Star of Texas Rodeo in Austin

This is the time of year when Austin’s residents head down to Auditorium Shores for a full, Texan Cowboy Breakfast with all the fixings, the prelude to the Star of Texas Rodeo. Every spring, during the first weekend of March, many Austinites head to the shores of Lady Bird Lake to get a belly full of biscuits and gravy, bacon and sausage, eggs, and various other kinds of grub, including grits and hash browns, and with a full stomach, make plans to attend the rodeo.

This weekend, this extremely exciting event will begin at the fairgrounds: the 72nd Annual Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, which culminates in a livestock auction at the end of March, after weeks of competition, cook-offs and other rodeo-related events, such as the Rodeo Rumble Run and the Chuck Wagon cook-off.

Many well-known performers are scheduled to perform at the rodeo this year, including ropers and riders, country music performers, and even rock and roll bands. This year’s featured acts include country great Randy Travis, musician Jesse McCartney, and comedian Carlos Mencia, as well as Creedence Clearwater Revisited, which is a group comprised of a few original members of Creedence Clearwater Revival plus a few new members, who perform CCR’s greatest hits, among other nationally famous acts.

The Fair and Rodeo also features various competitive events, such as a junior livestock show, a Western arts show, horse races, and the Miss Rodeo Austin pageant and scholarship contest, to name a few. There is also a carnival with all of the usual rides and arcade games, including a ferris wheel, merry-go-round, roller coaster, and unusual rides such as the Crazy Mouse. Prizes can be won at numerous booths and games, and every imaginable type of food and drink is offered as well. Participants can buy single tickets, or wrist bands and daily passes, for as little or as much entertainment as possible for a moderate price.

There are also many commercial exhibits, and with over 300,000 spectators expected to attend the rodeo, these exhibits are a perfect way for vendors and representatives of these commercial ventures to create brand loyalty and a following among local residents.

Rodeo Austin is one of the largest indoor rodeos in the country, and cowboys and cowgirls compete for awards. The Xtreme Bull Riding and Pro Rodeo and Pro Rodeo finals are also very popular, and are held at the middle and the end of the month of March, with many events held at the Travis County Expo Center and Fairgrounds east of Austin on Decker Lane, adjacent to Lake Walter E. Long.

The rodeo was founded in 1938, with the goal of advancing education as well as preserving the Western Heritage of the folks of this area, and in 2008, Dodge was named the official truck of the Austin Rodeo. Also in 2008, the youth auction was moved to the new Long Center for the Performing Arts, a beautiful new city coliseum located on the south of Lady Bird Lake. Also, in 2008, new attendance records were set for the cowboy breakfast, which drew a crowd of 7,000 participants.

In 2007, the Cowboy Classic golf tournament, held at the same time as the rodeo, broke auction sales records with over $300,000 in proceeds going to scholarship funds associated with the rodeo and golf tournament. The event was also broadcast on the internet for the first time, drawing huge numbers of viewers.

There are numerous opportunities for volunteers to give their time and energy to benefit the success of the rodeo as well, and over 2,500 people volunteered their time for the rodeo last year, with many already signed up this year too. So whether you attend as a participant, a spectator, or a volunteer, or all three, be sure to sample the western-themed event and peripheral activities, and enjoy all of the many events, games, sports, dances, music, refreshments, and entertainment.

So this year, take your friends and family to the Star of Texas Rodeo and enjoy the activities of the Old West in modern surroundings, and sample the cuisine and pastimes of the settlers of Travis County and central Texas. You will be glad you did!

Livestock Guardian Dogs – A Courageous and Lonely Breed of Dog

Upon reading articles and websites about the Livestock Guardian Dog, I was impressed by how lonely and courageous these dogs are, yet they have been guarding flocks for centuries.

The puppies are taken from their environment at four weeks of age and placed with a flock of sheep so that they can be imprinted upon them. There they are left. The Shepherd, or Handler brings them food and water, and arranges a place of safety in case they are bothered by the flock. Their success as a Guardian Dog is based on this imprinting, and upon their innate instincts of: Attentiveness-to watch for threats from predators, Trustworthiness-to remain with the flock, and Protectiveness-to drive off predators by barking. The training period (4-14 weeks), can last up to two years, and with certain breeds up to four. If the flock is large, then two, three, or four dogs are used, but each have a different function. One is embedded, the others walk the perimeter.

The origin of the practice of using Guardian Dogs goes back in time many thousands of years. Illustrations of these dogs show up on Babylonian and Assyrian (Nineveh) artifacts. For centuries Bedouins all across Europe and Asia worked these dogs with their flocks as they travelled. These shepherds developed their breeds according to their needs. Mountain dogs required heavy, double coats for winter guarding. With threatening predators, such as coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, feral dogs, bears, lynx, and such, the dogs needed to be large and strong to protect the sheep, or to frighten away predators. Lighter dogs, and less coated, were developed for desert areas.

Each country has its own unique breed, for example, white dogs for white sheep, and colored or dark dogs for dark sheep or cattle. Only a few of the breeds are known to us in North America, and even less acknowledged.

