Archive for the ‘People and their pets’ Category
Three Koi joined our family yesterday.
Our pond has settled to the point where Jean thought it would be good to get some fish. So off to a pond and fish supplies store in Grants Pass to seek advice. We settled on some Koi and a water lily plant.
We were advised to acclimatise the fish in terms of water temperature by slowly mixing pond water into the bags containing each fish.
Meanwhile, Pharaoh took advantage of clean, green grass to give his back a bit of a rubdown.
And Hazel pondered what ‘Dad’ was up to.
But eventually it was time for the three Koi to slip away into the depths of their new home.
Nine dogs, five cats, four chickens, two miniature horses and three Koi!
Brings a whole new meaning to the description of a ‘seeing-eye’ dog!
Big thanks to Suzann for sending this.
From the WTHI-TV website.
A dog with a special talent
Updated: Tuesday, 22 Jan 2013, 4:58 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 07 Nov 2012, 6:46 PM EST
CLAY COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – Finding a dog that can fetch is hardly news.
We’ve found a dog that can fetch; that we think is worth a news story.
If your pooch is nearby, bring them near the computer, they’re going to want to see this.
Chica is a happy border collie that lives on the Knox Farm, in Clay County.
When we find her, she darts from the back door of the barn and weaves through the chicken and cattle.
Chica’s favorite pastime is playing fetch with her owners Martha and Buddy Knox.
It’s a sight to see, but it’s a sight Chica can’t see.
Chica has no eyes.
Her eyes were surgically removed when she was a mere pup.
So, how does a dog with no eyes see a moving ball, and bring it back to the feet of Martha?
This is something Martha wonders as well, and so do the experts at Purdue University.
Whatever it is, here is a hound that lives its life in the dark, but seemingly is seeing everything.
Now watch this and be both humbled and amazed.
Something wonderful we can learn from Chica. Accept our limitations, because we all have them, and “see with our heart”.
Thank you so much, Su, for sharing that.
When I say tiny, I mean tiny!
A few days ago, dear friend Dan Gomez sent me a link to an article in the March/April edition of Maui Magazine (must admit not heard of it before).
It was a story written by Shannon Wianecki under the title of ‘Eight Tiny Steps for Tardigrades‘. Here’s how it opened;
Eight Tiny Steps for Tardigrades
It might sound like a fairy tale, but it’s fact: Haleakala National Park is home to a troupe of tiny bears. But don’t bother searching for these wee creatures. Tardigrades, better known as water bears, are miniscule, ranging from 50 to 1,200 microns. Which means a couple of water bears could fit into the period ending this sentence.
Water bears are so named for their appearance and form of locomotion. Like microscopic grizzlies, they pad along on eight stumpy legs, brandishing claws and short snouts. Another name — moss piglet — refers to the animal’s most common habitat. Tardigrades are aquatic, but to creatures of their size, suitable swimming holes include the moisture clinging to mosses, or the capillary water between grains of sand. They are found all over the globe: in the arctic, desert, deep sea, and — most of all — in Hawai‘i.
Now if I blow the dust off my aged brain, I recall that a micron is a millionth of a metre (or meter in American speak). Whatever the spelling, that is small.
So even if this little creature can be up to 1,200 microns ‘big’ that would still only be 1.2 thousandths of a metre.
The article is well-worth reading in full. However, I will take the small liberty of republishing the final paragraph;
In 2007, water bears joined astronauts in space to see how they handled cosmic rays. Exposed for ten days to the vacuum of space, without oxygen, water, or heat, and zapped by intense solar radiation, water bears became the first animals to survive in space.
Back on Earth, the mini-cosmonauts continued to breed successfully. Investigating the molecular makeup of these amazing creatures may show humans how to survive future space explorations.
Now without wishing to be too basic, I would love to have this question answered: How does something that small breed? Indeed, how could they ever find each other?
So if you are a pet owner and a bit worried about the costs of feeding and looking after your beloved animal, don’t worry! There’s something else in town a little bit smaller!
A personal journey
In some ways, it is surprising that I haven’t written about my own counselling experiences before. Perhaps it has never felt like the right moment.
But the guest post from Peter Bloch that I had the honour of publishing yesterday so strongly resonated with the ‘Fergus’ inside me that I was compelled to offer my own journey. So if you are not into bouts of personal introspection, look away and come back tomorrow!
