Saturday, January 28, 2017


Well, the Year of the Monkey is over, and I hardly got around to telling you about any monkeys, and now it's already the Year of the Rooster.  I keep resolving to do better, but my problem is with Mom, who keeps hogging the computer to do her silly eBay selling and Facebook and stuff like that.  Or else she wants to watch TV all evening, when she should be helping me write my blog.  I think I may have to nip her on the ankle to get her properly motivated!

So here we are in the Year of the Rooster, and not only that, but it's a Fire Rooster year.  The same combination of sign and element only occurs once every 60 years.  Famous Fire Rooster people who will turn 60 this year include Dawn French, Donny Osmond, Martin Luther King III, Stephen Fry, Hans Zimmer, Dolph Lundgren, and Jools Holland. I don't know who some of those people are, but if they like dogs, I totally approve of them!


Rooster people can be counted on to keep their promises.  They are honest, loyal, warmhearted, and make good friends. Because they are talkative, they like social events, and are often the center of attention.  On the negative side, Roosters can be vain and boastful and expect other people to listen to them talk about all their accomplishments.  The fact that they constantly seek the attention of those around them can be annoying at times.

Generally, people born in a Rooster year are healthy, and they enjoy sports.  They don't get sick often, and when they do, they recover quickly.  Sometimes they can feel stressed and moody, though.


Apparently, people with the same sign that's being celebrated in any particular year are always likely to be unlucky during that year.  So Rooster folks need to be especially careful about their money and their health in 2017.  When it comes to romance, those who are truly in love should go ahead and get married.  Those who are in dead-end relationships should think about breaking up.  Roosters make the best matches with people from Ox and Snake years.  They should avoid Rat, Rabbit, Horse, Rooster, and Dog.


Roosters consider their careers to be a priority. They are hardworking, resourceful, ambitious, and multi-talented.  Good career choices include:  newsreader, sales person, restaurant owner, hairdresser, public relations officer, farmer, athlete, teacher, waiter, journalist, travel writer, dentist, surgeon, soldier, fireman, security guard, or police officer.

This Year of the Rooster will be a powerful one.  Everyone should have clear intentions regarding love, money, and business.  Avoid risky ventures and ensure success by using practical and well-proven paths.  All Zodiac signs can find rewards by tapping into Rooster traits such as loyalty, commitment, hard work, and family values.

And now I would just like to add my personal opinion about the Year of the Rooster, and here it is:  Why do roosters get a year, but hens don't?  In my opinion this is extremely sexist.  Of course, as usual, nobody asked my opinion! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Elsie started her life as a cartoon cow, and then she became a Real Cow.  This is sort of like how Pinocchio went from being a puppet to being a Real Boy, or how the velveteen rabbit became a Real Rabbit.

Anyway, if you have ever had any Borden milk to drink, you have probably seen a picture of Elsie on the label.  Elsie is the advertising mascot for Borden, and she has become even more well-known than the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Campbell twins or Tony the Tiger.

The reason why Elsie was created was that the Borden Company was trying to convince people that processed milk was safer to drink than milk that went straight from the cow to the market.  The Department of Agriculture had told everybody all the way back in 1907 that dairy cows often carried tuberculosis and other diseases because of unsanitary conditions on farms.  When the Borden Company bought a dairy farm in New Jersey the 1930s, they were one of the first dairies to install pasteurization equipment.

After that, they needed to do an advertising campaign to tell everybody that processed milk was safer to drink.  So a man named Walter Early drew a happy, friendly-looking cow who wrote letters home.  The letters said things like, "Dear Mama, I'm so excited I can hardly chew!  We girls are sending our milk to Borden's now.  Love Elsie."

At the New York World's Fair in 1939, Borden's exhibit was something called a "Rotolactor," which showed how they expected their industry to look in the future.  The theme of the Fair was World of Tomorrow, so that's why Borden's had this type of exhibit.  The Rotolactor was a large turntable with several milking stations, and cows moving on and off of it.

Lots of people came to see the exhibit, and the question that got asked most often was "Which cow is Elsie?"  So the Borden Company realized they needed one particular cow who could be the Real Elsie.  They ended up picking out a Jersey cow who had been born at the Elm Hill Farm in Brookfield, MA in 1932.  The original name of this cow was "You'll Do, Lobelia," but of course her name got changed to "Elsie."

