September 30, 2009

Tsunami:100 feared dead

New Zealand may have escaped unscathed... Samoa sadly, not so lucky, and there was at least one New Zealander in the death toll.
The recent heavy rain and storm that caused devastating flooding in the Phillippines, has apparently continued into Vietnam. Now another natural disaster has struck with the earthquake off Samoa. The lightning storms that we watched last night in Auckland seem tame in comparison to this scene.
Thoughts are with the people of Samoa.

Posted via web from Fiona's posterous

New Zealand authorities prepare for tsunami |

The television is saying no risks to New Zealand... this was updated five minutes ago with a different story. I guess if I was on low lying beaches I might be going for a drive! Just hoping Christchurch continues to be alright!
Very sad for the losses in Samoa..
Last night we watched the lightning storm over Auckland and turned all the lights off as the torrential rain lashed at the windows. As it was then exactly 24 hours before we were due to fly home, we did wonder what the weather would be like by tonight! So far, just rain... then sun, then rain... as per usual. It makes me very aware of how dry we are in Christchurch - just last week we sat at work, mesmerised by the sight of heavy rain! How a week changes you lol.

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September 29, 2009

Puppy nearly destroys $1.3m winning ticket |

A puppy almost ruined a Christchurch man's chances of claiming his $1.3 million Lotto windfall.

"We had the ticket on the sofa, and our puppy grabbed it and took off with it, so it was a little sticky, but not too bad," the winner, who wants to remain anonymous, said.

The man says he has no immediate plans for his $1,306,235 windfall, but his family will be the main benefactors.

Not so good if the puppy had destroyed the ticket!!! Nice that it was one by someone near where I live in Christchurch!

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Cat poaches eggs in time for breakfast - oddstuff |

We all know cats like to collect things... read lots of stories about the "treasures" they bring to their owners... usually socks, shiny things, rats.... but I have never heard of eggs! This cat must have a huge mouth to be able to carry an egg home, and if these are the eggs in the picture, he did it without puncturing them too...impressive!

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September 28, 2009

Baby boost for endangered kiwi |

We are lucky to have a Kiwi Recovery programme running here in Christchurch, at our local Willowbank wildlife reserve..
I have written about it before at :
This is part of a large national scheme

Today it was announced that a Haast tokoeka chick has hatched at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, the first kiwi of the season at the Christchurch breeding facility.

"If these chicks were born in the wild and not protected by large-scale predator control, more than 90 per cent of them would die," said the Department of Conservation (DOC) programme manager for the Haast tokoeka project, Gareth Hopkins.

In July, two juvenile kiwis were transferred from Willowbank to a predator-free enclosure at Riccarton Bush, which is being used as a kiwi "creche".

DOC ranger Malcolm Wylie said yesterday there were now five juvenile great spotted kiwis at Riccarton Bush. "We look forward to them putting on weight when the weather gets warmer, and they're still on schedule for release in early November," he said."

Great news.

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September 27, 2009

Auckland... kids, fishy tales and the zoo

We are still in Auckland, catching up with Phoebe's family... and having a lovely time.. at the beach, Stanmore Bay, below their home

 At Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

Finding Nemo... and friends

Checking out the gift shop


You can see some of the fish at Kelly Tarlton's  here and today, on a beautiful sunny day, we went to Auckland Zoo, and you should be able to see photos  here

My favourite bits were

The trams

and I always love the flamingos

Remember there are always others with problems - how is your body image?

for their sheer grace - the sea lions at home in their pool were brilliant

No idea what we will do tomorrow - recover from the last three days and just hang out with the girls probably... :)

September 26, 2009

Fishing Cats from Thailand

At last... found out more about Fishing Cats - they are real, and they even have webbed feet. It makes me wonder if this is the type of cat I wrote about in an earlier post - Cat Wrangling! Look though it for the pictures of the cat in the bath... The only problem is this is pictured in a home bathroom, and I think Fishing Cats tend to be in Zoos... but, I am still pleased to know there really are cats that do this!

Check out this video from Cincinnati Zoo of the Fishing Cats from Thailand...

You can read more about them at The Fishing Cat Research Web Page...

Thanks to Tammy from Vet Wisdom Cafe for the lead on these cats :)

Diners lash cray game - news - waikato-times |

A restaurant allowing people to catch their own live crayfish, mimicking an arcade game, has caused outrage.

The Backyard Bar and Restaurant on Auckland's North Shore operates Catcha Cray where diners pay $3 to manoeuvre a claw inside a glass tank to try to scoop up a crayfish to be cooked for dinner.