The fickle finger of fate
I was born in Acton, North London, just 6 months before the end of World War II. Nothing remarkable about that. Just another one of the millions of soon-to-be post-war babies. My father was an architect; my mother a teacher. Indeed, at the age of 93 my mother is still teaching music!
In 1956 when my father was 55 years-old he developed lung cancer. I and my sister were blissfully unaware of our father’s terminal condition until the evening of December 19th, 1956. That evening Mum came into my bedroom and said that father was very ill and may not live for very much longer. To be honest, it didn’t really register and off I went to sleep. I was 12 and looking forward to Christmas in 5 days time.
My father died in the night hours of December 19th/20th. I had slept through not even wakening when his body was removed from the house. On the morning of the 20th he was just gone!
It was felt by the family doctor, who had been attending my father, that it would be too upsetting for me and my younger sister to attend the funeral. That funeral was a cremation and therefore no grave.
The good and the not so good.
The only obvious effect of the trauma of my father’s death was that I bombed out at school. I had passed my ’11+’ exams at my primary school and in September, 1956, become a pupil at Preston Manor County Grammar School near Preston Road, Wembley where we were living; Wembley Stadium could be seen from the back windows of the 2nd floor of our house.
I struggled with schooling, the victim of much bullying as I recall, sat 8 ‘O-level’ exams, passed 2, struggled to get another couple of ‘O-levels’ but it was clear that a University place was not going to be for me.
From then on, in stark contrast, I enjoyed a wonderfully varied life, working as a business salesman, freelance journalist and ending up starting my own company in Colchester in 1978 which became surprisingly successful.
But when it came to relationships, that wasn’t so successful. If I tell you that Jeannie is my 4th wife, you will get the message!
A little more background.
When running my own business back in the 1980s I had a network of overseas distributors. My US West Coast distributor was Cimarron, a company owned and run by Daniel Gomez out of Los Angeles. Dan and I became good friends and still are some 35 years later. I’ll come back to this highly relevant relationship with Dan.
I sold my business in 1986 and went overseas for 5 years, actually living on a boat based in Larnaca, Cyprus. (The boat was a Tradewind 33 named ‘Songbird of Kent‘.)
In the early 1990s upon returning to England I chose to live in the South Hams area of South Devon, ending up in the small village of Harberton, pop. 300, near Totnes. Once settled I took up business mentoring. In previous years, I had gained Chartered Membership of the Institute of Marketing. In addition, I became a youth mentor with the Prince’s Youth Business Trust, a really fabulous organisation that does so much good for young people.
One of my personal mentees was Jon Lavin, the founder of The People Workshop. (Yes, and Jon is aware that his website is a tad out-of-date!)
Out of sight, but not out of mind.
In time I became married to wife number three. Seemingly happy living in a tranquil part of rural Devon, keeping busy, not thinking too much about life.
Pharaoh became an important part of my life in 2003. At the time, I had no idea how important!
On the evening of December 20th, 2006, 50 years to the day that my father died, my wife announced that she had met another man. The implications of this casually delivered bombshell were obvious and catastrophically painful.
I will spare you the details but, trust me, the next few weeks were tough!
High on my priorities were letting close friends know what was happening. Dan, in characteristic Daniel fashion, said over the phone, “Hey, Handover, you get your arse over to Southern California pronto! Like now!” I replied that it was much too difficult to do that now but maybe later on in 2007.
Realising that I might need some psychological support, I spoke with Jon Lavin. However, Jon made it clear that as we already had a working relationship with me as his mentor, he couldn’t now, in turn, be my psychotherapist. I pleaded with Jon. He said he would only work with me on the strict understanding that he would terminate the counselling relationship if our past workings interfered. Of course, I agreed. [See footnote.]
Finding one’s true self after 50 years!
Jon, quite naturally, started into understanding my past experiences. Right back to that fateful day in 1956 when my father died. And, guess what!
Unbeknownst to me, the lack of time to adjust to my father’s cancer, his sudden death, being unable to ‘say goodbye‘; all had been emotionally interpreted as acute and profound emotional rejection. Buried deep within me with both strong positive and negative emotional consequences. Negatively, making me very vulnerable to emotional rejection; positively, causing me to strive for outward success in so many ways. Those sessions with Jon brought it all to the surface bringing with it deep and peaceful calm.
Yet, the true implications of finding myself were still to come.
