Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Farm Animals

Most people think of the ASPCA in terms of pet animals, but the ASPCA also advocates for compassionate treatment of farm animals.  Less than 1% of Americans claim farming as an occupation, but all of us can make food choices that promote better animal welfare.  And that doesn’t mean that we all have to be vegetarians.

One of the best books I’ve read in the last decade is The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  The author traces four meals from their origins to the table:

1) A conventional meal that is the product of the U.S. industrial-agricultural complex (e.g., McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets)

2)  A USDA-certified organic meal

3) A locally grown organic meal

4) A meal that the author hunted and gathered himself

The book is excellent in so many ways, but one aspect that has particularly stuck with me is the contrast between the way animals are treated in a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) versus the way animals are treated on a smaller scale, agriculturally diverse farm.

A number of animals that we use for food, including cows, pigs, and chickens, are raised in CAFOs.  A CAFO confines animals to very small spaces, often too small for them even to turn around, with little or no exposure to natural vegetation or sunlight.  An additional problem with cows in CAFOs is that they are fed primarily corn, largely because our insane U.S. agriculture policy produces more corn than we know what to do with.  (There’s a lot more to that story, like the exponential increase in the use of high-fructose corn syrup and its link to obesity – check out the book!).  Cows aren’t designed to eat corn; they are designed to eat grass.  Corn makes cows sick, and so we pump them full of antibiotics so that they can tolerate the corn.  Such extensive use of antibiotics promotes drug-resistant strains of bacteria, which can infect not only the cows but us humans further along the food chain.  (E. coli anyone?)  Told you it was insane, didn’t I?

In stark contrast to CAFOs, local farmers like Joel Salatin grow a variety of crops and livestock in a healthy, sustainable way.  That’s why he calls his farm Polyface, to indicate that farming should be a multi-faceted, integrated, and holistic endeavor.  He runs his farm so that the processes mimic as closely as possible what nature does.  For example, his cows graze freely, and their manure fertilizes the pastures.  Then, at just the right number of days after the cows have grazed a particular area, he moves his chickens into the same area so that they can feast on all the tasty grubs.  It’s a dynamic, ever changing system that he’s always refining, which maximizes the well-being of his animals as well as his profits.  The book also describes the animal slaughter process – meat is one of his farm’s products, after all – but even that is done with as little suffering by the animals as possible.  Notwithstanding this reality of farming, when you read about Joel Salatin’s approach to the land, you want to become a farmer yourself!

This isn’t intended as an argument for or against vegetarianism.  I think that people can have a variety of healthy diets, and in this world, life lives at the expense of life.  Personally, I do eat meat, but I tend to follow the example of Thomas Jefferson, using meat “as a condiment for the vegetables which constitute my principal diet.”  Also, I plan at least one meatless dinner per week for Robert and me.  The important thing is to remember that we have choices, and some choices are better than others.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Leviathan, the Pet Dragon

My favorite Psalm is number 104.  It gives us a glimpse of heaven on earth – land, water, air, plants, animals, and humans coexisting in peace, with God providing for the needs of every living thing.  People go about their daily work with purpose and meaning.  Each creature thrives in its habitat, reflecting God’s love and glory simply by being the creature it is intended to be.

My everyday Bible is the New International Version, but sometimes I like to check out other translations.  When I first became aware of The Message, I wasn’t too sure about it.  It’s definitely different from more widespread translations.  However, I have come to really appreciate The Message for certain passages of Scripture.  It can provide vitality that sometimes seems missing from more traditional translations.  When I read Psalm 104 in The Message, it captivated me.  What sealed the deal was its reference to Leviathan, the deep-sea creature, as God’s pet dragon.  I love the thought of God having a pet dragon!

Male and female Loch Ness monsters – Leviathan’s cousins

Psalm 104

1-14 O my soul, bless God!

God, my God, how great you are!
    beautifully, gloriously robed,
Dressed up in sunshine,
    and all heaven stretched out for your tent.
You built your palace on the ocean deeps,
    made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings.
You commandeered winds as messengers,
    appointed fire and flame as ambassadors.
You set earth on a firm foundation
    so that nothing can shake it, ever.
You blanketed earth with ocean,
    covered the mountains with deep waters;
Then you roared and the water ran away—
    your thunder crash put it to flight.
Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out
    in the places you assigned them.
You set boundaries between earth and sea;
    never again will earth be flooded.
You started the springs and rivers,
    sent them flowing among the hills.
All the wild animals now drink their fill,
    wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Along the riverbanks the birds build nests,
    ravens make their voices heard.
You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns;
    earth is supplied with plenty of water.
You make grass grow for the livestock,
    hay for the animals that plow the ground.

