Author: Paul Handover

What a nose, again!

Why should we not be surprised!

At the power of smell that a dog has.

I have written about the dog’s nose before. Or rather I have written about the dog’s sense of smell;

Dogs’ noses just got a bit more amazing. Not only are they up to 100 million times more sensitive than ours, they can sense weak thermal radiation—the body heat of mammalian prey, a new study reveals. The find helps explain how canines with impaired sight, hearing, or smell can still hunt successfully.

But I wanted to draw your attention to an article in 2017; June 26th to be precise. In an article called What a nose!

Here’s how that post opened.

Two items that recently caught my eye.

The power of a dog’s nose is incredible and it is something that has been written about in this place on more than one occasion.

But two recent news items reminded me once again of the way we humans can be helped by our wonderful canine partners.

The first was a report that appeared on the Care2 website about how dogs are being used to search for victims in the burnt out ruins following that terrible Grenfell Tower fire. That report opened, thus:

By: Laura Goldman June 24, 2017
About Laura Follow Laura at @lauragoldman

Wearing heat-proof booties to protect their feet, specially trained dogs have been dispatched in London’s Grenfell Tower to help locate victims and determine the cause of last week’s devastating fire that killed at least 79 people.

Because they’re smaller and weigh less than humans, urban search-and-rescue dogs with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) are able to access the more challenging areas of the charred 24-story building, especially the upper floors that sustained the most damage.

Because I read recently, on the EarthSky website, about dogs in Australia that are being trained to detect Covid-19 in humans.

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These dogs are trained to sniff out the coronavirus

Posted by in Human World, August 10, 2020

Scientists have been working with professional trainers in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales to train dogs to sniff out Covid-19. Most of the dogs have a 100% success rate.

Image via Shutterstock/ The Conversation.

Susan Hazel, University of Adelaide and Anne-Lise Chaber, University of Adelaide

What does a pandemic smell like? If dogs could talk, they might be able to tell us.

We’re part of an international research team, led by Dominique Grandjean at France’s National Veterinary School of Alfort, that has been training detector dogs to sniff out traces of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) since March.

These detector dogs are trained using sweat samples from people infected with Covid-19. When introduced to a line of sweat samples, most dogs can detect a positive one from a line of negative ones with 100% accuracy.

Across the globe, coronavirus detector dogs are being trained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Belgium.

In the UAE, detector dogs – stationed at various airports – have already started helping efforts to control Covid-19’s spread. This is something we hope will soon be available in Australia too.

A keen nose

Our international colleagues found detector dogs were able to detect SARS-CoV-2 in infected people when they were still asymptomatic, before later testing positive.

On average, dogs have about 220 million scent receptors. Image via Shutterstock/ The Conversation .

When it comes to SARS-CoV-2 detection, we don’t know for sure what the dogs are smelling.

The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) given off in the sweat samples are a complex mix. So it’s likely the dogs are detecting a particular profile rather than individual compounds.

Sweat is used for tests as it’s not considered infectious for Covid-19. This means it presents less risk when handling samples.

Covid-19 sniffing dogs in Australia

Here in Australia, we’re currently working with professional trainers of detector dogs in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. The most common breed used for this work so far has been the German shepherd, with various other breeds also involved.

We are also negotiating with health authorities to collect sweat samples from people who have tested positive for the virus, and from those who are negative. We hope to start collecting these within the next few months.

We will need to collect thousands of negative samples to make sure the dogs aren’t detecting other viral infections, such as the common cold or influenza. In other countries, they’ve passed this test with flying colors.

Once operational, detector dogs in Australia could be hugely valuable in many scenarios, such as screening people at airports and state borders, or monitoring staff working in aged care facilities and hospitals daily (so they don’t need repeat testing).

To properly train a dog to detect SARS-CoV-2, it takes:

– 6-8 weeks for a dog that is already trained to detect other scents, or
– 3-6 months for a dog that has never been trained.

Coronavirus cases recently peaked in Victoria, Australia. Having trained sniffer dogs at hand could greatly help manage future waves of Covid-19. Image via Daniel Pockett/ AAP/ The Conversation.

Could the dogs spread the virus further?

Dogs in experimental studies have not been shown to be able to replicate the virus (within their body). Simply, they themselves are not a source of infection.

