Our Dog Kate

 Posted by on 9 December 2008 at 11:00 am  Animals
Dec 092008

This morning, Paul and I had to put our much-beloved dog Kate to sleep. She was diagnosed with an abdominal fatty tumor a few weeks ago. We’d hoped that it was benign and operable. Surgery was planned for a month from now, to allow her to recover sufficiently from an independent problem, namely an infected heart valve. However, late last week, the tumor spread to her spine. Her hind end became totally paralyzed over the course of a day, leaving her unable to walk. Nothing more could be done for her. Still, saying good-bye was very painful for us.

We adopted Kate as a full-grown adult on January 5th, 2000. She was our faithful companion for nearly nine years. She was the easiest dog to live with that I’ve ever known: her overriding goal in life was to be a good member of the pack. And she did that superbly. In return, we gave her an easy and happy dog’s life.

We are going to miss her terribly.

Here are some pictures to remember her by:




Just last night:

We miss you, Kate!

Cats Versus Printers

 Posted by on 1 December 2008 at 3:49 pm  Animals, Funny
Dec 012008

Cats and printers aren’t always friends:


Be sure to watch to the end for the grande finale!

Darwin Award Near Miss

 Posted by on 25 November 2008 at 4:43 pm  Animals, WTF
Nov 252008


BEIJING (AP) — A college student in southern China was bitten by a panda after he broke into the bear’s enclosure hoping to get a hug, state media and a park employee said Saturday. The student was visiting Qixing Park with classmates on Friday when he jumped the 6.5-foot (2-meter) high fence around the panda’s habitat, said the park employee, who refused to give his name. … He said the student was bitten on the arms and legs. …

The student was pale as he was taken away by medics but appeared clearheaded, he said. “Yang Yang was so cute, and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn’t expect he would attack,” the 20-year-old student, surnamed Liu, said in a local hospital, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Didn’t anyone ever tell this kid that pandas are bears?!? Or did he just think that his warm and fuzzy feelings would protect him from the tooth and claw of a dangerous wild beast? The mind boggles.

(Via The Agitator.)

Why I Want a Roomba

 Posted by on 21 November 2008 at 2:24 pm  Animals, Funny
Nov 212008

When an Engineer Owns a Dog

 Posted by on 19 November 2008 at 2:32 pm  Animals, Cool, Funny
Nov 192008

This is hilarious and cool! But now I can’t help wondering if the connection I feel with the dogs I play with is an illusion. ;^)

Bad Otto!

 Posted by on 5 November 2008 at 8:20 am  Animals
Nov 052008

I’ve never wanted to own a sea creature as a pet before, but this octopus seems very, very naughty: “A octopus has caused havoc in his aquarium by performing juggling tricks using his fellow occupants, smashing rocks against the glass and turning off the power by shortcircuiting a lamp.” And I do have a soft spot for naughty animals.

Not to worry, I don’t plan to take on an octopus anytime soon. However, after I rebuild my barn this spring, I’m going to get chickens and maybe a pig. They won’t be pets, however. They’ll be sources of food.

Derbyshire on the Morality of Animal Research

 Posted by on 9 September 2008 at 6:03 am  Animals, Ethics, Science
Sep 092008

British scientist Stuart Derbyshire recently wrote the following essay defending the right of humans to use animals in scientific/medical research, and attacking the current UK scientific mainstream position against such research.

I thought it was especially noteworthy that he attempted to make his case on moral grounds. For instance, his article is entitled:

“Humans are more important than animals”

Also, the subheading is:

“When it comes to using animals in research, the only moral judgement should be: does it benefit humankind?”

In a related earlier essay from 2006 entitled, “The hard arguments about vivisection“, Derbyshire also arguee:

There is very good reason for believing that human beings are special. The sheer staggering scale and richness of human culture are unlike anything in any other species. The development of medicine, industry, transportation, communication, clean water, a stable food supply, and so on, are the discernible signs of culture and progress that are evidently absent from the non-human world. The absence of such cultural development in the animal world means that their experiences are also likely to be wholly dissimilar from ours, both as a cause and consequence of their limited progress.

Arguments in favour of animal research must include an acknowledgement that human beings are special…

Derbyshire is definitely moving in the right direction, although he does not quite make the full moral case. What he lacks is the explicit identification of reason as the source of human “specialness” (although it is implicit in his argument). It is man’s capacity for reason that gives rise to and explains the various unique features of human culture and behaviour Derbyshire describes. “Reason” is thus a fundamental characteristic of “man”, and is why one properly defines “man” as “a rational animal”.

