Category Archives: Animals

My dog Scruffy

Scruffy is my terrier-mix dog who emigrated from Ireland to Australia with me in December 2010. He was abandoned at a horse fair in Drumshanbo in 2008. I brought him home, and he’s been my constant companion since.

In October 2012, when we first got our pit bull puppy, Shelagh, Scruffy was her nursemaid. He may not be the sharpest tool in the box (the only trick he knows is “Sit”), but his heart is in the right place. He’s best friends with Shelagh now (he used to try to hump her every opportunity he got, until we had her fixed), and they’re inseparable.

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I don’t rightly know what breed Scruffy is, I think there’s perhaps some Border Collie (the white and black colouring) West Highland Terrier (the tufty ears and bearded muzzle), and possibly some Setter (small spots of black underneath the white). I love his unusual colouring. Even the main black patch on his body consists of a mixture of grey, black and white. Behind his ears he has little areas of brown. Scruffy has the most beautiful eyelashes!

If anyone can shed light on what breed Scruffy is, I would be ever so grateful. When anyone asks, I simply say he’s a “Lots-a-bitsa” :-).

Here’s an artistic impression of Scruffy, that I made while playing with the App Arto. I love the “patriotic” colours.
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Pit Bull Art

Photo Artista Oil is an App by Jixipix, available on all platforms (computer, iOS and Android). You don’t have to know how to wield a paintbrush, this App will turn your everyday photos into classical works of art with a few simple pushes of the button.

What I love about Jixipix is how the developers utilise a uniform user interface across most, if not all, of their Apps. If you have already experienced working with one of their Apps, you already know how to use their other Apps.

I woke up one morning and decided on a whim that I’d love to design and wear a t-shirt with my pit bull Shelagh’s photo on it. Perhaps with a funky slogan extolling the virtues of pit bulls. To this end, I’ve been experimenting with Photo Artista Oil. If this works out, I’ll be putting up my designs on my Society 6, Red Bubble and Etsy store pages.

Here are some of the results so far. Enjoy!

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This is the original photo of Shelagh.

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I used Repix to paint out the backgrlund and foreground. I used my favourite brush here – paint drips.

Then, I ran the image through Photo Artista Oil . Here then are several incarnations of Shelagh.

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My Pin-up Poster Girl

I’ve had such a lot of lovely compliments about my pit bull girl, Shelagh, when I pinned photos of her on my Pinterest board. She’s quite the pin-up girl now lol.

So, today I’ll share with you here a few more photos of Shelagh. For those of you who don’t know already, Shelagh’s my 2-year-old pit bull dog, and the sweetest, smartest thing ever. I’m so inspired by her photogenic looks lately that I’m creating some t-shirt designs featuring her. I will share that with you all tomorrow.

But for now, here’s my sweet Shelagh.

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image Shelagh with her best friend, Scruffy

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Idle Hands…

What do Kim Kardashian’s recent nude bottom photos and these obviously Photoshopped mutant animals have in common?

Idle hands and creative minds, that’s what.

Never mind the big hooha over KK’s ample backside, we all know every pic that gets into a glossy mag has been Photoshopped and airbrushed to perfection. Take a look at these imaginary mutant animals, and wonder at the inventiveness of their digital creators. They may not be in the tabloids, but they’re certainly more interesting and newsworthy than recent events. (BTW I didn’t see That photo, just a parody of it using a coffee machine. Disgraceful! I don’t even know who KK is, as I don’t read the tabloids, however it IS very hard to escape these things on Facebook!)

Just goes to show you can’t trust what you see with your own eyes these days. (All photo credits and copyrights belong to their rightful owners, there are too many to cite here. You guys and gals are soooo talented!).

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My Favourite Pit Bull Quotes

Curated from Google Images. Let’s give Pit Bulls the love they deserve! If you’re looking for a dog to adopt, get a Pit Bull, you won’t ever regret it. Cesar Millan has Pit Bulls, and he knows a thing or two about dogs, I reckon!

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Watch this heartwarming video montage of Cesar Millan’s 2 Pit Bulls, Daddy and Junior, created by a fan. I dare you not to cry.

Pit Bulls : Never judge a book by its cover, or a breed by its name

Pit Bulls don’t deserve the bad reputation they have. They are the loveliest, best natured dogs one could hope for in a family. There is a good reason they are nicknamed the “Nanny Dog”, or “Nursemaid Dog” and that’s NOT because someone thought that Pit Bulls deserved some good press for once.  It’s because they truly are wonderful and gentle with children and other animals.

