Learning from Dogs

Dogs are integrous animals. We have much to learn from them.

Welcome!

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Pharaoh – just being a dog!

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

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Written by Paul Handover

July 5, 2009 at 02:31

Posted in Core thought

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The most elegant writing.

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This will take your breath away.

Yesterday, I read the latest from TomDispatch, an essay entitled Eduardo Galeano, A Lost and Found History of Lives and Dreams (Some Broken).

I wasn’t sure if I had vaguely heard of Eduardo Galeano before but whatever, I had no idea of the power and beauty of his writings and was simply blown away when reading them. As Tom introduced the writings:

Who isn’t a fan of something — or someone? So consider this my fan’s note. To my mind, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano is among the greats of our time. His writing has “it” — that indefinable quality you can’t describe but know as soon as you read it. He’s created a style that combines the best of journalism, history, and fiction and a form for his books that, as far as I know, has no name but involves short bursts of almost lyrical reportage, often about events long past. As it turns out, he also carries “it” with him. I was his English-language book editor years ago and can testify to that, even though on meeting him you might not initially think so. He has nothing of the showboat about him. In person, he’s almost self-effacing and yet somehow he brings out in others the urge to tell stories as they’ve never told them before.

Despite Tom’s blanket permission to republish his essays, I’m not going to do so in this case, there’s a small niggle in the back of my mind that the copyright issues are rightfully protecting Mr. Galeano’s publishing rights.

So just going to offer this single extract and trust that you will go here and read Tom’s full essay: please do!

Century of Disaster

Riddles, Lies, and Lives — from Fidel Castro and Muhammad Ali to Albert Einstein and Barbie
By Eduardo Galeano

[The following passages are excerpted from Eduardo Galeano’s history of humanity, Mirrors (Nation Books).]

Walls

The Berlin Wall made the news every day. From morning till night we read, saw, heard: the Wall of Shame, the Wall of Infamy, the Iron Curtain…

In the end, a wall which deserved to fall fell. But other walls sprouted and continue sprouting across the world. Though they are much larger than the one in Berlin, we rarely hear of them.

Little is said about the wall the United States is building along the Mexican border, and less is said about the barbed-wire barriers surrounding the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the African coast.

Practically nothing is said about the West Bank Wall, which perpetuates the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and will be 15 times longer than the Berlin Wall. And nothing, nothing at all, is said about the Morocco Wall, which perpetuates the seizure of the Saharan homeland by the kingdom of Morocco, and is 60 times the length of the Berlin Wall.

Why are some walls so loud and others mute?

See what I mean!

There is much more about Eduardo Galeano on the web as these two following links prove.

Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Galeano

Wikipedia have an entry here that is informative. Then there is an in-depth article about the man over on The Atlantic website, that starts thus:

Eduardo Galeano is regarded as one of Latin America’s fiercest voices of social conscience. Yet he insists that language — its secrets, mysteries, and masks — always comes first.

November 30, 2000

“The division of labor among nations,” Eduardo Galeano proclaimed in the opening sentence of Open Veins of Latin America, “is that some specialize in winning and others in losing.” A native of Uruguay who was forced into exile under the country’s military regime during the 1970s, Galeano has always identified with the losing side. Open Veins, originally published in Mexico in 1971, employed captivating, elegiac prose to chronicle five centuries of plunder and imperialism in Latin America. Radically different in style, though not in content, from Marxist-oriented “dependency theory” of the 1960s — which held that Latin America had been systematically marginalized by the world economy since the colonial era — Open Veins quickly became a canonical text in radical circles, selling hundreds of thousands of copies in the Southern Hemisphere. In a period of social upheaval, guerrilla warfare, and dictatorship, the book, composed in three months of intense labor, was routinely treated as samizdat: when Open Veins was banned by the Pinochet regime, a young woman fled Chile with the book stashed in her infant’s diapers.

Going to close by musing on the fact that in today’s visual, technological age, the sharing of words, in all ways, shapes and sizes, across so many parts of our global society, is a pure miracle. Such creativity out there!

Could be the start of a welcome trend!

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Certainly dogs couldn’t be any worse!

I am referring to politicians; but you probably guessed that.

Just my way of a lead-in to a wonderful item seen recently over on ABC Eye Witness News.

Namely:

DOG ELECTED MAYOR IN CORMORANT, MINNESOTA

Duke, the mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota.

Duke, the mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

CORMORANT, Minnesota (WLS) — Duke, a 7-year-old dog, was elected mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota.

He won by a landslide,” Tricia Maloney said of the Great Pyrenees. “He’s used to coming to the pub and getting some burgers and some fries or something.”

The 12 people who live in Cormorant all paid $1 to vote.

Poor Richard Sherbrook that owns the Cormorant store, he didn’t even have half as many votes as Duke did,” Maloney said.

The farm dog is all bark, no bite. His term lasts one year.

oooo

A quick web search found a longer version of the news item over on the CBS News website:

Duke The Dog Sworn In As Mayor Of Cormorant, Minn.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Every dog has his day and Saturday is it for Duke the dog.

Duke was elected mayor of the northwestern Minnesota community of Cormorant, and he was sworn in Saturday. Organizer Tammy Odegaard says Duke got gussied up Friday night, his second trip to the groomer since his election.

He spends a lot of time at the dairy farm next door,” Odegaard said, who notes she’s now a member of Duke’s staff. “So, twice in, like, seven days for him is, like, it’s never happened. So I’m sure he’s wondering what’s going on with just that.”

His first grooming took five hours and came after the majority of the town’s 12 voters backed him in the balloting. The town pulled out all the stops for the 10 a.m. ceremony during Cormorant’s annual fair.

We’ll have him put his little paw on the bible, going to have him have the little oath,” Odegaard said. “Of course, he’s not going to repeat it. It would be awesome if he would bark, but who knows? He’s a country dog, so he’s not used to performing on cue.

During the two-minute inauguration ceremony, Steve Sorenson, chairman of Cormorant Township, greeted Duke and set forth his duties.

You are about to em-bark upon a great time of service, tremendous personal and professional growth,” Sorenson said. “If you accept this challenge and these responsibilities, please bark or pant.

Duke panted.

I think that qualifies,” Sorenson said.

As for the mayor’s salary, a pet food store is donating a year’s supply of kibble to reward him for his service.

The village of Cormorant is located in northwestern Minnesota, near Pelican Rapids.

Duke is a seven-year-old, big, white, shaggy Great Pyrenees that loves to roll around in the dirt. Odegaard would not say if that activity qualifies Duke for a career in politics.

You said it, not me,” Odegaard laughed.

oooo

That inauguration ceremony was captured on video; see below.  Warning, the first seven minutes are a little slow! But it is worth watching, trust me!

Written by Paul Handover

August 18, 2014 at 00:00

Picture parade fifty-seven.

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Keeping up a smiling weekend.

John Hurlburt sent me some wonderful pictures that had, in turn, been sent to him by Sue S.

Pictures to make you smile!

SS3

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SS1oooo

 SS2oooo

SS4

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SS5

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SS7

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SS6

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SS8

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Gorgeous pictures. More great ones next week.

Written by Paul Handover

August 17, 2014 at 00:00

The Antiques Road Show

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With a twist!

Just imagine ...

Just imagine …

Sorry, folks, the headline was half-designed to set you off down the wrong road. Because the television series Antiques Roadshow is well known both sides of the Atlantic.

No, today’s post is a lovely silly story sent to me by dear friend Richard Maugham back in England. Prompted by the guest post on Tuesday about the risks to dogs of throwing sticks for them.

This is what he sent me:

Antique Road Show.

Paddy took two stuffed dogs to the Antiques Roadshow.

Ooh”, said the presenter. “This is a very rare set produced by the celebrated Johns Brothers taxidermists who operated in London at the turn of the last century.

Do you have any idea what they would fetch if they were in good condition?

Sticks!”, said Paddy.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Written by Paul Handover

August 16, 2014 at 00:00

A wolf’s journey.

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Yet another positive sign.

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post The power of hope comes this wonderful story about the increasing population of wolves in Europe.  I can’t recall what led me to the item in the UK’s Guardian newspaper but this is what I read:

Incredible journey: one wolf’s migration across Europe

Slavc is a wolf. In 2011, he began an epic 2,000 kilometre migration across Europe from Slovenia to Italy via the Austrian Alps. Several months earlier, he had been fitted with a collar that allowed his movements to be tracked in incredible detail. I talked to Hubert Potočnik, the biologist whose work made this possible.

Henry Nichollstheguardian.com, Friday 8 August 2014 02.05 EDT

It has been estimated that there are now around 10,000 wolves in Europe. Photograph: tbkmedia.de/Alamy

It has been estimated that there are now around 10,000 wolves in Europe. Photograph: tbkmedia.de/Alamy

Every year, Hubert Potočnik and his colleagues at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia capture and collar a number of wolves in order to get a handle on the movements of these much-misunderstood creatures. In July 2011, he collared a young male that became known as Slavc. In June, I spoke to Potočnik for a feature that appears in New Scientist this week and he told me about Slavc’s extraordinary journey across Europe. What follows is an edited transcript of the interview …

HN: After you captured and collared Slavc in July 2011, he stayed with his pack for several months. Then, on 19 December 2011, he began to move. How did you know?

HP: We knew something was different because the GPS points showed that he had crossed two large motorways far outside of his natural territory.

Tell me about these collars. How do they work?

The collar is equipped with three types of different technology. It has a GPS receiver, a GSM modem to send SMS and also with a VHF radio transmitter as a back-up. We programme all our wolves to send a GPS signal every three hours, so we get about seven locations a day to give us continuous location sampling data.

Hubert Potočnik fits Slavc with the collar in July 2011, a device that will reveal the wolf’s incredible 2000-km migration from Slovenia to Italy. Photograph: Nina Ražen

Hubert Potočnik fits Slavc with the collar in July 2011, a device that will reveal the wolf’s incredible 2000-km migration from Slovenia to Italy. Photograph: Nina Ražen

To read the rest of this fascinating article then you will need to go here.  Please do so as the article is breathtakingly interesting. It closes, thus:

HN: How would you sum up this experience?

There are lots of data about long-distance dispersal of wolves but there are very few cases where we have had the opportunity to follow an animal in such detail. Following Slavc across Europe offered a rare insight into the secret life of the wolf. It was one of the most amazing events in my life.

A quick web search came across this short but wonderful video; albeit without sound.

Published on Aug 26, 2013
Two wolf cubs were documented in Lessinia Regional Nature Park on August 7, 2013. At the end of the video it is possible to partially see an adult wolf, the mother of the cubs, that was recognized as Giulietta. Giulietta and Slavc became famous because they brought together two wolf populations that were separated for over 150 years. Wolf Slavc originates from the Dinaric-Balkan wolf population and was collared in Slovenia. He travelled over 1500km over Austria to Italy, where he met Giulietta, originating from the wolf population from the western Alps (Piemonte region).

source: Parco Naturale Regionalle Della Lessinia

The power of hope.

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Funny how things happen.

Yesterday evening we had close friend Don Reeve staying with us.  To put this into context, it was Don and his wife, Suzann, who in 2007 invited me to spend Christmas with them at their Winter home down in San Carlos, Mexico. That, in turn, led me to meeting Jean, Suzann’s best friend, and look where that got me! :-)

(Can’t resist adding that Jean and I were born in London, some 23 miles from each other!)

Fr. Dan Tantimonaco with the newly weds!

Fr. Dan Tantimonaco with the newly weds! Payson, AZ. November 20th., 2010.

Thus you can understand the pleasure it was for Jean and me again to see Don; albeit for a brief overnight stay.

What was an extra, unanticipated pleasure was meeting a young, rescue dog that Don had adopted in recent weeks.  Her name is Margarita and she was found and rescued by Suzann from the streets in San Carlos.  What was so glorious was to see the love and hope for a better future that flowed between Don and the sweet, young Margarita.  It resonated so perfectly well with Suzan’s post published here on Monday: Rescued dogs are life-savers.

By the time I sat down at my desk yesterday, I was conscious of a) not having a clue as to what to write, and b) inspired by the sense of hope that dogs offer us humans.  Serendipitously, the theme of hope led me to a post written by Jennifer Broudy de Hernandez over on her Transition Times blog.  It was called Warriors for the Planet and was the most beautiful essay.

I’m delighted to reblog that here with Jennifer’s approval.

ooOOoo

Warriors for the Planet

Another summer, another war. I wonder how many summers there have been in the last 5,000 years when human beings were not occupied with killing each other?

