Dogs live in the present – they just are! Dogs make the best of each moment uncluttered by the sorts of complex fears and feelings that we humans have. They don’t judge, they simply take the world around them at face value. Yet they have been part of man’s world for an unimaginable time, at least 30,000 years. That makes the domesticated dog the longest animal companion to man, by far!
As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer. Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming, thence the long journey to modern man. But in the last, say 100 years, that farming spirit has become corrupted to the point where we see the planet’s plant and mineral resources as infinite. Mankind is close to the edge of extinction, literally and spiritually.
Dogs know better, much better! Time again for man to learn from dogs!
Welcome to Learning from Dogs
December is here!
Last Sunday I published a set of pictures from Dan Gomez showing a wonderful collection of clever things you can do with snow. The post closed with a weather warning that Oregon was set to experience some wintery weather before the week was out.
Thus a small collection of photographs taken on our property last Friday afternoon offering proof that the snows did arrive.
Finally, the picture above represents a delightful way to find your Christmas Tree, or Noble Fir in tree speak! We discovered that if one goes to the local office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) you can purchase a $5 permit allowing one to go into the forests and cut your own Christmas Tree. The red permit can be seen in the above photograph attached near the top of the tree. So last Thursday we took our Jeep filled to the brim with blankets, spades and tow chains and other paraphernalia to allow us to safely drive some miles into the forest and 2 hours later had our tree.
Wherever you are in the world, you stay warm and dry this Winter.
It’s the way that you say it!
Sent in by Bob Derham – thanks Bob.
This is the Irish Medical Dictionary.
Now don’t knock it for because the Irish don’t take their medical terminology too seriously, they have the lowest stress rate!
Artery – The study of paintings
Bacteria – Back door to cafeteria
Barium – What doctors do when patients die
Benign – What you be, after you be eight
Caesarean Section – A neighbourhood in Rome
Cat scan – Searching for Kitty
Cauterize – Made eye contact with her
Colic – A sheep dog
Coma – A punctuation mark
Dilate – To live long
Enema – Not a friend
Fester – Quicker than someone else
Fibula – A small lie
Impotent – Distinguished, well known
Labour Pain – Getting hurt at work
Medical Staff – A Doctor’s cane
Morbid – A higher offer
Nitrates – Rates of Pay for Working at Night,
Normally more money than Days
Node – I knew it
Outpatient – A person who has fainted
Pelvis – Second cousin to Elvis
Post Operative – A letter carrier
Recovery Room – Place to do upholstery
Rectum – Nearly killed him
Secretion – Hiding something
Seizure – Roman Emperor
Tablet – A small table
Terminal Illness – Getting sick at the airport
Tumour – One plus one more
Urine – Opposite of you’re out
So now you know!
Learning from Dogs
The day before Philip’s appointment with Jonathan, he suddenly realised that if they had set a time he hadn’t made a note of it. He called Jonathan.
“Jonathan, it’s Philip.”
“Hallo Philip, is there a problem for tomorrow?”
“No, not at all. It’s just that if we made a time, I screwed up and didn’t note it down.”
He could hear Jonathan’s laugh over the phone. “Ah, and there I was thinking I hadn’t made a note of the time. Luckily, I was going to be in all day so was pretty relaxed about when you came across.”
Philip replied, “Ah, that’s a welcoming attitude. But how about me coming over early to mid-morning? How does that suit you?”
“Done, I’ll see you at ten-thirty.” He was just about to ring off when he added, “Jonathan, I could leave Pharaoh here at the flat but as it’s not become home to him yet, would it be alright if I bring him with me?”
“Not a problem. Would be lovely to see him again.”
“Thanks Jonathan, see you in the morning.”
The room at Jonathan and Helen’s house was ideal. Ideal, that is, for a large dog. However, just in case Pharaoh couldn’t settle, before leaving the flat Philip had stuck a couple of dog biscuits in his bag. But there had been no need to worry because as soon he and Jonathan sat down and started to talk Pharaoh curled up behind Philip’s chair.
Jonathan opened the conversation by asking Philip, “Why don’t you tell me a little about your life, pick out the things that more often than not come to you when you think back over the years?”