Currently, there are two case reports in the world of dogs being potentially contaminated with the Covid-19 virus by their owners. Those dogs didn’t become sick.

To further reduce any potential risk of transmission to both people and dogs, the apparatus used to train the dogs doesn’t allow any direct contact between the dog’s nose and the sweat sample.

The dog’s nose goes into a stainless steel cone, with the sweat sample in a receptacle behind. This allows free access to the volatile olfactory compounds but no physical contact.

Furthermore, all the dogs trained to detect Covid-19 are regularly checked by nasal swab tests, rectal swab tests and blood tests to identify antibodies. So far, none of the detector dogs has been found to be infected.

Dogs are not susceptible to the negative effects of the novel coronavirus. Image via Eyepix/ Sipa USA/ The Conversation.

Hurdles to jump

Now and in the future, it will be important for us to identify any instances where detector dogs may present false positives (signaling a sample is positive when it’s negative) or false negatives (signaling the sample is negative when it’s positive).

We’re also hoping our work can reveal exactly which volatile olfactory compound(s) is/are specific to Covid-19 infection.

This knowledge might help us understand the disease process resulting from Covid-19 infection – and in detecting other diseases using detector dogs.

This pandemic has been a huge challenge for everyone. Being able to find asymptomatic people infected with the coronavirus would be a game-changer – and that’s what we need right now.

A Covid-19 detector dog enrolled in the NOSAIS program led by professor Dominique Grandjean and Clothilde Julien from the Alfort Veterinary School (France). Image via The Conversation.

A friend to us (and science)

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised about dogs’ ability to detect Covid-19, as we already know their noses are amazing.

Dogs can help detect hypoglycemia in diabetics, warn people who are about to have an epileptic seizure and have been used to sniff out some cancers.

Their great potential in dealing with the current pandemic is just one of myriad examples of how dogs enrich our lives.

We acknowledge Professor Riad Sarkis from the Saint Joseph University (Beirut) and Clothilde Lecoq-Julien from the Alfort Veterinary School (France) for first conceiving the idea underpinning this work back in March.

Susan Hazel, Senior Lecturer, School of Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Adelaide and Anne-Lise Chaber, One Health Lecturer, School of Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Adelaide

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Bottom line: Dogs are being trained to use their sense of smell to detect the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

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To be honest, we humans just cannot fathom out what it is like to have a sense of smell that is 100 million times more sensitive than us!

So I can republish articles, such as this one, and we can be amazed, or whatever. But in truth we don’t have a clue. Not a clue!

I hope those scientists down under have a smooth experience with their very clever dogs!

The Unknown Future.

The latest essay from Tom Engelhardt!

You all know that for a great percentage of my time I write about dogs and republish other articles about dogs.

For dogs are precious. Dogs are sensitive. Dogs read us humans. Dogs play. They sleep. And much more!

Pharaoh enjoying Bummer Creek, March 20th, 2013. He was born on June 3rd., 2003 and died on June 19th., 2017.

But just occasionally I like to republish an essay from Tom Engelhardt.

Maybe because years ago he gave me blanket permission to republish his essays. Maybe because he and I are more or less the same age. Maybe because in my more quieter, introspective moments I wonder where the hell we are going. And Tom seems to agree.

Have a read of this.

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Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Unexpected Past, the Unknown Future

Posted by Tom Engelhardt at 3:50pm, August 9, 2020.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Even in this terrible moment, TD does its best to continue offering an alternate view of this increasingly strange planet of ours. And I can only do so because of the ongoing support of readers. (I just wish I could actually thank each of you individually!) If you have the urge to continue to lend a hand in keeping TomDispatch afloat, then do check out our donation page. For a donation of $100 ($125 if you live outside the U.S.), I usually offer a signed, personalized book from one of a number of TD authors listed on that page and you can certainly ask, but no guarantees in this pandemic moment. Still, you really do make all the difference and I can’t thank you enough for that! Tom]

It Could Have Been Different

My World and (Unfortunately) Welcome to It
By Tom Engelhardt

Let me be blunt. This wasn’t the world I imagined for my denouement. Not faintly. Of course, I can’t claim I ever really imagined such a place. Who, in their youth, considers their death and the world that might accompany it, the one you might leave behind for younger generations? I’m 76 now. True, if I were lucky (or perhaps unlucky), I could live another 20 years and see yet a newer world born. But for the moment at least, it seems logical enough to consider this pandemic nightmare of a place as the country of my old age, the one that I and my generation (including a guy named Donald J. Trump) will pass on to our children and grandchildren.

