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Archive for April, 2008

A Dog Among Diplomats

A Dog Among Diplomats is out today.  More to follow.  And J.F. reminds me to write: “don’t forget the photo contest.”  Here is the amazon link for the new book:

April 29th, 2008
12:09 pm

A Dog Among Diplomats

J.F. Englert has given me my marching orders.  Are the days of freeform blogging, skipping fecklessly across the landscape of ideas and curiosities at an end?  No, but A Dog Among Diplomats is arriving April 29 (Tuesday) and J.F. is determined that the world hear more about it:  Pre-orders have been strong as A Dog About Town readers and the newly arrived clamor to learn what absurdities, dangers as well as eternal and literary questions befuddle, bewitch and benumb Yours Truly, Harry, a Guatemalan Tree Sloth and the New York Police Department.  So far early reviews have been gratifingly positive with little or no reference to Yours Truly’s ample waist line or questionable eating and exercise habits. 

Now for the contest.  J.F.’s first contest was a bust I’m afraid to say.  Thank you to all of those who entered this last contest, but no one it seems was up to the challenge or understood the instructions (even Yours Truly struggled to follow them and wondered whether they had been written by Henry James in one of his “complicated” moods). 

That said, J.F. believes that another contest is in order and May might yet become a month of contests here at our blog.  He is somewhat artlessly calling the contest the A Dog Among Diplomats: Is Your Dog Smart(-Looking) Enough To Win Fifty Bucks And Two Books Contest! [emphasis added by J.F.]  So without further ado, here are the simple contest outlines: if you have an intelligent dog or at least one who looks intelligent send us a photograph (attached as a jpeg) to by May 7 (the day of J.F.’s first reading in New York at Partners & Crime  

The photo of the most intelligent-looking dog will be posted here (selected by a panel of experts on such things) and the winner will win $50 plus two hardcover, signed copies of A Dog Among Diplomats (hardcovers are unavailable in stores).  This one lucky and gifted(-looking) winner will be announced and the photo posted here by May 15.  The dog must be your own, but if you know anyone with a particularly intelligent-looking dog tell them about the contest.  Good luck!  

April 26th, 2008
11:05 am

I’ve been told that this is what’s known as a slow news day (the picture above, by the way, isn’t Yours Truly, it is of Roger, a retriever, who works in a laboratory).  Fortunately, we have science and its endless riches of subjects to ponder.  And there’s no place that’s quite so rich as the New Scientist which today tackles the idea of dog panting and dizziness.  One surprise in the following is the assumption that dogs don’t sweat which as I point out in my books and on this site is not quite true.  We sweat between our toes –though it is true that this is probably not enough to regulate our body temperature.  Here’s the link and the article is pasted below:

In hot weather dogs keep cool by panting. If I were to do this I would hyperventilate and exhale too much carbon dioxide. How do dogs avoid the effects of respiratory alkalosis?

Each breath taken by a human (or a dog for that matter) consists of a volume of air that enters the lungs and a smaller volume that only gets as far as the passages that lead to them. This is the “dead space”, so called because no exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs in the mouth, pharynx, trachea or bronchi.

Rapid, shallow breathing can affect just this dead space without hyperventilating the gas-exchange part of the lungs, the alveoli. As air passes through the dead space it produces a cooling effect as moisture lining these passageways evaporates. Dogs, lacking sweat glands, use this method to cool down. Humans have no need of this, though we can do it. Try “fluttering” your breathing by taking fast, shallow breaths, at least 60 per minute. You will feel a cooling effect in your mouth, but not the dizziness that can accompany hyperventilation. It’s hard work though…

John Davies, Anaesthetist, Lancaster, UK

April 25th, 2008
12:39 am

The photo above is a tad too cute for Yours Truly but it was the best my snout could find to illustrate the following.  For some time, I have wanted to find a story that could somehow show cats and dogs working together.  Finally, here is such a story.  It is about Lilly Lou, a shelter dog who is nursing three litters of kittens all of whom lost their mothers.  There is a video that accompanies the story on of both these sites: and  Well done, Lilly Lou.

