Category Archives: Animals

Furry Friends Daily Five #2

Just like those “Eat 5 Fruit & Veg Daily” healthy eating campaigns, this is my version using animals. Your daily dose of animal cross-species love, if you like. Let’s face it, we all need a bit of love these days.

I like to look at these images and wonder at the stories behind them. Who first had the crazy idea of pairing these animals together, was it an experiment, or did the animals become friends naturally? Why did the lion not eat the lamb? Or the snake the frog? What causes a predatory animal to adopt an orphan prey animal and look after it, instead of tearing it to pieces? I find it rather fascinating.

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Why can’t we humans be more like these animals? Clearly these are examples of how different species can live peacefully side by side. Can we not embrace each other’s differences too, and learn to co-exist harmoniously? Are we less intelligent than these animals?

Furry Friends Daily Five #1

You only have to Google “Animal Friends” to see the plethora of inter-species animal friendships from all around the world. I’m not making this up, neither am I boosting or bolstering the fact that ANIMALS GET ON BETTER WITH EACH OTHER THAN HUMAN BEINGS.

Sure, as a “superior” race, human beings have language and technology and are able to communicate with each other easily. The sad thing is, despite this advantage we have over animals, we’re no good at communicating with our fellow human beings. Terrible, in fact. I guess when we give our Ego free rein, no amount of language or technology will ever bring us Peace.

Animals have no concept of Ego. What you see is what you get. Animals don’t fret about getting to work on time, pleasing the boss, buying stuff, performance reviews, promotions, deadlines, paying the bills, buying more stuff, holidays, exams, celebrations, what to eat tomorrow, buying even more stuff etc etc etc. Animals don’t believe in capitalism, consumerism, communism, terrorism or indeed any “ism” at all. They only have one language, and that is Love.

Animals just exist. And they do that very well indeed, until humans come along and make a royal mess of things, like the cruel bullies we are. The Bible teaches that Man is the guardian over all living creatures, and his job is to look after them and take care of their needs. Well, if that is so, God must be smiting His forehead and rolling His eyes right now, because we sure as hell have screwed up big time!

Take a look at today’s 5 animal friends, (curated from Google Images). And ponder just for a minute, marvel at the miraculousness of these unlikely friendships, wonder at how these animals ever met and fell in love with each other…and ask yourself, WHY CAN’T HUMANS ACCEPT AND LOVE EACH OTHER THE SAME WAY AS ANIMALS. We are, after all, the same species, with common DNA running through our veins. So why are we always at war with each other? Why the violence and hate? Why the killing, raping, pillaging, shooting, blowing up, destroying etc?? Why is the human species so violent?

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National Dog Day

August 26th 2015 is National Dog Day. Invented by Colleen Paige in 2004, it aims to celebrate everything about our faithful canine companions, and to promote adoption of dogs and puppies from shelters rather than buying from backyard breeders or worse, puppy farms.

Here’s the official website for National Dog Day. And here’s the blurb about the significance of the Day, taken from the website:

National Dog Day is celebrated August 26th annually and was founded in 2004 by Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert and Animal Advocate, Colleen Paige (also the founder of National Puppy Day, National Mutt Day and National Cat Day …to name a few).

National Dog Day serves to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year, and acknowledges family dogs and dogs that work selflessly each day to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort. Dogs put their lives on the line every day – for their law enforcement partner, for their blind companion, for a child who is disabled, for our freedom and safety by detecting bombs and drugs and pulling victims of tragedy from wreckage.

National Dog Day is against any kind of “breed ban”. Dogs should not have to lose their lives because of the atrocities they have been forced to endure at the hands of man. And while we feel that Americans have the constitutional right to purchase a pure breed dog, we strongly discourage buying dogs from pet stores supplied by puppy mills, backyard breeders, the internet and newspaper ads. Rather, we encourage those seeking new canine companions, to consider choosing adoption first and if you’d like a pure breed dog, look into a pure breed rescue to see if they might have just the dog you’re looking for.

When considering buying from a breeder, verify that you’re buying from a reputable breeder by checking out their licensing, internet reviews and ask for local references such as a vet. It’s vital to educate yourself about the breed you’re considering parenting.