Back in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, I knew it was going to be bad. I felt it deep in my gut almost immediately and, because of that, stumbled into creating TomDispatch.com, the website I still run. But did I ever think it would be this bad? Not a chance.

I focused back then on what already looked to me like a nightmarish American imperial adventure to come, the response to the 9/11 attacks that the administration of President George W. Bush quickly launched under the rubric of “the Global War on Terror.” And that name (though the word “global” would soon be dropped for the more anodyne “war on terror”) would prove anything but inaccurate. After all, in those first post-9/11 moments, the top officials of that administration were thinking as globally as possible when it came to war. At the damaged Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld almost immediately turned to an aide and told him, “Go massive — sweep it all up, things related and not.” From then on, the emphasis would always be on the more the merrier.

Bush’s top officials were eager to take out not just Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, whose 19 mostly Saudi hijackers had indeed attacked this country in the most provocative manner possible (at a cost of only $400,000-$500,000), but the Taliban, too, which then controlled much of Afghanistan. And an invasion of that country was seen as but the initial step in a larger, deeply desired project reportedly meant to target more than 60 countries! Above all, George W. Bush and his top officials dreamed of taking down Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein, occupying his oil-rich land, and making the United States, already the unipolar power of the twenty-first century, the overseer of the Greater Middle East and, in the end, perhaps even of a global Pax Americana. Such was the oil-fueled imperial dreamscape of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and crew (including that charmer and now bestselling anti-Trump author John Bolton).

Who Woulda Guessed?

In the years that followed, I would post endless TomDispatch pieces, often by ex-military men, focused on the ongoing nightmare of our country’s soon-to-become forever wars (without a “pax” in sight) and the dangers such spreading conflicts posed to our world and even to us. Still, did I imagine those wars coming home in quite this way? Police forces in American cities and towns thoroughly militarized right down to bayonets, MRAPs, night-vision goggles, and helicopters, thanks to a Pentagon program delivering equipment to police departments nationwide more or less directly off the battlefields of Washington’s never-ending wars? Not for a moment.

Who doesn’t remember those 2014 photos of what looked like an occupying army on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, after the police killing of a Black teenager and the protests that followed? And keep in mind that, to this day, the Republican Senate and the Trump administration have shown not the slightest desire to rein in that Pentagon program to militarize police departments nationwide. Such equipment (and the mentality that goes with it) showed up strikingly on the streets of American cities and towns during the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

Even in 2014, however, I couldn’t have imagined federal agents by the hundreds, dressed as if for a forever-war battlefield, flooding onto those same streets (at least in cities run by Democratic mayors), ready to treat protesters as if they were indeed al-Qaeda (“VIOLENT ANTIFA ANARCHISTS”), or that it would all be part of an election ploy by a needy president. Not a chance.

Or put another way, a president with his own “goon squad” or “stormtroopers” outfitted to look as if they were shipping out for Afghanistan or Iraq but heading for Portland, Albuquerque, Chicago, Seattle, and other American cities? Give me a break! How un-American could you get? A military surveillance drone overhead in at least one of those cities as if this were someone else’s war zone? Give me a break again. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d live to witness anything quite like it or a president — and we’ve had a few doozies — even faintly like the man a minority of deeply disgruntled Americans but a majority of electors put in the White House in 2016 to preside over a failing empire.

How about an American president in the year 2020 as a straightforward, no-punches-pulled racist, the sort of guy a newspaper could compare to former segregationist Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace without even blinking? Admittedly, in itself, presidential racism has hardly been unique to this moment in America, despite Joe Biden’s initial claim to the contrary. That couldn’t be the case in the country in which Woodrow Wilson made D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, the infamous silent movie in which the Ku Klux Klan rides to the rescue, the first film ever to be shown in the White House; nor the one in which Richard Nixon used his “Southern strategy” — Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater had earlier labeled it even more redolently “Operation Dixie” — to appeal to the racist fears of Southern whites and so begin to turn that region from a Democratic stronghold into a Republican bastion; nor in the land where Ronald Reagan launched his election campaign of 1980 with a “states’ rights” speech (then still a code phrase for segregation) near Philadelphia, Mississippi, just miles from the earthen dam where three murdered civil rights workers had been found buried in 1964.

