Author: Paul Handover

Oh dear, I meant deer!

A timely reminder from The Conversation.

We live in a rural part of Southern Oregon. The number of deer hit on our roads is appalling. Not infrequently when out cycling I come across a deer that seems uninjured. Often I get off my bike and stroke the animal, or drag it from the centre of the road to the shoulder. But it is dead.

Once recently the deer was still warm. What surprises me is that they are always dead. There never seems to be a deer that has been wounded. Probably just as well as I wouldn’t want to leave the animal.

We feed the deer at home on a daily basis and there is a young stag that has become familiar with me and starts eating the COB (corn, oats and barley mixed together) even before I have finished setting out the six piles of food. They are very dear creatures.

So this article has to be shared with you!

ooOOoo

Fall means more deer on the road: 4 ways time of day, month and year raise your risk of crashes

Deer cross roads whenever they wish, but some time periods are higher risk than others. Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Tom Langen, Clarkson University

Autumn is here, and that means the risk of hitting deer on rural roads and highways is rising, especially around dusk and during a full moon.

Deer cause over 1 million motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. each year, resulting in more than US$1 billion in property damage, about 200 human deaths and 29,000 serious injuries. Property damage insurance claims average around $2,600 per accident, and the overall average cost, including severe injuries or death, is over $6,000.

While avoiding deer – as well as moose, elk and other hoofed animals, known as ungulates – can seem impossible if you’re driving in rural areas, there are certain times and places that are most hazardous, and so warrant extra caution.

Transportation agencies, working with scientists, have been developing ways to predict where deer and other ungulates enter roads so they can post warning signs or install fencing or wildlife passages under or over the roadway. Just as important is knowing when these accidents occur.

My former students Victor Colino-Rabanal, Nimanthi Abeyrathna and I have analyzed over 86,000 deer-vehicle collisions involving white-tailed deer in New York state using police records over a three-year period. Here’s what our research and other studies show about timing and risk:

Time of day, month and year matters

The risk of hitting a deer varies by time of day, day of the week, the monthly lunar cycle and seasons of the year.

These accident cycles are partly a function of driver behavior – they are highest when traffic is heavy, drivers are least alert and driving conditions are poorest for spotting animals. They are also affected by deer behavior. Not infrequently, deer-vehicle accidents involve multiple vehicles, as startled drivers swerve to miss a deer and collide with a vehicle in another lane, or they slam on the breaks and are rear-ended by the vehicle behind.

Car on road during the start of leaf colors with road sign reading: Caution: High Hit Area
A sign warns of deer traffic on Route 16 in Franklin County, Maine. Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In analyzing thousands of deer-vehicle collisions, we found that these accidents occur most frequently at dusk and dawn, when deer are most active and drivers’ ability to spot them is poorest. Only about 20% of accidents occur during daylight hours. Deer-vehicle accidents are eight times more frequent per hour of dusk than daylight, and four times more frequent at dusk than after nightfall.

During the week, accidents occur most frequently on days that have the most drivers on the road at dawn or dusk, so they are associated with work commuter driving patterns and social factors such as Friday “date night” traffic.

Over the span of a month, the most deer-vehicle accidents occur during the full moon, and at the time of night that the moon is brightest. Deer move greater distances from cover and are more likely to enter roadways when there is more illumination at night. The pattern holds for deer and other ungulates in both North America and Europe.

Over a year, by far the highest numbers of deer-vehicle accidents are in autumn, and particularly during the rut, when bucks search and compete to mate with does. In New York state, the peak number of deer-vehicle accidents occurs in the last week of October and first weeks of November. There are over four times as many deer-vehicle accidents during that period than during spring. Moose-vehicle accidents show a similar pattern.

That high-risk period is also when daylight saving time ends – it happens on Nov. 7, 2021, in the U.S. Shifting the clock one hour back means more commuters are on the road during the high-risk dusk hours. The result is more cars driving at the peak time of day and during the peak time of the year for deer-vehicle accidents.

Overall, given that most U.S. states and more than 70 countries have seasonal “daylight saving” clock shifts, elevated ungulate-vehicle accident rates caused by clock shift may be a widespread problem.

[Over 100,000 readers rely on The Conversation’s newsletter to understand the world. Sign up today.]

