Sunday, May 31, 2009

Art and Life

Shermans Lagoon by Jim Toomey, used with permission
Used with permission from the artist

Today's (May 31) "Sherman's Lagoon" comic strip by Jim Toomey is perfect on many levels. Many thanks from me to the artist for permission to post it here. Click on the image above to see the full-size version of the strip.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

And now for my next impression...

Stick with this video till the end. It's more than just bird calls.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pets = Interspecies Friendships

At left: An abandoned baby monkey seemed spiritless - until he developed a friendship with a white pigeon.

The links above and below lead to the web sites where you can find more on the subject of animal friendships. Also, the British newspaper The Sun has a whole gallery of pictures of interspecies friendships.

At right: Peter and Sammy, submitted by Jenn DeTullio of Freehold, NJ to the ASPCA web site.

Some years ago, on the subjects of interspecies relationships and what constitutes a "wild" animal, John Williamson of Tiger Touch had this to say:
It is not all that uncommon for lions, (and other species) male and female, to adopt other animals as "pets" or companions with which they interact to the benefit of both. Social bonding for purposes other than "natural" can be seen across a wide range of species. Witness humans and their mutually content companions. You might want to add socialization to your list of "innate" behaviors, the expression of which can take on a wide variety of forms depending on individual animals and their environmental constraints. "Wild" behavior only reflects a narrow range of expressions under certain conditions. There is very little "innate" about it. Being alive is innate, the possibilities thereafter take on an awesome, wonderful complexity within life's web...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Have a little Faith

Since this is Thursday, I will only ask one question about this video: When you see Faith walk around the set of the Montel Williams show, checking things out, is it easier to think of her as a "person" instead of a "dog"?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language.
-- Martin Buber

Who can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes!
-- Theophile Gautier

An animal is the only thing on earth that will love you more than you love yourself.
-- Josh Billings

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.
-- Anatole France

If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.
-- James Herriot

All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.
-- Samuel Butler

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
-- Mahatma Gandhi

I care not for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.
-- Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, May 17, 2009


A human being is a part of a whole
(called by us the "universe"),
a part that is limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings
as something separated from the rest...
this is a kind of delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us,
restricting us to our personal desires
and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison
by widening our circle of compassion
to embrace all living creatures
and the whole of nature in its beauty.
- Albert Einstein

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tiger Thursday

This tiger has to be less than 3 weeks old. So cute. So sleepy...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Personality Match

How do most people choose a pet? Is it by species affinity? As a status symbol? Color? Size?

The ASPCA has developed a program to help people choose a pet (specifically, a dog or a cat) by matching the human's personality to the animal's personality. They call it Meet Your Match.

Under this program, each dog or cat at an animal shelter is evaluated in terms of their responses to a new environment. Then the animal is assigned one of 9 personality types, in 3 categories designated by a color card.

People coming in to adopt an animal are given a personality assessment form to fill out. Then they are given a color card based on their answers. The idea then is for them to pick an animal based on the animal's color card. Remember, there are 3 personality types within each color category.

For example, for dogs there are purple, orange, and green cards. Within the purple category there are personality types described as Couch Potato, Constant Companion, and Teacher's Pet. Adult dogs receive separate categorization from puppies.

There are also purple, orange, and green cards for cats. The purple category for cats includes Private Investigator, Secret Admirer, and Love Bug.

Further explanations can be found at the ASPCA web site. They call their personality assessments of animals Canine-ality, Puppy-ality, and Feline-ality. You can watch an animated presentation with these links: Dogs or Cats.

This is a great step forward in both recognizing the individual personalities of animals and in teaching people that animals are individuals. It's also proven in practice: they report as much as a 50% decrease in the number of animals returned to the shelter because the adoption isn't working out.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Human-Animal Bond

picture from American HumaneHere's a very interesting web page: The Human-Animal Bond.
American Humane's Human-Animal Bond Division examines and addresses the complex relationships -- both positive and negative -- between people and animals. Through our programs, we advance society's understanding of the power and the implications of those relationships. We promote humane values and the beneficial aspects of human-animal interaction. And we work to understand the causes of -- and thus prevent -- cruelty, abuse and neglect.
That is what I want to achieve as well. I figure that if a person can connect with another person -- whether that "person" is human or other animal -- there will be a beneficial relationship. For both of them.

I'll take one of the topics on that page, Animal-Assisted Therapy, and dig through some of the links...
Here's an interesting article:
Chapter from Compassion: Our Last Great Hope-Selected Speeches of Leo K. Bustad, DVM, Ph.D.

