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!
We know dogs have amazing noses. Scientists say their sense of smell is anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times more acute than ours. While humans have a mere 6 million olfactory receptors in our noses, dogs have somewhere around 300 million, according to Nova.
But that doesn’t mean their idea of what smells “good” matches our sensibilities.
If your canine buddy runs across an overturned garbage can or something dead in the backyard, there’s a good chance he’ll roll around in it until he’s good and stinky too. Does your dog just like the gross smell or is there some other innate reason for what we think is a disgusting habit? Animal behaviorists have several theories.
They’re trying to hide their own smell
Well-known dog expert and psychologist Stanley Coren, author of many books on dog behavior, says the explanation that seems to make the most evolutionary sense is that dogs roll in odoriferous things to disguise their own scent.
“The suggestion is that we are looking at a leftover behavior from when our domestic dogs were still wild and had to hunt for a living,” Coren says. “If an antelope smelled the scent of a wild dog, or jackal or wolf nearby, it would be likely to bolt and run for safety.”
But if a dog’s wild ancestors rolled in the dung of antelope or carrion, prey antelopes would be less suspicious than if the animal smelled like its true self. This would allow those wild canines to get closer to their prey.
Animal behaviorist Patricia B. McConnell is skeptical of this theory.
“First off, most prey animals are highly visual, and use sight and sound to be on the alert for predators. It’s not that they can’t use their noses, but their noses are dependent on wind direction and so sight and sound are often more important,” McConnell writes, noting that’s why hoofed animals have eyes on the sides of their head and ears that swivel around, in order to see and hear animals sneaking up from behind.
“In addition, if a prey animal’s sensory ability is good enough to use scent as a primary sense for predator detection, surely they could still smell the scent of dog through the coating of yuck. Neither does this explain the intense desire of dogs to roll in fox poop.”
They’re trying to share their own smell
Just like a cat will rub up against you to mark you with its smell, some behaviorists theorize that a dog will roll in something stinky to try to cover up the smell with its own scent. Just like dogs will roll around on a new dog bed or toy as if they are trying to claim it as their own, Coren writes, some psychologists have suggested that dogs will roll in grossness or rub against people trying to leave a trace of themselves.
Again, McConnell disagrees, pointing out that dogs have much easier and effective tools if they want to make their mark.
“This idea makes little sense to me, since dogs use urine and feces to scent mark just about everything and anything,” she writes. “Why bother with the milder scent of a shoulder or the ruff around one’s neck when you’ve got urine to use?”
It’s a communication tool
Dogs might roll around in smelly things because it’s one way to bring news back to the rest of the pack about what they’ve found.
Pat Goodmann, research associate and curator of Wolf Park in Indiana, has extensively studied wolves and scent rolling.
“When a wolf encounters a novel odor, it first sniffs and then rolls in it, getting the scent on its body, especially around the face and neck,” Goodmann says. “Upon its return, the pack greets it and during the greeting investigates the scent thoroughly. At Wolf Park, we’ve observed several instances where one or more pack members has then followed the scent directly back to its origin.”
But it’s not just gross smells that attract this rolling behavior. Goodman placed an array of smells in the wolf enclosures and found that the wolves were just as likely to roll in mint extract or perfume as they were to get up close and personal with fish sandwiches, elk droppings or fly repellent.
Motor system link to the brain
Yet another theory, according to Alexandra Horowitz, author of “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know,” who runs the dog cognition lab at Barnard College, is that there’s a link between the nose and the brain. A stinky odor that lights up the olfactory lobe in a dog’s brain also works on the brain’s motor cortex. That communication tells the dog to get some serious contact with the smelly new discovery, Horowitz tells the New York Times.
“There’s no ‘noxious scent’ receptor in the dog’s brain,” she added. “But they do seem particularly interested in rolling in smells that we find somewhere between off-putting and disgusting.”