Philip settled back in his chair and allowed his memory of the last fifty or so years to bubble up into his consciousness. The key moments were easy to speak about. His father’s death, his subsequent failure to get any decent exam results at school, then managing to enrol as a graduate electrical engineer at the Faraday House of Electrical Engineering so long as he passed two ‘A-levels’ within the first year; which he failed to do. So he had to leave Faraday House but, miracle of miracles, somehow managed to gain a commercial apprenticeship at the British Aircraft Corporation’s manufacturing plant in Stevenage.
A quiet snoring from Pharaoh showed that he was now solidly asleep. Philip guessed he had heard all this before!
He continued with this snapshot of his past years. Going on to recall how he loved so much his first year at BAC because all apprentices had to spend their first year learning a whole range of engineering skills: cutting, shaping, welding, riveting, and much more. He mused how those skills had given him confidence later on in life to tackle most construction projects; well small ones anyway. Then on to the second year at BAC and the deadly boredom of the commercial office undertaking such gripping tasks as pasting typed amendments over the top of the pages of current Government contracts for hours upon hours. Only made bearable by the kindness of Malcolm Hunt, who was his oversight manager. Leading to Philip offering to cut Malcolm’s grass at his home in the Summer evenings because Malcolm had to constantly wear a neck brace due to severe problems with his upper spine. Then him meeting Malcolm’s lovely Scottish wife, Sadie, and often being invited to have an evening meal with them.
On to that fateful day when he was sitting at his desk, his desk next to Malcolm’s, when Malcolm said, “Philip, Sadie wondered if you could give her a call at work.” He passed Philip a slip of paper on which he had written down Sadie’s office number, a local Stevenage number. He had gone over to the main canteen where there was a public phone box in the lobby.
“Hallo, British Visqueen, how may I help you?”
“Yes, my name is Philip Stevens and I have been asked to call Mrs Sadie Hunt.”
It was but a moment before Philip heard Sadie’s lovely Scottish accent. “Philip, how nice of you to call. Listen we have a vacancy in our sales office, the team that manage the sales of our polythene film products to UK companies, and I wondered if you would like to be interviewed for the vacancy?”
“Oh Sadie, thank you so much for thinking of me. I would love to have a try at the position.”
“Well, that’s grand, Philip. Both Malcolm and I were thinking that your present job was leaving you unfulfilled and something closer to selling would match your skills and personality. I’ll arrange for the usual letter inviting persons to interview to be sent to you in tonight’s post.”
He became conscious that he had drifted away and looked up at Jonathan with some embarrassment.
“Whoops, got a bit carried away there, didn’t I.”
Jonathan replied gently, “You obviously got the job at British Visqueen.”
“Yes, I did and in a funny way that job set me up for life. Of course, that’s only clear to me now looking backwards. But all my life I’ve loved the interaction that selling inevitably requires, and, without wanting to blow my own trumpet, I have been good at it.”
The hour with Jonathan flew by. They agreed the next appointment for a week’s time and he and Pharaoh went out to the car and made their way back to the flat.
Despite that hour with Jonathan almost entirely taken up with him speaking of past times, it had still left its mark on him. He was aware for much of the rest of that Friday that there was something about the atmosphere in Jonathan’s room that made him feel totally safe even though he had no idea as to how that had been achieved. That was fascinating, he pondered. It was not as if he was a stranger to being one-on-one with another person nor disliked meeting and talking with others, far from it. But still it felt so different. He looked forward to next Friday morning.
The morning was soon upon him and, again, much of that next session continued with him talking about the key events in his life, not just in his working life but, for example, the circumstances of his first marriage and how that failed. By the end of the second session he was up to present times.
The third session, a further week on, started very differently because Jonathan started to talk about consciousness. In particular about David R. Hawkins who, apparently, is an internationally renowned psychiatrist and researcher into human consciousness. This all felt a little strange to Philip but as Jonathan showed him a chart, for want of a better term, of the different states of consciousness, a map of consciousness as the title described it, then it did start to fall somewhat into place.
Apparently, David Hawkins had found a way of measuring the human body’s reaction, using kinesiology, to a range of life’s circumstances. Leading to Dr. Hawkins proposing that those reactions were really a window into a person’s consciousness. Hawkins then went on to create a numerical value for those measurements and proposed a mid-way value. Mid-way, as it were, between positive and negative human reactions. Philip found this fascinating from an intellectual perspective. He still struggled to embrace the meaning and relevance of it as part of his counselling. However, from what he had come to observe about Jonathan’s approach to psychotherapy he expected the emotional significance of this to appear pretty soon.
