The newest fad in canine fashion -- tattooing your dog. Note that these aren't permanent tattoos. They're airbrushed on using a special pet-friendly dye. Still, it's a great way to make your dog look ridiculous. Link: theweek.com
Photographer Erwan Fichou took a series of photographs of people wearing dog-fur sweaters and coats, made from the fur of their own dogs. One image is below, but check out his site for the full series. (I can't link directly to the series, because he's got his site configured with flash, but click on "Dogwool" once you arrive at his site.)
That staple of the “and finally” news item is under threat in the UK today, after a local council handed down an £80 ($130) fine to the owner of a skateboarding dog.
Jonathan Fell of Brighton, England says that his Lakeland Terrier, called Bodhi, likes nothing more than riding his board round the town’s streets, but in doing so he is violating local by-laws that insist all dogs must be kept on a leash. Previously, the council has threatened Fell with an ASBO (a civil restraining order) for failing to control his pet, now he has 14 days to pay the fine or face a court appearance and a potentially much larger fine (Newslite).
The week saw the publication of the 2010 Eden Wildlife Report, which tracks the numbers of foreign species introduced to the UK over the past century. Compiled by Dr. Toni Bunnell and a team from the University of Hull, the report mentions wallabies thriving in Scotland, scorpions setting up home in Kent and aardvarks that have somehow emigrated from Brazil to Cumbria (Telegraph).
Of course, this won’t be news to one member of Britain’s thriving rod-fishing community, who this week caught a piranha in his local pond (Guardian).
Another place you might not expect to see exotic creatures is on your lunch menu, but that didn’t stop one restaurant owner in Mesa, AZ from putting “lion burgers” on the menu to celebrate soccer’s World Cup. Cameron Selogie of the Il Vinaio makes his “mane course” with genuine lion meat imported from South Africa, earning him the ire of local animal rights groups and several death threats, but not a reprimand from health officials. According to an FDA spokesman serving lion meat is perfectly legal, as long as it’s not roar (Scotsman).
Slightly luckier than the lions, one cat who has fallen on his feet is Oscar, a housecat from the Isle of Jersey in the UK, widely billed as the “bionic cat” after successfully receiving two artificial hind legs to replace the ones he lost in an altercation with a combine harvester (BBC News).
You might think pitting a rodent like mammal against a 12 tonne Triceratops makes for an equally one-sided match up, but evidence emerged recently that our primitive ancestors occasionally feasted upon dinosaurs. Seventy-five million year old “gnaw marks” of a kind characteristic of early mammals, and belonging to a creature not much bigger than a squirrel, have been found on the fossil bones both of Tricerotops and the crocodile-like predator Champsosaurus (LiveScience).
Sadly today the nearest we get to dinosaur flesh is turkey or chicken, but not all birds were prized solely for their meat. The huia bird of New Zealand for example, was once used to make the feathered head-dresses of Maori chiefs, until predation from accidentally introduced species drove it to extinction around 1907. But if the bird has gone its feathers have not, and one recently became the most expensive feather ever when it sold at auction for NZ$8000, i.e. $4000 American (Telegraph).
Some people have a dog, or a cat. Others have more exotic pets. But you don't often come across anyone that keeps chickens (unless they plan to eat the suckers at some point). Lauren Steltzer, of Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, not only keeps chickens as pets, but when two of the chickens went missing recently, she put up posters around the neighborhood and updated her Facebook page. Unfortunately, the police in Lower Merion didn't get the message and when a police officer responded to a call for a chicken at large, he did what anyone else would do when confronted with such a ferocious beast... he got a friend to shoot it (with a bow and arrow!). At least the police department admits that they could have shown better judgement. Read the original article here.
Every so often you come across an article in the news that leaves you shaking your head and wondering what the world is coming to. This is one of those stories. Joan Higgens, aged 66, a pet shop owner in northern England has been fined, given a curfew and electronically tagged, because she sold a goldfish to a fourteen year old. Apparently it is illegal to sell pets to anyone under the age of sixteen, as minors are deemed incapable of taking care of the animals.
A New York jeweller briefly owned the world’s most valuable pet earlier this year when his golden retriever swallowed a $20,000 diamond by mistake. Sollie, the dog, had accompanied his owner George Kaufman to the latter’s jewellery shop where Mr. Kaufman and his partner were intending to inspect some gemstones. Unfortunately a diamond weighing 3 carats fell to the floor where it was immediately snatched up by Sollie and swallowed. After a vet recommended that nature be allowed to take its course, Kaufman spent the next three days carefully collecting and dissecting everything Sollie produced before finally retrieving the gem (Telegraph).
Perhaps he should have contacted Ireland’s first official dog-waste removal company, Mr. Scoopy-Poo. The brainchild of Irish entrepreneur William O’Brian, Mr. Scoopy-Poo (motto, “Business stinks – but it’s picking up!”) will clean up after your dirty dogs into biodegradable bags and hygienically dispose of them, for a price of course. After all, where there’s muck there’s brass, and occasionally diamonds (Irish Examiner).
