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!
Highlighting a very interesting post from Mother Nature Network
Last March 31st Mother Nature Network published an article that, to me and Jeannie, was the essence of what having a dog in one’s life means: unconditional bonding.
In common with thousands and thousands of other dog owners every day all of our dogs, in their own individual ways, show us that our patterns of behaviour are well known and they totally accept them
For example, Jeannie every day uses an exercise bike that’s in the bedroom. We were discussing this yesterday and she mentioned that three or four of our dogs come into the room whenever Jeannie is ‘pedaling’ away and just lie down and watch her.
Oliver comes up to me in the living room frequently and climbs onto the settee next to me, gives my right ear a quick lick and then lays down usually with his head on my knee so I can cuddle him and stroke his tummy. There are numerous other examples every day across all six of our dogs.
As the saying goes, dogs are our best friends. But maybe it doesn’t feel quite so buddy-buddy between you and your dog these days. Perhaps you’re constantly frustrated because your dog ignores your commands or is always getting in your way when you’re doing chores around the house, or doesn’t cuddle like you wish he would.
What these and other issues often comes down to is how bonded you are as a team. This bond isn’t something that automatically happens as soon as you bring a dog home. It also isn’t static. It’s something that takes work to build and can grow over time. If you want to have a dog that is more attentive to you, here’s how to start.
Study up on dog body language
Have you ever had a great friendship where one of you does all the talking? Likely not. A real friendship requires talking and listening by both parties, a two-way communication that allows each to know what the other is thinking and feeling. As two highly social species, both dogs and humans have intricate ways of communicating with others. However, we humans tend to dominate the conversation with our dogs. We have an expectation for them to understand everything we’re asking of them, yet we don’t always put equal work into finding out what they’re asking of us. But we can.
Dogs tell us vast amounts of information through body language. From the more obvious cues like how high or low a tail is held, how quickly it is wagging and in what direction, or how they’re holding their ears, to the more subtle language held in the shape of their eyes, the angle at which they’re holding their body to something, or the tenseness of the corners of their mouths, are all words written on a billboard for us to read.
If you want to build a better bond with your dog, the first place to start is to study how dogs communicate with their bodies. You can then better understand what your dog is trying to tell you, and when you start listening, the two of you will get along much more easily.
Get to know your dog’s likes and dislikes — and respect them
Just like humans, individual dogs have their personal likes and dislikes. Some dogs enjoy cuddling while others prefer to have space. Some adore a game of fetch while others would rather play tug. Some love to learn new tricks and some would rather just go on a walk. Some dogs enjoy affection of all kinds, including hugs, but many dogs barely tolerate, or even flat out dislike being hugged. There are many things we humans assume dogs enjoy when really, they are just tolerating it.
Knowing your dog’s individual likes and dislikes, and then respecting them, is the key to connecting with your dog. If you pay close attention, you may find that your dog doesn’t like the hugs you give her. But she really loves being scratched behind her ears. By realizing this, you can swap out the hugs for ear scratches and your dog will recognize that you’re someone far more enjoyable to be around because she won’t have to suffer through the things she dislikes and will readily receive the things she does want.
But this goes beyond the right kinds of affection. By recognizing that your dog loves playing a certain game, or a certain type of toy, you can use these preferences to your advantage in training. Maybe your dog is more food-motivated than toy-motivated, or prefers a game of chase above all other things.
The best reward is the one your dog wants the most and will work the hardest to receive. So figuring out what your dog likes and dislikes is also part of getting the most out of your training sessions.
Train your dog every day
One of the best ways you can improve your connection with your canine companion is to work on training every day using positive reinforcement. Exercising your dog’s brain to learn something new and providing rewards for successes is a great way to increase trust and joyful experiences between you and your dog.
Training happens every day whether you’re aware of it or not — every walk, every interaction with other dogs or people, every interaction with you is essentially a form of training, of shaping your dog’s perception of the world and behaviors, good or bad. So make a conscious effort to get the most out of these moments. You can work on a new trick or even practice old behaviors to freshen up on them. When you go on walks together, make them interactive, asking your dog to sit at every corner, to change direction with you randomly, to change the side he walks on, to change his pace to match yours as you slow down and speed up.
However you choose to work on it, be sure that some form of active training with positive reinforcement happens each day. You’ll notice a distinct difference in how much attention your dog pays you, and how much more fluidly you interact.
Set up your dog for success.