He tuned back into Jonathan explaining how those measurements of the body that scored above the mid-way level of 200 described a range of positive, strong levels of human consciousness and below a corresponding range of negative, weak levels. It was all a little baffling; he had to admit.
Jonathan could see that Philip was struggling a little with the whole idea of human consciousness having levels, let alone that those levels could be measured.
“Philip, think of it as two very broad categories. From a mid-way level of 200 all the upper states of consciousness are described in the general terms of truth, integrity and supportive of life. Whereas, from 200 and down those states of consciousness are described as false, lacking integrity and unsupportive of life.”
Jonathan paused and went on to add, “And did you know that the consciousness of dogs has been mapped?”
That brought Philip immediately to the edge of his seat, the suddenness of his reaction causing Pharaoh to open his eyes and lift up his head.
“Yes, the consciousness of dogs has been mapped as between 205 and 210. They are creatures of integrity.”
Philip knew in that instant that something very profound had just occurred. He slipped forward out of his chair, got down on his hands and knees, crawled behind his chair, and gave Pharaoh the most loving hug of his life. Dogs are creatures of integrity. Of course! So utterly and profoundly obvious. Wow, what a revelation.
He sat back up in his chair, now truly engaged in the subject. Jonathan continued to outline more of David Hawkins’ findings, closing their session by offering to lend Philip the Hawkins’ book Power vs Force.
“See you same time next Friday, Philip?”
“No question. And thank you for a fascinating session.”
On the drive back to Diptford, Philip couldn’t take his mind off the idea that dogs were creatures of integrity and truthfulness. What was that third quality that Jonathan had mentioned? Ah, yes. Integrity, truthfulness and supportive of life. He had no doubt that all Nature’s animals could be seen in the same light but what made it so powerful in terms of dogs was the scale of the unique relationship between dogs and man. A relationship that had been running for thousands upon thousands of years.
As he made himself his usual light lunch of a couple of peanut butter sandwiches and some fruit and then sat enjoying a mug of hot tea, he just couldn’t take his mind off what Jonathan had revealed. Dogs are examples of integrity and truth. No, examples is a pathetic word. Dogs are beacons of integrity and truth. Yes, that’s it. Wow.
Then from a place that he knew not from where, it came to him. Some day he would write about this. About these qualities of man’s best friend. How we should be comparing the integrity of dogs to this modern, dysfunctional world, a world that seems to be descending deeper and deeper into corruption, lies, greed, selfishness and depravity. My goodness, how much there is for man to learn from dogs.
As that last thought passed across his mind, he was hit by a force, a force that was beyond question. He would write not some time in the future but now. Write about how we must, for the future sake of mankind, learn from dogs.
He shuffled his chair across to his computer, toggled it back to life and started looking at available internet domain names. Bingo, it hadn’t been taken! Thus a few minutes later he was the registered owner of the domain name learningfromdogs.
Friday the 22nd came round as regular as clockwork and Philip, once again, was settled into his chair in Jonathan’s room. Pharaoh likewise settled in to the corner of the room behind his chair. He had been looking forward to this next hour with Jonathan because so much had flowed from the revelations of last week’s session.
“Philip, when we had our first session and I asked you to relate the key life events that came to you, the first event you spoke of was the death of your father. Tell me more about that time in your life.”
“To be honest, I don’t have clear memories of my father much before he died that year. He was a lot older than my mother, some eighteen years, and I had been the result of an affair between them; my father being married at the time. They met when they were both members of an amateur orchestra in London during the height of the Second World War. Apparently, my father had had two daughters with his wife and longed for a son. I came along just six months before the end of the war. At first, my father couldn’t decide to leave his wife leading to my mother eventually giving him an ultimatum that if he wished to continue to see his son then he would have to marry her. So despite me being born in November 1944 it wasn’t until 1946 that my parents became married.”
He paused for a few moments, as if having to dip back to that December in 1956 was going to stir up pain.
“I had turned twelve-years-old in early November 1956. Just finished my first term at Grammar School. To be honest, I can’t recall when my father became ill and how long he had been bed-ridden. But on the evening of December 19th, after I had kissed my father goodnight and jumped into my bed in the room next door, my mother came in, closed my bedroom door, sat on the edge of my bed and told me that my father was very ill and may not live for much longer.