In the Summer of 2007, I took up Dan’s offer to ‘get my arse to Southern California!‘ I had a fabulous time with Dan and his dear wife, Cynthia. It also included a visit to Dan’s sister, Suzann, and her husband, Don, in their home in Los Osos, California. Su fussed over me restoring my sense of self-worth as Dan and Cynthia had been doing.
One morning over breakfast Suzann said, “Hey Paul, what are you doing for Christmas?“
I replied, “Oh, give me a break, Suzann, it’s the middle of June. Long time before I have to think about dealing with Christmas!“
Su then made the offer that was to change my life irrevocably. ”Don and I have a house down in San Carlos, Mexico where we shall be at Christmas. Why don’t you come and have Christmas with us in Mexico?“
And I did. And it was in San Carlos, Mexico that I met Jean. Suzann and Jean were great buddies. Jean had been living there since she and her late husband, Ben, had moved there many years ago. Ben, an American, and Jean had been married for 26 years with Ben, sadly, having died in 2005.
Jean and I spent hundreds of hours chatting and getting to know each other, including the fact that she and I had both been born Londoners within 23 miles of each other. Jean had been rescuing Mexican feral dogs for years and there were 14 dogs in her house in San Carlos. So many of those dogs loved me from the start. It seemed like the most beautiful Christmas I could have wished for. In such stark contrast to just a year ago.
In September, 2008 after selling the house in Devon, I moved out to San Carlos, Mexico. Just me and Pharaoh who had been such a devoted friend, companion and confidant over the previous months.
In 2010, we moved to Payson in Arizona, some 80 miles NE of Phoenix. On November 20th, 2010 Jean and I were married.
Releasing the Fergus in me and all of us.
What Peter Bloch wrote yesterday was so true. A dog can only be a happy, fulfilled dog, if allowed to be the true dog that is in him or her. Despite the fact that humans are primates and dogs are canids like wolves, coyotes, and foxes, it still holds as true for us humans as it did for Fergus.
We can only be happy, to put it in the words of Fergus, “happy, energised, purposeful and fulfilled in every way.” if we are given the freedom to be our self.
So if you find that you, like Fergus, suffer from digestive problems, possibly have skin disorders and sometimes behave a little strangely take note – you need to find your healer!
Back in 2008 when Jon Lavin was working with me, I would take Pharaoh and he would lay on the floor behind my seat. On one occasion Jon was talking about the findings of Dr. David Hawkins and his Scale of Consciousness; from falsehood to truthfulness. (See here and here for more details.)
Anyway that fateful day, Jon mentioned that Dr. Hawkins had measured dogs as being integrous animals. That notion stayed with me and later I registered the domain name learningfromdogs (dot) com leading to – yes, you guessed it – this blog. Funny old world.
I’m clearly not the only one to believe we really can learn from dogs!
Last Friday, I published a post under the title of The healing power of dogs. This is how that post opened:
How dogs offer us humans health and happiness.
Many months ago, I was contacted by a Peter Bloch offering to write a guest post on the subject of the healing power of dogs. Peter had read a post that I had published in July last year which prompted the email dialogue between us.
Not going to say much more at this stage except that today I am republishing that post from last July. On Monday, I will introduce Peter and his guest post. Then on Tuesday, I will speak of my own experiences both as entrepreneurial mentor and as a ‘customer’ of a wonderful psychotherapist back in Devon during 2007.
So, as promised, here is that guest post from Peter.
My dog Fergus is a philosopher, and the nature of health and happiness is his area of special expertise. When he learned about Paul’s blog he became very excited because he has always been convinced that dogs have so much to teach humans about life. As much as anything to have a little peace from his continual philosophical musings, I agreed to set out his theories here for the benefit of everyone who loves dogs.
Fergus would like it to be known that when he is free to pursue the activities to which his particular breed is most naturally attracted then, as a dog, he feels happy, energised, purposeful and fulfilled in every way. Fergus has also observed that when he is able to participate as a co-operating member of his ‘pack’, he feels safe and secure, is clear about how to proceed with his life, and at night he sleeps like a dog.
But Fergus says that when these conditions do not apply, he can be quite remarkably miserable. As a Greyhound, he loves to run very fast, and he is not at all interested in things like retrieving balls, or wallowing in water.
However once he was in the care of someone who Fergus thinks we should just call ‘Sarah’. Sarah has a Labrador and thinks that all dogs really ought to be like her dog, resulting in Fergus being put under considerable pressure to enjoy activities that he could not understand.