Having effective training sessions and a dog that trusts you lies in large part in setting your dog up to be successful when you ask him to do something. For example, asking your dog to do a difficult trick and withholding rewards until he gets it right only increases the amount of frustration you both feel and decreases the amount of fun your dog has in trying to do what you ask. Instead, break a trick down into small, accomplishable pieces that your dog can build on, and reward your dog for each successfully completed step.
Setting your dog up for success goes well beyond training and into every day life. Think about how your dog might view or react to a situation, and if it will be positive or negative. Take steps to reduce the possibility of negative consequences. For instance, don’t leave the food bin unattended with the lid off and expect your dog not to dive in face first the second you leave the room. Or on a social level, don’t push your dog to interact with another dog or person who he’s clearly uncomfortable with, which could lead to a fight or a bite and a loss of trust in you to protect them. (And along those lines, read up on the 15 things humans do wrong at dog parks, which is all about trust.)
Know your dog’s preferences and limits well enough to determine what situations he can and can’t handle. Then modify the situation the dog is in to be one that he’ll handle with flying colors. Making the effort to help your dog have successful interactions with you and others will increase your dog’s confidence as well as his trust in you as a strong and safe leader.
Be the source of all life’s necessities and goodies
If you want your dog to hang on your every word, then you want to be the sole source of all life’s wonderful things, including food and toys. If you are free-feeding your dog, put away the food bowl. If toys are scattered around the floor or in a place a dog can get to easily, hide them in the closet. These things are rewards that are earned, and your dog is going to be much more attentive if you are a walking goodies dispenser.
When it comes to food, have your dog work for snacks and meals just as he works for treats. For meal times, prepare your dog’s food but have him wait a few minutes, or ask him to do a few tricks before giving the OK for him to dive in. This creates a connection in your dog’s mind that working with you earns access to that delicious food. For play time, pull out toys for special play sessions, reserving tug-o-war, fetch, hide-and-seek and other games for when the two of you play together, or as a reward during or after training sessions.
When you are the provider of all life’s good things, your dog will look to you — and listen to you — much more readily. This will help so much with getting and keeping your dog’s attention when you need it.
Spend one-on-one time every day
Speaking of special play sessions, make sure you spend time focused on just your dog every day. This doesn’t include walks when you’re distracted on your phone, or in the yard when you’re gardening and your dog is wandering around smelling things. One-on-one time is 30 minutes or more of time spent playing brain games, grooming, going on an interactive walk, even talking with your dog.
This is a great time to practice reading your dog’s body language, to gauge his energy level to see if he needs extra exercise, and to build on all you’ve done to help grow and solidify the connection and trust you have with your dog. Plus, it’s simply quiet, stress-free time for you to enjoy with the company of your four-legged friend.
Dogs are a social species just like humans, and time spent focused on each other will increase the connection you share, which benefits both of you.
This is a really great article. As it says about Jaymi: “Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.”
The content is fabulous and everyone, including us, should read it carefully. That last sentence says it all: “Dogs are a social species just like humans, and time spent focused on each other will increase the connection you share, which benefits both of you.”
Please, if you come across dogs being treated in a less than loving manner, report the human!
Day 25: Arenas del Rey (Rio Anales) to Jayena (El Bacal) 16k
By Tom and Chica, 2nd March, 2020.
Written by Tom’s wife.
As I woke in the morning, I was greeted by a couple of squirrels who ran by the tent, up a little tree and gawked at me. Clearly, not convinced about what they saw, they did another circuit and came back for second look. No doubt, this wouldn’t have happened if Chica had been with me.
I was surprised and pleased to find that this spot I had chosen in the dark was right by a ford over the river and actually on the GR7 route. Worked my way steadily uphill through scrub until I reached the pines. The conditions were ideal: cool, fresh and pine fragrant air. Great views down into the river valley below.
The rest of the day was similar – lots of ups and downs and more pines, though in one area there was evidence of these being cleared for cultivation, probably olives or almonds. I also found an old lime kiln and more information about resin extraction.
By now, the shop had opened and I bought tuna, chocolate and a strawberry milkshake. Not a particularly healthy or satisfying meal so I grumpily headed out of town and found a sign to the El Bacal camping area so made for that. Lit a fire, made a brew and settled down at around 9.30pm.
Wall to wall interest.
Come back next week for another trio of daily walks by Tom, Chica and Merlin!
Day 24: Camp site* to Arenas del Rey and beyond 17k
By Tom and Chica, 26th February, 2020
Written by Tom’s wife.
