Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Marilyn Monroe

This is another assignment for Comp 101 class we had to choose a picture and write a reaction for it.

Marilyn Monroe. Ballerina series by Milton H. Greene.

This photo was taken by Milton H. Greene in 1954 in his New York studio. It was chosen by Time Life as one of the three most popular images of the 20th century. Milton Greene became famous taking photos of many celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe to name a few. Greene and Marilyn became close friends during photo shoots and he eventually rescued her from a dismal contract at Twentieth Century Fox. They started a production company together called Marilyn Monroe Productions. He helped her become the icon she was and still is today. The dress she is wearing was brought over by Anne Klein and is two sizes too small so she is holding it up throughout the shoot.
I chose this photograph to write about because it is one of my favorite photos of all time. I remember when I was a little girl my father bought a copy of one of the photos in this series. I was intrigued with it the moment it came in the house. My father was so proud of it and showed it to all who came to visit. I perceived Marilyn Monroe as being the most beautiful woman in the world. Why else would my father spend so much time and energy making sure everyone noticed
her hanging there? I would stand in front of the photo for long periods and stared. The one my father owned was a little different than this one. In his copy she was in color, smiling and seemingly having a great time.
I had forgotten about the photo until I was an adult and came across it in a gallery. I was again, intrigued. In my fathers copy she had been smiling, but in this one she is not. I was again struck by her position in the photo. The way she is crouched over making herself smaller or trying to hide something. The flirty way her toes are curled. The dress she has on, is not the usual glamorous dress you see her in, it is kind of ragged and unseemly not to mention it doesn’t even fit! These positions were similar to the photo my father had, but the look on her face and the position of her hand are different, they are a little protective and unsure. I think the scared little orphan girl she was, is showing on her face for the world to see. I liked this photo better than the one my father had. This one was very candid and shows vulnerability, the other one did not. I have a copy of this photo in my house now, the way it is on this page, not the smiling photo my father had. It reminds me that no matter how confident people seem that there is a little girl on the inside that is scared and unsure about life.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Outside Observations after the rain.

I wanted to take a minute from my hectic life and write about the beauty of nature that some of us take for granted and some just don't notice.
I was sitting outside today with my dogs, taking a break from writing this really involved annoying paper for comp101, and took some time to really look and I mean really look. In both my art class and English classes I am currently taking we are learning about observation and really looking at things. I thought I was good at this before but now that I am practicing observation, it is amazing the things you see. Anyway I digress, but you should really try it.
I quickly became enthralled with how beautiful it was outside. It rained this morning for the first time in a long time. So the air smelled of wet earth (one of my favs) and moist air filled my lungs. I could feel the humidity attaching itself to my skin, it is a wonderful natural moisturizer.
I noticed that the bark on the trees was dark and wet and the leaves were so green against the dark wood and shiny because the rain had cleaned them off. The animals were out in droves busily finding food. Birds found bugs that the rain had stirred up. The squirrels as well as my canines were racing around the yard playing and enjoying the cooler weather. It somehow seems quieter after it has rained and occasionally I feel like the only person on earth, although not today.
The light here after it rains is magical. It is as if you are wearing glasses with a golden tint to them. This is truly magnificent and people who have never been to Texas or the ones who live here and don't notice it are really deprived of its stunning beauty.
Now you might be reading this and thinking that the next paragraph is going to be about thanking god ( and possibly getting uncomfortable depending on your take on god) for all of this beauty but I don't believe in organized religion, so I don't refer to the higher power as god. But I believe in it mainly because I look around me everyday and witness the diversity of life on this planet and the beauty that comes with that diversity and I just don't see how all of these incredible things just happened by accident.
So, there you have it, my "observations for the day" blog I hope you enjoyed reading it and moreover I hope the next time you are confronted with this kind of beauty you will take the time to notice it, breathe it in, feel it on your body and in your mind and most of all, be thankful for it.