It makes them feel cool
But maybe the reason dogs roll in gross things is to show off to their canine friends. It could be the same reason some of us wear flashy clothes or smelly perfume. McConnell calls it the “guy-with-a-gold-chain” hypothesis.
“Perhaps dogs roll in stinky stuff because it makes them more attractive to other dogs,” she says. “‘Look at me! I have dead fish in my territory! Am I not cool?!’ Behavioral ecology reminds us that much of animal is related to coping with limited resources — from food to mates to good nesting sites. If a dog can advertise to other dogs that they live in an area with lots of dead things, then to a dog, what could be better?”
Can you stop the rolling?
Whatever the reason for your dog’s roll in the muck, there’s little chance you can get him to change his habits.
“With thousands of years of practice backing their interest, dogs will continue to go boldly where no man, or woman, would ever choose to go,” says veterinarian Marty Becker. “The only surefire way to stop the stinky sniff-and-roll is to keep your dog on the leash or teach a foolproof ‘come-hither’ when called.”
At the start of today’s post I implied that we humans had a certain degree of sensitivity as to how we smelt.
Well, to be precise, today’s post started with a silly joke.
So, I better close with another silly joke (but one I had to look up to remind myself of exactly how it went):
As you may know, Mahatma Gandhi, walked barefoot most of the time.
This resulted in an impressive set of calluses on his feet.
He also ate very little, which made him rather frail.
And as a result of his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath.
This made him a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.
I have written for years that a runaway Antarctica was certain, with half the icy continent melting rather spectacularly on an horizon of two centuries at most, and probably much less than that. This rested on the fact that half of Antarctica rests on nothing but bedrock at the bottom of the sea. At the bottom of what should naturally be the sea, in the present circumstances of significant greenhouse gas concentrations.
But Lady Luck comes into view and we have this: (Courtesy of Mother Nature Network.)
Global warming is making Antarctica green again, and it’s stunning
At current rates, it’s not crazy to think that the Antarctic peninsula could eventually become forested again.
When you think of Antarctica, you probably imagine a frigid, windswept, icy, inhospitable domain; the whitest, most barren canvas on Earth. That’s pretty much the way the Southern continent has been for at least the last 3 million years, since the last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels approached their current levels. But times, they are a-changing.
The effects of global warming are beginning to radically alter the Antarctic landscape in some surprising ways. Scientists say it’s like looking back in time, to an epoch when this bleached terrain was actually green. Mossy mats are rapidly spreading across the thawed, exposed soils at unprecedented rates, transforming the land from a place of desolation, to a place of viridescence.
At the very least, we’re getting a peek at Antarctica’s future, which like its past was green and filled with plant-life, reports the Washington Post.
“This is another indicator that Antarctica is moving backward in geologic time — which makes sense, considering atmospheric CO2 levels have already risen to levels that the planet hasn’t seen since the Pliocene, 3 million years ago, when the Antarctic ice sheet was smaller, and sea-levels were higher,” said Rob DeConto, a glaciologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, Antarctica will head even further back in geologic time… perhaps the peninsula will even become forested again someday, like it was during the greenhouse climates of the Cretaceous and Eocene, when the continent was ice free.”
So far, the greening of Antarctica is mostly limited to the peninsula, where two different species of mosses are fanning out at a startling clip, at four to five times the rate seen just a few decades ago. They gain a footing in the summers, when the frozen ground thaws, then freeze back over in the winter. But these layers-upon-layers are thickening, generating an increasingly detailed record of Antarctica’s warming climate.
It’s perhaps only a matter of time before grasses, bushes, perhaps even trees begin to sprout. As beautiful as a forested Antarctica might be to imagine, it’s important to remember that this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Climate change is an ambiguous beast; Antarctica might be getting greener, but deserts elsewhere in the world are expanding, sea levels are rising, and weather is becoming more severe.
“These changes, combined with increased ice-free land areas from glacier retreat, will drive large-scale alteration to the biological functioning, appearance, and landscape of the [Antarctic peninsula] over the rest of the 21st century and beyond,” wrote the authors of the study, which was published in the journal Current Biology.
