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

Toys and Treats, Part Two

Top 5 Homemade Treats and Dog Toys for Powerful Chewers

Continuing Sarah’s guest post. Part One was yesterday.


Here Are Some Heavy Duty Dog Toys You Can Make Yourself

#1: “Indestructible Dog Toy (Made with Dried Sweet Potato)

I love this toy because it’s both healthy for my dog and has no unnecessary additives. It’s a great chew toy and treat all in one.

Shesparticular on instructibles.com came up with this idea for a DIY chew toy for her mom’s dog. Her mom’s dog, Molly, loves to play. She says when Molly plays it “usually involves rounding up all her toys and ripping them to shreds.”

In Shesparticular’s pictures of Molly, you can tell she’s a little dog. It may seem surprising, but little dogs can do just as much damage as big ones. So this recipe she’s come up with is pure genius if you want to make strong dog toys that are healthy for your dog.

Here’s what you’ll need and instructions on how to make this toy at home:

  • Hemp or jute rope. Nine 2 1/2 foot ropes braided together to make a larger rope works for medium sized dogs. You’ll need to adjust the length of the rope based on your dog’s size.
  • Sweet potatoes or yams. One potato for a smaller toy, two for a medium toy and three to four for a larger toy
  • Sheet pan and parchment or foil
  • A sharp knife
  • Round cookie cutter a bit larger than the diameter of your rope
  • Vegetable peeler (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Wash your sweet potatoes well. Peeling them isn’t necessary unless you prefer it.
  3. Slice the sweet potato into rounds approximately 1/2″ thick 
  4. Using the cookie cutter, remove the center of each round
  5. Place rounds on cookie sheet and bake for 2 1/2 hours then flip them over and bake for another 2 1/2 hours.
  6. They’re done when they’re dried out and hard. If there are any soft parts, bake them longer and check them every 30 minutes.
  7. Once they’re done, allow them to cool. 
These sweet potato rings look like hollowed out dog bones, without the risk of splintering
These sweet potato rings look like hollowed out dog bones, without the risk of splintering

Once your sweet potato rings have cooled, you can start making your toy.

Start by tying a knot at the end of your hemp rope. If you’re using many thinner pieces, braid them together. This will make it easier to string the sweet potato pieces on. 

String two potato rings onto your rope then tie a knot in the rope. Continue adding two rings at a time and tying a knot after each pair until you reach the end of the rope.

When you’ve finished, hand this toy over to your dog and watch them chew for hours.

# 2: Knotted Hand Towel Toy

I have so many old hand towels that I didn’t know what to do with until I saw this clever idea.
I have so many old hand towels that I didn’t know what to do with until I saw this clever idea.

This toy’s so easy to make, even a dog could do it. Taylor Martin from cnet.com came up with this simple way to repurpose old linens and make a great dog toy. 

All you have to do is take an old, tattered hand towel and tie a knot in the middle. You can even use a full sized towel and make several knots. 

My dog is a Pitbull mix, so though this is a tough toy, he would likely still rip it to shreds. The good news is, it doesn’t cost a cent. So even if it only lasts a few days, you didn’t lose any money on it.

#3: Ring Dog Toy

Just looking at this toy, you can tell it’s tough. No way my Pitt mix will be able to destroy this.
Just looking at this toy, you can tell it’s tough. No way my Pitt mix will be able to destroy this.

A user called J3443RY at instructables.com designed this indestructible dog toy. This is just a basic rope knot toy. 

If you know how to tie a crown knot, all you need to do is create two lengths of rope by tying 4 lengths of rope in crown knots. All you need to make this toy is some nylon repelling rope. 

Here are some step by step instructions for creating this toy

  1. Cut 4 equal lengths of rope. You can adjust the size of the toy based on the size of your dog. 4 Inches of rope is equal to 1 inch of the finished toy. For example; for a 6 inch finished knot you would need 24 inches of rope to start.
  2. Use 2 of the 4 ropes to create a 7″ long finished crown knot. 
  3. For step three, the user has included an instructional video. This will help you to combine the two finished knots into one ring.

When you’re finished with this toy, you will have a nearly chew proof dog toy that your dog can enjoy for hours.

For more advice on caring for your dog and other great recipes, visit metroeastrba.com.

