Category: Core thought

The doggie language course continues!

Another delightful insight from Lea.

On the 6th September last I offered a guest post from Lea of the blog Paws Give Me Purpose that carried the title More Doggie Language. It was well-received by all of you.

So it was easy for me to say “Yes” to Lea offering an update. Here it is.

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September 1, 2017, by Lea

Doggie Language Continued

Lately, I have seen many articles written on dog language and what your dog may be telling you. I published my own post entitled “Doggie Language” back on June 25th, the link can be found here:

http://www.pawsgivemepurpose.com/doggie-language/

There are just so many ways our dogs speak to us that one post will never be enough. Even when you think you have it all covered you suddenly think of something else, see your dog do something new, or read something else from another individual’s perspective. That is why today I am writing about this subject once again.

So here’s an interesting question that I have been asked a few times, and it makes me laugh every time I see someone on Facebook, or another site posting a joke or photo about it. Why do dogs follow you into the bathroom?

(image courtesy of Pinterest.com)

Having a loyal dog in your household ensures an incredible amount of love between you and your pup. Understanding your dog can be easy and it’s not hard to understand that your pup wants to give you some love with kisses, however your pup may often behave in more subtle manners as well.

Now, most of us aren’t mentalists or even Dr. Doolittle, so here are some things your dog may do and what they are trying to say to you:

  • Puppy dog eyes – puppy dog eyes are often used by young children whenever they really want something. Your pup may use them to show love and it enforces a greater trust between you both.
  • Following you around – you must agree that it is absolutely adorable when your pup follows you all over the house. According to some Veterinarians, following behavior is a dog’s instinct, to always do things with their pack/family.
  • Giving you gifts – I have had my dogs bring me dead birds, squirrels, and even once a live baby squirrel into the house. The gift is not always as interesting or gross, sometimes it’s a ball to play fetch or a stuffed toy, but turns out that our pups simply want to share their joy with us and there’s no better person to share it with!
  • Cuddle time after dinner – most of us are used to our dogs cuddling at bedtime or on the couch when we watch tv, but cuddling with you after their bellies are filled with a hearty meal shows that your pup is truly comfortable around you.
  • Licking your face and body – there are some people who love it, others find it gross, but all dogs like giving licks once in a while. Licking is actually a submissive behavior and it actually helps your pup ease their stress level as well as of course being a sign of loving you.
  • Going “crazy” when you come home – the second your dog hears you coming back home, chaos ensues. I know at my house it starts the minute I pull into the driveway, I can hear them even before I put my key in the lock.. Your pup is just happy you’re home, happy to see you! This enthusiastic response is just their way of saying “I missed you”.
  • Knowing when something is wrong – Your pet doesn’t need to be able to actually talk to you to sense that something is wrong or if you’re feeling sad. They read your body language and use their senses to detect if something is wrong. They are also more than willing to help you feel better.
  • Crawling into your bed – not everyone sleeps with their dogs, it’s a personal preference. Perhaps once every so often, your pup will join you in your bed, they won’t just sit there, they keep you close. Often they will cuddle you, they lay on you. When you’re not home and away for work, they may just want to smell you so they climb in the bed because they miss you.
  • Raising a single paw or tapping you with a paw – raising one of two paws usually means your dog is in the mood for some playtime or wants attention. Sometimes, they’ll do this when they see something interesting in their environment, they will sit with one paw raised like a statue.
  • Leaning against you – if your dog is actively leaning against you, it means he or she is looking for some extra love, hugs, pets from you. Dogs always love to have your undivided attention!
  • Try to get your opinion – have you ever had the feeling that your dog was looking for your approval? Your pup actually really appreciates and values your opinion. A little love and affection go a long way!
(image courtesy of Pinterest.com)

Whether you have a new dog or you and your pup have been together for a while, it’s helpful to know the meaning of their communication signals so that you can adjust your own behavior as needed and also you know how your pup is feeling.

Dogs make vocalizations and gestures using their face and body just as us humans do in order to express their feelings. While some of these gestures can appear similar to ours, they can have very different meanings. It is my hope that my original post on the subject and in this follow up, I have helped you learn a little more about how to interpret your dog’s various actions and that you’ve learned something new about how to communicate more effectively with your own pup!

Sources and further reading:

http://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/how-read-your-dogs-body-language/415

http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/dog-body-language

http://stories.barkpost.com/dog-body-language-charts/

When I was reading this I was struck by Lea reminding me, and all other dog lovers, that the role of the gestures and faces of our dogs so closely matches how we humans communicate non-verbally. No wonder the bond between dog and human can be so close and wonderful.

