Open Thread

Was walking the dogs this morning, when I looked down and Rosie looked like a hammerhead shark. After closer inspection, it turns out she just had what must have been a month old, frozen, stale hot dog bun wedged sideways in her mouth, and she was not letting it go (I got it away from her by dangling a chew toy in her face when we got home). That made me wonder- how does the sense of taste work for dogs.

With us, we differentiate between things that taste good and bad. Some tastes we like, some we don’t. Is there actually anything that will offend a dog’s sense of taste? Or does it just not matter- they’ll hoover up anything and say “MMMM- different!”








Early Morning Open Thread: Hippie Love

From commentor Leinie:

The picture is of our Hippy. He’s one of four. He’s an old man now, at about 16, but was rescued by Mr. L when Hippy was about 6-9 months old.
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Mr. L was doing IT work at an asphalt plant. An asphalt tanker rolled into the yard, and this shivering, filthy, road-grimey, wet and pathetic looking cat jumped off the trailer. The truck had last stopped about 270 miles away, on the other side of the state, so they figured that’s when the little guy hitched his ride. This was in the spring, and it was cold and wet and he was a mess.
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The operations manager gave him a bath, and Hippy promptly repaid him for that by taking a massive, stinking dump on the guy’s chair in his office. Amazingly, the cat didn’t have any accidents after that very first one…..
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Mr. L looked at him and realized that if he didn’t take Hippy, he’d just have to turn around and go back and get him. By the time he left for home, three days later, Hippy would come when Mr. L called him. The little fluffball has been adored ever since.
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Flash forward about four years, and Mr. L hooks up with me, and Hippy becomes my baby. That cat is the sweetest, most lovable, loving cat ever. Mr. L calls him the universal cat – even people who don’t like cats love Hippy when they meet him. He will let little kids drag him around – we say he’s part stuffed animal. He likes to be carried up on my shoulder, like a baby, and will nuzzle into my chin and neck when I pick him up. He will fuss to BE picked up and carried like that – I’ve been known to walk him like you would a fretting child! He will talk to you, chirping and saying “ow!” He’s hilarious to watch communicate with the other cats, because we’re certain that when he meows a particular way, and jerks his head, that he’s telling the other cat to “fuck off”, and the other three pretty much do, if Hippy says so. He’s long haired and pretty mellow, and loves him some catnip, does our Hippy.
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He has to take steroids twice a week to help him with an issue he has that was described to us as being him allergic to his digestive system, and complications from that caused him to need all of his teeth but 2 pulled (and he’s since lost those other 2.) He lets me hold him upside down, cradling like a baby and takes treats and his pill from my fingers. We were really lucky about ten years ago to find a vet who specialized in cats who was finally able to help us out and diagnose what was wrong with him, and get him to feeling better. He had been a listless and stoic little cat before that, but after his teeth came out and his steroid treatment took effect, he became much more active, playful and rambunctious. That’s mellowed out, as he’s gotten older, but he will still go tearing by sometimes. He is a joy, and sometimes, just coming home and cuddling with him makes the world a better place.
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Will forward pictures and stories of his buddies, Mau Pau, Billy Bob, and Squeak, another time.



Open Thread: Thursday Night Menu

Take it away, TaMara:

First and foremost, it’s Veterans’ Day, so go kiss a vet. I’ll wait…..Okay, now back to tonight’s menu.
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As winter settles in (we had our first snow last night) I find I want more vegetables. (Pause for a moment as my mother picks herself up off the floor). So a primavera sounded like a good recipe for the menu tonight. And it is cranberry season, so dessert with cranberry is a must. As Thanksgiving nears, if you have any cooking questions, ask away. If I don’t know the answer, I will use my various resources (I’m looking at you Kirk Spencer) to find one for you.
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On the board tonight:
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1. Pasta Primavera
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2. Crusty Bread
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3. Cranberry Apple Cobbler

Recipes and shopping list, as ever, at the link.