It clearly didn’t register with me at any significant emotional level because I went off easily to sleep. But when I awoke in the morning, I was told that my father had died during the night, the family doctor had attended and my father’s body had been removed from the house. I had slept through it all.”
Jonathan quietly looked at him. Nothing was said; not for a long time. Philip was aware of a strange, yet peaceful, presence in the room. Pharaoh softly stood up, came over and laid his head across Philip’s leg. All remained still and quiet in the room. He lost any notion of the passing of time, no idea of how long it was when there was a gentle movement from Jonathan.
“What are you experiencing at this moment?”
“Jonathan, it’s strange but there’s almost a complete absence of feelings. I’ve often tried to reflect on what I truly felt at the time or, indeed, what I feel all these years later whenever I am drawn back to that time. But the best I have ever been able to come up with is that I was never able to say goodbye. You need to know, Jonathan, that it was decided that because it would be too upsetting for me, I wasn’t even at the funeral and cremation thus reinforcing my sense of not saying goodbye to my father.”
Minutes passed afresh before Jonathan asked his next question. “Philip, you have a son and daughter. What are their ages?”
“My son, William, is now thirty-five and my daughter, Elizabeth, thirty-four.”
Jonathan put his hands together fingers-to-fingers and lent his chin against them. “So your son would have been twelve in 1984. That was when you were very busy running your own business, if I recall.”
Philip nodded in reply.
“So Philip let’s say that during that year of 1984 you had been diagnosed with some terminal illness, say cancer, as with your father. You were given a life expectancy of six months or less. What thoughts come to mind?”
“You mean in the sense of what it would have meant for William and Elizabeth?”
“Wow, what a truly terrible thing to reflect upon.”
He idly stroked Pharaoh’s head as he tried to put himself in the position of knowing he was dying back when his children were eleven and twelve.
He looked up. “What comes to mind without any doubt is that I would have walked away from my business immediately. After all, very soon it wasn’t going to be my business. My kids were still living at home, of course. I would have wanted to share every minute of my life with them. Try to let them understand as much about me, who I was, what I believed in, what made Philip Stevens the person he was.”
Jonathan almost breathed the next question into the air of the room, “Translate the circumstances of the death of your father across to your son experiencing the same circumstances from your death. What’s your reaction to that situation? Admittedly one we know didn’t take place, thank goodness.”
Philip felt the passion rise from within. He almost cried out, “To know that I was terminally ill and to have that kept from my son and daughter; that’s terrible, it’s beyond comprehension. Then to compound it by having everything associated with my death and the disposal of my body kept secret from William and Elizabeth.”
He left the sentence unfinished before adding, the pain so clear in his voice, “It’s cruel beyond description. My poor children wouldn’t have had a clue as to why they had been excluded. No, not excluded; denied. Denied from telling their father how much they loved him and, in turn, denied not hearing from their father how much he loved them. Denied for ever more.”
Jonathan allowed Philip’s anger to reverberate around the room.
“Is there one word that says it all to you? If so, what’s the one word that comes to you?” Jonathan asked.
Philip hardly hesitated. “Rejection. Yes, that’s the word.”
He went silent as he turned that word over in his mind. “No, can’t better the word. William and Elizabeth losing their father that way shouts out that their feelings weren’t even considered. No-one in the lives had stopped to think about how these two very young people were dealing with the severe illness, let alone the imminent death, of their father. Their feelings were not cared for. And not caring means not loving. Yes, that’s it. They would see it as a total rejection of them by their father. Not unreasonably, I might add.”
There was a further silence in the room that lasted for, perhaps, five minutes or more. Then Jonathan said, “Philip, we are not quite up to the hour but I’m going to suggest you just sit here quietly with Pharaoh.”
Jonathan looked at Pharaoh who still had his head across Philip’s leg and said, “I was going to say just let yourself out when you are confident of being OK to drive home. But, of course, Pharaoh will be the one to make it clear when you may go home. Bet you anything on that one. Either way, I’ll be next door; very close by.”
He added, “Just let today settle itself in your consciousness just however it wants to. Don’t force your thoughts either way, either dwelling on today or preventing thoughts naturally coming to the surface of your mind. As we have discussed before, pay attention to your dreams. Maybe have a notebook by your bedside so you can jot down what you have been dreaming about. I’ll see you next Friday same time, if that’s alright with you.”