Now Check Out Some Cool Doggy Dental Treats

#4: Darla Cook’s Homemade Greenies

I can’t get over how adorable these little tooth brush shapes are.
I can’t get over how adorable these little tooth brush shapes are.

Darla Cook is a blogger and a lover of culinary arts. She is a student at The Culinary Institute of America, so you know her recipes must be the best.

Darla’s blog focuses on general cooking and there aren’t many dog recipes on her blog. But I found a pretty great recipe there for homemade Greenies for dogs. She calls these adorable toothbrush shaped treats Franks Breath Brushes.

If you’re a pet owner, you know that Greenies are a great dental treat for your dog, but they’re expensive to buy. 

If you want to save money and have more control over what goes into your dog’s treats, make them yourself at home.

Here is Darla’s recipe.

Franks Breath Brushes


  • 3 1/2 brown rice flour plus 2 cups more (rice flour for crunch)
  • 1 tablespoon of activated charcoal (I opened 12 capsules for 1 tablespoon.)
  • 4Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Liquid chlorophyll (whole foods/health food store)


Preheat over to 400F. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the charcoal with 3 1/2 cups brown rice flour and set it aside.

Put parsley, mint oil and 1/4 cup of broth or water into food processor. Process until chopped, like pesto. Add 3-4 droppers full of chlorophyll. Pulse a few times to mix. Add this green paste to flour mixture and mix well. Beat egg and mix in. Knead adding the rest of water/broth. By this time you should have a sticky dough ball. Flour the work surface and knead dough until an even green color. Divide dough into workable portions and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Add flour to the work surface and dough surface as needed to take away stickiness as you work. Cut out with your favorite shapes, and dock with a fork to keep puffiness down. Bake for 25 or 20 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

I will be trying these treats on my dog, for sure. I feel much more confident in the treats I feed my dog when I can make them myself and I know what's in them. 
I will be trying these treats on my dog, for sure. I feel much more confident in the treats I feed my dog when I can make them myself and I know what’s in them.

#5 DIY Doggy Breath Mints

These treats look good enough for even humans to eat.
These treats look good enough for even humans to eat.

I’ve found yet another great dog breath freshening recipe. This recipe, by Clifford Genece at skinnyms.com, has something in common with Darla’s recipe. It doesn’t contain any wheat flour.

It is so important to avoid giving your dog anything that contains wheat flour. Many dogs are allergic to wheat products. It can cause some pretty intense itching and skin irritation.

Rather than using flower at all, this recipe calls for oatmeal. This recipe also calls for eggs. So Clifford even provides advice for people whose dogs are allergic to poultry products. 

Here’s Clifford’s simple recipe for these yummy treats.


  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup of water, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (unrefined extra-virgin is best)


Preheat the oven to 325° F

Add oats to a blender and pulse to a flour like consistency. In a large bowl whisk together diced parsley and mint, egg, water, and oil. Add oat flour and stir to combine. Knead dough a few times then turn out onto a lightly floured surface.

Using your hands or a rolling pin, flatten dough to about 1/8″ thick. Using a cookie cutter or knife cut out approximately 40 (1-inch mints) mints. Place mints about 1/4-inch apart on a parchment lined or non-stick cookie sheet. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until golden and crispy.

Allow mints to cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container.

Tip: For dogs with allergies to chicken products, substitute one large egg with 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce.

These are some of my favorite DIY dental treats and dog toys for powerful chewers. These treats and toys are a great way to keep your dog’s jaws strong and breath fresh. Don’t forget to take a look in your dog’s mouth every now and then and make sure their teeth are in good condition. 

Description: Dental treats and dog toys for powerful chewers can be expensive, so why not make your own at home? Give these helpful recipes and DIY dog toys a try.


 Don’t know about you but we think this has been a very valuable and useful article from Sarah!

We must do the best for our beloved dogs!

Toys and Treats, Part One

I was contacted by Sarah a few weeks ago with regard to her writing a guest post for you good people. For reasons that have escaped me I kept overlooking to publish it. That is now being corrected; indeed it has so much great information that I am splitting it over today and tomorrow.


Top 5 Homemade Treats and Dog Toys for Powerful Chewers

I’ve never met a dog that didn’t love to chew, but it’s not just a fun canine pastime. It’s necessary for their dental health and for training Fido to stay away from your shoes. Are you too busy to brush your dog’s teeth every day? There’s no need to feel guilty, I am too.

