Monday, August 30, 2010

Bad Animal Award

The perfect followup to National Dog Day: It's time again for the annual Hambone Award for the pet with the most unusual insurance claim for the year.

This year's winner, Ellie the labrador, ate a beehive full of dead bees, after exterminators had sprayed it with pesticide.

The vet told Ellie's panicked owners, Robert and Sandra Coe, that she hadn't been stung, and the pesticide would have no ill effects:
For the next week, the Coes administered over-the-counter antacid tablets and put Ellie on a diet of plain white rice and chicken. “She was eating better than we were,” joked Robert. “She acted just fine that week, really, but every time she went to the bathroom, she pooped bees. Thousands of bees. I don’t know where they all came from – the hive wasn’t that large.”

Ellie beat out a number of worthy candidates including:

-A terrier that bit a chainsaw - while it was in use;

-Another Labrador that ate 23 packages of instant breakfast mix;

-A border collie that ran straight through a glass window to bark at the mailman;

-A car-chasing boxer that actually caught one;

-And a poodle that ate two baby bottles and a dirty diaper, whose owner said:
“We thought we were being careful by putting the bottles underneath a metal cover in the sink and using a separate trash can for the diapers, but we underestimated Roscoe’s determination.”

Read their full stories here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bad Holiday

Today is National Dog Day. Did you ever ask your mom why there is Mother's Day and Father's Day but no Children's Day, and she said "Because EVERY day is Children's Day." And she didn't mean it in an entirely nice way? This is kind of how I feel about National Dog Day.

While I am off slaving over the pugs, you can celebrate the dark side of the ambiguous role that dogs play in our lives by re-reading our earlier posts on the subject here.

Note, no dogs were harmed in the taking of the above photograph; they got plenty of the food they were begging for.

Monday, August 23, 2010

No Comment

Check out the rest of the Telegraph's gallery of animal-related signs here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Non-Vacation Linkorama

The blog is busy working on writing A BOOK (Whoo Hoo!), so for today go check out these stories of bad behavior elsewhere:

Even worse than the antelopes who pretend they see a lion to keep a mate from wandering off: Male water striders summon predators to blackmail females into having sex.

Dormice stand (or maybe lie, cute and sleepy) in the way of progress. (OK, we have a sneaking admiration for this kind of thing, actually. Are we getting soft in our old age?)

On Ugly Overload, I reminisce about an animal with very ugly behavior.

And from The Oatmeal: Five Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I am not alone

There is nothing I could add that would surpass the heading on this story at the Christian Science Monitor:

Monkeys hate flying squirrels, report monkey-annoyance experts

Japanese macaques will completely flip out when presented with flying squirrels, a new study in monkey-antagonism has found. The research could pave the way for advanced methods of enraging monkeys.

Sometimes it's so lonely at this blog. It's good to know that there are both scientists and journalists out there who are on our side when it comes to keeping animals in their place.

Photo of Nutzy, mascot of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, by Flickr user John Murden.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bears going too far

The bear problem continues across the nation. Last week, among other ursine crimes, we saw a black bear in New Hampshire that broke into a house and swiped some fruit, although it had second thoughts about the teddy bear it tried to liberate. But a bear in Montana has taken the problem to a new level. Nearly three weeks of widespread break-ins climaxed in this brazen attack:

Red Lodge resident Marek Rosin said he awoke last Thursday at about 1:30 a.m. when the bear pushed open the door to his back porch and began raiding his chest freezer.

"He was about four feet from me with his head in the freezer munching on a pizza," Rosin said. "It was almost comical if it wouldn’t have been that close."

Rosin scared the bear off before it could do any damage, other than to the one "supreme" pizza.

This has got to be stopped! It's one thing stealing our produce and stuffed toys, but frozen pizza is a different issue entirely.

Shocking photo by Flickr user MNicoleM

Monday, August 9, 2010

Go ahead, climb into the sewer and break my heart

Gentle readers, you no doubt believe that the author of this blog is completely cynical and heartless about our fellow creatures. But despite everything that animals have done to disillusion me, inexplicably there are still certain species that I have foolishly managed to retain a soft spot for.

Take the two-toed sloth. Attentive readers may have noticed that the only major previous appearance of a sloth on this blog involved an adorable baby picture and two forms of the word "cute".

And truly, does it not take a superhuman effort not to coo and giggle at photos such as these?
(Flickr user justonlysteve)

(Flickr user Adam C Smith)

If you can stand it, you can see more photos I've selected here.

Yes, I confess: I have been a collector of baby sloth pictures. What's more I have known some adult sloths personally, and I believed that they were the most mild-mannered and personable of the less-intelligent animals I have met. For example, here's a picture of one not biting me while I feed it a grape:

And here is one just hanging around charmingly posing for a photo:

I have never been anything but personally supportive of sloths: not only have I fed them many grapes and green beans, I even have a book coming out next year with a sloth in the title!