Jonathan left the room whereupon Philip quietly laid his face down on Pharaoh’s warm head and wept. He knew beyond doubt that he had been released from a long, dark, emotional prison.
A few minutes later, he lifted his head, wiped his eyes, just as Pharaoh lifted his own head and indicated clearly that it was time to go. They left the house a few moments later.
When a crossroads is neither a roadway, nor a choice of pathways in the woods or fields, when that crossroads is in our minds, we seldom know it’s there or the choice we made to take one path and not the other until it’s long past. Sometimes, the best one can do is to look for the tiniest clues as to where one is really heading.
Philip had read that in a book a few weeks back although, typically, could no longer remember the name of the book. It had spoken to him in a way that he couldn’t fathom out at the time, yet carried sufficient strength and clarity for him to feel the need to jot it down on a sheet of paper. He had been sorting papers out on his desk on the Sunday following that last session with Jonathan when he came across the sheet of paper. Much more than the first time he read the words, when he reread them now they were laden brim-full of meaning.
Because, to his very great surprise, his sleep on both Friday and Saturday nights had not only been dream free but had taken him to a place of such sweet contentment that it was almost as though he had been reborn. Alright, perhaps reborn was a little over the top, but there was no question that he was in an emotional place quite unlike anything he could ever recall. Almost as if for the first time in his life he truly liked who he was.
Earlier on that Saturday morning when he had taken Pharaoh over to James’ woods, he called in on his sister and shared a cup-of-tea with her. As he was leaving, Diana asked him if he was alright. In querying why she had asked, she said, “Oh, I don’t know. There’s something different about you that I can’t put my finger on. A happiness about you that I haven’t seen in ages, possibly never seen in you.”
He wrapped his arms around Diana and gave his sister a long and deep hug. He softly said, “I miss our father at times, don’t you?”
She answered, “Oh, I miss him too, miss him so much at times. He was such a wonderful, gentle man who lived for his children. He loved all three of us more than anything else. To die at such a young age.”
As the week passed by, Philip became aware of a truth that had been hidden from him for practically the whole of his life. He couldn’t wait to share it with Jonathan. Thus, as he drove across to Torquay on what was the last Friday of June, he was full of what he wanted to say.
Jonathan could tell that Philip was fit to burst. They had hardly sat down when Philip said, “Jonathan, it’s been an amazing week. I’ve at last understood some fundamental aspects of my life.”
“That sounds very interesting, tell me more.”
“Well, when I realised that the consequence of the way my father’s death had been handled was to bury in my subconscious the idea, the false idea, of having been rejected, something struck me smack in the face. Namely, that it explained two ways in which I have behaved since being a teenager.”
Jonathan remained silent.
“The first thing that came to me was the reason why I have been so unfortunate in my relationships with women. This is how I figured it out. Whenever a woman took a shine to me, I would do everything to come over as a potentially attractive spouse. Rather than rationally wondering if this woman had the potential to be a woman I would fall in love with and love as a wife, I have been driven by such a fear of rejection, that I oversold myself and, inevitably, made poor long-term relationships; Maggie being the classic example.”
Philip’s excitement had him out of breath. He took a lung-full of air and continued, “But the positive aspect of my fear of rejection is that throughout the whole of my business and professional life, I have been successful. Because I have always put the feelings of the other person above my own. I can’t tell you what a release this has been for me.”
“Philip, that’s a fabulous example of how when we really get to know the person we are it gives us a psychological freedom, a freedom to be the person we are, to feel happy with ourselves.”
Jonathan continued, “One thing I should mention is this. It’s likely that what happened to you back in December 1956 is not necessarily hard-wired but certainly is a very deep-rooted emotional aspect of who you are. This new-found awareness will be of huge value to you but that sensitivity to rejection is not going to disappear. The difference is that you are now aware of it. Quite quickly you will spot the situations, as they are happening, that stir those ancient feelings around. Then you will be able to notice those feelings without having them pulling behavioural strings. You will be fine; of that I have no doubt.”
4,139 words. Copyright © 2013 Paul Handover
A heart-rending, true story of a puppy. (Has a very happy ending!)
Those of you who have read today’s Chapter Eighteen of ‘the book’ will not have escaped the central role played by Philip’s German Shepherd: Pharaoh.
