Saturday, July 23, 2011

Life with Adonis, Canine Mental Illness

Over the past few weeks I've watched my friend go from being un-trusting to faithful, but there is a question in my mind.  If humans can have mental illness, can dogs?  The discovery of him not having ear drums, which explained him not responding to voice helped and now I'm working with him through doggie sign language.  He and I both have to learn it.

One on one with me Adonis does great, but when other pets are introduced he becomes aggressive again, like today when I brought home the two new Beagle/Terrier puppies.  He acted the same way almost two weeks ago when he and I came to house and dog sit for some friends.  Adonis became friends with Shadow within a few days and have played well ever since.  I've had my companion on Pet-Eze, a natural combination of herbs to help keep him calm.  It seemed to be working until today.

Now as I sit here, I watch my poor dog growl at something unseen as he stares into nothing.  He still occasionally growls and snips at me, but I've learned to growl right back and jump in his face to let him know he's on my turf.  He calms down for a bit, except tonight.  Is it the introduction of the 2 new puppies?  Is it something more serious?

I decided to foster the puppies after I saw how much Adonis enjoyed having another canine playmate, but now I'm not so sure it was a good idea.  I'll give him a few more days and hopefully he'll adjust like he did with Shadow.

But the thought still remains.  Is it possible that he has a mental illness, brain damage, or something else that causes his unfriendly behavior?  My heart weakens as I watch him stare into nothing and growl, my mind wonders what he sees.

I knew that he would require a special home, so I adopted him after fostering him for 2 weeks.  Patience and understanding I have with animals, there are times I wish I had such with humans.
Next week he and I will visit the vet to follow up with his ear infection, but I'm also going to be talking to the vet about heart worm treatments, and maybe finding him doggie Valium.  My friends all say that a dog is like their owner, so it's no wonder he's here with me - both almost deaf, both with mental disorders, and both with social stigmas.  I'm working on mine, through my therapist, my doctor and my psychologist.  Now to find a way to help my little companion.

Knowing that this next month is going to generate a great deal of medical bills for Adonis, I'm asking the universe to bring me some work to cover the extra costs, just like it did this month.  My only desire is to see him happy, healthy, and able to socialize well with others, human and animal.  For now, I enjoy the quiet as he has fallen asleep, but he's on my bed, so I'm sleeping on the floor.

I'll research as much as I can, learn, and find ways of helping him, as in between the episodes I see a loving, sweet, affectionate dog.  Adonis, you're safe with me and together we'll find a way.

Fanta and Squirt

Early this afternoon I met some adorable pups named after various brands of soda.  These two are Fanta and Squirt, a brother and sister.  They are a Beagle and Terrier mix and about 8 weeks old.  As with all pups, they love to run and play.  Originally, when I first met these two, Squirt (the boy and biggest of the two) was the first one to come to me, so naturally I thought Fanta was a bit shy.  Fanta isn't shy.  They both are enjoying chasing me in the grass, something I found they enjoy doing, but now I'll have to run and run fast, as Fanta can keep up to my slow pace.

As part of the Austin Pets Alive fostering program, I'll have these two playful companions for a bit.  House breaking, leash training, and hopefully getting my newly adopted dog, Adonis, to play nice will all be part of the routine.  

I'll admit, I haven't house trained a dog in quite sometime, so this will keep me on my toes for sure.  The joy in playing with these two is tremendous.  Today is the first day I've had them, so there isn't much to write about yet, but wanted to share the photos and a video of them playing.

Have you ever tried videoing two active puppies?  What fun!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Elizabeth Warren says, "we can do it!"

Republicans are still favoring a very small minority of voters and corporate/special interests and are trying to limit the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  

Contact your Congressional representatives and tell them to act for the citizens, not private and corporate interests, which were the cause of our economic problems.

Isn't it time we had real leaders in Washington and not career politicians who have been bought and paid for by special interests?

Tell Sens. Hutchison and Cornyn: It's crazy to cut Medicare and Social Security.