It is believed to be the only restaurant in the country offering the game.

The Auckland SPCA fielded concerns from five customers worried about the crayfish's treatment but was satisfied the game was safe after it was looked into by a leading fish and crustacean expert, inspector Todd Neal said.

"It's been done quite well, it's been researched. It's no different from any tank of crayfish in a restaurant.''

However, customer Lynette Baker said the metal hook used often pulled off the crays' claws and legs.

"Then they just throw the crayfish away or put the live ones back in the fridge for the next day.''

The owner of Catcha Cray, who wished to be known only as Patrick, said the arm used to catch crayfish consisted of three half-hoops that gently scooped them up.

The arm dropped the cray into a padded box and it was then taken away to be cooked.

"Every crayfish caught is going to be cooked. It's not cruel at all,'' Patrick said.

Crayfish are officially included as part of our Animal Welfare Act... I can't believe this is acceptable!!!!

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Over 1000 animals rescued from a house in Houston by the SPCA..

The owners said they bred them for local flea markets!
Imagine over a 1000 animals - of all sorts, in a suburban house.

Just glad that someone bothered to ring and report these people... it is too easy to turn a blind eye to the abuse of animals, and people, happening in our own neighbourhoods!

Havig a lovely time in Auckland... but sitting here appreciating some early morning cool air on my arms before the warmth and humidity starts up for the day... we are taking the girls to Kelly Tarltons Underwater World today . Have been before a few times - in fact, we took our children there when it opened in 1985, actually seeing the man himself, Kelly, there. Sadly he died not long after that, but his legacy lives on. The massive acrylic tunnels are 100 metres long and let you see the fish, and sharks, up close and personal. They seem enormous; hard to believe they are actually one third smaller because of the refraction.

My favourites are the sharks and the elegant sting rays as they glide over your head!

It might be warm, but it is wet... so at least we will be inside.Will try the zoo when the weather clears...

September 24, 2009

Cat found wrapped in duct tape in US - oddstuff |

WHY? Words fail me at how people entertain themselves... but I am pleased to see that a US $1000 reward is being offered if the person responsible is convicted.
He has been nicknamed "Sticky" and is reportedly doing well after requiring sedation to cut this all off!

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Unlikely… Acquaintances - Snuzzy

While we are on the theme of big cats and rodents!

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September 23, 2009

Ananova - Giant rats found in 'lost world'

I may have written lovingly about pet rats recently... but I am not sure I want these Giant Rats to catch on as pets! At 1.4 kg, they are FIVE times the size of "normal" rats.. which is a whole lot of rat. Bet someone decides we need these and tries to smuggle them around the world...yes, I watch "Border Control" on TV occasionally. The man quoted : "The giant rat is about five times the size of a typical city rat," said Kristofer Helgen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
"With no fear of humans, it apparently came into the camp several times during the trip."
I did wonder about posting this picture the first time I saw, um, (perhaps encountered is a better word) it, but decided not to. However, today, I read about a rat attack here in New Zealand:
" I felt something jump on to my bed and I thought it was the cat"... well you would really - probably wouldn't occur to me it could be anything else!!!
Apparently, when it was near her neck, she extended a hand to give it a pat. The startled rodent then latched onto her upper lip.
After hearing his wife screaming, her husband turned on the light to see a rat, which relinquished its grip and took off into the couple's bathroom. He said, "It was about nine inches long, very round and cuddly ... well, violent, actually,"
I am not kidding - you can read more at :
I found myself hoping that this was nothing to do with the type of rat in this picture! Still, I don't know which is worse - that a new species of giant rat might arrive here, or that our local NZ water rats have achieved this sort of reputation already? Either way, I can feel the hairs on my arms rising at the prospect of encountering any very large wild one, at night, in bed.

September 22, 2009

Watery walkies work wonders |

Hydrotherapy is a great way to help pets recover from surgery, or to exercise when they have sore or arthritic joints. There are many opening up here in New Zealand. Because of the floats, or in deeper water, they will be able to exercise with no weight on their legs, and the warm water helps with their mobility and some pain relief too.

"The aqua-treadmill helps dogs suffering from arthritis, obesity or rehabilitation after surgery. The water level and temperature are adjustable to suit the dog's condition and comfort, and there are even water jets to provide extra resistance."

Animal massage and physiotherapy are ways we can help animals recover faster after major orthopaedic operations. It has always been a popular way to get horses fit as well.
Have a look for one near you!

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September 21, 2009

Surge in supercats as domestic pets mix with with wild breeds | Mail Online

Britain is experiencing a surge in supercats as traditional breeds are mixed with larger, wild cats, it has been revealed.

