Cute or not? Baby bats

An unusual friendship

The baby kangaroo should have not survived the road accident that claimed its mother...but then along came Rex the wonder dog.

The 10-year-old dog - a cross between a German shorthaired and wirehaired pointer - and the four-month-old joey are now friends.

Source: Daily Mail

Dog Sweater

I think the picture says it all!

Working from home can result in mixed messages.

Working from home is, as they say, a blessing and a curse. A benefit: I can be typing this while wearing my pajamas and nobody would know. (Right now, my feet sport ultra-cushiony blue fuzzy slippers!) Also--no morning commute. I write freelance full time, and I like the freedom of writing when the mood and inspiration strikes me. Mostly, I discipline myself to sit at my desk and tap away at the computer from about 10-3. This does not make me the most thrilling companion for Kelly. Eventually, Kelly's had enough and is ready for a little attention. She comes up and slaps her paw down on the keyboard to get my attention. Generally this results in a line of gibberish added to the line of text I've painstakingly entered. Something like this: "As she held her breath and stepped slowly into the inky darkness, unaware of the danger ahead, suddenly iwejzxdkj;ark."

The bad part about working from home is that (aside from Kelly) I have no co-workers. It can get pretty isolating. So, if you work from home too, (or even if you don't) pop on and say hello. We can chat around the cyber water-cooler.

Oh, and don't forget the most important thing is xcvorkjmmxllgz.

I guess Kelly's ready to play.

Stupid Joke - The Parrot

An elderly woman was looking for a pet to be a good companion and not much trouble. The pet store owner suggested a parrot, showed it to her and guaranteed her it would be a wonderful companion. The woman asked if it would behave if she took it to church with her on Sundays. The owner said it shouldn't be a problem and that she could put him on her shoulder and he would stay there. She bought the parrot and for the next week spent time getting to know him. Assured that he spoke properly and was well behaved, she put him on her shoulder and went off to church. Just as everyone quieted down and the sermon began, the parrot looked around, squawked and said, "It's damn cold in here!" Everyone turned to look at her and she ran out of the church in total embarrassment!

All the next week, she talked to the parrot explaining the necessity to remain quiet during church. The parrot understood so she put him on her shoulder and went to church the following Sunday. Once again, just as everything got quiet and the sermon began,the parrot squawked, looked around and loudly proclaimed, "It's damn cold in here!!" And again the woman ran from the church.

The next day she returned to the pet store and explained the embarrassing situation to the owner. Since she didn't want to get rid of the parrot, the owner offered the following solution: If the parrot does that again, grab him by the legs and swing him around 5 or 6 times and return him to your shoulder." "That'll work?" asked the woman. "Guaranteed!" exclaimed the owner.

So, the next Sunday she took the parrot to church and, sure enough, just as the sermon started, the parrot squawked, "It's damned cold in here!!" Without any hesitation, the woman grabbed his legs, swung him around 5 or 6 times and placed him back on her shoulder. The parrot shook his head, ruffled his feathers and said, "Pretty damned windy, too!"

The cutest baby squirrel

Two-headed bearded dragon born in NC

A Kernersville NC couple running a reptile business out of their home got a unique surprise when they discovered one of their new hatchlings had not one, but two heads.

There are only a few recorded cases of two-headed bearded dragons, also knows as agamid lizards, on record.


Knute: Addicted to love?

Germany's celebrity polar bear Knut has become so addicted to the limelight that he throws tantrums when he's denied an audience, one of his keepers says.

Berlin Zoo's Markus Roebke has told British newspapers that Knut howls with anger when he feels like he's not getting enough attention.

Roebke says Knut needs to be moved to another zoo, away from the public eye. "Knut must go and the sooner the better," he said. "As long as he is with us he will always think of Thomas Doerflein, the keeper who brought him up when he was a baby, as his father. Knut needs publicity and that must change,"

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Funny Penguins

A great photo series at Flikr, by JohnBurke

Hey - what's this?!?

I'm getting soaked!

Brrr! I'm going to have a word with him!

Hey! What do you think you're playing at???

Don't you yell at me!!!

via: Penguins!

One Year of the Pet Haven

This week marks the one year anniversary of The Pet Haven Blog. I started this blog amidst the pet food recalls and crisis, as I was a pet owner concerned, frustrated and ticked-off at how the whole thing occurred. I couldn't believe how poorly the pet food companies handled the whole thing...from lies to denials to taking forever to take the product off the shelves. It was definitely not a lesson in good crisis management.

