Tuesday, April 29, 2014


A few days ago, I found this really cool list of ugly animals that taste delicious when you eat them.  I was very excited to find the list, and I thought I would share part of it with you.  Of course, dogs don't care what their food looks like, when you come right down to it.  The important thing is that is has to smell good.  It's those silly humans that are more hung up on how stuff looks.  But if you can ignore what some food looks like, you might have a lot of fun eating it.  I'm just saying.....

Sea Lampreys

Lampreys are long, snakelike things with a bunch of sharp teeth in their mouths.  They like to bite fish and then not let go until they've sucked all the blood out.  But people have been catching and eating lampreys for a thousand years or maybe more.  So maybe people aren't so dumb after all.

Portuguese lamprey and rice dish,
Wikipedia, photo by The Ogre

One popular way to eat lamprey is to bake it into a pie.  This is really no stranger than baking four and twenty blackbirds into a pie, if you ask me.  But if you want to skip all the bother of making a pie crust, you can just cook your lamprey in a stew.  A popular dish in Portugal is made by boiling the lamprey in its own blood and then serving it with rice.


Flying Fox batt

I would be quite happy to eat a bat if I could catch one and if I didn't think it would bite me and give me rabies before I could eat it.  Some of the bigger bats have a bunch of meat on them, like for example, the Flying Fox Bat, which is the biggest bat in the world.  There are at least 60 species of Flying Fox Bats, living in the tropics and subtropics of Asia.  They can have a wingspan of over 5 feet.  Unfortunately, they are endangered, so it's illegal to kill and eat them.

Bats simmering in Indonesia

But there are lots of smaller bats that get eaten regularly in places like China and Indonesia.  I was all set to ask Mom to get some chihuahua-sized bats for us, and then I read that bats can spread diseases, and I don't just mean rabies.  It turns out that bats are very much like primates, and they carry viruses that are easy for people to catch.  Scientists now think that the outbreak of SARS was probably caused by humans' being around bats that were for sale in the markets of southern China.


Tokyo Fish Market
Photo,:  Jesper  Rautell Balle

These are not ducks at all.  They are actually clams with long "necks" or "siphons" that look like a certain something that boys have but girls don't.  These clams are native to the west coast of North America.  Their name comes from an American Indian language, and it's pronounced "gooey duck."

Geoduck sashimi

Some people think geoducks are aphrodisiacs, which may or may not be true.  But everyone agrees that they are very tasty to eat.  In China, the geoduck is a delicacy and is mostly eaten cooked in a fondue-style hot pot.  In Korea, geoducks are eaten raw with spicy chili sauce, sauteed, or in soups and stews.  The Japanese eat geoduck as a raw sashimi, dipped in wasabi and soy sauce.


Warthogs are ugly because of those fierce-looking tusks and all that bristly hair and those bumpy warts.  But deep down inside, they just taste kind of like gamey pork.  Lots of African people like to eat warthogs, and I believe I would like to eat one, too, if I was totally sure it was dead.  I say anything that tastes like pork (or chicken or beef or fish or lamb) is something that definitely should be eaten.  At least that's my opinion as a dog!

Wart Hog roast.  Yum1

Saturday, April 26, 2014


At the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where Mom works, guarding the artwork, there is a new exhibit called Roads of Arabia.  This exhibit has all sorts of interesting archeological items from Saudi Arabia.  One of the things in the show is a carving that might be a horse, but it's hard to tell absolutely for sure because the top of its head is missing.  If it's not a horse, then it might be a close cousin to the horse, such as an ass.

This object was discovered in Saudi Arabia at a place called al-Magar by a man who was having a pond dug on his farm.  It is really much bigger than it looks in the photo.  It is 34" long, 7" thick, and it weighs more than 300 pounds.  It is thought to date back to 7000 BCE, and if it really is a horse, this would mean that the domestication of horses happened even earlier than people used to think it did.

There have always been lots of theories about where and when the horse first became a domestic animal.  Some of the places it might have got started include northern Syria, southern Turkey, the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent, or southwestern Arabia.

Photo:  http://www.silveragavearabians.com/

Anyway, no matter where it started, by about 3500 years ago, the Arabian horse was helping all kinds of nations such as the Egyptians, Hurrians Kassites, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians in their warfare, communications, and alliances.

