Welcome!

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

What a nose!

Two items that recently caught my eye.

The power of a dog’s nose is incredible and it is something that has been written about in this place on more than one occasion.

But two recent news items reminded me once again of the way we humans can be helped by our wonderful canine partners.

The first was a report that appeared on the Care2 website about how dogs are being used to search for victims in the burnt out ruins following that terrible Grenfell Tower fire. That report opened, thus:

By: Laura Goldman June 24, 2017
About Laura Follow Laura at @lauragoldman

Wearing heat-proof booties to protect their feet, specially trained dogs have been dispatched in London’s Grenfell Tower to help locate victims and determine the cause of last week’s devastating fire that killed at least 79 people.

Because they’re smaller and weigh less than humans, urban search-and-rescue dogs with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) are able to access the more challenging areas of the charred 24-story building, especially the upper floors that sustained the most damage.

It then went on to include a photograph from the London Fire Brigade.

We’ve used specialist search dogs at #GrenfellTower. They’re lighter than humans and can cover a large area quickly.

The next item, apart from also being about the dog’s nose, couldn’t have been more different. It appeared on the Mother Nature Network site and is republished in full.

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Border collies join the search for Amelia Earhart

4 dogs skilled in finding long-buried bones are headed to the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro.

Michael d’Estries    June 21, 2017.

Amelia Earhart standing under nose of her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The high-tech search to find the remains of pilot Amelia Earhart and close the book on one of the aviation world’s greatest mysteries is going to the dogs.

According to National Geographic, four border collies — Berkeley, Piper, Marcy and Kayle — will embark on a voyage later this month to the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro (previously called Gardner Island) in the western Pacific Ocean. The remote triangular coral atoll, less than five miles long and two miles wide, is widely speculated as the location where Earhart and her co-pilot, Fred Noonan, performed an emergency landing during their ill-fated 1937 world flight.

While concrete evidence of the pair surviving as castaways on Nikumaroro has never been found, there have been some intriguing clues. These include a piece of scrap metal that likely came from Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E, a sextant box, and fragmented remains of U.S. beauty and skin care products that may date back to the 1930s.

The most intriguing find, however, happened in 1940 with the discovery of 13 bones under a tree on the island’s southeast corner. The remains were shipped to Fiji and subsequently misplaced, but measurements recorded before their loss and examined later by forensic anthropologists indicate that they may have belonged to “a tall white female of northern European ancestry.” With these findings were recently thrown into doubt, the only true way to know if the remains belong to Earhart or Noonan is to find the remaining bones.

The right nose for the job

The four dogs headed to Nikumaroro, officially known as Human Remains Detection Dogs, are part of the latest expedition organized by TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery). Trained at the Institute for Canine Forensics (ICF), these specialized dogs are capable of sniffing out bones centuries old and buried as much as 9 feet deep.

“No other technology is more sophisticated than the dogs,” Fred Hiebert, archaeologist in residence at the National Geographic Society, which is sponsoring the canines, said in a statement. “They have a higher rate of success identifying things than ground-penetrating radar.”

According to the ICF, detection dogs are never trained to smell out live humans, focusing instead on old cases, small scent sources and residual scent. They also excel at locating remains without disturbing the burial site.

You can view one of the ICF dogs in action, seeking out the remains of ancient Native American burial sites, in the video below.

“This kind of searching requires the dog to be slow and methodical and keep its nose just above the surface of the ground, any fast moves and the dog can miss the grave,” the group explains. “It takes many years of slow and patient training to develop the skills needed to do this work.”

Once remains are detected, the dogs generally do little more than lie down on top of the potential burial site. Should Berkeley, Piper, Marcy and Kayle detect anything, TIGHAR’s archeologists will perform a careful excavation to uncover the source.

In addition to using canines, the team from TIGHAR will also take time over the eight-day expedition to survey sites on Nikumaroro using metal detectors and even an advanced underwater drone. Their greatest hope, however, lies with the highly advanced noses of the very good boys and girls sniffing out an 80-year-old mystery.

“If the dogs don’t find anything, we’ll have to think about what that means,” Hiebert added. “But if the dogs are successful, it will be the discovery of a lifetime.”

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What a sense of smell!

Thank goodness.