Woke this morning to find hoar frost on inner and outer of the tent fly sheet. Porridge made for a warming breakfast along with strong coffee and parrots (sic. He means paracetamol. Ed).
As I was packing up, I was joined by marauding dogs, two of which decided to follow me all day to the next village whereupon they promptly disappeared. Bit of a relief as I was rather taken with the cute young Jack Russell bitch, a very endearing dog.
Arenas del Rey was apparently closed for the day so I spent a bit of quality time in the town square brewing coffee, drying my tent and washing my feet at the fuente directly beneath the holy shrine at the front of the church. Fortunately, there was no-one around to witness this disrespectful behaviour!
After foot repairs and a light lunch I set off on route to Jayena. Once it got dark, route finding became trying so at 8pm I pitched the tent by a river. I went to sleep to the ever-present chorus of distant barking dogs.
I have just about muttered all the ooh’s and aah’s I can about this walk and the stupendous photographs.
Although Chica is much better and Merlin a very willing substitute, the forecast suggested quite high daytime temperatures so we decided it was best that I do a stretch on my own to try and make up lost time.
I caught the early train from Jimera to Granada where I got a tram to the bus station. The bus to the coast via Alhama de Granada didn’t leave until 3:30 so I had lunch at a pavement restaurant opposite. Later, I sat on a park bench in the sun to read but it wasn’t long before an ancient bucolic type decided to join me and make loud incomprehensible conversation. Eventually, I gave up and went for coffee. Returning to the bus station, I found him fast asleep presumably waiting for a bus. Not mine, fortunately, so a peaceful ride to Alhama but that was shattered as I found myself in the midst of a carnival with everyone in mad fancy dress!
After wandering around taking it all in, I headed to the top of town and filled my water bottles at a fuente then headed off at 6 pm. An hour later I was walking through poplar plantations on a pitch black lane trying to find a suitable camping spot. It was another hour before I picked up a GR7 sign in my torchlight which pointed uphill, too steep to try in the dark.
Luckily, I found a perfect spot above a stream which was only marred by the broken bottles left by previous visitors. By now, it was very chilly so I went straight to bed, glad to have put in at least a couple of hours walking.
Day Twenty-Four tomorrow!
I must say these are fabulous posts and I shall miss them when they eventually come to an end!
I opened my email box a couple of days ago and there was an email from Sarah.
I would be honored to be a guest writer for your blog and of course would reciprocate. I hope you don’t mind that I shared your link in my last post. I am not totally sure if blogging etiquette.
Of course I said yes!
Sarah’s background is sociology and she has a degree in the subject. Just as important she owns a dog walking business. I will let her finish her background:
I believe in living life to the fullest.
My daughter is a Cancer survivor- and as a result of that journey- It put my life into perspective. I learned to never take anything for granted- you never know what’s around the next corner. I am continuing to work on becoming the best version of me, while making the most of each and everyday.
Frankly, I do not really know what it is like to have a daughter, or a son come to it, go down with cancer. The nearest I have come to the disease was when I had just turned 12 and my father died of lung cancer.
So here’s her guest post.
Start your day with music- not the News! Surviving the Coronavirus with mindfulness Day 2
By Sarah Kinneavy, March 28th, 2020
As I continue to try to stay calm with mass panic happening across the globe 🌎 with this pandemic. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post:
I am using mindfulness to train my brain in how it reacts to stress. The more we do these exercises the better we get at them.
Yesterday one of my friends posted on Facebook to start the day off with music – rather than the news! What a great idea!!! So, yesterday, as I got ready for a job interview and I waited until it was late enough in Hawaii to do my daily well check on my daughter there (she is in isolation in a dorm room – I am not sure if she has the dreaded virus or not). I used music as the focal point of this mindfulness exercise. This 15 minutes of focusing on the music- listening to the rhythm helped keep me present. I wasn’t worrying about getting the job or how my daughter was doing. I was just in that moment of getting ready with the accompaniment of music. It was honestly 15 minutes of pure happiness. What a great way to start my day! One thing I have to add – I try to not let myself think about what the words of the songs mean to me, or when I first heard the song. I just listen and enjoy. Okay- I may have danced around my apartment a bit too!
I can tell you – I did not feel anxious going to my interview like I normally would. I didn’t panic about my daughter’s health – I was able to wait until after my interview to check in on her. Mindfulness does not keep me from ever worrying about my kiddo or the world around me. No – I still worry – but It isn’t swallowing me up whole. And this is key!