Traditional, domestic pets are increasingly being replaced by new breeds that are crossed with African or South American wildcats.

However, animal welfare groups have warned that the 'novelty' trend could pose a danger to other pets and even small children.

Enlarge   BDBDGF Savannah cat (Felis catus X Leptailurus serval)

Two of the savannah breed. They are the most popular supercat and are bred from a serval, a cheetah-like wildcat found in Africa

We read a lot about what happens to children when dogs go "bad". Are we setting up children for more injury by allowing these larger cats to be bred. Although they may enter homes without children, we all know there will inevitably be neighbors and visitors. And cats like this that get outside cannot be fenced in!

Peter Neville, an expert in pet behaviour from the Feline Advisory Bureau, said: 'Cats are predators. I wouldn't be happy with a savannah around a small child, because of their genes and their size.

'They are going to do a lot more damage than a normal domestic cat. Their paws are bigger, they are stronger and they will bite deeper. Just because you can tame one, doesn't mean you can tame them all.'

The RSPCA has claimed that the savannah 'could prove to be dangerous'.

A spokeswoman said: 'Where a wild cat or a wild breed of it is then being brought into a domestic environment, there is always going to be concerns about that animal's temperament.

'You don't always know what you're going to be getting. We would advise anyone thinking of getting a different sort of cat or a novelty animal to think about it extremely carefully.

'You need to know what you are doing. There are concerns about it.'

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September 19, 2009

One Year of Blogging

It is my one year blogging anniversary - and 195 posts... I nearly missed it as it was really yesterday! I just reread the very first post.... the ice breaker. The scary thing is that all the sentiments expressed could have been written again today! My first comment was from my friend.. who I have just got off the phone to, although this year she is up in hospital and I have had her daughter here for the night.

Has life changed? Yes in many ways it has, inevitably, as the world would be pretty dull if it was constantly the same. However, I am still in the same job, living with the same man, in the same house, with the same pets, the same children are at home and my parents are near.

Since a year ago, my son and DIL have gone to live overseas for a year, where they are well and happy. You can find them and their pictures on their site - Life in Bangladesh 

This photo was at the airport as they left this year - but he now sports a red bushy beard...
Sorry no photos of that - we just see it on skype!

We also gained Phoebe, an adorable new and third grand daughter in our lives.

Sadly, they have now moved to Auckland, but Phoebe will be one year old in October  and in just five sleeps from now we will fly up to visit them all for a week :) Their blog and latest pictures can be found here: Treacy Travels.

or find her on youtube  - here she is getting jiggy with the push chair we got her...

I guess the other thing I am reflecting on is have I changed? I would like to say yes; certainly I have grown. Until very recently I would have said I felt more serene, happy in my relationship, not anxious. But, as happens, we hit some speed bumps this week which slowed us down for a while and I had to face some anxieties. Challenges often do that.. hit you from multiple directions at once. Guess that juggling it all will mean you drop the ball occasionally. On reflection, I did cope pretty well - I didn't cry, or curl up in a ball, or over react so this means I was able to keep it in perspective and focus on managing it!! Today I feel like I am back to that serene part - growth indeed.

I am still relieved the holidays are almost here as the time with no classes gives us all a moment to breathe, reconsider, prepare and recover. Like anyone involved in education, the frantic pace we have been working at, the high enrolment numbers, the expectation and demands from industry, procedures, technology, staff changes, audits, moderation, assessment and the relentless worry associated with ensuring the needs of the students are being met has left us all feeling battered. We badly need to recharge ourselves. I guess one high point I, and I hope my work colleagues, did get this month was the team spirit we gained from uniting to support each other against a raft of difficult situations. You know, the ones that knock you sideways when you least expect it. It always makes me think of The Suncreen Song:
Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.
We also know the words of Abraham Lincoln:
"you can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time".

I think this should be engraved on our office doors... the need to discuss the issues and recognising that it is a problem we really are all facing together made such a difference to how it made me feel. I know we will continue to do our best to meet the needs of as many as we can, and try not to hurl ourselves under a bus over the ones that we can never please. To each their own jouney. People are defined by their experiences and their actions will determine their path in life. What goes around, comes around. I have been lucky that nearly all my work brings me in contact with awesome people that I enjoy being with and teaching. Many others are not so lucky. Here are two pix ttaken in our class yesterday... one scenario from the groups, involving many hours work sorting out the right and  wrong ways to handle issues they will face in practice.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying a peaceful and sunny morning, pottering around doing the washing and having some idle thoughts about what I need to pack this week for our holiday.