Not everyone has time to do a full dental routine for their dog every day. However, there are other ways to ensure your dog’s dental health. I’ve done some research and found that there are many ways to do this without lifting a finger. Including some dog toys for powerful chewers and even some yummy dental treats.

Why Your Dog’s Dental Health is Important

Dogs aren’t in the habit of brushing and flossing. Most dog owners don’t even realize how important a dog’s dental health is. In fact, I didn’t even know that it was necessary to brush my dog’s teeth until I did some research on the subject.

There are other things you can do to keep your dog’s teeth sparkling if you don’t have time to brush them every day. You need to give them fun things to chew on and snack on in place of regular brushing. Such as some sturdy dog toys or rawhide chews.

According to PetMD “Actively encouraging the dog to utilize chew treats that require some “exercising” of the teeth, such as is provided by compressed rawhide chewies, hard rubber or nylon chew toys, can assist in keeping the mouth structures vital.”

If you do have time to brush your dog’s teeth, it’s important that you do it correctly. Here is how you should do it, according to Banfield.com.

  1. Use a toothbrush that is just for dogs.
  2. Never use your toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth. There is toothpaste that you can buy just for your dog that is not toxic if swallowed.
  3. Give Fido a small sample of the toothpaste so that they become familiar with the flavor.
  4. Lift your dog’s lips to expose the gums and teeth. Brush the teeth like you would your own, but be gentle.
  5. Most dogs won’t allow you to brush the inside surface of the teeth. Focus on the outside surfaces.
  6. The molars and canines tend to build up tartar, so make sure you give them a good brushing. And of course, reward your dog for letting you put them through that. They are likely confused to why you were all in their mouth, so pats, play, and healthy treats are in order.

Now that you know how to brush your dog’s teeth, let’s learn other ways to improve their dental health.

Rawhide Treat Benefits

Dog tired of waiting to eat a treats
Dog tired of waiting to eat a treats

Rawhide treats and chews are a tasty way for your dog to keep their teeth clean and jaws strong. It’s good for cleaning their teeth and keeping their breath fresh but it also gives their jaws a good workout.
All dogs need to chew. Providing treats like rawhide keeps them from chewing on your nice leather shoes.
There’s not a whole lot of risk to letting your dog chew on rawhide. But there are some risks you should know about. For example, rawhide can sometimes contain small amounts of chemicals, according to Pets. WebMD. Your dog can even come in contact with E. Coli or Salmonella when chewing on rawhide.
Some dogs can be allergic to rawhide anything that’s used to make rawhide treats. This can cause unpleasant discomfort associated with diarrhea.
Sometimes rawhide can be a choking hazard. If a piece breaks off it can become lodged in the esophagus. If this happens, in some cases, a vet can remove any lodged pieces through the throat.
You should always talk to your vet before you decide to introduce any new treats into your dog’s diet.
Here Are Some Heavy Duty Dog Toys You Can Make Yourself


Come back tomorrow to learn how to make these great toys.

Caring for the family: Correction Truth.

Nature so often guides us in how to behave.

Yes, nature can be cruel but in ways that we understand. Animals, to the best of my knowledge, do not hunt for sport. Animals do not lie. They don’t seek political power (sorry; couldn’t resist that!).

All of which is my short introduction to an item that Dan sent me yesterday.


Cesare Brai’s photo.

A wolf pack: the first 3 are the old or sick, they give the pace to the entire pack.
If it was the other way round, they would be left behind, losing contact with the pack. In case of an ambush they would be sacrificed.

Then come 5 strong ones, the front line. In the center are the rest of the pack members, then the 5 strongest following. Last is alone, the alpha. He controls everything from the rear.

In that position he can see everything, decide the direction. He sees all of the pack. The pack moves according to the elders pace and help each other, watch each other.

For once I am speechless, I knew that wolves are different, but didn’t realize how much we could learn from them…


Compelling, eh! But factually correct?


In this case Nature is not guiding us. It is man misguiding us.

Or in the words of the Truth or Fiction website:

That makes for a compelling and inspirational story about teamwork — but it’s not true.

David Attenborough took the photo in question for the BBC’s “Frozen Planet” Series in 2011. It shows 25 timber wolves hunting bison in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada. The female alpha wolf led the pack, and the others followed in a single file line to save energy as they made their way through deep snow, according to the environmental website Benvironment.

