Sorry, this blog isn’t about that time you and your friends went out and drank way too much and on a dare you all ended up getting a bunch of truly horrible tattoos that you really, really regretted the next morning, and now you’re desperate to get yours removed before your mom or your girlfriend sees it. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the wrong place.
No, this is actually about domesticated hogs and the various ways a pig farmer can easily identify individual animals within a drove for later processing—specifically, by tattooing a series of numbers and/or letters on the pig’s ear or shoulder or back. For the ear, you use a special ear tattoo plier; and for the back or shoulder, you use a hog shoulder-slapper.
At one year and two months old, Daisy, a sleek, majestic Black Labrador, looks rather intimidating. Though floppy most of the time, her ears are always alert, her eyes lock on target like lasers, and her stance is akin to that of a predator poised to pounce. She often scares the socks off unsuspecting passersby with a ferocious bark. But Daisy’s paw-pals and human friends know the reality behind her seemingly aggressive demeanor. Daisy is a scaredy-cat! The slightest sound and snap startle her. Her body tenses, and the hair on her back rises to resemble porcupine needle quills. She recoils in fear and barks like a holy terror.
Yet Daisy has never attacked anyone nor bitten a human. Her parents ensured that she was trained by a certified dog trainer and passed her “doggie exam” (though her report card recommends more practice in some areas). More to the point, the bright red rabies tag on her collar reassures neighbors and friends—old and new—that on the off-chance playful Daisy nibbles on anyone’s toe or accidentally sinks an eager tooth while extracting a doggie treat from a generous hand, she will not infect them with the deadly rabies virus.
Mischief, a golden retriever full of roguish devilry and given to a wide assortment of shenanigans, for years filled Carla and Keith’s apartment with woofs of joy, squeals of delight, and occasionally a few (human) yelps of horror. The reason for the latter was this: all her doggy life, Mischief had a penchant for swiping food from unsuspecting humans. This irremediable behavior once even inspired Carla to write a poem for her niece!
Fair Warning: Our Dog Loves Spaghetti
Our dog loves spaghetti, and meatballs too,
And sometimes she even eats tofu!
My Dad tried to train her, teach her what to do:
Heel, sit, roll—and wait for a treat or two.
But she doesn’t listen, though she does understand.
Instead she ignores our every command.
She can reach every tabletop, no matter how high,
And sticks out her tongue, like a toad catching a fly,
To grab pizza crusts, or bananas with peels—
Meanwhile ignoring her own doggy meals—
Without breaking a dish or making a sound!
In a flash it’s all gone when you turn around.
“Guard your dinner well!” we tell all our guests,
To warn them they can’t trust this pest of all pests.
Swiping our food is her most favorite game.
And what do we call her? Mischief is her name.
While the pandemic-induced lockdown left everyone marooned in their quarters for nigh onto a year, it also presented people with an opportunity to think outside that box. Some took to posting on social media unabashed renditions of songs with altered lyrics articulating the angst of our strange times. Others resurrected the forgotten artist residing within, creating artworks worth preserving. Pet sales soared across the world as people found themselves in urgent need of companionship. But the ones whose need was most dire were the parents with homebound children whom circumstances had compelled to dig deep within their creative selves to hatch novel tasks designed to educate and entertain their young ones.
Here is the tale of one such family, delivered from their domestic entrapment in a most delightful and unexpected way.
Everyone around the world is witnessing the effectiveness of vaccines in preserving precious lives. The swift development and remarkable efficacy of the three COVID-19 vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J—administered in the United States today is a stellar example of the power and prowess of modern medicine.
Soon we will be able to come out of lockdown and travel again. But to keep everyone safe, a type of “passport” may be required, showing your status as a vaccinated person. For example, New York State has initiated an Excelsior Pass program designed to facilitate travel and event attendance after residents have received one of the aforementioned vaccines.
A few other states are also considering similar “passport” measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Whatever the outcome of such passport schemes, the success of these vaccines warrants a quick look back in time to appreciate the origin story of this life-saving invention.