Welcome!

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

Dogs live in the present – they just are!  Dogs make the best of each moment uncluttered by the sorts of complex fears and feelings that we humans have. They don’t judge, they simply take the world around them at face value.  Yet they have been part of man’s world for an unimaginable time, at least 30,000 years.  That makes the domesticated dog the longest animal companion to man, by far!

As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer.  Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming,  thence the long journey to modern man.  But in the last, say 100 years, that farming spirit has become corrupted to the point where we see the planet’s plant and mineral resources as infinite.  Mankind is close to the edge of extinction, literally and spiritually.

Dogs know better, much better!  Time again for man to learn from dogs!

Welcome to Learning from Dogs

Summer here in Merlin

Another hot, dry summer; another fire season!

The fires in Oregon have been making the news but here in Merlin the skies have been clear and there has been no hint of the nearby forest fires.

But yesterday, we awoke to see smoke in the morning sky.

Followed a little later by smoke being seen on the flanks of Mount Sexton.

The summit of Mt. Sexton is 5 miles line-of-sight to our North-East.

It quickly became more smoky.

Culminating in the fire hazard status being raised to Extreme.

See you tomorrow, folks!

Jeannie and I pass on our grateful thanks to all the hard work being done by so many in quite challenging conditions.

Goodbye, dear ponies!

Dancer and Allegra are off to a new home!

When we were first here we gladly took on a couple of miniature horses from Margo, a neighbour to the west of us. Margo and Clarence’s property adjoins ours.

For some time we had been thinking of finding a better home for Dancer and Allegra especially as ‘sizing down’ was important to us being able to live here for many more years.

Margo will keep Allegra but has found a great new place for Dancer. Margo has been a breeder of miniature horse for many years.

So when I wrote yesterday in a reply to your responses: “The morning calls for other things to be done, more details later ,…” this is what was going on.

Some pictures to remember.

Ranger chatting with Dancer just before the ‘off’.

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Jean leading as Margo and the ponies walk up the track that leads from our stable area.

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Saying goodbye.

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The open gate to a better tomorrow!

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Goodbye, dear Dancer and Allegra!

Jeannie’s PD journey

“Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.”

So wrote the philosopher Democritus who was born in 460 BCE (although some claim his year of birth was 490 BCE). He acquired fame with his knowledge of the natural phenomena that existed in those times and history writes that he preferred a contemplative life to an active life, spending much of his life in solitude. The fact that he lived to beyond 100 suggests his philosophy didn’t do him any harm.

OK! Before I continue, please let me state, as before, that I write to you purely as Jean’s husband. I have no medical skills or knowledge at all and if you are at all affected by any of the following make an appointment to see your own doctor!

The crux of this post is Jean’s relationship with a naturopathic doctor at a practice in Seattle. The practice is Seattle Integrative Medicine (SIM) and a number of the doctors at SIM specialise in patients with PD. That’s how Jean was connected with Dr. Laurie Mischley. (Dr. M)

When one goes to the web page for Dr. M one reads:

Clinical Specialties – Parkinson’s Disease (PD)/Parkinsonism

Dr M conducted tests including testing her ear wax*, extensive blood analysis and an analysis of a sample of Jean’s hair.

* Dr. M has a dog that can reliably smell the presence of PD in human ear wax!

The favourite drug for those with PD is Levadopa.  Within 48 hours of Jean taking Levadopa she had a serious allergic response to that drug.

Back to Dr. M’s tests. All three tests were non-indicative of PD. A while later, in a subsequent telephone conversation, Dr. M wondered if Jean really did have PD. She recommended a referral to the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland. Specifically to their Department of Neurology and to Dr. John Nutt. His background may be viewed here.  From which one notes:

John Nutt, M.D.

Co-founder and Director Emeritus of the OHSU Parkinson Center and Movement Disorders Program

Professor of NeurologySchool of Medicine
Expertise

Neurology

Special focus on
Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders

Jean’s appointment was at 08:30 on Tuesday, 9th July. In terms of the timeline of all of us, Jean was diagnosed as suspected of having PD in December, 2015.

Dr. Nutt saw us promptly at 8:30 and immediately revealed a listening, caring attitude. He also quietly admitted that he had been a doctor specialising in neurology and movement disorders for 39 years! There was no question in my mind that we had landed in front of the ideal physician under these circumstances.

Over the next hour, Dr. Nutt examined Jean in a great number of ways. From her stretching her arms out, Dr. Nutt examining Jean’s arm joints, watching Jean walk along the corridor outside his examining room, and much more.

Eventually he paused and looked us both in the eyes. He then spoke quietly: “Jean is displaying a number of classic symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. I have no doubt that Jean does have the disease.”