Well a few days ago the following video was sent to me by a good friend, Ginger, from our Payson days. Won’t say anymore until you have watched it.
Tried hard to find the Facebook page but failed. However, I did find this article on the Psychology Today website that not only refers to Daisy but offers more on the subject of animal emotions.
Do animals think and feel?
by Marc Bekoff - Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Daisy: The Injured Dog Who Believed She’d Walk Again and Did
Anthrozoology, also called human-animal studies (HAS), is a rapidly growing and expanding interdisciplinary field. A recent and comprehensive review of this wide-ranging discipline can be found in Paul Waldau’s book titled Animal Studies: An Introduction. Many of the essays I write for Psychology Today have something to do with anthrozoology in that they focus on the wide variety of relationships that humans establish with nonhuman animals (animals). Some essays also discuss what we can learn from other animals, including traits such as trust, friendship, forgiveness, love, and hope.
Often, a simple video captures the essence of the deep nature of the incredibly close and enduring bonds we form with other animals and they with us. As a case in point, my recent essay called “A Dog and His Man” showed a dog exuberantly expressing his deep feelings for a human companion he hadn’t seen for six months. Another essay titled “My Dog Always Eats First: Homeless People and Their Animals“ dealt with the relationship between homeless people and the animals with whom they share their lives.
Daisy: An unforgettable and inspirational symbol of dedication and hope
I just saw another video called “Daisy – the Little Pup Who Believed” that is well-worth sharing widely with others of all ages. There is no way I can summarize the depth of five-month old Daisy’s resolve to walk again after she was injured or of the devotion of the woman, Jolene, who found her on the side of a road – scared, malnourished, unable to walk or wag her tail, the people who contributed money to help her along, or the wonderful veterinarians and staff at Barrie Veterinary Hospital in Ontario, Canada, who took care of her. You can also read about Daisy’s remarkable and inspirational journey here.
Please take five minutes out of your day to watch this video, read the text, listen to the song that accompanies it, and share it widely. I am sure you will get teary as you watch Daisy go from an injured little ball of fur living in a ditch on the side of a road with a broken spine to learning to walk in water to romping around wildly as if life had been that proverbial pail of cherries from the start.
I’ve watched Daisy’s journey many times and every single time my eyes get watery. Among the many lessons in this wonderful video is “stay strong and never give up”. Clearly dogs and many other animals can truly teach us about traits such as trust, friendship, forgiveness, love, and hope.
Two closing thoughts.
When you next want a dog please, please think of those dogs who are in shelters. They must be our first priority.
If there is ever a time when we humans need to learn from dogs the qualities of trust, friendship, forgiveness, love and hope, it is now!
The old and the new.
Like thousands of others, Jean and I are regular viewers of the TED Talks.
So first the old. Here’s a reminder of the inspiring nature of mathematics; in this case Fibonacci numbers.
Published on Nov 8, 2013
Math is logical, functional and just … awesome. Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin explores hidden properties of that weird and wonderful set of numbers, the Fibonacci series. (And reminds you that mathematics can be inspiring, too!)
Now to the new. Innovation at its very best.
Published on Jul 11, 2013
The development of new medicine is problematic because laboratories cannot replicate the human body’s environment, making it difficult to determine how patients will respond to treatment. At TEDxBoston, Geraldine Hamilton demonstrates how scientists can implant living human cells into microchips that mimic the body’s conditions. These “organs-on-a-chip” can be used to study drug toxicity, identify potential new therapies, and could lead to safer clinical trials.
Learning from Dogs
Adjusting back to Devon life upon his return from California could have been so much worse if Philip didn’t have that first meeting with Jonathan to look forward to.
The flight back to London had been uneventful and as soon as he had taken a taxi from Totnes Station across to Diana and John’s place, to pick up his car, he was off to Sandra’s to collect his beloved Pharaoh.
While that night flight home from Los Angeles was always a bit rough on the body, the morning arrival did allow most of a full day back in England. The thought of waiting another day to see Pharaoh was unbearable.
As he pulled into Sandra’s parking area and opened the car door, the sound of the many dogs staying at Sandra’s kennels greeted his ears. He hadn’t even had time to close his door when Pharaoh came bounding across to him, tail wagging furiously. If ever a dog could put a smile on its face, and Philip had no doubt that dogs could smile, Pharaoh was wearing the biggest dog smile ever.