This is a picture of the sky at sunset taken from the back porch of the hospital where I work after a storm had passed. The Texas sky after a storm at sunset is one of the best nature shows there is.

The Canine Vaccine Controversy

“Vac-cine /vak seen/n 1 a preparation containing weakened or dead microbes of the kind that cause a particular disease, administered to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against that disease”(Microsoft)

In 1884 Louis Pasteur invented the first rabies vaccine for animals, since then, 25 different types of canine vaccines have become available (Ford). Every year millions of domestic pets receive some form of these 25 different types of vaccinations as part of their annual wellness exam. It can be a daunting task for veterinarians to choose what is best for their patients and sadly is seems that some of them fall into the “Convenience rather than science” (Ford) trap. Vaccinations are essential in preventing serious, life threatening diseases and no one will argue that dogs don’t need them, but how much is too much?
Vaccines are now categorized as core, non-core (optional), and not recommended (American 2). According to the guidelines released by the American Animal Hospital Association or AAHA Canine Vaccine Taskforce, core vaccines are those that all dogs should receive in one form or another and “optional vaccines should be administered selectively, based on the animals geographic and lifestyle exposure and an assessment of risk/benefit ratios” (American 2). It appears that most veterinary professionals and agencies agree on the core vaccination schedule for a puppy’s initial vaccination series. These core vaccines are administered every four weeks starting at eight weeks and, continuing until 16 weeks. A rabies vaccine is also given at 16 weeks (Davis 615). These are then repeated at one year of age. The grey area, and therefore, the argument begins when you take into consideration how often to booster core vaccines after the first year and when to administer the non-core, or optional, vaccines.
Examples of core vaccines, include but are not limited to, distemper virus, canine parvovirus, canine adenovirus-2 and Para influenza (see appendix). Non-core vaccines, or optional vaccines that dogs should receive when they are at risk of contracting that disease, include but are not limited to, bordetella, lyme, leptospirosis and canine corona virus (see appendix). For example, Fifi the poodle that lives with grandma and never goes out side should receive only core vaccines, and does not need any optional vaccines. Whereas Duke, the Labrador that hunts in Texas, is in contact with many other dogs, as well as the excrement and parasites of wildlife. In addition to his core vaccines, Duke should have annual leptospirosis, lyme, and bordetella vaccines (see appendix). I think common sense should tell us that every single dog, regardless of lifestyle, and geographical location, does not need the exact same vaccinations.
Up until the late 80’s or early 90’s no one even thought about studying how long a certain vaccine lasted, This movement began when veterinarians linked a certain deadly malignant skin cancer, that occurs in cats, to vaccination with the rabies vaccine. Veterinary experts agreed that it was cheaper and more cost effective to simply vaccinate animals on a yearly basis rather than spend money on testing to see if the body still had enough antigens to fight off disease. Now the tide is changing, Richard B. Ford, DVM, MS, Dipl ACVIM states in his proceedings for the WSAVA 2002 congress that “Despite annual booster recommendations, adult dogs challenged 7 years and 5 years following MLV vaccination were protected” (Ford). Today companion animals are considered cherished members of the family, and their owners are expecting a different standard of care.
Today there are simple blood tests called titers that can indicate how much immunity a pet has to certain diseases so they only receive vaccinations they need. Melissa Kennedy, DVM, PhD, DACVM states in a message board regarding the use of titers, that she believes titers are an actual measure of the body’s protection against a certain disease (Kennedy). As this technology becomes simpler the cost to average pet owners is more manageable. Moreover as our pets are living longer because of better diets and the ever increasing quality of veterinary care people are finding out that some of the things we believe are best for them could really be harming them.
I interviewed seven veterinarians that graduated from different Veterinary schools between the years of 1992 and 2007 and posed the same eight questions regarding their administration of vaccinations. I was really surprised to learn why some of them vaccinate their patients the way they do. Some said that the vaccine protocol they used was set forth by the owner of the practice they worked for, some of them mentioned what they learned in school, one mentioned concern over public and animal health but only one mentioned a belief in not over vaccinating because she thought it would harm her patients. Only two of them said anything about assessing the patient’s lifestyle or administering a titer before choosing a vaccination plan. They all stated many reasons that would cause them to withhold vaccine which included but is not limited to, advanced age, cancer, severe reactions to vaccines in the past and end stage disease. They all agreed on the most common reactions to vaccines, the most severe is Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia or IMHA which can be, and usually is, fatal. They also mentioned facial swelling, hives, and shock all the way up to anaphylaxis (interviews). I have worked in the veterinary profession for more than a decade now and I can’t help but think, the increased frequency that we see cancers of the spleen, mast cell tumors of the skin, chronic orthopedic problems, and many other immune mediated diseases could be linked to the over stimulation of the immune system due to over vaccination.
Everyone needs time to change their minds about long held beliefs. I am also not telling you that you shouldn’t vaccinate your pet. Canine parvovirus and distemper are very serious, often fatal and highly contagious diseases that are still very prevelant in the Untied States. You might try presenting your veterinarian with what you have learned, and go to your next appointment armed with research. AAHA has a great website for the education of average pet owners in easy to understand language.
Some veterinarians are slower than others to change their beliefs and protocols. Others are not confidant in the research they are presented with and, still others know that the only way to get your pet in to see them for yearly exams is yearly vaccinations. Realize that they all have the welfare of your pet at heart and want to do what is best. You hear more and more about people that educate themselves before they go and see their doctor. I believe the same strategy needs to be used with your pet and your veterinarian. I also think that as we make advances in veterinary medicine we need to be advocates for our most beloved friends just as we are with our own health care.