“Millions of dogs are killed each year because they’re simply unwanted, says Colleen Paige, founder of National Dog Day. They’re unwanted because no one realized how to properly care for the demands of the breed. They’re unwanted because they were bought as a Christmas gift for a child that didn’t keep their promises about caring for the dog…unwanted because they shed too much…unwanted because they bark too much. UNWANTED…simply because someone changed their mind. All a dog wants to do is love and protect you. That’s all. Dogs are amazing, courageous, sensitive and sentient beings that deserve compassion and respect. Please consider bringing what was once considered “unwanted love”, into your heart and home on National Dog Day!”

National Dog Day can be marked as many a dog’s birthday for those rescued on the day and for all of them it will be akin to a “K9- 4th of July!” Even citizens who are not dog owners will be encouraged to donate $5 to their local shelter on National Dog Day.

It may be an American invention, but it’s slowly catching on in countries across the world. In my opinion, EVERY DAY should be a Dog Day, where we acknowledge the place dogs have in our hearts, their contributions to society by way of working tirelessly as police dogs, guard dogs, drug sniffing dogs, companion dogs for the disabled, therapy dogs, or even just as house pets and guardians of the home. They deserve our respect and care, and should not be abused, mistreated or bred for the wrong purposes.

I have the privilege and honour of being a volunteer Canine Carer at a dog shelter in Perth City, Western Australia. My job is to keep the dogs company, maybe teach them a few tricks so their chances of getting adopted improve. But I’ve also found out that I’m a great spokesperson for the dogs when visitors come round. By showing off to visitors what each dog can do, and engaging their attention, I can then sell the dog’s character and attractiveness as a companion animal to the visitor. Interested adopters have to fill out a detailed questionnaire and be interviewed by a trained member of staff, who will try to pair them with the right dog. I feel that sometimes prospective adopters don’t really know what they’re looking for, or might miss seeing a dog because it’s the wrong size, breed or colour, until someone like me brings the dog to their attention. (I like to break the ice by introducing myself from within the dog’s enclosure by cheerily greeting visitors with a “Hello! I’m available for adoption too!” It always throws them when they realise it’s Not the dog speaking.

I’m really loving this job. And I intend to undertake a Certificate IV in Vererinary Nursing (the industry prerequisite for working at a vet practice) in the new year.

Meanwhile, here are photos of a few of my charges at the shelter. Happy National Dog Day!

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Hear/t

I only went for a look
Out of curiosity
And because I love dogs
And wanted to find out
If I could be a volunteer
– not a dog walker
But a dog carer, or dog calmer
– one who gets to sit
With the dogs in the shelter
And keep them company
To help pass the time
In between visits from the public

You were in a secluded part
Of the sanctuary
– an area called “Bricks”
There weren’t many others there
When I saw you first
You were lying on your cushion
And then you saw me
And you leapt onto your feet
And came up to the gate
“Swan”, your card read
“Female Staffy X”
“Date of birth: 26th June 2011”
And below that, on the chart
Under Other Observations:
“Deaf”

You had a Roman nose
And looked more like a Bull Terrier
Than an English Staffordshire
Perhaps that’s part of your mix
A beautiful white coat
With black ticking
On your back and around your ears
Your eyes were strangely dark
With parts missing pigmentation
– perhaps a sign of your disability
You came up to the gate
I felt you needed a hug or two
But I could only pat you
Through the wire

I sat there with you
For over 20 minutes
You, of all the other deserving dogs
Because you loved being patted
And tickled under your chin
And I told you what a good girl
You are, over and over
Even though I knew
That you couldn’t hear me
And when I took my camera out
To take your photo
You got really excited
And did the thing I didn’t think
You’d do – you barked!

You must have thought
We were going for a walk
Or that I had a treat for you
You barked excitedly
And jumped up and down
You wanted to get out of there
And go away with me
I wish I could take you
I wish you were mine
I walked round the corner
So you wouldn’t see me crying
And when I came back
I saw how you “hear” things
You do it by looking at shoes
As people approach

You may be deaf
But you hear with your eyes
And with your heart
And that is the lesson I took away
Today from that dog shelter
I hope, I wish I get to volunteer
So I can spend more time with you
Beautiful Swan

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The Wisdom of Shelagh

10 things my Dog, Shelagh has taught me. Written from her unique, canine perspective.