Are Pit Bulls vicious? To answer this question, we simply have to ask ourselves this other question : Are People violent?

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC): “There is no AKC recognized Pit Bull breed. Breeds that are commonly referred to as Pit Bulls include: American Pit Bull terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terriers, American Bulldog, Bull Mastiff, Boxer, Dogo Argentino, and Olde English Bulldogge”. (Source: http://www.austinhumanesociety.org/pitbulliq)

The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, keeps Pit Bulls, and that should be saying something about the breed. Watch this heartwarming video about one photographer’s campaign to make more people aware of the beauty of the breed, and to stop Breed Specific Legislation (BSL):

Anyway, I for one love my Pit Bull, Shelagh. She’s the best dog I’ve ever had, and I’ve had several in the past, but only one Pit Bull. I doubt I’ll ever go for another breed. Today’s post is to celebrate the Pit Bull, so here I’ve curated some of my favourite photos of various Pit Bulls, from Google Images and my Pinterest board. How can you NOT love those faces? Enjoy!

wpid-20141103_093900.jpg                                 (This is my baby, Shelagh. 2 years old, November 2014).

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I ❤ Pit Bulls : Shelagh’s Story

We all know the saying “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Similarly, Pit Bulls aren’t savage, it’s their owners who encourage them to become vicious. We humans have a lot to be ashamed of.

I wasn’t sure about getting a Pit Bull when I was searching for a dog to keep our terrier-cross dog, Scruffy company. And that was because I’d listened to the hype against Pit Bulls. What started out as the search to find a white or white-and-black, mature, un-neutered female dog to physically match Scruffy and possibly get puppies out of, became the search to get a Puppy instead.

The Universe must have had plans for us. We narrowly missed out on a West Highland terrier because we were in the wrong part of the city that day, and the lady letting her go decided she wouldn’t reserve her for us til we got back across the river, and gave her away to someone else. I had had my sights on getting a Westie, and even considered rescuing one, a male, that had been surrendered to our local pound…but that was over the weekend and by the time I rang the pound up on Monday morning, the dog had already been rescued by a member of the West Highland Dog Breeders Society.

I truly believe our Shelagh was meant for us to find her. I found a listing on Gumtree for 6 English Staffy-Mastiff puppies, $100 each, and the owner wasn’t too far away. So we hopped into the car to go see. The puppies were all absolutely adorable and only 6 weeks old. When we saw them, their doggy parents were watching intently from outside the glass sliding doors, neither of them looked like English Staffies. The lady owner said she believed the mother was an English Staffy x Mastiff, and the father was a Pit Bull x Mastiff.

Two of the puppies, a fawn and a brown one, had beautiful bright blue eyes. I couldn’t decide between the two. My son Jack and I were sitting crosslegged on the floor by the puppies. And then the fawn puppy clambered onto Jack’s lap, curled up and went to sleep. Jack looked at me and said “This one, Mummy”.

And that was how we got Shelagh.

Oh, she was a terrible puppy. She chewed her way through our entire dining room furniture set – table and chairs. She tore her doggy bed to shreds. 2 of them. Tug toys lasted 5 minutes with her. We ended up buying replacement furniture with steel legs, to deter her. We called her “Mrs Chew”, and Scruffy “Mr Yap”…on account of her enormous propensity for chewing everything, and his for barking at anything and everything. They were a team right from the beginning, and they are still inseparable.

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I’ve done research online and looked at hundreds of photos of English Staffies, Pit Bulls and Mastiffs. And I’m convinced that Shelagh has no English Staffy in her. And possibly little or no Mastiff either. The breeder may have been trying to downplay the dogs’ Pit Bull heritage, by mentioning the other breeds. But the more I look at Shelagh and observe her mannerisms, the more I believe she is a Pit Bull. She just grew and grew and now she’s twice Scruffy’s size, but she’s always gentle with him when they play.

Shelagh has the sweetest nature, is extremely affectionate, loyal and is super intelligent too. I love her low, booming bark, she’s an excellent watchdog. We have a lot of other animals on our property, and she’s very gentle and respectful with them. She’ll chase any birds that land on our lawn, but she gives our 2 hens a wide berth.

Shelagh’s favourite exercise is swimming in our pool. She has her favourite ball, which is sadly deflated, and she loves to dive into the water to grab it. Sometimes she’ll even fly through the air and catch the ball in mid-air, before splashing into the water. So, we have a dog that not only walks, runs and swims, but that also flies!