Derbyshire also doesn’t quite make the argument that reason is the source of rights and that it is precisely man’s capacity for reason (and the volitional exercise thereof) that makes man’s special moral status both possible and necessary:

The source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A — and Man is Man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational.

This is yet another example of where Objectivist philosophy can help place others’ good ideas on a more solid philosophical footing.

Nonetheless, it is encouraging to see a scientist taking a man-centered view of his work, and using benefit to man as his standard of value. I hope we will see more discussion by scientists along these lines. And I also hope that Objectivists will be contributing to this debate.

* * *

I did submit a supportive letter to Spiked, but I’m not completely satisfied with the argument I used. If anyone has ideas for better formulations aimed at an active-minded member of the general public, please offer your suggestions in the comments section. In particular, I am interested in formulations that would fit within the usual LTE word limit of 150-250 words. I also welcome any criticism of what I actually did submit. If I botched my argument or should have taken a different tack, please don’t be shy in telling me!

Here is what I submitted:

Thank you for publishing Dr. Stuart Derbyshire’s essay, as well as linking to his 2006 piece, “The Hard Arguments About Vivisection”.

As a practicing physician, I am blessed to see daily the tremendous benefits that patients reap from scientific breakthroughs resulting from animal research — such as new “clot buster” drugs to stop brain strokes.

I wish more scientists defended the morality of animal research on precisely the same grounds that Dr. Derbyshire does — that it is good for people.

Dr. Derbyshire is quite right — humans are special relative to animals, because they possess the unique faculty of reason. It is this faculty that gives rise to and explains all the manifestations of human culture that he rightly praises in his 2006 essay, such as “medicine, industry, transportation, communication”. Animals exhibit none of this complex behaviour precisely because they lack the faculty of reason.

Furthermore it is man’s faculty of reason, not his capacity for suffering, that makes the concept of “rights” both possible and necessary. Rights are moral principles defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context — principles which presuppose both volition and reason. Animals have survival needs, but not rights — we don’t say that a lion violates an antelope’s “rights” when it stalks and kills the antelope. Nor does a human violate a cow’s “rights” when he eats a hamburger.

If humans can morally eat animals for food, we can also properly use them for other purposes that serve human interests, such as medical research.

Thank you,

Paul Hsieh, MD
Sedalia, CO
Co-founder, Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM)

Update: My letter (along with a few others) appears here.

Fabulous Ninja Fighting Kitties

 Posted by on 3 September 2008 at 12:18 pm  Animals, Funny
Sep 032008

Here at NoodleFood, we are personally committed to sharing the best in funny animal videos with you. Hence, Fabulous Ninja Fighting Kitties:


Aug 282008

On Wednesday, I received the following e-mail from Mary Fries, the owner of Isle Farms with her husband Rod. I own a cowshare and a half with them, so that I can drink a gallon and a half of their clean, safe, and delicious raw milk each week.

I decided to post it here, with permission, because it highlights the very real evil of blind sympathy for wild animals fostered by animal rights activists. Plus, given how much I love my raw milk, I’d be delighted if others would write a supportive e-mail to the County Commissioner.

Here’s the letter from Mary:

Dear Shareholders,

I realized last night that this issue pertains as much to you as it does me, so I wanted to include you and ask for your help.

Yesterday, I was out on the land, checking in on a new calf that was born this weekend. As I was standing in front of the herd, they all started running-straight towards me!-and it was all I could do to spin around one, step, spin again, and end up leaning up again the barb-wired fence. Right behind the cows, at full run, were a pack of wild dogs. One was a pit bull-who headed straight for me. I grabbed an old fence post that was by my feet, and that detoured him from coming closer. He and the other dogs left without further prodding.

This is a good summary of what the news was talking about a few weeks ago, about the dogs here in Ellicott. We personally have been fighting this problem from the get-go. The law regarding wild dogs is this — you can only shoot them if they are in the midst of attacking your livestock. Many times Rod has gone out there with the shotgun, while the dogs were in the midst of chasing the cows, but by the time he gets in range, the dogs see him coming, and run off.

I phoned Amy Lathen (County Commissioner) almost immediately yesterday. She headed up the plan to finally get these dogs under control, after years of complaints from residents. When I explained what happened, she said she had a contract ready to go with the USDA for the trapping, but they were dragging their feet. Apparently, after the news ran the segment, they got so many emails from not just Colorado Springs residents, but throughout the country, and all the way from INDIA!!, with people berating their efforts as inhumane.

