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blues

I have read somewhere that wild ducks are nature's quacking museums of virus. Other birds can get most of their viruses, but the ducks somehow live with them. Apparently these wild ducks very commonly carry, like, hundreds of viruses that can kill a person. Every now and then, some one in the Cape Cod area comes down with eastern equine encephalitis, which the ducks commonly carry, and it is always fatal.

But even with it in all those wild ducks, it is seldom transmitted to humans. The frightening thing about this Asian avian flu is that it's been identified as the kind of virus that can spread easily, once it develops the ability to infect mammals. Many biologists have concluded that this is a regular occurrence, and every century or so, one of these wild duck viruses gets out of control and runs amok, killing many birds, and it eventually 'hops' to mammals, and kills many humans. The Russians have developed an extensive system to produce new vaccines, so they will be able to track and stop this flu as
it evolves. In the US, we have no such capacity, since we have other priorities. We're more afraid of terr'ists. This will not end well. See:

http://www.mosnews.com/

news/2006/02/06/birdflu.shtml

I used to catch wild animals by hand. When I was a kid, I would catch alley cats, which are 90% wild. Even the baby kittens that were unable to open their eyes would hiss at me, and I'll never forget that. I would go into crawl space four stories above concrete, and pull out wild cats. Just thinking about it now gives me the willies! Wild things are not merely physically different from 'tame' ones. There is an overwhelmingly distinction in their view of the world.

I don't know how the first wolves became dogs. Very possibly it involved a kid like me! Aside from their mental differences, wolves are not very different than dogs. The dogs tend to be much smaller, probably because people who breed them do not want a predator nearly as big a a lion around. Foolish people will take a pit bull, German shepherd, or great Dane, and try to make it be a 'guard dog'. It may do that very efficiently, but it will never be very safe to have around. So most dogs are bred for small size. My little coon hound, Heidi, is fairly wild, really. Unlike 99% of other dogs, she can easily catch animals without a pack. Usually, foxes or coyotes can catch things with their sharp slashing teeth, but dogs and wolves, with their dull, crushing teeth must work in a pack to pull big things down. So without the pack, they would starve. My Heidi is mostly pointer, so she is quiet and stealthy. She has been seen crossing roads with huge birds in her mouth. It has taken me years to get her to stop killing birds and squirrels around the house, and one time I had her on a six foot leash, and she dived under a bush and came out with a rabbit, and she was still on the leash!

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Oh, I had an English Mastiff called Cleo who was over 200 lbs and taller than a man if she stood on her hind legs. She protected me very nicely.

She loved children. She would put her own life in danger to protect a child! I miss that grand dame greatly. Human guard dogs are bigger than wolves who are, unlike our guard dogs, very rangy.

The ancient Celts bred Mastiffs exactly so they could fight off wolves trying to get to their sheep and cows! These dogs so impressed the earliest kings in the Middle East, they bartered for them via the Phoenicians.

One Pharoh marched 150 Mastiffs in a parade, once. They grace many memorials to kings. Duke, my Chow, was dangerous. But he was a superb guard dog and sled puller. But a very dangerous pet.


Our English sheep dog, Coleen, is gentle as a lamb. And our little Akamaru is a children's dog. Playful. But Cleo: she would tackle even people with guns if she even thought I was in the slightest danger.


Yet I once saw her stand between a toddler and a running horse, she was willing to be run over rather than let the child be harmed.


I consider dogs to be our oldest friends. We are so fortunate.

blues

Well, Elaine, maybe YOU could train a 'guard dog' to be reliable, but for most people, it is not something to 'try at home'. I have never seen satisfactory results. Maybe if you live on farms and really know dogs (not like the screwballs who write the 'dog training' books') you could pull it off. For example, however, I have seen Heidi protect children and other dogs by inserting herself between them and something dangerous. But if she senses danger, she knows that I want her to just bark very quietly to me to let me know, then she leaves the rest up to me.

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Then there are the attack cats. One uses his 'power purr' and stares at intruders.


The best thing was our ox team. People would see the boys, the size of elephants, with giant horns, staring at them. Chip and Dale could flip cars over. People didn't hang around to see if they got mad.


And then there is old Sparky. He is a troublemaker and very curious and will rush up to strangers and rear and kick out and fling his mane around just to scare them. Unless they have APPLES. Then he is totally tame.


Heh. Throw steaks at dogs and they get tamed fast, too, actually. But Chip and Dale, being oxen, their reaction time was slow so they would just keep on going. But they loved...BEER.


Offer them a bottle and they would gladly guzzle it down. The Sheriff thought that was the funniest thing in the world.

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