Of course it wasn’t long before I mentioned Laurie Mischley’s opinion that Jean might not have PD. But Dr. Nutt was very clear with his reply. Namely that PD cannot be determined from hair and blood tests alone and that the potential sufferer must be examined physically.

Dr. Nutt asked me if I had noticed that when Jean held her arms straight out in front of her at shoulder height the tremors in her right hand ceased yet when she was relaxed with her hands in her lap the tremor in her right hand was very noticeable? I had not spotted that.

“Paul, that is a classic Parkinson’s characteristic.”

Dr. Nutt went on to say that watching Jean walk gave him another indicator of PD. Because although Jean walks well she doesn’t swing her arms. Classic PD!

Without doubt, Dr. Nutt’s impression was Idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.

But Dr. Nutt also said that Jean was doing incredibly well taking into account that she would have been suffering from the disease for at least 4 to 5 years and that her commitment to lots of exercise including her RockSteady class, that he was aware of, and her vegetarian diet was critically valuable.

It was now time to turn to medication for Jean. Dr. Nutt said that of all the drugs Levadopa was the ideal to combat the loss of dopamine in the brain. He was puzzled as to why Jean had had such a strong allergic reaction to the drug. He wondered if it was a reaction to the Carbidopa that in the USA was so often a component of the Levadopa medication. If so, that could be worked around. Dr. Nutt even mused that he had known of a patient who was allergic to the yellow dye that is sometimes in that medication.

His medication plan for Jean was for her to start on a 1/2 tablet of carbidopa-levadopa 25-100 mg tablets just once a day and if she has no bad reaction in a week then up that to two 1/2 tablets a day. If no adverse effects then increase by 1/2 tablet every week until taking 1 tablet three time a day.

So here we are, a week and a day after we returned from OHSU and, touch wood, Jean has had no adverse effects and is now on two 1/2 tablets a day.

But a postscript to that consultation with Dr. Nutt. At the very end I said that I had two questions. Dr. Nutt welcomed me to ask them.

“My first question is to do with the trend for PD. Is it getting worse?”

“Paul, here in the USA we are seeing a slow but definite decline in the incidence of Parkinson’s. What was your second question?”

“Dr. Nutt, my next question was whether or not science was pointing a finger at the cause of Parkinson’s disease?”

He replied without hesitating: “We are seeing a strong correlation between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease.”

Upon hearing that, Jeannie immediately spoke up recalling her times out in the Mexican fields when the crop-spraying aircraft flew right overhead. Adding that she had at times been drenched by the spray.

But, please, let us not forget: Association is not causation!

That’s enough for today. Because I was going on to include information about the importance of exercise. About managing one’s life really well. About the importance of diet and overall health. In a sense, not just for PD sufferers but for anyone the wrong side of 60 years old!!

That will be coming along soon!

I will close by thanking everyone at OHSU. The quality of care, attentiveness and experience of the staff backed by world-class resources was second-to-none!

To be in their system, so to speak, is a privilege.

Managing change

Following on from yesterday’s post.

I paused yesterday’s post by writing this:

In addition, Dr. Lee said to always THINK BIG! Big in voice, big in attitude, big in stature.

Finally, let me share with you what was posted on the Visible Procrastinations blog back in 2009. Reposted with the author’s permission.

Change.

Change is unavoidable for everyone one of us. Some changes are certainly wonderfully positive ones. Others not quite so. But the thing about change is that whatever the reason in one’s life for having to experience change it has a disruptive effect.

Today’s post leans heavily on that Visible Procrastinations (VP) post but the main theme is fully endorsed by yours truly!

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My Change Journey

Some notes from My Change Journey: This workshop is designed to help you understand your emotional and psychological needs during times of change and strategies you can use to take control of your own change journey. It also focuses on creating opportunities and seeing possibilities in the new world of work.

change – an event that occurs when something passes from one state or phase to another;

transition – the act of passing from one state or place to the next

Seeing the Big Picture

Many times we do not always see the bigger picture.

There are two examples of that; the first is this rather delightful 5-minute video that is just a bit of fun to watch. The second comes along shortly.

Experiencing Transitions

When change is implemented at any level in an organisation or personally, people typically respond by moving through a series of phases. People will spend different times in each phase. This is a crucial thing to understand and is at the heart of why change is always disruptive and frequently unsettling.

Take a few moments to reflect on the next item; this three-phase framework.

Bridges (1995)William Bridges (1995) Bridges’ three-phase transition framework: The first phase, the Ending phase, is about letting go of an old identity, an old reality or an old strategy. The Neutral Zone is akin to crossing the wilderness between the old way and the new. The final phase is making a new beginning and functioning effectively in a new way.