Still, an openly racist president (don’t take that knee!) as an autocrat-in-the-making (or at least in-the-dreaming), one who first descended that Trump Tower escalator in 2015 denouncing Mexican “rapists,” ran for president rabidly on a Muslim ban, and for whom Black lives, including John Lewis’s, have always been immaterial, a president now defending every Confederate monument and military base named after a slave-owning general in sight, while trying to launch a Nixon-style “law and (dis)order” campaign? I mean, who woulda thunk it?

And add to that the once unimaginable: a man without an ounce of empathy in the White House, a figure focused only on himself and his electoral and pecuniary fate (and perhaps those of his billionaire confederates); a man filling his hated “deep state” with congressionally unapproved lackies, flacks, and ass-kissers, many of them previously flacks (aka lobbyists) for major corporations. (Note, by the way, that while The Donald has a distinctly autocratic urge, I don’t describe him as an incipient fascist because, as far as I can see, his sole desire — as in those now-disappeared rallies of his — is to have fans, not lead an actual social movement of any sort. Think of him as Mussolini right down to the look and style with a “base” of cheering MAGA chumps but no urge for an actual fascist movement to lead.)

And who ever imagined that an American president might actually bring up the possibility of delaying an election he fears losing, while denouncing mail-in ballots (“the scandal of our time”) as electoral fraud and doing his damnedest to undermine the Post Office which would deliver them amid an economic downturn that rivals the Great Depression? Who, before this moment, ever imagined that a president might consider refusing to leave the White House even if he did lose his reelection bid? Tell me this doesn’t qualify as something new under the American sun. True, it wasn’t Donald Trump who turned this country’s elections into 1% affairs or made contributions by the staggeringly wealthy and corporations a matter of free speech (thank you, Supreme Court!), but it is Donald Trump who is threatening, in his own unique way, to make elections themselves a thing of the past. And that, believe me, I didn’t count on.

Nor did I conceive of an all-American world of inequality almost beyond imagining. A country in which only the truly wealthy (think tax cuts) and the national security state (think budgets eternally in the stratosphere) are assured of generous funding in the worst of times.

The World to Come?

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the pandemic yet, have I? The one that should bring to mind the Black Death of the fourteenth century and the devastating Spanish Flu of a century ago, the one that’s killing Americans in remarkable numbers daily and going wild in this country, aided and abetted in every imaginable way (and some previously unimaginable ones) by the federal government and the president. Who could have dreamed of such a disease running riot, month after month, in the wealthiest, most powerful country on the planet without a national plan for dealing with it? Who could have dreamed of the planet’s most exceptional, indispensable country (as its leaders once loved to call it) being unable to take even the most modest steps to rein in Covid-19, thanks to a president, Republican governors, and Republican congressional representatives who consider science the equivalent of alien DNA? Honestly, who ever imagined such an American world? Think of it not as The Decameron, that fourteenth century tale of 10 people in flight from a pandemic, but the Trumpcameron or perhaps simply Trumpmageddon.

And keep in mind, when assessing this world I’m going to leave behind to those I hold near and dear, that Covid-19 is hardly the worst of it. Behind that pandemic, possibly even linked to it in complex ways, is something so much worse. Yes, the coronavirus and the president’s response to it may seem like the worst of all news as American deaths crest 160,000 with no end in sight, but it isn’t. Not faintly on a planet that’s being heated to the boiling point and whose most powerful country is now run by a crew of pyromaniacs.

It’s hard even to fully conceptualize climate change since it operates on a time scale that’s anything but human. Still, one way to think of it is as a slow-burn planetary version of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And by the way, if you’ll excuse a brief digression, in these years, our president and his men have been intent on ripping up every Cold War nuclear pact in sight, while the tensions between two nuclear-armed powers, the U.S. and China, only intensify and Washington invests staggering sums in “modernizing” its nuclear arsenal. (I mean, how exactly do you “modernize” the already-achieved ability to put an almost instant end to the world as we’ve known it?)