A story!

Sent to me by my grandson, Morten!

How times change! Morten is now writing stories on his iPad and sending them to me.

Like this one:

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Once upon a time there were 2 Very cute dogs called cuty and puty and they were having a great day in the deep dark forest 🌳 and  cuty said I want to go home 🏡 but puty doesn’t want to go home but they did. THE END

This was a story about two dogs 

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And included in that lovely email was this photograph:

Maija, me and Jeannie.

Okay good people, my book event is now behind me and Jeannie and I are back home.

Hopefully more responsive to you all now!

Foreboding times?

Something brooding in the air!

The smoke from the forest fires in Oregon and California has been thick in the air here in Merlin for days.

As can be seen in the photograph below. The photograph is as it was captured by the camera at 7:15 am yesterday morning. No changes by me made at all. The middle tree line is at the Eastern end of our property about a 1/4 mile away.

We are fed up with the smoke and the terrible air conditions.

But what drew me to grab the camera and take the photograph was that the image had some sort of, Oh, I don’t know, some sort of end of the world feeling about it.

It also seemed a most apt image to be an introduction to the latest essay from George Monbiot. It is republished here with Mr. Monbiot’s kind permission.

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Don’t Look Now

2nd September 2017

The media avoids the subject of climate breakdown – to do otherwise is to bring the entire infrastructure of thought crashing down

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 29 August 2017

It is not only Donald Trump’s government that censors the discussion of climate change; it is the entire body of polite opinion. This is why, though the links are clear and obvious, the majority of news reports on Hurricane Harvey have made no mention of the human contribution.

In 2016, the United States elected a president who believes that human-driven global warming is a hoax. It was the hottest year on record, in which the US was hammered by a series of climate-related disasters. Yet the total combined coverage for the entire year on the evening and Sunday news programmes on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News amounted to 50 minutes. Our greatest predicament, the issue that will define our lives, has been blotted from our minds.

This is not an accident. But nor (with the exception of Fox News) is it likely to be a matter of policy. It reflects a deeply ingrained and scarcely conscious self-censorship. Reporters and editors ignore the subject because they have an instinct for avoiding trouble. To talk about climate breakdown (which in my view is a better term than the curiously bland labels we attach to this crisis) is to question not only Donald Trump, not only current environmental policy, not only current economic policy, but the entire political and economic system.

It is to expose a programme that relies on robbing the future to fuel the present, that demands perpetual growth on a finite planet. It is to challenge the very basis of capitalism; to inform us that our lives are dominated by a system that cannot be sustained, a system that is destined, if it is not replaced, to destroy everything.

To claim that there is no link between climate breakdown and the severity of Hurricane Harvey is like claiming that there is no link between the warm summer we have experienced and the end of the last ice age. Every aspect of our weather is affected by the fact that global temperatures rose by around 4° between the ice age and the 19th Century. And every aspect of our weather is affected by the 1° of global warming caused by human activities. While no weather event can be blamed solely on human-driven warming, no weather event is unaffected by it.

We know that the severity and impact of hurricanes on coastal cities are exacerbated by at least two factors: higher sea levels, caused primarily by the thermal expansion of seawater, and greater storm intensity, caused by higher sea temperatures and the ability of warm air to hold more water than cold air.

Before it reached the Gulf of Mexico, Harvey had been demoted from a tropical storm to a tropical wave. But as it reached the Gulf, whose temperatures this month have been far above average, it was upgraded first to a tropical depression, then to a category 1 hurricane. It might have been expected to weaken as it approached the coast, as hurricanes churn the sea, bringing cooler waters to the surface. But the water it brought up from 100 metres and more was also unusually warm. By the time it reached land, Harvey had intensified to a category 4 hurricane.

We were warned about this. In June, for example, Robert Kopp, a professor of earth sciences, predicted that “In the absence of major efforts to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience, the Gulf Coast will take a massive hit. Its exposure to sea-level rise – made worse by potentially stronger hurricanes – poses a major risk to its communities.”

To raise this issue, I’ve been told on social media, is to politicise Hurricane Harvey. It is an insult to the victims and a distraction from their urgent need. The proper time to discuss it is when people have rebuilt their homes, and scientists have been able to conduct an analysis of just how great the contribution from climate breakdown might have been. In other words, talk about it only when it’s out of the news. When researchers determined, 9 years on, that human activity had made a significant contribution to Hurricane Katrina, the information scarcely registered.