I am going to reinforce this message because it underpins everything to do with us understanding the business of change. Especially when we have to deal with unsettling events!

Ending – Letting go of what has been.

Neutral Zone or The Bridge – yes, it does feel like a ‘wilderness’ in some circumstances. Give it time!

Starting – Embracing the new way and making it work really well for you.

The key is to allow each phase plenty of time to take effect; frequently much longer than one senses!

The Process of Transition

John Fisher’s model of personal change – The Transition Curve – is an excellent analysis of how individuals deal with personal change.
J.M.Fisher’s ‘transition curve’

(More may be read here:  http://www.businessballs.com especially here: http://www.businessballs.com/personalchangeprocess.htm )

Influencing and exploring options

“You should only worry about things that are within your sphere of influence.”

This is such a key message. So take a long hard look at the things that make you anxious or worry you. Then clearly identify those things over which you have no or very little control. Then walk away from them!

There’s a great book: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, from which is taken:

You should only worry about things in your “sphere of influence.” If you have no control over certain aspects of your life, why bother worrying about them?

circle of concern

Mental Models: our way of seeing the world

(NB. This includes the second example of seeing the bigger picture)

Mental models are usually tacit, existing below the level of awareness. Another way of thinking about them is as a paradigm. This is a big topic and I am going to return to it by way of a separate post, probably one day next week.

But this second example of not seeing the bigger picture is also stirring the deeper waters of one particular personal paradigm.

Take 1000
add 40 to it
Now add another 1000
Now add 30
Add another 1000
Now add 20
Now add another 1000
Now add 10
What is the total?
Did you get 5000? The correct answer is actually 4100.

P.S. The number of times I did this, adding it up in my head, and finding it came to 5000. Then I did it on a calculator and it came to 4100. Talk about the eyes looking but not seeing!!

But there’s an important message. If you, as me and Jeannie did first time around, made it 5000 then you are demonstrating that what your eyes see, interpreted by your brain, isn’t necessarily correct.

So if it’s important: Give it a coating or two of thought!

Moving on!

The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook by Peter M. Senge

References

Amado, G., & Ambrose A. (Eds.) (2001) The Transitional Approach to Change. London: Karnac

Amado, G., & Vansina, L. (Eds.) (2004) The Transitional Approach in Action. London: Karnac

Bridges, W. (1998) Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change London: Nicholas Brealey.

Bridges, W. & Associates (online resources to articles and assessment tools for ‘Managing Transitions’) www.wmbridges.com

Bunker, K. (2008) Responses to Change: Helping People Make Transitions San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Covey, S.R. (1990) The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People Melbourne: The Business Library

Duck, J. (1993) Managing Change: the art of balancing Harvard Business Review, 71 (Nov/Dec): pp.109-118

Ethical work and life learning (Free online education for ethical work, business, career and life learning; training materials for entrepreneurs, organizations, seflf-development, business management, sales, marketing, project management, communications, leadership, time management, team building and motivation) www.businessballs.com

Fischer, P. (2008) The New Boss: How to Survive the First 100 Days. London: Kogan Page.

Johnson, S. (1999) Who Moved My Cheese? An amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life London: Vermillion

O’Hara, S. & Sayers, E. Organizational change through individual learning. Career Development International, 1 (4): pp. 38-41

Rogers, C.R. & Roethlisberger, F.J (1991) Barriers and gateways to communication. Harvard Business Review (Nov-Dec): pp.105-111

Stuart, R (1995) Experiencing organizational change: triggers, processes and outcomes of change journeys Personnel Review, 24 (2): pp.3-88

Vansina, L. & Vansina-Cobbaert, J-M (2008) Psychodynamics for Consultants and Managers: From Understanding to Leading Meaningful Change. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons

Williams, D (1999, 2008 update) Transitions: Managing Personal and Organisational Change.

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Tomorrow I cover the specifics of what took Jeannie (and me) to OHSU in Portland and the consultation with Dr. John Nutt and what flowed from that!

I so hope you found in today’s post some nuggets of personal gold for you!

I will close with a quote from the BrainyQuote site:

Facing up to P.D.

Revisiting that personal journey.

I deliberately chose that sub-heading because Wednesday’s post is going into the details of a consultation that Jean had with Dr. John Nutt, MD, a neurologist at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland, last Monday, 9th July.

Jean wants me to share the details with you because it is quite likely, nay, almost certainly, that some of you dear readers know of someone close to you that has Parkinson’s Disease (P.D.).

The balance of today’s post, to be continued tomorrow, is a reposting of something I published on February 24th, 2016.

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 Life is a one-way track.