Lead author Matthew Amesbury added: “Even these relatively remote ecosystems, that people might think are relatively untouched by human kind, are showing the effects of human induced climate change.”
Sorry to drag out this old saw of mine, but it is so perfect: “I can predict anything except those things that involve the future”!
Because I am still staying with the Lady Luck theme but this time going from the vastness of the Southern polar regions to something a little closer to home. (Again, seen on Mother Nature Network.)
Pit bull on ‘death row’ at shelter gets new life as police dog
Leonard recently became Ohio’s first ever pit bull K-9. Jenn Savedge May 19, 2017
When Leonard, a stout young pit bull, arrived on the doorstep of the Union County Humane Society in Ohio a few months ago, the staff had little hope for his prospects of being adopted. Leonard was deemed “aggressive,” and that meant he was more likely to be euthanized than sent home with a new family. But Jim Alloway, the center director, saw something different in the dog. And thanks to his observation, Leonard has a future that includes work, play and lots of belly rubs.
As luck would have it, Alloway has an extensive background of working with police dogs. He realized Leonard’s aggression was really a very strong desire to play. Whenever someone was holding something, Leonard wanted it and would try to grab it. As a pet in the average family, this may not be a desirable trait. But this strong “prey drive” made him a great candidate for training as a police dog.
So Alloway called Storm Dog K-9 training. After an initial round of testing, Mike Pennington, the owner of the training facility, agreed to take Leonard on and train him to sniff out narcotics. (Leonard wasn’t a good candidate for tracking and catching suspects because he loves people way too much.)
Before his training with Pennington, Leonard didn’t even know basic commands. But after a few weeks of hard work — which his trainers said he absolutely loved — Leonard was fully certified as a police dog, becoming Ohio’s first pit bull K-9 officer.
Leonard was paired with Terry Mitchell, Clay Township’s Chief of Police. Mitchell told the local ABC affiliate that he was unsure at first about the idea of using a pit bull as a K-9. But the pair bonded immediately.
“I scheduled a time to come down and see him, and after about 10 minutes, I knew this was the dog for us,” Mitchell said.
Leonard officially started work with the force this week. When he has his police vest on, Mitchell says the pup is all business and ready to tackle his narcotics-sniffing job. Off-duty though, Leonard is just a sweet, playful pup, hopping on Mitchell’s lap for evening naps. Oh, and according to Mitchell, he snores horribly.
Leonard — and Mitchell — couldn’t be happier.
Wonder how long it will be before we have happy ex-rescue dogs frolicking through the forests of Antarctica!!
The creators of “SKYGLOW,” a crowd-funded project showing the impact of urban light pollution through time-lapse videos, photos and a book, have another stunning video to share. In “Kaibab Elegy,” filmmakers Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinović visit Grand Canyon National Park and capture a rare weather event.
In the mesmerizing video, clouds build inside the canyon almost like bubbling water filling a jacuzzi as the sun rises and sets in the background, creating the pinkest sky you’ve ever seen. Those clouds roll like waves in the ocean and crash against the cliffs. This phenomenon is called full cloud inversion, and it happens when cold air is trapped in the canyon and topped by a layer of warm air, which combines with moisture and condensation.
“We were extremely lucky to be there to capture it, and it’s a collection of unique footage not found anywhere else,” Mehmedinović says.
He and Heffernan, who journeyed 150,000 miles around the globe for their new book and video series, work with the International Dark-Sky Association, a nonprofit fighting to preserve the dark skies around the world.
Why can’t we leave nature to do what’s best for our world!
Now, I would be the first to ‘tut-tut’ a little over my sub-heading. For here I am sitting in front of a computer in a room in a reasonably-sized home that undoubtedly has denuded the natural world formerly underneath the present foundations.