Tomb paintings from Ancient Egypt show horses
that look much like modern Egyptian Arabians.

The Islamic people believed the horse was a gift from Allah.  In the 7th Century CE, the prophet Mohammed told his followers that they should care for their horses with great kindness.  All of those who treated their horses well would be rewarded in the afterlife.  Because they lived in a harsh climate, the Bedouins shared their own food and water with their horses.  Sometimes they even shared their tents with them.  The horses became gentle and bonded closely with their people.

The Bedouin tribes were very careful to keep the breed pure, as they believed Allah intended.  Horses were used most often during war, and it was the mares that were best for raiding parties.  This was because mares did not neigh to enemy horses and spoil a sneak attack.  Also, the mares were fast and were brave in battle.  Arabian horse families were traced through the dams.  These families were often given the name of the tribe or sheik who bred them.

It's pretty easy to recognize Arabian horses because of their wedge-shaped head and high tail carriage.  Most have a concave or "dished" profile.  Other breed characteristics include an arched neck, broad forehead, large eyes, large nostrils, and small muzzles.  Some people think Arabians are not as strong as other horses because they are smaller in size, but this is not true.  The breed has good bone density, sound feet, and a back that is short and broad.  Which means that even a smaller Arabian can carry a heavy rider.

Some famous people such as Genghis Khan
and George Washington rode Arabian horses.

The coat colors registered by the Arabian Horse Association are bay, chestnut, gray, black, and roan.  All Arabians have black skin, no matter what their coat color, except under white markings.  This black skin protected them from the harsh desert sun.

Today the Arabian breed is one of the most popular in the United States.  The horses' energy, intelligence, and gentle temperament make them easy to train.  So they are used in lots of different equine sports.  In addition, Arabians have been used to help develop other breeds, such as the thoroughbred.

Here's part of an ancient bedouin legend about the origin of the Arabian horse:

And God took a handful of South wind
and from it formed a horse, saying:
"I create thee, Oh Arabian.
To thy forelock, I bind Victory in battle.
On thy back, I set a rich spoil
And a Treasure in thy loins.
I establish thee as one of the
Glories of the Earth...
I give thee flight without wings.

Monday, April 21, 2014


A knowledge of the path cannot be substituted
for putting one foot in front of the other.
--M.C. Richards

Begin at the beginning and go on
till you come to the end; then stop.
--Lewis Carroll

Time is not a line,
but a series of now points.
--Taisen Deshimaru

You're stronger than you seem; 
Braver than you believe;
And smarter than you think you are.
When shall we live if not now.
--M.F.K. Fisher

Rowing Home, Winslow Homer

The Sun will not rise, or set,
without my notice and thanks.
--Winslow Homer

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep.
--Scott Adams

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
--Robert Frost

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


I'm kind of a shy guy, so I have been hoping to avoid writing in Dorrie's blog.  First, I told her I couldn't do it because I was too new to the family.  And then I had surgery on my hips, so I didn't feel like sitting at the computer and writing.  But finally, I ran out of excuses.  Anyway, I'll try to make this short, so it won't be too boring for you to read.

Luckily, Dorrie has already told you a lot about me, such as how I came from a house in a small town in Kansas.  There were lots of us little dogs there, and we had a happy life because we didn't know there was any other kind of life to have.  Then some people called "Animal Control" came, and they took most of us away from the only home we had ever known.

Animal Control gave us rabies shots, and after that, we were loaded into carriers and put into a car.  Then we rode for hours and hours until we finally came to a place called Kansas City, which is where I live now.  My foster mom's name was Linda, and there were a bunch of little dogs at her house, including some I already knew from my first home.  Everybody that came from that same house in Kansas got the second name "Lake."  My name was Hammie, so I became Hammie Lake.

Me and Dorrie

I don't know why my first mom named me Hammie.  Maybe she thought I was a little ham, or maybe it was short for Hamlet or Hamburger.  All I know is that it was the only name I ever had until my name was changed to Marius after I got adopted.

The way I got adopted was this:  every other Saturday, my foster mom took me and Max to a big, noisy place called Petco.  After we got there, we sat around in cages while people came and looked at us.  Sometimes people wanted to hold us, which Linda let them do.  Being at Petco made me really nervous, so I just stayed kind of stiff and trembly while I was being held.  If I got introduced to other dogs, though, I politely sniffed butts with them.

