Remembering the ubiquitous stray dog when Aaron and I visited Moscow, I decided to see what I could find online about the собаках. Evidently, there are around thirty-five thousand stray dogs in the Russian capital, which beggars exploit, soldiers feed, and urban naturalists study. One such scientist is biologist Andrei Poyarkov, who describes the dogs’ feralization in the Financial Times, “Moscow’s stray dogs.” Canine society fascinates me, and the Moscows dogs show how these animals that have been domesticated for so long can occupy a middle ground between human civilization and the wild, moving between two worlds as necessary for survival. The smartest of the dogs have learnt to use the extensive subway system to travel around the city; read “In Moscow’s Metro, a Stray Dog’s Life Is Pretty Cushy, and Zoologists Notice” in the Wall Street Journal. There is even a website where commuters may share their photographs of the Metro mutts.
The Financial Times article mentions that a disturbed fashion model killed one of the beloved “guards” at Mendeleevskaya station, which caused quite a bit of outrage. The station’s workers and commuters had named the dog Malchik, who had been staying at the station for three years. In response, Malchik’s bipedal admirers donated money to erect a statue of the dog in the station, about which you may read on the Moscow Metro’s site: “The unveiling of «Compassion» monument to stray pets.” The episode calls Balto to mind. Yes—Russkies and Americans are quite similar in many interesting ways.
I wrote this entry last week while deferring my response to Kristor. Then, on Monday of this week, I noticed a story on the Drudge Report: “Activists fight plan to deport Moscow’s stray dogs” Perhaps, Auster is right when he theorizes about mental connections. Sometimes, large numbers of people oddly end up on the same thought plane at the same time.
Impressive little beast, no? It made me think of “God Loves a Terrier.” Plus, Jacks are so energetic. I did cringe every time that he picked up a bulb, though.
Christ is born!
For everyone who follows the old calendar, I wish you a blessed Christmas Eve. For the new calendarists, have a joyous Theophany / Epiphany. If anyone who reads this lives near Tampa, you should visit the Greeks in Tarpon Springs for their celebration of the feast. They go all out.
Anyway, to celebrate the eve of the Nativity, here is a charming video of a dedicated Jack Russell.
The treats are carob chip cookies, of course!
My father sent me this video about dolphins’ entertaining themselves by blowing bubbles:
I love dolphins. They are just so beautiful and amazing, and I marvel at the human animal connection demonstrated at the shows.
While I was touring Yooperland with my family, the iconic Jack Horkheimer—the Star Hustler—died at the young age of seventy-two last Friday. I grew up watching Horkheimer on P.B.S., and I am saddened to see him go. He was a unique character, and he provided a fine service. I just learnt that the Star Hustler became the Star Gazer in the internet age in order to avoid confusingly awkward searches. I wonder if Horkheimer got a kick out of that. Memory eternal!
Here is the Star Hustler from A.D. 1985:
Keep looking up!
I wonder if one has to have had experience with pets to appreciate pet videos. I think that videos that feature amusing animal behaviors and reactions are quite entertaining, but I wonder how universal such appreciation is. Maybe some background is required. I am not sure. Well, for those with ears to hear and eyes to see, enjoy this lovely pet video:
Wait for 2:13. Cats . . .
If you like cats and if you do not hate engineers and their manifold geeky ways, you may like “An Engineer’s Guide to Cat Yodeling.” It is dorky, but it has some funny moments—and the cats are cute.
The internet is an interesting beast.
The Nature Conservancy sponsored a nature photography contest last year, and the winners, finalists, and honorable mentions are lovely. Spend some time marvelling at these snapshots of God’s work.
My favorite picture was the contest’s first runner up—Patrick Smith’s shot of Mirror Lake in Yosemite. It is stunning.
One of Ohio’s great places made it on the list, too, with Valerie Crist’s photograph of Old Man’s Cave in the Hocking Hills.
Let us consider Ben Johnson’s congratulatory words to Robert Wroth on the benefits of living in the countryside (from “The Forest”).
But canst at home, in thy securer rest,
Live, with unbought provision blest ;
Free from proud porches, or their gilded roofs,
‘Mongst lowing herds, and solid hoofs :
Along the curled woods, and painted meads,
Through which a serpent river leads
To some cool courteous shade, which he calls his,
And makes sleep softer than it is.
Or if thou list the night in watch to break,
A-bed canst hear the loud stag speak,
In spring, oft roused for thy master’s sport,
Who for it makes thy house his court ;
Or with thy friends, the heart of all the year
Divid’st, upon the lesser deer :
In Autumn, at the partridge mak’st a flight,
And giv’st thy gladder guests the sight ;
And in the winter, hunt’st the flying hare,
More for thy exercise, than fare ;
While all that follow, their glad ears apply
To the full greatness of the cry :
Or hawking at the river, or the bush,
Or shooting at the greedy thrush,
Thou dost with some delight the day out-wear,
Although the coldest of the year !
The whilst the several seasons thou hast seen
Of flowery fields, of cop’ces green,
The mowed meadows, with the fleeced sheep,
And feasts, that either shearers keep ;
The ripened ears, yet humble in their height,
And furrows laden with their weight ;
The apple-harvest, that doth longer last ;
The hogs return’d home fat from mast ;
The trees cut out in log, and those boughs made
A fire now, that lent a shade !
Thus Pan and Sylvan having had their rites,
Comus puts in for new delights ;
And fills thy open hall with mirth and cheer,
As if in Saturn’s reign it were ;
Apollo’s harp, and Hermes’ lyre resound,
Nor are the Muses strangers found.
We celebrate poets because they give voice to the words that our souls wish to express when we encounter our beautiful world.
The Daily Telegraph had a story last month about a cat who uncannily predicts the death of residents in a nursing home: “Cat predicts 50 deaths in RI nursing home.” You may read about Oscar, which further shows just how fascinating the critters around us really are.
Furthermore, the story reinforces my view that while dogs bring joy, friendship, and unending loyalty to man, cats simply bring the grim reaper! It is for this reason that we label a dog Canis familiaris—the family dog, while a cat is merely Felis domestica—only a house cat. It lives in the house, but it is not part of the household.
(Yeah, yeah, Linnaeus gives Felis catus, but that is an inconvenient fact to my point! Felis domestica is widely used, too.)
Seriously, I admire both dogs and cats, though my heart is more oriented toward dogs. They are social like us. They are concerned with the common good of the pack, the practical result of which is that they defer to the established order of the pack, and, unlike cats, they quickly acknowledge their betters. Still, retractable claws, amazing eyes, and the ability to discern impending doom are rather remarkable traits.
I found this video earlier in the year and I knew that I would post it today. YouTube user “chibudgielvr,” a.k.a. Maggie, made a cute home movie with her critters at Christmas. Enjoy the real life “Tom and Jerry” fun.
Look over her other videos. She has many animals in her life. I hope that they’re enjoying the festive season this year.