There is a longstanding debate about the benefit of a daylight saving clock shift, given how it disrupts humans’ circadian rhythms, causing short-term stress and fatigue. Risk of deer-vehicle accidents may be another reason to reconsider whether clock shifts are worthwhile.

Deer still cross roads at any time

It’s important to remember that deer-vehicle accidents can occur at any time of day or night, on any day of the year – and that deer can show up in urban areas as well as rural ones.

The insurance company State Farm found that on average, U.S. drivers have a 1 in 116 chance of hitting an animal, with much higher rates in states such as West Virginia, Montana and Pennsylvania. Over the 12 months ending in June 2020, State Farm counted 1.9 million insurance claims for collisions with wildlife nationwide. Around 90% of those involved deer.

Where deer or other ungulates are likely to be present, drivers should always be alert and cautious, especially at dawn, dusk, on bright moonlit nights and during the fall rut.

Tom Langen, Professor of Biology, Clarkson University

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

ooOOoo

Nothing else to say but we drivers need to slow down and extra vigilant. Driving safely means always allowing for the unexpected and never following the vehicle in front too close. The minimum safe distance is one vehicle length for every 10 miles per hour in speed!

Canine Behavior.

Canine Behavior Friends from the start

In this month’s Science magazine, on page 1213, there is a short piece under the heading of In Other Journals.

I share it with you.

ooOOoo

Canine Behavior Friends from the start

By Sacha Vignieri.

Dogs, unlike wolves, are highly responsive to human voice, gestures, and eye contact.
CREDIT: ISTOCK.COM/HNIJJAR007

The closest relative to dogs, “man’s best friend,” is the wolf, a wily predator that generally avoids human interaction. For decades, researchers and dog owners have wondered how the leap to domestication occurred.

The main hypothesis invoked very early selection for wolves that “liked”—or least tolerated—humans, and the connection strengthened from there.

However, there is still some debate about whether the degree to which dogs interact and communicate with humans is a learned trait.

Two recent studies appear to close the book on this learning hypothesis. Bray et al. looked at about 400 puppies and found that at this young age and without much human interaction, they were adept at following human gestures and positively responded to high-pitched “puppy talk.” Further, there was variation in these responses with an association between relatedness and social communication skills, which supports a genetic driver.

Salomons et al. compared dog and wolf puppies and found no difference in general cognitive responses, but much greater responsiveness to human gestures and eye contact, in dog puppies. Importantly, this happened even though the dog pups had received less actual human interaction than did the wolf pups.

These studies confirm that dogs’ interest in communication with humans is an evolved trait unique to their lineage.

Curr. Biol.31, 3132, 3137 (2021).

ooOOoo

That is fascinating. Dogs have evolved this trait on their own, so to speak. It further underlines the precious nature of the relationship between dogs and humans.

Brandy et moi! Taken 6th April, 2018.

Yet more of the big question.

Time!

I wasn’t going to publish a post for today but then yesterday I read this article on The Conversation and wanted to share it with you. In fact it shares much of what I posted on the 1st, The Big Question. Because time and infinity are beautifully connected.

ooOOoo

What is time – and why does it move forward?

By Thomas Kitching, Lecturer in Astrophysics, UCL

Imagine time running backwards. People would grow younger instead of older and, after a long life of gradual rejuvenation – unlearning everything they know – they would end as a twinkle in their parents’ eyes. That’s time as represented in a novel by science fiction writer Philip K Dick but, surprisingly, time’s direction is also an issue that cosmologists are grappling with.

While we take for granted that time has a given direction, physicists don’t: most natural laws are “time reversible” which means they would work just as well if time was defined as running backwards. So why does time always move forward? And will it always do so?

Does time have a beginning?

Any universal concept of time must ultimately be based on the evolution of the cosmos itself. When you look up at the universe you’re seeing events that happened in the past – it takes light time to reach us. In fact, even the simplest observation can help us understand cosmological time: for example the fact that the night sky is dark. If the universe had an infinite past and was infinite in extent, the night sky would be completely bright – filled with the light from an infinite number of stars in a cosmos that had always existed.