14-23 Oh yes, God brings grain from the land,
    wine to make people happy,
Their faces glowing with health,
    a people well-fed and hearty.
God’s trees are well-watered—
    the Lebanon cedars he planted.
Birds build their nests in those trees;
    look—the stork at home in the treetop.
Mountain goats climb about the cliffs;
    badgers burrow among the rocks.
The moon keeps track of the seasons,
    the sun is in charge of each day.
When it’s dark and night takes over,
    all the forest creatures come out.
The young lions roar for their prey,
    clamoring to God for their supper.
When the sun comes up, they vanish,
    lazily stretched out in their dens.
Meanwhile, men and women go out to work,
    busy at their jobs until evening.

24-30 What a wildly wonderful world, God!
    You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
    made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
Oh, look—the deep, wide sea,
    brimming with fish past counting,
    sardines and sharks and salmon.
Ships plow those waters,
    and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them.
All the creatures look expectantly to you
    to give them their meals on time.
You come, and they gather around;
    you open your hand and they eat from it.
If you turned your back,
    they’d die in a minute—
Take back your Spirit and they die,
    revert to original mud;
Send out your Spirit and they spring to life—
    the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.

31-32 The glory of God—let it last forever!
    Let God enjoy his creation!
He takes one look at earth and triggers an earthquake,
    points a finger at the mountains, and volcanoes erupt.

33-35 Oh, let me sing to God all my life long,
    sing hymns to my God as long as I live!
Oh, let my song please him;
    I’m so pleased to be singing to God.
But clear the ground of sinners—
    no more godless men and women!

O my soul, bless God!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Climb for the Hounds

Lots of people do athletic endeavors on behalf of charities, but I just learned of one that’s pretty incredible.  It’s called Climb for the Hounds.  Bruce McDonald has planned a personal cycling challenge to benefit greyhounds – a kindred spirit!  On September 20th, Bruce will attempt to climb Mont-Ventoux, the epic mountain in the Provence region of France, not once, but six times…in one day!  Only 68 people (and only one American, thus far) have accomplished this goal, forming the “Club des Bicinglettes.”  Maybe you have to be at least somewhat into cycling to understand how monumental this is.

Mont-Ventoux is 6,273 feet high.  Bruce will climb the mountain two times each from three towns: Bédoin, Malaucène, and Sault.  His total ride will be 169 miles with an elevation gain of 29,154 feet (an average of about 173 feet per mile).  For comparison, the longest I have ever ridden at one time is 109 miles.  In Middle Georgia where I usually ride, the elevation gain is about 50 feet per mile, and so on a typical ride I might gain 2,000 feet of elevation.  According to my Strava data, I have climbed 226,634 feet year-to-date; Bruce will climb more than 10% of this in one day.  And I thought doing one century per month was a challenge!

As if Bruce’s ride weren’t exciting enough, he’s making it an opportunity to raise funds for two wonderful greyhound rescue groups, Greyhound Pets of America (GPA) Indianapolis and Prison Greyhounds.  GPA Indianapolis finds homes for retired racing greyhounds, just like Southeastern Greyhound Adoption (which is also part of GPA), my April charity in A Year of Centuries.  Bruce’s other charity, Prison Greyhounds, is a terrific program in which nonviolent inmates care for greyhounds from the racetrack, preparing the dogs for permanent homes.  This helps ease the shortage of foster homes for greyhounds, and the greyhounds provide a calming effect for the entire prison population.  It’s a win-win situation for hounds and humans.

For more details about the Climb for Hounds, including information about how to make a donation, please visit  Ride on, Bruce!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

MATHCOUNTS Golf Tournament

The Educational Program For a Bright Future

The MATHCOUNTS Golf Tournament Provides Financial Assistance for the Georgia MATHCOUNTS Program.

Durham Lakes Sky ViewMATHCOUNTS provides fun and challenging math programs for US middle school students to increase their academic and professional opportunities.

Learn More
Durham Lakes Golf
Golf Tournament
Durham Lakes Country Club
156 Durham Lakes Parkway
Fairburn, Georgia
September 20, 2013
11:00 AM Shotgun Start

MATHCOUNTS needs you and/or your friends/colleagues that Golf!