Sitting on Mom's foot
makes me feel braver.

When I first got adopted and came to my new home, I was very lonely and scared.  There were two other chihuahuas here, but I didn't know them.  I looked everywhere in the house, but I couldn't find any of my old friends.  All I could find were big, scary cats.  So I howled.  I would just sit somewhere and howl for a while.  I hoped my old pack would hear me and come back, but they didn't.  Then, after a while, I started getting to know Dorrie and Tristan.  I realized that they were my pack now, and they weren't such terrible pack members to have.  So I stopped howling.

Nowadays, I never howl at all, not even when I hear a siren.  I don't even bark much, except sometimes when Mom comes home from work or wherever she's been.  Mostly, I let Tristan do all the barking because he's good at it and he likes doing it.

Dorrie told you all about my hip surgery.  Well, she told you how it was done.  What she didn't tell you was how much it hurt afterwards.  I could barely walk around, so it was a good thing Mom made me stay in a crate for two weeks while I was healing up.  Yesterday I had physical therapy with Dr. Connie.  It was the 4th time I've gone there.  Dr. Connie said I needed to come back two more times, and after that I won't need to have PT anymore.

What I do at physical therapy is get my hips stretched and have a laser treatment thing on them.  Also I have to sit and stand up and sit down again.  Then, the big thing I do is go for a walk in the water tank. Yesterday I walked for 15 minutes.  It was a new personal best for me.  When you're in the tank, a conveyor belt keeps moving under your feet, and it makes you walk, whether you want to or not.  It's harder to walk in water than in air, but I guess that's good because it makes you stronger.

Now that I'm getting all healed up and can run better, I like to play with Tristan.  He wants to play more than I do, but sometimes when he starts barking at me and trying to hamstring me, there's nothing I can do but play back at him.  Dorrie plays too, but not as much as Tristan does.

Tristan and me under the covers

At night, I sleep under the covers, just like Tristan and Dorrie do.  It's warm and cozy there, snuggled up to the other dogs or to Mom.  I have a special way of getting on the bed.  Mom rigged this up just for me, and what it is is a little step stool and then a chair.  After I get on the first two things, I can get on the bed.  It's really perfect, and it didn't cost Mom a penny.

Okay, well, I didn't think I would write this much.  The point is that I have a new home, and I like it, and I think I'll stay.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Thoroughbreds are tall, and they run really fast, so the place you are most likely to see them is in a horse race.  But they are also used for a lot of other horsey activities, including polo, steeplechasing, show jumping, combined training, fox hunting, and dressage.  Some people think the word "thoroughbred" means the same as "purebred," but they're wrong about this because the Thoroughbred is an actual breed, and "purebred" just tells you that an animal and its pedigree are officially registered with some group somewhere.

Horse racing got started as long ago as 1174 in England, when aristocrats used to compete with their horses in four-mile races over a flat track.  During the Middle Ages, racing continued at fairs and markets.  King James I of England and the royalty who followed him supported horse racing, and after a while it became popular with the public.  In 1727, the Racing Calendar, a newspaper all about racing, was founded.

Darley Arabian
Three members of the English upper class imported horses from the Middle East in the late 17th and early 18th centuries to be foundation stock.  They wanted to use these horses to make faster race horses.  The three imports were the Byerley Turk (1680s), the Darley Arabian (1704) and the Godolphin Arabian (1729).  All modern Thoroughbreds can trace their ancestry back to one of these three sires.  Other oriental stallions also helped form the breed, but these three were the most important ones.

English mares that were used as foundation stock came from several breeds, such as the Irish Hobby,  Barbary (from North Africa), and Turk.

By the end of the 18th century, English Classic races were being run.  These were between 1 mile and 1.75 miles, so they were much shorter than the old 4-mile races.  The shorter races meant that breeders started to raise horses for speed instead of for endurance.  Also, these horses began racing at a younger age.

The first Thoroughbred was brought to the American Colonies in 1730 by Samuel Gist, of Hanover County, Virginia.  This horse's name was Bulle Rock.  Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, and New York were the colonies where most of the Thoroughbred breeding was done.  After the Revolution ended, and Thoroughbreds could be imported again from England, the center of Thoroughbred breeding and racing moved west to Tennessee and Kentucky.