I believe it is the silence that’s political. To report the storm as if it were a entirely natural phenomenon, like last week’s eclipse of the sun, is to take a position. By failing to make the obvious link and talk about climate breakdown, media organisations ensure that our greatest challenge goes unanswered. They help push the world towards catastrophe.

Hurricane Harvey offers a glimpse of a likely global future; a future whose average temperatures are as different from ours as ours are from those of the last ice age. It is a future in which emergency becomes the norm and no state has the capacity to respond. It is a future in which, as a paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters notes, disasters like Houston’s occur in some cities several times a year. It is a future that, for people in countries such as Bangladesh, has already arrived, almost unremarked by the rich world’s media. It is the act of not talking that makes this nightmare likely to materialise.

In Texas, the connection could scarcely be more apparent. The storm ripped through the oil fields, forcing rigs and refineries to shut down, including those owned by some of the 25 companies that have produced over half the greenhouse gas emissions humans have released since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Hurricane Harvey has devastated a place in which climate breakdown is generated, and in which the policies that prevent it from being addressed are formulated.

Like Donald Trump, who denies human-driven global warming, but who wants to build a wall around his golf resort in Ireland to protect it from the rising seas, these companies, some of which have spent millions sponsoring climate deniers, have progressively raised the height of their platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, in response to warnings about higher seas and stronger storms. They have grown from 40 feet above sea level in 1940, to 70ft in the 1990s, to 91ft today.

This is not, however, a story of mortal justice. In Houston, as everywhere else, it is generally the poorer communities, that are least responsible for the problem, who are hit first and hit worst. But the connection between cause and effect should appeal to even the slowest minds.

The problem is not confined to the United States. Across the world, the issue that hangs over every aspect of our lives is marginalised, except on the rare occasions on which world leaders gather to discuss it in sombre tones (then sombrely agree to do almost nothing), whereupon the instinct to follow the machinations of power overrides the instinct to avoid a troubling subject. When they do cover the issue, they tend to mangle it. In the UK, the BBC distinguished itself in customary fashion this month, by yet again inviting the climate change denier Lord Lawson onto the Today programme, in the mistaken belief that impartiality requires a balance between correct facts and false ones. They seldom make such a mess of other topics, because they take them more seriously.

When Trump’s enforcers instruct officials and scientists to purge any mention of climate change from their publications, we are scandalised. But when the media does it, without the need for a memo, we let it pass. This censorship is invisible even to the perpetrators, woven into the fabric of organisations that are constitutionally destined to leave the major questions of our times unasked. To acknowledge this issue is to challenge everything. To challenge everything is to become an outcast.

www.monbiot.com

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Dear people, I sat staring at the screen for 10 minutes and then went off when Jeannie called lunchtime. Returned to the screen a little after 2pm yesterday and still couldn’t come up with a closing thought that merited being shared with you all.

See you tomorrow!

Returning to diet!

Another fabulous guest post.

Just a few days ago I was contacted by June Frazier who offered me (and all of you!) a couple of topics for a guest post to be written by June. The two topics were 5 Common Winter Illnesses in Dogs (And How To Treat Them) and Why Now Is The Right Time To Change Your Dog’s Diet.
Of course I said ‘Yes’ and chose the second one thinking it was a tad too early for a post about Winter illnesses.

Here it is.

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Why Now Is The Right Time To Change Your Dog’s Diet.

3 Critical Signs That You Need To Change

by June Frazier.

Today, 96% of all dog owners in the world feed their dog’s commercial pet food. A good number of this population believes that the dried pet food is all their dog needs to stay healthy. Hence, the dogs are fed one type of food all the time.

In fact, they never consider introducing their dog to the many homemade dog food recipes available. Many dog owners are unaware of the fact that as a dog’s body changes, it requires different diets to stay healthy. If you are one of these dog owners, it is time to change your dog’s diet.

Three major reasons why now is the right time to change your dog’s diet:

1. The Age of the dog

As your dog ages, he needs extra diet considerations to stay nimble. At the age of 5, your dog is considered to be middle aged. You need to change their diet at this point as they need fewer calories and more fiber. This is because middle aged dogs are less active and their new lifestyle does not require the same diet they were on when they were younger. In addition, high calorie foods may do them more harm than good. Also, avoid giving your dog too much protein since it can damage his liver and kidneys.

Feed your dog with the right food that will benefit his joints to stay stronger, or foods that have plenty of antioxidants. Your middle aged dog may also need supplements to keep his joints and organs working optimally.