Those of you who follow this place on a regular basis know that last Friday I published a post under the title of Friday Fondness. You will also know that later that same day I left this comment to that post:

Sue, and everyone else, we returned from seeing Dr. Lee, the neurologist, a little under two hours ago. Dr. Lee’s prognosis is that Jean is showing the very early signs of Parkinson’s disease, and Jean is comfortable with me mentioning this.

Everyone’s love and affection has meant more than you can imagine. I will write more about this next week once we have given the situation a few ‘coatings of thought’.

Jean sends her love to you all!

Thus, as heralded, I am going to write some more.

You would not be surprised to hear that the last few days have been an emotional roller-coaster, for both Jean and me. Including on Monday Jean hearing from our local doctor here in Grants Pass, OR, that a recent urine test has shown that Jean has levels of lead in her bones some three times greater than the recommended maximum. While our doctor is remaining open-minded it remains to be seen whether Jean is exhibiting symptoms of lead poisoning, whether the lead is a possible cause of the Parkinson’s disease (PD), see this paper, or whether it is a separate issue to be dealt with.

However, I want to offer some more from the consultation that Jean had with the neurologist Dr. Eric Lee last Friday. Shared with the full support of Jean who has read the whole of today’s post yesterday evening; as she does with every post published in this place.

But before so doing, please understand that while I was present throughout the complete examination of Jean, what you are about to read carries no more weight than that of any casual onlooker. If you are at all affected by any of the following make an appointment to see your own doctor!

Jean’s examination lasted for about an hour. It consisted of a great number of checks and tests on how her body responded to many different tests and stimulations. At the end of the examination Dr. Lee said that while he wasn’t 100% certain the balance of probability was that Jean was demonstrating the very early signs of PD. For example, showing such signs as walking and not swinging both arms in a normal, balanced manner. Or having a very slow blink rate. Then she was exhibiting some difficulty with rapid finger-to-thumb taps.

However, Dr. Lee did say that Jean was at the very early stages of PD and that we would have to wait another six months to see if the PD indicators were firming up. He also said that he had PD patients who had had the disease for twenty, even thirty years. Some of the general indicators that PD is progressing include a stooped gait, decreasing size of handwriting, and a quieter speaking tone. The NINDS website has more information on this. Here’s a little of what they explain about PD:

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders, which are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. The four primary symptoms of PD are tremor, or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination. As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. PD usually affects people over the age of 60.  Early symptoms of PD are subtle and occur gradually.  In some people the disease progresses more quickly than in others.  As the disease progresses, the shaking, or tremor, which affects the majority of people with PD may begin to interfere with daily activities.  Other symptoms may include depression and other emotional changes; difficulty in swallowing, chewing, and speaking; urinary problems or constipation; skin problems; and sleep disruptions.  There are currently no blood or laboratory tests that have been proven to help in diagnosing sporadic PD.  Therefore the diagnosis is based on medical history and a neurological examination.  The disease can be difficult to diagnose accurately.   Doctors may sometimes request brain scans or laboratory tests in order to rule out other diseases.

But here’s the good news regarding my darling wife – there are three things that Dr. Lee strongly recommends:

  1. Hang on to a positive mental attitude for the body actively produces dopamine when in a positive mental state.
  2. At least 30-minutes of good aerobic exercise three times a week,
  3. And physiotherapy.

In addition, Dr. Lee said to always THINK BIG! Big in voice, big in attitude, big in stature.

Finally, let me share with you what was posted on the Visible Procrastinations blog back in 2009. Reposted with the author’s permission.

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That article first seen on Visible Procrastinations will be republished tomorrow. Once more I must stress that I write to you purely as Jean’s husband. I have no medical skills or knowledge at all and if you are at all affected by any of the following make an appointment to see your own doctor!

Can we really avoid the ‘train crash’?

The idea that humanity will not prevent the approaching disaster is beyond belief!

One of the results of all you great people signing up to follow Learning from Dogs is that it encourages me to share things that strike me as so, so important.

Another of the results in there being, as of today, 3,349 following this place, is that I get the sense of what many of you good people also feel is important. Ergo, it is clear to me, clear beyond doubt, that caring and loving a dog or two makes you a person who cares and loves passionately this beautiful planet that is our home.

The emotion that is spilling out of me via these words to you is a result of having just read an essay published recently on The Conversation site and shared with you today.

Directly, it has nothing to do with our dear dogs. Yet, in a way, it does!

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7.5 billion and counting: How many humans can the Earth support?

By Associate Professor of Mathematics, College of the Holy Cross, July 9th 2018.

Humans are the most populous large mammal on Earth today, and probably in all of geological history. This World Population Day, humans number in the vicinity of 7.5 to 7.6 billion individuals.

Can the Earth support this many people indefinitely? What will happen if we do nothing to manage future population growth and total resource use? These complex questions are ecological, political, ethical – and urgent. Simple mathematics shows why, shedding light on our species’ ecological footprint.