But O’Brian may be missing a trick here, why dispose of faeces when you could be selling it as the latest must have fashion item? What sounds like insanity may be an idea whose time has come. How else can you explain not one but two manure-based products in the same week?
First up is London based artist and designer INSA, who has produced a pair of 10” stilettos incorporating elephant dung. And this isn’t just dung from any old elephant either, this is dung from the very same elephant family that produced the infamous extra ingredient for a series of paintings made by artist Chris Ofili in the 90s. Yup, in these shoes you are literally standing on celebrity elephant dung (Huffington Post).
And hot on the precipitous heels of INSA is Geneva based watchmaker Yvan Arpa, who has crafted his latest $11,000 wrist-candy from toad skin and dinosaur doo. The watches, to be made and sold by Swiss watchmakers Artya, feature a face cut from a 100 million year-old “coprolite”, or fossil faeces, left behind by an ancient plant-eater in what is now the United States. And the quality American materials don’t just amount to a pretty face as the strap is lovingly crafted from the hide of an American cane toad. The mechanism though is pure Swiss craftsmanship (Star Tribune).
When Heroes actress Hayden Panettiere decided to have the Latin for "live without regrets" tattooed on her back, she was probably not expecting it to be a test of whether she actually would. Unfortunately her tattoo, which reads "vivere senza rimipianti" is misspelled, the correct phrase is "vivere senza rimpianti". Hayden is, to her credit, taking it all in her stride and told a reported from the UK's Daily Mirror "It is misspelled, whatever, vivere senza rimipiantic means live without regret in Italian. I just put my own spin to it." (Digital Spy).
Someone else who's - so far - taking misfortune in their stride are the family from Oldham in the UK who receive upwards of 60 phone calls a day from people hoping to reach the chart-topping rap artist Soulja Boy. This is down to the fact that SB's latest single, "Kiss Me Through The Phone", includes their 12 digit phone number as part of the chorus, causing many fans to try ringing out of curiosity. Given the near ubiquity of tie-in media in modern films and television programs (think of all the websites spun off from "Dr. Who" or "Lost"), this is perhaps understandable, if a little inconvenient for Gerry Matley and partner Catriona Smith. "It's easy to understand that, isn't it? When you look at me, I've got the perfect profile for a rapper," joked Matley, 54 (Guardian).
And surely if a 54 year-old Oldham man can make it as a rapper, a 1 year-old cat can be a political pundit? A woman whose cat had gone missing a few hours earlier was astonished find out that it had made an impromptu appearance on a weekly live UK political debate program. That week "Question Time" was being recorded at a community college in Newquay, close to where owner Jackie Ellery lives. She was wondering where Tango the cat had got to when he walked unnoticed into shot behind the host and his panel of MPs. "My friend phoned me to say, 'Have you seen your cat on the telly?' And there he was," said Ellery (Digital Spy).
Finally, it is with regret that I relay news of the death of the queen of the "pussy joke", Molly Sugden. Her most famous role was in the light-entertainment sitcom "Are You Being Served?" as the pompous, and frequently inept, shop assistant Mrs. Slocombe, who could not make an entrence without commenting on how the weather/busman strike/energy shortages were 'effecting' her pussy (BBC News).
Next month sees the launch of a new airline, which in today's economy is weird enough, but this one is only for animals. Pet Airways, America's first animal-only air service, will initially only fly between NY, Denver, LA, Chicago and Baltimore carrying 50 'passengers' at a time in individual pressurized cabins. Private lounges and overnight accommodation for long-haul flights will also be laid on (Dream Dogs).
Clearly this is an idea who's time has come, as Air Canada has also announced this week that it is to carry pets on its planes, as long as they board as hand-luggage. From July, passengers will be able to book the space under their seats as stowage for up to 4 pets in ‘leakproof carriers’, let’s hope no-one thinks that means Tupperware (Telegraph).
And when airlines are not treating pets as luggage, they’re usually treating their customers as cattle. Ryanair, for example, this week announced plans to have the passengers load their own luggage, saving the company an estimated 20 million euros (Belfast Telegraph).
A worse fate greeted passengers on a Thomas Cook charter plane recently when due to a mechanical failure only the front hold could be loaded with baggage, hence passengers were asked to move to the back of plane as ballast, to balance it out. After seeing people disembarking from the service’s previous flight kissing the ground and putting their hands together in prayer, 71 refused and made other travel arrangements (Daily Mail).
Finally, if you think the customers have it bad, spare a thought for the staff of British Airways, which once billed itself as "the World's favorite airline". Times are now so hard for the company it has asked its workforce if they'd mind taking a pay-cut or even working for free for a month, just to tide the company over. BA's chief executive has lead the drive, promising to lead by example and forgo one month of his £735k ($1.2m) salary (Guardian).
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.