No matter how dire the situation, Senate Republicans seem determined to prove they can act irresponsibly.
Senate Republicans are unanimously supporting a draconian constitutional amendment that they claim will balance the budget, but is really nothing but a cowardly ploy to force devastating cuts to vital social programs, including Social Security and Medicare, while writing into the constitution an impossible requirement — a two-thirds vote — to raise taxes.
Last week, in a column called "Getting to Crazy," Paul Krugman closed by noting that "there has been no pressure on the G.O.P. to show any kind of responsibility, or even rationality — and sure enough, it has gone off the deep end."
We agree. We need you to be part of that pressure. Even though we know it is unlikely that Republicans will break ranks and do the right thing, we must hold individual Republicans like Sens. Hutchison and Cornyn accountable to reality and let them know their constituents see through their fantasy proposals.
Even worse, the amendment the Senate Republicans are backing wouldn't actually balance the budget, rather it would arbitrarily cap government spending at 18% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
To put this in perspective, the last time government spending was 18% of GDP was 1966. And no president in nearly half a century, Republican or Democrat, has even proposed a budget where spending is 18% of GDP or less.1
It's simply insane.
And this is the crux of the real problem.
The Big Lie spread by Fox News and its Tea Party allies is that the United States — the richest country in the history of the world — is too broke to afford a social safety net.
The fact of the matter is that right now we are confronting the effects of a tax-cutting binge and an eagerness for wars of choice that conservatives and so-called moderates in both parties have been indulging in for decades.
You have to go back 60 years to find a time where the U.S. government took in less taxes revenue relative to our GDP than the government takes in today.2
And yet, the Republicans tell us that they think the responsible thing to do is to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block so we can afford tax cuts for the Koch brothers.
They need a reality check that only you can provide.
Thank you for speaking out to defend Medicare and Social Security.
Hold Sens. Hutchison and Cornyn accountable
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Education Or Indoctrination?: Texas School Board Dives Into ‘Spiritual Battle’ Over Science

JULY 18TH, 2011

Education Or Indoctrination?: Texas School Board Dives Into ‘Spiritual Battle’ Over Science

The Texas State Board of Education is heading back into the news this week.
The 15-member elected board will convene for a public hearing  on Thursday to hear testimony and on Friday to debate and vote on instructional materials for public school science classes. Since Texas legislators don’t have enough funding to purchase new science textbooks, the state will buy $60 million  worth of online supplemental science materials based on the board’s recommendation.
This is not something scientists, educators, parents and civil liberties groups are taking lightly. The board is infamous for its adoption of science curriculum standards in 2009 that left open the door for approval of creationist materials.
What’s more, on July 1, Texas Gov. Rick Perry appointed Barbara Cargill (R-Woodlands) to serve as the chair of the board. Cargill, a former science teacher,believes  that the debate over science education is a “spiritual battle.”
Cargill has voted with the board’s far-right bloc since elected. She is a strong proponent  of teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution – code language for religiously grounded attacks on accepted science — and was instrumental in the board’s passage of the current science standards.
During the 2009 debate, Cargill nominated  Ralph Seelke, a crony of the Discovery Institute, to serve on the recommendations panel. The Discovery Institute is a Seattle-based outfit that pushes so-called “intelligent design,” a variant of creationism.
This round of Texas deliberations doesn’t seem to be any different. Cargill is responsible for appointing  one of three anti-evolutionists serving on the current science review panel. The panel will make recommendations to the state board about the science materials.
In a recent speech to the Eagle Forum, Cargill explained  her concern that the board was short one Christian since it approved the creationist-friendly curriculum standards in 2009.
“Right now there are six true conservative Christians on the board, so we have to fight for two votes,” she said. “In previous years, we had to fight for one vote to get a majority.”
Her comments alerted critics that Cargill planned to continue voting based on her fundamentalist religious beliefs – not based on what scientists recommend or what’s best for Texas students.
Her words also offended  other members of the board. Though they choose to vote for sound science, they are also Christian and don’t like intimations that they aren’t.
“It’s going to continue the divisiveness rather than bring us together for the benefit of the schools and the kids,” said  board member Thomas Ratliff (R-Mount Pleasant), a Sunday school teacher and leader in the United Methodist church. “She’s continuing to draw a line that is very judgmental.”
But for all the criticism Cargill has received from fellow board members and scientists, she’s drawn praise  from the Religious Right.
Needless to say, there is reason for alarm once again in Texas.
If you live in the Lone Star State, let the board of education know that you want sound science materials produced by scientists – not the Religious Right.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Federal Reserve seeks comments regarding proposed rule

Federal Reserve seeks comments regarding proposed rule

The Federal Reserve, which received sweeping new authority under the Obama regulatory reauthorization, wants to effectively eliminate seller-held (a.k.a. purchase money) mortgages. It will do this by enacting a rule for the Dodd-Frank Act prohibiting property sellers from taking back a mortgage unless the buyer essentially can qualify for conventional financing! What’s more, Ma and Pa Homeowner, who create 95% of seller-held mortgages, won’t be able to qualify buyers under the same underwriting standards that banks are required to perform, and therefore the cash flow notes won’t be created.