Wolf packs are typically about half the size of the pack pictured in the photo from 2011. Most packs don’t hunt prey the size of bison (which is 10 times the size of a wolf), but the larger pack is able to. And the wolves walking in a single file line through deep snow is a classic example of how they’re able to use weather conditions to their advantage while hunting prey that’s much larger than them.

Also, the idea that wolves have to be on the lookout for “ambushes” or attacks isn’t true, either. Wolves are at the top of the food chain and have no natural predators. Aside from turf battles with other wolves (which wouldn’t start in an ambush) bears are the only threat to wolves in Canada. Even so, experts say that bears are only able to prey on wolf pups because grown wolves are too fast, swift and clever to get caught by them.

I will close with this quotation from Andre Gide:

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.

The love for dogs.

A very beautiful, insightful guest post.

Like many other authors of blogs when someone decides to follow these scribblings and they are also the author of a blog I go across to their place and leave a thank you note. Frequently, I also say that if they would like to write a guest post for Learning from Dogs that I would welcome that.

Regular readers of this blog will know how often it is my pleasure to publish a guest post from another blogger.

So it is today.

Not very long ago there was a new follower who is the author of the blog: The Well Rounded Individual. I went across there and liked very much what I saw, especially a recent post about dogs.

I am honoured to have permission to share it with you all.


Throw the Ball Already and Other Things I Can’t Live Without

Oh, I Wish …..

…. that animal cruelty just never ever happens!

Yes, I know that’s a naive wish.

But it doesn’t alter my sincere wish!

So thank goodness for the many wonderful people and organisations around the world that do their utmost to help animals.

Take, for example, Animals Asia. This is what they do:

Founded in 1998, Animals Asia promotes compassion and respect for all animals and works to bring about long-term change. We work to end the barbaric bear bile trade, which sees over 10,000 bears kept on bile farms in China, and, according to official figures, about 1,200 suffering the same fate in Vietnam.

Animals Asia has rescued over 500 bears, caring for them at its award-winning bear sanctuaries in China and Vietnam.

Animals Asia also works to end the trade in dogs and cats for food in China and Vietnam, and lobbies to improve the welfare of companion animals, promote humane population management and prevent the cross border export of “meat dogs” in Asia.

In addition, Animals Asia campaigns for an end to abusive animal practices in zoos and safari parks in Asia, and works closely with governing authorities to improve animal management and increase awareness of the welfare needs of captive animals.

Take this wonderful account of what they did for one bear.


Freed from a bile farm – is this the happiest bear ever?

Watch Tuffy jump for joy in his first days outside – after being rescued from a bear bile farm where he’d spent years of torture in a tiny cage.

Rescued in September last year on the same day as six other bears, Tuffy’s paws have hardly hit the ground since arriving at Animals Asia’s Vietnam sanctuary.

tuffycagedThe vet team has been working hard to rehabilitate him after years of having his bile extracted. In fact his gall bladder was so damaged it had to be removed. Examinations had found numerous gallstones, meaning he’d lived in pain for years.

That wasn’t the only surgery Tuffy faced. In addition he had three fractured teeth removed. He also had painful, dry, cracked paws.

tuffyinacageAnimals Asia Bear Manager Louise Ellis said:

“The cracked paws are common to bile farm bears as they only walk on bars, not grass. Dehydration is likely to have contributed to this too. So for his carers to see him take to the pool so quickly after he first became ready to face the outdoors was an amazing moment.

“Coming from years of little or no water, for Tuffy this must feel like a true oasis after being parched and in pain for so long. It must have felt like such a relief to have the freedom to splash around in the water after only being able to stand on the hard metal bars of the bile farm cage.”

tuffyrescuedIn fact Tuffy loved being outdoors so much he decided not to return to his den in the evening – choosing instead to sleep under the stars.

There are still around 1,200 bears in bile farms in Vietnam and over 10,000 more in China. Animals Asia has rescued nearly 600 bears from the bile industry and continues to care for almost 400.

Bear bile is used in traditional medicine.

Dearest Tuffy! One of the lucky ones.
But that doesn’t diminish the anger and the disgust I feel at the way too many so called human beings can have such disregard for our beautiful animals!

Reggie the Black Lab.

To whomsoever gets my dog!

With thanks to Suzann Reeve who sent this on to me.

You all have a very wonderful Autumn weekend.


They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie,
as I looked at him lying in his pen.
The shelter was clean, no-kill,
and the people really friendly.

lab1I’d only been in the area for six months, but
everywhere I went in the small college town, people
were welcoming and open. Everyone waves
when you pass them on the street.

But something was still missing as I attempted to settle
in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt.
Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen
Reggie’s advertisement on the local news. The shelter
said they had received numerous calls right after,
but they said the people who had come down
to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,”
whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me
in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted
of a dog pad, a bag of toys almost all of which were
brand new tennis balls, his dishes and
a sealed letter from his previous owner.

lab2See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home.
We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter
told me to give him to adjust to his new home).

Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.
Maybe we were too much alike.

lab3I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten
about that. “Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see
if your previous owner has any advice.”


To Whomever Gets My Dog:

Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this,
a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by
Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it.

He knew something was different.


So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes
that it will help you bond with him and he with you.
First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier.
Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hoards them.
He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet.

Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after them, so be careful.  Don’t do it by any roads.



Next, commands. Reggie knows the
obvious ones —“sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.”
He knows hand signals, too: He knows “ball”
and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.
Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular
store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.
He’s up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet.
Good luck getting him in the car. I don’t know how he
knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. It’s only been Reggie and
me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me,
so please include him on your daily car rides if you can.
He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark
or complain. He just loves to be around people,
and me most especially.


And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you…His name’s not Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name. But if someone is reading this …well it means that his new owner should know his real name.
His real name is “Tank.” Because, that is what I drive.
I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander.
You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with … and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter …in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.
Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.  Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.
If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.
All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and
give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.
Thank you,
Paul Mallory

I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope.

Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies.  Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

lab8I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.
“Hey, Tank,” I said quietly.
The dog’s head whipped up, his ears
cocked and his eyes bright.

lab9He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor.  He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months. “Tank,” I whispered.  His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.
“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.”
Tank reached up and licked my cheek.
“So whatdaya say we play some ball?”
His ears perked again.
“Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?”
Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room.  And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

lab10If you can read this without getting a lump in your
throat or a tear in your eye, you just ain’t right.
============================== ========
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” G.K. Chesterton


Millions of us have to fight our demons, both real and imagined. Doing it without a dog by one’s side is so much harder!

A rescue, with a twist!


Just recently, on the 20th to be precise, I added a comment to the ‘About’ page of the blog: Beyond The Flow.

This is what I wrote”

Hi Rowena, I’m the author of the blog Learning from Dogs and recently one of my followers “RoughseasintheMed” recommended one of your posts: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/a-different-type-of-rescue-dog/
Apart from the pleasure in making the connection, I would love to have your permission to republish your post over on LfD.
Look forward to hearing from you.

Paul H.

Rowena is a blogger, mother and wife and explains a little about her blog, thus:

Beyond the Flow documents our journey through life’s ups and downs from a fairly philosophical and hopefully humourous perspective so hopefully you’ll laugh, cry and think a bit as you share in our adventures.
Based on the Australian East-Coast just North of Sydney, this motley cast and crew features:
Anyway, Rowena very promptly offered me permission and it is my pleasure to republish this wonderful account of a Newfoundland (the dog that is not the country).

newfoundlanddogstampA Different Type of Rescue Dog.

Welcome to Rumford, Maine where we’re chatting with ferry master Jerry Putnam and his dog, Major beside the Androscoggin River. Major is a New Foundland or “Newfie” and while I’m used to big dogs, Major is more like a bear crossed with a tank and yet he’s very friendly.

Androscoggin River, New Hampshire, sadly renowned for its poor water quality.

Please be advised that you’ll be needing to set you watch back more than just a couple of hours to join me on this trip. You see, we’re traveling back to 1885 or thereabouts to hear this tale.  By the way, I apologise if the details get a little sketchy on this trip. You see, I’ve never been to America and I’ve never seen a Newfoundland dog beyond Googles images. However, I’ve never let that stop me from spinning a yarn before and it won’t stop me now. I stumbled across this story online in a small Australian country newspaper from 1885. I have no idea how it found its way there but it seems that after all these years, I’ll be sending the story all the way back to Rumford, Maine where I hope it finds a new home.

As you might be aware Newfoundlands are excellent and enthusiastic swimmers and are famed as the lifesavers of the sea. Indeed, there have even been some famous and very impressive rescues carried out by Newfoundlands:

  • In 1881 in Melbourne, Australia, a Newfoundland named Nelson helped rescue Thomas Brown, a cab driver who was swept away by flood waters in Swanston Street on the night of 15 November. While little is known about what became of Nelson, a copper dog collar engraved with his name has survived and 130 years after the rescue it was acquired by the National Museum of Australia and is now part of the National Historical Collection.
  • In the early 20th century, a dog that is thought to have been a Newfoundland saved 92 people who were on the SS Ethie which was wrecked off the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland during a blizzard. The dog retrieved a rope thrown out into the turbulent waters by those on deck, and brought the rope to shore to people waiting on the beach. A breeches buoy was attached to the rope, and all those aboard the ship were able to get across to the shore including an infant in a mailbag. Wreckage of the ship can still be seen in Gros Morne National Park. E. J. Pratt‘s poem, “Carlo”, in the November 1920 issue of The Canadian Forum commemorates this dog.
  • In 1995, a 10-month-old Newfoundland named Boo saved a hearing-impaired man from drowning in the Yuba River in Northern California. The man fell into the river while dredging for gold. Boo noticed the struggling man as he and his owner were walking along the river. The Newfoundland instinctively dove into the river, took the drowning man by the arm, and brought him to safety. According to Janice Anderson, the Newfoundland’s breeder, Boo had received no formal training in water rescue.

You can watch some Newfoundlands going through their rescue paces here:

By now,  I’m sure I’ve whetted your appetites sufficiently and you’re all just longing to find out what Major did. What act of great heroism plucked this ordinary dog out of obscurity and onto the pages of a distant Australian newspaper?

newfoundlandHowever, there’s an exception to every rule. Just because some dog’s profiles read like a brochure from the Kennel Club, there’s always an exception. Just as people don’t like being categorized, stereotyped or told how they should conform to type, dogs can be much the same.Not that Major almost drowned but he did have a different interpretation of what constitutes a “rescue”.

Or, did he?

After all, what constitutes a rescue? Is it just about saving that drowning person from the surging waters? Or, is it also about encouraging someone to overcome their fear of drowning,  let go of the edge and finally learn to swim? What if that person doesn’t respond to “encouragement”? Is it okay to add a bit of persuasion? A nudge? A tug or even the proverbial cattle prod?

Well, you don’t need to ask Major. When it came to helping his canine counterpart overcome his fear, he was a Dog of Action with no time for philosophising, desensitization or phoning a friend. When a brindle hound was too scared to swim out to its owner on the ferry and was howling on the shore, Major grabbed it by the scruff and threw it in the water so it either had to sink or swim.

You’ve got to laugh and who hasn’t been tempted to do that to someone we know, but a bit of compassion doesn’t go astray either.

So, even if another dog is having a full blown panic attack about getting their precious paws wet, you don’t grab him by the scruff and throw him in the drink. After all, most breeds of dog don’t have a Newfoundland’s webbed paws, innate love of swimming and other special design features. They chase sheep.

I’m not putting my paws in there!
I’m not putting my paws in there!

Of course, this includes the Border Collie. While our last Border Collie loves chasing sticks through the surf, Bilbo rarely gets his paws wet and it’s taken a lot of angst for him to get to the point where he sometimes now retrieves his ball out of the wash on the beach.

Indeed, Bilbo has had a few newsworthy water avoidances and he could well have been cast as that miserable mutt Major threw into the river.

Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!
Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!

A few years ago, when Bilbo saw us all kayaking from the backyard at Palm Beach, he also started howling and fretting just like that other poor hound. Bilbo chewed through the back gate, jumped the back fence and we were about a kilometre from home when we looked out and kids said: “Someone else has a Border Collie”. As we paddled closer, our fears were confirmed. It was our freaked out mutt, giving us the paw: “What do you think you’re doing going out there on that crazy contraption? OMG!!!! You could fall in. Drown!!!! Then, who’s going to feed me?” His heart was racing. He was puffing. The dog was a wreck…so was the gate!

