Friday, October 23, 2009

Wonderful Dogs

Dogs in the news. Here are some dogs that are faithful and loyal companions, a credit to their species. This is a "Picture of the Day" from the Christian Science Monitor. Caption: A girl and her dog look out from a vehicle as they wait with her family for security clearance on the outskirts of Bannu, a town on the edge of the Pakistani region of Waziristan, on Thursday [October 22, 2009]. Pakistanis are fleeing a military offensive in South Waziristan against the Taliban. Pakistani troops and the Taliban have claimed early victories in the operation that started on Saturday. Ijaz Muhammad/AP) I don't know what breed (or cross-breed) of dog this might be - a Kangal "shepherd dog" of the mountainous regions of Turkey/Kurdistan, etc., or some variation? It looks massive, and almost bear-like with those dark haired markings around it's snout! Being an owner of many dogs who went there way in due time to the Happy Hunting Grounds, I'm familiar with that thick ruff of hair around the throat/neck area of some breeds/mixed breeds, but I'm not familiar with a dog near the size of this one (judging by the size of it's head it is gigantic, ohmygoddess!) I sure wouldn't want to come up against such a dog, even armed with a gun. And maybe that's the whole point. Notice how alert the dog is, and the pretty little girl snuggled safe behind it. No cataracts evident in the eyes that I can see in the photographs, but I see a hint of grey hair in the ruff and around its snout; so, this is not a young dog, but perhaps 10 years old. Strong, smart from many years experience on the hills against predators including human beings, and yet with clear eyesight although perhaps not as fast as it used to be. This photo makes me very sad. The lovely little girl tucked in amongst her family's possessions, with the dog hitching a ride, as they abandon their home for safer (hopefully safer) ground, as a war grinds on which neither girl nor dog understands or cares about. They are victims, they are not participants. They have no say in the matter. The family can stay and perhaps be killed, or flee and perhaps be killed anyway. I'm surprised the family didn't make this dog run alongside the vehicle. Not out of cruelty, but because shepherding/herding dogs of the mountains are bred for stamina and endurance, and would be expected to do this, the owners wouldn't think twice about it and would not consider it cruel at all. Perhaps there is some special connection between the girl and the dog? Or the dog did something heroic in its past, that now gives it a place of honor amongst the family and its most valuable possessions? Or it is what it appears to be - an aging but still formidable guard dog that will fight to the death to defend the girl it guards. We will never know. Cf. the Kurdish, or depending upon your political bent, the Turkish, Kangal dogs, featured in the October, 2009 Goddesschess Random Round-up - you'll have to work for it -- scroll down to October 13th, and then scroll down more and click on the various links (including a rather dubious video) once you get to the topic of the Kangal dog. There is a photograph of two magnificent dogs and their handlers and some little kids, too. You know what, those dogs don't give a damn what side of what border they were born on. On a lighter note, I found this article uplifting and inspiring. Dogs teaching kids how to read :) Yeah, you read that correctly! LOL! It's a great story: Learning to read? Try talking to a dog updated 10:34 a.m. EDT, Thu October 22, 2009 By Rachel RodriguezCNN (CNN) -- Meet Bailey. She's a registered therapy dog, but you won't find her in hospitals or nursing homes. Instead, Bailey makes weekly visits to libraries and schools. She sits quietly or snuggles up to kids as they read her a book. And no, she's not napping, and the kids don't have treats in their pockets. She's actually helping these children learn to read. Rest of article.

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