Works cited

American Animal Hospital Association. Canine Vaccine Task force. 2006 AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Revised. 2006.
Davis-Wurzler, Gina M DVM. “Current Vaccination Strategies in Puppies and Kittens.”
Veterinary Clinics Small Animal Practice 36 (2006): 607-640.
Deiss, Tracey DVM. Personal interview. 29 Sept. 2007
Ford, Richard B. DVM, MS Dipl ACVIM : Canine Vaccination Protocols. Proc. of WSAVA
Congress. 2002
Heron, Deborah DVM. Personal interview. 24 Sept. 2007
Kennedy, Melissa DVM, PhD, DACVM. “Determining Specific Animals Need for Vaccination:
Use Antibody Titers Along With Risk Assessment” Online posting. 05 Mar.
2008. Veterinary Information Network. 06 Oct. 2008 SearchDB/boards/b0715000/b0712561.htm>.
McLaughlin, Carol DVM. Personal interview. 24 Sept. 2007
Microsoft Encarta College Dictionary. 1st ed. 2001
Pattenberg, Loretta DVM. Personal interview. 27 Sept. 2007.
Ramirez, Libby DVM. Personal interview. 26 Sept. 2007
Speed, Rachel DVM. Personal interview. 25 Sept. 2007

Glossary of terms

Adeno virus: This disease comes in two forms type one can be fatal and causes infectious hepatitis in dogs. Type two causes an upper respiratory infection.
Antigens: A protein that stimulates the production of an antibody. Antibodies are a primary form of our immune response. In essence they are the front line soldiers against infection from foreign invaders i.e. Colds.
Booster: Any vaccine that is given after initial vaccines in a series.
Bordetella: Bordetella bronchiseptica is the bacteria responsible for causing what is commonly known as “kennel cough” dogs get it from coming in contact with other dogs at shows, boarding facilities, and training kennels.
Chronic: Lasting for a long time.
Corona virus: A self limiting virus that most likely has been eradicated by vaccination.
Distemper virus: This is a deadly virus that affects the central nervous system and ultimately leads to death.
IMHA: Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia this is when the body’s immune system begins to destroy its own red blood cells. It is usually fatal.
Immunity: the body’s ability to resist disease.
Leptospirosis: Is a bacterium that is passed to dogs through the urine of infected wildlife. This bacterium resides in the kidneys and can cause them to fail.
Lyme: This is a tick borne disease that attacks the white blood cells, can cause painful joints and can ultimately cause death.
MLV: Modified live vaccine. This is a modified live version of the disease that when injected in small amounts helps the body mount an immune response.
Orthopedic: Pertaining to the bones.
Para influenza: This is a version of the canine flu that can cause pneumonia and possibly death.
Parvo virus: This s is a highly contagious disease that is passed from dog to dog in the stools of infected animals. Without extensive treatment it is always fatal.
Titer: A test to check the antibody concentration and therefore immunity in the body.