The mathematics of population growth

In an environment with unlimited natural resources, population size grows exponentially. One characteristic feature of exponential growth is the time a population takes to double in size.

Exponential growth of world population

It took 127 years for the world population to double from one billion to two. By contrast, it took only 47 years, from 1927 to 1974, to double from two billion to four. Since 1960, world population has grown by about one billion every 13 years. Each point represents an additional one billion people.

[Ed: Text taken from a chart displayed in the article.]

Exponential growth tends to start slowly, sneaking up before ballooning in just a few doublings.

To illustrate, suppose Jeff Bezos agreed to give you one penny on Jan. 1, 2019, two pennies on Feb. 1, four on March 1, and so forth, with the payment doubling each month. How long would his $100 billion fortune uphold the contract? Take a moment to ponder and guess.

After one year, or 12 payments, your total contract receipts come to US$40.95, equivalent to a night at the movies. After two years, $167,772.15 – substantial, but paltry to a billionaire. After three years, $687,194,767.35, or about one week of Bezos’ 2017 income.

The 43rd payment, on July 1, 2022, just short of $88 billion and equal to all the preceding payments together (plus one penny), breaks the bank.

Real population growth

For real populations, doubling time is not constant. Humans reached 1 billion around 1800, a doubling time of about 300 years; 2 billion in 1927, a doubling time of 127 years; and 4 billion in 1974, a doubling time of 47 years.

On the other hand, world numbers are projected to reach 8 billion around 2023, a doubling time of 49 years, and barring the unforeseen, expected to level off around 10 to 12 billion by 2100.

This anticipated leveling off signals a harsh biological reality: Human population is being curtailed by the Earth’s carrying capacity, the population at which premature death by starvation and disease balances the birth rate.

World population projections

In 2020, the UN predicts that there will be 7,795,482 people worldwide.

[Ed: Text taken from a chart displayed in the article.]

Ecological implications

Humans are consuming and polluting resources – aquifers and ice caps, fertile soil, forests, fisheries and oceans – accumulated over geological time, tens of thousands of years, or longer.

Wealthy countries consume out of proportion to their populations. As a fiscal analogy, we live as if our savings account balance were steady income.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental think tank, the Earth has 1.9 hectares of land per person for growing food and textiles for clothing, supplying wood and absorbing waste. The average American uses about 9.7 hectares.

These data alone suggest the Earth can support at most one-fifth of the present population, 1.5 billion people, at an American standard of living.

A man works recycling plastic bottles outside Hanoi, Vietnam. REUTERS/Kham

Water is vital. Biologically, an adult human needs less than 1 gallon of water daily. In 2010, the U.S. used 355 billion gallons of freshwater, over 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters) per person per day. Half was used to generate electricity, one-third for irrigation, and roughly one-tenth for household use: flushing toilets, washing clothes and dishes, and watering lawns.

If 7.5 billion people consumed water at American levels, world usage would top 10,000 cubic kilometers per year. Total world supply – freshwater lakes and rivers – is about 91,000 cubic kilometers.

World Health Organization figures show 2.1 billion people lack ready access to safe drinking water, and 4.5 billion lack managed sanitation. Even in industrialized countries, water sources can be contaminated with pathogens, fertilizer and insecticide runoff, heavy metals and fracking effluent.

Freedom to choose

Though the detailed future of the human species is impossible to predict, basic facts are certain. Water and food are immediate human necessities. Doubling food production would defer the problems of present-day birth rates by at most a few decades. The Earth supports industrialized standards of living only because we are drawing down the “savings account” of non-renewable resources, including fertile topsoil, drinkable water, forests, fisheries and petroleum.

The drive to reproduce is among the strongest desires, both for couples and for societies. How will humans reshape one of our most cherished expectations – “Be fruitful and multiply” – in the span of one generation? What will happen if present-day birth rates continue?

Population stays constant when couples have about two children who survive to reproductive age. In some parts of the developing world today, couples average three to six children.

We cannot wish natural resources into existence. Couples, however, have the freedom to choose how many children to have. Improvements in women’s rights, education and self-determination generally lead to lower birth rates.

As a mathematician, I believe reducing birth rates substantially is our best prospect for raising global standards of living. As a citizen, I believe nudging human behavior, by encouraging smaller families, is our most humane hope.

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This essay from Professor Hwang is one of those articles that one frequently sees online that comes across as really interesting but, in the end, only gets a skim read; at best.

So if you didn’t fully comprehend what the good Professor included then ‘Stop‘ and go back and read it all very carefully.

