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!
Like many other authors of blogs when someone decides to follow these scribblings and they are also the author of a blog I go across to their place and leave a thank you note. Frequently, I also say that if they would like to write a guest post for Learning from Dogs that I would welcome that.
Regular readers of this blog will know how often it is my pleasure to publish a guest post from another blogger.
So it is today.
Not very long ago there was a new follower who is the author of the blog: The Well Rounded Individual. I went across there and liked very much what I saw, especially a recent post about dogs.
I am honoured to have permission to share it with you all.
Throw the Ball Already and Other Things I Can’t Live Without
I’m just going to put it out there. I love dogs. I have almost always lived with at least one member of the canine variety and I plan on doing so until I am no longer able to care for a furry friend. My early years were spent with a Cockapoo named Maxie. She was a miniature in size only. My parents adopted her before I was born and saved her from an abusive environment. Because of that she was a bit skittish around unfamiliar people. We usually had to keep her in a bedroom when company was over to avoid any incident. She was a loving dog and loyal to the family until canine parvovirus finally claimed her at about sixteen. After a few years of a pet-less house, my father surprised the family with an amazing ball of fur and fury that would grow into a 200 plus pound St. Bernard, Bernie. She was too smart for her own good and would use her size and strength to escape the back yard sending me sprinting through the neighborhood after her. She was the family’s center of attention for about three years. Then came rescued sisters. A Smooth Collie already named Lassie and a Shepherd, Malamute mix aptly named Rusty, would grace our home and create a circus for many years to come.
I mentioned they were sisters. Yes, they were litter mates. Two completely different dogs from the same mother. Ah, biology. I will let you do the research.
These three amazing animals kept the family company, entertained, protected and comforted for the next decade, even as I left for college and then moved out to start my adult life. No visit was complete without at least a few moments of play with each one of the three. They were each unique with their own personalities. They went through rawhide treats like Double-Mint gum. They patrolled the house for intruders. Most were birds, squirrels or just traffic going by the house. There was never a burglar, but we made them all feel like they had kept out Danny Ocean and his crew. The only real crime that ever took place was the untimely death of a new vacuum every year. Cause of death, dog hair.
As I transitioned into my adulthood, I began with a few rescued cats. I loved each of them dearly. They were affectionate and great companions. But, there was something missing. My cats never poked me with a cold, wet nose to get up and play ball. They never greeted me at the door with manic joy, even if it was just a short time since I had seen them. I missed that. Then, after a while something magnificent happened. I met my wife. She is without a doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me. By this time, I was again pet-less. So with my new girlfriend, came a wonderful Black Labrador Retriever mix by the name of Melanie. I rediscovered what I was missing. Shortly after I fell in love with both of them came some news that hit close to home. This ball loving, bed hogging, cool floor seeking companion was diagnosed with diabetes. Just like me. My soon to be wife was devastated and began to talk to me about how hard it would be to put her down.
I have never been one to put my condition out in the open. People know, I will talk about it, but it does not define me. But now, I had to stop and open up. I drew parallels between the two of us. And she began to see that this could be manageable for her too. It would require a little extra attention, but she could live a rich normal life. And she would. She stayed with us for another six years, making it beyond her twelfth birthday. As time passed and we moved to Phoenix, after four years, our girl developed cataracts. We checked into getting them removed, but were told they would only grow back. Instead of giving up, we took a different route.
After looking at a number of dogs, we had decided on a Siberian Husky. We wanted to be sure he was the one, so we looked at a few more. I was satisfied but my wife wanted to look at one more that caught her eye. It was all over. This dog chose us and I don’t think there was any way we were going home with anyone but her. We got the living breathing Ajax tornado. She was a bundle of puppy energy wrapped inside the fur of an American Bulldog. We named her Abby. For those of you who are familiar with this breed, she was of the Classic variety. She took to Mel immediately. She would lead her around the yard and through the house. At night they were always together. Abby would go off on her own to burn what seemed to be an endless amount of energy. She always came back to check on her big sister.
As Melanie began to age, Abby needed a new playmate. We were looking like we had before and this time I connected with a Boxer. It took a little convincing but she came home with us. This would be Sophie. She fell right in with what we could now call a pack. Unfortunately, it was only for a short time. Our beloved Melanie, welcomed her newest sister with open paws, but was only able to stay with us for three more weeks. We all felt the pain. But we had a new addition to the family. Sophie would not let us stay down. As a puppy, she was a true clown. In trying her best to keep up with her sister, she grew into a gorgeous, stout Boxer. She was my constant companion.
We had a few new challenges with our changing family. Abby was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia. This meant, we had more frequent vet visits, new, special food and supplements to keep her healthy. They worked. As Abby grew, she became stronger and would only occasionally show outward signs. Sophie had her own heart murmur. As we learned, this is fairly common for Boxers. These challenges only brought us closer with our girls. So, with Abby at four and Sophie at two, we decided it was time to expand the pack.
Again we looked at many dogs and were undecided. On the third or fourth trip to visit, I had decided I wanted to take a close look at one dog in particular. On our prior visits, there was one dog who was not the one at the front of the kennel begging for attention. She was quiet and still but our eyes had met. I decided (on my own) if that dog was there she was coming home. If she was not, we were going to put the search on hold. I guess I don’t have to say, she was there. The cutest little Boston Terrier was cowering in the back. I asked to see her. When she was brought out to us, she was handed to my wife. We named her Maggie.
Maggie started life with a severe case of giardia. We did not care. We took her to the vet almost weekly at first. We could not cure her. We got to the point that the vet told us she needed a series of injections that would either cure her or kill her. We took the chance and Maggie is still with us.
As Maggie grew, she wanted to be the alpha. Abby was having none of it and Sophie just did not seem to care. Abby ruled the house, Sophie was the nursemaid and my close confidant. Maggie became my wife’s BFF. We had a happy mostly healthy pack for another five years.
About three years ago, my heart was ripped out when Sophie was diagnosed with pancreatitis and lymphoma. I still have a tremendous amount of guilt that I did not see symptoms in time to help her. We put her on medication that gave her a brief remission and made her feel like her old self for a few more months. We gave her one more Christmas, but it was not to be. Our Sophie lost her fight a little over a month later. Abby was nine by this time and her hips were beginning to bother her again and then she blew out a disk in her back. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, a year and a half later, Abby left us also. My soul was crushed, and so was my wife’s, but we still have Maggie.
Here we are, the two of us with our daughter. That is what all of our girls are, our daughters. Maggie is eight and in good health. We have a long list of breeds we want to look at for the next member of the pack. Our next son or daughter could be a pure breed. It could be a cross breed, or even a mutt. It won’t really matter because I know when that next dog connects with us, our list goes out the window and we will have our new child. I look forward to spending time with a new one, seeing the bonds that they will build. I also look forward to seeing Maggie with a new brother or sister. I want to watch her bond with a new furry person, like her older sisters.
I know with every new addition to the family, there is the inevitable pain that will one day come. Would I trade my time with any of my kids to take the pain away? Do not even suggest it. Like any human member of the family, the pain, after time, is easily outmatched by the pure joy they bring. I can’t wait to see who is next!
I would love to hear about your family and I encourage you to donate to the ASPCA or your animal friendly charity. Look into adoption. You will never regret it.
I loved this essay and know many of you will have felt the same way. Fingers crossed there will be more!
Founded in 1998, Animals Asia promotes compassion and respect for all animals and works to bring about long-term change. We work to end the barbaric bear bile trade, which sees over 10,000 bears kept on bile farms in China, and, according to official figures, about 1,200 suffering the same fate in Vietnam.
Animals Asia has rescued over 500 bears, caring for them at its award-winning bear sanctuaries in China and Vietnam.
Animals Asia also works to end the trade in dogs and cats for food in China and Vietnam, and lobbies to improve the welfare of companion animals, promote humane population management and prevent the cross border export of “meat dogs” in Asia.
In addition, Animals Asia campaigns for an end to abusive animal practices in zoos and safari parks in Asia, and works closely with governing authorities to improve animal management and increase awareness of the welfare needs of captive animals.
Freed from a bile farm – is this the happiest bear ever?
Watch Tuffy jump for joy in his first days outside – after being rescued from a bear bile farm where he’d spent years of torture in a tiny cage.
Rescued in September last year on the same day as six other bears, Tuffy’s paws have hardly hit the ground since arriving at Animals Asia’s Vietnam sanctuary.
The vet team has been working hard to rehabilitate him after years of having his bile extracted. In fact his gall bladder was so damaged it had to be removed. Examinations had found numerous gallstones, meaning he’d lived in pain for years.
That wasn’t the only surgery Tuffy faced. In addition he had three fractured teeth removed. He also had painful, dry, cracked paws.
Animals Asia Bear Manager Louise Ellis said:
“The cracked paws are common to bile farm bears as they only walk on bars, not grass. Dehydration is likely to have contributed to this too. So for his carers to see him take to the pool so quickly after he first became ready to face the outdoors was an amazing moment.
“Coming from years of little or no water, for Tuffy this must feel like a true oasis after being parched and in pain for so long. It must have felt like such a relief to have the freedom to splash around in the water after only being able to stand on the hard metal bars of the bile farm cage.”
In fact Tuffy loved being outdoors so much he decided not to return to his den in the evening – choosing instead to sleep under the stars.
There are still around 1,200 bears in bile farms in Vietnam and over 10,000 more in China. Animals Asia has rescued nearly 600 bears from the bile industry and continues to care for almost 400.
Bear bile is used in traditional medicine.
Dearest Tuffy! One of the lucky ones.
But that doesn’t diminish the anger and the disgust I feel at the way too many so called human beings can have such disregard for our beautiful animals!
With thanks to Suzann Reeve who sent this on to me.
You all have a very wonderful Autumn weekend.
They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie,
as I looked at him lying in his pen.
The shelter was clean, no-kill,
and the people really friendly.
I’d only been in the area for six months, but
everywhere I went in the small college town, people
were welcoming and open. Everyone waves
when you pass them on the street.
But something was still missing as I attempted to settle
in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt.
Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen
Reggie’s advertisement on the local news. The shelter
said they had received numerous calls right after,
but they said the people who had come down
to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,”
whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did.
But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me
in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted
of a dog pad, a bag of toys almost all of which were
brand new tennis balls, his dishes and
a sealed letter from his previous owner.
See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home.
We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter
told me to give him to adjust to his new home).
Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.
Maybe we were too much alike.
I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten
about that. “Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see
if your previous owner has any advice.”
To Whomever Gets My Dog:
Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this,
a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by
Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it.
He knew something was different.
So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes
that it will help you bond with him and he with you.
First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier.
Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hoards them.
He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet.
Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after them, so be careful. Don’t do it by any roads.
Next, commands. Reggie knows the
obvious ones —“sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.”
He knows hand signals, too: He knows “ball”
and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.
Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular
store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.
He’s up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet.
Good luck getting him in the car. I don’t know how he
knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. It’s only been Reggie and
me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me,
so please include him on your daily car rides if you can.
He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark
or complain. He just loves to be around people,
and me most especially.
And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you…His name’s not Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name. But if someone is reading this …well it means that his new owner should know his real name.
His real name is “Tank.” Because, that is what I drive.
I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander.
You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with … and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter …in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.
Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word. Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.
If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.
All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and
give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope.
Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.
“Hey, Tank,” I said quietly.
The dog’s head whipped up, his ears
cocked and his eyes bright.
He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months. “Tank,” I whispered. His tail swished.
I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.
“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.”
Tank reached up and licked my cheek.
“So whatdaya say we play some ball?”
His ears perked again.
“Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?”
Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room. And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.
If you can read this without getting a lump in your
throat or a tear in your eye, you just ain’t right.
============================== ======== “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” G.K. Chesterton
Millions of us have to fight our demons, both real and imagined. Doing it without a dog by one’s side is so much harder!
Just recently, on the 20th to be precise, I added a comment to the ‘About’ page of the blog: Beyond The Flow.
This is what I wrote”
Rowena is a blogger, mother and wife and explains a little about her blog, thus:
Beyond the Flow documents our journey through life’s ups and downs from a fairly philosophical and hopefully humourous perspective so hopefully you’ll laugh, cry and think a bit as you share in our adventures.
Based on the Australian East-Coast just North of Sydney, this motley cast and crew features:
Anyway, Rowena very promptly offered me permission and it is my pleasure to republish this wonderful account of a Newfoundland (the dog that is not the country).
A Different Type of Rescue Dog.
Welcome to Rumford, Maine where we’re chatting with ferry master Jerry Putnam and his dog, Major beside the Androscoggin River. Major is a New Foundland or “Newfie” and while I’m used to big dogs, Major is more like a bear crossed with a tank and yet he’s very friendly.
Please be advised that you’ll be needing to set you watch back more than just a couple of hours to join me on this trip. You see, we’re traveling back to 1885 or thereabouts to hear this tale. By the way, I apologise if the details get a little sketchy on this trip. You see, I’ve never been to America and I’ve never seen a Newfoundland dog beyond Googles images. However, I’ve never let that stop me from spinning a yarn before and it won’t stop me now. I stumbled across this story online in a small Australian country newspaper from 1885. I have no idea how it found its way there but it seems that after all these years, I’ll be sending the story all the way back to Rumford, Maine where I hope it finds a new home.
As you might be aware Newfoundlands are excellent and enthusiastic swimmers and are famed as the lifesavers of the sea. Indeed, there have even been some famous and very impressive rescues carried out by Newfoundlands:
In 1881 in Melbourne, Australia, a Newfoundland named Nelson helped rescue Thomas Brown, a cab driver who was swept away by flood waters in Swanston Street on the night of 15 November. While little is known about what became of Nelson, a copper dog collar engraved with his name has survived and 130 years after the rescue it was acquired by the National Museum of Australia and is now part of the National Historical Collection.
In the early 20th century, a dog that is thought to have been a Newfoundland saved 92 people who were on the SS Ethie which was wrecked off the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland during a blizzard. The dog retrieved a rope thrown out into the turbulent waters by those on deck, and brought the rope to shore to people waiting on the beach. A breeches buoy was attached to the rope, and all those aboard the ship were able to get across to the shore including an infant in a mailbag. Wreckage of the ship can still be seen in Gros Morne National Park. E. J. Pratt‘s poem, “Carlo”, in the November 1920 issue of The Canadian Forum commemorates this dog.
In 1995, a 10-month-old Newfoundland named Boo saved a hearing-impaired man from drowning in the Yuba River in Northern California. The man fell into the river while dredging for gold. Boo noticed the struggling man as he and his owner were walking along the river. The Newfoundland instinctively dove into the river, took the drowning man by the arm, and brought him to safety. According to Janice Anderson, the Newfoundland’s breeder, Boo had received no formal training in water rescue.
You can watch some Newfoundlands going through their rescue paces here:
By now, I’m sure I’ve whetted your appetites sufficiently and you’re all just longing to find out what Major did. What act of great heroism plucked this ordinary dog out of obscurity and onto the pages of a distant Australian newspaper?
However, there’s an exception to every rule. Just because some dog’s profiles read like a brochure from the Kennel Club, there’s always an exception. Just as people don’t like being categorized, stereotyped or told how they should conform to type, dogs can be much the same.Not that Major almost drowned but he did have a different interpretation of what constitutes a “rescue”.
Or, did he?
After all, what constitutes a rescue? Is it just about saving that drowning person from the surging waters? Or, is it also about encouraging someone to overcome their fear of drowning, let go of the edge and finally learn to swim? What if that person doesn’t respond to “encouragement”? Is it okay to add a bit of persuasion? A nudge? A tug or even the proverbial cattle prod?
Well, you don’t need to ask Major. When it came to helping his canine counterpart overcome his fear, he was a Dog of Action with no time for philosophising, desensitization or phoning a friend. When a brindle hound was too scared to swim out to its owner on the ferry and was howling on the shore, Major grabbed it by the scruff and threw it in the water so it either had to sink or swim.
You’ve got to laugh and who hasn’t been tempted to do that to someone we know, but a bit of compassion doesn’t go astray either.
So, even if another dog is having a full blown panic attack about getting their precious paws wet, you don’t grab him by the scruff and throw him in the drink. After all, most breeds of dog don’t have a Newfoundland’s webbed paws, innate love of swimming and other special design features. They chase sheep.
Of course, this includes the Border Collie. While our last Border Collie loves chasing sticks through the surf, Bilbo rarely gets his paws wet and it’s taken a lot of angst for him to get to the point where he sometimes now retrieves his ball out of the wash on the beach.
Indeed, Bilbo has had a few newsworthy water avoidances and he could well have been cast as that miserable mutt Major threw into the river.
A few years ago, when Bilbo saw us all kayaking from the backyard at Palm Beach, he also started howling and fretting just like that other poor hound. Bilbo chewed through the back gate, jumped the back fence and we were about a kilometre from home when we looked out and kids said: “Someone else has a Border Collie”. As we paddled closer, our fears were confirmed. It was our freaked out mutt, giving us the paw: “What do you think you’re doing going out there on that crazy contraption? OMG!!!! You could fall in. Drown!!!! Then, who’s going to feed me?” His heart was racing. He was puffing. The dog was a wreck…so was the gate!
I would never have thrown Bilbo into the water to get him used to it. Yet, over time, he accidentally fell in the pool chasing his ball. He also fell out of the kayak and took our son into the water with him. That could’ve been nasty because he tried grabbing on to Mister which could’ve pulled him under. However, through all of this knockabout exposure and by being part of our family, Bilbo isn’t quite so anxious anymore. He’s stepped out and started filling out those paws, becoming a brave dog.
Meanwhile, here’s the original newspaper story about Major:
A Dog Story.
When Jerry Putnam had charge of the ferry at Rumford, Me., over the Androscoggin River, he owned one of the handsomest Newfoundland dogs I ever saw, and the dog was as intelligent as he was handsome. Like all of his kind, he was fond of the water, and further than that, he manifested an absolute contempt for those of his species who shrank from the aqueous element, and it is of one of those contemptuous manifestations that I wish to tell, for I was there and saw.
The ferryboats, of various sizes, to accommodate different burdens, were impelled by means of a stout cable stretched from shore to shore, as that was the only device by which the heavy boats could be kept to their course in times of strong currents, and during seasons of freshet I have seen a current there that was wonderful.
One warm summer day, while a few of us were sitting in the shade of an old apple tree, between Jerry’s house and the river, two gentlemen, with implements for hunting and fishing, came down to be set across, and straightway one of the boys went to answer the call. He selected a light gondola, the two gentlemen stepped onboard, and very soon they were off ; but before they had got far away from the shore a common brindle house dog came rushing down upon the landing, where he stood and barked and howled furiously— furiously at first, and then piteously.
The boat was stopped, and from the signs made we judged that the strange dog belonged to one of the passengers. Yes, the owner was calling to him to come.
‘Come Ponto! Come !Come! ‘
But Ponto didn’t seem inclined to obey. Instead of taking to the water, he stood there, on the edge of the landing, and howled and yelped louder than before.
Presently old Major — our Newfoundland; who had been lying at our feet, got up and took a survey of the scene. Jerry said only this—’What is it, Major! What dy’e think of it?”
The dog looked around at his master, and seemed to answer that he was thoroughly disgusted. And then he started for the boat-landing — started just as the boy in the boat, at the earnest solicitation of his passenger, had begun to pull back. With dignified step, Major made his way down upon the landing, proceeded directly to the yelping cur, took him by the nape of the neck; and threw him — he did not drop him — but gave him a vigorous, hearty throw, far out into the water ; and when he had done that he stood his ground as though to prevent the noisy, cowardly animal from landing. He stood there until he had seen the cur turn and swim towards the boat — until he had been taken on board by his master— after which he faced about, with military dignity and precision, and came back to his place beneath the apple tree.
— N. Y. Ledger.
The Burrowa News (NSW : 1874 – 1951)Friday 13 March 1885 p 3 Article
Have you ever been to Rumford, Maine or had any experiences with Newfoundlander Dogs? We’d love to hear your tales!
Let me add to Rowena’s wish to hear your experiences with Newfoundland Dog’s, or any other dogs!
The September equinox marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from north to south and vice versa in March.
That moment is at precisely 14:21 UTC today, September 22nd. Welcome to Autumn, or Fall in American speak!
I was contacted by Susan Leighton recently offering me a guest post. Susan is a regular follower of this place and frequently drops in with responses and comments. Susan is also the founder of the blog: Woman on the Ledge (I can recommend her blog, by the way!)
Here is Susan’s guest post.
Life Lessons from Maggie
I have walked this earth for fifty years and I have been a proud dog parent several times over. My latest child is an incredibly exuberant eight-year-old Boston Terrier named Maggie. Maggie Mae’s Up, Up, and Away is her full name. My husband and I got her in New Mexico which is the site of a world famous hot air balloon festival so hence the nod to the 5th Dimensions song.
Maggie was actually a surprise. I was going through an exceptionally rough time (unfortunately it was the beginning of several trying years) and my husband thought that she would cheer me up. The moment she was placed in my arms, a love affair and deep bond began. I looked into her expressive brown eyes and knew that I had just met my canine BFF.
When she was a puppy, we had a bit of a health scare with her. She was diagnosed with a severe case of giardia. The medication we were given to combat the illness wasn’t working. Our vet decided to treat her with a round of shots. It was touch and go for a few days but she came through with flying colors.
From an early age, she was our little toughie. Small in stature, she refused to let her bigger sisters get the best of her. Their long legs might have surpassed hers but she never gave up and would constantly compete to be number one in back yard games.
Dogs are amazing creatures. They are incredibly intuitive and sometimes I think they just might be smarter than us. In the years that I have been privileged to know Maggie she has taught me many life lessons. I would like to share some of that knowledge with you.
Every day is an adventure – don’t be a slave to routine. Maggie definitely isn’t one. Yesterday, she had an impromptu game of keep away with her stuffed animal. Today she was feeling like playing tug of war with her rope. Try something new. Even if you work 8 hours a day, you can still incorporate little surprises into your schedule. Maybe you always eat the same lunch every day. Change it up. Instead of that boring sandwich, opt for a salad or even a taco! Have a break between meetings or conference calls? Go outside and take a brisk walk for 10 minutes. Every day is new, treat it that way!
Make time to play – you know what I dislike the most about being an adult next to paying bills? I miss not having recess. That was my favorite time of the day when I was a kid. School stopped for an hour and I could run around with my friends and have fun. Why is it that we lose our sense of play when we grow older? Maggie has helped me to realize that it is possible to metaphorically return to the school yard. Every day we go outside and play catch in the back yard. Not only is it good bonding time for us but it is also a chance for me to relax and let go of the stress of the day.
Love unconditionally – this seems simple right? It really isn’t. So many people make it their mission to change the ones they love. Their significant other has a personality quirk that is less than endearing, why not try to lessen it or eliminate it altogether? I understand that life is about compromise but at the expense of not being able to be comfortable in your own skin? Maggie has been with me through many changes and throughout those changes, she has done nothing but support me. She loves me if I am having a bad hair day or if I have gained a few pounds. She loves the real me blemishes and all!
Be curious – whenever we take Maggie on a jaunt to the local pet store, she is more than willing to approach other dogs and other people. She wants to know more about everything in life. I jokingly tell her that she suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out) because she wants to be involved in every activity. I guess this is why I challenge myself to learn about new technologies, new books, new music, etc. The more engaged I feel, the more alive I am. I have never stopped learning.
Give thanks – whenever Maggie is presented with food, a treat, her ball, a toy, she is thankful. She is just glad that she is able to enjoy these things but mostly she is thrilled that she gets to have time with her family. As the years pass by, I am acutely aware of how tenuous life is and how in the blink of an eye, the people that we cherish may not be around for us to tell them how much we value their presence in our life. I make it a point to let the people closest to me know that I am thankful for them each and every day.
Hug your dog and let him or her know how grateful you are for the life lessons that they have shared with you. That is what I will be doing with Maggie. I could not have asked for a better teacher.
Back on the 13th September, I published a post under the title of Listening to our pets in more difficult times. I mentioned that Pharaoh was suffering pain in his rear hip joints and struggling at times to get up on all four feet and that we had started giving him Rimadyl.
Don’t wait around for a vet to tell you that your dog is in pain. You live in a state with legal MJ plus hemp oil is legal in all 50 states. I give CBD oil to my BC X Aussie 12 year old dog. He could not get up and yelped in pain before I began giving him 0.7ml daily that I drizzle over his food., After second dose he could stand up without help. Now he walks and runs with fluid movements of all limbs. It is totally safe and doesn’t require expensive tests, The danger of Rimadyl and other meds in that class used to treat arthritis, is that these types of meds cause kidney damage and your pet will have a shortened life span. Hemp oil works like a charm with no side effects.
We did some research and came across the following brand of Hemp (CBD) Oil specifically for dogs. We ordered it and it arrived last Saturday. Jean did not delay in adding* it twice a day to the food for both Pharaoh and Paloma.
Here we are at the end of Tuesday, at the time of writing this post, and already we can see observable improvements in both dogs.
Yes, it’s early days but I wanted to share this with you now.
There will be a more extensive report from me once these dogs have been using the oil for a few weeks.
One dropperful twice a day for Pharaoh, approx. 105 lbs, and half a dropperful twice a day for Paloma, approx. 45 lbs.
Returning to the fascinating topic of how dogs understand us humans.
At the beginning of the month I published a post called Be Careful What You Say. It featured an item on BBC Radio Four regarding the science report from a team in Hungary seeking better to understand how dogs process human vocal sounds, as in speech. (The science report was rapidly featured in many other media outlets.)
Anyway, I am delighted to say that the Rights & Permissions Department of the AAAS pointed out that:
Virginia’s article is freely available on our open news website (http://www.sciencemag.org/news) so rather than post, please link to it (http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/video-your-dog-understands-more-you-think). Your site visitors will encounter no barriers to viewing the article on our website. We welcome hyperlinks to Science articles provided a plain text link is used and providing our content is not framed. We also ask that the text surrounding the hyperlink not imply any endorsement of your website, products or services by AAAS/Science.
The article, written by Virginia Morell, primarily features a video (see below) but I will just republish Virginia’s opening paragraphs.
It’s the eternal question for pet owners: Does your dog understand what you’re saying? Even if Fido doesn’t “get” your words, surely he gets your tone when you let loose about another accident on the carpet. But a new imaging study shows that dogs’ brains respond to actual words, not just the tone in which they’re said. The study will likely shake up research into the origins of language, scientists say, as well as gratify dog lovers.
“It’s an important study that shows that basic aspects of speech perception can be shared with quite distant relatives,” says Tecumseh Fitch, a cognitive biologist at the University of Vienna, who was not involved in the work.
The finding “doesn’t mean that dogs understand everything we say,” says Julie Hecht, who studies canine behavior and cognition at City University of New York in New York City and who was not involved in the study. “But our words and intonations are not meaningless to dogs.” Fitch hopes that similar studies will be done on other domestic animals and on human-raised wolves to see how much of this ability is hardwired in dogs and how much is due to growing up among talking humans.
What a wonderful relationship dogs and humans have with each other!
Over the week-end Jean and I were down in Medford at this event promoting my book Learning from Dogs.
Inevitably, we saw many dogs and their owners come in to the store for we were positioned just inside the main door. Likewise, inevitably we saw a whole range of ‘relationships’ between those dogs and their human companions.
It reminded me of a recent TED Talk that was given by Ian Dunbar about dog training. For those who have not previously come across Mr. Dunbar, his bio reads as follows:
http://www.ted.com Speaking at the 2007 EG conference, trainer Ian Dunbar asks us to see the world through the eyes of our beloved dogs. By knowing our pets’ perspective, we can build their love and trust. It’s a message that resonates well beyond the animal world.
Veterinarian, dog trainer and animal behaviorist Ian Dunbar understands our pets’ point of view. By training dog owners in proper conduct (as much as he trains the dogs themselves), he hopes to encourage better relationships with dogs — not to mention their friends and children, too.
Why you should listen
We may call dogs man’s best friend, but according to Dr. Ian Dunbar, humans often fail to reciprocate. Dunbar’s decades of research on hierarchical social behavior and aggression in domestic animals truly give him a dog’s-eye view of human beings’ incomprehensible and spontaneous — if involuntary — cruelties.
Dunbar says we might break our unseemly, unflattering habits and usher in an “era of dog-friendly dog training” by coming to understand why dogs do what they do — Is Fido misbehaving, or just being a dog? — and the repercussions of our actions toward them. (We might foster better relationships with our fellow humans, too.) His Sirius Dog Training company focuses on training puppies to be playful, yet well-behaved. His second organization, Animalin, promotes games for dogs and puppies at an international level.
What others say
“There is no single person on the face of the planet to whom dog trainers and owners (not to mention dogs) owe more.” — Jean Donaldson, author, The Culture Clash
I will close with another photograph from the PetSmart event.
(Sorry about the cardboard boxes under the table!)
Thought today’s picture parade should carry an Autumnal theme!
All these photographs of the deer, wild turkeys and the Harvest Moon were taken at home last Thursday. (NB: The turkeys were born on our property this last Spring.)
I sincerely hope that wherever you are in the world, assuming the Northern Hemisphere, you are having an evocative and peaceful Autumn, or Fall in American speak! (Barb – or Spring in ‘Down Under’ speak!)