The Georgia Society of Professional Engineers will host the 10th Annual MATHCOUNTS Golf Tournament on Friday, September 20, 2013.   

Register to be apart of this worthy event that is held  to ensure the continued success of the MATHCOUNTS program and the strength of a competitive America.  It is important to equip students at the middle school age with a strong knowledge of math and science.  Many of our mathletes will  design and develop what the world will utilize in the future. 
Currently in its 30th year, MATHCOUNTS is one of the country's largest and most successful education partnerships involving volunteers, educators, industry sponsors and students. President Barack Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald W. Reagan have all recognized MATHCOUNTS in White House ceremonies. The MATHCOUNTS program has also received two White House citations as an outstanding private sector initiative. 


Georgia MATHCOUNTS Program is hosted by GSPE

GSPE is the leading state organization that promotes the engineering profession and the protection of the public's health, safety and welfare.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Happy National Dog Day!

It’s National Dog Day!  The perfect way to celebrate is to adopt a dog from a shelter.  Even better, you can adopt a dog that might not find a home as readily as others.  Some animals, through no fault of their own, are less likely to be adopted.  Senior pets are one such group.  Dogs generally are considered to be seniors around age 7, but it can be a little older for small breeds and a little younger for large breeds.  I can say from personal experience that seniors are terrific!  My four dogs are 9, 10, 11, and 13.  It’s like our house is the canine geriatric unit.  However, that doesn’t mean that I’m caring for a bunch of feeble dogs; they have plenty of life and love!
Lily came to us as an 8-year-old senior greyhound when Robert and I agreed to foster her.  We had fostered three other greyhounds before, finding it so rewarding to help them transition to their permanent homes.  Each of our previous fosters had stayed with us for a few weeks to a few months before being adopted.  We thought Lily might be with us a good bit longer because we doubted that there would be much interest in an older dog like her.  After only one month, however, we had a serious inquiry.  But something was different about this foster.  Lily had worked her magic.  She was such a happy, laid back dog, and she fit in so well with our pack.  Robert and I decided that the other person couldn’t have her.  We adopted Lily ourselves.  Within our Southeastern Greyhound Adoption group, we call this failing fostering J
Maybe there’s a Lily out there waiting for you.  Here are the ASPCA’s top 10 reasons to adopt an older dog:
1. What You See Is What You Get
Older dogs are open books—from the start, you’ll know important things like their full-grown size, personality and grooming requirements. All this information makes it easier to pick the right dog and forge that instant love connection that will last a lifetime. If you’re not so into surprises, an older dog is for you!

2. Easy to Train
Think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Hogwash! Older dogs are great at focusing on you—and on the task at hand—because they’re calmer than youngsters. Plus, all those years of experience reading humans can help them quickly figure out how to do what you’re asking.

3. Seniors are Super-Loving
One of the cool parts of our job is reading stories from people just like you who have opted to adopt. The emails we get from pet parents with senior dogs seem to all contain beautiful, heartfelt descriptions of the love these dogs give you—and those of you who adopted dogs already in their golden years told us how devoted and grateful they are. It's an instant bond that cannot be topped!

4. They’re Not a 24-7 Job
Grownup dogs don’t require the constant monitoring puppies do, leaving you with more freedom to do your own thing. If you have young children, or just value your “me time,” this is definitely a bonus.

5. They Settle in Quickly
Older dogs have been around the block and already learned what it takes to get along with others and become part of a pack. They’ll be part of the family in no time!

6. Fewer Messes
Your floors, shoes, and furniture will thank you for adopting a senior pooch! Older dogs are likely to already be housetrained—and even if they’re not, they have the physical and mental abilities to pick it up really fast (unlike puppies). With their teething years far behind them, seniors also are much less likely to be destructive chewers.

7. You Won’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
There are those who yearn for a doggie friend of their own, but hold back because they worry what might happen in their lives in the years to come. And they are wise to do so—a puppy or young dog can be anywhere from an 8- to 20-year responsibility, which is not appropriate for the very elderly or those with certain long-term future plans. Providing a loving home for a dog in her golden years is not a less serious commitment, but it can be a shorter one.

8. They Enjoy Easy Livin’
Couch potato, know thyself! Please consider a canine retiree rather than a high-energy young dog who will run you ragged. Not that older dogs don’t require any exercise—they do—but they’re not going to need, or want, to run a marathon every day.

