August 27, 2012

Hand reared squirrel…. awwwww

Thanks to Marinda for this amazing story!  Soldiers in Belarus found a little squirrel and brought it to the Warrant officer.  The squirrel was very weak and about to die, so the officer took care of it, fed like a baby every 4 hours.

3 months ago the guy left the army and now works as a taxi driver - and the squirrel is always in his pocket no matter where he goes!  


August 26, 2012

City Bathed In Spring Sunshine

It has been a glorious weekend - warm, sunny, surrounded by signs of spring everywhere. The dismal grey days have passed ( for now anyway) and there is a more cheerful mood around. Just as well because the recent heavy rain made the roads flooded, the potholes deeper and the mood darker.
Since the earthquake, the city has been crawling with new people, mainly men - despite the rumoured "man drought". FIrst the army, the extra police, the urban search crews, then the hordes of deconstruction teams, and now, the repairs and rebuild. Hi vis vests, hard hats, teams of people, scrambling over the roads, the drains, cranes, diggers, trucks. Tonight we were queueing next to some young Irish lads and as I listened to their banter and accents, it made me appreciate again that people are coming from all over the world to help the city. Just wanted to say how much it is appreciated :)

August 23, 2012

100% Middle-earth 100% Pure New Zealand - YouTube

See you here soon :)

Massey vets consult with Weta Digital - YouTube

Really interesting process - building a digital horse from the inside to the outside....
Accordign to the article:
Wellington's Weta Digital and Massey University have worked together to generate horses capable of battling vampires.

Massey's equine treadmill was used to collect motion capture images of horses in motion for the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which is now screening in New Zealand. These were used to build computer-generated horses.

Deb Prattley, from Massey's Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences in Palmerston North, was one of the people who helped Weta Digital create realistic-looking digital horses for the project.

"They had several cameras in the room, including overhead, and filmed the horse at different gaits so they could use that information to create computer-generated models of horses doing different things,'' Dr Prattley said.

The team from Weta Digital also talked to the institute's anatomists to ensure movements were realistic.

"They needed to make sure the joints articulated in the correct directions by the correct amounts and the muscles appeared with the right shapes in the right places, as the horse moved."

All looks pretty realistic - even if I probably won't go to a film to see them battlign vampires!

Posted via email from Four Paws and Whiskers

Vets feedback video on pricing - follow up post

After all the outcry, they have posted a follow up video.
Still misses the point.... we could still offer cat neutering from kitchen tables with immobilising drugs which would still be a step up from the no anaesthetic, put head in a gumboot procedure I remember from the 70's. I shudder that people are allowed to have animals operated on with little pain relief, inadequate monitoring and potentially not only suffering, but higher death rates. I think a high turnover clinic doing neutering can't really be compared to a standard clinic with elderly patients, orthopaedic ops etc where it would be impossible to adequately care for that level of turnover without neglect. Insurance is definitely the way to go - if you cant afford it, then ultimately you probably can't afford the animal.

I am sad to think there are many pets out there who will be put down if they get any injury or illness as the owners have no way of paying for it. It is not our right to have animals just because we can feed them.

Posted via email from Four Paws and Whiskers

August 21, 2012

No Fair Go for Vets on TVNZ "Fair Go"

Our NZ Fair Go programme recently did a feature on the expensive pricing across vet clinics.

It was one sided and failed to adress most of the issues that the Veterianry Association discussed with them beforehand.

The advice they gave was misleading, in fact insulting.

As a result there has been a huge backlash.



Fair Go's segment on the cost of veterinary care last week elicited a passionate response. The popular consumer affairs show's Facebook page has been running hot with comments from both the veterinary profession and the public.

As a result, Fair Go is doing a follow up story, to be aired on Wednesday 22 August on TV1 from 7.30pm. Dr Seton Butler of Pet Doctors, Kelburn, was interviewed yesterday and Dr Wayne Ricketts, on behalf of the NZVA, has providedcomments for the presenters to read out.

Be heard. Have your say on Fair Go's Facebook page before tomorrow night's programme.

Based on a number of concerned calls from the public in recent times, on Wednesday 15 August, Fair Go looked into the variation in the cost of veterinary care across New Zealand practices.