If this is enacted it also will remove access to housing for millions of Americans, because seller “financing” is the only way people who can’t qualify for conventional loans can buy a house. Moreover, it would allow a buyer a three year right of rescission (they can cancel the sale) if the seller did not properly qualify them. The right of rescission also applies to anyone who buys the note. We have precious little time to try to stop this.

The deadline to comment is FRIDAY, July 22. See the information below, then go to Submit your comments at — scroll down that page for the comments link.

THE DEADLINE IS FRIDAY, JULY 22! CLICK HERE to see a SAMPLE LETTER or personalize your comments (preferred) with the points below:
  • Seller “financing” provides housing for millions who otherwise could not qualify for conventional loans.
  • Homeowners are not bank officers or mortgage lenders.  By requiring them (many if not most of whom who take back a mortgage are elderly) to qualify buyers using bank standards means they will simply refuse to sell with owner financing.  Thus millions of people will be deprived of home ownership.
  • Why should the buyer be required to divulge their income and assets to the very person with whom they are negotiating the terms of a sale? This is not required when there is a 3rd party lender.
  • Requiring the buyer to turn over all their financial information to a stranger opens the door for identification theft and fraud.
  • This also creates the opportunity for predatory borrowing. This is where an unscrupulous buyer knowledgeable about the Dodd-Frank Act leads an uninformed seller (and this will be the majority of sellers) into negotiations not in compliance with the ability-to-repay requirements. (An example of that could be a balloon, an interest rate greater than 1.49% above a standard mortgage, or the seller did not know how to calculate the income-to-debt ratio correctly, or know what residual income means). That buyer lives in the property trying to resell it for a profit and if they are not successful within three years they rescind the sale and get all their money back.
  • By not allowing them to negotiate a balloon payment, there is a good chance that a seller 55 years or older will die before receiving all their equity. A lot of seniors have invested in real property with the intent of selling it using seller financing (an installment sale) in order to supplement their income in retirement, but also with the hope that they would not be stuck with a 30 year investment. The Dodd-Frank Act does the same thing insurance companies do who sell 30 year annuities to seniors. Our government has criticized this deplorable practice because seniors will die before they receive all their investment.
  • The restriction of no balloon doesn’t affect just seniors, it has financial consequences for anyone using seller financing. Under the Dodd-Frank Act community banks are allowed to originate fully amortizing loans with a five year balloon. The rationale is that they hold these loans in their own portfolios and the government recognizes their need to hedge against inflation and rising interest rates. Yet, the Act does not recognize that private property owners who have 100% skin in the game need the same protection. A  five year balloon is predatory lending. If there has to be a restriction it should at the very least be the same allowance given to community banks of a balloon in 5 years.
  • There are a lot of small builders that have a spec house or two that they can’t sell unless they offer great terms using seller financing. Otherwise they have to let these properties go back to the bank, which does not help housing or the economy.
  • It has been said that a seller financing the sale of his or her own property would completely avoid the issue of licensing by retaining the services of a licensed loan originator. If a mortgage loan originator (MLO) fails to properly follow the ability-to-repay guidelines the buyer still has three years in which to rescind the sale which leaves the seller at risk and will most likely bankrupt them.
For additional information regarding the proposed rule please visit: - This is a link to the Proposed Rule - Original Press Release from the Federal Reserve Board for Governors

Don't forget to visit The National REIA Blog

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Last Mountain - A Movie about the truth of Coal Power Plants

Watch the film big coal doesn't want you to see, this weekend in Austin.

"The central front in the battle for America's energy future, with enormous consequences for the health and economic prospects of every citizen, is the fight for Appalachian coal." — Bill Haney, Director of The Last Mountain

Coal, which generates about half of the electricity produced in the United States, is the largest source of climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

What many people don't know is that the primary method for mining coal in Appalachia is an environmentally disastrous practice known as mountaintop removal mining. To stop mountaintop removal, it's essential to raise awareness about its devastating impacts.