But to return to climate change, remember that 2020 is already threatening to be the warmest year in recorded history, while the five hottest years so far occurred from 2015 to 2019. That should tell you something, no?

The never-ending release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere has been transforming this planet in ways that have now become obvious. My own hometown, New York City, for instance, has officially become part of the humid subtropical climate zone and that’s only a beginning. Everywhere temperatures are rising. They hit 100 degrees this June in, of all places, Siberia. (The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of much of the rest of the planet.) Sea ice is melting fast, while floods and mega-droughts intensify and forests burn in a previously unknown fashion.

And as a recent heat wave across the Middle East — Baghdad hit a record 125 degrees — showed, it’s only going to get hotter. Much hotter and, given how humanity has handled the latest pandemic, how will it handle the chaos that goes with rising sea levels drowning coastlines but also affecting inland populations, ever fiercer storms, and flooding (in recent weeks, the summer monsoon has, for instance, put one third of Bangladesh underwater), not to speak of the migration of refugees from the hardest-hit areas? The answer is likely to be: not well.

And I could go on, but you get the point. This is not the world I either imagined or would ever have dreamed of leaving to those far younger than me. That the men (and they are largely men) who are essentially promoting the pandemicizing and over-heating of this planet will be the greatest criminals in history matters little.

Let’s just hope that, when it comes to creating a better world out of such a god-awful mess, the generations that follow us prove better at it than mine did. If I were a religious man, those would be my prayers.

And here’s my odd hope. As should be obvious from this piece, the recent past, when still the future, was surprisingly unimaginable. There’s no reason to believe that the future — the coming decades — will prove any easier to imagine. No matter the bad news of this moment, who knows what our world might really look like 20 years from now? I only hope, for the sake of my children and grandchildren, that it surprises us all.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs TomDispatch and is a fellow of the Type Media Center. His sixth and latest book is A Nation Unmade by War.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Copyright 2020 Tom Engelhardt

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This is such a powerful essay written from the heart of a good man.

I, too, wonder and worry about the next twenty years. Indeed, there are the stirrings of a book in my head. How that younger generation are reacting to the present and, more importantly, how they will react and respond to the next few years?

I’m 75 and really hope to live for quite a few more years. Jean is just a few years younger.

But much more importantly I have a son, Alex, who is 49, and a daughter, Maija, who is 48, and a grandson, Morten, of my daughter and her husband, who is 9.

They cannot escape the future!

No limit to the goodness of dogs!

Have a look at this!

We are no strangers to dogs. But we still do hear of accounts of dogs that just leave one speechless.

Now I wouldn’t have said that dogs and birds are great buddies but this account on The Dodo is precious.

You have a read.

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Dog Brings Mom An Injured Bird And Then Waits To Make Sure She’s OK

August 7th, 2020

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Houston

Charlie’s family rescued him two years ago, and they’ve come to know him as one of the sweetest dogs around. He’s a very gentle soul who cares a lot about the people around him — so when Charlie saw a bird fly into a window and fall to the ground, he immediately sprang into action.

“He found the bird right after she flew into my living room window,” Elizabeth Houston, Charlie’s mom, told The Dodo.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Houston

Charlie could see that the bird wasn’t moving and needed help, so he gently picked her up in his mouth, brought her over to his mom and dropped the bird in her lap. Then, he waited. He refused to leave his mom’s side as she held the bird, and he watched her intently, waiting for the bird to wake up.

“He and my Bostons kept a close eye on me and the bird the whole time,” Houston said.

Finally, the bird woke up and started chirping — and Charlie was so excited, he couldn’t believe it.

“The look on Charlie’s face was priceless,” Houston said.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Houston

Charlie was so happy to see that his bird friend was all right, thanks to his quick thinking. Once Houston was sure that the bird was completely OK, she released her back into the yard, and Charlie was by her side as he watched his new friend fly away.

Charlie was so concerned after he saw the bird fall that he had to make sure she got the help she needed, and his family hopes that his story will help people see how sweet pit bulls really are.

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It is so true that Pit Bulls have a very special and caring side to them. Indeed, half the reported problems with Pit Bulls comes from the way certain people ‘train’ them.

