Comes To TV


A new reality TV show show centered around is in the works on Animal Planet Network for early 2008.(via is a web site where shelters and rescue organizations post photos and information about animals who need homes. You can search for certain breeds, age range, a specific sex, size, location, pets with special needs, declawed cats, and excluding animals not good with children. It’s how I found Saffron.

The show will follow families looking to adopt a pet and will also look at the animals’ stories. According to the description, families will take in “teacher pets”—pets who already have homes—so the family can learn what pet will be the best fit. I’m not sure if this means families will be trying out dogs, cats, reptiles, etc. or if it means families will be trying high energy dogs, couch-potato dogs, puppies, etc. to find the right fit.

The show will be filmed in and around Los Angeles and they’re looking for people thinking about adopting a pet to be part of the show. You can apply by filling out this form.(pdf)

50th Anniversary Of Laika The Dog’s Orbit Of Earth

laika-copy.jpgNovember 3rd marks 50 years since the U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik 2 carrying Laika the dog into space. She was the first living creature to orbit the earth.

For years, it was believed Laika died after days in orbit, supposedly from a lethal injection. But, after the fall of the Soviet Union the world learned that although scientists had planned to euthanize her by injection, she actually died after just a few hours in orbit from overheating and stress. Either way, I think it was a hauntingly cruel fate. Sputnik 2 continued to orbit the Earth for about five months until it reentered Earth’s atmosphere and burned up on April 14, 1958.

Read more about Laika, watch this archival newsreel footage of little Laika (click on the first image of Laika to start the video), check out the original 1957 New York Times article on Sputnik 2 & Laika, visit her online memorial, and take a look at the new graphic novel, Laika, by Nick Abadzis.

I’m glad to know she at least returned to Earth.

Update: Laika has been honored with a monument.

Friday Fun: Dog-O-Ween

The cutest little French Bulldog Dragon, also known as Stoli

We had a good time at Dog-O-Ween, the annual fund-raiser for our local volunteer group for off-leash parks—COLA, Citizens for Off-Leash Areas. Our Saffron doesn’t wear a costume since it would make her anxious and defensive. I never thought I’d care about dogs in costumes, but the ones who don’t care or even seem amused by it are fun to watch. And I like to show support for off-leash parks.

Here are my absolute favorites. I loved these sushi dogs! Very clever, comfortable looking, and well made costumes. Yea, sushi!  (Update: Here are some more pics of the sushi dogs.)

Maguro and Toro(tuna and fatty tuna)

Ikura (salmon roe)

Domestic Cat’s DNA Mostly Decoded

cinnamoncat.jpgCinnamon the Cat, whose DNA was decoded, is a shy Abyssinian who is also highly inbred. That inbreeding made her a great candidate for genome sequencing.

The new data will, of course, lead to progress in treating feline diseases, but it will also help humans. Cats and humans share about 250 genetic diseases. Cinnamon carries the gene for retinitis pigmentosa—an eye disease that can lead to blindness—which affects 1 in 3,500 Americans.

Research on hereditary diseases will benefit, but research on infectious diseases will also benefit from the DNA sequencing. The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is related genetically to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. Scientists also decoded “genomic stretches” from retroviruses with known links to cancer.

The sequencing results will help in a number of other ways too:

“(in) parentage testing, forensic analysis, and studies of evolution, including the reconstruction of domestication processes, fancy breed development, and ecological adaptation among the great roaring cats.”

It’s interesting how much impact an inbred cat from Missouri may have on scientific progress.