Sideswipe: September 21: Duck or vegetable

A pet revolution began in 1998

Dogs have come a long way since the days when they were put to work on farms and fed scraps. A high-end dog-food brand in the US, Stella & Chewy’s, has a 3.5kg box of “Grass-Fed Lamb Stew” for $70 and it’s “100% human-grade”. And if your dog is the ethical type, he or she or they can chow down on Wild Earth’s vegan dog food. An 8kg meatless bag for $70 which is chock full of plant protein. They’ve even come a long way since they spent their nights in the doghouse. Dogs now sleep inside on orthopedic beds. They get top-notch healthcare and visits to psychiatrists who prescribe them antidepressants. They get massages and spa days. They wear jerseys in winter. Dogs are also much less likely to be put down these days. During the 1990s, more than 10 million dogs were euthanised in America every year. Now it’s about 670,000 dogs per year. The overwhelming majority of shelter dogs are now adopted rather than snuffed out. Around 54 per cent of American households now have at least one pooch. Up until 1998, there were around 62 million, now there are more than 90 million. That’s reflected in the amount of money spent on pets — it has ballooned from $23 billion to $90.5 billion (in inflation-adjusted terms). Pet Nation author Mark Cushing’s most interesting argument for why 1998 seems to be a pivotal year has to do with the rise of the internet. There are the obvious ways it’s made it easier to find dogs, matching faraway breeders and shelters with wannabe dog owners. More interesting is Cushing’s contention that pets are filling the void created by social decay after technology atomised us, divided us, and sowed social distrust.

Chicken in Jeopardy?

Very, very, very cold case

Thirty years ago a natural human mummy was found by a pair of German tourists on the east ridge of the Otztal (Venoste) Alps spanning the Italo-Austrian border. Believing that this 5000-year-old corpse (later named Otz) was the remains of a more recently departed mountaineer, the tourists immediately summoned the authorities, with the forensics department turning the case over to the archaeologists. Frozen and exquisitely preserved, scientists were able to study Otz’ clothes, shoes and tools as well as the contents of his stomach, bodily composition, toxicity and glean a lot about his civilisation’s lifestyle, diet and technical prowess.

Around the world

1. The Green Zone golf course straddles Finland and Sweden (seven holes in Finland and 11 in Sweden). On hole six, balls stay in the air for approximately an hour and three seconds due to the countries’ differing time zones.
2. Popular North Korean songs include “We Shall Hold Bayonets More Firmly”, “Attain the Cutting Edge (The CNC Song)” and “Potato Pride”.
3. In 2001, a Belgian beer society convinced a local primary school to offer beer at lunch rather than fizzy drinks. The move was intended to prevent childhood obesity, but proved unpopular with parents.

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