Now here I am a year later, still blogging about a variety of topics within the pet world. The blog has taken me in several different directions, and although it's not always as focused on one type of subject as maybe a blog should be, it has allowed me to look at various things within the pet industry; including the good, the bad, and the very ugly.

This blog has become a forum for all things pets. From news, to product reviews, to resources, to fun stuff, to pictures of my pets, and more. I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I continue to be challenged to find good topics to explore on a regular basis.

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog on a daily basis and I look forward to writing more posts that hopefully everyone will enjoy.


Art by Braldt Bralds

"Basket Cases"

visit the cat prints of Braldt Bralds

Daisy and Rescue Dogs

Everyone's lined up to adopt little Daisy. The adorable 1-year old Jack Russell pup was brought into a local shelter. Officials there say the man who brought her in found her in a battered kitty crate left out with the trash. The man claims he never said such a thing. I'm not sure where the truth lies, however the thought of any pet left out for the trash is heartbreaking. And Daisy has garnered much attention and will soon find a new home. I wish it was here! But Kelly wouldn't like that. She thinks she should be the only dog.

Kelly was a rescued dog herself. We adopted her from a cocker spaniel rescue. I'm not sure how much cocker spaniel she really has in her heritage, however. Did you know that there are new DNA tests for canines to determine their genetic heritage? Now you can have your mutt tested to determine which breeds have contributed to create the unique mix of your dog. Of course, the test is expensive and not yet readily available. Kelly says, "What breeds am I?"

A bunny in the carrots

Three-year-old Amy, a Continental Giant rabbit, now weighs three and a half stone (49 pounds!) and is 4ft from the tip of her nose to her bumper bobtail.

Amy is the world's biggest bunny.

Source: Daily Mail

An agouti in a blanket

Staff at the Newquay Zoo have been waiting for two years for their only breeding agouti couple to mate.

And the wait finally paid off when the two tiny creatures, which are the smallest of the ten agouti species in the world, were born three weeks ago. They are the first hairy rump - or black-backed - agouti to be born in the UK.

Source: Daily Mail

A frog in a cast

Nicolas the frog recovers from his broken leg in bright blue plaster

Source: Daily Mail

This is fast evolution?

Scientists have pinned down the fastest-known evolving animal — a "living dinosaur" called a tuatara.

Researchers found that although tuatara have remained largely unchanged physically over very long periods of evolution, they are evolving — at a DNA level — faster than any other animal yet examined.

Photo Credit: Reb/Dreamstime

Source: MSNBC

Cute little Zebra Mouse

I found this charming little guy at a website, Furry Critters, which is full of information, pictures, and forums about hamsters, rats and mice.

A word of warning about the Picture Gallery: there is just way, way too much to look at there - you might be lost for hours looking at photos.

Wednesday Diet Tip

Every Wednesday is Peggy and Kelly Diet Tip Day. And please, share any of your own too, for dog and owner! Today's tip is about making the right choices. I recently saw a TV ad for Dunkin Donuts new multigrain bagel with low-fat cream cheese. Since Mike and I have been making an effort to eat only whole grains, I thought this would be a great idea. There's a Dunkin Donuts on our way home from church, so I thought, what a great place to stop for an inexpensive healthy lunch. But I just learned that this option contains 500 calories and 15 grams of fat! Not exactly a diet snack. I would do better to have a glazed donut, at 180 calories and 8 grams of fat. Of course, a glazed donut doesn't contain much nutrition, so as tempting as that sounds, it's not a good idea. I guess it's best to just stay out of donut shops. Just that sugary aroma is enough to add ten pounds.....

I learned this bagel fact from the most amazing book, "Eat This, Not That!" by David Zinczenko. It tells you the healthiest food options at fast food and other restaurants, on the grocery shelves, and even in vending machines and at the movie theater. The coolest thing about the book are photographs of each item and a handy organization. Beware of loaded cheese fries with 2,900 calories and 182 grams of fat!

How about you--got some diet tips to share? I'd love to hear from you!

Wet Pet Food Sales Struggle After Recall

According to a recent USA Today article, more then a year after the massive pet food recall, people are still weary of buying wet, or soft, pet food. And, many products have not returned to the shelf.