April 24th, 2008
12:11 am


The photo above is of a Red Cross volunteer demonstrating proper canine CPR technique on a stuffed animal.  The story below is an eyeopener with a happy ending.  Seems that little Bella got stuck outside an elevator and then as the elevator rose the leash lifted with it and essentially hung her.  Fortunately, she was saved by the quick action of two humans who used CPR to bring her back.  The story is below.  Also, a side note.  Oscar, the clever Siamese cat at the wonderful crime fiction website on the other side of the Atlantic has just done a very nice review of A Dog About Town at (and, Oscar, be assured that Yours Truly will give careful consideration to your point about shedding some of his generous belly).

Molly Brady and her dog Bella are playing together again thanks to two men who saved Bella’s life.

The Rochester woman’s dog was nearly killed Monday night when an elevator door closed on her dog’s leash, trapping little Bella on the outside.

Two nearby workers sprang into action, freed the trapped dog, and literally breathed life back into it.

“I had just gotten home from work, and I just took Bella out like I do my regular routine,” said Molly Brady. “We go into the elevator, and all of a sudden Bella darts out at the last minute.”

The door closed, trapping Bella on the outside with Molly on the inside.

The elevator began to rise…

“I saw the dog slowly rising up the side of the elevator door. Then it stopped, and the dog was being strangled in the corner of the elevator,” said Pete Strohmeier, an employee of Full Moon Vista Bike & Sport. Strohmeier and his boss, Scott Page, rushed to help.

“I went to grab a pair of scissors and ran back out. I couldn’t get up there because it was so high. I couldn’t get my fingers up there. Scott’s taller, and he came out,” Strohmeier said.

Together they managed to free her from the collar.

“The collar was kind of embedded right into the dog’s neck. The dog wasn’t moving. It was completely stiff. We thought for sure it was dead,” said Scott Page.

“I was holding it, and I could see its eyes were just losing life. It was just this blank stare and there was no life left in the dog,” Strohmeier said.

Then Strohmeier did the only thing he could think of — he began CPR.

“I figured I’d pinch its little nose and try blowing air into its mouth, and it seemed to come back to life after about five times,” he said.

Bella was back.

A trip to the animal hospital confirmed she was OK and that CPR, even on a dog, will work.

“In cases, especially where they just stop breathing and their heart’s still beating, there’s a much greater chance to actually bring them back,” said Dr. Simon Kirk of Animal Emergency Service.

Veterinarians warn dog owners to be careful of retractable leashes when riding elevators or near fences because dogs do accidentally choke themselves.

Strohmeier says this was not the first time he had performed CPR on a dog. He says he previously tried CPR on one of his puppies, and it worked then too.

“They’re heroes. I don’t know what I would do…I thought she was dead,” said Brady. She says she will be carrying Bella on and off the elevator from now on.  

April 23rd, 2008
1:03 am

Police officer walking with cloned labrador puppies, 17/04


Dogs are being cloned in Korea for their superb noses.  The article follows (from the BBC -, but all I need to add is that my instincts on humans being ready to invent their own rules when it comes to dogs’ rights and science are likely correct.  As a disincentive to consider my genes, if they try to clone me for my nose, they’ll also be getting my generous belly.

World’s First Trained Sniffer Dogs Get Trained

Seven puppies have been created using cells taken from a labrador considered by customs officials to be their best sniffer dog.The puppies were born last year after the country’s customs service paid a biotechnology company to reproduce a Canadian Labrador Retriever. Their handlers say they are already showing the same high level of skill as the original dog.

Only about 30% of naturally-born sniffer dogs make the grade, but South Korean scientists believe that could rise to 90% using the cloning method.  

The puppies were born to three surrogate mothers after scientists used the nuclei of somatic cells from a sniffer dog called Chase. The state-funded project cost about 300m won ($300,000; £150,000).

A spokesman for South Korean customs said the pups have passed the first round of tests for behavioural patterns and genetic qualities and will report for duty in June after completing a second round of training.





April 22nd, 2008
8:56 am



We begin the week on a positive note (two, in fact).  Snicker, the cocker spaniel rescued from a Pacific atoll by a Norwegian cruise ship, has found a new home in Las Vegas (story below) and Moon, an adventurous, if disobedient dog, has had a solo adventure crossing deserts and mountain ranges to return home (story also below).  The only baffling part of Moon’s tale is that having travelled these great distances and somehow arriving at his home town he seemed unable to find his own house.  