I must point you towards BAPBR, that stands for Born Again Pit Bull Rescue.

As BAPBR state on their home page:

We are the longest standing registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the Portland Metro area dedicated to improving the lives of pit bulls and their communities. As an all-volunteer run organization, we advocate for pit-bull-type dogs through community awareness and education and strive to combat misinformation, over-population, shelter crowding, low adoption and high euthanasia rates for these family dogs.

I will reach out to them and see if I can write a post about BAPBR.

Kim’s loss

The death of a loved dog!

I am not a great Facebook user, more for the benefit of my blog than anything else.

But I couldn’t help seeing an entry from Kim Spann. This is what she wrote:

Today I lost one of the greatest dogs I’ve ever known. My constant companion, protector and friend. I will miss her always but am blessed to have had her in my life for 8 years.

Well over two hundred people clicked ‘Like’ and when I was writing this post (about 2.30 pm on the 5th) there were 179 comments; all of them wonderful.

I, in turn, offered to write a small tribute, and it now follows.

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A tribute

Dogs are special. Special beyond words.

They have been with us humans for thousands of years. They have played with us. They have stayed by our side. They have rescued us. And much more.

They do not live long enough but even in their death do we share precious times and precious memories.

So … goodbye you darling creature. I love you!

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As Kim said: “My constant companion, protector and friend.”

A chimney inspection, and more

A couple of videos from Rik Cristiansen.

I find this fascinating. Apart from the value to the construction and home repair industries there is a beauty in the following video; well there is to my eyes!

(I suspect the music is also from Rik. I checked; it is!)

And the next one is a look at Rik getting ready to film a cellist. Or in his own words:

This film gives a look behind the scenes of a recent drone shoot we did for a music video. Additional footage and editing by Jazz Thorn, Music performed by Mateusz Holc.

But it also includes an explanation of the business of getting a drone ready for flight.

And the dogs will have to wait for next Sunday’s Picture Parade! Sorry!

Droning on!

With thanks to Monika for the title of today’s post!

My father was born in 1901. He had two wives. Me and my sister, Elizabeth, are the result of the relationship between our father and his second wife; Betty. Our father died in 1956; December 20th.

My father first was married to Maud and they had two daughters, Rhona and Corinne. Rhona died in 2003 and Corinne died in 2014. Although Rhona and Corinne were half-sisters I prefer to think of them as sisters!

Both had children. But I want to concentrate on Rhona. She and Reider, Norwegian by birth, had four children: Rolv; Greta; Rikard; Marit.

As is the way in this modern world, Rikky who lives near Torquay in South Devon, recently called in to see my brother-in-law, John, and John remarked to me that Rikky’s new wife, Jazz, was gorgeous. I asked Greta for a telephone number and, hey presto, Rikky and I were in contact with each other.

This is a little bit from Rik’s bio.

So you may remember I was with Amanda at the time of Mother’s passing, seems a long time ago now. Well that ultimately came to nothing and I ended up living alone with a couple of huskies in a small flat in Torquay. I had invested a large chunk of Mother’s inheritance into a PA system and set up and ran a sound engineering business for years as well as running quite a successful tribute band to ‘The Doors’. The PA company eventually ended after going into a partnership with a friend who also invested a chunk of cash allowing major upgrades to the kit.

Unfortunately I soon found out he was more interested in holidays to Spain than actual PA work, the problem being I had now sold vital parts of my rig which was replaced by his. We went separate ways and he took his gear with him leaving me without a full system, BIG lesson learnt.

At that point I went back to employment as an engineer for a company servicing and repairing lifting hoists to the health care industry. Four years in and the company went into administration.

Later Rikky says:

Back to work again this time to DPD as a delivery driver for a couple of years following in Rolv’s (Ed: brother) tyre tracks. This was when I also met Jazz on a random night out with friends. We immediately realised that we had many mutual friends and had actually met before many years ago when I was playing in her Dad’s Jazz band! This was around 19 years ago when I was 30 and Jazz was only 16. I only have a vague memory of her then sitting in a corner of the rehearsal room furiously scribbling in a sketch book.