I can’t wait to talk to you again tomorrow . How are you coping with all the stress and anxiety?
That’s a lovely guest post!
And the message is clear and powerful: “No – I still worry – but It isn’t swallowing me up whole. And this is key!“
Sometimes the most precious gift in the world is the simplest one.
So starts today’s republished essay.
I would slightly amend the saying by removing the word ‘Sometimes‘. It is a fact that the most precious gifts are the simplest ones.
This essay was on The Dodo just three days ago and is perfect!
Shelter Pup Can’t Believe He Just Got His Very First Bed
March 25th, 2020
Sometimes the most precious gift in the world is the simplest one.
For Ezra, a stray dog who spent his life on the streets, that was somewhere soft and warm to sleep. And the smile on his face when he received his very first bed said it all.
When Ezra first arrived at Fairfield County Animal Shelter in September, he wouldn’t look anyone in the eye. He lay in the back of his kennel, shaking and staring at the wall. Shelter staff knew he’d need to overcome his fear to have a chance at a better life, so they came up with a plan to win him over: hot dogs.
“The hot dogs were the key to his heart,” Samira Yaghi, rescue coordinator at the shelter, told The Dodo. “We always had hot dogs when walking by Ezra’s kennel. What started with tossing the hot dogs slowly became him taking them gently out of our hands.”
As Ezra got more comfortable, he began to press his body up against the volunteers, allowing them to pet him.
Finally, five months after he arrived, the nervous dog went outside for his very first walk. “It’s been uphill ever since,” Yaghi said. “He is full of wiggles and bounce anytime he sees us approaching, eager to say ‘hello’ and eager to give us kisses.”
It was after one of these walks that Ezra’s life changed forever. “We had several dog beds donated and they were still sitting by the entryway,” Yaghi wrote on Facebook. “On his way out for a walk, he [lay] on the bed [and] had to be coaxed off. On their way back in from the walk, he [lay] on the bed again.”
Seeing how attached Ezra was to the bed, the shelter staff put it in his kennel. He immediately sat in the bed, smiling from ear to ear. “Just look at how happy and proud he is to have that bed,” Yaghi wrote. “He sat nice and tall with a smile of gratitude on his face!”
The sweet photo of him smiling in his bed even caught the attention of the shelter’s northern rescue partner, S.N.A.R.R. Animal Rescue Northeast. Soon, Ezra and his beloved bed will be on their way to New York in search of a home, and his friends at the shelter couldn’t be more proud of how far he’s come.
Of our 6 dogs only 1 is a non-rescue. Jean’s history with dogs goes right back to Mexico and her finding homes in the USA for homeless street dogs taken in by her. When I met her, back in 2007, she had well over 20 dogs and when we came up to America to be married, in 2010, we came across the border with 16 dogs. All with the necessary paperwork I will add. But the border officer, after calling out to a colleague in the next customs booth, “Hey Jake, there’s a guy here with 16 dogs!“, couldn’t go throw all the paperwork and simply passed them all; not that we had anything to hide!
So Cleo was purchased to be companion to Pharaoh when Pharaoh was becoming an elderly dog.
Pharaoh died on the 17th June, 2017 and he is still badly missed!
At the time of republishing this, as in March 27th, I am well over a month behind the news that Chica suffered an infection. But it was still a shock to read of Chica’s illness and, thank goodness, it wasn’t anything more than an infection.
For I have got used to Chica and Merlin walking GR7 and hadn’t thought of anything interrupting their progress.
Day 22: El Robedal to Alhama de Granada (including emergency car ride) 10k
By Tom and Chica, 20th February, 2020
Written by Tom’s wife.
I woke as the sun hit the tent and Chica sat outside soaking up the warmth while I had a leisurely breakfast and packed up. It was 11ish before we set off up the track. More evidence of sap bleeding before we came across some processionary caterpillars on the march.
We know about these nasty critters from earlier in the trip and I avoid camping anywhere where the nests are evident but these appeared on the track. I was pretty sure Chica hadn’t got anywhere near them but when she started to slow down and look decidedly off colour, I got very worried indeed. They can cause serious injury to dogs. I stopped to try and decide what to do – I was the middle of nowhere and it looked like we might need a vet.
As if sent from the gods, Heidi (who was actually a London cockney) rocked up to walk her dog and offered a lift into Alhama de Granada. She was the first person I’d seen all day! I accepted very gratefully.