Dog’s Island Odyssey Ends in Las Vegas 


A dog who had been shipwrecked is settling into his new home in the valley. Snickers was united with Jack Joslin last night. Jack had been working to rescue the cocker spaniel pup for several weeks. Snickers was stranded on Fanning Island, a small territory in the Pacific, after his original owners had been shipwrecked and rescued. Jack says Snickers still needs plenty of time to adjust to his new home. A vet has given Snickers a clean bill of health. On Fanning Island, animals are either wild, or dinner. 



Dog Crosses 2 Mountain Ranges To Get Home 


Ely, Nevada - A dog that ran off during a rest stop on a journey apparently made her way nearly 130km across Nevada’s high desert and two mountain ranges to return home a week later.

Moon, a Siberian husky, was reunited on April 14 with her owner, Doug Dashiell, who had last seen her near Railroad Valley, about 125km from his home in Ely, on April 6.

Moon, who is nearly two, was no worse for wear, except that she stank like a skunk, probably because she was sprayed by one somewhere along the journey.

“I’ve had trouble with her running away before. She’s always come home,” Dashiell said. But he did not expect her to turn up after a week had passed.

“After seven days - no way,” he said.

Then a local veterinary clinic called Dashiell and told him Moon was back in town.

The dog had wandered up to an Ely house and was taken in by Alvin Molea. He called the clinic because the dog was wearing a tag bearing its name.

The dog’s journey would have taken her across the White River and Ward mountain ranges. - Sapa-AP 

April 21st, 2008
9:11 am


Snicker, a cocker spaniel, has been rescued from a Pacific atoll where he was left to fend for himself.  This story pasted in its entirety below is well worth a read..

Snickers the Puppy Rescued After Drifting at Sea, 

Scavenging on Pacific Atoll 



Snickers is only eight months old. 

But the cocker spaniel already has spent three months adrift on a 48-foot boat and survived four months on a tiny Pacific atoll where his owners, Jerry and Darla Merrow of California, left him when they were rescued by a cargo vessel. 

Now Snickers is in Honolulu, rescued by cruise ship workers, the Hawaiian Humane Society, an airline, and others who have united to find him a home. 

“It’s an amazing story of a lot of people working together to save this puppy,” said Evans Hoyt, captain of NCL’s Pride of Aloha. “He’s a very, very lucky dog.” 

Efforts to find a telephone number to contact the Merrows were unsuccessful. 

Gina Baurile, the society’s community relations coordinator, said Thursday that the organization took the lead in coordinating the rescue of Snickers after being contacted in the first week of April by Jack Joslin of Las Vegas, a concerned pet lover who wanted to take ownership of the dog. 

Joslin said he learned of Snickers’ saga in ‘Lectronic Latitude, an online Web site of the boating journal Latitude 38. 

The report said the Merrows’ catamaran developed mast problems after setting out from California. In the first week of December, the vessel finally drifted to Fanning Island, a populated but tiny atoll about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii. It hit a reef and the couple swam 200 yards to shore with Snickers and their macaw named Gulliver. 

The pets were left in the care of some islanders, but Baurile said the animals apparently weren’t cared for very well, “because they don’t have the same concept of what pets are.” 

Joslin said the bird was being taken of, but the dog was actually “left to fend for itself.” 

Fanning is one of 33 scattered coral atolls that make up the remote nation of Kiribati. In March, the government of Kiribati, which technically owned the animals, decided to have them destroyed, Joslin said. 

Upon learning the news while on Fanning, a sailing couple from Hawaii tipped Latitude 38 with the story, he said. 

Joslin said he decided to become involved when he read the account just five days after he had to have his ailing 15-year-old border collie euthanized. 

“That was really tough. That was a very hard time,” he said. 

“I was willing to spend whatever it took, but because so many people got involved willingly, it turned out not to cost me much at all,” Joslin said. 

NCL offered to pick up Snickers, and Hawaiian Airlines volunteered to fly him for free to Los Angeles, where he will be handed to Joslin. 

Paperwork problems prevented Joslin from bringing back Gulliver, too. But an elaborate plan is hatching to move the macaw to Christmas Island and eventually to Los Angeles, one of two U.S. ports that will accept exotic birds. 

