Archive for October, 2008


posted by Michel on Oct 19

I really do like sheperd dogs! They are strong and very obedient when they are well trained. This senior fellow, a cross breed Dutch Sheperd Dog, is exactly that. Just think “sit” and before the thought has completed the journey through your brain, his hind quarters are already touching the ground. “Down” is also executed in minimal time. Impressive stuff! For his age, Cas is still quite a strong dog and he will pull the leash unless you instruct him to “follow”. Not a problem, he just follows his nose and does his thing while I enjoy the walk. The shelter’s neighbours are the Neptunus baseball club and they appear to have some sort of youngster-tournament and music fills the park. On top of that, the weather is very nice for an autumn day, so Cas and I take the scenic route.

Cas, a great Dutch Sheperd Dog

posted by Michel on Oct 13

That depends! If they are domesticated species, such as dogs, cats, horses and so on and provided they are treated well, they may actually enjoy the training sessions, just like our own dog Tessa does! Wild species however, even when the animals were bred in captivity, do NOT belong in a circus. They don’t respond well to animal-friendly training methods, such as the ones commonly used for dogs, so that their trainers must use less accepted means to get their animals to perform tricks. Apart from that, housing the often exotic species is far from ideal, small cages are the only practical means of keeping them out of harm’s way, not to mention the level of stress induced by the frequent travel and being faced by huge crowds on a nearly daily basis. Needless to say, wild animals are totally unsuited to circus life because they have no way of expressing their natural behaviour.

Update July 2009: here’s what I mean, the poor things are abused as well! Watch this disgraceful undercover footage from PeTA in which those friendly circus trainers bash their elephants around …

As an alternative to the traditional circus, there is a famous circus that only uses human performers: Cirque du Soleil, that does a tremendous show I’ve heard. The Chinese State Circus also put up a great show with their excellent acrobatic skills. Much better than watching those poor beasts performing cheap tricks.

posted by Michel on Oct 10

Are mice a pest or are they friendly little creatures? Unless they wreak havoc at your home, the latter of course! I say that if any animal needs help and it isn’t being a nasty pain in the proverbial backside, it’s worth rescuing. As I returned home with our dog Tessa after she had been sterilised at the vet’s, I noticed some neighbourhood kids gathered nearby looking frantically at a hedge, girls screaming and one little chap murmuring something “… poor animal”. As it turned out, the kids saved a small mouse from the jaws of a cat, but it got caught in the hedge, presumably overcome with shock. I reached inside the hedge and retrieved a relatively docile little mouse. It was all in one piece apart from a very slight wound on top of its head. After thanking the kids for their efforts, I quickly found the little chap a comfortable, safe spot inside the garage and treated him to some cheese. Soon the mouse was washing itself, a sure sign he was well on his way to recovery. The next morning, after eating another portion during the night, I sent the little fellow on his merry way again. Mission accomplished.

A friendly neighbourhood rodent, minding its own business

A friendly neighbourhood rodent, minding its own business

posted by Michel on Oct 5

One day in the year it is time to do something special for our faithful four-legged friends, our dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, ferrets, well anything really!

Of course, if all is well then every day is “Animal Day” for your pet. Let’s face it, we love them, right? However, all over the world, millions of animals are suffering, every day. They work too hard under abysmal conditions or are being abused, either because they are lab animals or because people treat them badly. For them, World Animal Day (or WAD for short) can be a special day. If on WAD we draw attention to all those bio-industry, shelter, stray and forgotten animals, perhaps one day they will notice the difference. Please visit the WAD web site.

In our home country, the Netherlands, one of the activities that is being organised by the national Society for the Protection of Animals, “Dierenbescherming”, for WAD is the so-called “Open Shelter Day”. Most shelters are open for the entire weekend and have information stands for animal-related charities and attractions. Here’s a short pictorial of WAD at the shelter in Rotterdam.

Dog Training School booth

Dog Training School booth

posted by Michel on Oct 2

The idea behind this declaration is that the United Nations accept and promote the UDAW, so that it becomes easier for member states to enforce animal welfare policies. Please sign the declaration on: Animals Matter To Me or on the UDAW site and make your vote count! You can submit a picture of your favourite four-legged friend too on the Animals Matter To Me site.

Basically, the declaration says that animals are living creatures that have feelings and for that reason they should be respected and treated with respect. You can read more about the declaration on the UDAW site.

posted by Michel on Oct 1

Most definitely! IDs come in all sorts of variations, such as the now very common implanted chip or the ever popular small necklace.

Why should you ID your pet? Well, if something happens to your pet (e.g. a puppy that runs away and gets lost, or worse, a car accident) the police and vet will immediately be able to trace the pet back to you. Many thousands of lost pets are returned to their happy owners every day this way.

The chip, which is smaller than a grain of rice, is inserted under the skin with a regular injection needle and will be assimilated in the fat tissue there. With a special reader, the code that this tiny electronic device contains, may be read and the code is looked up to reveal the owner’s data. Many organisations allow change of ownership (of course, I prefer the term “guardianship”) to be done interactively on a web site.

I prefer to ID our animals with a small necklace too, so in addition to their chip. A necklace is usually a small tube attached to the collar from which the top may be unscrewed to reveal a piece of paper with identification data, like your address and phone number. Or it could be a small hanger with just your phone number. The thing is, the chip cannot be detected by the average person, so it’s quite possible that friendly passers-by will adopt your lost puppy, thinking it belongs to no one. It could be years before the chip is discovered during a visit to the vet. If the necklace is lost, e.g. by getting caught behind a tree branch or something, then there is still the chip. By combining the necklace with the chip, you can’t go wrong easily.