That lead to Sarah telling Fergus’ owners that he was a difficult dog when in fact he was just a misunderstood dog. He was amazed how, in just one day, he went from sleeping ‘like a dog‘ to ‘living in the doghouse‘!
Indeed, within a week he was suffering from digestive problems and skin disorders, despite an identical diet, and was found to be engaging in several bizarre neurotic behaviours. Fortunately, when more congenial conditions were restored, Fergus returned to feeling safe and secure.
Fergus often expresses surprise that people often do not understand that the freedom to be himself, the true dog that he is, including living in unifying solidarity with his pack, is a fundamental requirement for his health; in all meanings of the word.
For instance, Fergus noticed that Sarah has a son called Henry, who really wanted to be a designer. But his mother thought that it would be better for him to be a lawyer. In fact, Sarah was so certain that in the end Henry became a lawyer. Fergus observes that Henry is always suffering from digestive problems and skin disorders and sometimes behaves a little strangely. Doctors have not been able to find out what is wrong with him, despite all sorts of diets and medicines being tried.
But here’s the rub. When Henry goes out for a walk with Fergus, Fergus always runs as fast as he can and his resulting happiness always makes Henry feel so much better.
Henry is convinced that Fergus is a healer! Who could argue with that?
Trust me, when I’m feeling a little down the dogs all know. All of them allow me to come and bury my face in their fur, or rest my face alongside their face. Perhaps one of the most powerful gifts from our dogs is their wonderful, unconditional love for us funny humans.
I have no connection with Peter other than being delighted to have this guest post from him (or was it from Fergus??). Peter offered this brief summary of his work, which I am pleased to include:
Peter Bloch has developed a form of existential and person-centred psychotherapy through touch. In this therapeutic model, health is defined as the ability to be true to oneself and open to genuine relationships with others – qualities that he finds in abundance in his dog.
How dogs offer us humans health and happiness.
Many months ago, I was contacted by a Peter Bloch offering to write a guest post on the subject of the healing power of dogs. Peter had read a post that I had published in July last year which prompted the email dialogue between us.
Not going to say much more at this stage except that today I am republishing that post from last July. On Monday, I will introduce Peter and his guest post. Then on Tuesday, I will speak of my own experiences both as entrepreneurial mentor and as a ‘customer’ of a wonderful psychotherapist back in Devon during 2007. Hope that works for you.
So here’s that Learning from Dogs post.
The bond between dogs and humans
Such a beautiful and mutually-important relationship.
But then a flurry of other articles conspired to pass my desk.
In no particular order there was an article on the Big Think website, Do Dogs Speak Human? As the article opened,
What’s the Big Idea?
Perhaps the better question is, do humans speak dog? Either way, the debate over whether language is unique to humans, or a faculty also possessed by wild and domestic animals from dogs to apes to dolphins, is an interesting one. The answer depends on exactly how we define “language,” and who’s doing the talking, says David Bellos, the Booker prize-winning translator.
The article includes this three-minute video,
Broadly, a language is a mode of expression. ”The argument that only human language is language and that animal communication systems, however sophisticated they are — and some of them are quite sophisticated — are not languages because they consist of discrete signals is a circular argument,” he argues. “It’s a self-fulfilling thing. And I think we should be a little bit more interested in the complexity and the variability of animal communication systems and less rigid about this distinction between what is a language and what is not a language.”
For now, we’re happy with this:
The June 30th edition of The Economist had an article entitled, Can dogs really show empathy towards humans? (You may have to register (free) to view this.) That report ends, as follows,
As they report in Animal Cognition, “person-oriented behaviour” did sometimes take place when either the stranger or the owner hummed, but it was more than twice as likely to occur if someone was crying. This indicated that dogs were differentiating between odd behaviour and crying. And of the 15 dogs in the experiment that showed person-oriented responses when the stranger cried, all of them directed their attention towards the stranger rather than their owner.
These discoveries suggest that dogs do have the ability to express empathetic concern. But although the results are clear enough, Dr Custance argues that more work needs to be done to be sure that such behaviour is true empathy. It is possible, she points out, that the dogs were drawing on previous experiences in which they were rewarded for approaching distressed human companions. Dog-owners, however, are unlikely to need any more convincing.
It was then an easy follow-up to that Animal Cognition article which is available online here; here’s the abstract,
Empathy covers a range of phenomena from cognitive empathy involving metarepresentation to emotional contagion stemming from automatically triggered reflexes.
