Dogs live in the present – they just are! Dogs make the best of each moment uncluttered by the sorts of complex fears and feelings that we humans have. They don’t judge, they simply take the world around them at face value. Yet they have been part of man’s world for an unimaginable time, at least 30,000 years. That makes the domesticated dog the longest animal companion to man, by far!
As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer. Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming, thence the long journey to modern man. But in the last, say 100 years, that farming spirit has become corrupted to the point where we see the planet’s plant and mineral resources as infinite. Mankind is close to the edge of extinction, literally and spiritually.
Dogs know better, much better! Time again for man to learn from dogs!
We are chilling out for a couple of days giving our attention to Mark and Debbie who are staying with us. They came over to view the eclipse and I shall feature a few of Mark’s photographs for this coming Sunday’s Picture Parade.
Marc who blogs at Healthy Pawz recently decided to follow this place. I went across to Healthy Pawz to leave my thanks for the follow, as I always try to do, and read a most wonderful post. Wanted to republish it here today.
Pets have an amazing ability to change our lives for the better. They find that special place in our heart and latch on with incredible amounts of unconditional love. When we regularly give our pets undivided attention, we build a bond and connection that will last a lifetime.
Every moment we spend with our pets is an opportunity to observe them and learn more about their personality, nuances or needs. Notice the simple and basic things about your pet like when they are relaxed, comfortable, happy, anxious, etc., just as you would a child. Those moments of observation will teach you so much about the little being that wants nothing more than to provide you with unconditional love and attention.
Another great benefit to having a pet is that they can sometimes see in us what we cannot see in ourselves. We know about service pets that support people in different ways for sight, comfort, seizures, autism, etc. But, our own pets are also in tune to our needs and emotions. However, we are sometimes so rushed with life that we fail to recognize the great gift our pets are offering us (me included). We have a rescue kitten with one eye and in my opinion, she’s amazing. This little cat noticed inflections in my voice that indicated stress of some sort. For me it was business as usual, but for her it was climb on my chest and rub her little face against mine. After a few hundred times of this (exaggerated of course) I finally realized that she was trying to calm me down. And I learned to better recognize when I needed to take a step back with a deep breath throughout the day.
We live in a very fast paced, get it done kind of society. That kind of daily grind can strip away some of our compassion and empathy because we are so overwhelmed with other aspects of life that we may not notice when we are stuck in that vortex spinning around aimlessly. Whether we realize it or not our pets are a great conduit to restoring that which we need to sustain us in our human relationships. Compassion and empathy are easily understood, but not always easily lived out. Our pets are a daily reminder of this because they provide both compassion and empathy daily. Because of this, we have an opportunity to reciprocate compassion and empathy back to them and to those around us.
Whether you have a dog, cat, hamster, etc., pets can enhance our lives in so many ways. Carve out some daily time to spend with your furry loved one, observe them on their terms and take some time to reflect about how they are benefiting your life. Watch over time as your emotional intelligence evolves through this process.
There is so much wise advice in that post!
Hard to highlight any particular sentence but this one spoke to me early on: “When we regularly give our pets undivided attention, we build a bond and connection that will last a lifetime.”
How would you describe an eclipse to a blind person? The moon moves in front of the sun, yes. But what does that look like? Someone trained in illustrative description of images might say, “The moon appears as a featureless black disk that nearly blocks out the sun. The sun’s light is still visible as a thin band around the moon’s black disk. To the upper right, at the moon’s leading edge, a small area of sunlight still shines brilliantly.”
That’s just an example of how such an event could be described. Bryan Gould, director of accessible learning and assessment technologies at the National Center for Accessible Media, a non-profit working to make media experiences accessible to people with disabilities, is hoping to offer oral descriptions of the eclipse in an app. Paired with other features, like a tactile diagram and audio from the changing natural environment as the eclipse darkens the sky, the app is designed to make the event more accessible to blind or visually impaired people who want to experience it.
Gould is working with Henry Winter, a solar astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, to develop the app, called Eclipse Soundscapes. As the August 21 solar eclipse darkens a path across the United States, Eclipse Soundscapes will release descriptions, timed—based on the user’s location—to match the progress of the eclipse.
Winter conceived Eclipse Soundscapes after a conversation with a friend who’s been blind since birth. She asked him to explain what an eclipse means.