Not much has changed there except she now holds a degree in Art and Design. She is also a Holistic Therapist and has trained in many holistic therapies including Reilki, Reflexology and Massage and is a very talented and beautiful woman. I feel incredibly blessed. She has two daughters Sanije and Latoja (nine and eleven) who I consider as mine; their father left the country last year and went back to Albania which actually has been a blessing for the girls as he is a difficult man to say the least.
So the driving job became another engineering position this time with a company specialising in fire alarms, a couple of years in and the contract I was working on was TUPED over to LiveWest which is one of the largest social housing companies in the South West. Two years after that and the company merged with another housing company, the role changed slightly so I was offered voluntary redundancy which I took giving me the financial opportunity to retrain as a commercial drone pilot and so here we are today.

Thus Rik became a commercial drone pilot and as the home page of his website declares:

We can accommodate all your aerial requirements from photography to cinematography, inspections to 3d mapping.

The name of Rik’s website is Ahead4Heights which strikes me as apt. And from the About page of that website, one reads:

Here at Ahead4Heights we have a passion for flying drones and creating visually stunning aerial films and photography. We are PfCO certified by the Civil Aviation Authority and hold full public liability insurance giving you complete confidence in us to provide the service you require.
With our post production studio facility we are able to add voice overs and original music written to your brief if required as we have our own in house composer and audio recording engineer.
Our UAV fleet consists of a variety of drones from the market leading DJI Inspire 2, capable of filming in incredible  5.2k resolution and producing the RAW file format standard for the film industry to our Pixhawk based quadcopter (equipt with a 4k camera) which we use for autonomous flight taking photos used to generate 3d mapping of locations useful for the construction industry.
Finally we have a heavy lift Tarot 680 hexacopter which is used as a backup drone and also for specialised  payloads such as thermal cameras and high power lighting.
If you simply want aerial photos for property sales, photos and footage for weddings and events we will be happy to offer our services to you.
We can also carry out inspection work on roofs, tower masts and bridges etc where specialised safety equipment and scaffolding would otherwise be required. Utilizing both the high resolution and thermal imaging cameras we are able to identify problems with the insulation of properties, stress points in structures and damage to roofs and guttering.
Ahead4Heights also holds certificates in the building and setting up of drones so if you require a drone built to your special requirements we would be happy to discuss. We would also offer a full maintenance package with any build projects.

A couple more photographs.

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And, of course, one more of the dogs! That is Storm and Tia.

More tomorrow!

Vegetables for dogs

Did you know your dog can eat vegetables.

Our latest dog, Sheena, is one such example of a dog that, in her case, needs vegetables for the sake of her digestion.

There’s a fuller report on what dogs can eat by way of vegetables that came out on the website Pet Releaf a while ago.

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8 Vegetables You Can Add To Your Dog’s Diet

Did you know your dog could eat vegetables? We researched 8 vegetables you can safely give to your pup!

This is not medical advice. Before pursuing feeding your dog a new food or supplement, it’s advised to consult with your veterinarian.

Vegetables aren’t just good for you—they’re also good for your pup! Giving your dog vegetables can be a great way to reward them for good behavior while avoiding unhealthy components such as unnatural fillers and empty calories, commonly found in treats. To avoid giving your pup too many heavy calorie treats a day, try adding vegetables to their daily regimen whether as treats or cooked vegetables in their food bowls. Consider choosing one of the vegetables listed below for their amazing pet health benefits.

8 Nutritious Vegetables for Dogs

 1. Carrots

Although carrots are a healthy vegetable for dogs, they can be a potential choking hazard if not prepared correctly. Offer your furry companion smaller pieces to start and watch for large undigested pieces in your pet’s stool. Carrots can be cooked, puréed, or chewed raw to help clean your dog’s teeth and reduce anxiety. They also help with eye health and boost the immune system.

2. Sweet potato

Packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, sweet potatoes can be cooked, puréed, or mashed as a great addition to your furry friend’s diet. Although they can be useful for supporting your dog’s digestive system, it’s important to give sparingly to your pup. One tablespoon in your pup’s breakfast or dinner should do the trick as we want to avoid any diarrheal issues. Plus, we even use sweet potato in our Sweet Potato Pie Edibites!

3. Celery

Celery can be a great, crunchy snack for your pup! Within that crunchy bite, celery is filled with vitamins such as Vitamin A, B, and C and can help support a healthy heart!