Personally, I'm not surprised. I boycotted all the foods that were part of the recall, and have not gone back. There really hasn't been any reason to go back. I found a brand that I trust (Wellness) and wasn't part of the recall, and I haven't had a reason to leave them to go back to the brands that have lost our trust. It's all about brand loyalty for me. I found a brand that my dogs like, that is high quality, and good for their allergy issues. Until they give me a reason to stop buying their products, why would I go to a company that showed no care for the pet owners?

Enough of my rant, here is the complete USA Today Article:

Wheelchairs keep disabled pets moving

When Gary Mikus learned that an incurable nerve disease was starting to paralyze the hind legs of his German shepherd, he immediately dismissed the idea of putting the dog to sleep. Then he spotted an ad in a pet food store: "Eddie's Wheels For Pets. Help for Handicapped Pets." Now the dog named Bear, which has been Mikus' constant companion for a decade, has a lot of living left to do — much of it in his new pet wheelchair.

"He's healthy in every other way," Mikus said. "Until something tells me otherwise that he's failing, I'll do everything I can to keep him mobile and happy."

A growing number of pet owners are turning to custom-built wheelchairs to restore mobility to furry friends whose legs, hips or backs don't work. The owners' goals are simple: to reward their pets' unconditional love with whatever it takes for the animals to live normally.

Source: Yahoo News

Walking on water

This stunning photo is "baletnica ;-)" by photographer Marcin Nawrocki. There are more of his photos at Fotografia Przyrodnicza


Fish Not Boring

I've heard the familiar response when I tell people I have fish, that fish are boring. For any of us fishkeepers, we know that is far from the truth.

Fish can recognize their caretakers. Maybe not as much as dogs and cats, but fish do come to the front of the tank when their keepers walk by. Naturally, it may have something to do with the fact that the fishkeeper is also the one that feeds the fish, but many of our furry friends are trained with treats and food as well.

There are so many different varieties of fish, that you can put several fish hobbyists in a room, and they'll all have something different that they like to keep. Even the somewhat well known goldfish has a variety of strains, colors, and varieties. And each one has its own unique personality and habits.

Fish, as most pets, aren't without controversy. A few years ago, it was the arguments against genetically engineering a "glowing" strain of danio fish. Recently, the debate has been whether it's human to inject "glass" type of fish (those clear, colorless fish) with a dye to make them more colorful and "appealing" to the fish keeper.

Everyone has different animals and pets that they enjoy caring for, and no matter what your favorite, your pets make great pals. So enjoy caring for them, even if someone thinks your pet is boring.

Horse visits hospital patient

“I’m coming up to see a relative.”

That’s what a Kauai man said at Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Kauai—before taking a horse three floors upstairs.

Hospital security stopped the reportedly intoxicated man and his steed. He’d already trotted the horse through the hospital’s lobby and into an elevator, all to cheer up his relative.

But when he saw the stallion, the ailing patient said, “That’s not my horse.”

Source: Hawaii Magazine

Mustangs of Las Colinas

Mustangs at Las Colinas is a bronze sculpture by Robert Glen, that decorates Williams Square in Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. It is said to be the largest equestrian sculpture in the world.

The sculpture commemorates the wild mustangs that were historically important inhabitants of much of Texas. It portrays a group at 1.5 times life size, running through a watercourse, with fountains giving the effect of water splashed by the animals' hooves. (wiki)



Photo: SmugMug

Cute or not? Hairless guinea pig

A bizarre breed of guinea pig that was created for laboratory testing more than 30 years ago has become the latest designer pet.

The skinny-pig has no hair on its body except for tufts on its face and feet. They were created using mutated genes during the Seventies and their bare skin was used for dermatological experiments.

Research labs eventually handed the creatures over to breeders who have mated them with traditional guinea pigs to strengthen their immune system.

Source: Daily Mail

Friday to Sunday

Happy Easter!
This week I attended our church's Good Friday service. This is one of my husband's favorite services of the year. But I have to admit, it wasn't always mine. The sanctuary lights are dimmed, the choir wears black pants and tops, the music is somber, and the scripture deals with less than pleasant circumstances. Images projected onto our video screen are, at times, painful to watch. At the end of the service we are asked to leave silently. No visiting with our neighbors and friends as we walk toward the doors--one of the rewards of a regular service!

