Sunday, August 17, 2008


The probable source of "raining cats and dogs" is the prosaic fact that, in the filthy streets of 17th/18th century England, heavy rain would occasionally carry along dead animals and other debris. The animals didn't fall from the sky, but the sight of dead cats and dogs floating by in storms could well have caused the coining of this colourful phrase. Jonathan Swift described such an event in his satirical poem 'A Description of a City Shower,' first published in the 1710 collection of the Tatler magazine. The poem was a denunciation of contemporary London society and its meaning has been much debated. While the poem is metaphorical and doesn't describe a specific flood, it seems that, in describing water-borne animal corpses, Swift was referring to an occurrence that his readers would have been well familiar with:
Now in contiguous Drops the Flood comes down, Threat'ning with Deluge this devoted Town....Now from all Parts the swelling Kennels flow, And bear their Trophies with them as they go: Filth of all Hues and Odours seem to tell What Street they sail'd from, by their Sight and Smell. They, as each Torrent drives, with rapid Force, From Smithfield or St. Pulchre's shape their Course, And in huge Confluent join'd at Snow-Hill Ridge, Fall from the Conduit, prone to Holbourn-Bridge. Sweeping from Butchers Stalls, Dung, Guts, and Blood, Drown'd Puppies, stinking Sprats, all drench'd in Mud, Dead Cats and Turnip-Tops come tumbling down the Flood.

WOW, did Helpful Buckeye get everyone's attention last week! Our "all cat" issue definitely aroused some comments. Most of your comments were positive, but a few came through with a slightly negative tone. A complimentary response from Charlie, in Indiana, read: "Thanks, Helpful Buckeye, for all the neat cat stuff. Most of it was new to me and very interesting!" Meanwhile, from an anonymous reader, came this: "OK...enough Cat stuff all ready...Time to get some more real animal stuff in the on DOGS!" What was that famous quotation about not being able to please ALL the people ALL the time...?

Helpful Buckeye is back this week with a potpourri of tales...and not just from cats!


1) This unsettling news report comes from the AP: ST. LOUIS (Aug. 13) -- More than 360 domestic and farm animals, many of them emaciated, injured and suffering from mange and parasites, were rescued Tuesday from a filthy southwest Missouri property where they were hoarded and bred, authorities said.
The owner of the property was charged with child endangerment because six children, ages 1 to 11, also had been living in what authorities described as an unbelievable scene: 12 to 15 house trailers stacked to the ceilings with junk, trash and debris, crawling with cockroaches. The only water source was a bunch of garden hoses strung together.

"These homes are not fit for anyone to live in," human or animal, Polk County Sheriff Steve Bruce said. The 363 animals include more than 70 dogs and more than three dozen cats, plus donkeys, rabbits, ducks, chickens, and exotic fish. The Humane Society of Missouri and Polk County also found 12 to 15 dead rabbits, dogs, cats, and poultry.

It's really unfortunate that we continue to hear this kind of story from just about anywhere in the USA. It would be nice to think that we, as a culture, have risen above this type of abuse to animals, but it doesn't seem likely to happen. If any of our readers have any knowledge of this type of behavior, please do the right thing and report it to the proper local authorities. For more reading on this story from Missouri, go to:

2) Speaking of "our culture," there are cultural differences around the world that might seem a bit unusual to us, while being perfectly normal where they are observed. Such a story comes to us recently from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Capital Bans Dog-walking by Men, By Donna Abu-Nasr, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Every single man knows: Walking a dog in the park is a sure babe magnet. Saudi Arabia's Islamic religious police, in their zeal to keep the sexes apart, want to make sure the technique doesn't catch on here.
The solution: Ban selling dogs and cats as pets, as well as walking them in public. The prohibition went into effect yesterday in the capital, Riyadh, and authorities in the city say they will strictly enforce it -- unlike previous bans in the cities of Mecca and Jiddah, which have been ignored and failed to stop pet sales.
Violators found outside with their pets will have their beloved poodles and other furry companions confiscated by agents of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the official name of the religious police, tasked with enforcing Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic code. The commission's general manager, Othman al-Othman, said the ban was ordered because of what he called "the rising of phenomenon of men using cats and dogs to make passes at women and pester families" as well as "violating proper behavior in public squares and malls."
"If a man is caught with a pet, the pet will be immediately confiscated and the man will be forced to sign a document pledging not to repeat the act," al-Othman told the Al-Hayat newspaper. "If he does, he will be referred to authorities." The ban does not address women.
The Saudi-owned Al-Hayat announced the ban yesterday, saying it was ordered by the acting governor of Riyadh province, Prince Sattam, based on an edict from the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars and several religious police reports of pet owners harassing women and families. Commission authorities often do not formally announce to the public new rules that they intend to implement. Officials from the commission and Riyadh city government could not be reached for comment today, which is a weekend day in Saudi Arabia. The English-language Arab News reported on the ban today.
So far, the prohibition did not appear to have any effect in Riyadh. It's extremely rare, anyway, to see anyone in the capital walking a dog -- much less carrying a cat in public -- despite the authorities' claims of flirtatious young men luring girls with their pets in malls.
Salesmen at a couple of Riyadh pet stores said today they did not receive any orders from the commission banning the sale of pets. Cats and dogs were still on display.
"I didn't hear of the ban," said Yasser al-Abdullah, a 28-year-old Saudi nurse, who was at one pet store with his 3-month-old collie, Joe. Al-Abdullah, who also owns an 8-month-old Labrador, said a couple of Western friends had been told to get off the streets by the religious police for walking their dogs. "I won't allow the commission to take my dogs from me," he said.
There was no word whether commission authorities intend to expand the dog and cat ban beyond the capital. The prohibition may be more of an attempt to curb the owning of pets, which conservative Saudis view as a sign of corrupting Western influence, like the fast food, shorts, jeans and pop music that have become more common in the kingdom.
Although it has never been common to own pets in the Arab world, it's becoming increasingly fashionable among the upper class in Saudi Arabia and other countries such as Egypt.
In Islamic tradition, dogs are shunned as unclean and dangerous, though they are kept for hunting and guarding. In large cities around the Middle East, stray dogs are considered pests.
The ban on cats is more puzzling, since there's no similar disdain for them in Islamic tradition.
One of the Prophet Muhammad's closest companions was given the name Abu Huraira, Arabic for "the father of the kitten," because he always carried a kitten with him, and a number of traditional stories of the prophet show Muhammad encouraging people to treat cats well.

You can draw your own conclusions about this report, but there is no doubt about the "socialization" benefits enjoyed by dog walkers in the USA.

3) There has been another pet food recall. This week, August 13, Mars Petcare US voluntarily recalled a limited number of 52-pound PEDIGREE® Complete Nutrition Small Crunchy Bites bags from limited Costco stores in Northern California and Nevada only, due to potential Salmonella contamination. Costco has notified all of its customers in Northern California and Nevada about this issue directly. Additionally, one hundred of the 20-pound bags of PEDIGREE® Complete Nutrition Small Crunchy Bites sold in Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada, Albertsons locations were also recalled.

This problem with Salmonella contamination, first with tomatoes, then serrano peppers, now with dog food, has occupied our news headlines for most of the summer. Food-borne pathogens will be a topic for an upcoming issue of our blog.

4) Vote Now! Poodle and Wheaten Terrier Neck-and-Neck in Race for White House (OK, now that I have your attention, here's a news item that is somewhat on the humorous side of the news spectrum...what we call light, or fluff, news). Enjoy this report from the American Kennel Club, that delves into the "dog" aspects of the upcoming Presidential election: Less Than Two-Weeks Left to Cast Your Vote for The Best "Canine Candidate" for the Obama Family @
The American Kennel Club® (AKC) reports a tight race between the Poodle and Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier in their poll to determine America's breed of choice for the Obama family. Preliminary results indicate that the Poodle is up by a (dog) hair, with just a few hundred votes separating the top two contenders. But, with 13 days until the polls officially close, the Miniature Schnauzer and Bichon Frise are still in the running. Cast your vote at before August 19, 2008.
AKC Midway Mark Polling Results On A Dog for Obama, August 6th, 2008Based on voting since site launch on July 2nd:
Candidate %
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Miniature Schnauzer
Bichon Frise
Chinese Crested
The AKC launched after reports that – win or lose – the Obamas promised their two daughters a dog after the presidential election. "With 158 breeds registered by the AKC – each with its own unique temperament, coat type, size, energy level and appearance – we felt the Obamas' interest in getting a dog was an opportunity to underscore the many factors that go into deciding whether to acquire a dog, and into determining what characteristics match your lifestyle so that a successful match can be made," said Lisa Peterson, AKC spokesperson. "Every family is unique, but for the Obamas who have a daughter with allergies, a hypoallergenic breed with a very consistent and predictable coat is crucial. This factor informed our choices first and foremost but we also chose dogs that have affable temperaments."
Once the Obama family is ready, the AKC can assist them in responsibly acquiring a dog. The AKC's puppy buyer resource page at offers links to responsible breeders who are members of AKC clubs as well as to affiliated breed rescue groups. For instance, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and Poodle National Breed Club web sites can be located at and
The Obama family may be adding a dog to their household for the first time, but Republican nominee John McCain is ahead of the pack with 24 pets, including four dogs. Therefore, animal lovers may be ready to help him "fetch" the election. According to a recent Associated Press survey,"pet owners favor McCain over Obama 42 percent to 37 percent, with dog owners particularly in McCain's corner."
"It's no surprise that presidents and other politicians love their dogs. Dogs give unconditional love and can even help reduce stress levels," added Lisa Peterson. "And, from an image standpoint, nothing humanizes a candidate more than seeing him lovingly dote on his pet."
Place your ballot online at before August 19, 2008. Check back on the site after August 25 for the announcement of the winning breed.