For a long time scientists, including Albert Einstein, thought that the universe was static and infinite. Observations have since shown that it is in fact expanding, and at an accelerating rate. This means that it must have originated from a more compact state that we call the Big Bang, implying that time does have a beginning. In fact, if we look for light that is old enough we can even see the relic radiation from Big Bang – the cosmic microwave background. Realising this was a first step in determining the age of the universe (see below).

But there is a snag, Einstein’s special theory of relativity, shows that time is … relative: the faster you move relative to me, the slower time will pass for you relative to my perception of time. So in our universe of expanding galaxies, spinning stars and swirling planets, experiences of time vary: everything’s past, present and future is relative. 

So is there a universal time that we could all agree on?

The universe’s timeline. Design Alex Mittelmann, Coldcreation/wikimedia, CC BY-SA

It turns out that because the universe is on average the same everywhere, and on average looks the same in every direction, there does exist a “cosmic time”. To measure it, all we have to do is measure the properties of the cosmic microwave background. Cosmologists have used this to determine the age of the universe; its cosmic age. It turns out that the universe is 13.799 billion years old. 

Time’s arrow

So we know time most likely started during the Big Bang. But there is one nagging question that remains: what exactly is time? 

To unpack this question, we have to look at the basic properties of space and time. In the dimension of space, you can move forwards and backwards; commuters experience this everyday. But time is different, it has a direction, you always move forward, never in reverse. So why is the dimension of time irreversible? This is one of the major unsolved problems in physics. 

To explain why time itself is irreversible, we need to find processes in nature that are also irreversible. One of the few such concepts in physics (and life!) is that things tend to become less “tidy” as time passes. We describe this using a physical property called entropy that encodes how ordered something is.

Imagine a box of gas in which all the particles were initially placed in one corner (an ordered state). Over time they would naturally seek to fill the entire box (a disordered state) – and to put the particles back into an ordered state would require energy. This is irreversible. It’s like cracking an egg to make an omelette – once it spreads out and fills the frying pan, it will never go back to being egg-shaped. It’s the same with the universe: as it evolves, the overall entropy increases.

Unfortunately that’s not going to clean up itself. Alex Dinovitser/wikimediaCC BY-SA

It turns out entropy is a pretty good way to explain time’s arrow. And while it may seem like the universe is becoming more ordered rather than less – going from a wild sea of relatively uniformly spread out hot gas in its early stages to stars, planets, humans and articles about time – it’s nevertheless possible that it is increasing in disorder. That’s because the gravity associated with large masses may be pulling matter into seemingly ordered states – with the increase in disorder that we think must have taken place being somehow hidden away in the gravitational fields. So disorder could be increasing even though we don’t see it.

But given nature’s tendency to prefer disorder, why did the universe start off in such an ordered state in the first place? This is still considered a mystery. Some researchers argue that the Big Bang may not even have been the beginning, there may in fact be “parallel universes” where time runs in different directions

Will time end?

Time had a beginning but whether it will have an end depends on the nature of the dark energy that is causing it to expand at an accelerating rate. The rate of this expansion may eventually tear the universe apart, forcing it to end in a Big Rip; alternatively dark energy may decay, reversing the Big Bang and ending the Universe in a Big Crunch; or the Universe may simply expand forever.

But would any of these future scenarios end time? Well, according to the strange rules of quantum mechanics, tiny random particles can momentarily pop out of a vacuum – something seen constantly in particle physics experiments. Some have argued that dark energy could cause such “quantum fluctuations” giving rise to a new Big Bang, ending our time line and starting a new one. While this is extremely speculative and highly unlikely, what we do know is that only when we understand dark energy will we know the fate of the universe.

So what is the most likely outcome? Only time will tell.

ooOOoo

Let me explain, in part, entropy. Because while I and many others sort of understand it, the principle behind entropy is much more detailed.

It is explained pretty well on WikiPedia, from which I reproduce the first paragraph.

Entropy is a scientific concept, as well as a measurable physical property that is most commonly associated with a state of disorder, randomness, or uncertainty. The term and the concept are used in diverse fields, from classical thermodynamics, where it was first recognized, to the microscopic description of nature in statistical physics, and to the principles of information theory. It has found far-ranging applications in chemistry and physics, in biological systems and their relation to life, in cosmologyeconomicssociologyweather scienceclimate change, and information systems including the transmission of information in telecommunication.[1]

There’s a little bit more to read … 😉

Again, I am going to finish with sharing that image from Unsplash.