1. Every time I see You, I get this great big warm, fuzzy feeling inside me. I believe it’s called Love. When You tell me that You Love me, my body goes into a frenzy of ecstatic wags. You call it my “Full Body Wag”. It feels really good, doing this boogie woogie shimmy. I think You Humans have a word for when You do a similar move when dancing. I believe You call it “Twerking”? Only, I think I do it far better than any Human.

2. It’s Always a good time to play “Fetch” or “Tug”. The best time is when You’re watching the television. Let’s face it, it’s kind of hard to watch the screen when my face is right in front of it, beseeching You to throw that ball once again. Pretty Please? We only have to do it another 50 times. Or, until something breaks or falls off a shelf. And then, we can play “Hide From The Vacuum Cleaner”. I am also very adept at playing “Say Sorry” and “Did You Do That?” I have my grovelling honed to a fine art.

3. Food is always a good idea. I love trying out Your human food. Again, if it’s something particularly tasty, or if it smells irresistible, You will find it hard to resist my face right in front of Yours, trying to get between You and Your food. So, give us some already! Otherwise, I will turn on my most soulful look and melt Your heart with my puppy dog eyes, until You relent.

4. You don’t need a dishwasher. I’m your fully automatic Pre-Rinse dishlicker. When there are 2 of us, the older model is invariably less efficient and more likely to leave traces of food stuck to your dishes. The newer model is far more efficient and thorough. If you use us both, you’ll find you will cut right down on the need to scrub, and you will also use less dishwashing liquid. See, I can save you money too!

5. Why do you make me sleep on a teeny tiny couch/rug/cushion, when I could be sleeping on Your nice, big, comfortable bed? Move over! I might snuggle up to You, but more often than not, You might find it far easier to adjust Your body around where I’ve decided to crash out. If You’re very lucky, you can find a spot that’s almost straight in Your bed. If not, I am not to be held responsible for Your lack of judgement. Have you not heard of the saying “Let sleeping dogs lie”?

6. When You go out, I hope You realise that I have no concept of Time, and whether You’re gone 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days, when I see You, it will be the Happiest Time of my life all over again. So, maybe you should go away more frequently, but for less time, so I can get more thrills per day out of our repeated reunions? Wouldn’t that be fun? How about “Peek-a-boo”, every other minute, that’s a good game too.

7. I might not be able to use a watch or a clock, but my internal alarm is highly primed, especially for Swim Time in Summer. I always know when it’s Swim Time, even before You know it Yourself. My constant jumping up on you and whining to go outside and fetch my floating ball, is an indication that, regardless of whether it is 3pm, 4pm or 5pm Human Time, it is Swim Time. Let’s go!

8. Your job is to love me, look after me and feed me. My job is to love you, look after you and bring you delectable offerings in the form of mice I have caught, and other equally delightful tidbits. Please do not disrespect me by ignoring my presents, or worse, chucking them in the bin. Waste not, want not, right? I love it when you decide you’re not that hungry and share my offering with me.

9. I am sorry for tearing up Your lawn and turning Your garden into a sandy beach. That’s what happens from constant racing about catching those stray flying tennis balls that appear every so often from seemingly out of nowhere. It seems that no matter how many I find and return to their source, they always find a way of escaping. A retriever’s job is never done. You did say, however, that You liked living near the beach, didn’t You? Well, then.

10. You won’t have the privilege or honour of being with me all Your Life. You Humans far outlive Your usefulness, I don’t know why. It must be a design flaw. But, luckily, if we were brought together when I was a mere puppy, You will have the honour of loving me all My Life. And in return, I will provide You with endless entertainment, be Your Best Friend, keep you company, defend You with my very own life, listen to everything You tell me, do my very best for You, and Love You unconditionally with all my heart. You couldn’t ask for anything better than that. Except, maybe, a nice juicy bone.

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Artist Inspiration : Riusuke Fukahori and Keng Lye

Those lucky enough to have been in London in the United Kingdom from 1st December 2011 to 11th January 2012 would have had the opportunity to witness the extraordinary exhibition called “Goldfish Salvation“, by the amazing Japanese artist Riusuke Fukahori.

Fukahori painstakingly paints goldfish and Japanese koi, layer by layer, in acrylics and poured resin. He’ll paint some details of the fish, pour a layer of resin over it, wait til it hardens, then paint another layer on top of the resin, pour over another layer of resin, paint, pour resin, and so on. It’s akin to 3D painting. It’s labour-intensive and also requires a good sense of depth perception and the ability to project that out to the viewer.