I found a vets and they were opening soon so we sat on the steps outside and waited. The vet was lovely, examining Chica thoroughly and to my relief saying it wasn’t anything to do with the caterpillars. She had a high temperature, however, and so it was probably an infection. He gave her an antibiotic injection and vitamins and asked me to bring her back in the morning. I then carried her, as well as my pack, to the nearest place I could camp and put her to bed wrapped in my fleece. She was instantly asleep.
Author’s note: Although her temperature had lowered, Chica was still poorly the following morning, so we decided it was best for me to go out and fetch them. They are now back at base in Jimera and we will take a break until she recovers. Many thanks to Clinque Veterinario Alhama for their exceptional care.
I love this slightly altered format of the posts from Gilliwolfe. Because the photographs are so, so beautiful.
Taken from here, as per usual, and republished for your delight with the approval of Tom and Gilliwolfe.
Day 21: Ventas de Zaffaraya to El Robedal camping area 15k
By Tom and Chica, 20th February, 2020
Written by Tom’s wife
After a relaxing day off in Zaffaraya, Day 21 dawned fair and after breakfast of tostada and jam, we headed out of town on the dismantled railway track. This nice, level start was welcome before the climb up into the hills in holm oaks, later descending into farmland, mostly vegetable cultivation – artichokes and courgettes among others. As it began to heat up to around 25 deg, I passed a honey locust tree with the longest spines I’ve seen. These are related to the false acacia which I’ve had to trim for clients in the UK – a job to be done with extreme care and robust gloves.
Lunch at around 2.30pm of scrambled eggs and asparagus, washed down with coffee and beer at Hotel Los Canos de la Alcaiceria. We then entered the National Park and enjoyed pleasant walking until 5pm when we reached the El Robedal recreative area. This is set in pine forest with views to the nearby snow-capped La Maroma mountain and offers free camping with a toilet block, running water and barbecue area. So after the tent was pitched, I lit a fire, ate a mediocre dehydrated meal and sat back to enjoy the fantastic night sky. Perfect!
I hope you good people are enjoying this walk as much as I am!
It is such a wonderful trip and they have been on their walk for very nearly three weeks!
Please make a note and share the details if you can.
Icelandic Plus Dog and Cat Treats Recall
March 23, 2020 — IcelandicPlus LLC of Ft. Washington, PA, is recalling its Capelin Dog and Cat Treats because some of the fish have exceeded FDA guidelines for fish larger than 5 inches… which has the potential to cause botulism poisoning.
The affected products are sold in a clear plastic package or tube… and marked Icelandic+ Capelin WHOLE FISH, PURE FISH TREATS FOR DOGS, or PURE FISH TREATS FOR CATS.
UPC codes include 8 5485400775 9; 8 5485400711 7; and 8 5485400757 5.
Related products are packaged in a 2.5 ounce tube or a 1.5 or 2.5 ounce bag (lot numbers 02/2020 to 02/2022).
What Caused the Recall?
The FDA has determined that salt-cured, dried, or fermented un-eviscerated fish larger than 5 inches have been linked to outbreaks of botulism poisoning in humans between 1981 and 1987 and again in 1991.
Since some IcelandicPlus Capelins are larger than 5 inches there is a possible health risk.
To date, no illnesses of dogs, cats, or persons are reported in connection with the treats. Nor have there been any positive test results for Clostridium botulinum from any IcelandicPlus Capelin.
However, because of the potential risk, the company has decided to announce this product recall.
About Botulism Poisoning
Clostridium botulinum toxin can cause severe clinical signs including death in both animals consuming the pet treat and humans handling the pet treat or coming in contact with contact areas that have been exposed to the product.
Common symptoms may include dizziness, blurred or double vision, trouble with speaking or swallowing, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, abdominal distension, and constipation.
Consider that several of the listed symptoms, such as double vision, cannot be easily assessed in animals or conveyed by an animal.
Pets or persons experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
Where Was the Product Sold?
The affected product was shipped to distributors for sale to consumers by independent pet specialty stores throughout all U.S. states.
Message from the Company
IcelandicPlus is family owned and run by pet parents who take the safety and wellbeing of its consumers and clients with the utmost importance, as such we are conducting this voluntarily recall to further protect our customers.
Additionally, we are changing our Capelin supplier to ensure that the fish in our product are consistently less than 5 inches, or if larger, they will be completely eviscerated.
What to Do?
Distributors, retailers and consumers who have purchased IcelandicPlus Capelin can return it to the location where it was purchased for a refund.
Consumers with questions may contact the company at 857-246-9559, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm ET.