Picture Parade Two Hundred and One

Margaret (MargfromTassie) comes up with wonderful pictures for you.

These will make today’s Post and the next three Picture Parades. And there was me worrying about where I would find more Picture Parades!!

(Note that on the original Powerpoint images some of them had neat sayings as overlays. In the conversion from pps to jpg formats those were not carried across. I have them as introductions to each picture.)

MAN’s BEST FRIEND!

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“A life without a dog is a mistake” – Karl Zuckmayer

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“Women and cats will do what pleases them, dogs and men should relax and get used to the idea” – Robert A. Heinlein

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“The love for animals, enhances the cultural level of the people.”F. Salvochea

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When you leave a dog behind because he “grew old”, your children will learn the lesson. Maybe they will do the same to you when you are an old man. Think about it….

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“The dog has made man their God, if the dog was an atheist, it would be perfect” – Paul Valery

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“Love is when your dog licks your face, even if you leave it alone the whole day” – Anita, 4 years old

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“It doesn’t matter if an animal can reason. It matters only that it is capable of suffering and that is why I consider it my neighbor” – Albert Schweitzer

Another glorious set from ‘Marg’ next week

A hot Saturday Smile

The forecast for Josephine County is a high of 105° F today (40° C)

So nothing too energetic!

Well not for us humans. But we can watch puppies play. (As seen on Mother Nature Network.)

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9 dog moms playing with their feisty puppies

by Mary Jo DiLonardo

There are few things sweeter than watching puppies snuggle with their mother, nestling into her soft fur as they contently drift off to sleep. But sometimes even mom is tired of being all sunshine and roses and wants to play. And that’s when things get even more adorable.

Although it’s fun, while playing, mothers are also teaching their puppies manners. If they bite too hard, she’ll growl, yelp or walk away. Then they learn how to behave, so everyone can have fun next time.

Here are nine canine moms (and one dad) having fun with their kids. Like Lucky, above, a corgi who is trying to teach her babies the intricacies of a good game of tug.

In a game of tag at the park, this dog mom can’t be beat, no matter how hard her pups try.

And then there are these 10 golden retriever puppies who swarm mom hoping for a meal. When she disappears they decide to have some fun with dad.

This beagles spins and barks as she’s playfully attacked by her feisty offspring.

These Westie puppies get down and wrestle with their mom.

These Jack Russell pups are no match for a mom with these kinds of amazing acrobatic skills.

It’s sleepy time until mom shows up, then everybody jumps up to play. (OK, technically, they get up for lunch.)

Somewhere in all this hair are Maltese puppies playing with their mother. One puppy gets a little sidetracked.

Mom just wants a little roll in the grass, but when she does, it’s a puppy pile-on.

Have a wonderful cool weekend!

Calming for dogs.

Slowly we are all moving on.

You will all recall the shock of me seeing Pharaoh’s empty bed that first morning after he had died. This picture:

Not only was it difficult to look at but not one of our other dogs went near it. This was despite the fact that Jean had washed and cleaned the whole bed.

One could almost imagine the dogs understanding that it would not have respected their memory of Pharaoh to immediately takeover his rather nice bed.

But life has to move on!

Yesterday evening, just as Jean and I were getting everyone ready for bedtime, Cleo signaled that she was moving on.

She had settled herself down on the bed.

That was so good to see and was another step in the right direction in settling me down as well!

So on the theme of being calm, especially in these hot summer months, do read this recent article that was published on the Care2 site.

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7 Ways to Calm a Dog During Thunderstorms

By: Becky Striepe June 21, 2017

About Becky Follow Becky at @glueandglitter

My dogs are both terrified of thunderstorms. These are some of the tricks that vets and trainers have recommended to help our poor babes when stormy weather rolls in.

Our lab mix, Jenna, trembles in the corner when it thunders, while our 60-pound dog, Bandit, tries to leap into my lap. These are some of the ways to calm a dog during thunderstorms that we’ve tried.

Every dog is different, so what works for one may not work for another. Jenna is terrified of the Thundershirt, for example, but many people I know swear by it. Chances are, not all of these calming techniques will help your dog during a thunderstorm. You’re basically throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.