Life is good.

September 18, 2009

Dog dies after blunder |

Microchipping is a big step forward for New Zealand dogs.. the chances of them being rehomed is much greater if they have one. One day, some day, a scan will show their true identity! However, sometimes all the technology in the world does not prevent mistakes. Sad to think these people lost their pet this way - but I do know, one thing I have learned - if your pet goes missing - visit everywhere: the local pound, the SPCA and any other animal rescue centres in the area.. don't rely on the system, or phoning round with descriptions. Leave details with every vet clinic.

One case we had here concerned a white cat that had been missing for many weeks. The owner rang all the local clinics. No sign. By sheer chance, a mutual friend visited a local rescue centre and admired the white cat in there.. who was inclined to be timid and standoffish despite the care he was getting. As soon as she spoke, he perked up and came to meet her, rubbing against her in a way she recognised! One quick phone call and he was reunited with his Mum. It turned out that he had been picked up and taken for treatment to the vet clinic that was known as the clinic for this rescue centre, not to any clinic in the area he lived in; he stayed there for some time, but it was not a clinic the owner had thought to ring because it was so far away. Eventually the vet clinic discharged him to the rescue centre to live there until he could be rehomed. He had not been at the rescue centre when she rang them initially... because he was still at the vets. He really fell through the cracks..just glad there was a happy ending that time :)

Posted via web from Fiona's posterous

September 16, 2009

Dog crashes car - cutestuff - life-style |

"I'm just nipping down to the shops Mum... anything you want? Bones? Jellimeat?"

It has been hard enough watching my kids learn to drive - do I have to start with the dogs now?

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September 13, 2009

New views of New Zealand: A kid, a cake and fake poo

Kitty Litter Cake.
Complete with fudge poo...
Love it - although might feel weird eating it!
According to the family:
It is a carrot cake base and we put a streusel topping on it after it was baked, hoping it would give the cake a 'real' look.
I think they were successful!

I think this one looks more realistic but you can also look here:

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September 12, 2009

Christchurch, The Garden City, Spring Fever

Yesterday was one of those golden days where we had a rare afternoon off together and met up at the beautiful Christchurch Botanic gardens for coffee... a beautiful place that holds many memories for us both. In full spring glory, the daffodils and blossom are at their best... and I often drive through the centre of the park where the trees line the road with this blossom. Finally, our trees are bursting into green again!!!!
Catching blossom...

The magnolia walk - taking a close up picture - see next shot

Enjoying the warmth, we headed towards the beautiful ponds that I used to take the children to visit and watch the goldfish. Or are they Carp! A journey round the gardens is usually a feast for the nose.. and yesterday was no exception. As we approached the water, there was a strong smell of chlorine; so strong I was trying to work out which flowers were producing the smell! Certainly wasn't the magnolias nearby. The smell eased as we stood by the pond, but the water was crystal clear, bubbling from a fountain, and with no plants or algae... hmmm.

Further on we explored the other pond, where there used to be lots of fish, and on a hot day, they would bask on the surface near the bridge.... sadly, we only saw one, and it seemed to have lost its tail fins, moving sluggishly. Not sure what is going on there! It is such a beautiful place.. should still be lots of fish there.

As we walked round, we were this time struck by the strong smell of pesticide... and we were discussing that the smells were all man made chemicals! At the next large bush, two young men were lounging round; the pesticide had not worked - there was a strong smell of "weed".... we managed to keep straight faces.

On the final part of the pool circuit, this romantic looking couple were busy texting on their phones all the time we were there... sad!!!!!

It was a beautiful day, and there were lots of ducklings everywhere...which is one thing that makes me feel like spring has really arrived. In the rivers there were eels and trout so whatever damage has happened to the other fish ponds, it was certainly not evident anywhere else, which was a relief :)
I will leave you with a picture of Saffy... the cigar like object in her mouth is a dental chew bar... which she adores and usually races out to demolish in record time. Today, we could not let her outside as the gate was still open, so she sat and looked at us, salivating madly, worried we might tell her off for eating on the carpet... had to take a picture! Her Winston Churchill look :)

September 11, 2009

Pet First Aid and CPR

At the request of one of my readers, I am going to show you a few sites and demos that we use to teach First Aid to our animal care and vet nursing students. There is no quick way to learn everything you need to know, but if it is an area that interests you, there are things you can do to help yourself be better prepared as a pet owner.

First Aid is not what happens when the animal arrives at a vet clinic - it is what happens when you least expect it, are the least prepared, and do not have time to read a text book. What can you do right there, right then, in the light of the headlights; at the park or when you smash a car window and pull out a pet that is overheating.

