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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Pink Flamingo Day (May 29)

flamingos Pink flamingos are some of nature’s more distinctive and colorful creations, and also man’s. In 1957, the pink flamingo lawn ornament was created by a trained sculptor Don Featherstone (yes, he has a perfect Flintstones name!) who just happened to work for a plastics company.

Featherstone’s design was produced and soon took off, and the bright pink plastic birds became a fixture in suburban yards across the U.S., and eventually the ultimate symbol of kitsch.

While Pink Flamingo Day was created in 2007 to honor the kitschy plastic lawn dwellers and their creator, it’s also a day to raise awareness of these beautiful birds and their history.

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Fun Flamingo Facts

– There are six species of flamingos found around the world, and they tend to live in large flocks or colonies of up to several hundred birds. They can live up to age 30 in the wild, and 40 in captivity.

– Flamingos can swim and fly, and are also the world’s tallest birds – growing 4-5 feet tall at maturity – but they only weigh between four and eight pounds!

– Baby flamingos are born with grey and white feathers that gradually turn pink as the chicks mature. By age two, they should blend in beautifully with the flock!

– Baby flamingos are fed a high protein and high fat “crop milk” that’s produced by both the mother and the father.

– The flamingo’s distinctive pink color comes from beta carotene found in the crustaceans and plankton in their diet. Without it, they will turn white.

– In order to feed, the flamingo stirs up mud with its feet, scoops up muddy water in its beak, and then turns its head upside down to strain out the water and mud to get to the good stuff – plankton and other microscopic morsels.

– Ancient Romans considered flamingo tongue and eggs a delicious delicacy, and believed that the fat of the bird cured tuberculosis.

– Flamingos famously stand on one leg – they do it to keep warm!

– Flamingos range in color from bright pink to orange and coral to crimson.

– Since 1957, millions of pink plastic flamingos have been sold.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week

National Dog Bite Prevention Week

According to a 2013/2014 survey from by the American Pet Products Association: around 68 percent of U.S. households, or 83.3 million homes, own a pet. Approximately 44 million American homes have at least one dog. A recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows that Americans have a one in 50 chance of being bitten by a dog in any given year.

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One in fifty may seem like pretty good odds, but once you see what’s at stake, you might change your mind. Children and senior citizens are the most common victims of dog bites, and most of them are preventable.

Why Dogs Bite
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association:
• Dogs bite as a reaction to something: a stressful situation, or to defend itself or its territory.
• Dogs can bite because they are scared or have been startled: They can bite because they feel threatened, or to protect something that is valuable to them, like their puppies, their food or a toy.
• Dogs might bite because they aren’t feeling well: They could be sick or sore due to injury or illness and might want to be left alone.
• Dogs also might nip and bite during play: Even though nipping during play might be fun for the dog, it can be dangerous for people. Avoid wrestling or playing tug-of-war with your dog. These types of activities can make your dog overly excited, which may lead to a nip or a bite.

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When to Avoid Petting a Dog
• If the dog is not with its owner.
• If the dog is with its owner, but the owner does not give permission to pet the dog.
• If the dog is on the other side of a fence, don’t reach through or over a fence to pet the dog.
• If a dog is sleeping or eating.
• If a dog is sick or injured.
• If a dog is resting with her puppies or seems very protective of her puppies and anxious about your presence.
• If a dog is playing with a toy.
• If the dog is a service dog. Service dogs are working animals and shouldn’t be distracted while they are doing their jobs.
• If the dog is growling or barking.
• If the dog appears to be hiding or seeking time alone in its special place.

The Real Cost of Dog Bites
– About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year and about 885,000 require medical attention for these injuries; about half of these are children.
– A 2010 study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality showed that the average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was $18,200, about 50 percent higher than the average injury-related hospital stay.
– In 2014, dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claim dollars paid out – more than $530 million. – The Insurance Information Institute –

Make Way for Ducklings: It’s National Duckling Month!

Anyone remember Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack? They’re the famous ducklings in Robert McClusky’s 1941 children’s classic, Make Way for Ducklings.

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The author was determined to make the illustrations look just right, so he purchased a crate of ducklings; took them home to his studio apartment in Greenwich Village, gave them a bath in his bathtub, and then set about drawing. The results were both distinctive and charming.

