Sutter Brown – An Appreciation

Most people should know that Corgis herd cattle. Those humans who share their house with a Corgi know that we will herd anything. If they even hint at a walk a good Corgi will have them herded out of the house before they can have second thoughts. It takes real skill to be able to herd politicians. They are even more self-centred and difficult to herd than cats. Sutter Brown, who died last week, was a dog who showed a lot of style in his job of herding the politicians of California. Sutter was the dog of Governor Jerry Brown and Anne Gust Brown. Sutter may not have made all the decisions or worried too much about the detail but he would have brought a constructive happier atmosphere to difficult work.

Like all good Californian Corgis, Sutter was fond of dark sunglasses and looking cool. Obviously, he thought he looked cooler when sharing lunch with one of his owner’s staff or even a republican politician. Sutter was very bipartisan in his search for treats. He was very happy and very good at generating goodwill between the democrats and republicans of California and has told his sister, Colusa Brown, that some republican senators are a particularly good sources of treats .

Sutter died of cancer. This disease affects a surprising number of dogs. Dogs do not tell their owners that they are sick. The owners need to regularly check their dogs and if they find a lump they should bring the dog to the vet sooner rather than later.

Sutter is survived by the state of California and the Corgis of Wales and beyond.

Men Can’t Boil Eggs!

Peter is our office junior here at intelligent-dog.com. If we were human we might call him our general dogsbody, but we are dogs and do not want to give him ideas above his station. Anyway it is Peter’s birthday today. Happy Birthday, Peter! To celebrate this we are going to write a blog post on a subject which he knows intimately and his performance helps prove our point.

Boiling an egg is not rocket science or the most difficult task in the world, but it is still too difficult for most humans and probably all men. We have sat under the kitchen table listening to criticism of Peter’s efforts at boiling zillions of eggs.

“Ugh! What’s this?”

-“It’s runny!” – “You wanted it soft.” – “Only the white, surely.”

“Oh, but it’s a nice soft boiled egg with a completely hard white bit and an even harder yolk.”

Sometimes these unsuccessful eggs cannot even be eaten by a human. That is great, as dogs are more tolerant of errors and can always eat what a human turns their nose up at.

An egg (probably correctly boiled but who knows)

An egg (probably correctly boiled, but who knows)

In Mr Jeremy Paxman’s book about the British Royal Family there is a story in which he claims that Prince Charles gets seven eggs boiled for slightly different lengths of time and then chooses the best. Prince Charles claimed this was completely untrue, but who knows. We have overheard humans say that if they had the money they would also boil the seven eggs and pick the right one. All we are saying is –  Prince Charles can afford the eggs.

You have probably been waiting since you saw this headline for precise and clear instruction on how to boil an egg. For instruction that are so perfect that even a man would be able to follow them, and produce the perfect soft-boiled egg. Unfortunately we do not know how to boil an egg either. Sorry. 🙂

Invasion of the Nordic Walkers

I am not exactly sure where Nordic walkers come from. I guess it is somewhere up near the North Pole. I can understand them wanting to leave the North Pole, particularly at this time of year when it has neither daylight nor warmth. However, a lot of them seemed to have come to my forest just outside Warsaw. This I cannot understand. You would think that if someone was trying to escape from the cold dark winter they would go somewhere like Australia where they could complain about the heat or even the South Pole which in January would be like summer in the North Pole. Instead they come to my forest where it is dark at 3.30PM and for the next few months will be pretty cold.

 

Nordic walkers in the forests of Warsaw.

Nordic walkers in the forests of Warsaw.

I have not yet seen a Nordic Walker with a dog so I guess they have left the dogs back in the North Pole. I very much hope they have someone looking after them.

The other thing I cannot understand about Nordic walkers is the sticks. Each of them has two sticks and they seem to make quite a bit of noise with them. However, they don’t seem to use the sticks for anything useful. They are pretty robust sticks and could easily be used for a game of fetch. Once when my pups and I met a group of Nordic people we tried to persuade them they could do this but they ignored us and went on their walk making far too much noise with their sticks.

An interesting observation is that on January 1st it looked like an entire Nordic city had moved into my forest while on January 2nd it was more like a town and it became a village the following date. There are now Nordic walkers from isolated dwellings. I guess this may have something to do with how humans approach New Year’s resolutions.

Happy New Year!

Two Corgis in Transylvania or in Search of the Vampire

When we crossed the border between Hungary and Romania we thought it was just another EU country. The first surprise came when it turned out that they actually check your passports at this particular border (no Shengen or just over-cautious?). The next surprise came when we realised how remote and wild Transylvania is. The third surprise was that there are no Corgis whatsoever in Transylvania, and perhaps even in all of Romania (I found this out from a Romanian lady who kept screaming ‘Corgi’ at the top of her lungs and grabbing me every 5 minutes at the dog show and kissing my nose enthusiastically). Little did we know that there are a lot of other mythical beasts that still populate the Transylvanian countryside…. So, we encountered a number of sheep, goats, donkeys, chickens, rabbits, deer, elk etc. on the roadside and even in the middle of the road at all times – which made the going rather slow at times.

