Welcome!

Beloved Pharaoh. Born: June 3rd., 2003 – Died: June 19th., 2017. A very special dog that will never be forgotten.

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

On plant-based diets!

Serendipity!

Last Friday I published a post under the title of On Veganism. Earlier that same day I opened up an email promoting the latest essay from George Monbiot. It had been published in The Guardian newspaper two days previously.

I am delighted to republish it here with George Monbiot’s kind permission.

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Butchery of the Planet

Defending the living world and its people requires a shift from meat to a plant-based diet

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 8th June 2018

Whether human beings survive this century and the next, whether other lifeforms can live alongside us: above all this depends on the way we eat. We can cut our consumption of everything else close to zero and still drive living systems to collapse, unless we change our diets.

All the evidence now points in one direction: the crucial shift is from an animal to a plant-based diet. A paper published last week in Science reveals that while some kinds of meat and dairy production are more damaging than others, all are more harmful to the living world than growing plant protein. It shows that animal farming takes up 83% of the world’s agricultural land, but delivers only 18% of our calories. A plant-based diet cuts the use of land by 76% and halves the greenhouse gases and other pollution caused by food production.

Part of the reason is the extreme inefficiency of feeding livestock on grain: most of its nutritional value is lost in conversion from plant protein to animal protein. This reinforces my contention that if you want to eat less soya, you should eat soya: most of the world’s production of this crop, and the accompanying destruction of forest, savannah and marshland, is driven by the wasteful practice of feeding animals on food that humans can eat.

More damaging still is free range meat: the environmental impacts of converting grass into flesh, the paper remarks, “are immense under any production method practiced today”. This is because so much land is required to produce every grass-fed steak or lamb chop. Though roughly twice as much land is used for grazing worldwide than for crop production, it provides just 1.2% of the protein we eat. While much of this pastureland cannot be used to grow crops, it can be used for rewilding: allowing the many rich ecosystems destroyed by livestock farming to recover, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, protecting watersheds and halting the sixth great extinction in its tracks. The land that should be devoted to the preservation of human life and the rest of the living world is used instead to produce a tiny amount of meat.

Whenever I raise the crucial issue of yield per hectare, I receive a barrage of vituperation and abuse. But I’m not having a go at farmers, just pointing out that the figures don’t add up. We can neither feed the world’s growing population nor protect its living systems through animal farming. Meat and dairy are an extravagance we can no longer afford.

There is no way out of this. Those who claim that “regenerative” or “holistic” ranching mimics nature deceive themselves. It relies on fencing, while in nature wild herbivores roam freely, often across vast distances. It excludes or eradicates predators, crucial to the healthy functioning of all living systems. It tends to eliminate tree seedlings, ensuring that the complex mosaics of woody vegetation found in many natural systems – essential to support a wide range of wildlife – are absent.

The animal industry demands ever greater assaults on the living world. Witness the badger slaughter in the UK, now spreading across the country in response to the misguided requests of dairy farmers. People ask how I would justify the return of wolves, knowing that they will kill some sheep. I ask how they justify the eradication of wolves and a vast range of other wildlife to make way for sheep. The most important environmental action we can take is to reduce the amount of land used by farming.

Unless you can cook well – and many people have neither the skills nor the space – a plant-based diet can be either boring or expensive. We need better and cheaper vegan ready meals and quick and easy meat substitutes. The big shift will come with the mass production of cultured meat. There are three main objections. The first is that the idea of artificial meat is disgusting. If you feel this way, I invite you to look at how your sausages, burgers and chicken nuggets are currently raised, slaughtered and processed. Having worked on an intensive pig farm, I’m more aware than most of what disgusting looks like.

The second objection is that cultured meat undermines local food production. Perhaps those who make this claim are unaware of where animal feed comes from. Passing Argentinian soya through a nearby pig before it reaches you does not make it any more local than turning it directly into food for humans. The third objection has greater merit: cultured meat lends itself to corporate concentration. Again, the animal feed industry (and, increasingly, livestock production) has been captured by giant conglomerates. But we should fight to ensure that cultured meat does not go the same way: in this sector as in all others, we need strong anti-trust laws.

This could also be a chance to break our complete dependence on artificial nitrogen. Traditionally, animal and plant farming were integrated through the use of manure. Losses from this system led to a gradual decline in soil fertility. The development of industrial fertilisers saved us from starvation, but at a high environmental cost. Today, the link between livestock and crops has mostly been broken: crops are grown with industrial chemicals while animal slurry stacks up, unused, in stinking lagoons, wipes out rivers and creates dead zones at sea. When it is applied to the land, it threatens to accelerate antibiotic resistance.

In switching to a plant-based diet, we could make use of a neat synergy. Most protein crops – peas and beans – capture nitrogen from the air, fertilising themselves and raising nitrate levels in the soil that subsequent crops, such as cereals and oilseeds, can use. While the transition to plant protein is unlikely to eliminate the global system’s need for artificial fertiliser, the pioneering work of vegan organic growers, using only plant-based composts and importing as little fertility as possible from elsewhere, should be supported by research, that governments have so far conspicuously failed to fund.

Understandably, the livestock industry will resist all this, using the bucolic images and pastoral fantasies that have beguiled us for so long. But they can’t force us to eat meat. The shift is ours to make. It becomes easier every year.

http://www.monbiot.com

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Thus, along with the argument presented last Friday that a vegan diet is critically important for one’s health and long-term fitness, Mr. Monbiot presents another argument: “Whether human beings survive this century and the next, whether other lifeforms can live alongside us: above all this depends on the way we eat.

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Forty-Four

These beautiful photos speak loud and clear for wildlife

Today and next Sunday I am republishing the most beautiful wildlife photographs you have ever seen.

To ensure that copyright ownership is presented correctly, I shall be including the text that comes with the photographs. Part One today; Part Two in a week’s time.

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These beautiful photos speak loud and clear for wildlife

ANGELA NELSON, October 19, 2017

‘Swim gym’ by Laurent Ballesta of France is a finalist in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest. (Photo: Laurent Ballesta/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, organized by the Natural History Museum, London, has been stunning audiences with beautiful, dramatic photos of the natural world for 53 years. This year’s competition attracted nearly 50,000 entries across 92 countries.

Judges chose the winning images based on creativity, originality and technical excellence. And as they expressed when choosing previous winners, images get bonus points if they tell a broader story about the current challenges facing wildlife and the environment.

“As we contemplate our critical role in Earth’s future, the images show the astonishing diversity of life on our planet and the crucial need to shape a more sustainable future,” the Natural History Museum said in a press release.

The photo above of Weddell seals in east Antarctica, titled “Swim gym,” is by Laurent Ballesta of France and is one of this year’s 13 Wildlife Photographer of the Year finalists. Keep reading below for more, with some of the top winners listed at the end.

‘Arctic treasure’ by Sergey Gorshkov of Russia is a finalist in the Animal Portraits category. (Photo: Sergey Gorshkov/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

This image by Sergey Gorshkov of Russia, which shows an Arctic fox carrying its trophy from a raid on a snow goose nest, was taken on Wrangel Island in the Russian Far East. Each June, vast flocks of snow geese descend on the tundra to lay their eggs, traveling from 3,000 miles away in British Columbia and California, according to the museum.
Arctic foxes will dine on weak or sick birds, and as the snow geese lay their eggs, the foxes steal up to 40 of them a day.
“Most of the eggs are then cached, buried in shallow holes in the tundra, where the soil stays as cold as a refrigerator. These eggs will remain edible long after the brief Arctic summer is over and the geese have migrated south again. And when the new generation of young foxes begins to explore, they too will benefit from the hidden treasures,” the museum says.

Ashleigh Scully of the United States is a finalist in the the 11- to 14-year-old group for ‘Bear hug,’ taken in Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park. (Photo: Ashleigh Scully/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Can you believe this is an entry in the 11- to 14-year-old age group? Titled “Bear hug” and showing a mother brown bear and her cub, it was taken in Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park by Ashleigh Scully of the United States.

“After fishing for clams at low tide, this mother brown bear was leading her young spring cubs back across the beach to the nearby meadow. But one young cub just wanted to stay and play,” according to the museum. Scully came to the park to photograph the family life of brown bears because the area provides a lot of bear food: grasses in the meadows, salmon in the river and clams on the shore.

“I fell in love with brown bears and their personalities,” says Scully. “This young cub seemed to think that it was big enough to wrestle mum to the sand. As always, she played along, firm, but patient.”

‘Bold eagle,’ taken by Klaus Nigge of Germany on Amaknak Island in Alaska, is a finalist in the Animal Portraits category. (Photo: Klaus Nigge/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Alaska proved to be a good breeding ground for this year’s competition. This portrait of a soaked bald eagle was taken at Dutch Harbor on Amaknak Island, where bald eagles gather to take advantage of the fishing industry’s leftovers, the museum says.

“I lay on my belly on the beach surrounded by eagles,” says photographer Klaus Nigge of Germany. “I got to know individuals, and they got to trust me.”

One day, this particular eagle, drenched after days of rain, came close to him. “I lowered my head, looking through the camera to avoid direct eye contact,” he says. It came so close that it towered over him, and he was able to focus in on the eagle’s expression.

‘Resplendent delivery’ by Tyohar Kastiel of Israel is a finalist in the Behaviour: Birds category. (Photo: Tyohar Kastiel/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Tyohar Kastiel of Israel watched this pair of resplendent quetzals all day long for more than a week in order to get this shot, taken in the Costa Rican cloud forest of San Gerardo de Dota. The parents would deliver fruits, insects or lizards to the chicks every hour or so.

“On the eighth day, the parents fed the chicks at dawn as usual but then didn’t return for several hours. By 10 a.m., the chicks were calling ravenously, and Kastiel began to worry. Then something wonderful happened. The male arrived with a wild avocado in his beak. He landed on a nearby branch, scanned around, and then flew to the nest. But instead of feeding the chicks, he flew back to his branch, the avocado still in his beak. Within seconds, one chick hopped out to the nearest perch and was rewarded. Moments later the female appeared and did exactly the same thing, and the second chick jumped out,” the museum says.

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Sorry to do this to you but the rest of these photographs and the background stories will be in a week’s time. Can’t wait! Then go here to see them all.

On veganism!

Just in case this reaches out to others concerned about their diet!

The one thing we know for sure about our fabulous dogs is that they are meat-eaters!

As the The Natural Doggie website offers (my italics):

Dogs have always been a part of our families, so much so that many dog owners even save a seat on their dining tables for their furry friends. While this is all good and well that we shower the canine members of our family with as much love and affection as we do the other members of our family, it’s important for us to remember that their digestive systems and dietary requirements differ from ours.

However, for us humans with our distinctly human dietary requirements, meat is far, far from being an essential food ingredient!

When I met Jeannie back in 2007 it quickly became clear that she was, and had been since the age of 14, a vegetarian. As soon as were living together I joined ‘the club’!

Then a few days ago we both watched a documentary that we saw on Netflix. The film was called What The Health! and, boy oh boy, did it open our eyes. Not just to the very real dangers of eating meat but also fish and chicken. We resolved to become vegans immediately.

There is a website for the film, as in What The Health Film. While the film is only available for Netflix subscribers or may be purchased in other forms, as that website explains, there is a trailer available on YouTube. (The text that follows that trailer is from the Vimeo website.)

What the Health is the groundbreaking follow-up film from the creators of the award winning documentary Cowspiracy. The film follows intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the secret to preventing and even reversing chronic diseases – and investigates why the nation’s leading health organizations don’t want us to know about it. With heart disease and cancer the leading causes of death in America, and diabetes at an all-time high, the film reveals possibly the largest health cover-up of our time.

With the help of medical doctors, researchers, and consumer advocates, What the Health exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick.

Join Kip as he tracks down the leading and most trusted American health nonprofits to find out why these groups are staying silent, despite a growing body of evidence. Audiences will be shocked to learn the insidious roles played by pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness, and processed animal food companies in the nation’s health, especially in the most vulnerable communities, and will cheer at the transformation and recovery of those who took their lives into their own hands.

What The Health is a surprising, and at times hilarious, investigative documentary that will be an eye-opener for everyone concerned about our nation’s health and how big business influences it.

However, in fairness a quick web search comes up with other perspectives. Try this 27-minute interview with Dr. Neal Barnard.

You really should watch it even before you decide to watch What The Health. Please!

Or you may want to read the review that was published by TIME Magazine in August, 2017.

The recent pro-vegan Netflix documentary, What the Health, is under fire from nutrition experts. The film, which is co-directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn—the creators of another Netflix documentary, Cowspiracy—and co-produced by actor Joaquin Phoenix, is being criticized by some health professionals for exaggerating weak data and misrepresenting science to promote a diet that avoids all animal foods.

TIME fact-checked the film. Here are four things that What the Health got wrong—and what it got right.

Ultimately, it all comes down to personal choices.

But for those that want to explore the pros and cons try the information on the American Vegan Society website. Or call into Vegsource.com.

Plus, on Monday I shall be republishing a recent article from George Monbiot that addresses the issue.

But I started with a reference to dogs and I shall close by doing the same thing. How many saw the item on the BBC News website about how “A dog that transformed a 104-year-old’s life“?

Image copyright Dona Tracy

Milt Lessner has “always had dogs” throughout his life – and he’s 104 years old, he tells writer Jen Reeder. So are dogs the secret to longevity?

“I’d like to think so,” he says.

“I enjoy the familiarity with them, and the pleasantness, and the bonding – especially the bonding.”

Do read the full news story here.

Have a great weekend all of you!

Guess What! Another dog food recall!

That came in yesterday morning.

Dave’s Pet Food is recalling one lot of its Dave’s Dog Food 95% Premium Beef due to elevated levels of beef thyroid hormone.

To learn which products are affected, please visit the following link:

Dave’s Dog Food Recall of June 2018

Please share the news of this alert with other pet owners.

Mike Sagman, Editor
The Dog Food Advisor

As usual, I include what you will see when you go to that link.

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Dave’s Dog Food Recall of June 2018

June 12, 2018 — Dave’s Pet Food of Agawam, MA, is voluntarily recalling a single lot of Dave’s Dog Food 95% Premium Beef cans because the products potentially contain elevated levels of beef thyroid hormone.

What’s Recalled?

The recalled product consists of a single batch (548 cases) of 13 oz., 95% premium beef dog food with a UPC # of 85038-11167 and a date code of 08/2020.

  • Dave’s Dog Food 95% Premium Beef
    Size: 13-ounce cans
    UPC Code: 85038-11167
    Date Code: 08/2020

Where Was It Sold?

The affected product was distributed all along the east coast of the US, sold in pet stores and e-commerce sites.

About Beef Thyroid Hormone

Dogs consuming high levels of beef thyroid hormone may exhibit symptoms such as increased thirst and urination, weight loss, increased heart rate and restlessness.

These symptoms may resolve when the consumption of these levels is discontinued.

However, with prolonged consumption these symptoms may increase in severity and may include vomiting, diarrhea, and rapid or labored breathing.

Should these symptoms occur, we recommend pet owners contact their veterinarian immediately.

What Caused the Recall?

The recall was initiated after FDA informed Dave’s that one lot of product was analyzed and found to have elevated levels of thyroid hormone.

FDA analyzed the product after receiving a complaint that four dogs consuming it were found to have low Free T4 (fT4) and Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

No other Dave’s products, or any other product manufactured by Dave’s Pet Food, are impacted.

The voluntary recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

What to Do?

Consumers who have purchased the specific product listed above should stop feeding it to their dogs.

If consumers have questions or would like to receive a refund or coupon for replacement product, they should call the company at 888-763-2738 Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM ET.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Dog Food Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

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All of which reminds me that I wanted to publish a post explaining the reasons why a week ago both of us switched from being vegetarian to vegan.

That post coming out tomorrow.

Day Trips with our Dogs

Another fabulous guest post from Zara.

As many of you will recall I published a guest post from Zara on May 29th under the title of Please, always adopt a dog first!

It had an incredible number of viewings and many, many lovely comments. All of which I fed back to Zara.

So what a thrill to have another article from Zara. Trust me, you will love it!

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Nine Things to Bring on a Day Trip with Your Puppy

by Zara Lewis, June 1st, 2018

Taking a day trip is an adventure for both you and your pet. So while you are planning where to go and what to bring on the trip, you have to think about your dog’s needs as well. You can’t just grab your car keys and leash if you want to stay for a whole day. In order for your dog to be happy, safe and healthy, you need a special dog-day trip-bag where you can put everything your pet needs. Take a look at these essentials for a day trip with your dog.

1. Toys

Your dog will love to run in nature, but it can be more entertaining for them if you bring their toys on the trip. When dogs get nervous, familiar smells and chew toys can calm them down. This will help you keep your puppy busy while you’re on the go, so bring your dog’s favourite toy and let it enjoy the day.

2. Water bowl

Whether you’re going to the beach, a restaurant or on an afternoon hike, you should always have a water bowl in your bag. Maybe your dog is used to drinking water from your hometown so you will need a bottle of cold water and the bowl that the dog uses. You should consider putting the bottle in a lunch cooler if it’s too hot outside.

3. Food

Make sure that you bring food that doesn’t upset your dog’s stomach. Thus, give your pet high-quality food that is easy to prepare. With this in mind, you should bring dry puppy food on the trip because it’s easy to store, and a large plastic bin will keep the food fresh and safe from insects and rodents. Moreover, some dry foods are specially formulated and shaped to clean the teeth as the dog chews them. It’s definitely more practical than canned dog food.

4. Collar and leash

A foreign territory brings unique smells that are so hard to resist, so you should definitely bring a comfortable harness for your puppy. It’s easier to grab the dog if it tries to run far away from you and you will be sure that the dog is safe if leashed. Also, don’t forget the poop bags, as you will definitely need them!

5. Safety equipment

Yes, seat belts for pets exist! And they are very useful for two reasons – your dog won’t be running around the car, and you won’t be distracted while driving. Whether your dog rides in a crate, canine booster seat or in its harness, you will know that both you and your dog are safe and secured.

6. Seat Covers and Towels

Don’t let the dirt ruin your trip. You never know if it’s going to rain, or if your dog will jump into the river, so you will need an old towel for cleaning up. Next, you have to think about your car. Protect your seats with covers and blankets so that you can wash them if your dog brings the dirt into the car. The pup will be running all day so you can expect that to happen.

7. Your puppy’s blanket or pillow

To make sure your dog is more comfortable while at unfamiliar locations, you should consider bringing something that belongs to them. This is a way of making them feel at home but it will also protect the furniture. Your aim is to make sure that your dog stays calm and relaxed in new situations.

8. Current identification tags

In case your dog gets lost, you should always have up-to-date information on their ID tag. That way the person who finds them has all the necessary information such as your phone number, address, or information about the hotel where you’re staying.

9. Camera

Imagine how much fun your dog will have in nature! Make sure that you have these memories captured and bring a camera with you so you can share these precious moments with your friends and family.

Now you are prepared for an adventure with your dog. You can relax because you have thought of everything. Your dog will love these trips, so you can take a look at this list every time you travel with them and make sure that you’re prepared for every situation. Even the shortest day trip or weekend getaway can be memorable, so let the adventure begin.

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Perhaps I might add this to Zara’s most informative post. Namely that when you are safely back from your successful dog adventure you might consider writing it up as a guest post for this place.

Travel safely!

Reflections – Day Three

Last one from me but indebted nonetheless to Wibble

My second reflection was Never underestimate the power of unintended consequences!

Here’s my third. But first a story!!

Before I met my darling Jean I was living in the small South Devon village of Harberton. In an old converted stone barn known as Upper Barn.

Upper Barn, Harberton.

Harberton was located just three miles South-West of Totnes.

Despite the population of Harberton being just 300 persons the village had its own pub The Church House Inn located appropriately alongside the church!

Church House Inn, Harberton

I didn’t stroll the 200 yards from Upper Barn to the pub on a daily basis but certainly went there once or twice a week.

One Winter’s evening I went in to the pub for a quick pre-dinner pint. David, the landlord was behind the long bar counter, again shown to you below courtesy of the internet.

Beside me there was a single, elderly man sitting on one of the bar stools supping his pint.

I was standing next to him waiting for David to serve me and must have muttered something about the weather or about the latest local news or something inane; too long ago for me to remember.

However, I do remember so clearly what this delightful man said in response to whatever it was that I muttered.

All the world’s a little queer, save you and me, and I ha’ me doubts about thee!

I roared with laughter immediately upon hearing that wonderful reflection about the world. Added, I should say, spoken by him with a rich Devon dialect. At which point this wonderful gent spoke again and it is those next words that are my final reflection.

Now’t so queer as folk!

I never met that delightful old Devonian man again so, therefore, he will have had no idea at all at how his quotation has become part of me!

Same nominations as before:

(Finally do please note that the images in this post may be subject to copyrightLearn More)

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Forty-Three

The second set of tree photographs from here at home.

They seem to fit the theme of Life and Death! (The first set were published last Sunday !)

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Hope you all enjoyed them! All of the photographs were taken with a Nikon D750 camera through a Nikkor 24-120mm lens.

Reflections – Day Two

Still following in the footsteps of Wibble.

My choice of quotation last Monday was taken from E. F. Schumacher: “Infinite growth of material consumption in a finite world is an impossibility.

Deciding on what should be my second selection turned out to be more difficult. Simply because there were so many buzzing around my head.

In the end I chose this:

Never underestimate the power of unintended consequences!

Despite a web search, that brought up numerous articles concerning unintended consequences across many fields of the human experience, I was unable to find a source for the quote and therefore cannot attribute it to the original author.

Nevertheless, it strikes me as one of the core aspects of human behaviour!

As offered on Monday, here are my nominations for today:

Day Three of Reflections will be along next week!

Spot and Me, Final Part

The concluding part of Colette’s wonderful essay on training Spot.

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Chapter Seven – A trip to new territory

Spot had never really been walking anywhere else so a trip to the seaside promenade an hour away by car was in order.
Here, on paved city streets, I put him through his paces: past people; dogs; new smells; and the beach. We sat on park benches and in a cafe. Spot was quiet and sat still at my feet.

He was over-awed by new sensations but coped admirably. He didn’t know what the sea was and sniffed it suspiciously but wouldn’t test the water with a toe, preferring to run and feel the sand under his paws. But it was mown grass that totally freaked him out.

I took Spot onto a boulevard of grass and trees so that he could sniff and pee like most dogs do. But when Spot was on the grass I got an inkling of a former trauma. For Spot froze and looked at me with terrified eyes. He cocked his hind leg and held it up as if in some perpetual, quavering fear yet he wasn’t peeing.

When I then approached him he cowered; something I’d never seen. It was pretty obvious to me that Spot had been beaten as a punishment whilst standing on a grass lawn for some unknown misdemeanour. I gently knelt down and stroked him. Spot shivered with apprehension. Then I guided him off the grass to the paved area close by and after I reassured Spot with a big hug his normal behaviour returned.

Traumas for animals come in all shapes. For Spot, his memories of fear and loathing had been triggered by a tactile feeling under his paws; the feel to Spot of mown grass. We finished for the day and went home. Spot was tired.

Chapter Eight – New Collar; New Beginning

Over ten days, the harness and choke rope had slowed Spot to a walk speed. It was time to switch to a collar. Spot was still a strong-willed character so after finding a brand-new, half-choke collar, again in Pauline’s collection of unused equipment, I chose it as the next step.

It was a perfect width, well made, soft on the neck side and the small half-choke chain meant that it loosened to slip on and off easily over Spot’s head. I tested it to its full choke capacity, allowing it to still retain a two-finger gap so it never fully closed on Spot’s neck.

Our first walk out with this collar was a great success. It gave Spot an even better indication of where I wanted him. He didn’t pull and trotted happily alongside me. Whenever an interesting smell appeared alongside, I fed out the lead to allow him to explore while I stood still. The lead was his old strong woven one. I had removed the bit of washing-line rope that Mike had tied on to lengthen it and returned it to normal length. A long lead is not ideal because if the dog pulls at the other end it will pull you off your feet. A short lead will not do that because you keep your dog within your centre of gravity and therefore strong enough to resist pulling. This means you keep control of your dog at all times thus making it safer for you and him.

I was really proud of Spot. He had come such a long way. His demeanor was soft and he relaxed much more during the day. He didn’t bark at every little thing.

Chapter Nine – Lizards and Food

It was a lazy day on the patio in the sunshine. Spot was lying on my feet below the table when he stiffened. Looking down, I saw a tiny lizard about a foot away. Spot stared at it intently, nose twitching. Slowly I reached down and stroked Spot’s head. “Friend” I said, putting the image of my love for lizards in Spot’s head. He relaxed. We watched the little lizard for a full five minutes during which time Spot never wavered. When it disappeared down a crack Spot laid back down by my feet and went back to sleep. This was a big milestone. It didn’t end up in his tummy!

Spot’s food consumption had changed. I put his dry dog food into his bowl and then taking some boiled warm water I melted a teaspoon of coconut oil into it, added a tiny bit of cooked chicken and made a sort of gravy by mashing it all up. I coated the dog food with this mixture and Spot ate it up really well. His coat started to shine after about a week and he looked a little bit trimmer, his haunches clearly defined. He had not been given hot dogs or ham since Pauline had left.