 4. Broccoli

Broccoli is another nutritional powerhouse for your pup, especially the stalks. Known to reduce arthritic inflammation, boost the immune system, and even keep cancer at bay, broccoli stalks are an ideal vegetable for dogs. Broccoli can be cooked or eaten raw to help clean teeth. However, too much broccoli (especially broccoli heads) can cause gas and upset the digestive tract, so be sure to offer this healthy dog treat in moderation. It’s also important to be cautious if your pup suffers from a low thyroid or is on thyroid medication as it can potentially drive the thyroid even lower.

 5. Kale

Like broccoli, kale is loaded with health benefits for your fur friend, but it too can cause major gas if too much is eaten. Be sure to add only a very small amount (1–2 ounces, depending on your dog’s size) of dried, steamed, or raw chopped kale to your dog’s food. Kale helps fight allergies, heart disease, urinary tract problems, and even arthritis. Similar to broccoli, it’s important to take caution when giving your dog kale as it won’t be as beneficial for dogs with a low thyroid that are on thyroid medication, since it has the potential of driving the thyroid lower.

 6. Cucumber

If your pup is on a diet, give your pup a taste of cucumber! Cucumbers are very low in carbohydrates as well as fats and oils. Plus, they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin K and potassium. Make sure to cut them up into bite size pieces to avoid any choking.

7. Zucchini

A small amount of frozen or raw shredded zucchini is excellent for adding extra water and fiber to your furry companion’s diet to keep them full.

8. Parsley

Rich in beta carotene for eye health and potassium for joint and muscle health, parsley also helps reduce “dog breath,” so you can accept your pup’s kisses and breathe easy again. Add just a little fresh chopped parsley to your dog’s meal or favorite Kong recipe.

Adding more dog-friendly vegetables to your pup’s diet at home is a great way to offer variety. When you’re too busy to prepare a veggie snack or need something while away from home, grab our Crunchy Edibites or Soft Chew Edibites filled with natural vegetable ingredients for a healthy pet snack on-the-go!

Shop Edibites on our website. We’re committed to providing a healthy alternative for pets while remaining committed to sustainability.

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If you are at all unsure as to whether your dog is good to go regarding vegetables, then let me repeat the caution that came at the start of the article: This is not medical advice. Before pursuing feeding your dog a new food or supplement, it’s advised to consult with your veterinarian.

But, in general, this is very interesting and, hopefully, will be noted by some of you for your dogs.

And I should say in closing that I have no association with this firm or with Pet Releaf at all.

Dog love

One can never turn off one’s heart to love

There was a story on the Daily Dodo yesterday that just says it all when it comes to us humans and our love for dogs. Now we don’t know the name of the Dad but so what! It’s a wonderful story nonetheless!

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Dad And The Dog He Didn’t Want Now Have The Sweetest Bedtime Routine

“He fell in love” ❤️

By Stephen Messenger,   Published on 7/27/2020

Believe it or not, there was once a time when Alice Garrido Gallardo’s dad didn’t want another dog at all — but now he pretty much epitomizes what it means to be a proud pet parent.

He and his pup, named Jean Grey, have the sweetest bedtime routine to prove it.

Alice Garrido Gallardo

Jean Grey started out life as a stray and was rescued by Gallardo’s friend. When Gallardo suggested to her dad that they adopt her, he was opposed to the idea at first.

“We had lost our old dog and he didn’t want to have another one anytime soon,” Gallardo told The Dodo. “He was still grieving.”

Gallardo, however, wasn’t deterred. She decided to arrange an introduction between Jean Grey and her dad. And sure enough:

“He fell in love the day I brought her home,” Gallardo said.

Alice Garrido Gallardo

As time went on, his love for the dog he didn’t want only grew stronger — and he found the most wonderful way to show it.

“He began to put her to bed every night,” Gallardo said.

Photo Credit: TikTok/alicegrgl

Each and every night now, Gallardo’s dad tucks Jean Grey into bed, placing a pillow under her head and toy close by.

“I love to see them, my dad being super loving and affectionate,” Gallardo said. “I love to see them and know that they love each other very much.”

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I used the sub-heading: “One can never turn off one’s heart to love.

To give that statement slightly more detail I should have said: “One can never turn off one’s heart to the love of a dog!