I saw Fukahori’s work on a friend’s Facebook feed, then did some more research on the artist. This Is Collosal did a nice write-up about Fukahori here.

In 2000, Fukahori, an art graduate, had been suffering from artist block when he started noticing his pet goldfish, which had been neglected for a long time, but which was still surviving. This goldfish gave Fukahori his artistic mojo back. Since then, Fukahori has painted thousands of goldfish and koi.

Here are just a few images of Fukahori’s work, and also a video, sourced from Google and YouTube. The video shows ICN Gallery’s “Goldfish Salvation” exhibition and features Fukahori’s works that were exhibited there.

Link to the video:
https://youtu.be/AVJOQG_bpQM

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Fukahori’s work has inspired other artists to try the same paint/resin/paint technique.

In Singapore, artist Keng Lye produces similar works of art. But Keng Lye deviates from Fukahori in that he repurposes household items as containers for his creations (Fukahori uses wooden and bamboo Japanese food containers), and Keng Lye also paints other aquatic animals – frogs, octopi, prawns, betta fighting fish, terrapins etc. And Keng Lye has gone one step further by making his aquatic creations seemingly rise up out of the water. He does this by cleverly using an eggshell as a terrapin’s shell breaking the surface, or pebbles and stones for a ranchu goldfish and an octopus. This makes his creations even more realistic.

Again, This Is Colossal has a great write-up about Keng Lye.

You can follow Keng Lye on his Facebook page here.

Here is a video showing Keng Lye’s work.

Keng Lye’s series is aptly called “Alive Without Breath”. Here are some images of his work, sourced from Google Images. Keng Lye also has a deviantArt page, where you can see more of his wonderful creations.

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Artist Inspiration : Igor Simanowicz

Most photographers have their niches or chosen subjects. Some specialise in landscapes, or street photography, or flower macros, or water drops, or animals, or architecture, or travel etc. It’s what they have found that they excel in, or that they truly enjoy. More often than not, it’s a calling or vocation, rather than a commercial requirement.

Igor Simanowicz’s specialty is in insects, reptiles and arachnids. Yes, the creepy crawlies. The ones that, if I met them on a sunny day, I’d normally be running from, screaming “Eeeek eeek eeek!” I can’t help it, the only insects I actually like are ants, bees and ladybirds/ladybugs. The only reptiles I like are those safely behind glass. As for arachnids…shudder!! Hey, I’m only human.

Having admitted that I’m not a big fan of insects, Igor Simanowicz’s photographic skills are amazing, in how he manages to seemingly anthropomorphize them or capture his subjects posing and doing creepily human-like things. Things like hugging, or smiling, or posing cheekily with raised arms a la Village People and YMCA!

Igor is a scientist foremost, and photographer second. In the lab where he works, he studies how insects capture their prey. This entails close-ups of parts such as insect jaws. It naturally flows that close-up or macro photography is a useful tool for this purpose.

Igor took up photography around 10 years ago, to keep his mind off the winter blues, and to satisfy his own quirky sense of humour. He uses the same kind of lighting and staging that a fashion photographer would use, only Igor’s “models” are of the winged and scaly kind.

Here are some interesting articles I found on Igor while searching Google:

http://www.hhmi.org/bulletin/spring-2013/beautiful-beasts

http://www.pxleyes.com/blog/2010/10/mindblowing-macro-photography-from-the-micro-cosmos-by-blepharopsis-with-exclusive-interview/

I had a look at other Google Image hits, and it appears Igor Simanowicz has also ventured into Micro photography and photo manipulation. He’s also won several photography awards, most notably the Olympys Bioscapes Comptletition http://www.olympusbioscapes.com/gallery/photographer/igor-siwanowicz

The following images are all curated from Google Images. Enjoy!

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And here’s the man himself.

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A Bird In The Hand…

…and I mean literally. I used to have 2 hens, their names were Alice and Bella, after the Twilight movie series characters. Bella passed away a month ago in March, and as an only hen is a lonely hen, I searched for 2 more suitable companions for Alice my remaining brown hen.

