Just out of reach….


Paging Dr. Cliff

DrCliffLast week we wrote about Migaloo, a Australian canine archaeologist  She was taught to sniff out ancient bones so that paleontologists can better understand the peopling of Australia. Today we learn of a dog that was enlisted in the fight against infectious disease.

Meet Cliff, a two year old Beagle from the Netherlands. Dutch doctors recruited him in the fight against Clostridium difficile.

That bacteria is routinely referred to as “C. diff” and it is a scourge of hospitals world wide. The bacteria forms heat-resistant spores that are insusceptible to alcohol based hand cleansers and routine cleaning. In the US alone, 14,000 people die each year from exposure to C. diff. Thousands more suffer from its symptoms.

Paging Dr. Cliff.

Doctors spent several months training Cliff to lie down or sit whenever he smelled C. diff. The results were pretty astounding. In a controlled experiment Dr. Cliff was taken on ten trips through a hospital where he was exposed to patients who carried the infection and patients that did not. Cliff’s handlers were not told who was infected. The canine investigator was able to identify the presence of C. diff 83% of the time.

The results were published in the British Journal of Medicine.

Indiana Fido

migalooIt’s well known that dogs are man’s best friend. Homo sapiens and Canis lupus have lived together for at least 15,000 years. During that time, dogs have contributed to the well-being of the family. They’ve guarded our homes, herded our livestock, helped our disabled and policed our streets.

Dogs are great contributors because they possess extraordinary sensory perception. They see better than us, hear better than us and smell better than us. Maybe some of us need deodorant?

Due of their excellent sense of smell, dogs make great detection animals. They been used to ferret out illegal drugs, explosives, criminals and honey bees. Biologists have been using them as conservation dogs to sniff out different species, invasive plants and even whale poop. Now from Australia we learn that a dog handler has trained the world’s first canine archaeologist.

Gary Jackson of Multinational K9 has trained a black lab named Migaloo to hunt for human bones that are centuries old. Like most dogs, Migaloo loves to play ball. Jackson used this in her training. After he acquainted her the smell of ancient bones, he taught her that she can only have her ball if she targets the odor. Migaloo became an obsessive archaeologist.

Now, I just have to bounce the ball a few times and say: “D’ya want this? Find.” She’ll go out and start sniffing like a hyperactive kid, and before long she lets me know: “I’ve got something!”

This may actually be a major breakthrough. The process of discovering ancient remains has always been expensive and time consuming. Now all you need is a well-trained dog and a tennis ball.

[National Geographic]

Die Meistersinger of New Guineau

photograph by Tom Hewitt

The New Guineau Singing Dog is named for its unique vocalization. It has a distinct and melodious howl which starts shrill and rises to very high frequencies. Like most canine, it is a social animal. Packs of singers used to roam high altitudes in Papau New Guineau and fill its valleys with song.

Time has not been kind to the singer, an animal closely related to the Australian dingo. Its numbers have been in decline since William MacGregor introduced the species to Westerners in the 19th Century.  The last verified sighting occurred in the 1970s. Since then, a singer was photographed in the wild in 1989 but it was impossible to verify it as pure or hybrid. Currently the only known singers exist in captivity.

Because singers are almost unheard of in the wild, it came as quite a surprise when Tom Hewitt snapped a picture of  one on a hike in the mountains. Hewitt is a tour guide for Adventure Alternative Borneo. He led a group that was surprised to find a tawny, thick coated dog watching them from a hillside.

“We watched it for around 15 minutes as it continued to watch us. It seemed as curious as we were, but not particularly scared or nervous,”  Hewitt wrote on his blog. “What stood out was how healthy it looked upon closer examination with binoculars.”

[Scientific American | National Geographic | Wikipedia]

Dog Blogs

mosesWe’re huge fans of dog blogs, and one of our favorites is the Life of Moses. Owner Faisal Sethi’s blog is all about the adventures of his bull terrier, Moses, complete with Instagram photos. Numbered entries impart some piece of zen-like wisdom like, “#725: When someone arrives at your door, greet them with the same enthusiasm you display when your luggage finally arrives on baggage carousel number two.” Sethi is clearly inspired by his dog, and he even released a book based on the blog. It is available on Amazon as a digital download.