Don’t just be alarmed at Professor Hwang writing:

This anticipated leveling off signals a harsh biological reality: Human population is being curtailed by the Earth’s carrying capacity, the population at which premature death by starvation and disease balances the birth rate.

Or:

Though the detailed future of the human species is impossible to predict, basic facts are certain. Water and food are immediate human necessities. Doubling food production would defer the problems of present-day birth rates by at most a few decades. The Earth supports industrialized standards of living only because we are drawing down the “savings account” of non-renewable resources, including fertile topsoil, drinkable water, forests, fisheries and petroleum.

Be concerned that each and every one of us, as in you and me, can only prevent the train crash by making a change in how we live: Today!

Otherwise ….

In so many ways we are such a clever and inventive race, capable of exploring the farthest reaches of outer space and the innermost aspects of quantum mechanics. Surely we must learn to live sustainably on beautiful Planet Earth!

On European Dogs

In the sense of the effect that they had on canines already living in the Americas.

I am taking the liberty, hopefully without getting my wrist slapped, of republishing a recent article that appeared on The Smithsonian Magazine website.

Simply because it offers some very interesting insights into the history of canines in The Americas.

Enjoy!

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European Dogs Devastated Indigenous American Pup Populations

Disease, cultural change wiped out pre-contact populations, leaving no trace of ancient dogs’ DNA in modern counterparts

A dog buried in Western Illinois 10,000 years ago is one of the oldest dogs known in the Americas, and the oldest dog burial in the world. These native American dogs were almost entirely wiped out when European colonists arrived. (Del Baston, courtesy of the Center for American Archeology)

By Meilan Solly, SMITHSONIAN.COM

The first humans to populate the Americas arrived from Siberia via the Bering land bridge around 16,000 years ago. Man’s best friend, the domesticated dog, didn’t arrive for another 6,000 years or so, crossing over just in time to avoid the land bridge’s collapse, but archaeological evidence suggests that the two species lived in harmony for thousands of years—at least until 1492, the year Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

According to a study published in Science on Thursday, “pre-contact” American dogs possessed a unique genetic signature derived not from the North American wolf, as previously thought, but from domesticated Siberian ancestors. Today, that singular genome has all but disappeared, eradicated by the 15th-century arrival of European settlers and their canine companions.

National Geographic’s Maya Wei-Haas explains that European dogs, like their human owners, probably carried diseases that pre-contact dogs were unequipped to fend off. The colonists preferred European breeds and discouraged their pets from mating with the native dogs, which study co-author Angela Perri, a zooarchaeologist at Durham University, says were viewed as “wild” and “vicious.”

“This study demonstrates that the history of humans is mirrored in our domestic animals,” Greger Larson, director of the Palaeo-BARN at Oxford and senior author of the study, said in a statement. “People in Europe and the Americas were genetically distinct, and so were their dogs. And just as indigenous people in the Americas were displaced by European colonists, the same is true of their dogs.”

To trace the story of these pre-contact dogs, researchers studied DNA found in the mitochondria of 71 North American and Siberian dog bones. The remains, which date from roughly 10,000 to 1,000 years ago, included those of the Koster dogs, a group of four domesticated canines discovered at a burial site in western Illinois during the 1970s. (A second study, newly published in pre-print server Biorxiv, further discusses these early dogs.) As Science’s David Grimm notes, the Koster pups lived about 10,000 years ago, making them the oldest known dogs in the Americas. Perri, referencing the animals’ small, slender stature, tells Grimm that “it wouldn’t be surprising if they were all used as hunting dogs.”

DNA analysis allowed the scientists to identify pre-contact dogs’ closest relatives: a group of dogs native to Zhokhov Island, a frigid Arctic site situated about 300 miles north of the Russian mainland. The Atlantic’s Ed Yong writes that these dogs were the first to be bred for a specific purpose, namely pulling their humans’ sleds.

In addition to shedding light on the first American dogs’ origins, the study offers insights on pre-contact dogs’ connections—or rather, lack of connections—with modern dogs. Researchers compared the 71 ancient genomes with DNA from more than 5,000 modern dogs, including breeds like chihuahuas and Carolina dogs, which are commonly thought to be descended from indigenous populations. The highest level of pre-contact DNA conclusively found in any of the modern dogs was four percent, a negligible result, the New York Times’ James Gorman reports.

The team’s findings suggest that modern American dogs are descended solely from Eurasian breeds introduced by European settlers. Perri tells Wei-Haas that the scientists expected to find evidence of interbreeding between the pre-contact pups and the new arrivals. Instead, they realized that the native dogs had virtually vanished.

“It is fascinating that a population of dogs that inhabited many parts of the Americas for thousands of years, and that was an integral part of so many Native American cultures, could have disappeared so rapidly,” Laurent Frantz, study co-author and evolutionary geneticist at Queen Mary University of London, said in a statement.