We had been in Transylvania for one day already and stayed in Cluj-Napoca when we decided to poke our Corgi noses into the vampire myth. It was dark by the time we arrived at Sighișoara. That is where he was born. Some people claim his real name was Vlad Țepeș, but this was a nickname he got after he had first impaled thousands of people and then “died”. His real name was Vlad III Dracula (Son of Dracul).

We saw signs of the Vampire’s influence everywhere we went.

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IMG_0238You won’t believe what happened as we were getting out of the car to explore. Darkness was falling over Sighișoara by then – it was cold and raining. Our people had parked the car at the foot of the Citadel where the old town is. Bonnie and I had just been taken out from the car when suddenly thousands of bats flew out of the tower and passed over our heads. Monika said it was just a flock of crows but we knew better. After all, this was Dracula’s birthplace.

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This is me outside the house where Dracula was born which now houses a restaurant

Dracula’s father, Vlda II Dracul, was a famous knight and a member of the order of the Dragon. When Dracula was five, his father became King of Wallachia. The family moved south from Transylvania and Dracula did not actually move back to Transylvania until after he “died”. Some historians say the event that shaped him, both as a man and a vampire, was the fact that he was kidnapped by the Turks at the age of 13 along with his brother Radu. Radu was a very subservient hostage and won praise from his captors for being handsome and well behaved. Vlad Dracula did not get such good references from the Turks.

Transylvania is famous for its Vampire tourism. I thought at first this meant that human tourists (with their dogs, obviously) visited the local sights because of the Dracula legend. However, I noticed there were a lot of funeral parlours in every town in Transylvania. These shops are open 24/7. I wondered why there were so many and why operated round the clock. Then it dawned on me. Their main customers were vampires who came to visit Transylvania to pay their respects to the great vampire and they obviously buy their sleeping coffins locally. We visited one of these excellent establishments and the owner was more than happy to show us all of his coffins

WP_20141016_001Dracula himself is very well organised. Throughout Transylvania there is a network of banks and ATMs called the Bank of Transylvania. At first we thought this was a regular bank but when you go to the Automated Taker of Money you can either purchase blood for money or donate blood for money.

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Dracula’s blood bank

No search for Dracula can be complete without paying a visit to Dracula’s Castle. This is also known as Bran Castle. They claim that Dracula never visited this castle when he was alive. This may be true but he definitely visits it now that he is a vampire.

IMG_0286The place was crawling with tourists from all over the world, including a lot of Japanese tourists with huge cameras. They were so busy taking pictures they completely ignored our host – Count Dracula. We had only our iPhone to take pictures with because we had foolishly forgotten to take anything else so we kept bumping into Dracula at every corner – in fact he was posing because he was doing a promo-shoot for some local TV. The tour of the castle ends in a courtyard with a medieval well in the middle. I tried to take a picture of this well when I was alone (humans are suspicious of dogs who use cameras). In spite of the fact that I though he wasn’t there at that time, when I looked at my photo afterwards there he was again, posing next to the well. The guy is obviously some publicity freak.

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So, we had a very exciting trip. We researched the Dracula business extensively (albeit using nose and iPhone), made friends with many exciting and smelly creatures, got kissed on the noses and admired by the locals, and enjoyed ourselves tremendously. We can therefore recommend Transylvania as a wonderful Corgi getaway.

 

 

Selfies for Puppies

Everything happens much faster in a dog’s life than a human’s. I am three years old and the mother of nine wonderful puppies, six of which are still living with us. Older dogs like older humans lose touch with the latest fashions. I like a nice atmospheric photograph that took someone time and energy to compose and get just right. The photographer should have to do some work to get the perfect picture.

Self-portrait by Alex

Self-portrait by Alex

The puppies on the other hand like selfies.

Like may be too weak a word. They love selfies! The idea that they can take a picture of themselves, share with everybody, talk about how good they look and then forgot they ever took the picture is something which really appeals to them.

Some puppies are not aware how easy it is to take a selfie so my kids have suggested I write about it in my blog.

Self-portrait by Amber

Self-portrait by Amber

The first thing to know about is the equipment. You need one of those smart phones which allows you to photograph yourself while at the same time look at what you are photographing. It is also extremely important to have a touch screen.

Next the puppy needs to get themselves positioned. A human is really useful for this. The puppy can sit on their lap as they position the phone. If the puppy is bored they can even give their minder a friendly nip.

Self-portrait by Aisha

Self-portrait by Aisha

It is also possible to take pictures with the phone on the ground and the puppy looking down at it.