The Life of Moses: A Canine Manifesto or You Can Learn from Dogs (Kindle Edition)


Money Saving Tips for 2012, Part 3

Cole Haan Flats
Who needs a pair of turquoise lizard print Cole Haan flats? I do! Buy what you love, and you’ll never waste money on a purchase you regret.

Buy Only What You Love
Everyone has had the experience of buying a pair of pants or shoes or maybe a sweater, taking it home, and never wearing it. If it is a desirable brand, you may be able to sell it on eBay, but unless you bought it at a deep discount, you’re not recouping your investment. Here is an easy solution: Buy only what you love. If you don’t want to take it home and wear it immediately, leave it in the store. The same goes for household items. If it doesn’t strike you as something you love immediately, don’t buy. Don’t overthink your purchases by saying that you “need” another pair of black pants or a plain white shirt. If you don’t love those pants and want to put them on immediately, leave them in the store for someone else to love. Author Cynthia Heimel once advised that when shopping, “the garment in question should jump off the hanger, throw its arms around your neck and shout ‘I’m for you.’ ”

Use the Library and Buy Used
My Amazon wish list is just a click away on my iPhone, and I primarily use it to remember what I need at the library. It’s free, people! FREE! Before you make your next book purchase, check the library web site. Bookmark it on your phone’s browser for easy access when you’re tempted to buy. I now only buy what I can’t borrow, and when I buy, I hit one of Lancaster’s great used book stores like Winding Way or Dog Star. Both stores have eclectic collections that change constantly. Can’t find it there? Check eBay, Amazon Marketplace, or Alibris for a used copy.

Track Your Spending
Even I don’t adhere to this entirely, but I have tracked all my spending on clothing and accessories for the past two years. I track what it is, where I buy it, how much it costs, and whether I’ve purchased it used. At the end of the year, I compare the tally to my after-tax income. Seeing what you actually spend and where is eye opening. Let’s just say I’m a great customer at Building Character. Don’t think you need to purchase Excel to track your spending. Google Docs work perfectly, and access to their spreadsheet is FREE!

Winding Way Books
106 West Chestnut Street, Lancaster, PA

Dog Star Books
529 West Chestnut Street, Lancaster, PA

Lancaster Public Library
125 North Duke Street  Lancaster, PA 17602
(717) 394-2651 Search the catalog

Save Up to 80% Off on New Releases, Bestsellers, Fiction Books, & More!

Money Saving Tips for 2012, Part 2

Vintage Sweater
Vintage cashmere sweater purchased at Cheap Frills for $22.50. You can find unique items for rock bottom prices at used and vintage stores.

Buy Vintage
Clothing is, by and large, a terrible investment. If you spend a lot on clothing, good luck ever trying to sell it. This is especially true if you make most of your purchases at lower end stores. Consignment stores and eBayers aren’t looking for your Target sweaters–even if you never took the tags off them. Learn from your past mistakes and buy used and vintage. In addition to eBay, there are several great used and vintage stores in Lancaster. Check out the links below. You can buy someone’s Benetton overcoat for $30, and trust me, they’ve barely worn it.

Buy Good Shoes
I learned this the hard way. Cheap shoes are, well….cheap. Inexpensive shoes, which are made from cheap materials, are a poor investment. In the long run, you’ll spend more on five pairs from Payless than you will on one investment pair from Cole Haan. The pair you spend some money on will be noticeably more comfortable and last longer. Another plus–good shoes can be repaired allowing you to extend the life of your investment. I have a pair of Birkenstock Arizona sandals from 1992 that have been repaired twice. They’ve also been chewed by my now deceased bulldog, so they’re extra special. Look online for good buys on quality brands like Kenneth Cole New York (stay away from the Reaction line, which is cheap), Cynthia Vincent, and Cole Haan. You can also find these brands gently used on eBay and occasionally at vintage stores.