Friday, October 3, 2008

On Loving Pit Bulls

Another assignment for comp 101.

When someone says Pit Bull, what images do you conjure in your head? Do you picture vicious dogs that we all should fear? Do you envision dogs killing a human child? Do you think they should all be euthanized because they are maniacal killers? Are they only owned by gang members for the purpose of guarding drugs? Have you heard they can “lock” their jaws onto something and you can’t make them let go? None of these answers could be farther from the truth. In the U.S today, thousands of these dogs are mishandled, maimed, and even killed. They are beaten, starved and forced to kill little animals so humans can say they have a killer dog. They are tied up in yards and forced to take their frustration out on anyone who passes by. One of my missions in this lifetime is to dispel some of these myths and explain to you and the public, the truths of owning one of these truly incredible dogs.
The American Pit Bull Terrier also known as the American Staffordshire Terrier (Am. Staff.) was first introduced to America in the early 1800’s (Nicholas #4). They were bred by mixing the Staffordshire terrier of England with the original bulldog, a taller version of the English bulldog that we all know today (Cunliffe #364). The American version of the Staffordshire terrier was much bigger and therefore much better suited to farm work. They not only guarded the humans in the house but they pulled wagons, hunted vermin, and guarded livestock from coyotes and wolves.
They gained the trust of humans during World War I when Stubby, an Am. Staff., was the only dog to be promoted to Sergeant in the US Army for holding a German spy captive while he waited for his human officers to arrive (Nicholas #6). We all remember one of the most beloved American Staffordshire terriers of all time Petey the Our Gang or Little Rascals dog.
Petey was also the first Am. Staff. to be dual registered in the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC). Other famous Am. Staffs include the RCA dog, and Bud the first dog to ride in a car across the USA. Many famous people from history have owned and loved the Am. Staff., Helen Keller and Teddy Roosevelt are just a few (Nicholas #7).
In the 1920’s everyone wanted one of these beautiful and popular dogs. However, today this breed is receiving national recognition, but not in the same light. Severe mishandling, bad breeding, and over breeding have caused them to become everyone’s favorite villain.
In addition to loyal farm workers Am. Staffs have a dark side to their past. They were also originally used for bull and bear baiting (Cunliffe #364). This gruesome sport involved humans putting several dogs into a ring with a bear or a bull and cheering the dogs on while they killed the animal in a pack-like fashion. Many dogs were harmed during this game and were then killed and discarded like trash. To this day, people have illegal pit bull fighting rings in the US. I am sure all of you have heard about the recent escapades of Michael Vick, the former NFL quarterback. Some of the dogs found on his property had been strangled, drowned, set on fire and electrocuted because they were not good fighters. People who engage in this activity put heavy chains on dogs’ necks, beat them on the head, feed them raw meat and then give them little animals to chase and kill, all so owners can brag that they have an attack dog. The Monks of New Skete have been training dogs for all purposes since 1973 and they had this to say about protection training a dog, “Protection training often backfires” (Monks#170). The Monks also continue on to say, “An attack trained dog is like a loaded gun. It should be handled only by experienced persons in appropriate situations” (Monks#171).
The American Staffordshire terrier is a fiercely loyal breed, their only goal is to please the master. Writer Anna Katherine Nicholas has this to say about the breed, “Almost without exception whatever you want and demand in a dog this one will give you” (Nicholas #10). So if you demand excellence, loyalty, and companionship, those traits are what you receive from these pets. There is no need to train them to be fierce and protective; it is in their nature to guard their humans against harm. If you demand that your dog kill other dogs or intimidate people then they will do that to the best of their ability also. Believe it or not the Am. Staff. is first and foremost a family dog, they are never happier than they are when they are with their humans.