As I thought about that dark, sober service, though, I reflected upon what Christ went through on that Friday. I thought about it Saturday, too, as I wondered about the events long ago, when He was placed in the tomb. I finally accepted that it was right to have a somber service on Friday, and experiencing it was a small way to help me understand what He endured that day.

Today when I walked into church, the mood was different. The colors seemed brighter, the music jubilant, the flowers sweeter. And the message--the message was all the more miraculous, after going through the darkness of Good Friday.

Happy Easter!

Easter Greetings

Easter Postcards from 1898 to 2007


Peep Show

The Washington Post has held a Peeps Diorama Contest for two years now.

Here is my favorite entry from the first-ever Sunday Source Peeps Diorama Contest, held in 2007.

And my favorite entry from Peeps Show II, held in 2008.


Pet Food Recall A Year Later

It's been a year since the mess first started with the pet food recall. The recall lasted several months, and shed light on an industry that was unregulated, and in a lot of ways, didn't care much about the pets they were supposed to feed.

It also showed that the same company which was making the "commercial," i.e., inexpensive brands, was also making the high-priced premium brands that were supposed to help make your pet live a longer, healthier much for that idea!

Unfortunately, there is still more work to be done in order to stop this mess from happening again. For example, the legislation that was passed requires the companies to voluntarily recall contaminated petfood. Voluntary doesn't work quite as well as mandatory.

Here is an interesting article about how things have fallen short.

Animals on the attack

*****A martial arts teacher knocked over by a lion during a photo shoot at Bowmanville Zoo says she is happy to have come away with four broken ribs and a bloodied lung.

The photo session produced a successful cover photo, but from the beginning, the lion was playful and not entirely under the control of its two minders. Watch video.

***** A keeper at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C, was taken to a hospital and treated for a laceration on her leg after Tai Shan, the zoo's giant panda cub, made "physical contact" with her. It seems the panda had amorous intentions - the keeper was not in the mood. (via)
(Washington Post)

***** An eagle ray leaped onto a boat off the Florida Keys and stabbed a woman with its barb, knocking her to the deck and killing her. The animal's barb had impaled the woman through the neck which caused her to fall back and hit her head on some portion of the boat.
(New Zealand Herald)

***** Chicago car dealers report they've seen a lot more vehicles damaged this year by animals getting under hoods and chewing on wiring. The culprits are typically squirrels, rats or mice. Whether they're taking shelter from the cold or chewing out of hunger, they can cause thousands of dollars in damages.

***** Rats are invading Thailand - or at least the offices of the ministry responsible for promoting health and hygiene. In the past two days, nearly 50 rats were caught inside the Health Ministry compound in Bangkok, prompting an announcement of a national anti-rodent campaign. The animals have become a nuisance. They bite wires, cables, documents and destroy office equipment.

***** Four steer who escaped from a transport truck during a morning accident made their way to a residential area in Mississauga, Ont. and held the community hostage for nearly four hours.

One steer was eventually shot after it knocked a couple of residents off their feet and charged a police officer.

London Zoo opens tropical bird house

London Zoo has spent £2.5m on a tropical bird house in a restored Victorian pavilion.

A miniature rainforest has been created in the Blackburn Pavilion which will become home to more than 50 species of exotic birds.

Star of the show will be tiny Amazilia hummingbirds which the zoo claims are the only ones in the UK.

Birds including the Socorro dove, Bali starling, Toco toucan and Mindanao bleeding heart dove will roam free in the pavilion which has been designed as part of ZSL London Zoo's plan to bring down the bars and allow visitors to come face to face with the occupants.

Source: Telegraph

Hey, Howya doin'?

Out Sick

It's been a few days since I've been on the computer, as we've been fighting off colds all week. People always say that our pets can tell when things are bothering us. It seems as though the puppies have been keeping an eye on things more then usual.

My "guard" dog Kelso, who is all bark but no bite, has been barking more often the last couple of days, alerting us to every little thing that is going on around us. I think he wants us to know that he's looking out for us. I appreciate the gesture, but it sure makes it harder to take a nap. And Rocco, the one that doesn't bark, has been a bit more vocal, letting us know that he's here if we need him for anything.

Hopefully the colds/flu/whatever we have will go away soon. Some more rest (and medication!) should hopefully do the trick.

