Unfortunately, Poodle Bitch began to lose her appetite with the second photo in the gallery:
Original caption: Randel Pride of Peoria, Ill., playing Santa Claus, gets his beard cleaned by an affectionate five-month old Yorkshire Terrier named 'Ella' during pet pictures with Santa at My Dog's Bakery and Boutique in Peoria, Ill., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009. Over 100 dogs and one cat had their portraits taken with the Jolly Old Elf, with proceeds to benefit local shelters.
Poodle Bitch cares little for the enforced jollity of the "holiday season," although she does not begrudge others for enjoying it. Most especially the children and puppies, and according to the caption, the yorkshire terrier depicted in the above photo is "an affectionate five-month old." (And what if she had been an irritable five-month old? Or irascible? Would the picture still have made it into the gallery?)
However, Poodle Bitch loses her appetite whenever she sees a dog licking someone else's hair. Especially when that hair is fake. What do they use to simulate the whiskers of "the Jolly Old Elf?"
But later in the gallery, Poodle Bitch was appalled to discover something far more disturbing.
Original caption: Pet dogs are seen wearing masks after local media reported that two dogs were infected with H1N1 flu virus in Beijing, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009.
Poodle Bitch must pause a moment to take this in.
Dogs are now becoming infected with the virus formerly known as "swine flu"? Poodle Bitch was aware that LOLCats were susceptible, as an Iowa cat was supposed to have caught the virus. This after the ASPCA suggested that Poodle Bitch and other dogs, and cats, had little to fear from the virus.
Naturally, Poodle Bitch was alarmed. As she does when she becomes alarmed, Poodle Bitch took a deep breath, counted to ten, and then started gnawing on her forepaw. This calms her, although her humans sometimes mistake it for OCD. Next, she went back to the photo's original caption, which reads that "local media" reported that dogs had become infected. This is local media in China.
Already, Poodle Bitch begins to feel less threatened. The "local media" in China is notorious for its inaccuracy and alarmism. And sensationalism. Remember just a couple of months back how the "Chinese media" was reporting on a Swedish town full of attractive human lesbians-- who beat to death the human men who accidentally enter:
Several Chinese media outlets have published reports claiming that 25,000 women live together in Chako Paul City, which is said to have been built in the forests of northern Sweden in 1820.
The residents have turned to same-sex relationships to satisfy their desires, and any men attempting to gain entry risk being "beaten half to death" by the blonde sentries at the gates, according to the reports.
The far-fetched fantasy appears to have been swallowed by many Chinese men, forcing Swedish officials to issue a formal denial that the town exists, or ever existed.
Now having been mollified somewhat, Poodle Bitch took to google to find any stories about dogs contracting H1N1. She found an article at a site called "China Daily," which seemed to confirm the story.
Health experts in China have assured pet-lovers they need not panic following the discovery of two dogs infected with the deadly H1N1 flu at the weekend.
The animals were diagnosed in Beijing and, while it is possible for pets to transfer viruses to their owners, scientists said there is no evidence to suggest pets are already spreading the illness.
"If animals can get infected from humans, then the reverse is also true," said Feng Zijian, director of emergency response for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
"But there is no need to panic in this case."
Poodle Bitch appreciates that there is no need to panic in this case. Now excuse her while she gnaws on her forepaw.
She recalls that in Egypt thousands of pigs were slaughtered, because that would make officials there appear to be doing something positive to prevent the spread of what was then called "swine flu." So, whether it is true or not that dogs are getting H1N1, they are all potentially at risk for death at the hands of overzealous public officials.
So, while Poodle Bitch is unlikely to begin worrying for her health based on the word of untrustworthy sources, she is worried about what the word of untrustworthy sources might do to humans who panic without thinking. She takes solace from the following at the American Veterinary Medical Association website:
So far, there haven't been any reports of dogs infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. Based on what's been reported, ferrets and two cats – and probably dogs, if they can become infected with the virus – have shown signs of respiratory illness. These signs can include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, runny nose and/or eyes, sneezing, coughing, or changes in breathing (including difficulty breathing).
Keep in mind that dogs currently have their own flu virus, the H3N8 influenza (canine influenza) virus, going around. So far, this flu virus has only been spread from dog to dog. Dogs infected with the canine influenza virus show the same symptoms as dogs with kennel cough – fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, and maybe a runny nose.
Poodle Bitch is relieved to know that, should she decide to worry about anything, she can stick with the H3N8 virus. For now, at least.