2. Obesity

Most dog parents do not realize that even in moderation, some food types contribute more to their pet’s weight than others. When your dog starts to put on a few extra pounds in their midsection, this is a clear indication that you need to change his diet.

The additional weight can easily slow down your dog. Obesity in dogs also opens them up to a variety of potential health problems. Change his diet to foods that can give them all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals without adding some extra kilos.

There are special diets for dogs that are specially designated for weight loss. These diets take advantage of the latest research in pet weight management, to ensure your dog leads a healthy, happier life. If your pet dog is extremely overweight, you are advised to consult with your veterinarian for a detailed and therapeutic nutritional solution.

3. Allergies and Skin conditions

On average, an itchy dog is an allergic dog. Most times, the reason behind their allergy and skin condition is their food or environment. You need to switch your dog’s diet to something a little simpler or less processed food.

In a case of an allergy, vets prescribe non-allergen diets or foods that do not trigger your dog’s allergic reaction. Homemade dog food recipes are ideal as you can mix the ingredients on your own as well as do an easy control experiment to figure out which foods cause his allergy. Also, make sure to alter one food ingredient per time until you get the culprit.

Although the transition may take a long time before you figure out what your dog is allergic to, the diet you end up with will be far healthier and nutritional to help him lead a better life. You can also take your dog to the vet to find out more about their allergy and skin condition.

Sometimes, the reason behind your dog’s skin condition may be due to a deficient diet. If your dog has a dull, matted coat, make sure you feed your dog foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids to help improve their coat quality and gastric health.

Choosing the right food for your pet is essential for your dog’s long-term health. However, it is not a substitute for medical care.

Make sure you visit a veterinarian on a regular basis to ensure your pet is healthy and happy. Along with your new diet, make sure your dog has plenty of fresh, clean water available at all times.

It is also advisable that you change your dog’s diet gradually and systematically. Substitute a little of the new diet with the old food. Swap out a little more of the old with the new until your dog is comfortable with the new diet.

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No question in my mind that this was a useful and informative article. I did ask June to offer a little about herself and this is what she wrote me:

June is the founder of the blog Toby’s Bone where she shares her passion for writing and love for dogs. She wants to help you deal with your dog’s behavior issues, grooming and health needs, and proper training. Through her blog, you can find informative and reliable posts, tips and tricks, and a lot of interesting reads that will help you maintain a close bond with your furry companion.

Well this gets my vote and I sincerely hope this isn’t the last time we hear from June.

Giving us better lives!

Delighted to republish this for you all.

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.

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Pets Can Change Our Life For The Better

Posted on August 18, 2017

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.

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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.”

Our Brandy!

A connection that will last a lifetime!

Enhancing the life of our dogs!

We truly do want our dogs to live to a grand old age.

In recent posts I have included photographs of Cleo and Brandy. (As I will now do again!)

Cleo, the listening dog par excellence!

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Brandy – as pure as it gets!

However, one of the sad aspects of our bigger dogs is that their lifespan is usually shorter than our smaller dogs.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could live longer lives.

That is the reason that I didn’t hesitate for a moment in wanting to share an essay that was recently published on the Care2 site.

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Want Your Dog to Live to 30? Add This to Their Bowl

a Care2 favorite by Lisa Spector

About Lisa Follow Lisa at @throughadogsear

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.

Natural and dry dog's food

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?

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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.

 

Why Dogs Are Friendly

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.

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Why dogs are friendly – it’s written in their genes

By Helen Briggs – BBC News, 20 July 2017

Some wolves are more sociable than others.

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.

Captive wolves gave humans only brief attention.

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.

Wolves playing at Yellowstone.

Dogs were domesticated from wolves between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago.

New story for domestication of dogs

This process began when wolves that were tolerant of humans sneaked into hunter gatherer camps to feed on food scraps.

Over the course of history, wolves were eventually tamed and became the dogs we know today, which come in all shapes and sizes.

The finding of genetic changes linked to sociability in dogs shows how their friendly behaviour might have evolved.

“This could easily play into the story then of how these wolves leave descendants that are also ‘friendlier’ than others, setting the path for domestication,” said Dr vonHoldt.

The research is published in the journal, Science Advances.

Follow Helen on Twitter.

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When it comes to sociability in dogs, try this one for size!

Brandy – as pure as it gets!

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Eight

“The best laid plans of mice and men!”