After reading this report and, perhaps, checking out the web sites listed, our readers can determine how important this issue will be for the upcoming election. In a future issue of the blog, Helpful Buckeye will provide a list of former "Presidential" pets.


A medical condition that has been receiving a lot of justified attention lately is Methicillin-Resistant Staph aureus, more commonly known as "MRSA." It is normally associated with humans, antibiotic usage, and hospital settings. However, there are some valid concerns for pet owners as well. The disease associated with this resistance is caused by a form of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, which is pictured below. Note the structure appears like a cluster of grapes, hence the prefix, "Staphyl," which is Greek for "bunch of grapes."

Some advice for pet owners about how to avoid any confrontation with this disease comes from the Delta Society at:

MRSA Informational: FAQs
By Gregg K. Takashima, DVM

What is MRSA:
This stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Typically causes skin and soft tissue infections (flesh eating bacteria), but can cause pneumonia and “toxic shock syndromes” too
Important because it is becoming more common

How does this affect you?
Important since there is now evidence that MRSA infections can affect animal species.
Only a very small percentage of animals ever show signs of illness

Tell me about transmission of this pathogen.
MRSA is generally carried on all body surfaces, but mainly the nose and gastrointestinal tract.
Animal to animal, animal to human, human to animal, and human to human transmissions are possible

What are the best treatment and preventation strategies for pets?
Stringent control: avoid contact with known MRSA individuals (humans)
Most pets exposed to a MRSA patient, if kept in a clean environment, will eradicate the infection on their own.
Most common disinfectants kill MRSA
Do NOT use antibiotics unless advised to by your veterinarian….

What is the single most effective prevention and control measures for humans and animals?
Washing hands between all pet and human contact
Keeping counters, sinks, tabletops cleaned and disinfected
Food areas kept clean
Keeping your pet bathed routinely.


Cat Breeds--Exotic Shorthair

The Exotic Shorthair came into existence in 1960 when breeders crossed the American Shorthair with the Persian creating what is essentially a shorthaired Persian. Curious and playful, they are friendly to other cats and dogs with a gentle and calm personality reminiscent of the Persian, but livelier and more playful. Their calm and steady nature can make them ideal apartment cats for city dwellers. Unlike the high-maintenance Persian, the Exotic is able to keep its own fur tidy, though weekly brushing is always recommended. As with all flat-faced animals, the Exotic's tears are prone to overflowing the nasolacrimal duct, dampening and staining the face, so periodic cleaning is necessary.

Cat Breeds--???

Last week, Helpful Buckeye asked you to identify a "mystery" cat. A few of you sent in guesses, but none of them were the correct answer. To refresh your memory, here it is again:

This is Felis silvestris, which is an African wildcat (Helpful Buckeye discussed this cat last week in the "Interesting facts about cats" portion of the blog). Looks pretty much like one of our domestic cats, doesn't it?


1) A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that 5 clones of a Pit Bull dog were produced in South Korea. "An American woman received five puppies Tuesday that were cloned from her beloved late pitbull, becoming the inaugural customer of a South Korean company that says it is the world's first successful commercial canine cloning service." Read the rest of the story for the details at:

Helpful Buckeye knows that some of our readers are already stating the obvious, "yeah, just what this world needs is 5 more Pit Bulls...." However, the important part of this story, if it is true, is that the cloning was successful.

Then, after digesting all the facts of this story, check out this further news item about the owner of the Pit Bull clones. Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to be recognized in public! If this part of the story also turns out to be true, this is why people say that truth is stranger than fiction.

2) Trying to control feral cats has become a major task for most localities in the USA. Feral cats produce a lot of kittens, which only adds to the already existing burden of way too many homeless cats in our country. A regular contributor to the Arizona Republic, Jim Burns, has addressed this problem from the perspective of a birdwatcher:

Read his column, which makes some interesting points and suggestions, then read the column by Clay Thompson, from the same newspaper for his take on how to start solving this problem:

3) If your pet is leaving too much odor around the house despite your best efforts to vacuum and groom, Fresh Wave, maker of odor-neutralizing products, eliminates the odor without leaving any telltale chemical or artificial odor. Their products are available at certain hardware stores and also online at:

4) Several weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye discussed the fun of trimming your pet's nails. From time to time, new ways of doing this appear on the market. Most of these "newer & better" techniques quickly disappear because they really aren't any better. Nonetheless, this new product appears to provide a different approach to this sometimes difficult to deal with art of pet nail trimming. Check it out at:

The Pedi-Paw nail trimmer is a little more expensive than the conventional trimming instruments but, if it works better and is easier to use, the extra expense might seem negligible.