An experimental protocol first used with human infants was adapted to investigate empathy in domestic dogs. Dogs oriented toward their owner or a stranger more often when the person was pretending to cry than when they were talking or humming. Observers, unaware of experimental hypotheses and the condition under which dogs were responding, more often categorized dogs’ approaches as submissive as opposed to alert, playful or calm during the crying condition. When the stranger pretended to cry, rather than approaching their usual source of comfort, their owner, dogs sniffed, nuzzled and licked the stranger instead.
The dogs’ pattern of response was behaviorally consistent with an expression of empathic concern, but is most parsimoniously interpreted as emotional contagion coupled with a previous learning history in which they have been rewarded for approaching distressed human companions.
Not quite as obvious as it might seem.
Considering that this blog is called Learning from Dogs, there has been precious little published about the animal species known as Canis familiaris; the classification of the domestic dog. Let me try to correct that.
So, this reference explains:
The subdivision of Canidae into “foxes” and “true dogs” may not be in accordance with the actual relations; also, the taxonomic classification of several canines is disputed. Recent DNA analysis shows that Canini (dogs) and Vulpini (foxes) are valid clades (see phylogeny below). Molecular data imply a North American origin of living Canidae and an African origin of wolf-like canines (Canis, Cuon, and Lycaon).
Currently, the domestic dog is listed as a subspecies of Canis lupus, C. l. familiaris, and the dingo (also considered a domestic dog) as C. l. dingo, provisionally a separate subspecies from C. l. familiaris; the red wolf, eastern Canadian wolf, and Indian wolf are recognized as subspecies. Many sources list the domestic dog as Canis familiaris, but others, including the Smithsonian Institution and the American Society of Mammalogists, more precisely list it as a subspecies of C. l. familiaris; the red wolf, eastern Canadian wolf, and Indian wolf may or may not be separate species; in the past, the dingo has been variously classified as Canis dingo, Canis familiaris dingo and Canis lupus familiaris dingo.
The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet
The domestication of dogs was an important episode in the development of human civilization. The precise timing and location of this event is debated and little is known about the genetic changes that accompanied the transformation of ancient wolves into domestic dogs. Here we conduct whole-genome resequencing of dogs and wolves to identify 3.8 million genetic variants used to identify 36 genomic regions that probably represent targets for selection during dog domestication.
Nineteen of these regions contain genes important in brain function, eight of which belong to nervous system development pathways and potentially underlie behavioural changes central to dog domestication. Ten genes with key roles in starch digestion and fat metabolism also show signals of selection. We identify candidate mutations in key genes and provide functional support for an increased starch digestion in dogs relative to wolves. Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.
The BBC News website picked up on this:
Dog evolved ‘on the waste dump’
By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News
Anyone who owns a dog knows that it will rummage around in the kitchen bin looking for food, given half a chance.
But this annoying behaviour may have a more profound undercurrent than we realise, according to scientists.
A new study of dog genetics reveals numerous genes involved in starch metabolism, compared with wolves.
It backs an idea that some dogs emerged from wolves that were able to scavenge and digest the food waste of early farmers, the team tells Nature journal.
No-one knows precisely when or how our ancestors became so intimately connected with dogs, but the archaeological evidence indicates it was many thousands of years ago.
One suggestion is that the modern mutt emerged from ancient hunter-gatherers’ use of wolves as hunting companions or guards.
But another opinion holds that domestication started with wolves that stole our food leftovers and eventually came to live permanently around humans as a result.
Anyone who owns or loves dogs will find this article fascinating. Jonathan Amos goes on to say:
“This second hypothesis says that when we settled down, and in conjunction with the development of agriculture, we produced waste dumps around our settlements; and suddenly there was this new food resource, a new niche, for wolves to make use of, and the wolf that was best able to make use of it became the ancestor of the dog,” explained Erik Axelsson from Uppsala University.
“So, we think our findings fit well with this theory that the dog evolved on the waste dump,” he told BBC News.
Dr Axelsson and colleagues examined the DNA of more than 50 modern dogs from breeds as diverse as the cocker spaniel and the German shepherd. They then compared their generic genetic information with those of 12 wolves taken from across the world.
The Swedish-US team scanned the DNA sequences of the two types of canid for regions of major difference. These would be locations likely to contain genes important in the rise of the domesticated dog.