By now you are wondering how exactly a puppy can take a selfie. Well wonder no more. When the puppy is ready for the photo they simply hit the screen with their nose and hey presto! A selfie! I hope you enjoy the selfies which my kids have done and illustrate this page.

Self-portrait by Aiden

Self-portrait by Aiden

The Puppy Diaries #3 – Big Bellies

When they turned up first they moved about with great difficulty and looked very fragile. One of my people used to help me make sure I was feeding them all. It was hard work looking after these little puppies. They seemed to just sleep and feed, or feed and sleep, all the time. Of course they did not neglect their toilet, but even then I had to encourage them. They knew the smell of the other pups and of me and that was their world.

Looking after the Puppies in the garden

Looking after the Puppies in the garden

Then they grew a bit. They got more hair. They seemed to move more and still they fed and slept, slept and fed.

When we all visited the Vet after two weeks he wanted me to start weaning the puppies. He suggested getting them some very nice steak and mincing it so it became puppy friendly food. Bonnie and I were perfectly willing to help them eat this but they seemed to get the hang of it immediately and started getting very fond of this food.

Puppies exploring

Puppies exploring

It is now five weeks since they were born they have started getting bigger bellies and doing lots more than sleep and feed. They sleep, they feed, they have a big play fight, they poop in the strangest of places. They usually like to show me, Bonnie or one of the people the poop and ask us to admire it. The people are not so good at showing their admiration here. They are getting bigger, they roll around, they play, they explore and they sleep and feed.

How to kill a good business without really trying!

In five or so years from now, when MBA students start analysing how Facebook managed to fall so low after being so successful, they will probably use the Facebook Corgi community story as the case that best highlights the beginning of the end. So, let me start off by telling you why we Corgis are annoyed with Facebook.

If you are reading this blog you probably know that I am an almost three year old Cardigan Welsh Corgi. I joined Facebook nearly two years ago when I discovered that there were other Corgis out there. It was great. I quickly became part of a vibrant and friendly Facebook community of Corgi dogs. Sometimes even their owners and friends joined in. We would exchange information on every topic, laugh and be happy at the good news, cry and be sad at the bad news, admire each others’ photos, and care for each other. We were using Facebook as a social network. This is important because this is what Facebook claims to be.

There are some who claim that these Facebook posts are being written by the owners rather than the dogs themselves. I even saw one post which said dogs don’t type. So how come you are reading this? Bark recognition software? I admit, there may have been some help from time to time but the posts were always written in the dog’s character and from the dog’s point of view. Many of the dogs are mischievous, some are coy, some have a lisp, some are religious, others are political, all love to talk about Corgis and food. Sometimes they write about the trouble they have just got into or typical dog and human problems – birth, life, illness, death. Most have a great sense of humor and an open attitude and everybody appreciates that this is a huge, online community that looks out for each other, and supports each other in good and bad times.

You would imagine this is great news but it turned out recently that Facebook has some problem with us. I am a Corgi living in Poland and I am friends with any other Corgis, other dogs, cats, and sometimes even humans on Facebook. I have nearly 2000 Facebook friends that I treat as real friends, and I feel I am part of a community that happens to use Facebook as the platform to interact. I am not sure why, but every so often Facebook would ask me whether I really knew these ‘people’. Every once in a while I would get carried away a little bit and invite a few friends at a time and I would get a warning no to be so friendly. Once Facebook even stopped me sending friend requests for a while and put me in a sort of “no new friends’ jail. All this in spite of the fact that I knew them much better than Facebook, as the majority of my friends were not ‘people’, they were dogs, and I knew them better than Facebook.

However this was a minor inconvenience. At the beginning of this year Facebook started deactivating accounts of Corgis on Facebook. I regularly looked through my friends and saw that instead of a picture of a beautiful dog there was a blank photo and info that this account was deactivated. One particularly well known Corgi, Boneaparte EvilCorgi has been deactivated and had come back twenty or thirty times already since this craziness started. Boneaparte lives in a house with many senior rescued dogs and has always said he wants puppies. In mid-April one of the dogs in his house who several vets claimed had been spayed gave birth to five pups. Boneaparte was delighted. His friends on Facebook were delighted and enjoyed the photos. Then Facebook deactivated his account again, and again, and again.

Boneaparte has been de-activated so many times but he is one of the few who fight this absurd Facebook abuse and keep reactivating their account under their previous name. It is extremely tough on him and others like him because they lose all their connections, photos, messages, and everything each time. Many have given up and just set up their individual pet pages rather than continue with accounts, and many others have just given up on Facebook entirely.