Happy Veteran’s Day

I’m kind of glad I ordered a Balloon Juice 2011 Pet Calendar, because that means that maybe next year, I will know when the holidays are before going to the Post Office and finding out it is closed.

At any rate, Happy Veteran’s Day!








Early Morning Open Thread: Paws for Purple Hearts

The Washington Post has a story about a new program to assist two groups of wounded veterans, “Vets with PTSD train dogs to help comrades“:

… The program trains Labradors and golden retrievers – including many offspring of Yount’s dog Gabe – as lifelong service dogs and companions for veterans who use wheelchairs. But for their first two years of life, these dogs spread their love around in another way. They are trained by veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. For many of these psychologically damaged warriors, this human-canine connection provides them with emotional sustenance, a mission and important lessons in patience that help them get on with their lives.
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“It was challenging, and it tested my patience, but it taught me to have patience again, and that was something I had really lost because of PTSD,” said former Army reconnaisance officer Amanda Heidenreiter, 26, of Columbia, of her experience training Owen, a golden retriever. She had returned from Iraq terrified of crowds and children, and “Owen helped me relax, calm my anger.”
[…]
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The vets who train the dogs spend several months with them, sometimes longer, and letting go can be difficult. Yount said that some experience sleep problems after their dogs go, but “processing that sense of loss in saying goodbye to their dog has been a valuable gateway to processing other loss issues that have been hampering their recovery. ”
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And it’s terribly important for veterans to feel they are continuing a mission that held them together through the violence and stress of war. “PTSD carries a stigma, that you’re broken and wounded,” said Yount, “And many guys have guilt for not still being in the fight. The idea of Paws for Purple Hearts is you can be part of the war effort while you’re getting treatment.”
[…]
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This is where the dual benefits of the program are apparent. The vets are working on behalf of a wheelchair-using vet, but are learning – or relearning – the emotional skills needed to manage a dog that will help them function in a world of normal human feelings and interactions.
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“The training of a dog requires you to emote,” Yount says. “That’s hard for a guy with PTSD who’s emotionally numb. But if you tell them it’s necessary to train this dog to help a fellow vet, there’s motivation. First, they have to sound happy. It’s fake. But there’s a concept that says, ‘Fake it until you make it.’ Within a few days, it sounds more and more sincere. Pretending to sound happy actually impacts your feeling of happiness.”
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Heidenreiter, the former reconnaisance officer, said training a golden retriever named Owen forced her to go into malls, restaurants and stores so that the dog would be a good companion for a physically disabled veteran. Doing so terrified her at first, but eventually she learned to relax…

There’s also a slide show, which starts with Yount explaining Gabe’s expert qualifications: “He will train you to pet him.”








Open Thread: Welcome to the Asylum!

Self-described “conservative of the century” Richard Viguerie is sending me emails again:

(Manassas, Virginia) Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, has launched a petition drive to House Republican leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor urging them not to intervene to keep Congresswoman Michele Bachmann from being elected as Chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus.
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News reports indicate that Boehner and Cantor are trying to keep Bachmann from being elected to the 4th highest ranking position in the House GOP leadership. The petition asks them to keep “hands off” the race. In a letter to conservative activists, Viguerie wrote:
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“Michele Bachmann and Jeb Hensarling are both small-government, constitutional conservatives. They deserve an equal shot at chairing the House Republican Conference. Unfortunately, Boehner and Cantor are working to derail the Bachmann candidacy by vocally supporting Hensarling…
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“Bachmann was one of the few House Republicans who wasn’t afraid to take the Tea Party message to the airwaves and nationalize the election in favor of constitutional, small government principles in 2010. Her message connected with voters across America and significantly contributed to the massive 60-plus seat pickup on Election Night.”

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There is only one response possible, from my position amongst the sneering mass of vitriolical jackals…
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Fiat monopoly

Should John really contract the site rebuild out to a single company? Why can’t each commenter choose a provider to service his or her own comments?

Consider this an open thread.