After the Civil War, American racing also changed from the 4-mile type of race (run in heats) to a shorter race that was between 5/8 mile and 1.5 mile.  Just like in England, this meant that younger horses were being raced, and breeders tried to produce horses who could run fast, short races.

Most Thoroughbreds are some shade or brown, gray, or black.  They can have white markings on their heads and feet, but shouldn't have white spots on their bodies.  In the U.S., roan, palomino, and white Thoroughbreds are also recognized.  Usually, a Thoroughbred stands between 15.2 and 17.0 hands (62" to 68") at the withers.

A good-quality Thoroughbred has a well-chiseled head on a long neck, high withers, a deep chest, short back, deep hindquarters, a lean body, and long legs.  These horses are bred for agility and speed, which means they are usually quite spirited and bold.

Because they are bred to run fast, and they are asked to do this at a young age, Thoroughbreds have lots of accidents and other health problems.  One-tenth of all Thoroughbreds end up with fractures or other orthopedic issues.  For every 1,000 horses starting in a race in the U.S., 1.5 will likely end up with some kind of breakdown that will mean they can't race again.  This averages out to 2 horses per day.

Some people think that inbreeding is to blame for this.  Selective breeding has given the horses more muscle mass so that they can run faster, but their bone structure can't always support their speed.  Other things that increase the accident rate include track surfaces, horseshoes with toe grabs, the use of certain legal medications, and high-intensity racing schedules.


Other Thoroughbred health issues include a majority that suffer bleeding from the lungs during high exertion, 10% with low fertility, and 5% with abnormally small hearts.  Also, Thoroughbreds tend to have small hooves relative to their body mass.  The hoof walls and soles are thin, which is a big reason these horses easily end up with sore feet.

Wikipedia, photo:  Anthony92931
Animal rights groups have a lot of bad things to say about the horse-racing industry.  This is especially true when a horse has to be put to sleep because of a broken leg or other such injury that wouldn't be fatal in a dog or human.  The racing industry defends itself by saying that if there were no horse racing, there would be much less money available for medical and biomechanical research on horses.  They also point out that progress is being made in treating injured horses who would have been put down before.  And there are now ways to figure out which horses are most at-risk for injury and to keep them off the track.

Okay, so that's my report on Thoroughbred horses.  Oh, but I think I forgot to mention that the Thoroughbred is the State Horse of Kentucky.  And also that the Kentucky Derby is always run the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


I haven't written a blog entry for several days, but it's totally not my fault.  It's the fault of my Chief Research Assistant, Mom.  She keeps coming up with flimsy excuses why she can't help me with the blog, and those excuses are things like she's too busy going to work, she's too tired when she comes home from work, she's too sleepy in the evenings and wants to go to bed early, and stuff like that.  Then, when she finally took some pictures for me to use in my blog, they were of things like the inside of closets at the Nelson Art Gallery, where she works.  I mean, really, who wants to see something like that?  But sometimes a girl just has to use the material that's available, and so that's what I'm going to do.

Okay, so first you need to know that the original museum was built between 1930 and 1933, in the Neoclassic style.  Not that you can tell anything about Neoclassicism by looking in the closets, but I'm just trying to explain why they look so old and creepy inside.  This first one has a sink and some cleaning equipment in it that the maintenance people use.  Mom is glad she doesn't have to mop and wax the floor because she hates doing stuff like that.  The only reason Mom got a assigned a key to this closet was because of the fire extinguisher.  This way, if the building catches on fire, Mom can save it from burning down by spraying the fire with the extinguisher.  There are lots of these closets with sinks and cleaning equipment.  Sometimes there are also boxes of pamphlets and pencils, if those are needed in that gallery.

Okay, here's something much creepier than the sink closet.  This door opens to a little passage that goes behind some display cases in the Bernap Collection of English Pottery.  On the left, you can see the backs of the cases, and on both sides, you can see ductwork.  Up above, there is a catwalk that is maybe used to get to the heating and air-conditioning vents or else to the lights.  Mom could not figure out if the pottery is put into the cases from the front or from the back, but probably it's from the front because there's a little keyhole to unlock each case from the gallery side.

The Bloch Building is much more modern because it was only opened in 2007.  So the closets there look bright and clean and well-lighted.