Philip sat on the ground and received a rapid succession of face licks. As soon as he stood up and opened both the car’s tail-gate and the door to the travel cage, Pharaoh gave one giant leap into the open cage, turned around and was indicating in very clear dog speak, ‘Dad, take me home, now!’.
He told Pharaoh to wait while he went across to settle up with Sandra.
“Did you have a good time in California?”
“Thanks Sandra, yes a great time. Feel almost ready for what’s facing me these next few months.”
He paused before asking, “Tell me, Sandra, how’s Pharaoh been?”
“He was fine. Same as he always is. It’s almost as though he knows that he isn’t here for ever and that you will come back for him. In fact, it must have been over half-an-hour ago that Pharaoh was telling me, in the way some dogs do, that you were on your way to collect him.”
“Wow! Sounds as though that was around the time I picked up the car from my sister’s place and starting heading your way.”
He continued. “Sandra, the reason I asked about how Pharaoh is with you is that I have been invited to spend next Christmas with good friends at their house in Northern Mexico.”
Sandra’s face showed that she was uncertain where Northern Mexico was.
“It’s a place called San Carlos, about a couple of hundred miles south of the border with Arizona but there’s a good airport quite close by. What I have been thinking, Sandra, is that being away from Devon over the holiday period might stop me getting all caught up in the memories of last Christmas. But if I was to go, it would be for the thick end of a month and there’s no question of me going if Pharaoh wasn’t going to be happy and settled here with you.”
Sandra’s reply was immediate. “Philip, I’m usually very quiet over the Christmas period with most dog owners wanting their dogs with them at home, for obvious reasons. So not only would I be able to give Pharaoh extra attention but during the day I could take him for a walk around our local woods and have him in the house as well.” Sandra hesitated before continuing, “Of course, I wouldn’t have him sleep in the house overnight, might start to confuse him as to whether or not this place was becoming his new home. So, what I’m saying is that it wouldn’t be a problem for me or Pharaoh in the slightest.”
“Thanks Sandra, you are good to him, and to me. Thank you so much.”
Philip was soon over at Upper Holsome Farm and as he parked up, about to let Pharaoh out and take his travel bags over to the flat, Liz came up to him.
“Thought it was you. How was it? Did you have a good time?”
“Thanks, Liz. Yes, it was a great time. Gave me a real break from the stuff of the last few weeks and months.
“So pleased to hear that. I took the liberty of putting some fresh milk and bread in your refrigerator. Thought you wouldn’t want the hassle of newly moving in and not having any food in the place.”
“Oh Liz, that was kind of you. Yes, apart from going to collect his nibs”, Philip lifted the tail-gate of the car and opened Pharaoh’s cage. “I had no other thought than to get back here and rest up after what feels like two days of solid travelling.”
Pharaoh had a quick sniff of Liz’s outstretched hand and went off to check out all the new smells and scents around the place.
“Liz, while it’s in my mind, I’ve been invited to go and spend Christmas with good friends in Northern Mexico. I’ve checked with Sandra over at the kennels and she is confident that Pharaoh will be happy with her. Because, I’m thinking of being away about a month.” He immediately added, “Of course, I’m not asking for any rent relief for the month and I’m happy to have you use the flat if you are expecting guests over the Christmas period.”
“Philip, come on now! I’m not putting anyone else in the flat while you are paying me rent and having your things there. When you have firm dates for your Christmas trip let me know; I’m sure you would have done so in any case.”
With that, he took his belongings across to the flat, still familiar to him back from the time when he was living here before he and Maggie moved in to the Harberton barn. For Pharaoh, however, it was another new place to check out. He left him sniffing around the flat and went out to lock the car. When he returned to the flat, less than two minutes later, and went into the bedroom, there was Pharaoh curled up in the bottom half of his open suitcase. As if to say that the next time Philip left Devon he’d better take his dog with him. What a dog. What a relationship.
Later that evening, as the two of them were resting after both a human dinner and a dog supper, his mind came back to the relationship that he had with Pharaoh. Of course, it was well known that dogs loved unconditionally. But the phrase love unconditionally was too trite, too obvious. What was the deeper meaning behind those words? He went on to ponder that it must be so much more than that. The closeness of the companionship, the easy way that Pharaoh signalled his feelings to Philip, the purity of those feelings. What was the word Jonathan had used about feelings? Transparency. Of course! Yes, the transparency of Pharaoh’s feelings; that was it. He continued reflecting on the incredibly ancient relationship that had existed between dogs and man. At least thirty-thousand years and, quite probably, as far back to Neanderthal times fifty-thousand years ago.