The Borden spokescow got lots of publicity.  There were public appearances, press dinners in NY, and Elsie even got into movies.  Sadly, in 1941, while she was traveling to NYC, the 18-wheeler that Elsie was riding in got hit from behind by another truck.  Elsie suffered neck and spine injuries, and nothing could be done for her.  She was buried on the Gordon Walker farm where she lived.

At the time of the original Elsie's death, there were already some other cows who could fill the role when necessary, so there has always been an Elsie somewhere.  In 1940, Elmer the Bull was created to be Elsie's mate, and he became the mascot for Elmer's Glue.  The pair had four calves:  Beulah and Beauregard in 1948, and Larabee and Lobelia in 1957.

Elsie has been bestowed several honorary university degrees, including Doctor of Bovinity, Doctor of Human Kindness, and Doctor of Ecownomics.  The Seneca people named her an honorary chief, and the City of Bridgeport, CT, gave her the P.T. Barnum Award of Showmanship.

Mom found this postcard that shows Elsie, Elmer, and Beauregard hanging out at home.  Elmer (left) has a chair made of wagon wheels with barrel staves for rockers.  Elsie has a dressing table constructed from barrels and lit by milk bottle lamps.  Her cosmetics include Meadow Mud Pack, Tail Wave Set, and Henna Fur Glaze.  The mirror is a frying pan.  Elsie made the sampler over the mantel when she was just a heifer.  Books in the breakfront include The Farmer with Cold Hands, Animal Husbandry and Wifery, and Bulliver's Travels.  The floor lamp is an old churn, and the candlesticks are corn.

Besides postcards, you can find lots of other Elsie collectibles on eBay and such places.  And guess what!  Elsie even has her own Facebook page

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Okay, well, after I wrote the title of my blog post, Mom told me that the word "brilliant" was probably not the right one to use.  She said it would be better to describe her eBay selling experience as "fun and maybe slightly profitable." Anyway, the point is that Mom does not have a real job anymore.  Instead, she is trying to fool herself into thinking that she is making some money on eBay and in her antiques booth.

You might be wondering what sorts of things Mom has been selling on eBay.  Well, I will tell you.  First, she started out selling stuff that didn't sell in her booth.  Some of these things sold well on eBay, and some of them didn't.

One example of something that sold well is this pair of water goblets from a famous restaurant that used to be on the Plaza here in Kansas City.  This restaurant was called Putsch's 210, which is not the most elegant name ever, but that is what it really was called.  These goblets had been in Mom's booth for months, but nobody bought them.  This surprised Mom because the restaurant has been closed for several years, and she thought some collector would want the goblets.  So anyway, she put them on eBay, and they sold overnight!

Mom also sold a bunch of basenji stuff because after Piper died, she didn't think she would ever have another basenji because most basenjis like to chase cats.  Mom never tried to sell basenji items in her booth since the chance of a basenji person finding them there is pretty slim.  But on eBay, there are people looking for basenji stuff all the time.  So Mom sold almost all her basenji items, except her little poster from the movie Good-bye, My Lady did not sell.  But Mom is going to try again one of these days.

Anyway, when Mom listed a little basenji pendant on eBay for $85, she was shocked that it sold by the very next morning to someone in Denmark.  All Mom had to do was mail the pendant to the eBay international shipping center in Kentucky, and they handled everything else, such as the customs form and collecting all the fees.

Another thing from Mom's booth that sold on eBay was a metal advertising sign in Spanish for Bayer Aspirin.

Sometimes Mom buys stuff at estate sales just for the purpose of selling it on eBay.  This includes old magazines, old books (especially 1st editions), old atlases, and old yearbooks.

At one estate sale, Mom bought two prints of works by the artist N.C. Wyeth.  She paid $1.50 each for the prints, and they sold for $22 each.  This is a bigger profit than Mom usually makes, but sometimes she gets lucky.

 Mom also sells old postcards, matchbooks, stamps, vintage ads, collectible spoons, and whatever she thinks somebody might want to buy.  At first, Mom made mistakes in figuring the postage, but she has learned her lesson and is getting better.