  • Why is there such variation in cost for similar procedures and services?
  • Why isn't there a set of standard rates across all New Zealand practices?
  • Why does it seem that animal healthcare is so much more expensive than treating humans for the same ailments?
  • What can people do to save on veterinary costs?

Presenter Gordon Harcourt turned to the veterinary profession for an explanation and advice.

NZVA's Veterinary Resources Manager, Dr Wayne Ricketts, explained that veterinary fees take in factors such as where the practice is located, how many staff there are, and whether the practice has high tech machinery.

Vet Care Auckland's Dr Alex Melrose advised that pet owners struggling to meet costs for whatever reason should be up front with their veterinarian. "Be honest, be realistic about where you're at and what you can afford, so we might be able to find ways to safely 'cut corners' or look at reducing costs. Let's have these sensible discussions at the start".

Dr Ricketts adds, "Just ask what the worst case scenario is, what's that going to cost me?".

Presenter Gordon Harcourt reminded us all that the government subsidises the health care of people; it does not cover your pets. And for those thinking it would be cheaper across the ditch, think again - a basic teeth clean is even more expensive than it is here.

Wayne is the Veterinary Resources Manager at NZVA

He says: 

Fair Go did not give veterinarians a fair go when it glossed over the costs of veterinary care last week. NZVA, on behalf of its members, wishes to express its dissatisfaction about the predominantly one-sided presentation on the cost of veterinary services in New Zealand.

The NZVA (Veterinary Association) representatives provided Fair Go with considerable background material, most of which was ignored.

NZVA wishes to make the following points to ensure pet owners get the full picture and can then confidently make the choices that best fit them and their pets.

o Veterinary practices are not the same just like all stores (bikes, food, clothing) are not the same
o Just like any other business a veterinary practice sets it fees based on its unique business model
o There are budget models and comprehensive service models – this is a good thing, it offers the consumer choice
o There is NO subsidization of animal health – no ACC, public hospitals, drug subsidies (Pharmac) for pets
When someone sees a veterinarian they are getting real value for money – a veterinarian is also a generalist physician, surgeon, haemaologist, radiologist, sometimes chemotherapist
o Insurance for pets is very low (when compared with Britain for example )- NZVA argues this is because pet care in New Zealand is comparatively incredibly good value for money and pet owners are still able to pay for this from their tax paid earnings
o Increasing numbers of pet owners are demanding increasingly sophisticated treatment options for animals (digital xray, chemotherapy, joint replacements) – this gear has to be paid for in order to provide it, and expert staff are needed (they also expect to be fairly remunerated)
o And in case you think veterinarians are high earners think again – veterinary salaries plateau out at about $80-90k by the time veterinarians have been out of university five years (compare that to your average marketing manager, IT technician, or even registered nurse – most earn more than the person taking care of your loved pet)
o Price fixing is illegal in New Zealand under the Commerce Act
o Many owners consider value and quality first rather than cost
o If the cost issue outweighs the value of the care then by all means shop around but be careful that you are comparing the same procedures

So what can a pet owner do when he or she chooses to own an animal:

o Do your homework BEFORE you get the pet
o Get your pet regularly checked – early detection of disease will help prevent expensive veterinary bills down the track
o Consider pet insurance
o Select the best veterinary practice that meets your needs and budget
o Consider a savings plan
o Ask your veterinarian about a payment plan

And there is always the option of lobbying government. There is growing support and evidence that pet ownership is linked to increased health and wellbeing for the pet owner. Perhaps it is time for pet owners who cannot afford to own a pet to lobby for subsidies just as we have them for human health although beware –the money for that has to come from somewhere !


The original programme that aired can be seen here.

Posted via email from Four Paws and Whiskers

August 15, 2012

CBD Red Zone Tour August 1st 2012 - YouTube

A picture tells a thousand words.

A movie like this brings us all up to date on the state ( remains) of the inner city.
A times they circle round where I work at CPIT ( or Institute of Technology as he refer to it) ... it sits on the outer cordon. The view from our teaching classroom looks over the dwindling inner city skyline.

Since this was filmed ( and it was only released yesterday) the Radio Network house has been imploded on Aug 5th and I posted video of that recently.

If you knew the city, I hope you can recognise some of the few places remaining. The release of the new city plans helps us to have a glimmer of hope - out of such massive deconstruction, the new zones and hubs and green areas can be developed. I guess not many cities can start again this way on an almost blank canvas of land.