Axelsson’s group identified 36 such regions, carrying a little over a hundred genes. The analysis detected the presence of two major functional categories – genes involved in brain development and starch metabolism.
In the case of the latter, it seems dogs have many more genes that encode the enzymes needed to break down starch, something that would have been advantageous in an ancestor scavenging on the discarded wheat and other crop products of early farmers.
Do go across to that BBC item and read the rest of the article.
That article and the paper in Nature magazine resonate strongly with an article written on the Dr George Johnson on Science website. In fact I referred to the George Johnson piece when I first published the Dogs and integrity side piece in July 2009. (My how time flies!) As that George Johnson piece reveals:
This week I found myself wondering about Boswell’s origins. From what creature did the domestic dog arise? Darwin suggested that wolves, coyotes, and jackals — all of which can interbreed and produce fertile offspring– may all have played a role, producing a complex dog ancestry that would be impossible to unravel. In the 1950s, Nobel Prize-winning behaviorist Konrad Lorenz suggested some dog breeds derive from jackals, others from wolves.
Based on anatomy, most biologists have put their money on the wolf, but until recently there was little hard evidence, and, as you might expect if you know scientists, lots of opinions.
The issue was finally settled in 1997 by an international team of scientists led by Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles. To sort out the evolutionary origin of the family dog, Wayne and his colleagues used the techniques of molecular biology to compare the genes of dogs with those of wolves, coyotes and jackals.
Wayne’s team collected blood, tissue, or hair from 140 dogs of sixty-seven breeds, and 162 wolves from North America, Europe, Asia, and Arabia. From each sample they extracted DNA from the tiny organelles within cells called mitochondria.
While the chromosome DNA of an animal cell derives from both parents, the mitochondrial DNA comes entirely from the mother. Biologists love to study mitochondrial DNA because of this simple line of descent, female-to-female-to-female. As changes called mutations occur due to copying mistakes or DNA damage, the mitochondrial DNA of two diverging lines becomes more and more different. Ancestors can be clearly identified when you are studying mitochondrial DNA, because clusters of mutations are not shuffled into new combinations like the genes on chromosomes are. They remain together as a particular sequence, a signature of that line of descent.
Do read the full article here.
Finally, just watch this short trailer for a BBC Horizon screened in early 2010. (Wet eyes warning!)
So the next time you look a dog in the eyes or hug their lovely furry body, think how far back the relationship goes and marvel at how much we have learnt from them.
Thanks to Chris Snuggs.
Having had the internet service down for three days, I’m offering you this lovely dog story as a quick post for today.
A local business looking for office help put a sign in the window saying: “HELP WANTED. Must be able to type, must be good with a computer and must be bilingual. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.“
One day a dog trotted up to the window, saw the sign and went inside. He looked at the receptionist and wagged his tail, then walked over to the sign, looked at it and whined. Sensing the dog’s idea, the receptionist fetched the office manager. The office manager looked at the dog and was surprised, to say the least. However, since the dog looked determined, he led him into the office.
Once in the office, the dog jumped up and sat on the chair staring at the manager. The manager said, “I can’t hire you. You have to be able to type.“
The dog jumped down from the chair, went across to a typewriter and typed out a letter. He took out the page and trotted over to the manager, gave the letter to him and then jumped back on the chair. The letter was typed perfectly; the manager was stunned. He then turned to the dog and said, ”The sign says you have to be good with a computer.“
The dog again jumped down and went to a computer. He demonstrated his expertise with various programs, producing a sample spreadsheet and database which he presented to the manager.
The manager was totally dumbfounded! He looked at the dog and said, “I realize that you are a very intelligent dog and have some interesting abilities. However, I still can’t give you the job.“
The dog jumped down and went to the sign in the window. He put his paw on the part about being an Equal Opportunity Employer.
“Yes,” the manager said, “but the sign also says that you have to be bilingual.“
The dog looked him straight in the face, and said, “Meeow.“
Something else we really can learn from dogs.
I’m not sure that I should admit that my dearest Jeannie is my 4th wife! Long story that goes back to when I had just turned 12 years-old, back in 1956. I suffered an event that I interpreted as emotional rejection and promptly buried that deep into my subconscious where it stayed for over 50 years.
Then brought to the surface in 2007 (thanks Jon) after the failure of marriage number 3. I met Jean some 6 months later, in December 2007, and we were married in Payson, AZ in November, 2010. Being with Jean has been the happiest days of my life!