Vintage Coach Soho Bag
A vintage black Coach Soho bag purchased at a vintage store in Boise, Idaho for just $40. It’s my favorite bag.

Buy Quality Handbags
Closely related to my mantra on shoes, good quality handbags are an investment piece. A good handbag will last you forever. In addition to the ones I own, I now have several Coach bags I “inherited” from my Grandmother, who was an early convert to the brand. If you’re buying a good handbag, do it at a reputable store or department store. Use caution when buying a designer bag on eBay. If you don’t know the brand, you may be burnt with a fake. Check out the seller’s ratings and look for clues in the listing to ensure you’re getting the real deal. Vintage stores can be great places to find great leather bags with lots of life left in them. Invest in good leather cleaner and lotion to protect your purchase, and stay away from designer bags with fabric or canvas accents. The fabric is virtually impossible to clean.

Lancaster’s Best Used and Vintage:
Style Girl, Style Guy, and Cheap Frills are located at Building Character

Barely Used Boutique
350 West Main Street  Mt Joy, PA

More of my favorites:
Find, Portland, Maine

Great site for shoes:
Shoe Metro

Shoe Repair
Joe’s Shoe Service
1386 Columbia Avenue, Lancaster, PA

Have a money saving tip? Leave it in the comments!

Money Saving Tips for 2012, Part 1

Block of cheese
A block of cheese will yield more product for less, so grate your own.

Grate your own damn cheese
Still buying grated cheese in bags? Don’t. Those bags don’t contain that much product. Buy the block of cheese, and you’ll get more and have more of a selection of styles to choose from. Personally, I like tasty cheese like extra sharp cheddar. Try finding the extra sharp in a bag. You can, but it’s usually crowded out by the regular cheddar and something called taco mix. Whatever.

Buy good kitchen equipment
Cooking at home will save you money, and it will be measurably more fun if you have a nice set of knifes, a good quality skillet, and several sets of measuring spoons. The knives are going to cost you some money, but once you have them, you’ll wonder how you ever did without. I recommend Henckels. Solid craftsmanship. Made in Germany. Be prepared to drop $100 on that 8″ chef knife. It’s worth every penny. You can find nice measuring spoons and some nice cookware at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. Make several trips and look around. You’ll find a gem. Oh, and buy yourself a good cheese grater or zester. It will make grating your own cheese that much easier.

1268 Lititz Pike  Lancaster, PA

TJ Maxx
832 Plaza Boulevard  Lancaster, PA

Have a money saving tip? Leave it in the comments!

Humane League Special Pets Promotion

Dutch, a special needs dog available at the Lancaster Humane League
Dutch, a special needs dog available at the Lancaster Humane League

The Humane League of Lancaster is running a holiday promotion showcasing their special needs pets. In reading through the descriptions, these little guys may require a little extra patience, some medication, or a quiet home in order to thrive. There are several cats and one dog named Dutch, who is pictured here. Dutch, like a few of the cats available, was injured by a car. If you have a special home, check them out here:

Beautiful photography by Melody Pet Photography



Earnest Dog Portraits

Dog portraits
Photo by Mark Peckmezian

At Where’s Pom, we’re huge fans of dog portraits, and we love the work of Mark Peckmezian.

Mark explained his work in dogs to, “In retrospect I see my motivation more clearly,” he continues. “I took these photos simply out of joy of photography — they’re not about dogs, really, they’re about aesthetic concepts, and I take them the way a painter might do sketches or doodles. I also see them as a reaction to art school: I had just graduated last spring and was sick to my stomach with all the vacuous talk and misguided ideology of art school. I think I was so drawn to the dog photos because they were so earnest, from the heart, not complicated with pretty words, just straight, unselfconscious expression — what attracted me to art in the first place.”

Mark is generous enough to share his unexpected portraits on his flickr page. Need something to smile about today, head over and check it out. While there are no bulldog photos, we think you’ll find something that will make you laugh in his quirky portfolio. We did.

Sources: [Flavorwire | Flickr]