnyks – “Well, you probably don’t remember us talk about this kayaking adventure. Oh, you do… . Ohh, you can’t wait to go? You already packed your gear long time ago? Great, great. Anyway, it just turned out you cannot go with us.”

Nano – “Whaat? How come? I was soo excited! My first kayaking ever. I so much hoped to get a skirt and a paddle. Learn how to roll. Possibly go pro after that – and now this?”

Pnyks – “Fred, why is it me who’s telling her, and not you? Come here and do participate in this, and now!”

Fred – “Nano, look. They just don’t have kayaks suitable for dog beginners, and there is not enough room for you to sit comfortably in the kayaks we’re going to use this time. And even if you somehow managed to squeeze in with one of us, you might get hit on the head with a paddle, and that would not be nice, don’t you think?”

Pnyks – ‘We promise next time you’ll go paddling with us.’

Nano – ”Yeah, sure. Guys, you’ve just made a fool out of me. I’m done with you! Don’t even say a word more.’

Not even looking at you, traitors (09/2011)

[A few minutes of dense silence pass.]

Nano – “… Uhm, and who’s coming to dog-sit me while you traitors are gone?”

Pnyks – ‘”Aunty Alice.”

Nano – “Cool. I might just as well be gone when you’re back, you know? I just tell you so that it’s not a surprise when you finally decide to show up.”

Pnyks – “We understand.”

Nano – “Aunty Alice – wonderful. We’ll go for a walk and then I’ll convince her I didn’t have a proper breakfast.”

Fred – “Okay. Splendid idea. And remember to wash it down with water. Hope your stomach doesn’t hurt afterwards.”

Nano – “It won’t, don’t you worry so much. You might get ulcers.”