Ways to Calm a Dog During Thunderstorms

Lavender and massage oil on a old wooden background

1. Lavender Oil

You don’t want your dog to ingest lavender oil, so put a few drops on her collar when a storm is freaking her out. The soothing scent can help calm some dogs’ nerves, and the smell is a distraction from what’s going on in the sky.

2. Massage

Just like humans, dogs find massage soothing. The video above shows a calming massage that you can use on your dog during a thunderstorm. You can also try an ear massage, which Jenna responds to really well. Basically, you gently run your hand up the dog’s ear, from where the ear meets the head to the tip of the ear. When you reach the tip, gently massage for a second, then repeat. Like in the video, it seems to work best if I also talk to her in a soothing voice while massaging.

3. A Hand on the Back

Sometimes, your dog just needs to know that you are there and in control of the situation. This trick works well on our dog, Bandit, who is definitely boss dog in our house. During a storm, a hand on his back helps him feel like he can step back from being the pack leader, which helps him feel secure and safe. Talking in a soothing voice helps here, too.

4. Training Exercises

You may feel like it’s mean to start bossing your scared dog around, but practicing her sit/stay/shake is a great way to distract your dog from the storm and remind her that you’ve got this under control. This one works well on both of my dogs.

5. Thundershirt

These wrap shirts help soothe a lot of dogs during thunderstorms, and they’re available at any pet store. Many friends with dogs have recommended the Thundershirt to me. It made Jenna more anxious, but she is clearly in the minority in this situation.

6. White Noise

If your dog can’t hear the storm, your dog won’t be so scared. Dogs can feel the shift in pressure from a storm, even when they can’t hear it, so this technique seems to work best in conjunction with other calming techniques, like massage or lavender oil. Bring your dog to her favorite room, turn down the lights, and turn up the white noise. If you don’t have a white noise machine, you can find free white noise tracks on YouTube, like the one above.

7. Rescue Remedy for Pets

Rescue Remedy is a blend of plant extracts. They make homeopathic drops and gummies for humans, and they have drops for pets, as well. The site recommends putting the drops into water, but I’ve also had good luck putting them onto a treat or into a glob of peanut butter, if my dogs aren’t too scared from the storm to take a treat.

As I mentioned above, different natural remedies will work for different dogs, so don’t be discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t work out. Sometimes, especially for high anxiety dogs, you’ll have the best results combining a few of these ways to calm a dog during a thunderstorm.

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I don’t know about tips for calming dogs, some of these sound great for yours truly!

Pharaoh, my teacher.

Another tribute to dear Pharaoh.

The most profound thing that I learned from Pharaoh is that dogs are creatures of integrity. That goes back to a day in June, 2007. Some six months before I met Jeannie in Mexico in December, 2007. I was sitting in Jon’s home office just a few miles from where Pharaoh and I were then living in South Devon.

It was a key chapter in Part Four of my book where I examine all the qualities that we humans need to learn from our dogs.

So here is Chapter 13 from my book Learning from Dogs. (Written in ‘English’ English!)

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Chapter 13
Integrity

In the Introduction to this book I mentioned how the notion of “learning from dogs” went back to 2007 and me learning that dogs were creatures of integrity. Let me now elaborate on that.
It is a Friday morning in June in the year 2007. I am sitting with Jon at his place with Pharaoh sleeping soundly on the beige carpet behind my chair. I didn’t know it at the time but it was to become one of those rare moments when we gain an awareness of life that forever changes how we view the world, both the world within and the world without.

“Paul, I know there’s more for me to listen to and I sense that we have established a relationship in which you feel safe to reveal your feelings. However, today I want to talk about consciousness. Because I would like to give you an awareness of this aspect of what we might describe under the overall heading of mindfulness.”
I sat quietly fascinated by what was a new area for me.

“During the years that I have been a psychotherapist, I’ve seen an amazing range of personalities, probably explored every human emotion known. In a sense, explored the consciousness of a person. But what is clear to me now is that one can distil those different personalities and emotions into two broad camps: those who embrace truth and those who do not.”

Jon paused, sensing correctly that I was uncertain as to what to make of this. I made it clear that I wanted him to continue.