The main problem with selling on eBay seems to be that it takes a lot of time to make a lot of good pictures of your item.  Also, sometimes you have to research it and learn some interesting facts about it, plus also try to figure out what you can actually expect somebody to pay.

But I would just like to say that we dogs and cats like it that Mom is working from home now.  Well, except when she goes out to estate sales and also to spend time putting stuff in her booth.  Mom took me to her booth one day last week, and a lot of people said I was cute and wanted to pet me, and of course I let them.  Also, when Mom is sitting at the computer, working on eBay stuff, I get to sit in her lap (well, unless Tristan or Marius or Chloe or Latifa or Charlie is already sitting there), so that makes it kind of like "take your dog to work day" every day!

Monday, September 5, 2016


I don't know if there is a Labor Day in Mongolia, but if there is, people should use it to honor a very important working dog, the Bankhar.  These dogs are native to the Mongolian Steppe, where they play a huge role in herding and protecting the livestock of the nomadic people.

There are several types of ancient dog breeds, including the Tibetan Mastiff.  If you read in Wikipedia about Tibetan Mastiffs, you will get the idea that Bankhar is just the Mongolian word for that breed.  And maybe it is.  But if that is true, why are there organizations dedicated especially to breeding Bankhar and placing them with Mongolian families?  Why don't they just use Tibetan Mastiffs?  I find this all somewhat confusing.

©Bruce Elfstrom

Anyway, one of these organizations is called the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project, and it is located in the U.S.  This group is a non-profit that researches, breeds, and trains working dogs to be placed in Mongolian homes where the dogs are needed to protect the sheep, goats, horses, camels, and yaks that these people depend on for their livelihood.

For many centuries, Bankhar filled this role, but then during the Soviet occupation, this way of protecting the nomads' herds was lost.  That meant that wolves and snow leopards could come in and kill off all the livestock.  People began to protect their animals by poisoning and shooting the predators.  There seemed to be no other option, but the result was that these predator animals became endangered.

The nomads of Mongolia live in this type of home, called a ger.
Gers are made of felt and wood.  They are very warm,
and also easy to move.

So bringing back the Bankar dogs to protect the livestock also helps protect wolves and snow leopards because the nomads no longer feel that their only choice is to kill the predators.

Marco Polo returning from China.
He liked Bankhar so much that he brought one home with him.
This made him the first Westerner recorded as owning one.

So these organizations that are working to increase the number of Bankhar do that by finding healthy breeding pairs, then training the puppies to herd and protect livestock.  After that, the dogs are placed with deserving families, free of charge.

This means that in the end, everyone is happy, the Bankhar, the nomads, the livestock, the wolves, and the snow leopards.  You can't really ask for more happiness than that!

Monday, July 4, 2016


It is Independence Day, and that means it's time for my traditional blog entry about a made-in-America breed of dog.  This year I am going to tell you about the Redbone Coonhound, partly just because I like the name of the breed!

Of course, my first question was why any dog would be said to have red bones, since we all know that bones are white -- at least after you gnaw the meat off of them.  I was beginning to think that the mystery of the name would not be solved by my research, but finally I dug up the fact that one of the early developers of this breed was Peter Redbone of Tennessee.  Another early breeder was Mr. Redbone's contemporary, Georgia F.L. Birdsong of Georgia.  So I guess the dogs could have been called Birdsong Coonhounds, but somehow this does not sound like the name of serious hunting dogs.

So anyway, Redbones were developed from red-colored foxhounds that Scottish immigrants brought with them to Georgia in the late 18th century.  These were crossed with Irish-bred foxhounds and with bloodhounds.  The idea was to get dogs who could hunt prey that climbed trees, dogs who were unafraid of taking on animals such as raccoons, bears, and cougars, and who liked to swim if necessary.  Redbones are popular with hunters because of their speed and agility over all types of terrain, and because of their instinctual treeing of prey.

Wikipedia; Photo by Rcaa

As you might expect of a hound, Redbones are quite vocal.  In addition to their "normal" baying, they give out a special, emotional bay when they have an animal treed or cornered.  Hunters recognize this sound and can use it to locate the dogs and their prey.