Barking, Begging and Bad Behavior

My friend and I were discussing dog training techniques. Her German Shepherd is friendly, but a bit too enthusiastic when jumping up and greeting people. She has an invisible fence and is concerned that when delivery people and other strangers come into the yard, her large, barking, charging dog will frighten them. If they turn and run, who knows if lovable Marley will switch into guard dog mode. So she's meeting with a dog behavoirist to tackle the situation.
Kelly, on the other hand, is none too friendly with other dogs. Saturday we had her at the vet's, which was quite busy, and she was shaking with nervous energy at all the other dogs in close proximity. We had to keep her right at our feet so she wouldn't lunge at any poor critter hoping to meet and greet. Whenever a new dog entered the room, Kelly's fur on her neck went up, she glared and growled. Not a friendly welcome. And quite tiring to keep in check. I'd love Casar Millan to come straighten her out.

The other problem we have is with begging. Kelly's getting to be quite the pest at meal time. She looks at me with those big sad eyes--just stares as each forkful is lifted. I admit, I've been guilty of dropping her a few table scraps. Especially the burnt edges of baked chicken that was left in the oven too long because someone distracting was on Oprah. But what once was cute and endearing is now getting annoying. Any suggestions?

Happy Spring!

Today is the first day of Spring!

"Lucky Bunny" uploaded by Leviathor

Rabbit Scissors

Rabbit Scissors
Here’s a cutting edge rabbit to make playtime more fun. With it’s sturdy plastic body and safe, rounded tips, these scissors disguised as a rabbit, are perfect for kids of all ages. Comes in assorted colors.

$8.95 at The Spoon Sisters

Photography by Igor Siwanowicz

Many more unusual photos here.

World of Tarantulas

Tarantulas are the largest and most revered of all spiders, comprising just over 900 species in the mygalomorph family Theraphosidae.

The name tarantula originated around the 14th century from two genera of poisonous spiders, Lycosa (Wolf spiders) and Latrodectus (Widow spiders), found on the outskirts of the Italian city of Taranto in the State of Apulia.

Rick West is one of the leading authorities on tarantulas (Theraphosidae) in the world and has traveled to over 27 countries to document and study them in their environment.

The World of Tarantulas: Birdspiders is a fascinating website full of information, history and photographs.


Quick Facts about Puppy Mills

Puppy mills originated in the post-World War II era. Midwestern farmers looking for an alternative crop reacted to a growing demand for puppies, resulting in the development of the first commercial puppy mill business.

A puppy mill can be defined as:

* a filthy, trashy place where one or several breeds of dogs are kept in deplorable conditions with mostly no medical care and puppies are available at all times
* any high-volume breeder whose cash crop is puppies
* any high-volume breeders who breed pets as their livelihood and keep them in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions
* a place where lots of dogs are raised, where breeding is done solely for financial gain rather than protection of the breed, and where puppies are sold to brokers or to pet stores

Puppy mills are able to stay in business due to the high demand for purebred dogs. However, the public does not know that pure breed registration papers and health certificates obtained with the purchase of a pet store puppy are not guaranteed by the American Kennel Club.

The Animal Welfare Act, which is managed by the US Department of Agriculture, is listing several categories of dog selling businesses:

* Pet dealers: import, buy, sell, trade or transport pets in wholesale channels
* Pet breeder: breed for the wholesale trade
* Laboratory animal dealers, breeders, bunchers, auction operators and promoters of contest in which animals are given as prizes
* Hobby breeders: sell directly to pet stores

Warning Signs that help in identifying high-volume breeders

Does the breeder/seller…

* Advertise in classified ads in the newspaper or on the Internet
* Use handwritten road signs to advertise puppies for sale
* Advertise that puppies are ready for Christmas, Easter, etc.
* Advertise many different breeds for sale

Does the breeder/seller…

* Tell you that the ‘deal’ can be completed by phone or e-mail
* Make up excuses why you can’t meet the puppy’s parents
* Offer stud services to the general public
* Sell puppies less than 8 weeks old

If allowed on property, do the adult parent animals…

* Appear dirty or poorly groomed
* Have temperament issues
* Spend their lives in stacked cages
* Have no water available
* Appear unhealthy
* Lack the proper shelter

Does the breeder/seller…

* Use registries that you have never heard of
* Tell you that papers are no available at time of delivery of the puppy
* Tell you to meet him/her and the puppy at a public location
* Sell the puppies at a public place like a flea market, dog auction, yard sale, out of the back of a pickup, etc.