Whatever the situation, always keep yourself safe and look out for any danger to yourselves or other people.
 The most important thing is that there are some techniques to practice, and that you might need to improvise to make muzzles, stretchers and bandages. Remember - injured dogs can be scared and sore - they can bite.. protect yourself.

 In any emergency - once we have made the scene safe, we always check the ABC's:

A - Airways - can they breathe - is there an obstuction! Are they breathing?
B - Bleeding - is there a lot of blood loss - is it spurting out or just oozing?
C- Circulation - is there a pulse or heartbeat?

To help you learn what to do, a good human first aid course is very useful. The techniques are similar, and help people to be aware of the essential skills they need, for all species. Most vets are trained in human first aid - we just have to be reminded  to actually talk and explain things to our patients, not just pat them!

I can strongly recommend you visit The Pet Hub - as they produce first aid kits. If you check there it will give you a list of the major things you should keep in stock! Yes - you can make up your own - but as we tend to be lazy, sometimes buying a comprehensive kit is easier than gathering all the small bits and pieces up, particularly when the emergency has already occurred.

We consider that pet first aid also needs to cover fractures, bee stings and burns so it helps to know what to do. To help, you can also order a first aid guide through this site - great way to read up on potential emergency situations.

We may need to do "Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation " or CPR in any of the following circumstances:
  • Blood loss;
  • Choking;
  • Concussion;
  • Diabetic coma;
  • Electric shock;
  • Heart failure;
  • Near-drowning;
  • Poisoning;
  • Shock;
  • Smoke inhalation.
The technique for doing CPR on dog, or cats, is slightly different to humans!  This video will help to show you what to do.

We also give all our students a copy of the file about Dog and Cat CPR: It is a file you can download for free and, when printed, it makes a readily portable 3-fold brochure that you can keep in the car or handy at home.

Another site I sometimes check out covers a range of first aid incidents and some photos to help you.
- Written and illustrated by Dr. Fiona Anderson

Hope this encourages you to look further into how you can help your pet.

Dog illnesses spark fresh alert - National - NZ Herald News

Hard to believe all the issues that are happening in Auckland are due to toxins from sea slugs on the North Shore beaches in Auckland... seems a very limited area too which surprises me.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service has advised emergency doctors that the TTX found in one small slug on Narrow Neck beach could if eaten be enough to kill a dog or a child.

TTX is a potent poison - 100 times more poisonous than potassium cyanide - found in tropical puffer fish and blue-ringed octopus.

This is the first time it has been found in New Zealand and the first time it has been reported in sea slugs.

Somehow I think we might have to avoid the beaches when we visit the area later this month - just not worth the risk with little kids! Would like to think we see Devenport.. just from the safety of well above the water line.

Note to self - try to resist licking or eating the sea slugs while up there.

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Mamma Mia! brings ABBA back |

Had the most amazing opening night at Mamma Mia... and the headline link leads to the first review. I was engrossed and loved every moment, despite the warbly, burping woman behind me! I blame it on too many of the cocktails in the cool light flashing glasses you can buy - aptly named Waterloo and Super Trouper!!

Anyway, great to go to a show that gets a huge audience to its feet singing along and leaves you with a happy smile and singing at the top of your voice all the way home in the car... now, where's my dvd of the movie I got for my birthday... need another dose!

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Stone-deaf Scooby survives cave ordeal - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

yes - and if you want an explanation - see my last post!!!
Some good news...

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Deaf dog trapped in cave for five days |

Rescue crews are working to free a deaf dog who has been trapped in a cave near Newcastle in Australia since Sunday.

Melissa Newton, whose son Jack owns the eight-year-old King Charles spaniel, said they were horrified last Sunday when Scooby ran up a hill on their property at Sweetmans Creek, near Newcastle, and disappeared into a small cave.

The worst part is that this dog not only can't hear them, but it is still trapped in there... but at least they know where he is!

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September 10, 2009

Balanced diet: The amazing moment an elephant perched on tiptoes to grab food from a toddler visiting the zoo | Mail Online

Aren't they amazing creatures.. Love the dainty back leg stuck out for balance!

New Zealand is still reeling from the death of its popular elephant, Kashin, at Auckland Zoo. She had suffered ill health for some time and was euthanased, to the sadness for all the staff and the many thousands of people who had known here during her long reign. .
Hopefully a companion will soon be found for the remaining, sole elephant as they do love company.
Did you know all elephant keepers speak a special common language..a form that sounds like a mix of languages, but it lets the keepers travel the world and use the same commands.

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