The post Floor Diversion Day Three has been postponed for twenty-four hours.

Simply because yesterday morning the installers contracted by Home Depot (HD) to rip up our existing carpet and start laying the laminate wooden boarding found underneath the old carpet underlay another carpet that some time in the distant past had been glued down. Why this wasn’t spotted by the HD measuring unit when they came here to look at the project and offer an estimate for the cost of installing the new flooring is a question that has yet to be answered.

However, while the majority of HD work the full weekend the ‘Chargeback’ department do not. This department had to hear what had been discovered in order for us to know what extra costs we might be looking at!

A long-winded way of explaining why it is a pleasure to offer you a regular Picture Parade for today.

Californian Surfing Dogs!

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And last but not least, a surfing goat!!

Hope to return on Wednesday!

Return to Predators!

The critical value of predators.

Not so long ago there was some discussion about how important it was for the natural way of things to include predators. I mentioned how this had been the topic of a post published some time ago in this place.

It was back in February, 2014 and I have republished it today.

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The critical value of predators in our wild lands.

February 24th, 2014

The consequences of the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park.

I have two people to offer my thanks to for today’s post: Suzann and Ginger. Both of them within hours of each other sent me an email recommending the following video. So, without further ado, here is that video. (Oh, would you believe this. The video was released on February 13th, 2014 and, at the time of me writing this post, has been viewed 1,453,345 times! Wow!)

Published on Feb 13, 2014

Visit http://sustainableman.org/ to explore the world of sustainability.

For more from George Monbiot, visit http://www.monbiot.com/ and for more on “rewilding” visit http://bit.ly/1hKGemK and/or check out George Monbiot’s book Feral: rewilding the land, the sea and human life: http://amzn.to/1dgdLi9

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable “trophic cascade” occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix.

Narration from TED: “For more wonder, rewild the world” by George Monbiot. Watch the full talk, here: http://bit.ly/N3m62h

B-Roll Credits:
“Greater Yellowstone Coalition – Wolves” (http://bit.ly/1lK4LaT)
“Wolf Mountain” (http://bit.ly/1hgi6JE)
“Primodial – Yellowstone” (https://vimeo.com/77097538)
“Timelapse: Yellowstone National Park” (http://bit.ly/1kF5axc)
“Yellowstone” (http://bit.ly/1bPI6DM)
“Howling Wolves – Heulende Wölfe” (http://bit.ly/1c2Oidv)
“Fooled by Nature: Beaver Dams” (http://bit.ly/NGgQSU)

Music Credits:
“Unfoldment, Revealment, Evolution, Exposition, Integration, Arson” by Chris Zabriskie (http://bit.ly/1c2uckW)

FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 106A-117 of the US Copyright Law.

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If you want to read more on a general level, then my post on the 11th January, 2014, An echo in the hills! may be worthwhile. It included this from William Ripple, of Oregon State University:

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Top dogs keep ecosystems in order

Many of these large carnivore species are endangered and some are at risk of extinction, either in specific regions or entirely. Ironically, they are vanishing just as we are learning about their important ecological effects, which is what led us to write a new paper in the journal Science to document their role.

From a review of published reports, we singled out seven species that have been studied for their important ecological role and widespread effects, known as trophic cascades. These are the African lion, leopard, Eurasian lynx, cougar, gray wolf, sea otter and dingo.

Based on field research, my Oregon State University co-author Robert Beschta and I documented the impact of cougars and wolves on the regeneration of forest tree stands and riverside vegetation in Yellowstone and other national parks in western North America. Fewer predators, we found, lead to an increase in browsing animals such as deer and elk. More browsing disrupts vegetation, reduces birds and some mammals and changes other parts of the ecosystem. From the actions of the top predator, widespread impacts cascade down the food chain.

Similar effects were found in studies of Eurasian lynx, dingoes, lions and sea otters. For example in Europe, absence of lynx has been closely tied to the abundance of roe deer, red fox and hare. In Australia, the construction of a 3,400-mile dingo-proof fence has enabled scientists to study ecosystems with and without dingoes which are closely related to gray wolves. They found that dingoes control populations of herbivores and exotic red foxes. The suppression of these species by dingoes reduces predation pressure, benefiting plants and smaller native prey.

In some parts of Africa, the decrease of lions and leopards has coincided with a dramatic increase in olive baboons, which threaten crops and livestock. In the waters off southeast Alaska, a decline in sea otters through killer whale predation has led to a rise in sea urchins and loss of kelp beds.