I bought 2 Leghorn pullets, beautiful but flighty white birds. Which I named Alice and Bella. Yes, again. The Kid and I have agreed that from hereon, all our chickens would be called Alice and Bella.

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So now the 2 new girls have settled in. And Alice is still top hen, bossing them around in her funny, cute little way. Leghorns are known for being flighty, and my 2 are no exception. They like nothing better than to fly up onto the roof of their henhouse, and chase the native Australian pigeons that come visiting looking for tidbits.

And I also found out recently that my ladies are not averse to a bit of hunting and cannibalism. I found the 3 of them snacking on the remains of a native pigeon the other day. Presumably one that they’d managed to bring down and kill themselves. Perhaps I was wrong and they’re not Leghorn chickens, but fine young cannibals falcons in training?

This morning, I came across a pigeon that had managed to get itself caught between 2 layers of netting that prevents the hens from flying out of their enclosure. I went to release it, but instead found myself with a bird in the hand.

It seemed unafraid, and did not struggle to escape from my clutches. So I took the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take some photographs of it before releasing it.

Isn’t it just beautiful?

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Artist Inspiration : Karla Mialynne

I can’t draw. Wait! I know someone who can, and amazingly well too. So amazingly good that your jaw will drop when you see her photorealistic/hyperrealistic Art. Don’t believe me? I’ve come late to the party, as usual, but I read on Bored Panda (love that name!) here that because so many people did not believe that Karla actually drew her exquisite artworks, she’s taken to photographing them alongside the actual pencils, pens and markers and paints that were used to create any particular drawing. Which is an excellent idea, as the photos then serve as a visual reference for herself, to remember which colours or type of markmaking tool she used.

Just Google “Karla Mialynne” or simply “Mialynne” and you will find dozens of write-ups about this talented young New York based artist. You can also be one of her over 30000 Instagram followers (@mialynne177). Or follow her blog.

I just want to share with you my favourite Karla Mialynne images, which I found on Google. Enjoy!

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Happy Lunar New Year 2015

You don’t have to be Chinese or even Oriental, to ring in the Year of the Goat 2015, which falls this year on February 19th. Goat, ram, sheep …it doesn’t matter, as the Chinese word “yang” covers all ovine animals. (I’m reminded of that famous scene in the movie “Babe”, where our ubiquitous porcine hero has to recite the Ovine Oath of “Baaaa ram ewe” to a flock of sheep he’s herding at the championship trials).

The UK’s Telegraph has written an interesting segment on various aspects of the Year of the Goat. Read it here.

For those curious about what Chinese Astrology has to say about people born in the year of the Goat, and what this New Year holds for them, here is a very interesting article covering many aspects of it:
http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/goat.asp

Some famous Goat people: Bill Gates, Nicole Kidman, Zhang ZiYi, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Leonard Nimoy, Clint Eastwood, Coco Chanel, Marc Chagall, Camille Saint-Saens, Mark Twain, Franz Liszt, Vangelis.

This festive season also marks the world’s biggest annual mass migration of people, as they head back to their ancestral homes (the homes of their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents) where the Family Reunion Dinner will be held on the first day of the Lunar New Year. That’s when the entire clan will meet and sit down for a sumptuous banquet, gifts of mandarin oranges are exchanged and married people give children red money packets (hong bao).

And then there are the long strands of Chinese firecrackers snap-crackle-and-popping all over the place, creating carpets of scarlet confetti, and lots of fireworks in the sky. Don’t forget the Lion dances, real feats of acrobatics, as shopkeepers dangle heads of lettuce from poles out of 2nd storey windows or balconies, for the Lion to catch in its mouth. There’s a red packet tied to the lettuce, it holds money for the entire troupe. The Lion will then ritually “eat” the lettuce, then throw shreds of it all around.

(Image source: Google)

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It truly is a case of Eat, Drink and Be Merry.

Here is a Chinese Baidu heatmap of the Mass Migration in China during the festive season, where more than 1 billion people will make the journey Home. Imagine the traffic chaos and the crowds on trains.

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Last year was the year of the Horse, and I created a digital Chinese New Year card that I shared online as a Freebie to anyone and everyone.

This time, it’s my Year of the Goat offering. Feel free to copy and share my Goat card (it rather reminds me of a “hong bao” money packet) with your family, friends and social circles.

GONG XI FA CAI!
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