Plus, as the property boundary shown on the above picture confirms, about 50% of our acreage is no longer wilderness.
Ergo, it is impossible for humans to live on this planet without there being consequences that conflict with the natural order of the wild.
But homes to live in are one thing. A planned madness for the Lake District in Northern England is another thing altogether.
The attempt to turn the Lake District into a World Heritage site would be a disaster
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 9th May 2017
If this bid for power succeeds, the consequences for Britain will be irreversible. It will privilege special interests over the public good, shut out the voices of opposition and damage the fabric of the nation, perhaps indefinitely. No, I’m not writing about the election.
In the next few weeks Unesco, the UN’s cultural organisation, will decide whether or not to grant World Heritage status to the Lake District. Once the decision is made, it is effectively irreversible.
Shouldn’t we be proud that this grand scenery, that plays such a prominent role in our perceptions of nationhood, will achieve official global recognition? On the contrary, we should raise our voices against it. World Heritage status would lock the Lake District into its current, shocking state, ensuring that recovery becomes almost impossible.
Stand back from the fells and valleys and try to judge this vista as you would a landscape in any other part of the world. What you will see is the great damage farming has inflicted: wet deserts grazed down to turf and rock; erosion gullies from which piles of stones spill; woods in which no new trees have grown for 80 years, as every seedling has been nibbled out by sheep; dredged and canalised rivers, empty of wildlife and dangerous to the people living downstream; tracts of bare mountainside on which every spring is a silent one. Anyone with ecological knowledge should recoil from this scene.
The documents supporting the bid for world heritage status are lavishly illustrated with photos, that inadvertently reveal what has happened to the national park. But this slow-burning disaster goes almost unmentioned in the text. On the contrary, the bid repeatedly claims that the park is in “good physical condition”, and that the relationship between grazing and wildlife is “harmonious”. Only on page 535, buried in a table, is the reality acknowledged: 75% of the sites that are meant to be protected for nature are in “unfavourable condition”.
This great national property has degenerated into a sheepwrecked wasteland. And the national park partnership, that submitted the bid, wants to keep it this way: this is the explicit purpose of its attempt to achieve world heritage status. It wants to preserve the Lake District as a “cultural landscape”. But whose culture? Whose landscape? There are only 1080 remaining farms in the district. Should the entire national park be managed for their benefit? If so, why? The question isn’t raised, let alone answered.
I can see the value and beauty of the traditional shepherding culture in the Lake District. I can also see that the farming there, reliant on subsidies, quad bikes and steel barns, now bears little relationship to traditional practice. As the size of landholdings has increased, it looks ever more like ranching and ever less like the old system the bid describes. The bid’s claim that farming there is “wholly authentic in terms of … its traditions, techniques and management systems” is neither intelligible nor true. Remnants of the old shepherding culture tend to be represented ceremonially, as its customs are mostly disconnected from the farm economy.
Shepherding is not the only cultural legacy in play. The other is that the Lake District is the birthplace of the modern conservation movement. Inspired by the Picturesque and Romantic movements, much of our environmental ethic and the groups representing it, such as the National Trust, originated here. Attempts to preserve natural beauty in the district began in the mid-18th century, with complaints against the felling of trees around Derwent Water. Today, the national park cares so little for this legacy that, as the bid admits, “there are no data available” on the condition of the Lake District’s woodlands.
The small group favoured by this bid sees environmental protection as anathema. Farmers’ organisations in the Lake District have fought tooth and nail against conservation measures. They revile the National Trust and the RSPB, whose mild efforts to protect the land from overgrazing are, with the help of a lazy and compliant media, treated like bubonic plague. As one of these farming groups exults, world heritage status “gives us a powerful weapon” that they can wield against those who seek to limit their impacts. If the plan is approved, this world heritage site would be a 230,000-hectare monument to overgrazing and ecological destruction.