“We have an amazing network of bird lovers that came in to get involved in this,” bird enthusiast Peter Foreman said. “So, by golly, if they can do it for Snickers, they can do it for Gulliver.” 

If the effort is successful, Joslin expects Gulliver will be given to a bird sanctuary in Arizona

Snickers got a trim and flea treatment before boarding the cruise ship. Getting the canine cleared for travel involved the Hawaiian Humane Society, state agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security. 

The pup was living in luxury for the last week as the first pet on the Pride of Aloha. He was a little uneasy with all the attention but he is a much different dog now than when the cruise ship first came to his rescue, according to crew members. 

“[He was] very unsure of himself and a little bit suspicious of people and it was amazing how just in the course of the first 24 hours and day by day he turned right around,” Hoyt said. 

The cruise may be over but the crew won’t soon forget the pooch they pampered. 

“There were some people who were very sad to see him go. He’s a little heart stealer, that one,” Hoyt said. 


April 19th, 2008
1:45 pm


I had to read the following article twice and I still don’t understand how two owners managed not to know their own dogs.  Suffice it to say this would never happen the other way around –not at least with a dog’s olfactories.  The picture is entirely gratuitous and unrelated to this story (of course, if both mixup dogs were dressed in costumes like this there would never have been a problem).

Man claimed dog was imposter

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. (AP) — Ken Griggs finally brought the right dog home. More than two weeks after the Lake Oswego man claimed a boarding kennel returned the wrong dog after spring break, he and his family were reunited with their black Labrador named Callie.

During the break in late March, Callie shared a kennel with a lookalike named Dixie. When Griggs went to retrieve Callie on March 30, he somehow ended up with Dixie.

Griggs knew something wasn’t right when Callie wouldn’t heel and the family cat — normally pals with Callie — hissed at the dog.

Griggs returned the dog to the kennel and Allison Best, the kennel owner, examined whether Callie might have gotten mixed-up with any of the other black Labradors staying there that week and contacted the owners.

The Sherwood woman who owns Dixie told Best her dog seemed to have undergone a personality change. But the woman was insistent that she had the correct dog.

Still, Best arranged for the owners and their dogs to meet March 31.

Griggs arrived at the Dundee kennel before the Sherwood woman and a black Lab got excited when he and his children approached. The kids declared it was Callie, and everyone went back home to Lake Oswego.

But it turned out to be the same dog Griggs had just returned.

Still thinking there might be a Callie impostor roaming his house, Griggs took the dog to his regular veterinarian. She confirmed through X-rays that the dog lacked Callie’s surgical marks.

The case finally resolved itself when the kennel owner got a phone call from an acquaintance of the Sherwood woman, who had told her that “Dixie was not Dixie.”

Best visited the woman’s house Tuesday and examined the dog. After realizing it was Callie, she told the woman she needed to meet with Griggs.

The real Callie finally returned home Wednesday, and spent the evening playing with Griggs’ four younger children.

“I’m happy and relieved and just want things to get back to normal,” Griggs said after the exchange.

Best told The Oregonian newspaper she had no comment about how the confusion might have occurred.

“We tried to do everything we could, and it’s really unfortunate we had two customers who couldn’t identify their dogs,” she said.

April 18th, 2008
1:09 am


Ah, more dog lifestyle trends: the dog party.  The general idea of the pet party seems to be sound (one site suggested: “Treat Your Dog Like A King” –a noble sentiment).  What’s wrong, after all, with celebrating your dog’s life with generous amounts of delectables–particularly spare ribs?  Nothing.  Even better, for most of us, is integration with a wide range of beings both human and dog who might entertain us and feed us multiple more times accidently –diets can always be enforced tomorrow but please keep the dog runners away.  Of course, some of the pet party industry might not be taking our basic concerns in mind (and instead have a more anthropomorphic view of fun in mind), but any attention is better than no attention at all.  Here are some links to illustrate just how widespread this trend has become: it’s everywhere from Syracuse to Sydney Australia (where I suppose they pamper their dogs when their animals aren’t being chased by pythons): and,23739,23506091-23272,00.html

April 17th, 2008
1:26 am