Such an event might provide an interesting representation of the eclipse, thought Winter, so he partnered with the National Park Service’s Natural Sounds program, which preserves and catalogs sounds from the parks. Helpers stationed at national parks along the route will record audio during the eclipse, to hear the change in the “bioacoustical chorus” of the animals.
This can’t happen in real time, of course, so the National Center for Accessible Media is providing illustrative descriptions, based on a previous eclipse. The sounds of crickets, frogs and birds becoming active on the day of the eclipse will be added to the app later.
Last, with the help of an audio engineer named Miles Gordon, Winter is trying something completely new. Gordon developed a “rumble map” of the eclipse: The app places images of different stages of an eclipse on your smartphone’s screen, and as you trace your finger across the eclipse’s image, the vibration increases or decreases based on the brightness of the image.
“It does give you the impression that you’re actually feeling the sun, as you move your finger around,” says Winter.
“I realized I didn’t have the vocabulary to answer that question for her,” says Winter. “Every way I thought about it was visual in nature, and I didn’t know how to explain it to somebody … light, dark, bright, dim, flash. All these different words have no meaning to somebody that’s never seen.”
But the project goes well beyond audio descriptions. It includes two further elements: audio of the changing soundscape caused by the eclipse, and a tactile exploration of the eclipse’s image (which means that people who are blind or visually impaired can “feel” the eclipse using vibrations on their smartphones).
Scientists around the world will be using the eclipse as an opportunity to study solar astronomy in a way they usually can’t, measuring the ultraviolet light emitted from the sun’s corona, which Earth-based observers can’t normally see, as it is overpowered by the normal sunlight. It’s also rare for an eclipse to cover this much land — it traverses from Oregon to South Carolina — and Winter points out that it is a particularly good opportunity for education and outreach.
Though education is important, for Wanda Diaz Merced, a visiting scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who is completely blind, there’s a lot more to the eclipse than that. Merced, who has consulted on the Eclipse Soundscapes project, studies human-computer interaction and astrophysics, and to do her research, she needs assistance translating data into a format she can interact with. She’s been building tools to help with that translation, and sees elements of Winter’s project that could contribute.
“It’s still not a prototype that I may use, for example, to study elements of the photosphere. It is not on that stage,” says Merced. “But hopefully one day we will be able to not only hear, but to touch.”
The eclipse will occur on August 21, starting around 10 a.m. in Oregon and finishing by 3 p.m .in South Carolina. The Eclipse Soundscapes app is available for iOS now, and the team is working on an Android app as well.
I can’t imagine there’s anyone still pondering on whether or not to view the eclipse.
But that still doesn’t stop me offering you this recently presented TED Talk.
On August 21, 2017, the moon’s shadow will race from Oregon to South Carolina in what some consider to be the most awe-inspiring spectacle in all of nature: a total solar eclipse. Umbraphile David Baron chases these rare events across the globe, and in this ode to the bliss of seeing the solar corona, he explains why you owe it to yourself to witness one, too.
This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxMileHigh, an independent event. TED editors featured it among our selections on the home page.
About the speaker: David Baron David Baron writes about science in books, magazines, newspapers and for public radio. He formerly served as science correspondent for NPR and science editor for PRI’s The World.
Enjoy it, good people. And protect your eyes!!!
Or better still allow NASA Television to show the eclipse to you.
NASA Television will air a four-hour show – Eclipse Across America – which will include live video of the event, along with coverage of activities in parks, libraries, stadiums, festivals and museums across the nation, and on social media. NASA’s show begins at 15:00 UTC (11 a.m. EDT; translate to your time zone), or later (we’ve seen this time waffle around a bit). Check the website for changes or further details.
As I watched pet nutrition blogger Rodney Habib’s TedX video below, I found it simultaneously jaw-dropping and not surprising. After his dog, Sammie, was diagnosed with cancer, Habib went on a mission to find out why canine cancer is a growing epidemic. Currently, one out of every two dogs will be diagnosed with cancer at sometime in their life, mostly between age 6 and 12.
I have a 13-year-old Labrador. Admittedly, I’m obsessed with my awareness that he’s approaching the end of his life. But, what if he weren’t? What if he could live until he’s 30 like Maggie, the Kelpie, from Australia. Maggie was possibly the world’s oldest dog.
During Habib’s trek around the world, he spoke with researchers and scientists. He learned that dogs have a higher rate of cancer than any other mammal. In the ’70s, dogs lived to age 17; today the average life span is 11. Why?
Diabetes is up 900 percent in dogs in the last five years. Obesity is up 60 percent. While 10 percent of all cancer cases are genetic, 90 percent are the results of lifestyle and environmental influences, including stress, obesity, infection, sedentary lifestyle, toxins, pollution and most importantly diet.
Habib spoke with Norwegian scientist, Thomas Sandberg, who is conducting a 30-year-old study (the longest observational study to date). Sandberg is hoping to prove that poor quality food may cause cancer to develop in dogs and cats, mainly due to a compromised immune system.
Here’s the part of Rodney’s TedX Talk that was jaw-dropping for me: Research shows that dogs on a diet of dry commercial pet food fed leafy green vegetables at least three times a week were 90 percent less likely to develop cancer than dogs that weren’t. And dogs fed yellow/orange vegetables at least three times a week were 70 percent less likely to develop cancer.
I feed Sanchez and Gina organic kale, spinach, green beans and carrots, along with many fruits. Personally, I wasn’t surprised by the benefits, but by the research showing that just a little bit of produce added to kibble could have such a profound effect on canine health.
Thomas Sandberg has Great Danes, who typically live only six to eight years. In a 6-year study of 80 dogs fed a completely raw diet with low amounts of carbs, only one dog developed cancer.
Another study at Purdue University showed a 90 percent decrease risk of cancer when they added green leafy vegetables to a bowl of processed food three times a week.
Remember Maggie, the world’s oldest dog? In addition to a diet that included raw fed grass milk, she also self fasted some days. She lived on a dairy farm and exercised all day long, often getting in 9 kilometers (5 1/2 miles ). Obesity is also now known to be a contributing factor to canine cancer, which is why exercising with your pet is so important.
We have dogs because we love them. We bring them into our human world and expect them to adjust. They do, because they want to please us. We expect them to follow our house rules, listen to the music we choose, build their life around our schedules, and accept the food we choose for them. But, what if we knew more and chose differently for them? How long would they live?
Do your pets eat green leafy veggies?
Now if you have read down to this point but not yet watched Rodney Habib’s talk then …. STOP!
Go back and watch that talk!
Then you can truly appreciate the value of looking at the diets of our beautiful dogs!
Love to hear your thoughts on this!
Oh, and both Brandy and little Pedy are great vegetable eaters. But we will be following the recommendations of Rodney Habib and will share our findings with you all later on.
How humans and animals communicate with each other has more than an edge of mystery to it!
We sleep with our bedroom door open to the main run of the rest of the house. Generally, all six dogs sleep in our bedroom unless it is a very warm night when some of them may choose the cooler tiled surface of the kitchen floor.
Cleo, our female German Shepherd, has a bit of a sensitive stomach and it is not unknown for her to need to be let outside in the middle of the night. Just a couple of nights ago her need for a ‘poo’ break came at 02:40!
But the point of this is that no matter how deeply I am sleeping, all it takes is a short, quiet whimper next to my side of bed and I am instantly awake. I need no time at all to know that Cleo has to be let outside from our bedroom door that opens out onto the deck. A few minutes later I hear her feet padding along the wooden boards of the deck and she is let back in to the bedroom.
Thus this demonstrates how well I understand her and in turn how well she acutely listens to me.
Just look at this photograph.
The connection, the intensity, of her attention towards me. And this was just from me pointing the camera at her and ‘click, clicking’ my tongue.
My introduction today was inspired by an article that I recently read on the Care2 site and that I want to share with you. Here it is.
Can Humans Understand When Animals Are in Distress?
Have you ever jumped at the sound of birds fighting or a squirrel screaming? Heard an animal make a sound somewhere nearby that made your heart race?
More than one hundred years ago, Darwin suggested that there was a universal understanding of certain animal vocalizations — a way of expressing emotion that went all the way back to the Earth’s earliest animals. Now, researchers are re-examining that theory, and they’re making some interesting headway.
In a study published in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,” researchers decided to explore the idea that animal vocalizations, including distress calls, might be recognizable across different species — and even into different animal classes.
Earlier research delved into whether or not humans could detect which emotion, or signal, another mammal was using, but this study is the first to examine other vertebrates as well. Amphibians and reptiles joined the club, and, perhaps surprisingly, humans did pretty well determining what these animals were trying to communicate.
The researchers primarily looked into whether or not people listening to certain animal sounds would be able to detect the level of arousal — high or low — that an animal expressed vocally. High arousal indicates an animal in distress, expressing desperate or negative screams, who might be calling out because of a fight, a predator in the area or another perceived danger. Scientists believe that these sounds are part of an old signaling system.
Researchers asked 75 college-aged individuals to listen to sounds from nine different species. In order to account for language differences, these people included English, German and Mandarin speakers.
Scientists collected 180 recordings of animal vocalizations, reflecting high or low levels of excitement, such as “the sounds of frogs in competition for mates, monkeys reacting to danger or ravens confronted by a dominant bird,” and included humans in that list, instructing actors to react neutrally or with different, heightened emotions while speaking Tamil.
The 75 people were then asked to identify which vocalization out of paired sounds from the same species represented the higher level of arousal.
In this study, the results showed that people identified the correct “emotion,” roughly speaking, better than expected by chance. Here is how the accuracy broke down across species:
Humans: 95 percent correct
Giant panda: 94 percent correct
Hourglass tree frog: 90 percent correct
African bush elephant: 88 percent correct
American alligator: 87 percent correct
Black-capped chickadee: 85 percent correct
Pig: 68 percent correct
Common raven: 62 percent correct
Barbary macaque (monkey): 60 percent correct
It seems strange that people were less able to identify the distress call of a monkey than a frog, but Harold Gouzoules, a bioacoustician and animal behavior expert at Emory University, posits that the monkey calls may have sounded less extreme in intensity than those of the other species, making it harder to tell the difference.
“Our study shows that humans are naturally able to recognize emotional arousal across all classes of vocalizing animals,” said Piera Filippi, who studies the evolution of cognition and communication at the Vrije University Brussels in Belgium.
This doesn’t mean that humans should feel confident in interpreting animal emotions or body language in general, though. Those behaviors can vary greatly, and humans are prone to misinterpretation and anthropomorphism. You wouldn’t, for example, want to assume a wolf baring its teeth is simply smiling at you.
Naturally, much remains to be studied in the effort to understand a wider range of animal emotions. Filippi hopes to repeat the experiment, but with the black-capped chickadees taking the place of the college-aged humans in interpreting the distress calls. It will be interesting to see if this understanding between humans and other animals goes both ways.
Could there be a beneficial reason for animals to understand each other’s distress calls? What do you think?
Yes, we know that they are but the science as to why this is nonetheless is fascinating!
Inevitably when you think about my cultural roots you would not be surprised to hear that I use the BBC News website as a key source of staying in touch with the world. But very rarely would I think of sharing a news item with you via these pages.
One of those rare exceptions greeted my eyes back on July 20th. It was an article published by Helen Briggs of the BBC under the Science & Environment news classification. I can’t imagine any reason why I can’t republish it here.
Why dogs are friendly – it’s written in their genes
By Helen Briggs – BBC News, 20 July 2017
Being friendly is in dogs’ nature and could be key to how they came to share our lives, say US scientists.
Dogs evolved from wolves tens of thousands of years ago.
During this time, certain genes that make dogs particularly gregarious have been selected for, according to research.
This may give dogs their distinctive personalities, including a craving for human company.
“Our finding of genetic variation in both dogs and wolves provides a possible insight into animal personality, and may even suggest similar genes may have roles in other domestic species (maybe cats even),” said Dr Bridgett vonHoldt of Princeton University.
The researchers studied the behaviour of domestic dogs, and grey wolves living in captivity. They carried out a number of tests of the animals’ skills at problem-solving and sociability.
These showed that wolves were as good as dogs at solving problems, such as retrieving pieces of sausage from a plastic lunchbox.
Dogs, however, were much more friendly. They spent more time greeting human strangers and gazing at them, while wolves were somewhat aloof.
DNA tests found a link between certain genetic changes and behaviours such as attentiveness to strangers or picking up on social cues.
Similar changes in humans are associated with a rare genetic syndrome, where people are highly sociable.
Dr Elaine Ostrander of the National Institutes of Health, who was a co-researcher on the study, said the information would be useful in studying human disease.
“This exciting observation highlights the utility of the dog as a genetic system informative for studies of human disease, as it shows how minor variants in critical genes in dogs result in major syndromic effects in humans,” she said.
Dogs were domesticated from wolves between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago.
Lisa Mae DeMasi offers you all a beautiful guest post.
Not going to allow my words to delay you reading this wonderful essay from Lisa.
How this Handler and Service Dog Nurture One Another
by Lisa Mae DeMasi
At two years old, Lady’s ribs protruded from her coat and her belly was swollen with milk.