“Yes, fundamentally, there are people who deny the truth about themselves, who actively resist that pathway of better self-awareness, and then there are those people who want to know the truth of whom they are and seek it out when the opportunity arises. The former group could be described as false, lacking in integrity and unsupportive of life, while the latter group are diametrically opposite: truthful, behaving with integrity and supportive of life.”
It was then that Jon lit a fire inside me that is still burning bright to this day. For he paused, quietly looking at Pharaoh sleeping so soundly on the carpet, and went on to add, “And when I look at dogs, I have no question that they have a consciousness that is predominantly truthful: that they are creatures of integrity and supportive of life.”
That brought me immediately to the edge of my seat, literally, with the suddenness of my reaction causing Pharaoh to open his eyes and lift up his head. I knew in that instant that something very profound had just occurred. I slipped out of my chair, got down on my hands and knees and gave Pharaoh the most loving hug of his life. Dogs are creatures of integrity. Wow!

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Later, when driving home, I couldn’t take my mind off the idea that dogs were creatures of integrity. What were those other values that Jon had mentioned? It came to me in a moment: truthful and supportive of life. Dogs have a consciousness that is truthful, that they are creatures of integrity and supportive of life: what a remarkable perception of our long-time companions.
I had no doubt that all nature’s animals could be judged in the same manner but what made it such an incredibly powerful concept, in terms of dogs, was the unique relationship between dogs and humans, a relationship that went back for thousands upon thousands of years. I realised that despite me knowing I would never have worked it out on my own, Jon’s revelation about dogs being creatures of integrity was so utterly and profoundly obvious.

As I made myself my usual light lunch of a couple of peanut butter sandwiches and some fruit and then sat enjoying a mug of hot tea, I still couldn’t take my mind off what Jon had revealed: dogs are examples of integrity and truth. I then thought that the word “examples” was not the right word and just let my mind play with alternatives. Then up popped: Dogs are beacons of integrity and truth. Yes, that’s it! Soon after, I recognised that what had just taken place was an incredible opening of my mind, an opening of my mind that didn’t just embrace this aspect of dogs but extended to me thinking deeply about integrity for the first time in my life.

Considering that this chapter is titled “Integrity”, so far all you have been presented with is a somewhat parochial account of how for the first time in my life the word “integrity” took on real meaning. That until that moment in 2007 the word had not had any extra significance for me over the thousands of other words in the English language. Time, therefore, to focus directly on integrity.

If goodness is to win, it has to be smarter than the enemy.

That was a comment written on my blog some years ago, left by someone who writes their own blog under the nom-de-plume of Patrice Ayme. It strikes me as beautifully relevant to these times, times where huge numbers of decent, law-abiding folk are concerned about the future. Simply because those sectors of society that have much control over all our lives do not subscribe to integrity, let alone giving it the highest political and commercial focus that would flow from seeing integrity as an “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” To quote my American edition of Roget’s Thesaurus.

Let me borrow an old pilot’s saying from the world of aviation: “If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt!”

That embracing, cautious attitude is part of the reason why commercial air transport is one of the safest forms of transport in the world today. If you had the slightest doubt about the safety of a flight, you wouldn’t board the aircraft. If you had the slightest doubt about the future for civilisation on this planet, likewise you would do something! Remember, that dry word civilisation means family, children, grandchildren, friends, and loved ones. The last thing you would do is to carry on as before!

The great challenge for this civilisation, for each and every one of us, is translating that sense of wanting to change into practical, effective behaviours. I sense, however, that this might be looking down the wrong end of the telescope. That it is not a case of learning to behave in myriad different ways but looking at one’s life from a deeper, more fundamental perspective: living as a person of integrity. So perfectly expressed in the Zen Buddhist quote: “Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind.” Seeing integrity as the key foundation of everything we do. Even more fundamental than that. Seeing integrity as everything you and I are.

It makes no difference that society in general doesn’t seem to value integrity in such a core manner. For what is society other than the aggregate of each and every one of us? If we all embrace living a life of integrity then society will reflect that.

Integrity equates to being truthful, to being honest. It doesn’t mean being right all the time, of course not, but integrity does mean accepting responsibility for all our actions, for feeling remorse and apologising when we make mistakes. Integrity means learning, being reliable, and being a builder rather than a destroyer. It means being authentic. That authenticity is precisely and exactly what we see in our dogs

The starting point for what we must learn from our dogs is integrity.