I would never have thrown Bilbo into the water to get him used to it. Yet, over time, he accidentally fell in the pool chasing his ball. He also fell out of the kayak and took our son into the water with him. That could’ve been nasty because he tried grabbing on to Mister which could’ve pulled him under. However, through all of this knockabout exposure and by being part of our family, Bilbo isn’t quite so anxious anymore. He’s stepped out and started filling out those paws, becoming a brave dog.

Meanwhile, here’s the original newspaper story about Major:

A Dog Story.

When Jerry Putnam had charge of the ferry at Rumford, Me., over the Androscoggin River, he owned one of the handsomest Newfoundland dogs I ever saw, and the dog was as intelligent as he was handsome. Like all of his kind, he was fond of the water, and further than that,  he manifested an absolute contempt for those of his species who shrank from the aqueous element, and it is of one of those contemptuous manifestations that I wish to tell, for I was there and saw.

The ferryboats, of various sizes, to accommodate different burdens, were impelled by means of a stout cable stretched from shore to shore, as that was the only device by which the heavy boats could be kept to their course in times of strong currents, and during seasons of freshet I have seen a current there that was wonderful.

One warm summer day, while a few of us were sitting in the shade of an old apple tree, between Jerry’s house and the river, two gentlemen, with implements for hunting and fishing, came down to be set across, and straightway one of the boys went to answer the call. He selected a light gondola, the two gentlemen stepped onboard, and very soon they were off ; but before they had got far away from the shore a common brindle house dog came rushing down upon the landing, where he stood and barked and howled furiously— furiously at first, and then piteously.

The boat was stopped, and from the signs made we judged that the strange dog belonged to one of the passengers. Yes, the owner was calling to him to come.

‘Come Ponto! Come !Come! ‘

But Ponto didn’t seem inclined to obey. Instead of taking to the water, he stood there, on the edge of the landing, and howled and yelped louder than before.

Presently old Major — our Newfoundland; who had been lying at our feet, got up and took a survey of the scene. Jerry said only this—’What is it, Major! What dy’e think of it?”

The dog looked around at his master, and seemed to answer that he was thoroughly disgusted. And then he started for the boat-landing — started just as the boy in the boat, at the earnest solicitation of his passenger, had begun to pull back. With  dignified step, Major made his way down upon the landing, proceeded directly to the yelping cur, took him by the nape of the neck; and threw him — he did not drop him — but gave him a vigorous, hearty throw, far out into the water ; and when he had done that he stood his ground as though to prevent the noisy, cowardly animal from landing. He stood there until he had seen the cur turn and swim towards the boat — until he had been taken on board by his master— after which he faced about, with military dignity and precision, and came back to his place beneath the apple tree.

— N. Y. Ledger.

The Burrowa News (NSW : 1874 – 1951) Friday 13 March 1885 p 3 Article

Have you ever been to Rumford, Maine or had any experiences with Newfoundlander Dogs? We’d love to hear your tales!

xx Rowena


Let me add to Rowena’s wish to hear your experiences with Newfoundland Dog’s, or any other dogs!

Life Lessons from Maggie

But not before I celebrate this:

The September equinox marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from north to south and vice versa in March.

That moment is at precisely 14:21 UTC today, September 22nd. Welcome to Autumn, or Fall in American speak!


I was contacted by Susan Leighton recently offering me a guest post. Susan is a regular follower of this place and frequently drops in with responses and comments. Susan is also the founder of the blog: Woman on the Ledge (I can recommend her blog, by the way!)

Here is Susan’s guest post.


Life Lessons from Maggie

I have walked this earth for fifty years and I have been a proud dog parent several times over. My latest child is an incredibly exuberant eight-year-old Boston Terrier named Maggie. Maggie Mae’s Up, Up, and Away is her full name. My husband and I got her in New Mexico which is the site of a world famous hot air balloon festival so hence the nod to the 5th Dimensions song.
Maggie was actually a surprise. I was going through an exceptionally rough time (unfortunately it was the beginning of several trying years) and my husband thought that she would cheer me up. The moment she was placed in my arms, a love affair and deep bond began. I looked into her expressive brown eyes and knew that I had just met my canine BFF.
When she was a puppy, we had a bit of a health scare with her. She was diagnosed with a severe case of giardia. The medication we were given to combat the illness wasn’t working. Our vet decided to treat her with a round of shots. It was touch and go for a few days but she came through with flying colors.
From an early age, she was our little toughie. Small in stature, she refused to let her bigger sisters get the best of her. Their long legs might have surpassed hers but she never gave up and would constantly compete to be number one in back yard games.
Dogs are amazing creatures. They are incredibly intuitive and sometimes I think they just might be smarter than us. In the years that I have been privileged to know Maggie she has taught me many life lessons. I would like to share some of that knowledge with you.