This is not the only sense in which the bid is unsustainable. Nowhere in its 700 pages is Brexit mentioned. It was obviously written before the referendum, and has not been updated. Yet the entire vision relies, as the bid admits, on the economic viability of the farming system, which depends in turn on subsidies from the European Union.
Without these payments, there would be no sheep farming in the Lake District: it operates at a major loss. European subsidies counteract this loss, delivering an average net farm income of £9,600. Unsurprisingly, people are leaving the industry in droves: the number of farms in the national park is declining by 2% a year. And this is before the payments cease.
What is the national park partnership, that prepared this bid, going to do – march people onto the fells at gunpoint and demand they continue farming? Or does it hope that the government, amid the massacre of public investment that will follow Brexit, will not only match but exceed the £3bn of public money currently being passed to UK farmers by the European Union? Your guess is as good as mine. This omission alone should disqualify the bid.
The failure to mention this fatal issue looks to me like one of many attempts to pull the Herdwick wool over Unesco’s eyes. The entire bid is based on a fairy tale, a pretence that the rural economy of the Lake District hasn’t changed for 200 years. If Unesco grants world heritage status on these grounds, it will inflict irreparable harm on both our natural heritage and its own good standing.
The hills, whose clothes so many profess to admire, are naked. The narrative we are being asked to support is false. The attempt to ensure that the ecological disaster zone we call the Lake District National Park can never recover from its sheepwrecking is one long exercise in woolly thinking.
When one reads this one is left with a feeling of great sadness. A sadness that our ‘movers and shakers’ can’t resist the urge to meddle. Can’t understand the beauty that is found in nature in the raw.
Earlier on I illustrated how our own property has ‘interfered’ with the wilderness of this most beautiful Oregonian countryside. But as I hope to show you with the following photographs taken on our property back in 2014 that wild beauty can be hung on to in some measure.
I have sent a message to Unesco asking if the views of the public are being taken into account and, if so, how those views are to be communicated to Unesco. If you wish to contact them then the details are on this page: http://whc.unesco.org/en/world-heritage-centre/
Any replies from Unesco will be posted here.
UPDATE 0815 PDT May 22nd.
My email yesterday to Unesco was ‘bounced back’ as an invalid email address (despite me using the email address on the Unesco website!!).
But following George Monbiot’s reply to me, giving me the name of James Bridge (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Unesco, I have now sent Mr. Bridge the following email:
Dear Mr. Bridge,
I write as a British citizen, born a Londoner in 1944, to protest in the strongest possible terms to the proposal to turn the English Lake District into a World Heritage Site. This is your Tentative List reference http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5673/.
Would you please provide me with the details of where or whom within Unesco I can write setting out in detail my objections to this proposal?
Your soonest reply would be very much appreciated.
I won’t hold my breath over getting a quick reply.
There are plenty more of those wonderful pictures and cartoons to come to come from Janet Goodbrod.
But a few days ago there were so many beautiful flowers blooming in the Spring sunshine that I couldn’t resist taking photographs of them and sharing them with you. All from home! (Apart from the young tree and the cows on our neighbour’s property for while not being flowery , nonetheless, they seemed to speak to me about springtime.)
Don’t ask me what the names of the various flowers are!
A week-and-a-half ago I published a post called Little by Little. It was the story of “9 Dogs Successfully Rescued From Backyard Breeder Thanks to George and Amal Clooney.”
Well a few days ago there was an email that contained more wonderful news about these nine dogs.
UPDATES on the nine dogs rescued from the backyard breeder (now known as the “Mojave 9 dogs”)
It’s been all kinds of hectic with the intake of nine dogs all at once. What we were most unprepared for was that every single one of these dogs had never been to a vet in their entire lives.
The medical bills have been piling up so quickly and we’ve been asking for donations for the last several weeks.
Abigail, the girl with the massive mammary tumors that were hanging down and dragging on the ground, she had a bi-lateral mastectomy and her biopsies came back clear! Yaaay!
