Pets and Animals

All Entries Animals Business and Work Entertainment and Show Business Humor Leisure and Sports Pets and Animals

You Can’t Teach an Old Flea New Tricks

April 20, 2017

If you’ve ever tried breaking into show business, you know how hard it can be. There are countless auditions, disappointments and the relentless competition from other actors. Maybe you should try it as a flea!

The Birth of the Entertainment Industry

Records of the earliest flea circuses date back to 14th Century Asia, but they didn’t hit their apex in popularity until the 16th Century in Great Britain. While there are over 2500 species of fleas, Louis Bertolotto found only the females of the Pulex Irritans species worthy of a place in his line-up: “…I have found the males to be utterly worthless, excessively mulish and altogether disinclined to work.” Hmmm… some things never change.

In the beginning, finding fleas to audition for parts in his show was relatively easy – largely due to poor hygienic standards and the number of mangy dogs running free in the streets of London. But, as people began to bathe regularly, circus owners had to pay as much as half a crown per flea. Considering that the average life span of a flea was only several days to weeks, this represented a very poor return on their investment. One circus owner who toured Europe with his traveling show depended on his wife to send him new shipments of entertainers in envelopes through the mail. That worked well until Postmasters began vigorously hand stamping all letters and parcels. read more

All Entries Home Life Humor Pets and Animals

Paws for Prisoners

December 19, 2016

I found Bailey when he was an endearing pup at the Kansas City SPCA. I was looking for a dog to fill the void after Tucker died and couldn’t afford a Tibetan mastiff, Pharaoh Hound or King Charles Spaniel.

After a couple of years, Bailey blossomed into a full fledged member of our family. He cared for the kids, frolicked in the swimming pool and went after squirrels brave enough to venture into our back yard. He was always eager to shoulder his share of the load by taking out the trash, doing the laundry and enjoyed a seat at our dinner table. He even cleaned up after himself when he did his duty on the back lawn. By the time he was 3, he surprised even his piano teacher by learning how to read Mandarin, Punjabi and Min Bei and started tutoring all the kids in the neighborhood. He was such an affable, talented canine I started looking for ways to share his talents with the rest of the community.

I first saw the advertisement for Paws for Prisoners while riding the bus to work. It boasted that the Paws program was a collective effort between advocate groups, local animal shelters and Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary where the inmates taught dogs basic obedience and shared mutual social skills. In return, the animals provided companionship to incarcerated felons. I don’t know why they felt convicted felons were in a position to teach dogs obedience and social skills. After all, wasn’t it the absence of social behavior that got them there in the first place? But, what the heck. Maybe he’d learn something new. read more

All Entries Family Home Life Humor Pets and Animals

Don Ho Versus the Rats

July 11, 2016

From the moment my brother invited me to visit him on the north shore of Oahu, all I could think about was the fragrance of Hibiscus wafting through the evening air, miles of white sand beaches, steel guitar and ukulele music and papayas growing in the front yard. What I hadn’t thought about were the rats.

Besides being home to quaint Waikiki, the Polynesian Cultural Center, outrigger canoe rides and bronzed girls in grass skirts, Oahu is famous for its nightlife: 7 varieties of Geckos, 17 species of amphibians, dozens of poisonous lizards, snakes, spiders, frogs, toads, centipedes and the biggest rats known to man. Rats that carry fatal diseases like the plague, murine typhus, leptospirosis, and salmonellosis. Rats that can eat through linoleum floors faster than a cordless Makita.

My brother’s house was in the country, on the point of Waimea Bay – literally a toad’s throw from the water and the jungle they call home. Built in the early 1940s, none of the windows really shut. It was riddled with spaces between the clapboard siding, giving amphibious visitors unbridled access to the inside of his home. Tourists staying in Waikiki never learn about this elusive slice of Hawaiian life because modern high-rise hotels are sealed tighter than a Wahine’s pink canoe and constantly patrolled by exterminators. read more

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