Posted via email from Four Paws and Whiskers

Matt The Kiwi Races To Save Egg From Flood |

This Christchurch Kiwi from the Kiwi Recovery Programme at Willowbank saved his egg from the flood waters after a week of rain here.
"He was surrounded by floodwater from the torrential downpour on Sunday and had spent the night gathering leaves to place under the egg to raise it up."
The keepers have now channelled out the water and made sure he has dry leaves... although before long they will take the egg away to be incubated to encourage this pair to lay another egg.....
Hope they take special note of this heroic rescue when they name the chick :)

August 11, 2012

Earth Wind And Fire Music Video Site - 10th Commonwealth Games Progress Report (1973) (W3471/3394)

After arriving from England to live in Auckland in late 1970, I was lucky enough to get to visit Christchurch for the first time Xmas 1974 when I had been filled with images of the Commonwealth games -so watching this video was quite nostalgic. Not only for the images of the old Christchurch it shows, but for the NZ way of life I found when I was a teenager.

I remember being impressed on my second visit when I was taken to visit the pool at QE2 Park in 1977 and in 1980, spent a cold week here ( i was visiting from the sunny far north then) in the winter enjoying the city - Coffee at Ballantines, all the wee shopping arcades, feeding the lions at Orana Park, sitting watching the first national telethon running in the fairly new, beautiful Town Hall - all red velvet and gleaming wood. We walked across the square from some motel by the river to select a movie from the multiple cinemas, finally going to America with Neil Diamond. All so many, many years ago.

I guess after three visits to absorb this lovely city, it was an easy choice to finally move here in 1997. I don't regret it - it has been a wonderful adventure and despite the earthquakes and the deconstructions and everything that has happened, I still want to live here. Seeing the work the city did to get ready for the games just reminds me of the current work happening - just on a grander scale.

I hope that a phoenix city can rise again from the carnage.

Posted via email from Four Paws and Whiskers

August 9, 2012

THE LAST VISIBLE DOG: Tongariro Thursday

Katherine has been writing about the eruption of Mount Tongariro this week and if you want to know what is happening, please clinck on the link and have a read - she lives up that way !
Off to Wellington tomorrow - wonder if the sulphur smell has passed through yet?

August 7, 2012

Tongariro eruption - photos - national |

There are some good videos on this site showing the ash deposits around the volcano.
Really tough for breathing - it also contaminates the water and pasture for the livestock.
Hope it settles quickly.
Disturbing that two volcanoes have gone off overnight. We are told they are not related!

Mt Tongariro Erupts, Warning For Central North Island...

Mt Tongariro erupts, warning for central NI

Last updated 07:29 07/08/2012
ACTIVE: A view of Mt Tongariro from the northeast, taken before the eruption. The Te Mari Craters are in the foreground.
GNS Science

ACTIVE: A view of Mt Tongariro from the northeast, taken before the eruption. The Te Mari Craters are in the foreground.

ERUPTION: A GNS Science map showing the eruption plume.

GNS Science
ERUPTION: A GNS Science map showing the eruption plume.

Related Links

Civil Defence Tongariro eruption advisory Mt Tongariro eruption: What you need to know

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LATEST: Mt Tongariro has erupted, with ash fall closing roads and prompting a potential threat warning for central North Island regions.

Have you seen the eruption? Tell us what you saw and send us your photos and video.

The eruption at 11.50pm last night threw rocks and spewed ash from the Te Mari craters, near Ketetahi hot springs, on the northern side of the mountain, GNS Science said.

A trucker, Bryn Rodda, said he saw part of the eruption.

"I could see this big cloud, it looked like a fist basically, at an angle across the sky...and at about the wrist section of the fist there was an orange ball of flash that I saw, that was all I could see," he told Radio New Zealand.

This morning an ash plume could be seen amongst the cloud that was covering the mountain.

Civil Defence said volcanic activity could pose a threat to Waikato, Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, Manawatu-Whanganui, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki.

People living in those areas were advised to stay indoors with all the windows and doors closed and listen to the radio for updated emergency information and instructions.

The volcanic alert level remained at Level 2 but Civil Defence had increased the Aviation Colour Code from Orange to Red.