9. Save a Life, Be a Hero
At shelters, older dogs are often the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized. Saving an animal’s life offers an unparalleled emotional return on your investment, and you’ll feel the rewards every day you spend together.

10. They’re CUTE!
Need we say more?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Crazy Woman Ride

Yesterday Robert and I went to Chattanooga.  While he did a road race, I had the most delightful ride.  The staging area was near I-24, west of downtown, and the race finished at the top of Raccoon Mountain, a hydroelectric power station.  I did an out-and-back route into the northwest corner of Georgia and then rode to the top of Raccoon Mountain in time to watch Robert cross the finish line.

Before our trip, I mapped my route using Google Earth and Google Maps.  Soon after I began my ride, I discovered that I definitely had picked a good route; I saw pavement markings from an organized ride that had used the same roads that I had selected.  The roads were wonderful, winding through a rural area with very little traffic.  Just a few miles into my ride, I saw this windmill right next to the road:

The most beautiful thing I saw on the ride, however, was too fleeting for me to photograph.  It was the bright sunlight gleaming off of a readheaded woodpecker - glorious!

A few miles later I saw this barn with a vintage-looking Rock City sign:

As I continued around the corner, I was amused to see this updated sign on the side of the barn:

After a while I saw some small apartments that reminded me of student housing.  At first I was confused because I didn't know of any colleges in the immediate vicinity, and I hadn't even made it to the next town of any size, Trenton, Georgia.  Then I made an astounding discovery; this was a hang gliding park!  A number of people were in the large grassy area adjacent to the housing units.  They were doing tandem flights on ultralight aircraft.  I was totally intrigued and wheeled my bicycle over to them.  They were very friendly, and this guy was happy to let me take his picture.  He was like a surfer dude with wings:

He jokingly told me that cycling is dangerous and instead I should go for a ride with the ultralight group.

Thus far, I hadn't encountered any significant climbing because I had been riding in a valley.  It was the same ridge and valley geology as at my May century in Rome, Up the Creek Without a Pedal.  Unbeknownst to me, however, my elevation was about to increase - majorly.  The lovely valley road came to an end, and at that T-intersection, I saw this eye-catching sign:

In cycling and in life, sometimes you just have to deviate from your planned route.  When I learned that it was only 3.62 miles to Crazy Woman Road (very bottom arrow), I thought...must...go...there. I climbed something like 500,000 ft, got to the top of the road, and checked my GPS, which directed me to somewhere in Arizona. So, I decided that any road I ride on is Crazy Woman Road.

I wanted to make sure to be at the finish line to see Robert, and so it was time to retrace my route.  After zooming back down Burkhalter Gap Road, I turned onto the valley road again.  I did stop long enough to take pictures of a few things had attracted my attention when I rode by the first time.  This patch of black-eyed Susans right by the road was breathtaking:

This USGS gaging station, located at Lookout Creek, may not be breathtaking, but I found it quite interesting because I often use USGS hydrologic data in my work:

Note the solar panel that powers the automatic data collector.

The climb up Raccoon Mountain was also pretty significant, but I was expecting that one.  Water is pumped from the Tennessee River at the base of Raccoon Mountain to a reservoir at the top.  Electric power is generated when the water is released through turbines to flow back down to the river.  As I ground my pedals, climbing higher and higher up Raccoon Mountain, I imagined how my potential energy was increasing just like all that water being pumped up to the reservoir.  Crazy woman!

Expect adventure.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Heartwarming Story

The story at the following link tells about an act of love and service to two neighbors, one human and one canine:

I have seen Mr. Faust and Lady in Bolingbroke, which is where our cycling group meets for group rides.  Thank you to everyone who helped them!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Daffy's Pet Soup Kitchen

Thanks to an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, I learned about Daffy’s Pet Soup Kitchen.  It’s a pet food bank!  Serving North and Central Georgia, this is a wonderful organization that helps keep families and their pets together.  When people go through difficult financial times, as in the Great Recession, they sometimes must make the agonizing decision to give up their pets.  Daffy’s Pet Soup Kitchen supplies pet food to financially struggling people, allowing them to keep their beloved pets.  This also keeps pets out of shelters or from being abandoned on the streets, thereby decreasing the euthanasia rate in animal control facilities, lowering the tax burden on citizens whose tax dollars fund county-run animal control facilities, and giving other shelter animals more time to find their forever homes.

