Thursday, June 28, 2007


Presidential candidates have their every move scrutinized, even on family trips, as Republican Mitt Romney found out after strapping Seamus, his Irish settler, to the roof of his car, giving top dog a new meaning.

Not even pets escape politics: Berkeley, California and Boulder, Colorado each passed laws clarifying pet status: people don’t own pets; they are the pet’s guardian. Organizations such as PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, work on the animal’s behalf – they called Romney’s treatment of Seamus torture. US Presidents are not above using pets to get their way. Bill Clinton had Socks the cat, and Buddy, the Lab, to try to keep us feeling warm and fuzzy, and a cocker spaniel named Checkers went on TV to help his, er, guardian Richard Nixon keep his job as VP candidate in 1952.

Overpopulation is a concern, especially with cats. Here’s the math: a single female cat and her offspring could produce over 400,000 cats over a seven year period if not spayed or neutered. No wonder there are 73 million cats in the US!

Animals are often smarter than people:

Authorities have successfully forecast a major earthquake, based in part on the observation of the strange antics of animals. In 1975, in part based on the strange behavior of local animals, Chinese officials evacuated Haicheng, a city of one million people and who knows how many dogs and cats, just days before a 7.3-magnitude quake hit. It was estimated that 150,000 fatalities and injuries were avoided.

Law enforcement agencies use dogs to track, rescue, and detect drugs and bombs because dogs have 25 times more olfactory receptors and can sense odors at one hundred million times lower concentrations than humans.

Dogs hear better too. They can detect sounds as low as 16 Hz, 20% lower than humans, and 45 kHz, three times higher than humans. Their ears have eighteen muscles that tilt, rotate and raise, making it possible to identify a sound's location much faster than a human, and hear sounds up to four times the distance.

Seamus is particularly smart: he let Romney know who’s the boss; by relieving himself on the roof of the car during the trip. He didn’t even have to clean it up.

No comments: