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

Every dog should have a child!

A really delightful video.

Jess and Cheryl Anderson have a blog that I subscribe to. Two days ago I received this:

This made both of us smile…BIGTIME!  I’ve had a dog almost all of my life.  They’ve been my best friends!  Maybe some of this will explain!   JESS

Just feast your eyes (and your heart)!

We have said it many times before but we say it again; dogs are the most perfect of animals. To watch this video is to show that dogs read us humans, especially at a young age, with love and compassion, and fun!

(7am on the 25th) And I should have added Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans!

A Tilt of the Head

Head-tilting in dogs.

There have been two recent articles on head-tilting in dogs. One was published by Springer Link and was a scientific report; the Abstract as follows:

Little is known about head-tilts in dogs. Based on previous investigations on the head turning and the lateralised brain pattern of human speech processing in dogs, we hypothesised that head-tilts may be related to increased attention and could be explained by lateralised mental functions. We observed 40 dogs during object-label knowledge tests and analysed head-tilts occurring while listening to humans requesting verbally to fetch a familiar toy. Our results indicate that only dogs that had learned the name of the objects tilted their heads frequently. Besides, the side of the tilt was stable across several months and tests. Thus, we suggest a relationship between head-tilting and processing relevant, meaningful stimuli.

The other report was a more easy read, so to speak, and is from Treehugger and that is the one that I shall share with you.

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Why Brilliant Dogs Tilt Their Heads.

They’re processing relevant information.

By Mary Jo DiLonardo

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Published November 12, 2021

Tetra Images – Jessica Peterson / Getty Images

Ask your dog a question, and there’s a good chance he’ll tilt his head as he ponders his response.

The head tilt is a cute canine maneuver that gives the impression your pup is paying attention to you. But there’s been little scientific research analyzing the behavior.

In a new study of “gifted” dogs, researchers found that dogs that can easily learn the names of their toys tilt their heads when their owners ask them to fetch a specific toy. And they typically tilt their heads consistently to the same side.1

Data was collected during the Genius Dog Challenge, a series of experiments that were broadcast on social media, showing dogs retrieving their toys by name. The information was also collected during an earlier study that researched how some dogs are able to learn the names of many of their toys.2

These dogs were dubbed “gifted word learners” by researchers.

“We started studying this phenomenon after we realised that all of us observed this behaviour very often when we were testing the gifted word learner (GWL) dogs,” lead researcher Andrea Sommese, from the Family Dog Project at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, tells Treehugger. 

“It’s such a cute, common behaviour but we didn’t know why our dogs were doing it and most of all, why so often!”

Gifted Learners 

For their work, researchers searched globally for two years, looking for dogs that had the ability to quickly memorize the names of their toys. They also created the Genius Dog Challenge, a research project and social media campaign, to find even more brilliant pups.3

They found six border collies that live in different countries, who all learned toy names just while playing with their owners. For the challenge, these gifted word learners had a week to learn the names of six toys. During the second stage, they had a week to try to learn the names of a dozen toys.4

“In all our experiments we found that the GWL dogs were tilting the head very often. It wasn’t just during the challenge but also when we were testing them every month,” Sommese says.

“We believe that there is a relationship between head tilting and processing relevant, and meaningful stimuli as our GWL dogs only showed this behaviour during the test when their owners were saying the name of a toy.”

In one experiment, researchers observed 40 dogs for three months as they attempted to learn the names of two new toys. The dogs sat or stood in front of their owners when they were asked to fetch one of the toys by pronouncing its name. (For example, “bring rope!”) The dogs would then go to another room and attempt to retrieve the correct toy.1

The researchers found that the gifted word learner dogs tilted their heads 43% of the time versus the typical dogs that only tilted in 2% of trials.1

The results were published in the journal Animal Cognition.

Choosing Sides

Dogs, horses, and other animals—including humans—show asymmetry in the way they perceive the world around them. They prefer one ear, eye, hand (or paw) over the other when interacting with the environment.5

“A typical way to show asymmetry, especially in humans, is handedness. Most of us are right-handed but there are still left-handed people around. The same can happen to animals,” Sommese says.

“Of course, it doesn’t always have to be a ‘hand’ or a paw in their case, it can be an eye or an ear. For instance, in dogs, even the inclination their tails have when they’re wagging is a sign of asymmetrical behaviour.”

In the study, researchers found that the dogs also showed asymmetry, nearly always tilting their heads to the same side.1

What About Typical Dogs?

Researchers say the findings suggest there’s a connection between head tilting and processing relevant and meaningful stimuli.5

But their results are limited because they only studied these brilliant pups who have learned toy names.

“Even if typical dogs are not able to learn the names of many toys as we showed with our previous study, typical dogs still tilt their head,” Sommese says. “It seems that even in them this might be in response to meaningful stimuli—but we don’t know what meaningful means for a typical dog just yet.”

Article Sources

  1. Sommese, Andrea, et al. “An Exploratory Analysis of Head-Tilting in Dogs.” Animal Cognition, 2021, doi:10.1007/s10071-021-01571-8
  2. Talk-To-Tilt: Head Tilting In Dogs.” ELTE Institute of Biology, 2021.
  3. Shany Dror, from the Family Dog Project, Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest
  4. The Challenge.” Genius Dog Challenge.
  5. lead researcher Andrea Sommese, from the Family Dog Project at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest

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Now I see The Smithsonian magazine has jumped on the bandwagon. Here is a small piece from their article:

“The next step is asking more questions to get at what the head tilt really means,” says Monique Udell, a human-animal interaction researcher at Oregon State University who wasn’t involved in the work, to Rachel Fritts of Science. “Can we use head tilting to predict word-learning aptitude, or attention, or memory?”

But The Smithsonian has to be thanked for mentioning Monique Udell because one can quickly find her details:

Monique Udell

Dr. Udell is the Director of the Human-Animal Interaction Laboratory and teaches courses on Animal Behavior & Cognition, Applied Animal Behavior, Animal Learning, Behavior Modification and Enrichment within the Department of Animal & Rangeland Sciences at OSU.

Her research interests include:

  • Human-animal interactions & bonding, including animal training and animal assisted intervention programs aimed at improving the lives of humans and animals through mutually beneficial interactions.
  • Lifetime and evolutionary factors influencing the social development and wellbeing of canines (dogs and wolves), domestic cats, and other captive and domesticated species.
  • Evaluating and improving the welfare of animals living as companion, working, or production animals.

More details can be found at the Human-Animal Interaction lab website: TheHumanAnimalBond.com

If anyone wants to contact her then her email address is: monique.udell@oregonstate.edu

I think I will simply because I would like to know more about her work!

The end of our present behaviours!

What is happening to Earth’s climate needs attention NOW!

Two charts recently from the BBC News.

The 10 years to the end of 2019 have been confirmed as the warmest decade on record by three global agencies. 

According to Nasa, Noaa and the UK Met Office, last year was the second warmest in a record dating back to 1850. The past five years were the hottest in the 170-year series, with the average of each one more than 1C warmer than pre-industrial.

The Met Office says that 2020 is likely to continue this warming trend.2016 remains the warmest year on record, when temperatures were boosted by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

This is the reality.

It affects every part of the world and it affects everyone. BUT! We, as in you and me, and everyone else, still haven’t got it.

The recent COP26 was progress and, especially, the next convention being held in a year’s time is important. But it is a long way from where we need to be. A very long way.

Patrice Ayme is someone that I follow and there have been times when I have gladly republished his posts. With his permission I should add.

Recently he published a post called Cataclysmic Seven Degree Centigrade Rise and I wanted to share it with you. Here is is:

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CATACLYSMIC SEVEN DEGREES CENTIGRADE RISE

Abstract: Expected rise of temperature in mountains correspond to a seven degree C rise. This informs global heating: in the long run, it will also be 7C. Large systems (Antarctica, Greenland) have greater thermal inertia, so their temperatures rise slower… But they will rise as much. In other words the so-called “forcing” by man-made greenhouse gases (which corresponds to 600 ppm of CO2) is universal, but the smaller the system, the faster the temperature rise

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Geographical systems with little thermal inertia (mountain glaciers) show an accelerated rate of heating of these parts which is only compatible with a seven (7) degrees rise in Celsius by 2100… A rise the IPCC of the UN considers impossible… But INERTIA says that it IS happening. The first thing this implies is that most forests will burn… worldwide. Then the ice shelves in Antarctica will follow.

TEMPS RISING ULTRA FAST IN MOUNTAINS

Anybody familiar with mountains worldwide know that temperatures are rising extremely fast: large glaciers I used to know have completely disappeared.. As in Chacaltaya, Bolivia. Or Portage, Alaska. The closest glacier to an Alpine village I went to as a child has been replaced by a larch forest (melezes)… One reason for this is that mountains are smaller in frozen mass than immense ensembles like Greenland and Antarctica. Moreover, the mountains’ permafrost is not as cold.  

From 1984 to 2017, the upper reaches of the fires in the Sierra Nevada of California rose more than 1,400 feet. Now the temperature in the lower atmosphere decreases by 7C every 1,000 meters. There are many potential factors to explain why fires go higher (although some contradict each other). To avoid paralysis by analysis, I will assume the rise in fires is all due to temperature rise. So what we have here is a 2.5C rise in 33 years.

….FROM SMALLER THERMAL INERTIA:

Mountain thermal capacity is accordingly reduced relative to those of Greenland and Antarctica. The proportionality factors are gigantic. Say the permafrost of a mountain range is of the order of 10^4 square kilometers, at a depth of one kilometer (typical of the Sierra Nevada of California or the Alps at a temp of -3C. By comparison, Antarctica is 14x 10^6 sq km at a depth of 4 kilometers of permafrost at a temp of -30C. Thinking in greater depth reveals the proportions to be even greater: individual mountains are of the order of square kilometers. This means that (using massively simplified lower bounds), Antarctica has a mass of cold which is at least 4 orders of magnitude higher than a mountain range: to bring Antarctica to seriously melt, as mountain ranges are right now, would require at least 10,000, ten thousand times, as much heat (or maybe even a million, or more, when considering individual mountains).  

As it is, mountains are exposed to a heat bath which makes their permafrost unsustainable. From their small thermal inertia, mountains warm up quickly. Greenland and Antarctica, overall, are exposed to the same bath, the same “forcing”, but because they are gigantic and gigantically cold, they resist more: they warm up, but much slower (moreover as warmer air carries more snow, it snows more while Antarctica warms up).

I have looked, in details at glaciologists records, from the US to Europe… Everywhere glaciologists say the same thing: expect a rise of the permafrost line of 1,000 meters… That corresponds to a SEVEN DEGREE CENTIGRADE RISE. Basically, while glaciers were found down to 2,500 meters in the Alps (some can still be seen in caves)… Expect that, in a few decades, none will occur below 3,500 meters… Thus speak the specialists, the glaciologists…

Mount Hood, Oregon, in August 1901 on the left, and August 2015, on the right. The Eliot glacier, front and center, which used to sprawl for miles, is in the process of disappearing completely.

What is happening then, when most climate scientists speak of holding the 1.5 C line (obviously completely impossible, even if humanity stopped emitting CO2 immediately)???… Or when they admit that we are on a 2.7C future in 2100? Well, those scientists have been captured by the establishment… They say what ensure their prosperous careers… At a global rise of 2.7 C, we get a migration of the permafrost line of around 500 kilometers towards the poles… Catastrophic, yes, but still, Antarctica will not obviously start to melt, big time. 

At 7C, the melting of the surrounding of Antarctica, including destabilization of West Antarctica, and the Aurora and Wilkes Basin can’t be avoided… They hold around 25 meters of sea level rise….

If it came to light that a seven degree centigrade rise is a real possibility, authorities would turn around and really do some things, which may destabilize the worldwide plutocratic establishment: carbon tariffs are an obvious example. Carbon tariffs could be imposed next week… and they would have a big impact of the CO2 production. So why are carbon tariffs not imposed? Carbon tariffs would destabilize the deindustrialization gravy train: by employing who are basically slaves in poor countries, plutocrats make themselves ever wealthier, while making sure there would be no insurrection at home… A trick already used in imperial Rome, by the Senatorial aristocracy/plutocracy. That would be highly effective… By the way, without saying so, of course, and maybe even unwittingly, this is basically what Trump had started to do…

The devil has these ways which the commons do not possess…

That would stop the crafty, dissembling nonsense that countries such as France are at 4.6 tons per capita of CO2 emissions per year… That’s only true when all the CO2 emitted to produce the goods the French need is NOT counted.. including deforestation in Brazil to grow soybean. With them counted, one gets to 11 tons or so, more than double… The wonderful graph of CO2 emissions collapsing in Europe is the same graph as collapsing industrial production…

The devil has these ways the commons have not even detected…

Carbon tariffs would be a way to solve two wrongs in one shot: the wrong of deindustrialization, of corrupt pseudo-leaders not putting the most advanced countries, their own countries, first… And the wrong of producing too much CO2.

Little fixes will go a long way, as long as they incorporate hefty financing fundamentally researching new energy (it does not really matter which type, as long as it is fundamental…)

Patrice Ayme

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Now this isn’t some academic treatise that doesn’t affect the likes of you and me. This is, as I have said, the harsh reality of NOW!

Here’s a photo of me and Jeannie together with Andy and Trish taken in March, 2018. On the edge of Crater Lake.

Then this is a stock photograph of Crater Lake taken in March, 2020.

Taken by Valerie Little

Not a great deal of difference but the trees in the photo above aren’t encased in snow as is the tree in the 2018 photo.

Now there is important news to bring you from COP 26. On Sunday Boris Johnson said:

Scientists say this would limit the worst impacts of climate change.

During a Downing Street news conference, Mr Johnson said: 

  • “We can lobby, we can cajole, we can encourage, but we cannot force sovereign nations to do what they do not wish to do”
  • “For all our disagreements, the world is undeniably heading in the right direction”
  • The “tipping point has been reached in people’s attitudes” – with leaders “galvanised and propelled by their electorates”
  • But “the fatal mistake now would be to think that we in any way cracked this thing”

Mr Johnson said that despite the achievements of the summit, his reaction was “tinged with disappointment”.

He said there had been a high level of ambition – especially from countries where climate change was already “a matter of life and death”. 

And “while many of us were willing to go there, that wasn’t true of everybody”, he admitted. But he added the UK could not compel nations to act. “It’s ultimately their decision to make and they must stand by it.”

That point about attitudes is interesting. Who would have thought, say, five years ago, that attitudes had changed so dramatically by late-2021.

One hopes that we will come to our collective senses but I can’t see the CO2 index being returned to its normal range without machines taking the excessive CO2 out of the atmosphere. Because, as was quoted on The Conversation nearly a year ago:

On Wednesday this week, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was measured at at 415 parts per million (ppm). The level is the highest in human history, and is growing each year.

Finally, my daughter, Maija, and my son-in-law, Marius, had a child some ten years ago. He is my grandson and I left England before he was born. He is Morten and he is a bright young spark.

Morten

Morten and all the hundreds of thousands of young persons like him are going to have to deal with the world as they find it!

A slight change to my plan.

There’s so much interesting stuff to share!

The decision has been made to post about dogs, or dog-related topics, every Thursday starting on the 18th November and keep my Picture Parades going every Sunday.

But the small change to my plan is on Tuesday to post other topics not about dogs. That may not be every Tuesday as well but when I warrant that something should be shared with you it will be on a Tuesday.

That’s all!

Food miles!

It is more complicated than it first appears.

I saw this article on the Sustainability at Harvard website and read it with great interest. I wanted to republish it to share with you but couldn’t readily see a copyright statement or an instruction regarding republishing. I sent an email but I was warned that Harvard receive a great deal of emails every day and a reply might not be forthcoming.

So ….. I have made a decision. I will publish the article and hope that it doesn’t infringe the copyright.

Before I do that let me ‘promote’ Sustainability at Harvard by giving you a little from their About page.

Together we are building a healthier, more sustainable community

Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines making differences globally. While Harvard’s primary role is to address global challenges, such as climate change and sustainability, through research and teaching, the University is also focused on translating research into action. Harvard is using its campus as a living laboratory for piloting and implementing solutions that create a sustainable and resilient community focused on health and well-being.