Turkey: The Anatolian Shepherd (brown). It was used also in Africa against Cheetahs.

The Akbash (white)

The Kangal (black mask with gray)

France: The Great Pyrenees (white), also called Pyrenean Mountain Dog. Used by the Basque people.

Hungary: The Komondor (white, with a corded coat).

The Kuvasz (white), used by Kings and nobles.

Tibet: The Tibetan Mastiff (various darker colors) Originator of English, Bull,

Neopolitan, and Dogue de Bordeaux Mastiffs.

Italy: The Maremma-Abruzzese (white), 2000years old. Used in many areas of the

World, such as Australia and New Zealand.

Poland: The Tatra (white), Also named Tatra Mountain Sheepdog, Polish Shepherd Dog.

From the Carpathian Mountains.

Czechoslovakia: The Slovak Cuvac (white). Found only in this country.

Romania: The Carpathian Shepherd Dog (white).

The Mioritic (white).

Russia: (Azerbaijan). The Caucasian Ovcharka (range of colors), Tibet 2000 years old.

The South Russian Sheepdog (white).

Spain: The Spanish Mastiff (various colors) The largest Guardian Dog. A large male can

Weigh over 200 pounds.

The Pyrenees Mountain Dog (various colors).

Portugal: The Estrela Mountain Dog (black) called The Portuguese Shepherd Dog.

The Castro Loboriero (usually black). Medium Sized dog. Used in small villages

for 1000 years.

Other countries, such as Yugoslavia (old) Sarplaninac (brown); Kerst Shepherd (gray/black), Slovenia, and Torijak (white and black),Croatia. Bulgaria has the Karakatchan (mixed colors), Greece, the Hellenic Sheepdog (various colors), a little smaller. Armenia has the Armenian Gasmpr (brown), and Afghanistan, the Sage Korchil (brown), plus other dogs I have not named.

The Livestock Guardian Dog is not a pet-too big for a family with small children; their size could harm a child. The breeds are too reserved and territorial, although in Europe they have always been loyal to family members when guarding farms and properties. They average in height to the shoulder, is 29-30 inches, females somewhat smaller. Their average weight is 125 pounds, females less, but for the Spanish Mastiff, as noted. Some of the breeds are used in North America by farmers and ranchers. Some have used donkeys, or llamas for guarding flocks or cattle, but science proves the dogs most effective.

Courageous, brave, the Livestock Guardian Dogs have survived wars across the years, but the breeds have bred true. As a former breeder of pet dogs, I cannot but feel torn for the puppies of the world who must undergo such rigorous training. Take a look at them. They are big, cuddly dogs, but they cannot be cuddled, cannot be pets. All of this is sacrificed for their work. They can if they land in North America, but the majority of these dogs are in Europe still, in mountainous areas, basically alone, guarding sheep.

Copyright Audrey Moorhouse

You can find a great deal of information about Livestock Guardian Dogs on the web, such as breeds, training, and statistics on European and North American studies. The LGD site. Much information and links here. Exellent Breed Information here.

Secure Online Casino Games

Security is an important issue for fans of online casino games. Not only do you need to ensure that your private data is kept strictly confidential – you also need to know that your financial information and the details of all your transactions are protected. The last way anyone wants to lose cash is at an internet casino with lax security measures. So if you want to make sure you’re playing at internet gambling sites that are serious about security issues, read on.Consider the information you need to provide your casino online with. All your personal details including your address and date of birth are pre-requisites when you sign up with an online gambling site. You also need to use your credit card or another transaction method that involves sending personal payment details over the internet to your online casino.Can you imagine if this information were to fall into the wrong hands? With increased reports of internet fraud in the media, it’s little wonder that providing personal information is such a concern. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be when you play using online casino software that is fully secure.The security features a reputable casino uses can do a lot to alleviate a player’s feelings of worry and concern. Over the years, major innovations have been made in this area in live gambling, including the employment of surveillance personnel who are stationed at gaming tables to observe play. Video cameras are also commonly used throughout live gambling venues to spot anyone accused of cheating or collusion.So it stands to reason that security at internet casinos is just as high a priority. The majority of security issues center around a player’s identity. Fears that hackers have potential access to personal information is enough to frighten most people. Luckily though, online gambling sites have special procedures in place to prevent this from happening.Before online casino players begin to access funds to play their favorite games online, a number of security measures must be met. Players will be asked to provide specific answers to security questions. Strict privacy policies are in place at most gambling online sites and players are requested to read these policies and confirm they have understood what each policy entails.Players can check back through a list of financial transactions stored on their online casinos to find out how much money they have spent on gambling games. This information is protected by secure encryption technology to ensure that it cannot be tampered with by third parties. Most gaming sites use at least 128-bit SSL security systems to safeguard player information.If you’re interested in reading more about your favorite casino’s privacy policies and the security measures it takes to protect you as a customer, make sure you access the information on its website. Check for security information and firewall logos. Remember to never reveal your passwords or provide any confidential information to third parties and if you have any security concerns whatsoever, contact your casino’s customer support team.