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I do not know how many other communities have been hassled and abused by Facebook in a similar way but I bet there are plenty. The real reason behind this is not the fact that Facebook believes these accounts are really pet or non-human accounts (because that would mean that Facebook thinks that Corgis and Poodles etc. own computers and pay for the Internet, which would in turn mean that Facebook is crazy) but the fact that Facebook has been changing its strategy and has in fact stopped being a proper social network but forgot to inform people of the fact. After they hit the big time on the stock-exchange and had to please all those investors and show them where the profits are, they simply lost focus and started pretending they were all sort of things, which they are not. They saw themselves as a technology giant (like Google) and a business platform (like Amazon). They started to perceive and present the users as assets that will generate future income rather than people, dogs, cats etc. From our point of view it did not matter too much what sort of bullshit they were selling their investors as long as we could continue as before and use this platform for social networking.

But then the money did not start rolling in as fast as they thought it would and they got greedy. This was interesting as they were a rich company, with employees that earned plenty, and incredibly rich owners who do not have to work ever again. Yet, they were determined to force all these small to medium sized business to start using Facebook as a business platform, and suspected everybody else of being a business but pretending to be something else (people, dogs, cats etc.). They thought these business were making a lot of money from Facebook (without there being any real business case to prove this) and not sharing this with them. The new Facebook now perceived itself as a business to consumer channel (B2C).

However, they did not tell anyone about this shift in strategy or their new paranoia, and everyone went on using it in good faith as if it was still a social network. So, they started putting the pressure on and harassing people, dogs etc. They started setting limits on ‘Friend’ requests, ‘Likes’, ‘Pokes’ etc. They suspected that businesses were pretending to be people, pet shops were pretending to be dogs, vets were pretending to be cats etc. Naturally, such things may happen but if they do then it is only a very small business where the account owners actually run their little business, sell puppies, try to find homes for cats, or raise money for dogs or kids because they are part of some charity etc. However, the algorithm for policing and deactivating these accounts also hit everybody else. People who had signed up and provided real data were deactivated and told that they can only recover their account after they send in a copy of their driver’s license or some ID. Those who refused would lose everything and if they tried reactivating they would be deactivated again in a day or two. This is what has been happening to Corgi accounts for the past six months.

However, everybody knows that to use Facebook you have to be a real person over 18 years old but Facebook did not care to enforce this when it suited them to brag that these billions of accounts were business assets and not kids, dogs, companies (who are clearly not individuals over 18 years of age) etc.

Now Facebook is not only the hypocrite but also a greedy corporation that wants to take, but does not want to give anymore. It is now so successful that it is the social Emperor and does not care what the plebs has to say about its new clothes. Facebook knew what it wanted to become, a marketing channel, a technology company, a media company. It wanted the social contribution from the community but no longer wished to stick to the deal and remain a social network where people have the right to maintain their content of their won accounts and exercise freedom of networking if they follow the generally excepted rules of social behaviors and the provisions of the law. The Emperor does not care about communities when he is busy changing the world of Fortune 500. The funny thing is that this is no great technology, and it will be relatively easy for others to build such a social platform. So, sooner or later there will be some serious contenders with enough marketing and one or two competitors will start pushing Facebook out of the picture. Facebook was right in treating the users as assets but has forgotten that these assets can move on to some other platform that will treat them better, and not try to exploit them at the same time as they are being controlled. So, if Facebook continues treating its users like they do at the moment, there will be more and more disgruntled communities like the Corgi one looking for other ‘homes’ and the competition will finally get its break.

As a Corgi with a human heart and a business mind, I can only say: go for it, the market is ripe!

Rusty

Moving Home

In a couple of months Bonnie, myself, our cat Sasza and our humans will be moving to our new home. Bonnie and I have been there a lot as we have had to check progress on how the house was being built. We currently have a small garden and in the new house will have a very big garden. This makes me very happy.

As you probably know from my blog I can be a bit of worrier from time to time. Everything seems to be fine with the new house. The humans talk a lot about something called money. Bonnie though that this was what the house is built of but I understand it is something which humans get for staring at computer screens from companies such as Solitaire Corporation. They then use this to buy dog food, cat food and other stuff like the stuff which is used to build houses. I will let the humans worry about this. My worry is about moving the cat.

Our new house is actually two houses. There is a big house and a garage with a flat on top. There is already one of our humans living there. On two occasions Sasza has been brought there. She hid under the bed for most of the time. This seems to be typical behaviour for a cat.

 

Giant Cat Heating Machine

Giant Cat Heating Machine

In the middle of the room there is a machine where humans burn wood and other stuff. This machine gives off heat into the room and it seems to be a very clever device. Sasza has informed Bonnie and I that this a “Giant Cat Warming Machine”. She says that this is a very good thing. Bonnie told us that there is an even bigger “Giant Cat Warming Machine” in the big house. Sasza may have been very pleased to hear this but she is a cat and pretends to be cool about everything. She just said OK. I think she will like this new house with its “Giant Cat Warming Machine” and I am bit less worried about the move.