Redbone Coonhounds have been bred to have solid red coats that are short and smooth against the body, but coarse enough to provide protection in dense underbrush.  The breed standard allows for a dark muzzle and a small amount of white on the chest and feet.  The body is typical of the coonhounds subgroup, with long, straight legs and a wide barrel chest.  The ears are long and drooping; the eyes are dark brown or hazel; and the dogs' expression is often said to be pleading.  The nose of a Redbone should always be black.

Males stand between 22 and 27 inches at the shoulder, with females from 21 to 26 inches.  The hounds' build should be lean, muscular, and well-proportioned.  Weights generally range from 46 to 70 pounds.   The AKC standard says, "The Redbone mingles handsome looks and an even temperament with a confident air and fine hunting talents."  The breed has been registered with the United Kennel Club since 1904 and the American Kennel Club since 2010.
Redbones make excellent companions and family pets, but are energetic dogs who need regular exercise.  They are eager to greet family members by leaping up and licking everyone.  The dogs should be taught not to knock people and small children over in their enthusiasm.  Redbones are good swimmers and love to join the family in the pool.  Because of their prey drive, they are usually not good with smaller animals such as cats.

I'm not even going to ask Mom if we can have a Redbone Coonhound because we have enough cat-chasing dogs here already -- namely, my crazy brothers Tristan and Marius.  Also, I am afraid that a Redbone might mistake one of us chihuahuas for prey and try to make us climb a tree, which is something I would definitely not be good at!

Thursday, June 30, 2016


If you have been paying attention at all, you might have noticed that there is a fad going on called "adult coloring books."  Of course, children have been coloring in coloring books for decades, and sometimes they allowed their parents to color in their books, too.  But mostly, coloring was a thing you did when you were a kid, and then you outgrew it.  Unless you became an artist.

All of the pictures in this blog entry are examples of coloring my mom has done.
She graciously allowed me to use them without paying any royalty fees.

But now, suddenly, adult humans have decided that coloring is something they want to spend time doing.  Dogs do not color, and there are two good reasons for this:  (1) dogs do not have opposable thumbs, and (2) dogs don't want to waste their energy doing something silly like coloring, when they could just take a nap.

Mom likes using colored pencils best.

Unfortunately, Mom has got all caught up in this coloring craze, so now she would rather waste an evening sitting in front of the TV, coloring, than helping me write in my blog.  I resent this.  And the other thing I resent is that although Mom will let me sit on her lap while she's coloring, she does not have any hands free to pet me.

This one is colored with crayons.

However, once Mom gets it into her head to do something, there is no arguing with her.  The best I can do is try to understand why she feels compelled to behave the way she does.  So I did some research, and what I learned was that some psychologists say coloring is a sort of "mindfulness technique" like meditation or yoga.  But the good part about coloring is that you don't have to get into any weird positions, like you do with yoga. 

Mom did this one with felt markers.

Coloring is supposed to slow down your heart rate and respiration and make you feel less stressed.  It loosens muscles and stimulates the brain.  Of course, if you ask me, there's nothing like a nice nap to loosen muscles, and if you dream about chasing squirrels, that is sure to stimulate your brain.  But as usual, nobody asked me.

Mom said she didn't think there were any chihuahuas in her book, so she colored a collie instead.

Here are some other benefits of coloring that people have talked about:  it fulfills a creative urge, it's calming, it lets you think about nothing for a little while, it helps you access parts of your brain that you don't normally use, it's something anybody can do, you're not judged on how you color, and it makes you feel more self-confident and happy.

There are coloring books on almost any subject you can think of.  The ones Mom has are:  Dogs & Cats, Animals, Celtic Designs, Aztec Designs, and Southwest Desert Scenes.  On Amazon, you can get coloring books about Owls, Dogs,Cats, Sea Life, Horses, Elephants, Entangled Dragonflies, Anatomy, Physiology, Mandalas, Tattoos, Star Wars™, and the Supernatural.  Other titles are God Bless America, Cats & Quilts, Grimm Fairy Tales, The Psalms in Color, Art Nouveau Animal Designs, Kaleidoscope Wonders, I Dream of Yarn, Fanciful Fashions, Swear Word Coloring Book: Hilarious Sweary Coloring Book for Fun and Stress Relief, Sit the Fuck Down and Color, and Bullshit: An Adult Coloring Book with 40 Swear Words to Color and Relax.