Piper had her cherry eye surgery, and a half of a mastectomy for some smaller mammary tumors up and down her right side of her mammary chains. Her biopsies just came back clear as well (whew!).
McKenna just had a double ear ablation surgery (ouchie!). There was no avoiding this, her ear drums were destroyed and her middle ears were so painful from years of untreated infections, it’s amazing she is still such a sweet doggie.
Hunter is on the waiting list for a right ear ablation surgery.
Abigail just had her dental this week and needed 19 teeth extracted! (dogs have 42 teeth) Her mouth is going to be feeling a whole lot better once the bacteria and inflammation goes away. Poor girl, she really has had it the worst of all these dogs, yet she is happy and wagging her tail and so eager to get any human interaction.
All nine dogs have needed dentals (several are on the upcoming schedule in the next few weeks, we’ve had to stage everything so we can raise donations). Six spay surgeries, a cherry eye surgery, a full mastectomy, a half mastectomy, two ear ablation surgeries, blood work, urinalysis, thyroid tests, deep ear cleanings/antibiotics, it’s all turning out to be one of THE most expensive rescues ever in the history of Camp Cocker.
We need your help now more than ever!
Please consider making a donation and no amount is too small.
We all know how good are the noses of our dogs. Yet, I suspect, many do not know how truly good is that nose. The Science ABC site has a detailed account of Why Do Dogs Have Such A Great Sense of Smell?
Here’s part of that article:
Dog Nose vs. Human Nose
When we try to smell something, we inhale air with our nose and we use the same passage in our nose to exhale that air. Therefore, all the smell that we get when we are inhaling is lost when we exhale that air. However, a dog has two different air passages, one for breathing and another for smelling. This means that dogs are able to store the smell in their nose even while breathing out the air!
When dogs exhale, they send air out through the slits of their nose, but the manner in which this air is exhaled through their nose helps the dogs to draw in new odor molecules. This also helps dogs capture more smells when sniffing.
You must have noticed that dogs’ noses are always wet, but have you ever wondered why? The mucus on the dog’s nose helps it smell by capturing scent particles. A dog also has the ability to smell independently from each nostril, this helps the dog to understand from which direction the smell is coming.
The passage through which dogs smell the air contains highly specialized olfactory receptor cells, which are responsible for receiving smells. A dog contains about 225-300 million smell receptors, as compared to just 5 million of these receptors being present in a human nose.
Dog Brain vs. Human Brain
By now, we clearly know that dogs have a nose that can smell about 1,000-10,000 times better than a human, but how are dogs able to remember all the different smells that they have sensed throughout their life?
The answer lies in the difference between the brains of dogs and humans. A human brain has a larger visual cortex than dogs, whereas a dog’s brain has a much larger olfactory cortex than humans. The visual cortex is responsible for processing visual information, whereas the olfactory cortex is responsible for processing the sense of smell. A dog’s olfactory cortex is about 40 times larger than that of a human.
Working dogs are an amazing asset not only for people, but for wildlife, endangered species and even threatened habitats. Expanding on the skills dogs have for tracking down scents and guarding something important, we humans have enlisted their help in many ways for conservation.
Here are five ways dogs are contributing to environmental protection efforts.
Smell for scat
It’s amazing the amount of information that can be sussed out of an animal’s poop. We can determine diet, health, genetics — even whether or not an animal is pregnant. Scat is really important to biologists studying elusive, sensitive or endangered species. Putting dogs on the track is an ideal solution.
Take cheetahs, for example. Scientists in Africa are using dogs and their unparalleled sniffing power to find cheetah poop, all in an effort to get an accurate count on the endangered big cats. (Only 7,000 cheetahs are left in the African wild, according to estimates.) And it’s working. Two trained dogs found 27 scats in an area of 2,400 square kilometers in western Zambia, according to a study published in the Journal of Zoology. Humans, looking for cheetah tracks over the same area, found none.
