Saturday, 25 February 2012

Black, Tan and Blonde

Cherub in Reverie

Huxley hosted a stream of glamorous visitors this afternoon, flying in from locations as distant as Preston Park and Sevenoaks.   For afternoon tea came godmother-in-chief Alexandra Feachem and miniature dachshund devotee Zuzana Feachem, bringing with them the gift of a Geo F Trumper brush for Mr H.  After the excitement, H fell onto Sasha's bosom for a dreamy snuggle snooze.

Devil Dog Incarnate

Not thirty minutes later, canine mayhem erupted with the arrival of Anne.  The geography teacher's blonde tresses turned H into a nibbling whirling dervish with a  hair fetish.  A gently applied head lock and the promise of an evening of baby sitting later in the week brought the situation under control.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Principal and the Pupster

Huxley with NBF Claire in her kitchen.  The boy is glowing with pride after his first bus trip and pondering the hi-jinks to be had with the fabulous new toys Ms Campbell has given him.    I was also relieved there were no embarrassments (liquid or solid) left on Claire's rugs from around the world - especially as the situation is 'could do better' at home.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Hug a Hoodie

I realise this blog may have strayed off topic recently.  So this is Professor Lucy Tammar, the world renown canine psychologist of the University of East Brunswick, supervising a ground-breaking dog garment trial.   Subject 'H' was successfully fitted into a cutting-edge hoodie, which is composed of a revolutionary weave of carbon nanotubes and genetically engineered spider silk.

The garment was synthesised by the Novel Zoo-Materials Division of American Apparel Corporation.  The experiment was possible thanks to a generous grant from the Ian Stones Foundation.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Terrier Nova

Terrier in transit.  Huxley seems to be a born traveller.  He may yet be the first English Toy Terrier to do the 'W' trek of Torres del Paine National Park.  Yesterday he whimpered quietly for perhaps 30 seconds during the three and half hour drive from Gloucester to Brighton.  Most of the time he snuggled up to our fingers through his crate, played with his toy tiger or just snoozed.

How could any sane person compare this divine creature to a species of vermin?  And look at his ancestry.  A Black and Tan royal dynasty.  Some fantastic names among his predecessors - particularly his American paternal grandpa's.  His mum's pedigree name is good too.  

Huxley has quite a bit of North American and Australasian blood in him.  According to Vanora (the lady who has H's mother),  two responsible breeders in this country brought in genetic stock from foreign parts because the breed in the UK started becoming prone to a knee problem and an eye defect.  That was the consequence of over-selection for small size by British EETs breeders.  OK, that's the 'science' bit.

Playtime and kisses with Pa Cotton, not long after Mr H arrived at his new house.  Note the coordinated collar and cardigan.

But there is a killer instinct behind those innocent eyes and cheeky chops.

The English Toy Terrier was developed as a breed in Victorian times for the sport of rat killing.   For entertainment, men put a load of rats in a pit and then put an ETT among them.    The people put bets on which dog would kill its quota of rats in the shortest time.   Apparently (Wikipedia), in 1848 there was an ETT called Tiny who got through 300 rats in under an hour.  

Even when the 'sport' was outlawed, the breed continued because it's so damned cute.  But today, the English Toy Terrier is officially an  endangered native breed so MJC and I are also doing our bit for national canine heritage.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Puppy Love on St Valentine's Day

Everyone's hearts desire - in a non-dodgy way of course.  Apparently one 'friend' is of the opinion that Master Huxley here looks like a rat.  No I'm not talking about you Mark Simba - you've recanted and repented in full.  I was tempted to summon agents of vengeance against this other person but perhaps I should just feel some sympathy for the misguided lost soul.  So, on reflection, on this day and even more so the next, I post the Pup of Love, rather than unleash my dogs of war.

Monday, 13 February 2012

English Toy Terrier - Huxley at 8 weeks

Two days to go before young Huxley makes the journey from Gloucestershire to his new home in Brighton.  Here's how he looked last week at 8 weeks old. 

People are forming an orderly (at the moment) queue in the diary to meet him.  All welcome to help in the socialisation process.  In fact we could do with a couple more with beards, and a few young children.  Also puppy playgroup awaits.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Full Face Transplant

I know it's a bit shocking but get over it.  Really it is amazing.  Today Kevin Fong and I met the surgeon who masterminded America's first full face transplant.  It happened last March.  Kevin interviewed surgeon Bohdan Pomahac for a Radio 4 feature, Hurricane Rash, on plastic surgery.  It will air in the next few months.

26 year old Dallas Wiens had his whole face burnt off in an electrical accident.  The Texan was being lifted on a platform to paint a church (cheers God) and got too close to a passing high voltage power line.  A bolt of electricity arced into his face, obliterating all his features bar a lipless slit where his mouth had been.

A flap of skin and muscle was transplanted from his back over the front of his skull to cover the devastation.

However just under a year ago, Dallas became the recipient of the USA's first donor face, thanks to Dr Pomahac and his team of 30 medical colleagues at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Bohdan took us through the epic op:  "In many ways, the most stressful operation I've ever done in my life".

It started one evening in March at 9 pm with Dr Pomahac and a colleague flying to another hospital in New England where a donor had become available.  By midnight they were carefully removing the brain dead man's face.  The face transplant would only remain viable for 4 hours after being  severed from its blood supply.  Meanwhile Dallas had started his journey from Texas to Boston and heading for the Brigham to be prepared for this new face.

Bohdan arrived at the Brigham operating theatre with the face in a cooler box to discover that surgical work still need to be completed on Dallas' ruined face before the transplant could proceed.  To keep the replacement face alive, they needed a holding strategy.  They nipped out the main facial arteries and veins in his neck and plumbed them into the corresponding vesselse on the donor face.  The white, lifeless, fleshy mask of skin, muscle, lips, eyelids, nerves and complete nose and nasal bone, pinked up as Dallas' blood revived it.

Once the foundations of Dallas' facial area were ready, hours and hours of microsurgery got underway - connecting lips, nose to bone, nerve to nerve, skin to skin, etc etc.  The team finished the surgery at 9 pm, twenty hours after Bohdan started removing the face of the dead donor.

Eleven months later, Dallas has the sense of touch over most of his face and he can move the muscles of face to smile at his daughter.  He can eat without food falling out of it, and his daughter is no longer terrified to look at him.  His is one of three full face transplants the Brigham team have now done.  Surgeons in France performed the very first full facial transplantation.  Here's a video of selected highlights of the Dallas op.

Surgery DW from BWH Public Affairs on Vimeo.

Surgeon Bohdan Pomahac told us today: "We just had patient who came for evaluation and when I told him that surgically he would be a good candidate for transplantation, he burst into tears.  He said, 'I have been living in seclusion for 25 years.  For three years, I didn’t even walk out of my apartment....For all those years I’ve heard there’s nothing we can do.'  Finally, there is emerging hope -  there is something we can provide."