Every day is an adventure – don’t be a slave to routine. Maggie definitely isn’t one. Yesterday, she had an impromptu game of keep away with her stuffed animal. Today she was feeling like playing tug of war with her rope. Try something new. Even if you work 8 hours a day, you can still incorporate little surprises into your schedule. Maybe you always eat the same lunch every day. Change it up. Instead of that boring sandwich, opt for a salad or even a taco! Have a break between meetings or conference calls? Go outside and take a brisk walk for 10 minutes. Every day is new, treat it that way!

Make time to play – you know what I dislike the most about being an adult next to paying bills? I miss not having recess. That was my favorite time of the day when I was a kid. School stopped for an hour and I could run around with my friends and have fun. Why is it that we lose our sense of play when we grow older? Maggie has helped me to realize that it is possible to metaphorically return to the school yard. Every day we go outside and play catch in the back yard. Not only is it good bonding time for us but it is also a chance for me to relax and let go of the stress of the day.

Love unconditionally – this seems simple right? It really isn’t. So many people make it their mission to change the ones they love. Their significant other has a personality quirk that is less than endearing, why not try to lessen it or eliminate it altogether? I understand that life is about compromise but at the expense of not being able to be comfortable in your own skin? Maggie has been with me through many changes and throughout those changes, she has done nothing but support me. She loves me if I am having a bad hair day or if I have gained a few pounds. She loves the real me blemishes and all!

Be curious – whenever we take Maggie on a jaunt to the local pet store, she is more than willing to approach other dogs and other people. She wants to know more about everything in life. I jokingly tell her that she suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out) because she wants to be involved in every activity. I guess this is why I challenge myself to learn about new technologies, new books, new music, etc. The more engaged I feel, the more alive I am. I have never stopped learning.

Give thanks – whenever Maggie is presented with food, a treat, her ball, a toy, she is thankful. She is just glad that she is able to enjoy these things but mostly she is thrilled that she gets to have time with her family. As the years pass by, I am acutely aware of how tenuous life is and how in the blink of an eye, the people that we cherish may not be around for us to tell them how much we value their presence in our life. I make it a point to let the people closest to me know that I am thankful for them each and every day.

Hug your dog and let him or her know how grateful you are for the life lessons that they have shared with you. That is what I will be doing with Maggie. I could not have asked for a better teacher.


No more words from me – just this picture!


CBD Oil feedback

Just wanted to share our early results with you.

Back on the 13th September, I published a post under the title of Listening to our pets in more difficult times. I mentioned that Pharaoh was suffering pain in his rear hip joints and struggling at times to get up on all four feet and that we had started giving him Rimadyl.

One of the subsequent comments was from Pets, People, And Life who wrote:

Don’t wait around for a vet to tell you that your dog is in pain. You live in a state with legal MJ plus hemp oil is legal in all 50 states. I give CBD oil to my BC X Aussie 12 year old dog. He could not get up and yelped in pain before I began giving him 0.7ml daily that I drizzle over his food., After second dose he could stand up without help. Now he walks and runs with fluid movements of all limbs. It is totally safe and doesn’t require expensive tests, The danger of Rimadyl and other meds in that class used to treat arthritis, is that these types of meds cause kidney damage and your pet will have a shortened life span. Hemp oil works like a charm with no side effects.

We did some research and came across the following brand of Hemp (CBD) Oil specifically for dogs. We ordered it and it arrived last Saturday. Jean did not delay in adding* it twice a day to the food for both Pharaoh and Paloma.

p1160480Here we are at the end of Tuesday, at the time of writing this post, and already we can see observable improvements in both dogs.

Yes, it’s early days but I wanted to share this with you now.

There will be a more extensive report from me once these dogs have been using the oil for a few weeks.

  • One dropperful twice a day for Pharaoh, approx. 105 lbs, and half a dropperful twice a day for Paloma, approx. 45 lbs.