Daffy’s Pet Soup Kitchen is run entirely by volunteers.  Additionally, those helped by Daffy’s are required to perform community service in order to receive assistance.  Over 5,000 service hours are performed each month!  Daffy’s also advocates for pets by assisting with spays/neuters and posting lost pet notifications on Facebook.

I myself was severely affected by the Great Recession.  My husband Robert and I are both engineers and have our own company, Jordan Engineering.  We went from about 18 employees to two employees, and that didn’t include me.  I had to lay myself off at the beginning of 2009.  It took me nearly six months to find another job, and for the first three of those months, Robert didn’t have a paycheck, either.  It was a rough time, to say the least.  We were able to weather the storm thanks to savings and some help from family, but so many other people have faced much more difficult circumstances.  I can’t imagine things getting so bad that I would have to consider giving up my animals.  Therefore, my heart really goes out to those seeking assistance from Daffy’s Pet Soup Kitchen, and I am happy to support them.

It really bothers me when people think that helping animals somehow takes away from helping people in need.  We can and should care for both; it’s not a zero-sum game.  The beauty of Daffy’s Pet Soup Kitchen is that it helps both animals and people at the same time.  For more information or to make a donation to Daffy’s Pet Soup Kitchen, please visit or

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Two Celebrations for Homeless Animals Day

I planned two events for today in conjunction with my focus this month on the ASPCA.  Then, a few days ago I learned that the third Saturday in August is Homeless Animals Day.  The timing couldn't be better.

This morning I got to go to the Jasper County Animal Shelter.  Several young friends from my church - Kate, Nina, Rhett, and Tom - plus a couple of adult helpers went with me.  We had a great time!  We walked dogs, cleaned out cages, and played with cats.

The shelter houses at least several dozen each of cats and dogs.  The cats use litter boxes, and so the dog cages needed more attention.  Some of us walked the dogs.  While their cages were empty, others of us helped the staff clean them.  This consisted of spraying the walls and floor of  the area with a disinfectant that kills parvovirus and other microbes.  Then everything was hosed down.  Each dog has a raised bed, which was hosed down and had a clean blanket or towel placed on it.  Finally, fresh bowls of food and water were placed in the cage.  It was gratifying to see that each animal receives adequate care.

Besides these basic requirements, the animals really just need loving human contact.  I especially noticed this with four large puppies (siblings, I'm sure) who shared a cage.  We had to walk all four of them at the same time so that their cage could be cleaned.  They obviously haven't been on leashes very much, and they were pretty scared when we first got them out.  However, after Nina, her grandfather, and I spent a little time with them, they seemed to relax a bit.  After a while, they were tumbling all over Nina, who laughed delightedly.

All of the dogs seemed to have good temperaments, including the many pit bull mixes.  One of the pit bulls made quite an impression on me when I took him for a walk.  He was so strong!  He probably doesn't weigh much more than my greyhounds, but I'm so used to my greyhounds' docility that the pit bull's power took me by surprise.  I think the shelter worker who suggested I walk him knew that this dog probably would overwhelm the children.  He wasn't a bad dog by any means, but he definitely needs someone who will work with him patiently to direct all that energy in a positive direction.

The kids had a blast playing with the many cats at the shelter.  I'm sure the cats thrived on the abundance of attention, too.

I got pictures of many of the animals.  Here's a gallery of good animals looking for good homes:


Fuzzy Fred

This cute dog is some kind of Australian shepherd mix.  She looks kind of like a possum.  Note that I'm referring to the critter on the left.

Hanging out in one of the runs while his cage is cleaned

Woof, indeed.

Thank you for the cage, ASPCA!

As I was about to leave the shelter, a sign on a shelf caught my eye.  Because of the shirt I was wearing, I had to get a picture of me holding the sign:

That was gracious plenty to make for an excellent day, but I had more fun in store for this evening.  I hosted a Dog Days of Summer Celebration at a local restaurant, Deptula's, as a fundraiser for the Jasper County Animal Shelter and the ASPCA.

The original plan was for people to bring their dogs and enjoying mingling in the grassy, shady parking area adjacent to the restaurant.  Unfortunately, it's been raining cats and dogs the last few days, and so we had to move everything inside and nix bringing dogs.  Fortunately, we still had a great time and raised $259!

Also, I made dog biscuits for people to take home to their dogs.  The biscuits were shaped like bones, fire hydrants, and mailmen:

And don't forget the cool party hats!