The Desert Road section of State Highway 1, northeast of the mountain, and State Highway 46, to the north, had been closed due to the ash.

Motorists were being advised to avoid travel in the area. The road closures would be reassessed at daylight.

Light ash had been reported as falling on SH1 and SH46 and as far as SH5, near Te Haroto and onto Napier city.

An incident management centre had been set up at Whakapapa DOC visitor centre, and local council, police and Department of Conservation were meeting in Taupo this morning.

There had been no further volcanic activity reported since last night.

Civil Defence has not activated the National Crises Management Centre.

Inspector Ian Harris, of police central communications, said search and rescue teams would be sent up the mountain at dawn to check that no one had been stranded in huts.

There had been no reports of injuries or damage because of the eruption and no evacuation notices had been issued, he said.

However, GNS Science duty volcanologist Michael Rosenberg said some people in the Lake Rotoaira area had self-evacuated following the eruption.

There had been reports of "red hot rocks being thrown out of the crater", several loud explosions and lightning when the eruption occurred and ash had fallen 5cm deep on SH46, he said.

The eruption had been "really unexpected".

"You can measure and monitor but sometimes mother nature will do her own thing."

GNS Science planned to send observers to the mountain later this morning, Rosenberg said.

A service station attendant at the Caltex Service Station in Raetihi, beneath the southern slopes of Mt Ruapehu,  said the highway between National Park and Raetihi was still open.

She said no ash had fallen on Raetihi overnight.

A worker at the BP Service Station in Turangi, John MacRae, said while no ash had fallen in Turangi this morning, there was "a sulphur smell round the place".


Civil aviation director of meteorology Peter Lechner said the eruption would affect regional flights.

"The ash cloud is obviously stretching from the moutain out towards the east, so by about 9 o'clock this morning we expect that plume to cover probably Gisborne south through Hawke's Bay, perhaps into the northern Wairarapa.

"So air travel into those areas, namely Gisborne, Hawke's Bay aerodrome, and of course Taupo aerodrome will probably be affected by the ash," he told Radio New Zealand.

Airlines would need to decide whether they would continue flying in and out of that area, Lechner said.

"It's up to them to stay clear of the ash. If they can find a clear way through that's fine."

Flights overhead, such as from Auckland to Wellington, would not be affected. Those flights were usually at about 30,000 to 35,000 feet while the ash plume was about 20,000 feet, Lechner said.

If the weather patterns continue, the ash could be pushed out to sea by about 6pm tonight, Lechner said.

"As long as there are no further eruptions, that's a good thing."

There were five reported eruptions from the Te Mari craters between 1855 and 1897 but they had been dormant until now, the GeoNet website said.

- Michelle Cooke, Marcus Stickley, Zar Lilley and Tim Donohue

- © Fairfax NZ News


Went to bed reading about the recent volcanic eruption in White Island off the Bay of Plenty, and overnight one of our three volcanoes in the central North Island plateau has gone off as well..this ring of fire is certainly keeping us all busy here in New Zealand. Mount Tongariro has not erupted since 1897, although Mount Ruapehu last erupted in March 2007, with a big one I can remember in 1995 and of course the Tangiwai train disaster in 1953 when the lahar from Ruapehu washed out a rail bridge killing 151 people on Christmas Eve.
The third volcano, Mount Ngaurohoe is the distinctive cone at the back of this photo....lies between the other two and is a secondary cone to Tongariro....seems to have been quiet since 2008 but is still an active volcano.

The volcanic alert level remained at Level 2 but Civil Defence had increased the Aviation Colour Code from Orange to Red.

The Desert Road section of State Highway 1, northeast of the mountain, and State Highway 46, to the north, had been closed due to the ash.

Motorists were being advised to avoid travel in the area. The road closures would be reassessed at daylight.

Light ash had been reported as falling on SH1 and SH46 and as far as SH5, near Te Haroto and onto Napier city.

Posted via email from Four Paws and Whiskers

August 5, 2012

Building Implosion for Christchurch

FInally a building has been imploded in Christchurch - 18 months after the Feb 2011 earthquake. Most buildings have been carefully deconstructed with recycling of materials - but this one has been handled differently after the inside was stripped out. A bit of entertainment for a Sunday morning!
We are wondering if there will be others to follow now.


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