Like the thirteen other Labs that had arrived at a rest stop in Union, CT on the straight 12½-hour drive from Muncie, IN, she was presented to us on a crisp autumn day amid the chaos of respective adopters.
My husband Dennis had never experienced the warmth and companionship of having a dog and well, I surprised him with Lady, who we quickly renamed to Sabrina. The very afternoon we picked her up, we raced to the park, wanting her to feel the joy of freedom and play. My husband’s face lit up and while I was thrilled at the opportunity to befriend and care for Sabrina; it meant closing the 20-year gap since our beloved German Shepard from my childhood passed away.
Until laying my eyes on Sabrina’s profile, my heart couldn’t entertain loving another dog.
And what canine isn’t after the same love?
In Sabrina’s case, she couldn’t know of the family members that awaited to embrace her presence. Within days of the initial hair-raising excitement, the cat sought out occasions to groom her ears. Our pet rat was free to waddle the kitchen floor un-bothered, and the pair of bonded bunnies in want of company stretched out beside her on the living room floor.
Dog, cat, rat, rabbit?
And Dennis and me?
Like kids again.
Sabrina settled into the folds of our lives, well-nourished and exercised in Boston’s epic snowfall in the winter of 2009-2010, taking careful watch over all of us. The fear expressed in her eyes pre-adoption disappeared.
Eight years later, she watches over me in particular. Thirty years ago, I was struck and thrown from the passenger side of a car until my abdomen collided with the steering wheel—blunt force that called for iterative repair to my digestive system and caused permanent damage to the nerves that signal my bladder is full.
Today when I’m busy working away, Sabrina will alert me to get up every couple of hours to make a trip to the restroom by gently placing her head in my lap.
When I suffer acute intestinal cramping, Crohns-like symptoms, she’ll sit at my side and lean her body against mine. Her calm and steady source of nurturing, helps me to relax and mitigates the cramps.
In 2008, the Department of Justice amended the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This was amended to include digestive, bowel and bladder impairments that limit major life activities as the disabled, calling for employers to make reasonable accommodations and if the individual elects, to allow task-oriented service animals [dog or miniature horse] to accompany them on the job.
Sabrina, serving in the capacity of a sensory/medical assist – alerting me to get up and take care of myself – qualifies.
The HR Director, Debra Susler of Reputation Institute in Cambridge, MA this past April would not allow Sabrina to accompany me on-the-job. I sent her an elaborate email explaining my condition and Sabrina’s certification. She did not reply to me but to my supervisor.
She said “no”.
I walked out of the place
Sabrina: rescue dog to devoted helper dog.
Respectively, Sabrina’s competencies and understanding of language cease to astound us and her behavior on-the-job at Dell EMC is so well-mannered, coworkers never run out of compliments.
And bystanders in public? The grocery store, pharmacy, gym, dentist, doctor?
Gazes from cell phones are broken, conversations fall short.
Then, come the smiles. A question. Praises. The feel-good moment.
Sabrina brings people together.
I recently read a distressing post from a woman who said every time she looks into a service dog’s eyes, she sees sadness. Even Ingrid Newkirk, CEO and Co-Founder of PETA, has told me, “the life of a typical service dog is a terrible one.”
It’s true. Any canine enslaved to servitude is doomed a dog’s life unlived.
Service animals are working animals, not pets.
The ADA confirms it.
But that’s not the relationship Sabrina and I share [and I understand it can’t be the same with other handlers and service dogs]. In addition to being my devoted helper, Sabrina teaches me to exist in the moment — just like she does. To enjoy the sight of the sun shimmering through the trees, the call of the birds, the fragrance of wildflowers, the feel of the soft soil I tread a few yards behind her when we’re on our hikes.
What more could a dog do for a girl?
There is something rather special about Lisa’s guest post; special in an introspective way!
Lisa’s creative work has recently placed second in Fiftiness’s 2017 Writing Contest (Why I Love Bike Commuting in Boston) and been featured in the anthologies, Unmasked, Women Write About Sex & Intimacy After Fifty (9/17, print) and The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal (11/17, print). Her essays have been published in the lit journals and several other media outlets. She considers Massachusetts her home, but has lived in Connecticut, Vermont, New York State and two other planets called Wyoming and Arizona. She earned a B.A. from Regis College and an MBA from Babson College, and holds a Master certificate in Reiki.
Lisa is seeking a development editor [that gets her] to work on her collection of essays and her memoir.