Tag: Pets

Well, Here Is Some Bullsh%$ That Is Falling by the Wayside

I get that transporting pets via aircraft is expensive, and can be risky, but the epidemic of people using the “Emotional Support Animal” con in response is selfish and potentially dangerous. (As someone who drove from Texas to Maryland with cats in a big cage in the back of a minivan, I feel your pain)

Thankfully, due to some rulings by the DoT, it’s looking like the bullsh%$ is ending

It’s clear that there are SOME people who are effected by this who are being honest, and they have my condolences to, but the assholes spoiled it for you:

Alaska Airlines is the first U.S. carrier to ban emotional support animals on its flights following a Department of Transportation ruling that airlines will only be required to transport service dogs.

Beginning Jan. 11, the airline will allow only service dogs that are “specially trained” and will refuse transport to emotional support animals.

The DOT rule change came early this month following the agency’s decision to revise its Air Carrier Access legislation because passengers have for years been requesting airlines accept their “service” pigs, rabbits and peacocks. Until now, the department had not defined what constituted a service animal, and all emotional support animals were federally required to be permitted on planes.

By way of context, there were something like ¾ million passengers who brought animals onto airliners using the “Emotional Support Animal” excuse in 2017.

By way of context, there are only about ½ million service dogs in the US, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that well over 90% of those flyers in 2017 were lying through their teeth.

Now, it’s only dogs, and they have to be specifically trained as a helper animal.

Busy Night.

A protrait of the cat as a young kitty

Destructo, our 7 year old long hair cat shut down yesterday.

He was just lying around.

He did not nip at us when he rubbed his stomach.

He did not react at all to catnip, when normally he’s a drug fiend.

Finally, in the evening, we took him to the veterinarian.

It turns out that he had a urinary tract blockage, not uncommon in male cats of a certain age, he is technically middle-aged now.

His blood work was good, and there is no sign of kidney damage, so it looks like we caught it early.

He has been catheterized.

We are probably going to have to change his diet, something lower in magnesium, I think, but I’m an engineer, not a veterinarian, dammit!*

The prognosis is pretty good.

*I love it when I get to go all Dr. McCoy!

Have You Heard of the Hostile Workplace?

I’m working from home 3 days a week right now, and I have an excessively affectionate workplace.

It’s not Sharon* though, it’s the cats.

Today, I could not go more than 15 minutes before Meatball (the little queen) jumping up on my lap, or Destructo (the BIG Tom) nuzzling my elbow in a quest for affection and attention.

I’m sure that I am not the only one who has experienced this.

It’s surreal.

*Love of my life, light of the  cosmos, she  who must be obeyed, my wife.

Cats are Ingrates

We just did our semi-regular complete cleaning of the cat room, along with are significantly more frequent changing of the cat litter.

Do you know that the cats did as soon as we were finished?

They crapped in it.


*This is sarcasm. The cats crapping in the cat box is actually a GOOD thing.

Great Googly Moogly………

Believe it or not, this is a cat

Happy ending

The Humane Society of Arizona collected a cat from its now dead owner, and its matted fur was so extensive that they were originally unsure what sort of animal it was.

After removing 2 pounds of fur, from what appears to be an 8 pound cat, (25% of its body weight!) we can see that it is a cat.

What’s more, some person or persons could see that this 4 year old queen* was a majestic specimen of the species Felis catus, and adopted her 2 days later.

Her name is “Fluffers.”

H/t Naked Capitalism.

*Queen is a female cat. A male cat is a Tom.

Clever Hans Speaks*

For as long as people have been driving, cops have been imagining reasons to pull them over and coerce them into “voluntary” searches. The Supreme Court’s Rodriguez decision (sort of) put an end to extended stops — the ones that start with a perceived violation that’s dragged out until a drug dog arrives. Unfortunately, that decision only removed part of the equation. The Supreme Court’s Heien decision made it possible for cops to rely entirely on pretext to engage in fishing expeditions by saying cops only had to think they witnessed a traffic violation, rather than actually be accurate about the laws they’re tasked with enforcing.

Cops are still trying to bring drug dogs to routine traffic stops. The Rodriguez decision is generally taken to mean cops just need to be quicker about rustling up a K-9 unit. Cops love drug dogs because they allow cops to perform the warrantless searches they want to perform. The drug dog’s handler can call literally any movement by the dog an “alert,” turning normal dog behavior into “probable cause” for a search. It doesn’t help that the dogs are rewarded for every alert and given no positive reinforcement for failing to find anything interesting.

Courts have historically been willing to cut drug dogs as much slack as they cut their law enforcement officer handlers. Subjective interpretations of anything an animal does to please its master is considered close enough to Fourth Amendment compliance to justify warrantless searches. Every so often, a court will question the reliability of the dog or the intent of its handler, but those are anomalies.

This case, via FourthAmendment.com, is an amazing anomaly. Not only did the court choose to hear from experts on drug dog training and handling, it actually went so far as to call into question the reliability of every drug dog in the state.


The defense brought in an expert witness, Dr. Mary Cablik, who has two decades of drug dog training experience working with POST units in Nevada and California. Cablik said the absence of “blind” training is a real problem. If the dog is only tested in areas where the handler knows drugs will be found, the dog carries this knowledge on to the real world and will continue to search for nonexistent drugs until it gives its handler what they want: an “alert.”


Utah’s training does not produce reliable drug dogs. Officer Moore’s drug dog is possibly more unreliable than most, but this order makes it clear everyone who’s been subjected to a drug dog sniff should challenge it. The state POST training has produced little more than handy Fourth Amendment circumvention tools for officers to use at will. This court is having none of this and refuses to condone the deployment of dogs that are basically trained to please their handlers, rather than actually detect narcotics.