Groups like Conservation Canines (a handler and dog from the program pictured above), Working Dogs for Conservation and Green Dogs Conservation specialize in this area. Conservation Canines rescues highly energetic, “last chance” dogs from shelters and trains them to track down the scat of dozens of species, from wolves to moose to owl. Even things that are nearly impossible for humans to find — the minuscule scat of endangered pocket mice or orca scat floating on the ocean surface — dogs can track down. They are able to make huge contributions to scientific studies, all without ever bothering the wildlife being studied.
Dogs are able to sniff out particular plant species, pointing ecologists to tiny patches of invasive mustard so that the plants can be removed before they take over an area.
Conversely, dogs can sniff out rare or endangered native plants so that the species can be protected. Rogue is one such dog. The Nature Conservancy writes, “The 4-year-old Belgian sheepdog is part of a Nature Conservancy collaborative project to test the efficacy of using dogs to sniff out the threatened Kincaid’s lupine. The plant is host to the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly, found only in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.”
Surveying for the plant species is difficult work for people. It can only be done when the plant is in bloom so people can visually identify it. However, dogs like Rogue can sniff out the plant even when not in bloom, which can potentially double the length of the field season.
“More refined regional mapping of Kincaid’s lupine could promote the butterfly’s recovery and delisting — and contribute to larger habitat goals and wildlife impacts.”
Track down poachers
The trade in rare or endangered wildlife is a lot tougher for traffickers thanks to wildlife detector dogs. Trained to smell anything from tiger parts to ivory to South American rosewood, dogs are used in shipping ports, airports, border crossings and other locations to sniff out smuggled products.
It doesn’t stop there. Trained dogs can lead rangers to armed poachers in the wild, tracking down the culprits over long hours through heat and rain. They can catch poachers in the act, rather than just the products.
“Canine sleuths aren’t limited to the plains of East Africa, either,” reports National Geographic. “In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, bloodhounds are assisting in the fight against poaching in forested Virunga National Park, where the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas live. In South Africa, Weimaraner and Malinois dogs are helping to find wounded animals and track poachers on foot through the reserves around Kruger National Park.”
Guard endangered species
Dogs are also useful in putting their protective nature to use for endangered species.
Livestock protection dogs are trained to keep predators like cheetahs, lions and leopards safe, which then reduces conflict between ranchers and big cats and minimizes the instances of snaring or retaliatory killing of big cats. Cheetah Conservation Fund has a successful livestock protection dog program, which places Anatolian shepherd and Kangal dogs with ranchers. That not only has significantly reduced the number of livestock killed by predators but is also improving the attitude of local people toward cheetahs.
Sometimes the dogs are put to work guarding the endangered species themselves. One such successful program uses Maremma shepherd dogs to protect colonies of little penguins from foxes.
Keep bears wild
Karelian bear dogs are trained to keep bears from becoming too comfortable around people. A program by Wind River Bear Institute named Partners-in-Life uses a technique called bear shepherding. This specialized breed of hunting dog is used to scare bears away, and are an important part of the “adverse conditioning” work that keeps bears from becoming habituated. The ultimate goal is to protect bears from becoming habituated, a problem that leads to their being relocated or euthanized.
“Our Wind River Bear Institute mission, with the effective training and use of Karelian Bear Dogs, is to reduce human-caused bear mortality and conflicts worldwide to ensure the continued survival of all species of bears for future generations,” states the program.
This list is only a handful of ways that dogs help us with environmental conservation every day. More and more, we are figuring out new ways to put their skills to work, and more and more the dogs are proving they’re ready for the task!
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated with more recent information.
Closing words from that Science ABC piece:
A dog does not care how you look or dress, but if he gets good vibes from your smell, then a dog will love you. The world is truly a better place because of these wonderful creatures that we are lucky enough to welcome into our lives.
Why not make the world smell a bit more beautiful for them?
Closing picture taken from the OregonLive website. A stunning picture of the “Fender’s blue butterfly, found only in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.”