Correction: not “human beings,” “men.”

Let’s be frank: even though there may be women in the armed forces of many countries now, war still remains a masculine activity and preoccupation. The women who serve as soldiers must adhere to the masculine warrior code and become honorary “bros,” for whom the worst insult is still be called a “girl” or a “pussy.”

annebaring_a_lgI have been reading Anne Baring’s magisterial book The Dream of the Cosmos, in which she gives a detailed account of the shift, around the time of Gilgamesh, from the ancient, goddess- and nature-worshipping “lunar cultures” to the contemporary era of solar, monotheistic, warrior-worshipping cultures.

In her elaboration of this shift, I read the tragedy of our time, enacted over and over again all over the planet, and not just by humans against humans, but also by humans against the other living beings with whom we share our world. I quote at length from Baring’s remarkable book:

gilgamesh-187x300“The archetype of the solar hero as warrior still exerts immense unconscious influence on the modern male psyche, in the battlefield of politics as well as that of corporate business and even the world of science and academia: the primary aim of the male is to achieve, to win and, if necessary, to defeat other males. The ideal of the warrior has become an unconscious part of every man’s identity from the time he is a small child.

“With the mythic theme of the cosmic battle between good and evil and the indoctrination of the warrior went the focus on war and territorial conquest. War has been endemic throughout the 4000 years of the solar era. The glorification of war and conquest and the exaltation of the warrior is a major theme of the solar era—still with us today in George W. Bush’s words in 2005: ‘We will accept no outcome except victory.’ This call to victory echoes down the centuries, ensuring that hecatombs of young warriors were sacrificed to the god of war, countless millions led into captivity and slavery, countless women raped and widows left destitute. It has sanctioned an ethos that strives for victory at no matter what cost in human lives and even today glorifies war and admires the warrior leader. This archaic model of tribal dominance and conquest has inflicted untold suffering on humanity and now threatens our very survival as a species.

2014-06-15-mission
“The cosmic battle between light and darkness was increasingly projected into the world and a fascination with territorial conquest gripped the imagination and led to the creation of vast empires. It is as if the heroic human ego, identified with the solar hero, had to seek out new territories to conquer, had to embody the myth in a literal sense and as it did so, channel the primitive territorial drives of the psyche into a Dionysian orgy of unbridled conquest, slaughter and destruction. We hear very little about the suffering generated by these conquests: the weeping widows, the mothers who lost sons, the orphaned children and the crops and patterns of sowing and harvesting devastated and disrupted by the foraging armies passing over them, the exquisite works of art pillaged and looted….The long chronicle of conquest and human sacrifice, of exultation in power and the subjugation of enemies might truly be named the dark shadow of the solar age” (118;124).

Like Baring, I see our time as a critical era in the long history of homo sapiens on the planet. There is still hope that enough of us will be able to detach ourselves from the pressures and busyness of our lives—will become conscious of what is happening to the planet and human civilization writ large—will understand that there are other ways to relate to each other and to the Earth, ways that will seem increasingly possible and obvious once we focus on them and begin to put our energies into manifesting our visions of a creative, collaborative, respectful mode of being.

Baring ends her disturbing chapter on the ascendancy of the solar warrior culture with a hopeful quote from The Passion of the Western Mind by Richard Tarnas, from which she springs into her own positive vision of the potential of our time.

“’We stand at the threshold of a revelation of the nature of reality that could shatter our most established beliefs about ourselves and the world. The very constriction we are experiencing is part of the dynamic of our imminent release. For the deepest passion of the Western mind has been to reunite with the ground of its being. The driving impulse of the West’s masculine consciousness has been its quest not only to realize itself, to forge its own autonomy, but also, finally, to recover its connection with the whole, to come to terms with the great feminine principle in life; to differentiate itself from but then rediscover and reunite with the feminine, with the mystery of life, of nature, of soul. And that reunion can now occur on a new and profoundly different level from that of the primordial unconscious unity, for the long evolution of human consciousness has prepared it to be capable at last of embracing the ground and matrix of its own being freely and consciously.’

“As this deep soul-impulse gathers momentum, the ‘marriage’ of the re-emerging lunar consciousness with the dominant solar one is beginning to change our perception of reality. This gives us hope for the future. If we can recover the values intrinsic to the ancient participatory way of knowing without losing the priceless evolutionary attainment of a strong and focused ego, together with all the discoveries we have made and the skills we have developed, we could heal both the fissure in our soul and our raped and vandalized planet” (130-131).