Predators are integral, not expendable

We are now obtaining a deeper appreciation of the impact of large carnivores on ecosystems, a view that can be traced back to the work of landmark ecologist Aldo Leopold. The perception that predators are harmful and deplete fish and wildlife is outdated. Many scientists and wildlife managers now recognise the growing evidence of carnivores’ complex role in ecosystems, and their social and economic benefits. Leopold recognised these relationships, but his observations were ignored for decades after his death in 1948.

op carnivores, at work keeping things in check. Doug Smith
Top carnivores, at work keeping things in check. Doug Smith

Human tolerance of these species is the major issue. Most would agree these animals have an intrinsic right to exist, but additionally they provide economic and ecological services that people value. Among the services documented in other studies are carbon sequestration, restoration of riverside ecosystems, biodiversity and disease control. For example, wolves may limit large herbivore populations, thus decreasing browsing on young trees that sequester carbon when they escape browsing and grow taller. Where large carnivore populations have been restored – such as wolves in Yellowstone or Eurasian lynx in Finland – ecosystems appear to be bouncing back.

I am impressed with how resilient the Yellowstone ecosystem is, and while ecosystem restoration isn’t happening quickly everywhere in this park, it has started. In some cases where vegetation loss has led to soil erosion, for example, full restoration may not be possible in the near term. What is certain is that ecosystems and the elements of them are highly interconnected. The work at Yellowstone and other places shows how species affect each another through different pathways. It’s humbling as a scientist to witness this interconnectedness of nature.

My co-authors and I have called for an international initiative to conserve large carnivores in co-existence with people. This effort could be modelled after a couple of other successful efforts including the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, a non-profit scientific group affiliated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and the Global Tiger Initiative which involves all 13 of the tiger-range countries. With more tolerance by humans, we might be able to avoid extinctions. The world would be a scary place without these predators.

William Ripple does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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The ConversationMan! We are a strange species at times!

Starting Out on The Meditation Journey

If meditation really works then we want to engage in it.

Those who watched the video that was the central component of yesterday’s post will not have missed the references by Ted Meissner that scientific, double-blind evidence shows that meditation offers benefits for us humans.

Both Jean and I are especially interested in learning more and, hopefully, finding an appropriate meditation group in our nearest town, Grants Pass.

We would also welcome feedback and advice from any of you good people who have trod this path before.

For example, when one conducts a quick internet search into the different forms of meditation there are dozens of websites that are returned in the search findings. Almost choosing one website at random, the Visual Meditation website declares there are 7 Types of Meditation.  As in:

  • Transcendental Meditation (TM)
  • Heart Rhythm Meditation (HRM)
  • Kundalini
  • Guided Visualization
  • Qi Gong
  • Zazen
  • Mindfulness

To my uneducated eye, not one of those types seems to accord with the type supported by the American Meditation Society:

OUR MISSION

  • To provide instruction in meditation as taught by the founder of AMS, Gururaj Ananda Yogi.
  • To preserve and share the universal teachings of Gururaj with integrity and wisdom.
  • To provide a place where those who wish to unfold the inner self may do so in the company of other like-minded people.

Back to the plot! For this post is about the science.

The following video seemed worthy of sharing with you.

I watched the first 10 minutes before deciding it should be shared. By the time this post is published Jean and I will have watched it to the end. [20:45 yesterday evening. Jean and I have just finished watching the Bob Roth video below. It was both fascinating and very helpful!!]

The Aspen Institute

Published on Jun 26, 2016

Published studies have documented the many physical and mental health benefits of meditation, including decreased pain, better immune function, less anxiety and depression, a heightened sense of well-being, and greater happiness and emotional self-control. Google Scholar turns up almost 700,000 research documents on meditation, among them imaging studies that show increased activity in brain regions associated with attention, a higher volume of grey matter, and lessened amygdala response to emotional stimuli. What actually happens in the brain when we meditate? Why is meditation so nourishing to the mind, body and spirit?

Perri Peltz, Interviewer
Bob Roth

But a search of the YouTube website using the search term “meditation science” brought up many other links to shorter videos.

I selected the following (2:23 mins) because it is presented by Ferris Jabr who is an Associate Editor with Scientific American magazine.

Bottom line to my way of thinking is that this is something worth committing to once we know much more about engaging in meditation.

Your experiences most welcomed.

(And, of course, when it comes to chilling out for hours regularly each day then there’s another thing we can learn from our beloved dogs! No better demonstrated than by Brandy yesterday morning in the following photograph!)