So anyway, that's what humans are up to these days.  I have to admit that they have a lot of stress to get rid of because of the annoying political campaign that has been going on for months, and which won't be over until November.  Plus bad things are always happening, such as people with guns going into public places and shooting a lot of other people.  If coloring makes a person more relaxed, I guess I shouldn't complain.  Still, it seems like just petting a dog or cat would have the same effect.  Or taking a nice, long nap, like I mentioned before.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


There are lots of fascinating monkeys hanging around out there in the jungles, and I need to get busy writing about more of them during this Year of the Monkey.  Which is why today I am going to tell you about spider monkeys.

These monkeys are New World monkeys, and they live in the tropical forests of Central and South America.  All seven species in the genus are threatened.  The IUCN Red List declares one species to be vulnerable, four species to be endangered, and two species critically endangered.  The black-headed and the brown spider monkeys are in the last category.

Spider monkeys get their common name from their really long arms and their prehensile tails, which can wrap around a branch and support their the entire body weight.  When the monkeys walk, their arms practically drag on the ground. They use their tails for balance, and not their arms.  While in the treetops, the animals are very graceful and nimble.  Their fingers are long and recurved, and their thumbs are quite short.  Their tails serve as a fifth hand as they swing from branch to branch.

Only gibbons are said to be more agile than spider monkeys.  The treetops are where spider monkeys feel at home and spend much of their time.  That's where they forage, and they sleep there at night.  They are highly social animals and generally gather in groups of as many as two or three dozen.  At night, they split up into small sleeping parties of a half dozen or fewer.  Foraging also occurs in smaller groups.

Black Spider Monkeys 
Photographer: Eric Baccega/Getty Images

The monkeys' preferred diet consists of fruits and nuts, but they will also eat leaves, bark, bird eggs, insects, and honey, if their usual fare is not available.  Spider monkeys can be quite noisy.  They communicate with many calls, screeches, barks, screams, whinnies, and other sounds.

Geoffroy's Spider Monkey, Costa Rica 
Photographer:  Arturo de Frias Marques

A troop of monkeys usually spends most of the night sleeping in carefully selected trees.  Groups are thought to be led by an alpha female.  Her job is to plan an efficient feeding route each day.  Most of the foraging is done between dawn and 10:00 a.m.  After that, the adults rest while the young monkeys play.  More feeding may take place from time to time during the day until about 10:00 at night.  Spider monkeys do not spend much time grooming, possibly because their short thumbs make the activity difficult.

These monkeys are among the largest of those in the New World, with the biggest males weighing 24 pounds. This means that they yield enough meat to make it worthwhile for indigenous people to hunt them.  Because of their size, spider monkeys need a habitat consisting of large tracts of moist, evergreen forest and undisturbed primary rainforest.  Sadly, much of this type of habitat is being lost to logging and farming.

Captive White-Bellied Spider Monkey

Female spider monkeys only give birth to a single baby every two to five years.  For the first ten weeks after birth, the baby is totally dependent on its mother.  After that, it begins to explore on its own and play with other young monkeys.  Mothers continue to care for their offspring for the first year of their lives and often move about with the babies clinging to their backs.

Red-faced spider monkey

Young monkeys are very cute, of course, and you may be thinking that it would be nice to have one as a pet.  But if you think this, you are WRONG!  First of all, spider monkeys can never be potty-trained.  The baby ones will wear diapers, but older monkeys will just rip their diapers off.  So you will need to keep your monkey in an enclosure where you can clean up after it.

Geoffroy's Spider Monkey, Belize Zoo   Photographer Michael Schamis

Besides which, it's a long-term commitment to have a pet monkey because their can live 30 years or so.  They require social interaction and attention, plus you have to spend a lot of money on feeding and taking care of them.  In some places, it is illegal to have a wild animal as a pet.  And that's what monkeys are.  They are wild animals who should have the best place possible to live.  If they can't be in the rainforest, they at least deserve to live in a zoo or wildlife reserve.

So don't go out and buy yourself a monkey.  It's bad for the monkey, and it's bad for you, too.  That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it!