Training treats were commercially bought, but 60% protein so I cut them in half so that they were no bigger than the size of a rice crispy. I used loads of them for training but they amounted to little in extra bulk.

Other treats comprised of dog biscuits and a dental chew stick last thing before bed (again, keeping Pauline’s routine).

Spot had stopped begging at the dinner table and in the kitchen. He came for food only when bidden and always away from the table.

Chapter Ten – Hello’s and Goodbye’s

My work was still a work-in-progress but it was time for Spot’s people to return so we began our pack up.
Now all dogs know what bags in cars mean. They know you are leaving so it was no surprise that Spot now followed me closely everywhere I went. He wondered at what was going on at the bedroom gate then bounced into the room and onto our bed but only once. As he saw me exiting the room he jumped down carefully and trotted after me looking up at me. He was clearly unsure of what to do?

This is the hard bit of a house sit. Leaving your new buddy behind is a real wrench. But Spot is not my dog and now he has to get back into a routine with Pauline and Mike.

I took Spot into the back garden when I knew the owners were on the way. The large gate had been pulled open ready for their arrival; the sun was beginning to set. Spot and I played “fetch” and “bring” games with his toys to while away the time.

Our first games earlier in training were tough because Spot wanted to keep his toys and not “give” them to me. I used a simple technique of finger and thumb around his lower jaw (hand underneath for support) as far back as possible to encourage him to open his mouth. He eventually would “give” up his toys voluntarily without the gentle manipulation and wait eagerly for it to be thrown again.

After half-an-hour of playing lights appeared followed by the sound of the camper van turning into the driveway. I noticed the noises before Spot did but when he heard loud greeting voices he ran to the side gate. He wasn’t barking but his tail wagged furiously. I opened the latch and away he went bouncing like a bunny.

The greetings were exuberant and meaningful for all parties. People and pup alike had missed each other. Spot looked at me; was that a big smile on his face?

We had a cup of tea and Spot sat on the rug in front of all of us. He didn’t beg for Pauline’s cookie, I wagged a finger of “no” at Pauline, and he didn’t drink their tea that had been placed on the floor near their feet. He just eyed everyone happily and then put his head down to sleep.

I showed Pauline a few of the commands that Spot knew, often just using the hand signal as you see in the dog shows. I also put the half-choke collar on Spot and showed how he responded to walking commands. Pauline and Mike watched with dropped jaws as Spot did everything asked of him.

Pauline hates any kind of animal mistreatment and also thought effective training had to be harsh. But it doesn’t have to be: Far from it! While it takes longer, little treats, love, hugs, and lots of patience produce the most wonderful behaviours. Once complete, your dog knows you are pack leader and can be trusted to do as you want. They are also happier in this subservient role especially when they don’t have dominant traits.

Spot had changed. He was still the cute little ‘sweetheart,’ but the rough edges had been polished off. He no longer growled or bared his teeth. His eyes were softer and his body more relaxed. He was less jumpy, less nervous and more confident. He looked up more, much more, at faces for approval and no longer ran away from anyone holding out a hand.

I spent the following day with Pauline showing her how to walk Spot on his new collar. We went through all the commands he knew and how to reward him. Pauline almost cried as she shuffled along at snail pace and Spot stayed alongside looking at her face every now and again. She was amazed at the “Spot Round” command that brought him round in a complete circle to face her legs with the “Stay” command to keep him there. I had taught Spot this to help Pauline when she had an Asthma attack so she could stand still while recovering. It was a very effective command and Spot had mastered it!

We left the next day, keeping our goodbye’s short. Spot had been following me around as I packed up our last few things.
Before saying goodbye to our hosts I made my private goodbye to Spot with a human hug. I was going to miss him. I didn’t want the home owners to see my hurt in having to leave him. It wouldn’t help them.

As we opened the gate to leave Pauline panicked. Spot was outside. “Spot Stay” I commanded, and he stood still while our car rolled out into the road. Mike closed the gate behind us and I saw Pauline giving Spot a big hug for being so good!

ooOOoo

Not going to say a word. For I want the echoes of Colette’s wonderful story to reverberate with you for as long as possible.