Oddly enough, scientists found that the closest surviving trace of pre-contact dogs’ DNA is found in a sexually transmitted canine cancer. The Los Angeles Times’ Deborah Netburn writes that the disease, known as canine transmissible venereal tumor, stems from the genetic mutation of a single North American dog that lived up to 8,225 years ago. The tumor cells spread through mating and carry a copy of that original DNA, allowing researchers to paint a clear picture of the “founding dog,” or patient zero.

Elaine Ostrander, chief of the cancer genetics and comparative genomics branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute, tells Wei-Haas, “It’s the world’s oldest continuously propagated cell line, which is really, really remarkable.”

………

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-european-dogs-devastated-indigenous-american-pup-populations-180969561/#8bYPIFJtvBrqzb3I.99
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“This study demonstrates that the history of humans is mirrored in our domestic animals,”

Best not to go too far into that observation from Dr. Greger Larson!

Just say “No!”

We have to keep banging this drum on behalf of our wildlife!

OK! This new essay from George Monbiot applies specifically to the United Kingdom. But there’s no question in my mind that awareness of what is going in the U.K. will be important for readers in many other countries.

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Incompetence By Design

As state bodies are dismantled, corporations are freed to rip the living world apart

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 4th July 2018

It feels like the collapse of the administrative state – and this is before Brexit. One government agency after another is losing its budget, its power and its expertise. The result, for corporations and the very rich, is freedom from the restraint of law, freedom from the decencies they owe to other people, freedom from democracy. The public protections that constrain their behaviour are being dismantled.

An example is the cascading decline in the protection of wildlife and environmental quality. The bodies charged with defending the living world have been so enfeebled that they now scarcely exist as independent entities. Natural England, for example, has been reduced to a nodding dog in the government’s rear window.

Its collapse as an autonomous agency is illuminated by the case that will be heard next week in the High Court, where two ecologists, Tom Langton and Dominic Woodfield, are challenging its facilitation of the badger cull. That the cull is a senseless waste of life and money is well established, but this is only one of the issues being tested. Another is that Natural England, which is supposed to assess whether the shooting of badgers causes wider environmental harm, appears incapable of discharging its duties.

As badger killing spreads across England, it intrudes upon ever more wildlife sites, some of which protect animals that are highly sensitive to disturbance. Natural England is supposed to determine whether allowing hunters to move through these places at night and fire their guns has a detrimental effect on other wildlife, and what the impact of removing badgers from these ecosystems might be. The claimants allege that it has approved the shooting without meaningful assessments.

Some of its decisions, they maintain, are farcical. In Dorset, for example, Natural England assumed that overwintering hen harriers and merlins use only one out of all the sites that have been designated for their protection, and never stray from it. It makes the same assumption about the Bewick’s swans that winter around the Severn estuary. That birds fly, enabling them to move from one site to another, appears to have been overlooked.

Part of the problem, the claimants argue, is that staff with specialist knowledge have been prevented from making decisions. The location of the badger cull zones is such a closely guarded secret that Natural England’s local staff are not allowed to see the boundaries. As a result, they can make no meaningful assessment of what the impact might be. Instead, the decisions are made in distant offices by people who have not visited the sites.

I wanted to ask Natural England about this, but its external communications have been shut down by the government: any questions now have to be addressed to Michael Gove’s environment department, Defra. Defra told me “staff carrying out this work have all the necessary information. It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing legal matter.” How can Natural England be an independent body when the government it is supposed to monitor speaks on its behalf?

Another example of how far Natural England has fallen is the set of deals it has struck with grouse moor owners, allowing them to burn protected habitats, kill protected species and build roads across sites that are supposed to be set aside for wildlife. For several years, the redoubtable conservationist Mark Avery has been fighting these decisions. This May, Natural England conceded, in effect, that he was right. The agency that is meant to protect our wild places has been colluding in their destruction.

A correspondent from within Natural England tells me its staff are so demoralised that it has almost ceased to function. “Enforcement, for example, is close to non-existent … Gove seems to have somehow both raised the profile of environmental issues whilst simultaneously stripping the resources … it has never been as bad as this.”

In March, the House of Lords reported that Natural England’s budget has been cut by 44% since it was founded in 2006. The cuts have crippled both its independence and its ability to discharge its duties. It has failed to arrest the catastrophic decline in our wildlife, failed to resist the housebuilders trashing rare habitats and abandoned its regulatory powers in favour of useless voluntary agreements. As if in response, the government cut the agency’s budget by a further 14%.