It really struck me today how easy it is to be of service.  By spending only a few hours, right here in our own community, we did something so worthwhile that was fun, too!  I'm so glad that A Year of Centuries has spurred me to engage with my neighbors - two-legged and four-legged - in ways that I might not have otherwise.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Operation for the Love of Dog

On Saturday, August 31st there will be a special bicycle ride called Operation for the Love of Dog.  Held on the Silver Comet Trail (Georgia) and connecting Chief Ladiga Trail (Alabama), the ride will benefit Road Trip Home Animal Rescue.  Proceeds from the ride will help transport dogs from shelters with high euthanasia rates to no-kill shelters in other states with a shortage of adoptable animals.  A terrific bicycle ride and the chance to help homeless animals - what a great combination!

I had already made plans for that day when I learned about the ride, but a few of my friends will be riding.  For more information or to make a donation, please visit  Note that your donation is to sponsor Stephen Bachelor or Lisa Poole.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Oh, Behave!

The ASPCA seeks to help people build healthy, strong, loving bonds with their pets.  Behavioral problems are a major reason that pets end up in animal shelters.  This doesn’t have to be the case.  Veterinarians or animal behavior specialists can help resolve minor behavior problems before they become major.  The ASPCA offers free pet-behavior advice through its virtual pet behaviorist team at   Additionally, the ASPCA spearheads studies of the behaviors of shelter pets to better understand what makes some animals more appealing to adopters than others.  Pet adopters should keep in mind that each animal truly is unique.

I learned new things about the physical uniqueness of animals at Zoo Atlanta.  Each giraffe has a different spot pattern, each gorilla has a different nose pattern, and each zebra has a different stripe pattern.  They are like fingerprints on humans.  I took this knowledge and started looking for the uniqueness of other animals.  For example, by paying attention to their comb patterns, I can differentiate between my chickens.  Also, I was amused to discover that the crows of roosters are different.  During last month’s century, Pedal for Pets, I was riding down a road and heard a rooster.  His cock-a-doodle-doo was much higher pitched than that of my two roosters.

If every animal is physically unique, it certainly makes sense that their personalities are different, too.  I’ve seen this firsthand with all of the dogs I’ve had over the years.  There has been something special about each one.  Usually, it’s something endearing, like the special bark that my cocker spaniel Garth had when he cornered a box turtle.  Then there’s my greyhound Cosmo, who has a shoe fetish.  (One of his nicknames is Imelda.)  If you leave your shoes within reach, Cosmo is likely to steal one and take it to the basement.  Fortunately, he doesn’t chew on them; he’s just a kleptomaniac:

The quirkiest dog I’ve had is my greyhound Mr. Spock.  Some of his habits are downright funny.  He eats breakfast at the same time I do.  When he finishes, he walks over to me and burps!  Mr. Spock is also a stickler for rules.  He knows what areas of the house are off limits.  If an interior door or dog barricade is left open for a moment and one of the other dogs slips through, Mr. Spock will just stand at the boundary he knows he’s not supposed to cross.  Sometimes he even scolds the other errant hound when he/she comes back.  Overall, though, Mr. Spock is pretty insecure.  He would be omega dog if I had that many.  He generally gets along with my other dogs, but I have learned that he doesn’t always act well around dogs outside of our pack.  Therefore, and unfortunately, I’m not able to take him to outings with my greyhound club or similar events with other dogs.  However, Mr. Spock loves people and behaves well when I take him to the local nursing home, the farmers market, or other places where it’s just humans.  The key has been to understand Mr. Spock and to work with his unique personality.

The ancient Greeks advised us to “know thyself.”  We also need to know our animals.  By learning about our pets’ individuality and, when necessary, taking appropriate corrective action early, we can help stop the abandonment of innocent animals and alleviate the senseless killing of adoptable animals.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Schrödinger's and Other Cool Cats

Today is the 126th birthday of Erwin Schrödinger, father of quantum physics.  His most famous legacy is Schrödinger's cat, a paradox dealing with quantum theory vs. reality.  Hmm...maybe it would be easier to stick with Bill the Cat:


I send a special meow out to all of our feline friends who are waiting for homes.  If you’re looking for a cat companion, please visit your local animal shelter.  I wish I could adopt one, but I’m allergic to cats. Isn't it funny how cats seem to gravitate toward people who are allergic to them?  I was a kitty magnet at the recent state time trial championship: