Archive for 2011
Reflections on a year of Blogging.
Learning from Dogs would not be anything without you, dear reader. So what follows is an accolade to you. This Blog first saw the light of day on July 15th, 2009.
By the end of 2009 there had been a total of 15,800 viewers.
In comparison, by the end of 2010 there had been a total of 85,200 viewers, a growth of 439%!
Today, the last day of 2011, the total number of viewers for the year will be in excess of 243,000, a breathtaking increase over 2010 of nearly 158,000 viewers (184%).
So from Pharaoh and me, thank you all so very, very much and a Very Happy New Year to you all.
Be warned, one of my more reflective muses!
Tomorrow is the last day of the year 2011.
For reasons that I am not clear about, there is a mood of pessimism about my person. Whether it is the scale of global issues that I see ahead that drags me down, whether the year of an American Presidential election will remind me of the loss of reason that afflicts so many modern democracies, whether the messages in Kunstler’s book The Long Emergency still resonate in my mind well, who knows?
But when one does look at the broader picture of modern society, there is much that troubles.
So forgive me if I provide a couple of examples of these troubles. I do so on the grounds of communication – the more that understand the risks ahead of us, the more likely we, as in the peoples of this planet, will say to our leaders, “Enough of this! For the sake of my children, my grandchildren and all of humanity we have to change our priorities, and soon!”
Here’s my first example.
Climate change increases the risk of record-breaking extreme weather events that threaten communities across the country. In 2011, there were at least 2,941 monthly weather records broken by extreme events that struck communities in the US.
That was backed up by an article on the Onearth website that opened,
By many measures, 2011 was the most extreme weather year for the United States since reliable record-keeping began in the 19th century — and the costs have been enormous. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2011 set a record for the most billion-dollar disasters in a single year. There were 12, breaking the old record of nine set in 2009. The aggregate damage from these 12 events totals at least $52 billion, NOAA found.
And that just for the USA. But will climate change be the Number One political issue in 2012? And if not in 2012, when will it be?
Let me move on to my second example, very different from the one above but, in a sense, just as scary. This is an interview that was in a recent article on the Food Freedom website ( brilliant website, by the way). Dr. Joseph Mercola, the leading natural health practitioner, interviews Dr. Don M. Huber, one of the senior scientists in the U.S about the area of science that relates to genetically modified organisms (GMO). Here’s an extract from the article on Food Freedom,
Toxic botulism in animals linked to RoundUp
Dr Mercola recently interviewed Dr Don Huber, whose letter to the USDA warning that Monsanto’s RoundUp, a broad-spectrum “herbicide” that has been linked with spontaneous abortion in animals, continues to be ignored by food and environmental safety authorities. In this important hour-long discussion, Huber, a plant pathologist for over 50 years, explains how RoundUp is destroying our healthy soils by killing needed microorganisms.
Not only did his team discover a new soil pathogen, but he reports that animals are coming down with over 40 new diseases, like toxic botulism. Huber explains that before the widespread use of herbicides, pesticides and genetically modified food and feed, natural probiota would have kept Clostridium botulinum in check
The video, below, of the interview is included in the article. Please don’t be put off by the length, the material covered is riveting and critical to our general knowledge about the threats to our society.
So that’s enough from me for one day! On Monday, I shall include another video relating to the RoundUp issue that reveals, both directly and metaphorically, how the only solution to pessimism is to embrace the need to make change happen. Be inspired by this poem by Sam Keen, included in the latest Sabbath Moment from Terry Hershey,
I Want to Surrender
God, I want to surrender
to the rhythm of music and sea,
to the seasons of ebb and flow,
to the tidal surge of love.
I am tired of being hard,
tensed against tenderness,
afraid of softness.
I am tired of directing my world,
making, doing, shaping.
Tension is ecstasy in chains.
The muscles are tightened to prevent trembling.
Nerves strain to prevent trust,
Surrender is a risk no sane man may take.
Sanity never surrendered
is a burden no man may carry.
God give me madness
that does not destroy
Final four short films about Transition.
PLEASE read the closing comment by Rob Hopkins!
Film Seven - Transition Town Totnes’s Transition Streets Origin: Transition Town Totnes
In December 2009, Transition Town Totnes, the UK’s first Transition initiative, was chosen as one of 20 community groups in England and Wales to win the ‘Low Carbon Communities Challenge’. Its project, ‘Transition Streets’, was awarded £625,000. In the last 18 months, nearly 500 households have participated in Transition Streets, each, on average, cutting their carbon emissions by 1.5 tonnes.
About a third of those have gone on to install solar photovoltaic systems. However, the main benefits that people who have participated talk about are the social connections they have made and how they now feel so much more a part of their community. It has also acted as a platform for all kinds of other initiatives as neighbours start to get a taste for working together.
Film Eight – A Small Pennant Flag Origin: Transition Town Monteveglio (Bologna, Italy)
Transition Town Monteveglio (TTM) was the first Italian Transition initiative. In 2009 its local Comune (local Council) passed an amazing resolution that offers a stateof-the-art taste of what it looks like when a council really ‘gets’ peak oil and climate change, stating: “… a view of the future (the depletion of energy resources and the significance of a limit to economic development), methods (bottom-up community participation), objectives (to make our community more resilient, i.e. better prepared to face a low energy future) and the optimistic approach (although the times are hard, changes to come will include great opportunities to improve the whole community’s quality of life)”.
It has led to all kinds of initiatives and projects, including a local currency and renewable energy installations. Our object here is the Comune’s official pennant.
Film Nine – A Small Bag of Topsoil Origin: Transition Norwich’s food initiatives
It is one thing to start local food projects, but quite another to think strategically about how those projects sit in the larger context of the intentional relocalisation of the area. Transition Norwich, together with East Anglia Food Link, produced a study called ‘Can Norwich Feed Itself?’ which worked out that it could, albeit with a simpler diet, but that it would need certain new infrastructures put in place. This included a new mill to enable locally produced grains to be milled, two CSA farms (hence our object, a soil sample from their first CSA site), community gardens and research into varieties of beans and oats that will grow well in the area.
A successful application to the Local Food Fund enabled these to become a reality. It is a fascinating example of why we need to think strategically about the localisation of food. As Tully Wakeman, one of the co-ordinators, told me: “A trap a lot of NGOs fall into is over-thinking about vegetables (yet) only one tenth of what we consume, in calorific terms, comes from fruit and vegetables… where is the other 90% going to come from? Growing vegetables in gardens, allotments, community gardens and so on offers a degree of food security and can happen relatively rapidly.
However the other 90% requires the rebuilding of the infrastructure required for growing, processing, cleaning, storing, milling and distributing grains and cereals, and that takes longer and requires more planning”.
Film Ten – Beer, A Bottle of Sunshine Ale Origin: The Lewes Community Power Station
The Ouse Valley Energy Service Company (OVESCO) is one of the offshoots of Transition Lewes focused on the installation of renewables in and around the town as well as promoting energy conservation and local economic resilience. In 2011 it took on its most exciting and ambitious project to date installing a 98kW solar photovoltaic array on the roof of local brewery, Harveys. This will turn the building into one of the first community-owned solar power stations in the country.
The 544 photovoltaic (PV) panels will generate 93,000kWh of green electricity each year – enough to save more than 40 tonnes of CO2 annually.
A community share launch event took place in April 2011 attended by 300 people. Within five weeks the target of £307,000 had been reached. Money invested will be repaid in full at the end of the 25 year scheme, or earlier at the request of the investor and subject to conditions. While the investment is held a dividend will be paid after the first year which is expected to be around 4%.
Our object is a bottle of ‘Sunshine Ale’, a special commemorative beer brewed to celebrate the launch of the scheme. Very nice it is too.
A final few words from Rob Hopkins.
Whittling down to these 10 objects has been very difficult but I hope what you have gained is a sense of something infectious, reaching beyond the idea of small individual initiatives, and arguing that localisation is the best way for the places in which we live to return to health. Various learned writers and academics have tried to encapsulate what Transition is, but I still think the best description of its spirit comes from Tove Jansson in Comet in Moominland in 1946, who wrote: “It was a funny little path, winding here and there, dashing off in different directions, and sometimes even tying a knot in itself from sheer joy. (You don’t get tired of a path like that, and I’m not sure that it doesn’t get you home quicker in the end).”
