Dogs and cats, like humans, are either right or left handed (paw)

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People in parked cars

I’ve never noticed how many people sit in parked cars until I started riding my bike to work and back. A few are on their cell phones, a few of them are smoking. I’ve seen one guy eating a burger. But for the most part, they’re just sitting there. What are they doing?

In some shadier parts of town, I figured maybe they’re waiting for a deal of some sort to go down. I think this, because as I am riding up from behind, they’re watching me from the side mirror. With their sunglasses on. And they quickly lose interest as I pass by. That would explain the afternoon crowd, but what about early in the morning? Why are people sitting in their car at 8:00 in the morning?

None of this, of course, would have been anything to think about except that now, as a bicycle rider, I am constantly on the lookout for people in parked cars. You just never know what they’re going to do next. I’ve had a couple of near-hits of people opening their car doors suddenly because they didn’t bother to look in the side mirrors. The SF Bay Area Bicycling 511 organization (http://bicycling.511.org/) recommends riding about 4-feet out from the parking lane.

This part I didn’t know:  a bicyclist has the same rights to the road as a car. When in doubt, a bicyclist can assume ownership of a lane as long as s/he observes the same traffic rules. Now all we have to do is pass the message along to car drivers…..

I’m a true mutt!

Dear Journal,

Mama M. called me a “true mutt” last night. I liked the word “true”, just not so sure about the “mutt” part. I’d like to think that I came from sort of royal blood lines, with noble and dignified traits carefully chosen by my former human. The possibility that I might have been an “accident” really put me in funk last night. But both Mamas pointed out that most people think of a pedigreed dog as a status symbol for their humans, and that made me feel a lot better. We had a vigorous game of chase-the-squeaky-toy afterwards, and I was grinning from ear to ear like a jackal.

This morning, Mama L. offered to look up the meaning of the word “mutt”, although I still preferred the term “mixed-breed”. Here are a few highlights:

  • Some trainers believe mixed-breeds exhibit higher average intelligence than purebreds (without a doubt in my case!)
  • Studies that have been done in the area of health show that mixed-breeds on average are both healthier and longer-lived than their purebred cousins (and I can outrun ANY dog at the Dog Park!)
  • Studies have shown that cross-bred dogs have a number of desirable reproductive traits (hummm, I guess I’ll never find out for sure now….)
  • Mixed-breed dogs often exhibit unique appearances. People who enjoy mixed-breeds, often value their one-of-a-kind appearance and characteristics (just look at cute I am!)

There’s some sort of discrimination against us mixed-breeds until very recently. Mama L. said it wasn’t until the early 1980s that we were even allowed to compete in dog sports. She quoted an excerpt from her favorite site (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed-breed_dog):

“Mixed-breed dogs can excel at dog sports, such as obedience, dog agility, flyball, and frisbee. Often, highly energetic mixed-breeds are left with shelters or rescue groups, where they are sought by owners with the caring, patience, and drive to train them for dog sports, turning unwanted dogs into healthy, mentally and physically stimulated award winners.

Until the early 1980s, mixed-breed dogs were usually excluded from obedience competitions. However, starting with the American Mixed Breed Obedience Registry (AMBOR) and the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America (MBDCA), which created obedience venues in which mixed-breed dogs could compete, more opportunities have opened up for all dogs in all dog sports. Most dog agility and flyball organizations have always allowed mixed-breed dogs to compete. Today, mixed-breeds have proved their worth in many performance sports.

In conformation shows, where dogs’ conformation to a breed standard is evaluated, mixed-breed dogs normally cannot compete. For purebred dogs, their physical characteristics are judged against a single breed standard. Mixed-breed dogs, however, are difficult to classify except according to height; there is tremendous variation in physical traits such as coat, skeletal structure, gait, ear set, eye shape and color, and so on. When conformation standards are applied to mixed-breed dogs, such as in events run by the MBDCA, the standards are usually general traits of health, soundness, symmetry, and personality. The Kennel Club (UK) operates a show called Scruffts (a name derived from its prestigious Crufts show) open only to mixed-breeds in which dogs are judged on character, health, and temperament. Some kennel clubs, whose purpose is to promote purebred dogs, still exclude mixed-breeds from their performance events. The AKC and the FCI are two such prominent organizations. While the AKC does allow mixed-breed dogs to earn their Canine Good Citizen award, mixed-breed dogs are not permitted to enter AKC “all breed” events.”

Well, all the more reason I’m proud to be a true mutt! At least in my Mamas’ eyes, I’m beautiful.

Everybody Poops!

Dear Diary,

Today, Mama M. dragged me outside along with my big sis Madeleine to “do our business”. It was really early and I was still sleepy. Plus it was raining and my paws got all wet. But still, since I’ve been holding it in all night, I had to go right away! There was no fenced in pen, no white pads to tell me where to mark the spot, so I just peed on the first patch of grass I could find. Then, just a little further down the block, Madeleine did her #2, so I did the same. Well, surprise, surprise, but Mama M. got all excited and told me what a good girl I am! She must have given me a dozen treats and was so proud of me! Then we ran all the way home and Mama M. told Mama L. all about it and she got all excited too!

This whole potty training thing is just too confusing. First they put me in a pen with some white pads in it, and I was supposed to go potty in the pen. When I pottied in the pen, they were happy and told me what a good girl I am. OK, I get it. Potty in the pen.  When I pottied on the pad in the pen, they were happy and told me what a good girl I am.  OK, I get.  Potty on the pad in the pen. Then they moved the pad outside of the pen. So…am I supposed to potty in the pen or on the pad? OK.  So apparently, it’s potty on the pad. But why do they keep moving it around? Am I supposed to just follow that pad everywhere? Or does that mean I can potty anywhere in the house? I guess I needed to do some experimenting. I tried to go potty at a couple of places where I thought they wanted me to try, but they weren’t very happy about that. Not happy at all. Not one bit. I got my butt swiped a couple of times and I got really scared.  Maybe I’ve been a really bad girl and the Mamas were going to get rid of me.  Made me shiver just thinking about it!  And Madeleine has been absolutely no help. She kept telling me to do what she does – but she does her business outside where there is no privacy at all! The whole world can see her! That girl has no shame.

Maybe if Mama M. takes me outside really early in the morning and really late at night, nobody can see me. I might be ok with that. Afterall, it was Mama M. who said that everybody poops!