This is a feature, not a bug.

Dogs, in traffic stops at least, are not intended to detect drugs, they are intended to provide a corrupt pretext for a search.

Dogs are eager to please their handlers, and when the only training that a dog receives, as was the case here, was where the trainer knows what they have to find, it does not train a dog as an impartial detector, it makes the dog into a fraud routine.

This continues, because this is what the police want.

*The Clever Hans Effect, named after a horse that cued into its handler’s subconscious body to create the illusion that it could do complex math.

The $100 Million Dollar Cat is Dead

Tardar Sauce, better known as “Grumpy Cat”, has died of a UTI at age 7.

In cat years, she was in the prime of life.

Here permanently peeved expression was due to feline dwarfism, so it could be argued that we are actually seeing is the world’s most extreme case of “resting bitch face” ever seen on a cat.

Over her short life, this cat may have earned as much as $100,000,000.00.

Capitalism is amazing, huh?

My Life is a Lie

I just read that the death metal band Hatebeak, has released its 4th album in 12 years.

That doesn’t make my life a lie.

Neither does the fact that the lead singer is, “Waldo, a 21-year-old African grey parrot.”

What makes my life a lie is the fact that they are a, “Baltimore-based three-man studio project”, involving drummer Blake Harrison, guitarist Mark Sloan, and the aforementioned Waldo.

I have been living in the greater Baltimore area for 18 years, and I have never heard of Hatebeak.

Seriously, here is a a bit of Baltimore performance art that makes John Waters look like Pat Boone, and I was completely unaware.

What is wrong with me?

I could have had these guys play at Natalie’s or Charlie’s B’nei Mitzvah, if I had only known.

But Cat’s Don’t Give a Sh%$

Researchers have determined that cats actually know their names, but they just don’t care:

More than 3,000 years ago in Egypt, a tabby called Nedjem is thought to have roamed the royal household of Thutmose III. History doesn’t record whether Nedjem — whose name means ‘sweet’ or ‘pleasant’ — learnt to respond when called. But a study published on 4 April in Scientific Reports1 suggests that at least some modern housecats can distinguish their names from similar-sounding words, although they register recognition with the merest twitch of the head or ear.

“Cats are just as good as dogs at learning — they’re just not as keen to show their owners what they’ve learnt,” says John Bradshaw, a biologist at the University of Bristol, UK, who specializes in human–animal interactions.

The study took advantage of a technique known as ‘habituation–dishabituation’, commonly used in animal-behaviour studies. Atsuko Saito, a cognitive biologist at the University of Tokyo, and her colleagues visited 11 households with pet cats (Felis catus) and asked the owner to read a list of four nouns to their pet. These words were of the same length and rhythm as the cat’s name.

Most cats showed subtle signs that they were paying attention at first, by moving their head or ears. But by the fourth word, many had essentially stopped listening and their physical response was less pronounced. When their owners uttered a fifth word — the cat’s name — Saito’s team watched closely to see whether the pet displayed a stronger physical response than it had to the previous word.

The team found that 9 of the 11 cats showed a statistically significant (albeit subtle) heightening of their response when they heard their names. That alone does not prove that the felines recognized their monikers: a cat might have shown a stronger response to its name because that word was more familiar than others used in the test.

I am so not surprised.

Colloquy With a Cat

Me: Move. I need to fold clothes.

Meatball: No. This is my comfy space.

Me: I gotta fold clothes.

Meatball: No. This is my comfy space.

Me: You aren’t even supposed to be in the bedroom.

Meatball: No. This is my comfy space.

Me: OK, stay there. I’ll just go to work.

Meatball: I am going to kill you, and drink your blood from your skull.

Me: Whatever.

An Old Home Remedy that Worked for Me

They are such cute merciless killing machines

With a feral cat in our house, the infamous RP the Cat, our decidedly non-feral cats, Meatball/Mousetrap and Destructo have suffered from fleas.

This has particularly been hard on Destructo, as he is a long hair.

I have tried the normal treatments, Frontline® and Advantage®, but they have been of limited effectiveness, I think that the fleas have developed resistance, and they are rather pricey, and Destructo must have the back of his head shaved (he hates this) for this to work, because otherwise it never makes contact with his skin.

I had heard that brewers yeast ameliorates flea infestations, so twice a week, we take a can of wet cat food, mix in two heaping teaspoons of brewers yeast.

The cats love the wet food, and it works like a dream.

Destructo is now almost completely free of flea sores, and their fur is thicker and more luxurious.

It’s easy, cheap, and it involves no cat induced blood loss.

Kitten Go Bye Bye

We could not keep the little tyke, we have too many cats, and one of them was having a nervous breakdown about the presence of the kitten. (Meatball has abandonment issues)

So after 10 days, the malnourished, feverish, goopy eyed, and dehydrated kitten has finished the drug regime, and it’s going to a friend.

It was just under 1½ pounds when we took it to the vet, and now it might top 2 pounds,

Good journey, fuzzball.


Photo: Natalie J. Saroff

We have a colony of feral cats that hang out behind our house in an wild corner of a neighbor’s yard.

Today, I came home, and a kitten darted out in front of me, and I caught it.

We now have to decide what to do with the cat.

We already have 2½ cats (2 cats plus an adult feral cat that is in the house), so adding a kitten to the mix might not be fair to the existing cats, my family, and the kitten.

Family discussion time.

Still, he is a seriously cute dude.

If anyone reasonably close to Owings Mills, Maryland wants a kitten, Email Me.