An important new film called The Last Mountain is doing just that. The film is opening this weekend in Austin. Can you attend one of the opening showings?

WHAT: Austin Opening Weekend for The Last Mountain
WHEN: This Weekend — Friday, Saturday and Sunday
WHERE: Regal Arbor Cinema @ Great Hills, 9828 Great Hills Trail Suite 800

In recent years, mountaintop removal mining has destroyed 500 Appalachian mountains, decimated 1 million acres of forest, and buried 2000 miles of streams.

The fight against big coal nationwide is building serious momentum. And one of the key battles in that fight is over mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia, where about 30% of the coal in the United States in mined.

The Last Mountain tells the story of mountaintop removal mining through the lens of Coal River Valley in West Virginia, where activists are trying to stop Massey Energy and other big coal companies from continuing to destroy their communities.

For a film like The Last Mountain, it is essential to show box office strength on opening weekend. If enough of us go to see the film in the first few days, then it's more likely that The Last Mountain will open in additional theatres and get more show times in the theaters where it's already scheduled to screen. So not only can you see this important film, but you can help give the film much needed momentum by attending on opening weekend.

Watch the film big coal doesn't want you to see, this weekend in Austin.

Thanks for joining us in the fight against big coal.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Putting the FUN in Fungus!

As a Foster with APA, I wanted to help spread the word about this special event.  These amazing animals all need someone to love them, to care for them, and help them be all they can be.  Are you that special person?

Putting the FUN in Fungus!

by jenna.riedi • Posted in: AdoptionsEvents
Austin Pets Alive! is putting the FUN in Fungus with a special adoption event: only $15 to adopt any of our kitties with ringworm  on Saturday, July 16!
Meet ALL of our adoptable kittens  with this mild skin condition.  Ringworm is just like athlete’s foot – easily treatable, but it sometimes takes awhile.  We don”t want these cute cats to wait any longer for homes.  We want them to go home now, and finish up treatment with their forever families! 
Treatment typically takes 3-4 weeks and is super easy:  oral meds once a day and special baths twice a week. We will send you home with the medications and supplies you’ll need to treat your new family members.
When: Saturday, July 16, 12pm to 6pm
Where: Austin Pets Alive! Resource and Adoption Center, 2807 Manchaca Road
Ringworm FAQs
What is Ringworm? It is a fungus that lives everywhere, including on animals, people, and in the soil. You probably have come in contact with it in your day to day life multiple times and not ever known it. It is very hardy and lives a long time in the environment, and is contagious.
Am I going to get ringworm from my new kitty? Maybe, but its doubtful. Typically healthy people don’t catch ringworm, and if you are good about washing your hands and changing clothes after handling ringworm kitties then you should be fine.
What if I get ringworm!? I promise you it is no big deal if you do manage to catch it. It’s a red crusty little spot. If you’ve ever had athlete’s foot or jock itch, then you’ve already had a skin fungus like ringworm :) It is super easy to treat on humans because we aren’t furry, just a little miconazole spray (over the counter) works perfectly for it.
We have lots of ringworm fosters, volunteers, and adopters that deal with ringworm kitties every day and they usually don’t catch it. If they do, a bandaid, some anti-fungal spray or cream a few times a day, keep the area clean and dry, and it clears up pretty quickly.
What about my other animals? Unless your animal is immunocompromised (young, old or sick) it is VERY unlikely they will catch it. Again, washing your hands and changing clothes in between handling the RW kittens and your personal animals will definitely help.
What treatment do they need? Once daily oral medicine and twice weekly bathing with a stinky medicated dip. Pretty easy. You will be provided with the oral medicine, the medicated dip, gloves, a scrub top to wear when handling/dipping kittens, instructions for treating the kitties – everything you need to treat them for free!
What about it getting in my house? if you put them in a bathroom or other confined tile space clean up is super easy. Ringworm is killed by dilute bleach, so when they leave just spray down the tile where they were and litterbox and stuff, wash their laundry in bleach, vacuum your carpets, and you should be good to go! You’ll also be given more detailed decontamination instructions to make sure your house is ringworm free when you’re done with treatment.

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