The setting for the book is the city of Boston. The book’s main characters Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, spend lots of time flying over the city, trying to find the perfect safe and cozy spot to make a nest and start their family. The couple finally settles into the brush alongside the Charles River, and make friends with a policeman named Michael, who feeds them peanuts every day.

Soon enough, ducklings Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack are hatched. Mr. Mallard quickly decides to take a trip to explore the rest of the river. He and Mrs. Mallard agree to meet in the Boston Public Garden in a week’s time.

While he’s away exploring, Mrs. Mallard teaches the ducklings everything they need to know about being ducks, such as swimming, diving, marching along, as well as how to avoid dangers like bicycles (Mrs. Mallard was nearly run over by one!), and other objects with wheels.

Objects with wheels become a problem for Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings when they attempt to maneuver their way through the busy streets of Boston to get to the Public Garden. As cars honk their horns, the ducks quack back at them.

Finally, their policeman friend Michael comes to the rescue, and traffic is halted to “Make Way for Ducklings!” The Mallard family safely crosses the street and then swim to the island in the center of the lagoon in the Public Gardens where Mr. Mallard is waiting. Once reunited, the family decides to stay and make themselves at home, and they live happily ever after.

shutterstock_139855345In the 75 years since Make Way for Ducklings was published, the book has never gone out of print, and it remains a favorite with parents, teachers, and of course, children. Today, Mr. McClusky’s famous ducks are more than beloved book characters: they have been immortalized in bronze statues in the Boston Public Gardens. Each year, they are visited by thousands of people from all around the world. Locals delight in dressing the ducks in different outfits for the seasons.

A replica of the famous sculpture can also be found in Moscow – it was a gift from then First Lady Barbara Bush to Soviet First Lady Raisa Gorbachev.

See the ducklings: http://bit.ly/1WmQXGP

Pets Through the Ages

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Pets are awesome – but did you ever stop to wonder when pets became pets? History shows that pets (aka companion animals) have been a part of human lives for thousands of years! It’s estimated that the first wolf cubs were domesticated by primitive man around 12-14,000 years ago. Yes, wolves are the common ancestor shared by all modern dogs.

While it’s likely the newly domesticated “dogs” were kept to perform tasks like herding, guarding and hunting, ancient tombs containing human and wolf bones provide evidence of of man’s growing affection for their companion animals.

Some 8,000 years ago, nomadic tribes began to give way to more agrarian-focused societies. As people settled into these more permanent farming societies, dogs became more valued, and cats began to make an appearance in human lives by making themselves useful. Mice and other small mammals loved the barns, grain stores and homes in these new human settlements. It’s not surprising that their natural predator, the cat, followed them. Cats were most likely embraced for their usefulness in keeping these pests at bay, and in the process, many people discovered that cats made pretty great pets.

In many early societies, the noble or ruling classes kept a variety of pets purely for their own amusement. Chinese emperors loved dogs, and the ancient Greeks and Romans were also founding members of “team dog”. Not to be outdone, the ancient Egyptians revered cats as gifts from the gods – and they were mummified after death, just like people. In Egypt, cats were openly worshipped and they were protected by law. Killing a cat was an offense punishable by death! Most of today’s modern cats are descendants of these ancient Egyptian felines.

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By the time the Middle Ages arrived, pets had become status symbols among the wealthy and some high-ranking clergy members. Leaders of the Christian church did not approve, as they believed that food eaten by pets should be used to feed the poor, and that closeness to animals was just a little too close to paganism. During the Inquisition, close association with animals was considered as firm evidence of witchcraft and Satan worship, and many a poor soul was condemned to death. Most of them were poor and elderly women.

The more modern version of pet ownership began in Victorian times, although it was only acceptable among the upper and middle classes, as having pets might encourage the poor to shirk their responsibilities.

Today, millions of people worldwide treat their beloved pets as members of their family. There is also growing recognition and scientific evidence of the positive effects companion animals have on overall human health and wellness.

In honor of National Pet Week, be sure give your pet an extra dose of love plus a treat or two. It’s a great way to say thanks for sticking with us humans through the ages and for loving us along the way.