My heart aches for the suffering of the innocent civilians trapped in the crossfire in Gaza this summer, and for the grieving families of the passenger plane heinously shot down by warriors who were either poorly trained or just plain evil.

I am heartsick when I think about the holocaust that is overtaking living beings on every quadrant of our planet as humans continue to ravage the forests and seas, to melt the poles with our greenhouse gases, and to poison the aquifers and soil with our chemicals.

The last Polar Bear

This is where the solar cultures, with their “great” warrior kings, have led us. And yet, as Baring says, they have also presided over the most amazing advances in science and technology that humans have ever known in our long history on the planet.

We don’t need or want to go back to the simple innocence of ancient lunar societies. We don’t have to bomb ourselves back into the Stone Age.

What we need is to go forward, wisely and joyously, into a new phase of consciousness, in which the masculine warrior spirit is used for protection and stewardship rather than destruction, and the Earth is honored as the Mother of all that she is.

Never let anyone tell you it can’t be done. It is already happening.

ooOOoo

May I tempt you to go back and re-read that penultimate paragraph.  A sentence that I cannot resist emphasising:

What we need is to go forward, wisely and joyously, into a new phase of consciousness, in which the masculine warrior spirit is used for protection and stewardship rather than destruction, and the Earth is honored as the Mother of all that she is.

 The power of hope!

Vive la différence.

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It is the differences between us that are to be praised.

On the 10th August, Alex Jones, he of The Liberated Way, published a post under the title of Wisdom comes out of calm.  I read it and approved of the sentiments expressed.  Here’s a flavour of what Alex wrote:

My attitude towards dogs, and everything I do, is it is better to act in harmony with my world than impose violent control upon it. Nature is my teacher, and calm is one of its teachings. Calm is the sister of patience and tolerance, letting nature flow at its own pace and in its own way. When I planted acorns, I was unable to force them to grow, they acted in their own timing, at their own pace. I am like a parent rather than the master of eight strong oak saplings. I provide my saplings with opportunity through water, sun and good soil; protecting them from caterpillar and fungus; they follow their own nature in becoming fast growing little trees.

Then dear Patrice, he (or is it she?) of the blog Patrice Ayme’s Thoughts went on to write his own essay Calmly Thinking Up A Storm reflecting on Alex’s musings. One of the comments to me was:

Well, Paul, the entire essay answered why it’s wrong to equate calm with wisdom, as Alex does. If it was only him, it would be an interesting quirk. However, it’s pretty much a mass mood.

That philosophy of boiled vegetable leaves the plutocrats free to do a home run, home being, for them, hell. Part of the program is biospheric annihilation.

I didn’t agree with Patrice and my immediate reaction was try and take sides. Yet both writers were the authors of many fine essays. What to do?  As I expressed to Alex:

I have read both posts and, frankly, are bemused. It feels as though each is describing something utterly different to the other. I have a number of hours of electrical work today but will also give the matter a ‘coating of thought’ while working and offer my humble conclusions later on.

Serendipitously, the answered then arrived.

I’m about a third of the way through an audio course on Building Great Sentences delivered by Professor Brooks Landon, Professor at the University of Iowa English Department. Professor Landon talks about style and how difficult it is to define a particular author’s style.

It was at that moment that a flashbulb went off in my mind.  Wouldn’t literature be incredibly plain and boring if there were no real differences in the styles of all the many authors; past and present!

It brought me back to Patrice and Alex and, by default, hundreds of other authors of blogs right across the ‘blogosphere’.  Of course they express themselves differently! Of course they hold different opinions! It is those differences that are critical, utterly so, to each and every reader coming to their own conclusions; conclusions to a wide range of subjects and topics.

This was hammered home to me as I watched our dogs playing so well together.  The differences in each dog’s backgrounds and experiences contributed to the wonderful, unconditional way that they played and lived together.  The power of their unconditional love.

It is those differences that offer us insight into our own beliefs and prejudices.  It is those differences that allow us, and dogs, to make sense of ourselves. One might argue that it is the differences that deliver truth.

That feels much better! :-)

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