Dominic Woodfield, one of the claimants in the court case next week, argues that Natural England has been “on death row” since it applied the law at Lodge Hill in Kent, where the Ministry of Defence was hoping to sell Britain’s best nightingale habitat to a housing developer. Natural England had no legal choice but to designate this land as a site of scientific interest, hampering the government’s plans. As the government slashed its budget and curtailed its independence, the agency’s disastrous response has been to try to save itself through appeasement. But all this has done is to alienate its defenders, reduce its relevance and hasten its decline. “There are still good people in Natural England. But they’re broken. They talk very slowly because they’re thinking very carefully about everything they say.”

If this is happening before we leave the European Union, I can only imagine where we will stand without the protection of European law. The environmental watchdog that, according to Michael Gove, will fill the role now played by the European Commission, will know, like Natural England, that its budget is provided by the government and can be cut at the government’s discretion. What is to prevent it from being nobbled as other agencies have been?

Already, the deliberate mutilating of the administrative state, delivering incompetence by design, has released landowners, housebuilders and assorted polluters from regulatory restraint. Only through European law have government agencies been forced to discharge their duties. Brexit strips away this defence. And if, as some propose, it paves the way for One Nation Under Gove, we should, the evidence so far suggests, be even more alarmed.

But some of us are now mobilising to turn the great enthusiasm for wildlife and natural beauty in this country into political action, and to fight the dismantling of the laws that protect our precious wild places. Watch this space.

http://www.monbiot.com

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On George Monbiot’s blog home page is this quote:

“I love not man the less, but Nature more.”

We must all love Nature more!

The strength of a community.

Any other ideas to assist Lisa?

So many times this old blog of mine seems like one great family! Which is why I am sharing an exchange between Lisa and me.

For last Friday in came the following email from Lisa (republished with Lisa’s permission.):

Hi Paul,

I still receive your blog every day and love it! I contributed a couple of blogs to you about our Sabrina which you published on Learning from Dogs.

I have a question for you and perhaps your community.

A picture of Sabrina from an earlier guest post written by Lisa.

Sabrina is experiencing some anxiety at breakfast time. She begins whimpering and crawling on the floor. It happens a few times a week. She usually doesn’t eat her breakfast right away after these episodes. Her behavior is normal the rest of the day.

I’ve told our vet about it and she thinks it’s some kind of anxiety and is willing to prescribe medication. I’d rather not medicate her all the time as this episode happens infrequently.

We may have some blood test taken as our next approach.

Have you ever experienced this kind of thing with one of your dogs or heard of it happening with someone else’s dog?

Also, another question I’ve been meaning to ask you writer-to-writer. I recall you telling me you are from a small town near Cornwall or Devon? I’d love to find some type of writer’s residency in that area and wondering if you know any association or grant available? It’s difficult for me to learn of residency opportunities in the UK being in the USA. No big deal, just thought I’d ask you.

Hope all is well with you and glad to hear you and Jean are going vegan! I’m a former vegan/vegetarian. We are eating more vegetarian these days and I especially love to COOK vegan. I am going to look into the Halo Garden of Vegan dog food too. Great tip.

Thank you!!

Best,

Lisa.

I discussed this with Jean and then sent the following reply to Lisa:

Lisa,

Jean is recommending changing Sabrina’s routine. Such as feeding her in a different place. Plus, trying a proprietary stress relief medicine. We used Bach Rescue Remedy, a homeopathic formula, for our dogs when we moved from Arizona to Oregon back in 2012.

Keep us in the loop with this!

Best wishes,

Paul

Back came Lisa:

Hi Paul!

Thank you to you and Jean for your two emails. Dennis and I were just talking about Sabrina’s behavior and it occurred to me it could be separation anxiety. Dennis gets up at 4:30, feeds her, gets ready for work and is out of the house by 5:30. Sabrina favors him and I’m thinking as much as she loves to eat, it means he’s about to leave and be gone from her all day.

I will pick definitely pick up the Bach’s Rescue Remedy and have Dennis feed her in a different area of the house.

Oh, yes, and please, if interested make the subject of Sabrina’s behavior a post and yes, yes, yes on soliciting for a writer’s retreat in the UK for me 🙂

Thanks a million!

Best,
Lisa.

To which I then responded, thus:

I think you may have solved Sabrina’s behaviour issue. An easy thing to try out is to ask Dennis not to feed Sabrina at that time and you to feed her instead. Would take a few days for her to get accustomed to the change but within a week you would know if this was the fix!

And, thanks for the permission. It will be coming out next week.

So, good people, any other ideas to add to assist Lisa in settling down Sabrina in the morning? And what about that writer’s retreat in the UK?

Any thoughts?

Finally, I am going to be pretty distracted these next 48 hours so apologies if I am not very attentive to your responses. Plus there will be no post tomorrow.