Clinical observations and the results of recent research lend credibility to the centuries-old belief that the association of people with animals and the natural environment contributes to overall health and well-being. Recently we have "rediscovered" that a close relationship between people and the natural environment, most especially animals, is vital to the well-being of our planet, its inhabitants and its habitat. This relationship helps fulfill our inherent need to nurture. The roots of this relationship, often referred to as a "bond," go back thousands of years; but urbanization, industrialization, mechanization and other forces have caused the diminution of the opportunities for nurturing and affectionate interaction with people and our natural surroundings. This deprivation of nurturing opportunities has resulted in increased stress and consequent challenges to our health.

This unhealthy state of affairs is being vigorously addressed by many people in many disciplines with the object of helping to restore health to communities everywhere. We in the Delta Society and in our sister organizations in other countries are directing our efforts to these ends by exploring the interaction of people, animals and the environment through scientific study, service and teaching.
Research has shown that close association with animals provides a vast variety of health improvements, both physical and mental. In addition to increased heart and other systemic health, mental benefits include such things as:
  • Socialization of young children with their peers
  • Development of nurturing behavior and humane attitudes in children who may grow to be more nurturing adults
  • A sense of constancy for foster children
  • More appropriate social behavior in mentally impaired elderly people and prisoners
  • Success in psychotherapy sessions and in psychiatric institutions in helping patients work through their anxiety and despair
  • Facilitation of social interaction between strangers
  • Lessening feelings of loneliness
I haven't found a definite statement from a scientist about why close interaction with animals should provide benefits not seen in human-human interaction, but I do believe the doctor in this video has the answer, near the end of the video...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Mew Mew, It's Thursday

Something cute to get you through a Thursday. The kitten is a Scottish Fold, which always has folded-down ears.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Be Kind to Animals Week®

We're in the middle of Be Kind to Animals Week® (yes, ®).

I know, it should be 52 weeks out of every year. But, since we're doing a special emphasis on it this week, I suggest looking into the eyes of an animal and recognizing the person who is looking back at you. If it's a cat, give him or her a loving blink at the same time. I can think of no greater kindness than being recognized, accepted, and loved.

The American Humane Association web site has more. These are the people who actually do something to benefit animals, unlike another group that also uses the word "humane" in their name.

On their web site is an interesting sentence: "All animals deserve to be treated humanly". I wonder... did they misspell that last word... or not?

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Psychic Connection

So far in my articles, I've stuck to empirical evidence about the intelligence of animals: discoveries of their own language, evidence you can see, and so on. Today's story brings up a topic I've deliberately avoided, until now. I'd be interested in any and all comments.

On April 25, Tinker Bell, a 6-pound chihuahua was chained to a cooler at a flea market in Waterford, Michigan. A sudden, 70-mile-per-hour gust of wind picked up the dog, broke the chain, and sent the dog flying to parts unknown.

The dog's owners, Dorothy and Lavern Utley, consulted "Lorrie", a pet psychic. Based on Lorrie's psychic conversation with the dog, the Utley's located her on Monday. Tinker Bell was hungry but otherwise OK, and overjoyed to be reunited with the Utleys.

Obviously in this case the pet psychic produced a proven result. Which is more than I can say for the news reporters. Just trying to find the answer to the question 'where was the dog when the wind hit' produced the answers, chained to a cooler, standing on a platform trailer, tethered to the back of a trailer, and 'no answer'. The news accounts even disagree on how to spell the dog's name. Accuracy score in this case: pet psychic 1, reporters 0.

The following is from The Flint Journal, as reported on
Lorrie, who refuses to reveal her last name to protect her family's identity, is a third-generation psychic who says she can communicate with animals and makes her living as a pet psychic. She said it's hard to explain how she does her job.

"Every case is different," she said. "I can hear, see, taste or feel things ... however the reading is going to come through. This one was visual. I hesitated to say this, because I didn't know what it meant. But I told them to keep looking up."

Lavern said volunteers had previously searched a low-lying swamp at that location, but not the hilly area behind it. As he was climbing those hills calling his dog, Tinker Bell came running.

Lavern said they tried to give Lorrie a reward, but she asked that it be donated instead to an animal shelter. Lorrie said she has pets and understands they are members of the family.

Lorrie said she also has an ability to communicate with animals that have died. "I contact deceased animals to give people closure," she said. "Pets greet us when it's our turn. They're up there waiting."
So, what do you think of pet psychics? It seems to me, from the statement "Lorrie refuses to reveal her last name to protect her family's identity", that some people must not have a very high opinion of them...