Imagine the universe is constant whichever direction one looks in, to 1 in 10,000. That is truly amazing!

Dogs’ Teeth!

Another helpful article.

Of course when I want a photograph of the teeth of one of our dogs then none is available. So this photo of Sweeney kissing Jean taken in 2018 will have to do.

But the question of dental care and attention for dogs is yet something else we dog owners need to know. That is why a recent article in The Dodo is a great share for you all today.

ooOOoo

How To Tell If Your Dog Needs Dental Work

And what it means if he has dragon breath 🐉

By SAM HOWELL

Published on the 7th September, 2021

You probably think that if your dog needs dental work, you’ll be able to tell by looking at his teeth — right?

Turns out, that’s not always the case.

The Dodo spoke with Allyne Moon, a registered vet technician with Free Animal Doctor in California, who explained what you need to know about dental work for dogs — and why it’s so important to get regular check-ups.

How to tell if your dog needs dental work

Your dog’s dental health is super important, so you need to be able to identify when your pup’s pearly whites might need some work.

“Pet parents should check their dogs’ teeth regularly,” Moon told The Dodo.

During those check-ins on his chompers, you should know what to do and what to look for.

“Look all the way at the back teeth by gently pulling the corner of the lip back,” Moon explained. “If the teeth appear discolored, [if the] gums are very red [or ‘angry’], [if] any blood or [pus or] discharge is present or if teeth are loose, they should seek a consultation with their veterinarian.”

If your pup’s breath is so bad that it almost makes you wish you didn’t have a sense of smell, that’s also a pretty solid indication that your dog needs dental work.

“If your dog’s breath smells bad, even if the teeth look OK, it is also an indication to have your pet evaluated by your veterinarian,” Moon said.

Signs your dog needs dental work

Some general symptoms that might mean your pup needs dental work include:

  • Having bad breath
  • Experiencing excessive drooling
  • Pawing or rubbing his mouth (more than usual)
  • Getting lumps on his face under his eyes
  • Dropping food when eating
  • Eating less
  • Appearing like his mouth is in pain
  • Refusing to let you look in his mouth

If you’re noticing any of these signs, you should give your vet a call.

Common dog dental problems

According to Moon, your dog can be at higher risk for certain dental problems based on his size.

“In my experience, the most common dental problems in … small breed dogs [are] heavy dental tartar, calculus and crowded [or] diseased teeth,” Moon said. “Large breed dogs [can have] broken teeth, requiring … root canal, endodontic therapy or extraction.”

Now, that doesn’t mean that tartar buildup only happens in small dog breeds, or that big dogs are the only pups who have broken teeth.

These problems can happen in any dog, no matter his size or breed.

If your pup is experiencing any of these things, or any of the symptoms above, it’s crucial to bring him directly to the vet ASAP.

“I would absolutely NEVER take your pet to a ‘nonanesthetic pet dentist’ [or] run out [to] a grooming shop,” Moon said. “At best, these people only provide a cosmetic service. At [worst], you’ll be spending a lot of money for something that gives you a false sense of confidence and can ruin your pet’s health … If your pet is lucky, the only thing they will waste is your money.”

How to stay on top of your dog’s dental care

“Unfortunately, once your dog’s teeth have reached the stage of significant tartar buildup, foul breath or loose [or] broken teeth, there’s nothing a pet parent can do at home to help beyond scheduling an appointment with their veterinarian,” Moon said.

However, there are things you can do to try to prevent things from getting to that point.

The best way to keep your dog’s teeth clean at home

According to Moon, it’s key to use an appropriate dog toothpaste.

“The onset of many dental problems can be delayed by having pet parents brush their dogs’ teeth with a pet-approved enzymatic toothpaste,” Moon explained. “The beauty of an enzymatic toothpaste is it works without scrubbing.”

This is great if your pup can’t stand it when you try to get in there with a toothbrush.

“If all you can do is get the enzymatic paste on the gums and teeth, that is fine,” Moon said. “People have gotten good results by just smearing the paste onto their dog’s gums and teeth.”

It’s also important to know what should — and shouldn’t — be in your dog’s toothpaste.