What you can do to help

With millions of unwanted dogs (including 25% purebreds) and cats euthanized in shelters every year, there is no need for animals to be bred and sold for the pet-store trade. Stay away from buying puppies from pet stores, over the Internet or from newspaper ads. Buying puppies from these sources will help to keep the puppy mills in business. Instead, adopt from your local shelter or rescue groups. You can also contact your U.S. senators and representatives and ask them for better enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act by the USDA. Speak up and spread the word about puppy mills to your family and friends.

Source: Humane Society of Southern Arizona

From stew to fashion accessory: A dog's life in China

If you're a dog in China then you'd better hope to be of the cute and furry variety sold in pet shops rather than a homely-looking mutt sold at a live animal market as the main ingredient in dog meat stew.

Keeping pets is becoming all the rage among the affluent in China, even though some Chinese still consume dog and cat meat.

Combined spending on pet food and pet care in China will be worth an estimated $870 million in 2008, according to Euromonitor International. That's up roughly 15 percent from the $757 million spent in 2007.

"In Beijing, there's a huge market with pitiful dogs waiting in cages to be sold as meat, and literally a few yards away standard poodles dyed in all colors of the rainbow," said Jill Robinson, CEO of Animals Asia Foundation, a Hong-Kong based animal welfare charity.

Source: Reuters

Video: lord of the dance seal

Irish Eyes Are Smilin'

Happy St. Patty's Day--one of my favorite holidays! No, not because of the green beer. I love this day because I have a fair amount of Irish heritage, a couple of redheaded kids, a smattering of Irish freckles, and an Irish dog named Kelly. I also love parades, and there's our city's St. Patty's Day parade featuring plenty of green, local curly-locked Irish step-dancing classes and the marching Ancient Order of Hibernians.
I always enjoy reading some Irish literature to celebrate the holiday--James Joyce, William Trevor, and my favorite; Frank McCourt. "Angela's Ashes" is somehow amusing and compelling in detailing McCourt's heartbreaking Limerick childhood.
Recently, my husband and I watched a couple movies set in Ireland. The 2007 Academy Award winner "Once" is a simple, sweet love story. Filmed on a tight budget I think the result is a very real story with some beautiful ballads. The other movie, "My Left Foot" was interesting, yet I found it a bit difficult. The movie is based on the autobiography of a Dublin man with cerebral palsy who typed his life story entirely with his left foot.
More movies set in Ireland are "The Quiet Man" starring John Wayne, "The Secret of Roan Inish," and the rather graphic "The Crying Game" about the IRA and the Troubles, with that, uh, shocking plot twist.
So, Happy St. Patty's Day to you, celebrate in whatever way makes you happy. And I hope you're wearing the green!

Video: Elephants love Canadian snow


Booze with a Bite

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents seized 411 bottles of illegal hooch Thursday at Bayou Bob's Brazos River Rattlesnake Ranch in Palo Pinto County.

But it wasn't your typical variety of moonshine: the bottles of vodka also contained 10-inch rattlesnakes.

Bob Popplewell, the owner of Bayou Bob's, received widespread attention last year when Texas wildlife officials decided to tighten regulations for the collection of turtles. He is believed to be largest buyer of turtles in the state.

He testified before Texas Parks and Wildlife commissioners that he shipped 12,000 turtles out of state in 2006 and another 30,000 in 2005. Popplewell said that most of the turtles are shipped to Asia where they are considered a delicacy.

There was no evidence that Popplewell was shipping the snake-infused alcohol from his business but the investigation is ongoing.

Source: Star-Telegram

Your Pet On A Stamp

Think being on a stamp is reserved for heroes and legends? With you can turn your photo or logo into real US postage.

On the site, you can simply upload your image or photo, select the options you want to use, and your customized postage will come within two weeks. Plus, with, your image will be printed on a pretty large canvas for a stamp with the total size of the stamp measuring 2 – ½ x 1 – 9/16.

The concept is great, especially when sending things such as greeting cards and invitations to friends and family. The only drawback is the overall price. For 20 stamps, the cost is $17.95 (including face value of postage) plus shipping. Since the retail value of 20 stamps is $8.20, you’re paying a bit of a premium for your customized stamps, but for it might be worth it for the conversation piece it will become.

