Monday, 25 April 2011

Doggone Sick

Vigils are being held across British Columbia, Canada, for the 100 sled dogs that were culled after last year's Winter Olympics by a company called 'Outdoor Adventures Whistler'. The dogs were neither old nor unhealthy. They were executed because they were no longer needed as the number of anticipated tourist bookings had fallen sharply. News reports at the time described it as a massacre with some dogs being shot, others having their throat slit and all of them buried in a mass grave without even checking that they were dead. A sickening slaughter.

What if we took that view here? Britain Plc needs to make huge cuts to reduce the deficit. Following the Royal Wedding on Friday, with its massive tourist appeal, we'll probably find interest in the monarchy will decline. So I propose we put to death a Royal and save some money from the Civil List. Will and Katie will no doubt be popping out a few, more popular Royals in the years to come (when we can afford them) so let's euthanize an old one now. Perhaps live on Sky Box Office and selected cinemas across the land. Make the day of execution another Bank Holiday. We could hold street parties. Why not add the selection process to the elections on May 5th. I'm not fussed whether we go with a first past the post system or an order of preference but it would certainly bring out the electorate. It would bring back the Ex-Factor to British politics.

But we won't. There are laws to prevent it happening. Shame (in every sense) that B.C. didn't have laws against such animal cruelty. Maybe they'll get their act together now and pass bill C-229 making animal cruelty an offence under federal law. We canines can only hope.  

Deeanna Harrington describes in greater (and more eloquent) details the facts of this case here : It's shocking but a worthy read.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Pet Tax Plan

I never trust a squirrel but one approached me recently and squeaked me some gossip he'd heard about the secret tax plans of the Coalition. It seems one of David Cameron's advisers has been bouncing ideas around to cut the deficit and the one getting discussed the most is the "Pet Tax" plan.

Every owner of a pet in the UK would have to pay an annual charge for the right to own the pet, payable by the end of each tax year. They would then be issued with a licence. This document would be pet specific and would be required when presenting the animal at a vet, when buying pet food or toys and when stopped by a community warden. A provisional licence could also be purchased for those who intended to purchase a pet but hadn't found the right one yet.

The Tory boffins hope it will cut down on puppy farms and make people think twice before getting a pet. It would also reduce the need for hosepipe bans in the South as less water bowls will need to be filled. But mainly it would bring in wads of cash as the British love their pets.

I told my squirrel acquaintance I thought it was nuts. He replied, "How else do you think I sniffed it out?"

I continued. Homeless people would end up in prison on tax evasion charges simply for begging with an unlicensed dog. Hmmn, not the best example to lead with as I suppose this would get the homeless off the street and allow them to pick up new skills while inside. But that would also result in a lot more animals getting abandoned. And not just dogs. We'd start to see adverts for charities like 'The Goldfish Trust'.

"We never flush a healthy goldfish down the toilet but we need you're money so Goldie can live a life free from the threat of finding himself in the wrong bowl." 

The tax would just encourage people to look outside the legislation for their pet needs. Suddenly Barshaw would be covered in sheep walkers taking Dolly for a graze, all of whom would claim that they were in fact farmers on their way to market. I'd have to get a job to qualify for the working animal exemption clause. And I don't think blogger counts as work.

I hope these plans are simply a smokescreen to hide some other insidious scheme to get cheap oil from unstable Middle East countries.

I'm oblivious to the Silence in the background

I was looking at the Dogs Trust website the other day to see if any of my pals had ended up there when I noticed they wanted you to buy car fridges through them to help a dog. I couldn't think why a car fridge would help a dog: perhaps keep their water cool; allow the transport of cold meat in a warm car to permit a picnic at the sea side. Sounded good. I clicked on the link to investigate and realised it had been a font issue. It didn't say 'car fridge'. It said 'cartridge'. They wanted you to buy printer ink cartridges through them. Boring.

But I still like the idea of a car fridge. Which way is it to the patent office?

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Holiday Tails

I've been away. With the war in Libya escalating, it was decided by my master and mistress to evacuate me to the seaside, in case Gaddafi bombed Paisley. Then they too decamped to Las Vegas, leaving me in the hands of my surrogate grandmother, known informally as Cruella.

I'm not sure how she got this nickname. I just know I shivered whenever she asked herself aloud where her coat was. I know I'm not a Dalmatian but you never know. Maybe brindle's in fashion this summer. She certainly was keen for me to get into shape. A special diet and I've never been on so many long walks and runs. Her own drill sergeant dog was always barking orders at me to run further and faster. I got licked into shape in no time. Winter fat all gone.

I had the run of the house except for one room: the computer room. That had been claimed by Lizzy, Cruella's cat. Not that she ever used the computer. She probably did it out of spite, knowing I was a keen blogger.

Mostly I was on my best behaviour but I did get into trouble once. On the floor beside the fireplace in the living room, where I slept, sat a little wooden Siamese cat ornament. It was made of stick and cat-shaped so I figured it was a dog toy. I woke up early one morning, hungry for breakfast and no one else was stirring, so I had a chew. No one told me it was an antique. Cruella didn't lose her temper. My pleased-with-myself grin must have melted her heart.

My owners loved their Vegas vacation. No big wins or losses or fights. No hitches except getting separated by airline seating check-in. My master described the holiday experience like being on a land cruise: Buffets for breakfast and dinner; trips to Venice and Paris and New York (and lots of other casinos) during the day; and catching spectacular shows, like 'Ka' and 'O' in the evening. They even had a great view from their cabin over the water and free Wi-fi in their room. No mention of missing me, you'll note. I'm not sure if it was hunger pangs or separation anxiety but I really missed them this time. I couldn't stop howling at them when they returned until he pointed out he'd watched all his movies of me on his Ipod while they were away. Which reminds me of a story my master whispered to me. You can keep this a secret can't you?

Upon her return from Vegas, my mistress wanted to buy an Ipod. My master persuaded her to buy the new Ipod Touch instead of the Nano. He warned her though that the Ipod Touch doesn't have a radio. "But we listened to Rock Radio on your Ipod while we were in Vegas. That was the radio." My master paused. Was she serious? A west of Scotland radio station transmitting to Las Vegas, even though it can't be heard in Ardrossan. Did she think his Ipod was magic?  

"That was an internet app. Rock Radio doesn't transmit to America."


I know what you're thinking. What a sad nerd he is for wanting to listen to his local radio station while abroad. He's very much a tourist, not a traveller.

Till next time.