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I ❤ ❤❤ my Shelagh! Scruffy ain’t bad either 😄 …but that’s another story.

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I’m seeing Raccoons…

Sometimes, strange things happen that make you sit up and pay attention. Mostly it’s patterns – once I noticed 3 women with casts on their right legs, all in the same town as I was cycling around. Another time there seemed an inordinate number of pregnant ladies around. Then there were the 4 men in the same t-shirt in various different locations. Sometimes it’s numbers – repetitions of 2, or sequences like 7171, or I wake up at 3:33am, 4:44am etc.

Today it was Raccoons.

1. First, a friend on Facebook posted up some photos of her visit to a Birds Of Prey centre in Ireland. One of the photos showed her petting a raccoon. I especially noticed it because raccoons are not native to Ireland, and besides, it was a Birds of Prey centre.

2. Another friend on Facebook posted up a video of a raccoon stealing the cats’ food. http://youtu.be/FTcjzaqL0pE

3. Yet another friend posted this up. “Raccoons are Awesome” http://youtu.be/jlYKZmTvzi0

4. Here’s another raccoon related post I saw just before bedtime last night.

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Too many raccoons to be a coincidence. So I looked up Raccoon in Steven D. Farmer’s “Power Animal Oracle Cards”. I wasn’t familiar with the deck, having only received it 3 days ago. So I wasn’t sure if there would be a Raccoon card in it.

But there was! And it said “You have all the RESOURCES you need”.

I’m taking this as a sign that my Oracle Cards and Lenormand Cards projects, which are running concurrently, are achievable. I’ve done enough research into the logistics and practicalities, and I’ve also created some of the cards already, on my smartphone.

Either that, or Facebook is testing out some new algorhithm on its users, and bombarding images of raccoons here and there, for people to pick up and share.

And now…just to seal the deal, I’m off to watch Resident Evil on DVD, not sure which one from the 4 movies, but I like them all. Oh hey, guess what…it revolves around wait for it…Raccoon City! 😄

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A Sore-y Tail

My Pitbull-Mastiff cross puppy, Shelagh (okay, she’s 2 years old now but still as exuberant as a puppy) is normally a big bundle of energy first thing in the morning. Her tail is the first thing you notice. Slapping you around the legs, that is, as she dances around with her entire body wagging with happiness.

Shelagh was introduced to our swimming pool at a young age, and very quickly learnt to jump in to retrieve her favourite ball. It used to be a soccer ball. After getting the “Shelagh treatment” it is nothing more than a deflated sac with an orange rubber lining that sometimes peeks out of a large hole in its outer skin, rather vulgarly. But despite its imperfections, it is still Shelagh’s favourite pool toy.

After 4 1/2 months of cold weather, we finally declared our swimming pool open again. The water is still quite cold, but once you’ve mustered the courage to jump right in and swim around a bit, it’s just dandy.

After such a long time without being in the pool, I was impressed that Shelagh remembered what swimming was all about. She ran straight to where “Ball” was kept, grabbed it and did her “Victory Lap” around the perimeter of the pool. She jumped in to get “Ball”, and even remembered to let us hold onto her back as she swam. After an hour of vigorous exercise, I towelled her dry and let her run around the garden before letting her back into the house.

That was when I noticed that Shelagh seemed strangely unable to settle down on the chaise, like she usually does. She would turn round and round, flop down for a minute, then she would change her position and whine. She jumped off the chaise, lay down on the rug, jumped up again after a couple of minutes, whined, wandered over to the kitchen where she lay on the wooden floor. A minute after that she came back to the chaise, tried to settle down again, got up again etc.

I noticed her carrying her normally waggy tail low, almost tucked under. I wondered if she’d broken her tail, if she’d thwacked it too enthusiastically against something hard. When I touched her tail where it was drooping, Shelagh yelped in pain. I tried to make her wag her tail like she normally does, but she couldn’t lift it over her back. Oh no!

It was night and the vet was closed for the day. So I hopped on my computer onto Google and the keywords “dog broken tail?”. A few entries down, I came across a site that described exactly Shelagh’s symptoms. There are many terms for this condition – caudal myopathy, sprained tail, limber tail, dead tail, cold water tail.

Cold water tail. I’m almost certain that’s what poor Shelagh has. You could think of it as RSI (repetitive strain injury) of the tail, caused by over-exertion after a prolonged period of inactivity. My poor baby’s tail was inflamed, hence the swelling at the point where the droop began.