St. Patrick didn't do it

Legend tells that St Patrick rid snakes from Ireland's shores as he converted its peoples from paganism during the fifth century A.D.

The Christian missionary supposedly chased the reptiles into the sea after they began attacking him during a 40-day fast he undertook on top of a hill.

An unlikely tale, but Ireland is one of only a handful of places worldwide — including New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, and Antarctica — which have no snakes.

St. Patrick had nothing to do with Ireland's snake-free status, scientists say.

Most scientists point to the most recent ice age, which kept the island too cold for reptiles until it ended 10,000 years ago. After the ice age, surrounding seas may have kept snakes from colonizing the Emerald Isle.

Source: National Geographic

Baghdad Zoo Rebounding With Help from U.S. Vets

In better times, the Baghdad Zoo had more than 500 animals, including giraffes, elephants and exotic birds. But its location, inside Zawra Park in the city's center, put it in the middle of heavy fighting between invading U.S. troops and Saddam Hussein's forces in 2003. U.S. shells damaged the compound and inadvertently freed some animals; looting that followed the fall of Baghdad stripped away everything else.

Thousands of North Carolina-based soldiers and Marines are trying to make things as normal as possible for Iraq's people. North Carolina-based veterinarians are trying to ensure that for some animals in that embattled country, life is a zoo.

Veterinarians, students and animal researchers across the state are leading the effort to help the Baghdad Zoo -- once the Middle East's largest -- return to its pre-war glory days.

The U.S. established a Green Zone in Baghdad that included Zawra Park. Soldiers from the U.S. Army civil affairs were given oversight of the zoo. Cages and pens were rebuilt, and some animals were brought in. Last year, the N.C. Zoological Society raised money to buy computers to send to the zoo and got help from the military in getting an Internet connection. Eventually, zoo staff could use the connection to ask advice on how to treat the animals in their care.

While still not up to the standards of most zoos in the United States, the Baghdad Zoo is now an oasis for Iraqis, who stroll with babies amid grass and shade trees. The zoo has lions, camels, monkeys, bears, 23 aquariums' worth of fish, swans, eagles, donkeys, a hyena, a leopard, a fox, a few wolves and dogs.

Source: Red Orbit

Cute or not? Baby hamster

What happened to the unicorns?


'bunny and carrot' paper towel holder

Really cute kitchen paper towel holder in thermoplastic resin. 8" x 13.4".

$45.00 from Unica Home

Animals in the news

***** In the Macedonian city of Bitola, a bear was convicted of theft and damage for stealing honey from a beekeeper. Since the bear had no owner and belonged to a protected species, the court ordered the state to pay the 140,000 denars ($3,500) to the beekeeper for damage the bear had caused to the hives.

***** After two years of debate, the Dutch Parliament voted unanimously yesterday to make sex with animals a crime. Sex with animals and making "animal pornography" now carries a penalty of up to six months jail.

*****The government of Randolph, Iowa, has rescinded a five dollar bounty on stray cats . Instead, the town has agreed to work with animal rescue groups on a catch, neuter and release program.

***** In a bid for privacy, Leanne, the Sumatran tiger at the San Francisco Zoo, licked the video camera being used to monitor her and her newborn cub. To everyone's surprise, Leanne has three new babies, not just the one which had been filmed. The three 9-day-old Sumatran tiger cubs, all males, had their first health exam on Saturday, March 15, 2008. (Photo: George Nikitin, San Francisco Zoo)

***** Daniel J. Collins, 39, of Indiana, is being held on one count each of animal cruelty and battery and two counts of neglect of a dependent. He forced his 7-year-old daughter to kill the family cat by holding a knife in her hand and making her stab the feline. Collins told his 11-year-old son and daughter he wanted them to "learn how to kill."

***** Delta Flight 4704 was delayed more than five hours at the Des Moines International Airport on Thursday morning because of a mouse. Crews set up traps with peanut butter on board the plane when a flight attendant was too frightened to fly with the mouse onboard.

***** In Church Hill, TN, investigators are searching for whomever poured deer urine into an air conditioning unit at a school in eastern Tennessee. About a dozen students became ill after the prank at Volunteer High School.