Rob Hopkins is the co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and Transition Network and blogs at www.transitionculture.org
This important information came to hand an hour ago.
Stephanie from our local Payson Humane Society Thrift Shop sent me and Jean an email a short while ago. While the potential issue goes back to 2007 that is no reason not to keep this in mind when it comes to what commercial treats you give your dog. Indeed, the US FDA updated their recall information only last November.
Please circulate this to all dog owners that you know.
Jerky treats from China could be causing illness in pets
The AVMA staff has been in communication with veterinarians who believe certain brands of jerky treats from China could be causing illness in pets. Signs of illness have included vomiting, lethargy, and anorexia.
The Food and Drug Administration is aware of consumer complaints relevant to chicken jerky for dogs. Laura Alvey, director of the communications staff at the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, said the agency is actively investigating the situation.
Alvey said the FDA has analyzed products for multiple microbiologic and chemical contaminants, but the agency had not detected any contaminants as of Sept. 14.
Wal-Mart pulled a type of chicken jerky for pets off store shelves July 26 after receiving complaints about the product, manufactured by both Import-Pingyang Pet Product Co. and Shanghai Bestro Trading. A laboratory that tested the jerky product reported finding low concentrations of melamine, one of the contaminants that led to massive recalls of pet food earlier this year.
Alvey said the FDA has reviewed the laboratory report, which found 20 ppm of melamine in one sample. The agency has not been able to verify the finding. Alvey added that the FDA would not expect the low concentration of melamine to result in any illness.
Dr. Richard Goldstein, an associate professor of small animal medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, has been collecting data on cases of pets that became ill after ingesting jerky treats from China. He is the primary author of an informational document available on the Web site of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, www.acvim.org.
According to the document, ACVIM diplomates who work in nephrology and urology became aware of an unusual number of dogs with similar presenting complaints and clinicopathologic testing results in association with the ingestion of various brands of jerky treats, mostly chicken jerky. The dogs are typically small and have a history of vomiting, lethargy, and anorexia.
Blood chemistry in many cases has revealed hypokalemia and a mild increase in liver enzymes. Blood gas analysis indicates acidosis. Urinalysis has consistently shown glucosuria and granular casts. The findings suggest an acquired Fanconi syndrome, according to ACVIM diplomates, and Fanconi screens on urine have been positive.
The ACVIM document recommends treatment consisting of supportive care, electrolyte supplementation, and blood gas monitoring. These cases appear to warrant liberal potassium supplementation. In some cases, veterinarians should consider long-term bicarbonate supplementation.
Most of the dogs have recovered from their acute disease and have not required long-term treatment. Dr. Goldstein at Cornell asks veterinarians who can contribute data on these cases to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The AVMA will provide updates about the situation at www.avma.org as new information becomes available.
Veterinarians who see any illnesses that they suspect might relate to a pet food should contact an FDA consumer complaint coordinator and the manufacturer or retailer. A list of phone numbers for FDA complaint coordinators in each state is available at www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/complain.html.
As I mentioned, the US. Food and Drug Administration website updated their recall information on November 15th, 2011. The link is here, from which is reproduced,
List of recalls for Pet Food Products from Jerky Treats
Information current as of noon November 15, 2011
1065 entries in list
Recalls & Withdrawals for Animal & Veterinary Products
Melamine Pet Food Recall of 2007: Main Page
The recalls on this list are primarily Class I. Definitions of Class I, II, and III recalls. Additional information about how recalls are conducted can be found at FDA 101: Product Recalls – From First Alert to Effectiveness Checks.
Note: This compiled list represents all pet food recalled since March 2007. If and when new information is received, this list will be updated. The “Information Current as of” date provided above indicates when this Web page was updated; it does not indicate the date when the pet food recalls listed below were initiated. Once listed, each of the recalled pet food products remains listed, even if there are no new recalls associated with that product. Although we have taken care to make sure the information is accurate, if we learn that any information is not accurate we will revise the list as soon as possible. For initiation dates of specific recalls, click on the brand name and then product description links that appear on these pages. For recalls that occurred before September 1, 2008, a date range might appear in the initiation date field. The date range indicates the timeframe within which multiple recalls of this product were initiated. For recalls that occur September 1, 2008 and after, the actual initiation date of each recall event is provided for each product. If a new recall is initiated for a product that had previously been recalled before September 1, 2008, the food product will be listed again, with the new recall initiation date. If a new recall is initiated for a product that had previously been recalled after September, 1, 2008, the initiation date of the new recall event will be added to the previous date listed.