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Do food miles really matter?

March 7, 2017

By Molly Leavens, College ’19

Leavens breaks down the nuances of how a food’s carbon footprint relates to the distance it travels from farm to plate.

The local food movement, with the goal of consuming food produced and grown within a close geographic region, has been gaining traction in recent years as a way of eating fresh and high quality foods and reducing one’s environmental impact. However, public messaging about the outcomes of this movement is divided and often leads to confusion and misunderstanding among consumers. This short article will attempt to break down some of the nuances of how a food’s carbon footprint relates to the distance it travels from farm to plate (commonly referred to as food miles).

So, do food miles really matter? Yes and no. 

For most American diets, the carbon cost of transportation is slight compared to the carbon costs of production (running the tractors, producing chemical fertilizer, pumping irrigation…). Therefore, the most effective way for most Americans to reduce their diet’s carbon footprint is not by buying local, but rather eliminating or reducing their consumption of animal products.

the most effective way for most Americans to reduce their diet’s carbon footprint is not by buying local, but rather eliminating or reducing their consumption of animal products. 

Cartoon by Harvard staff member, Mitra Farmand. www.mitrafarmand.com.

For a vegan, food miles contribute to a larger portion of their food’s carbon footprint. Plant-based foods have lower production footprints, so transportation is comparatively more significant. Even then, the raw mileage is hardly informative for determining carbon footprints; the mode of transportation is the key variable. Cargo ships are the most efficient, followed by trains, then trucks, and lastly planes.

That means a product flown from Chicago to Boston has a significantly larger carbon footprint than one shipped 11,000 miles from Asia to California.

Although exact numbers vary across analyses, flying one ton of food is close to 70 times more carbon intensive than transporting that same weight via a large cargo ship (source). That means a product flown from Chicago to Boston has a significantly larger carbon footprint than one shipped 11,000 miles from Asia to California. As a result, locality is more important for perishable foods that are often flown like raw fish, asparagus, and berries. Foods such as tomatoes, bananas, pears, and apples can all be harvested before ripening, stored for long periods of time, then inoculated with ethylene gas (the naturally occurring hormone produced by fruits that causes the change in color and flavor profile associated with ripening) before entering a supermarket. In many cases, these shelf-stable foods have lower carbon footprints when produced internationally because the carbon cost of production far outweighs that of transportation.

Another frequently cited comparison is that of lamb produced in England verses lamb produced in New Zealand. For a consumer in England, the New Zealand lamb actually has a lower carbon footprint. Our intuition failed us. Why? Sheep in New Zealand are generally raised on farms run by hydroelectric power. This energy saving is so immense that it overrides the fuel output of the 11,000 mile cruise to England (source).

A similar story unfolds here in Boston. Local meat production could be more carbon intensive because the animals must be housed in heated facilities during the cold winter months. For a large portion of the year, we are better off shipping in a tomato from South America than growing one in a local greenhouse.

A similar story unfolds here in Boston. Local meat production could be more carbon intensive because the animals must be housed in heated facilities during the cold winter months.   

Looking exclusively at carbon footprints neglects other important issues like water usage and farmer rights but it is none the less a valuable metric. Purchasing local food has many social benefits like boosting local economies, and increasing community cohesion and self-reliance. In conclusion, local food is not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but it is important for consumers to define the values they hope to support through their purchasing decisions and think critically about when and where local foods support those values.

 

Looking exclusively at carbon footprints neglects other important issues like water usage and farmer rights but it is none the less a valuable metric.

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Like so many things in life they are frequently more complicated than they first appear.

Your opinion is required, please!

The future of this blog!

The first post from Learning from Dogs was published on the 15th July, 2009.

Much has changed over the years and I want to assess your continued interest in my posts.

I am thinking of dropping the frequency each week to two posts; the Sunday Picture Parade and one other on a regular day to be determined. Or maybe the time has come to stop altogether.

The reason is that the number of visitors to the blog has been steadily falling. For example it was nearly 87,000 in 2013, nearly 38,000 in 2017 and only 29,000 last year.

What do you think?

Please leave a comment.

Thank you, Paul.