“Whatever product people use, it should be labeled for dogs, work by using enzymes, NOT have fluoride in it and come in a flavor your pet enjoys,” Moon explained.

(Ed: Two entries for products listed on Amazon removed. Please go here if you need to see the details.)

Between regular at-home dental care and cleanings at your vet’s office, there’s so much you can do to keep your pup’s teeth pearly white — and smelling good.

ooOOoo

And I will close with another photograph, this time of Brandy, but again with his mouth tightly closed!

Hope people found this useful!

Eating out with your ….

…. dog!

The last few days have been sidetracking me from writing the blog. Apart from editing my third book The One We Feed and dealing with critical fire conditions and hoping with all our hearts for the rain due on Friday night to materialise, and … You get the message!

Anyway, The Dodo came up with a lovely snippet on the 20th August. Here it is:

ooOOoo

Diner Spots A Guy Out On The Sweetest Date With His Dog

Relationship goals 💞 

By Stephen Messenger, Published on the 20th August, 2021.

The other day, Gemma Colón stopped by a restaurant in New York City to grab a bite. But the visit ended up satisfying more than just her appetite.

“I was presented with one of the most unexpectedly heartwarming views,” Colón told The Dodo. “I noticed this dog seated across from his owner, perched up on a chair, acting like an absolute proper gentleman.”

The dog and his owner were apparently on a date.

GEMMA COLÓN

Colón was fortunate enough to be seated in view of the adorable pair — basking the sight of the good thing they have going.

“[The man] was doing a crossword puzzle and sipping a glass of red wine with his meal. His date (the dog) was enjoying his own bowl of water, which he slurped politely,” Colón said. “It was really amazing how well-behaved the pup was. I saw better table manners displayed by this dog than I’ve seen from some humans.”

While the man and his dog dined, Colón saw other patrons smile at the sweet scene as well. No one had the heart to interrupt their meal to comment on their cuteness, but Colón did overhear an exchange with their server — revealing that this wasn’t just a one-off outing.

“I heard a waitress comment on how good the dog was at one point, and the man replied saying he brings the dog with him everywhere,” Colón said. “It definitely seemed like a very pleasant date, with lovely company.”

ooOOoo

This is really a delightful story but it isn’t surprising. Because dogs that are loved and cared for by us humans are so loving and caring in return. As the waitress heard the man brings his dog everywhere. He is never separated from the dog.

Perfect!

Is this dog guilty of thieving?

I don’t think so but you be the judge.

So many delightful stories about dogs. In this particular one we humans are trying to vote with our human heads about the antics of a dog. I am certain that dogs do not understand theft. That’s just my instinct for I have no expertise in the matter.

ooOOoo

Guilty Dog Lands A Spot On Convenience Store’s ‘Wall Of Shame’

He’s infamous 😂

By Stephen Messenger

Published on the 23rd August, 2021

The owners of this convenience store in Denver are tired of shoplifters, and they’re not afraid to show it. So they have a prominently displayed “wall of shame” — a collection of photos of past offenders caught on the store’s security cameras.

But one them is not like the others.

Among the photos on the wall is that of a dog — his fluffy pup face staring back in adorable infamy.

His offense?

“Beef Jerky Thief,” a faded caption below the photo reads.

Despite that, however, he’s nevertheless described as a “good boy.”

To learn more about the incident that landed the dog on the wall of shame, The Dodo reached out to Jakub Niedzwiecki, a frequent visitor to the convenient store. He spoke with the owners about what happened.

“The furry boy actually belongs to a regular customer,” Niedzwiecki told The Dodo. “The dog has such an affinity for the jerky aisle that it couldn’t help but bite on a loose Slim Jim and (nearly) walk out of the store with it.”

On that occasion, the dog was stopped before making off with his steal. Still, he was added to the wall of shame as a joke.

But the joke’s on them: The dog is shameless. He’s allowed inside with his owner, who’s now friends with the storekeepers, but the pup still seems to be on the lookout for the chance to rob again.

“What bonded them all together was the jerky incident,” Niedzwiecki said. “[The store owners] told me that every time the dog is there, his nose just leads him to the same aisle every time.”

ooOOoo

“… the dog was stopped before making off with his steal.”

That’s not a steal!

The storekeepers must stop looking at the dog through human eyes.