The recall number is V-095-2007 The Trade Name is Jerky Treats
The Product Description is: Jerky Treats Beef Flavor Dog Snacks. The product is sold in 3.75 oz bags and shipped in cases containing 12 bags; sold in 7.5 oz bags shipped in cases containing 6 bags & 12 bags; sold in 11.25 oz bags shipped in cases containing 8 bags; sold in 15 oz bags (which is buy one get one free of the 7.5 oz size) shipped in cases containing 12 bags; sold in 170 g bags shipped in cases containing 12 bags (Canadian only); and sold in 567 g canisters shipped in cases containing 8 canisters (Canadian only).
Treats for Dogs are Potentially Dangerous
Check the label for country of origin, and be observant if you give your dog chicken jerky treats. The American Veterinary Medical Association was notified last week by the Canadian VMA that several Canadian veterinarians have seen dogs with a condition that resembles Fanconi syndrome, and it may be associated with the consumption of chicken jerky treats manufactured in China. Similar incidents were reported in the United States in 2007 and investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which issued a further warning in 2008.
It’s unknown if the problem is limited to Canada. The AVMA reports that it has not received any recent reports from U.S. veterinarians about pets with illness that may be related to chicken jerky treats, and there have been no recalls of any chicken jerky treat products associated with the Canadian complaints. Brand names of the products involved are not available.
Fanconi syndrome affects the kidney tubes and can be heritable or acquired. The heritable form is rare and usually is seen only in certain breeds, including basenjis and Norwegian elkhounds. The acquired form can be caused by heavy metal poisoning or certain chemicals. Dogs affected with the acquired syndrome usually have signs that include vomiting, listlessness and lack of appetite. According to the FDA’s 2008 report, extensive chemical and microbial testing did not turn up any contaminant or a definitive cause for the reported illness. Most dogs recover, but some reports to the FDA involved dogs that died.
After checking the information on the Veterinary Information Network, Lake Forest veterinarian Scott Weldy of Serrano Animal and Bird Hospital said that so far, the reports have been anecdotal, with no evidence tying the problems to the chicken jerky treats.
“Right now they’re basically not blaming anything,” he says. “They’re saying it might be from chicken treats, but they don’t know yet.”
According to the comments on VIN, Weldy says, veterinarians are reporting cases infrequently, “maybe one case every week or two or three.” Some cases have a reasonably suspicious history.
“Right now it is speculation,” he says. “Everybody wants to jump on a cause for everything that happens, and they’ll look for some common link. Cheap treats and cheap foods are by far more popular than more expensive things because people are trying to save money. A lot more people are using cheaper products or are being sold products that are marketed better, so they’re more common in the market. Sometimes those get blamed first when they have nothing to do with anything.”
Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.
“I would be skeptical to put a cause-and-effect relationship on the chicken treats right now, but I also wouldn’t feed my dog a chicken jerky treat right now,” he says. “It’s an easy thing to avoid.”
Limit the amount of jerky treats you give to a small dog. If you give your dog chicken jerky treats, pay attention if the dog’s appetite or activity level decreases, if it vomits or has diarrhea, or starts to drink more water and urinate more frequently. Signs can occur within hours to days of giving the treats.
Stop giving the jerky if your dog shows any of these signs, and take him to the veterinarian if the signs are severe or continue for more than a day. Blood tests should be run to check for kidney failure or an increase in liver enzymes and urine tests to check for increased glucose levels. Treatment involves supportive care, such as fluids and electrolyte supplements.
A conversation with your dog!
(For my regular readers, indeed, for all of you, just a reminder that I’m giving the Blog a small rest until later this week – just filling in with silly things!)
According to YouTube, over 78 million have viewed this. But if you are like me and hadn’t seen it before, watch and be very amused.
(Thanks to Bob D. for the link.)