Couldn’t have a better story to follow yesterday’s news about Socks finding a new home.
I have lost count of the times that over the years I have featured on this blog the bond between a person and a dog. Yet that hasn’t blunted my mind or dulled my heart to hearing of new stories of this wonderful bond arriving over the ‘air waves’.
Doctor’s tell dog to leave owner’s hospital bed, but dog refuses and lays by his owner’s side
written by Jenny Brown on July 11th, 2016
There is the saying that a dog is a man’s best friend. It might be because a dog is by your side when you’re feeling down, is there to play catch when you feel like throwing around the frisbee, or simply there when you want some company.
As dog-lovers we are grateful for the things dogs do for us, but do we consider how dogs might be as grateful for the things we do for them? In this video, the beautiful relationship between one man, Ben, and his dog is shown from the perspective of not the man, but his dog.
The relationship between Ben and his dog begins in their earlier years. The two of them travel around the world. From camping in the deserts to hiking in the mountains, they discover their favorite places to visit and make new friends along the way.
As the story continues, however, Ben develops cancer. While Ben must spend his time in a hospital and away from traveling, his dog continues to stay by his side, night and day. The relationship between Ben and his dog seems that it may worsen due to Ben’s obstacle, but instead, their relationship only strengthens.
The story progresses years later, as Ben overcomes his battle and the bond between him and his dog continues to grow. Through the highs and lows of their relationship, Ben and his dog remain the best of friends until the very end.
This touching video is a dedication made by Ben to his dog, for all the best moments they spent together. This video also shows what is truly the essence of friendship, between a man and his best friend, his dog.
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(Ed: Note that the dialogue in the following professionally shot film is the voice of the dog.)
Friendship, as in true friendship, is very precious. That true friendship is rarely unconditional between humans. Not impossible, just rare.
For common examples of unconditional friendship, as in the unconditional love bond, we have to turn to our dogs.
I included a photo of Socks and wished him the very best of luck in finding a home.
Well, miracles of miracles, when I came to my emails last Saturday morning awaiting me was this email from John Zande.
Paul and Jean, Socks has a wonderful new home!
I really don’t want to jinx it by writing this email (I am the superstitious naked ape, after all), but the morning started out with not much hope as we drove and drove out into the countryside, wondering where on earth this petshop was that was hosting the adoption fair.
When we eventually found it, it was a tiny storefront, little more than a dog-bath business. We thought, “nothing is going to come from this.” They were just opening as we arrived and met the young girl who runs it. Lovely person. Literally two minutes later a family walk up the road dropping off their two dogs for a bath. We got to talking. They fell in love with Socks.
After a phone call to the woman’s husband (a serious, serious dog lover, we’re told, as she is too) we heard the words we did not think we’d hear: “If it’s OK, we’d love to give him a home.”
Ten minutes later we were in their house, which was about 50 meters down the road. Nice place, lots of room, and Socks has full run of the outside, and a huge enclosed laundry-come-Socks-home for the night. He won the lotto! Three young boys full of energy. He took to them like a champion. I still can’t believe it. It’s like this every time we find a home. It just doesn’t seem real.
Anyway, I’ve attached two short videos of Socks and his new home, and a photo. And yes, the family is keeping Jean’s name, Socks. They loved it. I’m sure G will write you later tonight, but you both played a huge role in this. Your help paid for his neutering, and for that we’re eternally grateful.
Here is that photo and those videos.
A little later on ‘G’, John’s nickname for his wife, sent me these further details:
Hello Paul and Jean – I guess you’ve been cheering since John’s e-mail, right? So have we, since this morning.
Well, I have to say I still can’t believe how lucky we (and Socks) have been. Virginia and Fabiano and their three boys: Lago (11 or 12 y.o, not sure); Marcos (turning 8 tomorrow, Sunday) and Raphael, 6. Lovely family, she invited us to go to their place (he was working), showed us around.
As I said at the outset: It doesn’t get more beautiful than this!