5) For those readers of Questions on Dogs and Cats who enjoy a little diversion from time to time, Helpful Buckeye suggests you try the "Suburban Cat Herder" game. Go to this web site and spend a few minutes trying to herd cats, which everybody knows is not easy to do:

6) A new book was reviewed recently in the New Yorker magazine that would be of interest to many of our readers. The title is New York's Poop Scoop Law: Dogs, the Dirt, and Due Process, by Michael Brandow, and it details the wide ranging history and ramifications of this law requiring pet owners to clean up after their dogs. The review sounds pretty positive for the book...Helpful Buckeye intends to read it! This subject brings to mind an earlier issue of this blog dealing with being a good pet neighbor. Isn't it interesting how this topic keeps coming around? Here is a photo of a perfect illustration for this subject:

7) Bearing the reported incident at Roswell, New Mexico, 1947, in mind, this news story also brings an unusual happening to the land of "believe it or not."

STOLEN CERAMIC LAWN DOG These people with way too much time on their hands kidnapped a ceramic dog from a Portland, Ore. woman's yard. Edwina Cramer-Norris said she had assumed the dog was gone for good when it disappeared last month, but then she began receiving postcards addressed "To Master" from "Lucky Dog." Cramer-Norris said she saw a blue van leave her driveway Sunday and when she went outside to investigate, she found her missing lawn decoration sitting in a makeshift dog house alongside a photo album documenting its adventures. She said the pictures depict the dog with a family at locations including Disneyworld, Graceland, the Mississippi River and New Orleans. She said a note accompanying the pictures explained that the dog had needed a vacation from Oregon because the weather was too rainy. "It's a strange thing," she said. "We're happy to have him back and it gives us something to share with others. It's some kind of a strange story." Cramer-Norris said the missing dog returned with two new additions to the family--a pair of ceramic puppies. Uh, right...let me get this straight...this little guy disappears, then mysteriously returns, along with 2 new puppies?

8) Just when you think you've seen the last "all-in-one" tool advertisement, here is an item that might interest you. For just $2.99 or less, this little gem of a multi-tool just might come in handy when you're out for a long walk with your dog in the woods or on a remote trail. The compact Adventure Plus Tool has a small light for map-reading in the dark and a floating-dial compass should you need to get back on course. A thermometer, safety mirror, whistle, and dry storage for matches give you tools to use in an emergency. Bottom Line: This little item does it all... it gives you lighting and safety tools for any adventure! And at this low price you'll want to pick up a few... they make wonderful gifts. Both kids and adults love 'em. Check out the Adventure Plus Tool at:

9) Just 2 days ago, on 15 August, was the 39th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in 1969 on Max Yasgur's farm, in Woodstock, NY. This was a seminal event in the history of Rock and Roll music, including many musical performers who became legends. Enjoy Matthews Southern Comfort as the story is retold:

10) On 16 August, 1948, baseball legend Babe Ruth died of cancer at the age of 53.

11) Also, on 16 August, 1977, Elvis Presley died in Memphis at the age of 42. Enjoy this video tribute to the King of Rock and Roll (Helpful Buckeye's favorite Elvis tune):


The LA DODGERS pulled out an extra-inning win today to remain in a tie for 1st place with the Diamondbacks. Manny Ramirez remains hot as a firecracker at the plate! Walt Whitman, the beloved American poet, wrote of baseball: "Baseball will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us." Stoicism refers to the repression of emotion and indifference to pleasure or, Helpful Buckeye has to assume that Walt Whitman never has watched the Dodgers play baseball!


1) Helpful Buckeye just finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, a NY Times best-seller in 2006. For an intriguing account of why we eat what we eat, this book is a gem and qualifies as one of the best books I've ever read! From the US poet, Carolyn Wells, comes this verse: "To make a library. It takes two volumes, And a fire. Two volumes and a fire, And interest. The interest alone will do. If logs are few."

There was plenty of interest when reading this book!

2) Let's close this issue with another quote, this one from that famous philosopher, Mae West: "An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises." Helpful Buckeye hopes that you have found many "ounces of performance" in the issues of our weekly blog and that you will continue to anticipate "pounds of promises."

I'm tired and I need to get some sleep...

No comments:

Post a Comment