But of course, what a fool I have been. Somehow the sloths knew that it would take a lot to disillusion me, and they have not failed to rise to the challenge. As eloquently summarized by the blog Tetrapod Zoology, a recently published paper reports that some two-toed sloths in Peru

have developed the delightful habit of climbing into an outdoor latrine building, seeking out the latrine contents AND EATING THEM.

The post goes on to quote the article directly, giving this detailed description of one sloth's behavior:

It was scooping with one hand from the semi-liquid manure composed of faeces, urine and toilet paper and then eating from the hand.

Pictures are also provided, the less disgusting of the two being this one:

Note, particularly, the enthusiastic expression on that normally expressionless face.

It is true. For all these hundreds of posts where I have been berating those who don't get it about animal badness, I have been throwing stones from a glass house. Let us hope that I have finally learned my lesson.

Friends, we are all in this together. Be strong, and read the rest of Tetrapod Zoology's report here.

And if anyone wants to pay $37.95 for a copy of the full article and send it to me, just to well and truly rub my face in my foolishness, click here.

UPDATE: A friend of the blog has generously provided this article. The original photos are huge and unmistakably clearly show the sloth actually carrying a BABY into the latrine.

I am considering printing and framing them so I do not forget.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bad Dog Briefs - from routine to revolutionary

On the one hand, dogs will be dogs - biting, shooting and interfering with traffic:

-Another owner shot by his dog. So common it would hardly be worth mentioning, except for the nice touch that he was shot in the butt.

-An Australian Granny says it's the dog's fault that she was speeding at 164 km/hr (that's around 100 mph for us Americans).

- A police dog in Idaho has been returned to duty after an apparently unprovoked attack on a Schnauzer, despite it being his second offense.

On the other hand, some dogs have been more creative in their bad behavior lately. I was almost ready to give a prize for most original thinking to the dog who was caught having sex with a man in a dress on the grounds of a historic site in Britain.

But because it has more profound implications, I think this story beats that one: a dog caused a kerfuffle by receiving communion at a church in Toronto. One parishioner was so shocked that he filed a complaint and left the church. But, ominously, others didn't see this as a possible first step on a slippery slope, such as this church official:
"I think it was this natural reaction: here’s this dog, and he’s just looking up, and she’s giving the wafers to people and she just gave one to him,” said Needham. “Anybody might have done that. It’s not like she’s trying to create a revolution.”

Sign from a church with a very different attitude by Flickr user Brother Magneto.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bad Bear Roundup

A grizzly that killed a camper near Yellowstone National Park this past week, convicted on the basis of DNA evidence, got the death penalty. The bear's cubs received a much lesser sentence of life in a zoo without parole.

However, this triumph of justice shouldn't distract us from the rash of lesser crimes committed by bears who have gone unpunished.

In Colorado
, police received a call in the middle of the night about a car making a commotion, with the horn honking and something going on inside.

When the car's owners were awaked, they were surprised to find the vehicle missing from their driveway. They were even more surprised when they found that the thief was not human:
Somehow, the bear had either opened the unlocked back door or pushed a window down to get inside. Understandably agitated, it bumped into the horn repeatedly and eventually knocked the car's gear into neutral. The Toyota rolled down the hill. The door added to the bear's indignity by closing at some point during the ordeal.

Amazingly, three police authorities decided that the best thing to do was help the culprit escape. Being careful to take photos first, they tied a rope to the door and opened it from a safe distance. The bear thanked them in ways that will not surprise readers of this blog:
It left a foul-smelling "present" on the front seat.

The Toyota was trashed, with its air bags, seats and stereo torn to shreds. It's a total loss.

Don't be too quick to assume from those two stories that at least you're safe from bears inside your house. One family was fortunate to learn this lesson the easy way when a bear invaded their home for a meal and had second thoughts about abducting what he may have believed was a relative:

A New Hampshire mother said her two young sons learned an important lesson about leaving the outside door open after a black bear walked into their kitchen and ate two pears and a bunch of grapes and took a drink from the family fishbowl.

On its way out of the Laconia house, the real bear grabbed a stuffed bear, said resident Mary Beth Parkinson. The stuffed animal was found in the family's back yard, next to a box of Goldfish crackers.

Other animals were also fortunate not to suffer too badly from the family's lax security:

She said she arrived in time to save the fish.
"There was one fish left in here (and) one flipping on the counter," Parkinson said.

Photo of the only kind of bears that belong in a car by Flickr user Caro's Lines; cartoon via Houston Chronicle.