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The face of integrity!

The day after.

Trying to cope.

This is a very personal, possibly rather mixed-up, set of reflections of how the day after Pharaoh died felt for me. Some of you may prefer not to read this or view the photos.

I sat down to write this, late morning Tuesday, as it was becoming too hot to stay outside. I felt inspired to be 100% honest about my feelings and the photographs are, in essence, copies of the pictures that are in my head.

I woke early yesterday, a little after 4am, and started listening to BBC Radio Four using ear-phones plugged into my tablet while Jeannie slept on.

But I couldn’t get the images of Monday out of my head. Such that it seemed unreal to think that less than thirty-six hours previously Pharaoh was sleeping quietly near his bed, albeit unable to walk on his own.

Then, in what seemed like the flick of a finger, Jeannie was offering Pharaoh my dinner plate Monday evening.

For every evening, unless we had eaten a very spicy meal, Pharaoh always licked my plate clean.

A routine that had gone on for years.

I lay there in bed as 1pm arrived in England (5am PDT) and BBC Radio 4 was broadcasting The World At One. Despite the gloomy headlines still focusing on that terrible fire at the Grenfell Tower in London (not three miles from where I was born in 1944), the images of Monday kept thundering into my consciousness.

How dear friend, Jim Goodbrod, and I had driven into Allen Creek Veterinary Hospital, where Jim is a visiting DVM each week, to collect the required amount of euthanasia drug (apparently just 1 c.c. for every 10 lbs of animal weight – looking at it in the syringe it seemed such a small amount of fluid to bring an end to Pharaoh’s life.)

Then over breakfast, as in Tuesday morning, Jean said how difficult it was watching Pharaoh yesterday (Monday) when Jim and I were away getting the meds because it seemed to her that Pharaoh sensed something was happening outside the run of a normal morning.

Continuing with Monday. When Jim returned, accompanied by his wife, Janet, and knelt down to examine Pharaoh his analysis was that the time was right. Pharaoh had lost massive amounts of muscle tissue from his rear legs and hips.

It was time. Jean and I settled down sitting on the floor alongside Pharaoh’s bed. Pharaoh shifted his body and placed his wonderful, furry head across my outstretched legs. It was time.

Jim injected Pharaoh with an anesthetic. Slowly, gently Pharaoh fell fast asleep. Jim shaved a patch of fur from Pharaoh’s front, right lower leg.  Janet pinched a vein in Pharaoh’s leg and moments later, Jim injected the euthanasia drug. Jean and I continued to stroke Pharaoh’s forehead but frequently looked down to where the rise and fall of Pharaoh’s lungs was visible.

Then at 11:57 PDT Monday, June 19th., there was no more breathing. Jim took out a stethoscope and confirmed that there was no heart-beat. Jim closed Pharaoh’s eyelids while Jean and I sat quietly just holding on to Pharaoh. A few minutes later, Jean and I had wriggled out from under Pharaoh and then Jim slipped a plastic sack over the rear half of Pharaoh’s still body.

Pharaoh had died without pain and in the most gentle way imaginable.

Back to Tuesday, as in yesterday, and now Jean and I were awake and I was reading every comment and response to the post Adieu, Mon Brave.

I must tell you that the love and compassion extended by every single one of you, including the numerous emails sent to me, is the most precious, special recognition of what Pharaoh meant to me, to my Jeannie, and to you all.

Thank you! Thank you so much!

Time then for a call into England and to let Sandra Tucker know that Pharaoh had died. For Pharaoh had been born at Jutone, the GSD breeding kennels run by Sandra Tucker, and Jim, in Hennock, Devon.

Pharaoh’s legacy will live on forever. What he stood for. What he represented. What I learned from Pharaoh. What he inspired in me. That inspiration that will live with me until it’s my turn to take my last breath.

Then it was time to get up and try and stay occupied. But I didn’t warrant for seeing Pharaoh’s empty bed as I walked out of the bedroom into the living-room.

It looked so empty, so lonely.

I burst into tears.

I turned on my heels and went out to feed the horses and the wild deer. As is done every morning.

Walking back to the house, I stepped up on to the rear deck and looked up at the line where the tops of the forest trees on the hills to the East meet the morning sky. It was a clear, cloudless sky.