Limber tail can occur in any dog with an undocked tail, but certain breeds, especially pointing and retrieving dogs, seem particularly susceptible to it. Among these breeds are Labrador, Golden, and Flat-Coated Retrievers; English Pointers and Setters; Beagles; and Foxhounds. Both sexes and all ages can be affected. Other common names for the condition are “cold tail” (especially among Retrievers, who often exhibit symptoms after swimming in frigid water), “limp tail,” “rudder tail,” “broken tail,” or even “dead tail.”

The exact cause is unknown, but there are a few different factors that seem to be linked to limber tail. Overexertion seems to be a common precursor, especially if an animal is thrown into excessive exercise when he or she is not in good condition.

Limber tail has an acute onset. It is not a condition where the tail gets progressively weaker. Instead, it is an acute inflammation. Typically, the tail is suddenly limp and the dog may seem to have pain near the base of the tail. Over the next three to four days, the dog slowly recovers to the point where by four to seven days he’s usually back to normal.

The condition resolves over the course of a few days or a week and usually leaves no aftereffects.

(Source: http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/8_1/features/15685-1.html)

So no more swimming til you get better, my dearest Shelagh. And even then we will make sure you don’t over exert that beautiful tail of yours. I like it best when it’s carried proudly over your back and wagging with pure joy!

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Rockingham Penguin Island

I’m proud to be able to boast that our little city of Rockingham, Western Australia, is home to a race of adorable tiny little creatures. These are the Little Penguins, so-called for their small stature.

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The Little Penguin, or Fairy Penguin (I love that name!), is the world’s smallest species of penguins. They stand little more than a foot high. End to end, one would fit nicely from the crook of your elbow to your fingertips, that’s how tiny they are. They can be found along the coastlines of southern Australia. In New Zealand they are called Blue Penguins. Rockingham, Western Australia is about the furthest north these little critters go, and we are all the better for that. Penguin Island hosts the largest colony of Little Penguins in Western Australia.

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imageShowing Penguin Island and behind it, Seal Island. The large island with a causeway is Garden Island, Western Australia’s largest Naval base.

Penguin Island is called that because…well, obviously because it’s where the colony of penguins live. But not just penguins call the island home – on Penguin Island itself, and on its neighbouring islands are large colonies of pelicans, seagulls and seals. You can take a tour in a glassbottomed boat further out to sea and see playful dolphins, and even swim with them. On Penguin Island there are several nature walks (watch out for raucous seagulls guarding their nests, eggs and young!), a picnic area (bring your own food and drink), caves you can explore, even the occasional basking sealion on the beach!

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For both the ferry to Penguin Island and dolphin tours around the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park area, Rockingham Wild Encounters is the sole operator.

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There is a tidal bar or sandbar from Rockingham across to Penguin Island, and people were allowed to walk across until recently…the sandbar unfortunately does not go out in a straight line, like a bridge, but curves and zig-zags underwater, and is extremely difficult to see underfoot when the tide is rising or in strong winds. Step off the sandbar and you would plunge into the sea, or worse, be swept by strong currents onto jagged rocks.

I recall reading about an unfortunate family from India who had just had a picnic on Penguin Island on 28th December 2010. They, along with around 10 other tourists, had either missed the ferry or wanted to experience walking on the sandbar. The tide started coming in, so they quickened their pace to get back to the Rockingham shore. Unfortunately, the 2 Indian wives were swept off the sand bar into the sea, and their husbands jumped in to save them. The women and other tourists were subsequently rescued, but the men drowned. These days, there is a huge sign on the beach strongly discouraging anyone from using the sand bar.

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So, please, if you are planning to visit Penguin Island, do it safely. Take the ferry. The cost of it covers you to and from the island, and you can also combine it with the cost of the Penguin Island Discovery Centre Show aka feeding time for the Little Penguins. You can see them up close and learn about their habits, watch them swim, play and eat. They really are the sweetest little things.

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Penguin Island is closed to the public during the penguins’ winter nesting period, from June til mid-September each year. But the wildlife cruises are still operational all year round. During the breeding season, there are up to 1000 pairs of Little Penguins on or around Penguin Island. The penguins that you see on show are either orphaned or rejected and rescued and are now permanent residents of the Centre, or those found injured and nursed back to health.

Where I live, each morning at sunrise, large flocks of wild birds fly over my house: seagulls, pelicans, cockatoos of all colours – white, pink and white, green, black. The cacophony is unbelievable and enough to wake the dead! And the same happens at sunset each day. I absolutely love it.

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(All photos courtesy of Google images).

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