I’m all for animals, but the people emailing do not have any idea of what the farmers and ranchers face when these things happen. For our farm, and many others in the area, this is part of our livelihood. These dogs are WILD, and the situations that are arising, are downright dangerous for both livestock and humans. And humane — what about the cows? They stress from being chased, and having to fight them off!

I’m asking that all of you take a second and email Amy, let her know that you are behind her effort to help our community keep ourselves and our livestock safe. You can say anything — a short “we are behind you in your efforts” to “I have ownership in livestock in Ellicott, and support you in helping keep them safe”. Whatever you can do, I think she was pretty beat up over this whole thing.

Although — her final words to me were “That’s it. We are going to do this.” Here is her email — [email protected]

Huge thanks to you all, from me AND the cows :o)

One more thing — after the cows stampeded past me yesterday, they ran in a U shape, and I was trying to figure out why they didn’t run VERY far away. Then I happened to notice, surrounded by 18 pairs of hooves, a little head popping up out of the grass — Baby Dolla :o) They weren’t going anywhere with that baby unprotected… what good cows :o)


Here’s the letter that I wrote to the County Commissioner:

Dear Ms Lathen,

I’m a resident of Douglas County, but I have livestock in Ellicott. (I have shares in Mary and Rod Fries’ herd.)

I’m very concerned to hear of the wild dogs that have been periodically terrorizing their farm, putting people and livestock at risk. So I wish to express my wholehearted support for the county doing whatever is necessary to neutralize the threat posed by these wild dogs.

Human lives and property should not be at the mercy of dangerous feral dogs due to misplaced public sympathy for them. Human beings and human concerns should come first!

Thank you for your efforts to take care of the problem.

(Please feel free to forward this letter to whomever you please, if that would be helpful to you.)


Please feel free to write your own brief letter of support to the County Commissioner ([email protected]). She needs some moral support for her totally just decision to prioritize humans and livestock over dangerous feral dogs. Basically, it’s a good opportunity for a wee bit of activism against the animal rights crusaders. And it could make a great deal of difference to the safety and welfare of the people and livestock terrorized by these dogs.

Happiness is a Warm Puppy

 Posted by on 11 August 2008 at 1:06 am  Animals, Law
Aug 112008

I couldn’t have said it better myself:

Pet rentals

Now banned in Boston, perhaps because of the risk that they might bring too much happiness to the humans involved.

The Massachusetts House has passed a bill that would outlaw pet rental in Massachusetts:

The bill, filed by Representative Paul K. Frost, Republican of Auburn, outlaws pet-rental companies because of what he called “public health, public safety, consumer concerns, and ethical issues.”

“I’m very pleased we were able to get it passed today and engrossed in the House,” Frost said. “It’s a kind of business model that fosters disposable pets.”

Let’s unpack that one, shall we?

People presumably rent pets because they enjoy them but have decided they’re really unfit to own one. Or perhaps they are unsure whether they want a pet so they want to try it out first. Isn’t it better that these people don’t proceed directly to pet ownership? And doesn’t this create a larger pool of potential owners, as potentially responsible pet owners, originally unsure of their fitness and so abstaining from ownership, learn first-hand that they really would be a great pet owner?

Now, consider the following facts about the pet rental business in question:

  • All of the pets are rescued animals who have been socialized and trained.
  • The pet rental company lets you adopt a pet you like.
  • The pets aren’t kenneled, but live in homes when they’re not being rented.
  • After they’ve passed rental age, they’re placed into permanent homes and provided for by the pet rental business — for life.
  • Any pet rental company with crazed animals is going to go out of business, after which its owners will be sued into oblivion.
  • The only way to sell a desirable product — an enjoyable animal companion, in this case — is by treating it very, very well.

Read more of the FAQ at FlexPetz and you’ll realize just how well those pets are treated. I don’t think that the people who are against pet rental have actually read the FAQ and understood how ethically that business operates. It’s clear that pet rental is a perfect option for animals in shelters and pounds that no-one is adopting, but who are otherwise adoptable. Would the animal activists prefer that these animals languish in shelters with no human attention for the last miserable days of their lives?

Frankly, I think pet rental will promote pet adoption. And for those pets no-one wants to adopt, at least they’ll be treated very well simply because of the profit motive, and because they will never have to spend time with a human who isn’t 100% excited to have them around.

None of this is to say that animals, even those humans adopt as pets, have any legal rights. They don’t. But it is possible to pass judgment on whether a person’s behavior towards an animal is moral or immoral. FlexPetz looks decidedly moral.

For the people opposed to this business, I think happiness is a miserable puppy. Lonely animals on death row in shelters give them something to vent their nihilistic rage about.

(Cross-posted at ms. think.)

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