Inevitably, while being married to Jean seems such a natural relationship, one is curious about what makes for a happy, lifelong relationship. Let’s face it, divorce is not uncommon. In fact, the Divorce Rate website reveals that in 2012, the divorce rate was 3.4 couples per 1,000 population in the USA; the sixth highest in the world.
So it was fascinating to listen to a recent radio programme broadcast under the BBC’s Point of View series. Just 10 minutes long, this particular programme was a talk by Adam Gopnik: The secret of a happy marriage 29th March 2013. (Adam Gopnik is an American commentator and writes for The New Yorker.)
You should be able to listen to the programme by going here. Or you can download the programme by going here, and following the instructions. (Not sure how long the programme will be available to listen/download, so don’t delay.)
The programme was also featured on the BBC News Magazine Website. From which I quote:
A Point of View: Is there a secret to a happy marriage?
Nobody can explain the secret to a happy marriage, says Adam Gopnik, but it doesn’t stop people trying.
Anyone who tells you their rules for a happy marriage doesn’t have one. There’s a truth universally acknowledged, or one that ought to be anyway.
Just as the people who write books about good sex are never people you would want to sleep with, and the academics who write articles about the disappearance of civility always sound ferociously angry, the people who write about the way to sustain a good marriage are usually on their third.
Nonetheless (you knew there was a nonetheless on its way) although I don’t have rules, I do have an observation after many years of marriage (I’ve promised not to say exactly how many, though the name “Jimmy Carter” might hold a clue).
Later, Adam Gopnik speaks about Charles Darwin whose marriage to Emma he describes “as something close to an ideal marriage.“
So what is it we learn from dogs?
So, marriages are made of lust, laughter and loyalty – but the three have to be kept in constant passage, transitively, back and forth, so that as one subsides for a time, the others rise.
Now Adam writes about the special form of loyalty that dogs offer us:
Be lit by lust, enlightened by laughter, settle into loyalty, and if loyalty seems too mired, return to lust by way of laughter.
I have had this formula worked out – and repeated it, waggishly, to friends, producing for some reason an ever more one-sided smile on the face of my beautiful wife.
Until, not long ago, I realised that there was a flaw in this idea. And that was that I had underestimated the reason that loyalty had such magnetic power, drawing all else towards it.
For I had been describing loyalty in marriage as though it were a neutral passive state – a kind of rest state, a final, fixed state at the end of the road of life.
And then, against our better wishes, and our own inner version of our marriage vows, at our daughter’s insistence we got a dog. And this is what changed my view.
“The expense and anxiety of children” indeed. Our daughter’s small Havanese dog, Butterscotch, has instructed us on many things, but above all on the energy that being loyal really implies.
Dogs teach us many things – but above all they teach us how frisky a state loyalty can be.
Dogs, after all – particularly spayed city dogs that have been denied their lusts – have loyalty as an overriding emotion. Ours will wait for hours for one of its family, and then patiently sit right alongside while there is work to be done.
Loyalty is what a dog provides. The ancient joke-name for a dog, Fido, is in truth the most perfect of all dog names – I am faithful. I am loyal. I remain.
Dogs are there to remind us that loyalty is a jumpy, fizzy emotion. Loyalty leaps up at the door and barks with joy at your return – and then immediately goes to sleep at your side. Simple fidelity is the youngest emotion we possess.
The loyalty of a dog. No more to be said.
A trip down memory lane with the BBC That’s Life programme.
Sent to me by Neil Kelly from South Hams in Devon.
That’s Life was a BBC television programme that ran for over 20 years. Difficult to attach a precise lable to the format but this is how the programme is described on WikiPedia.
That’s Life! was a magazine-style television series on BBC1 between 26 May 1973 and 19 June 1994, presented by Esther Rantzen throughout the entire run, with various changes of co-presenters. The show was generally recorded about an hour prior to transmission, which was originally on Saturday nights for many years and then on Sunday nights. In its latter days, in an attempt to win back falling ratings, it was moved back to Saturday nights.
Anyway, the following video from That’s Life goes back to 1986 and involves three German Shepherd dogs and a soda syphon. The video was ‘borrowed’ from a Dutch TV show called ‘Zomergasten’, hence the Dutch sub-titles.
If you ever find yourself in Castle Cary, Somerset, then do drop in to the George Hotel; it’s still going strong.