The ceilings of the closets are high, and there's a hole where you can crawl through to get up into the ceiling space.  Bloch Building closets also have fire extinguishers and waste baskets, and some of them have paper towels, toilet paper, and boxes full of brochures.

In the corner of some galleries, there is a funny-looking thing like this, and sometimes people ask Mom what it is.  Or sometimes they ask if it is a seismometer to measure earthquakes.  Which it isn't.  What it really does is measure the temperature and humidity in the gallery.  A man comes around almost every day and opens each box and enters the data into a little digital thing that he carries around.  He does not adjust the temperature or humidity.  He only records it, and then somebody else is in charge of adjusting it.

This is the food preparation area.  Mom has never been in there, but she can look in from the hallway when she's going from the Security Staff area to the rest of the gallery.  Usually, you can figure out by smell at least one dish that will be served for lunch in the cafeteria that day.  In this same hallway, there are doorways to Art Conservation and to the place where they build display stands and stuff like that.  But those doors are always closed, and Mom's card won't open them because it's not her job to go in there, even though she thinks it would be really interesting.

On Friday, something bad happened in one of the galleries Mom was guarding.  What happened was that one of the paintings got damaged because a kid in a school group ran up and rammed his hand into it.  This made a dent which you can sort of see in the photo, in the part where there are lots of narrow, close-together stripes.  Mom was at lunch when this bad thing happened.  Laura, the guard who was watching Mom's gallery for her, saw the kid damage the painting, but it happened so fast that she couldn't stop it.  Laura gave the kids a serious talking-to, and she called a supervisor.  He came with a curator to look at the damage, and the curator said she didn't think it could be fixed.

So Mom heard all about this incident when she got back from lunch.  Later on, two women and a man came with a cart to take the painting away.  The man put up a sign that said the object was temporarily removed.  Mom thought he might be a conservator, and she asked him if the painting could be repaired, and he said, "Oh, sure."  After which, Mom felt better because she likes that painting quite a bit.  We have no idea why it's called Cement Mixer, but at least that's a more interesting name than something like No. 7 or Untitled.

It's hard to realize how big the painting really is until it's not there, and you are just looking at an empty space on the wall.   The painting wouldn't even fit on a wall in our house, which is why it's a good thing it's in the art gallery instead of here.  Not to mention that the cats might decide the canvas would make a good scratching post!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


When I found out that April is National Poetry Month, I knew right away that I should try my paw at writing a poem.  Or maybe two.  National Poetry Month has been happening every April since 1996, when the Academy of American Poets first dreamed it up.  They wanted to get people to read more poetry and maybe to even like it, too.  Canada has been celebrating National Poetry Month every April since 1999.   Great Britain started celebrating it in 2000.  Except that, just to be different, they do it in October instead of April.

First of all, I am going to share what is called a "found poem."  This type of poem is where you don't really compose any original lines yourself.  You just take some phrases from someplace like a newspaper or the want ads or wherever, and then you arrange them together to create a poem.  I made my found poem out of phrases that Mom has been collecting while she was working at the art gallery.  These are phrases off the little description cards by each painting.

Mostly, Mom has found that the most interesting -- by which she means "bizarre" and "goofy" -- phrases are on the cards describing contemporary art.  Maybe this is because the art is so weird that it can only be described with weird phrases.  Or maybe the curators of that kind of artwork just write in odd ways.

                       Organic corpuscular form

                       scintillating brushstrokes

                             competing visions

                                 sensuous lips and doughy hair.

               Unprecedented sensitivity

                        gestural energy

                               swirling attitude

                                      formulaic drip.

Okay, so after I put together that crazy found poem, I wanted to write a "real" poem, by which I mean one that rhymes.  So here's what I wrote, and I think it's a pretty good effort for a little dog.

Not much rhymes with chihuahua,
Except Lady Gaga!
Does she have a dog?
Maybe so.
What else rhymes with chihuahua?
Laughter, ho, ho, ha, ha!
What's so very funny?
I don't know!

Mom says my meter is not very good, whatever that means, but I don't really care.  I wrote a poem, and I'm proud of it!  So now that I have set an example by writing not one, but two poems, I recommend that everybody else celebrate National Poetry Month by writing some poetry, too.  Go ahead, it's lots of fun!