Friday Five

1. Epitomizing Independence Day, last weekend 120 beagles were rescued from a medical research laboratory that had filed bankruptcy. They closed their doors leaving the beagles and 55 primates inside. Most of the beagles were taken to Pets Alive in Middletown, NY, and 30 went to St. Hubert’s Animal Shelter in NJ.

Check out this video of the animals’ arrival at Pets Alive and see what happened when one beagle touches grass for the first time. It’ll warm the cockles of your heart!

According to the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), an organization promoting alternatives to using animals in medical research facilities and non-animal medical education, there are many reliable and viable alternatives to animal research, including epidemiological studies (studies of human populations), clinical research, in vitro (in a test tube) research, and computer technologies such as simulators and imaging techniques. And contrary to popular belief, the FDA does not require animal testing of pharmaceuticals.

I try my hardest not to use products or support organizations that conduct animal testing (March of Dimes is one, I’m sorry to say). Caring Consumer has a searchable database here. Also you can look for the leaping bunny label on the product itself.

2. One of these things is not like the other. I went for a pedicure and there, amongst the sea of estrogen in the bubble gum pink, chandeliered palace, was a single male employee. He greeted me by telling me to pick a color. I don’t get pedicures that often but I’ve never, ever had a guy paint my toenails. I’ll admit it was a little strange at first. He asking how I like my cuticles is not a topic of conversation I usually find myself discussing with a man. Then wondered if he was in this job to satisfy a foot fetish. But not once did he try to lick my toes or anything like that so after I got over my ridiculousness, I have to say he did a great job. Who knows? Maybe men will be doing nails at salons all over the country.

3. I visited Ellie, the long haired dachshund puppy, to continue her training sessions. Ellie lives in Hell’s Kitchen. To get there, I have to take the subway to Times Square and walk a couple of avenues. I’m not sure I can convey how much I hate Times Square. Let’s see. Times Square is like getting a root canal. Times Square is like spending a night in prison. Times Square is like having a limb eaten by a shark. But I digress.

Ellie is now 3 months old and is reliable with sit, down and roll over in a room with no distractions. Today we worked on much harder concepts: stay, leave it and heel. Inhibition control is tough in one so young (and even those of us much older) so we started really basic and will build. Ellie can’t go for walks outside yet as she hasn’t had all of her shots, so we practiced heel in the living room.

I came up with a great training trick. In order to encourage her to walk next to me and keep focused, I would give her reinforcement in the form of a yummy treat, but since her face is about 2 inches off the ground that involves a lot of bending over – bad for my back and delivering the treat immediately is crucial here. I put some peanut butter on the end of a wooden spoon that, when held perpendicular to the floor, just about made it to her nose.  She couldn’t get enough of it. And we realized we had success when we took away the spoon and she kept her eyes glued on me anyway, just in case the magic spoon reappeared.

4. A fan! My kingdom for a fan! Early in the week, temperatures in the hood topped out around 103 degrees – new record. That’s actual air temperature. I don’t care what you folks in Phoenix say about dry heat, it’s pretty freakin’ hot. As I was sweating on the subway platform, I was thinking about how people got by in the not too distant past. Men wearing wool suits and women wearing corsets. No air conditioning or electric fans. Maybe they were conditioned to the heat better. Maybe we’re just a bunch of wusses.

5. I ♥ summer hours. For those of you not familar (I think this is a NYC thing), many companies have special hours from Memorial Day through Labor Day. We work extended hours Monday – Thursday and then on Friday we close up shop at about 12:30. Some companies alter this a bit and offer employees the option to work a full day on Friday with every other Friday off. Depending on the length of your commute this could work out better for you. 

If you’re trying to get to your share in the Hamptons, you can catch the Jitney a little earlier (with thousands of other New Yorkers mind you) But if you’re staying in town you get the opportunity to do things you might not get the chance to do. Meet a friend for lunch on the other side of the city (like I’m doing today). Get to a museum during a non-peak time. Play tennis and not have to wait hours for a court. And if you’re really careful you might be able to sneak out a bit early. Shhh…


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