One book leads to another...

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Friends of the Famous - Z

ReneeZellweger was still in college and intending to bring home a cat from the local shelter when a collie-golden retriever mix bounded from within a jumble of kittens and puppies to rest his little head on her foot. The dog basically named himself, she says of Dylan, by preferring to take his puppy-naps on the face of Bob Dylan, featured on a Rolling Stone magazine cover.  Later, with no formal dance or voice training, Zellweger learned what she needed to know for the stage production of Chicago during ten months of rigorous training and by watching her co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones, who by the way, has her own furry sidekick (a Coton de Tulear) named Figaro, who likes things his way. For instance, a ramp is brought in because ‘Figgy’ refuses to climb stairs and an impetuous spirit once prompted him to bark during one of Zeta-Jones’ performances of “Bring in The Clowns”! 

After a little more than two years training together, Marine Cpl. Jose Armenta and a German shepherd service dog named Zenit served in Afghanistan. As a team they worked ahead of their troops, identifying IED’s – except for the one Jose stepped on.  Waking up back in the states, Jose was dismayed to find that Zenit had been given another handler and re-deployed. While many wounded soldiers seek separation and closure, Jose felt incomplete.  Between many surgeries and throughout a lengthy recovery, Jose filed paperwork and petitions necessary for the retrieval of his canine friend.  When at last Jose picked Zenit up at the base, a three hour drive from home, the dog had no problem recognizing Jose in his wheelchair and drenched him with wet kisses.

In case you’ve ever wondered how a Zoo doctor’s day might go, Denise Rodgers has a few thoughts:

The Elephant Has a Bad Earache
The elephant has a bad earache.
The centipede stubbed all his toes.
The giraffe has developed a nasty sore throat
and the rhino can't breathe through his nose.

The mockingbird has an unclear ache.
The lion's so hoarse he can't roar.
The hog cannot eat, as his tummy's upset
and the parrot can't talk anymore.

The doe has a pain in the deer ache.
Just what should the beast doctor do?
The duck is so sick she can't possibly float.
It's a really bad day at the zoo.
by Denise Rodgers

Has a pet ever embarrassed you? Would you have kept Zenit too? When is the last time you visited a Zoo?

A to Z complete - Yay!
Thanks, everyone!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friends of the Famous - Y

Accustomed to accolades and adoration, new age composer and performer Yanni was presented the most extraordinary gift of a panda, given to him in gratitude by the country of China.  The honor of performing in the Forbidden City required first meeting personally with the Chinese Minister of Culture; which evidently went smoothly as the show indeed went on and the Chinese now teach their children Yanni’s music.  Although Yanni promptly named the animal Santorini, after the “most beautiful island in Greece” (his native homeland), Yanni explains that the female panda is not kept at his home but at an exclusive reserve in China, for she is an endangered animal. 

In 2011 a golden retriever named Yogi was awarded Valor Dog of the Year by the United States Humane Society for saving his owner Paul Horton’s life after a mountain bike accident.  Regaining consciousness but immobile, Horton talked a reluctant Yogi into leaving his side to go for help, which the outstanding dog did; resulting in his Horton’s subsequent rescue. 

Established as the world’s first national park in 1872 (although the National Park Service (NPS) wasn’t created until 1916), Yellowstone National Park remains a treasured sanctuary of ancient richness in both nature and cultural diversity through careful planning and thoughtful management, unforeseen disasters notwithstanding.  After a geological survey in 1871, Ferdinand Hayden expressed the importance of allowing the area to remain “as free as the air or water” offering little thought to the welfare of the prolific wildlife population, a subject which would come to an alarming forefront when elk were being poached out of existence and hungry bears turned their attention to park visitors.  Once the NPS had that under control it wasn’t until the ‘Summer of Fire’ in 1988; when over 780 thousand acres burned with hundreds of wildlife killed and all but a few displaced, that the NPS once again had their hands full. 
Meanwhile, due to practiced Predator Control both in and outside the park, the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves had been virtually eradicated within the boundaries of Yellowstone.  1995 saw the beginning of the wolf restoration project when initially fourteen were reintroduced, inciting the onset of exciting ecological changes such as increases in beaver colonies and elk populations. Additionally, as the elk are once again on the move without as much time for browsing (thanks to the wolves), the Willows along the streams are faring much better and the entire ecosystem is once again flourishing.

Are you a fan of Yanni? How about that Valor dog? Had you heard about the Yellowstone wolves?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Friends of the Famous - X

The Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican-hairless) dogs were a favorite among the many pets kept by influential Mexican Folk-art painter, Frida Kahlo who, despite having polio at age six, which permanently damaged her right arm, and surviving a horrific bus accident that left her with a broken spinal column, 11 leg fractures and multiple internal injuries, went on to paint her “own reality” in images of herself and many of the menagerie she assembled in place of the children she’d never have. Ms. Kahlo’s menagerie included monkeys, parrots, macaws, an eagle named ‘Gertrudis Caca Blanca ‘, and a fawn she called Granizo.

On extended break after the finale of the popular and long-running Warrior Princess, Xena series, Lucy Lawless enjoys life at home in her native New Zealand with her husband, two sons, and daughter Daisy, who has a mixed-breed mutt-turned-hunk named Lucky who “hasn’t bitten anybody” and has been to good behavior school. Meanwhile, Lucy holds out hope for a possible new Warrior season where the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle is more defined.

Janos Xantus, Hungarian exile and noted zoologist who, while stationed at Cabo San Lucas in 1860 as a tidal observer on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, was credited with the discovery of such natural endemic treasures as the Xantus hummingbird, glittering green-bodied beauties with a distinctive white stripe behind the eye, maintain a conservation status of least concern, the leaf-toed gecko; who squeak when handled, and whose sticky feet have nonetheless inspired scientists to create such modern marvels as wall-walking devices and medical adhesives for sealing wounds, in addition to the Xantusiidae; secretive little lizards commonly called Night lizards,  who altered  conventional assumptions when a five-year study revealed that contrary to other lizard types, these give birth to offspring rather than laying eggs, constituting strong familial social structures which prompted scientists to desist lizard collecting lest one be sorely missed by those at home, As well as one of the world’s rarest seabirds, the Xantus’ Murrelets, chunky diving birds of the Auk family which are split into two groups, Scripps which typically roost in natural island rock crevices and the Marbled, which tend to set up house in the highest branches of 200 year old coastal trees. These birds are believed threatened only by extensive logging. 

Are you familiar with Kahlo’s work? Were you a Xena fan? What’s the best thing you ever discovered?