The sun was within seconds of rising above that skyline. I took a photograph and then the sun had risen. It was 06:24 am. Fifteen hours to the minute before the exact moment of the Summer Solstice this evening (21:24 PDT).

I don’t know what it all means other than in some mysterious, natural fashion, everything is connected.

Dear, sweet, noble Pharaoh.

Adieu, Mon Brave.

Today is going to be a very sad day indeed!

Just sixteen days ago, on June 3rd., Pharaoh turned fourteen. He was born on June 3rd, 2003.

I didn’t mention in that birthday post that Pharaoh’s rear hips and legs were very weak indeed and it was clear that he was living out the last few weeks of his wonderful, glorious life.

Yesterday, Jean and I came to the sad conclusion that Pharaoh had deteriorated rapidly in these last couple of weeks and that it would be cruel to prolong what cannot now be pleasant for him.

We spoke to good friend and neighbour, Jim Goodbrod, who is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and he agreed.

So this Monday morning, Oregon (PDT) time, I shall drive Jim to our local veterinary clinic on Lincoln Road and Jim will pick up the necessary drugs.

We will then return home and Jean and I will cradle Pharaoh until he takes his last breath. My guess is that will be around 11am PDT.

I spoke to my daughter, Maija, and son, Alex, yesterday as they have fond memories of Pharaoh from his very earliest days. Alex’s long-term partner, Lisa, then sent me the following email:

Dear Paul and Jean,

I was very sorry to hear about Pharaoh and understand how you are feeling. I had to say goodbye to my 19 year old cat Molly last month.

My parents have had German shepherds and when they had to have their last one put to sleep a friend of theirs sent them the following poem. It gave them a great deal of comfort and I thought it would be nice to type it out and send it to both of you. You may already know it.

I will be thinking of you all tomorrow,

Lots of love,

Lisa xx

Here is that poem.

 

When the time comes
If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this, the last battle, can’t be won.

 

You will be sad I understand,
But don’t let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.

 

We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please let me go.

 

Take me to where my needs they’ll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.

 

I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.

 

Don’t grieve that it must be you
Who had to decide this thing to do;
We’ve been so close, we two, these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.

Dear friends of this blog, it means so much to share this sad news with you all and I know that your sadness for this day will be carried on the wings of countless thoughts across the air waves in Pharaoh’s direction.

You will understand if I close by saying that just now, this Sunday afternoon, Pharaoh’s last day with Jean and me and our furry family, I’m uncertain as to how I will approach writing posts for the next few days. I may go silent or I may share some treasured memories of my time with Pharaoh.

Taken on the 26th July, 2006 at Watchfield Aerodrome in Devon.

In memory of a wonderful companion.

Now this is having a head for heights!

Not your usual Father’s Day outing!

Think you have a head for heights??

Well try this …. (first seen on the NatGeo website.)

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First Interview With the Climber Who Scaled El Capitan Without a Rope

Honnold approaching the top of El Capitan on Saturday, June 3rd. The historic event was documented for an upcoming National Geographic feature film and magazine story. Photograph by Jimmy Chin

Writer and climber Mark Synnott took Alex Honnold on his first international climbing expedition to Low’s Gully in Borneo back in 2009, and subsequent trips to Chad, Oman, and Newfoundland. Over the years they’ve kept up a running dialogue about the finer points of climbing and debated the dangers of free soloing—climbing alone, without ropes or other safety gear.

It seems fitting that in the first moments after Honnold had become the first person to free solo Yosemite’s El Capitan, the greatest pure feat of rock climbing in history, that he’d sit down with his old friend at the Manure Pile, a popular climbing spot at the foot of El Capitan. He ate an apple, listened to the birds, and described the experience of a lifetime. Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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The rest of this story including the interview with Alex may be read here.

I’ll close with another photograph from that NatGeo piece.

Rock climber Alex Honnold sits atop Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan after nearly four hours of climbing alone, without ropes or any other equipment or safety gear.

El Capitan is only 500 miles drive from our home. Maybe next year’s Father’s Day outing? ( I jest, of course!)

Subsequently, I have come across a longer documentary that some may enjoy (??) watching.

Watch where you walk, good people!