There is a lot of talk in the media of breed bans. Breed bans are legislative decisions put forth to ban a person from owning or housing a specific breed or type of dog. The public responding with a gut reaction agree with this, but they are missing the problem. Cesar Millan publicly known as “The Dog Whisperer” had this to say about banning breeds: “The truth is any breed of dog can become a red-zone case, it’s the power of the dog and the physical size of the victim that determines the damage” (Millan#182). Cesar Millan also states that in 2000 a little girl was attacked and killed by a Pomeranian mix (Millan#182). Picking out certain breeds to ban is not the way to solve a problem that has nothing to do with the breed of the dog. Dogs of any breed weighing over 30 pounds can easily crush the arm of a human. It is the owner of the dog we need to take into consideration. Banning breeds just puts a band-aid on the problem and brings us no closer to finding a solution for dog attacks on humans (Millan #182).
We as the human race have always used dogs for our pleasure. We use them as ornaments to look cute or tough. Many of us do not give any consideration as to what the dogs really want and need. When we spoil them as if they are human babies and do not give them correct boundaries, as well as treat them with respect, any dog can become dangerous. Too many dogs in this country are euthanized because a human went out and purchased a dog on a whim, perhaps as a Christmas gift. People don’t want to take the time to match the breed and temperament of a dog to their own; they just want a status symbol. Exercise, training, and feeding requirements are rarely considered, not to mention doing any research on the breed they want. People need to learn about the temperaments best suited to their lifestyle. For example high energy dogs should not belong to couch potatoes, happy go lucky people should have easy to train happy dogs, and people who are serious about training, and setting rules and boundaries are well suited for a powerful breed dog. If you take the time to research the breed before you acquire one, your experience will be that much more rewarding.
What some may not know is, Am. Staffs are commonly used as therapy dogs all over the USA. Today they are invited in to cancer wards to cheer up children and assisted living homes to visit elderly people. Their independent nature and high intelligence coupled with their tenacity make them well suited as search and rescue dogs. You rarely hear about these pit bulls, since they don’t make for a very extraordinary story. You only hear about Pit bulls on the news when some one has mishandled them, by keeping them chained in a yard with no socialization, no exercise and barely any food and water. Their frustration builds and then one day they break the chain or rope holding them and take out their frustration on whatever is closest. This is no way for such an intelligent dog to live.
I have owned and trained Am. Staffs for ten years now. My pack consists of four rescued dogs; three of them are Am. Staffs along with their pug friend, as well as four cats. I watch them
play with my niece and nephews, and observe them curled together in the bed with my cats, and when I look at their trusting loyal faces and think about the harm that could have befallen them I want to weep. These are not vicious mindless killers. They shouldn’t be illegal to own, they shouldn’t be burned, beaten, starved or drowned just for being pit bulls. They are fiercely loyal and loving companions who want nothing more than good food, a sensible leader to follow and a warm place to sleep next to me.

The dog pack. Start at the pug Suki and go clockwise, Daddy, Violet, and Lily.

Works Cited

Cunliffe, Juliette. The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. UK: Parragon, 2003.
Millan, Cesar. Cesar’s Way. New York: Random, 2006.
Monks of New Skete. How to be Your Dogs Best Friend. Boston: Little, Brown and Company,
Nicholas, Anna Katherine. American Staffordshire Terriers. New Jersey: T.F.H. Publications
Inc. 1995.