If only us humans could live so simply and straightforwardly as dogs. For example, take how dogs live in the present for the vast majority of their lives. Think what that would mean for humans if we stopped deliberating about the future in the way that most us do. Not so much deliberating about the future, more like worrying about the future. The fear that this must engender because the future is so often an uncertain one.
Philip was sure that if humans could live as fully engaged in the present, making the the best of each moment, as dogs so clearly do, then we would live a much more uncluttered life. Uncluttered in the sense of being unburdened by the many complex fears and feelings that we humans so often seem to have. Let’s face it most of the time our fears never actually turn into reality. Millions of people loving millions of dogs in the world, untold numbers of close relationships between people and dogs, and we are all missing the most profound lesson of all to be learnt from these wonderful animals. That if we stopped obsessing about the future, turned down the noise of the outside world, we would have a chance of some silence and mental space. For it is only from that silence within us that we can become aware of ourselves. How that self-awareness allows us to better cope with the uncertainty around us, and more to the point, offers us greater happiness. Now that would have profound implications for society.
1,453 words. Copyright © 2013 Paul Handover
A dip into this remarkable State.
Just fancied a change from two days of Democratic Deficit. So today’s post is a brief overview of the US State that Jean and I live in, together with our animals, the State of Oregon.
Now it’s easy to look up a Wikipedia reference to Oregon but what really caught my eye was as a result of a recent visit to the local Grants Pass office of the Bureau of Land Management. We had gone there to purchase a $5 permit that allows us to go on to BLM land and harvest our own Christmas Tree!
In the Grants Pass office were a number of brochures of scenic attractions in Oregon and we picked up one describing the Rogue-Umpqua National Scenic Byway. Just a quick browse reminded us of Oregon’s stunning and dramatic scenery. Just wanted to share some images.
The Mount Thielsen trail is described here.
At a depth of 1,932 feet Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. It was formed more than 7,500 years ago when the Mount Mazama volcano erupted and then collapsed back in on itself.
As Wikipedia describes the lake,
The lake partly fills a nearly 2,148-foot (655 m)-deep caldera that was formed around 7,700 (± 150) years ago by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. Human interaction is traceable back to the indigenous Native Americans witnessing the eruption of Mount Mazama. There are no rivers flowing into or out of the lake; the evaporation is compensated for by rain and snowfall at a rate such that the total amount of water is replaced every 250 years. At 1,943 feet (592 m), the lake is the deepest in the United States, and the seventh or ninth deepest in the world, depending on whether average or maximum depth is measured.
The website EveryTrail describes Watson Falls:
Watson Falls is the third highest waterfall in Oregon at 272 feet. It is the most beautiful waterfall along the North Umpqua River Valley. You will cross a wooden bridge below the falls that will put you right into the lower rapids with an amazing view of the falls as they roar over the basalt lava cliffs ahead.
Someone who goes under the handle of HikingTheWest posted this video on YouTube about 6 weeks ago.
These caves are an Oregon National Monument with full details on the US National Park Service’s website. That website explains:
Nestled deep inside the Siskiyou Mountains, the caves formed as rainwater from the ancient forest above dissolved the surrounding marble and created one of the world’s few marble caves. The highly complex geology found on the Monument contributes to the unusual and rare plants and animals found nowhere else but here.
There are many good videos of the Oregon Caves on YouTube so do have a browse if you want to. This one caught my eye, especially as it was filmed in January, 2013..
Final sight for today, the Rogue River runs close by Grants Pass, our nearest town to where we live. Again there is a Wikipedia entry from which one learns that, “Although the Rogue Valley near Medford is partly urban, the average population density of the Rogue watershed is only about five people per square mile (12 per km2).”
Just reflecting on that last paragraph, a simple calculation reveals that the State of Oregon has a population of around 3.9 million people with an land area of 98,300 square miles. Thus the population density of Oregon is 39.6 persons per square mile. To put that into perspective, our neighbouring Californians to the South enjoy a population density of 238 persons per square mile!
Jean and I are very lucky to be living in such a beautiful part of Southern Oregon.