Category: Core thought

Pure, unconditional love!

Highlighting a very interesting post from Mother Nature Network

Last March 31st Mother Nature Network published an article that, to me and Jeannie, was the essence of what having a dog in one’s life means: unconditional bonding.

In common with thousands and thousands of other dog owners every day all of our dogs, in their own individual ways, show us that our patterns of behaviour are well known and they totally accept them

For example, Jeannie every day uses an exercise bike that’s in the bedroom. We were discussing this yesterday and she mentioned that three or four of our dogs come into the room whenever Jeannie is ‘pedaling’ away and just lie down and watch her.

Oliver comes up to me in the living room frequently and climbs onto the settee next to me, gives my right ear a quick lick and then lays down usually with his head on my knee so I can cuddle him and stroke his tummy. There are numerous other examples every day across all six of our dogs.

I could go on!

However, I should get to the point of this post and that is to republish the following article.

It is most interesting.

ooOOoo

6 ways to improve your bond with your dog

It begins with how connected the two of you are.

Jaymi Heimbuch Jaymi Heimbuch,   March 31, 2020

There are easy ways to build a stronger bond with your dog, including small changes in your daily routine. (Photo: Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock)

As the saying goes, dogs are our best friends. But maybe it doesn’t feel quite so buddy-buddy between you and your dog these days. Perhaps you’re constantly frustrated because your dog ignores your commands or is always getting in your way when you’re doing chores around the house, or doesn’t cuddle like you wish he would.

What these and other issues often comes down to is how bonded you are as a team. This bond isn’t something that automatically happens as soon as you bring a dog home. It also isn’t static. It’s something that takes work to build and can grow over time. If you want to have a dog that is more attentive to you, here’s how to start.

Study up on dog body language

Your dog is communicating. Are you listening? (Photo: Sudowoodo/Shutterstock)

Have you ever had a great friendship where one of you does all the talking? Likely not. A real friendship requires talking and listening by both parties, a two-way communication that allows each to know what the other is thinking and feeling. As two highly social species, both dogs and humans have intricate ways of communicating with others. However, we humans tend to dominate the conversation with our dogs. We have an expectation for them to understand everything we’re asking of them, yet we don’t always put equal work into finding out what they’re asking of us. But we can.

Dogs tell us vast amounts of information through body language. From the more obvious cues like how high or low a tail is held, how quickly it is wagging and in what direction, or how they’re holding their ears, to the more subtle language held in the shape of their eyes, the angle at which they’re holding their body to something, or the tenseness of the corners of their mouths, are all words written on a billboard for us to read.

If you want to build a better bond with your dog, the first place to start is to study how dogs communicate with their bodies. You can then better understand what your dog is trying to tell you, and when you start listening, the two of you will get along much more easily.

Get to know your dog’s likes and dislikes — and respect them

Some dogs like hugs, but many don’t. (Photo: Halfpoint/Shutterstock)

Just like humans, individual dogs have their personal likes and dislikes. Some dogs enjoy cuddling while others prefer to have space. Some adore a game of fetch while others would rather play tug. Some love to learn new tricks and some would rather just go on a walk. Some dogs enjoy affection of all kinds, including hugs, but many dogs barely tolerate, or even flat out dislike being hugged. There are many things we humans assume dogs enjoy when really, they are just tolerating it.

Knowing your dog’s individual likes and dislikes, and then respecting them, is the key to connecting with your dog. If you pay close attention, you may find that your dog doesn’t like the hugs you give her. But she really loves being scratched behind her ears. By realizing this, you can swap out the hugs for ear scratches and your dog will recognize that you’re someone far more enjoyable to be around because she won’t have to suffer through the things she dislikes and will readily receive the things she does want.

But this goes beyond the right kinds of affection. By recognizing that your dog loves playing a certain game, or a certain type of toy, you can use these preferences to your advantage in training. Maybe your dog is more food-motivated than toy-motivated, or prefers a game of chase above all other things.

The best reward is the one your dog wants the most and will work the hardest to receive. So figuring out what your dog likes and dislikes is also part of getting the most out of your training sessions.

Train your dog every day

Dogs like to learn, so make training sessions a part of each day. (Photo: Jne Valokuvaus/Shutterstock)

One of the best ways you can improve your connection with your canine companion is to work on training every day using positive reinforcement. Exercising your dog’s brain to learn something new and providing rewards for successes is a great way to increase trust and joyful experiences between you and your dog.

Training happens every day whether you’re aware of it or not — every walk, every interaction with other dogs or people, every interaction with you is essentially a form of training, of shaping your dog’s perception of the world and behaviors, good or bad. So make a conscious effort to get the most out of these moments. You can work on a new trick or even practice old behaviors to freshen up on them. When you go on walks together, make them interactive, asking your dog to sit at every corner, to change direction with you randomly, to change the side he walks on, to change his pace to match yours as you slow down and speed up.

However you choose to work on it, be sure that some form of active training with positive reinforcement happens each day. You’ll notice a distinct difference in how much attention your dog pays you, and how much more fluidly you interact.

Set up your dog for success.

Success comes down to trust. (Photo: Aleksey Boyko/Shutterstock)

Having effective training sessions and a dog that trusts you lies in large part in setting your dog up to be successful when you ask him to do something. For example, asking your dog to do a difficult trick and withholding rewards until he gets it right only increases the amount of frustration you both feel and decreases the amount of fun your dog has in trying to do what you ask. Instead, break a trick down into small, accomplishable pieces that your dog can build on, and reward your dog for each successfully completed step.

Setting your dog up for success goes well beyond training and into every day life. Think about how your dog might view or react to a situation, and if it will be positive or negative. Take steps to reduce the possibility of negative consequences. For instance, don’t leave the food bin unattended with the lid off and expect your dog not to dive in face first the second you leave the room. Or on a social level, don’t push your dog to interact with another dog or person who he’s clearly uncomfortable with, which could lead to a fight or a bite and a loss of trust in you to protect them. (And along those lines, read up on the 15 things humans do wrong at dog parks, which is all about trust.)

Know your dog’s preferences and limits well enough to determine what situations he can and can’t handle. Then modify the situation the dog is in to be one that he’ll handle with flying colors. Making the effort to help your dog have successful interactions with you and others will increase your dog’s confidence as well as his trust in you as a strong and safe leader.

Be the source of all life’s necessities and goodies

The one time you know you have your dogs’ attention is when you have their favorite treat in hand. (Photo: Cryptographer/Shutterstock)

If you want your dog to hang on your every word, then you want to be the sole source of all life’s wonderful things, including food and toys. If you are free-feeding your dog, put away the food bowl. If toys are scattered around the floor or in a place a dog can get to easily, hide them in the closet. These things are rewards that are earned, and your dog is going to be much more attentive if you are a walking goodies dispenser.

When it comes to food, have your dog work for snacks and meals just as he works for treats. For meal times, prepare your dog’s food but have him wait a few minutes, or ask him to do a few tricks before giving the OK for him to dive in. This creates a connection in your dog’s mind that working with you earns access to that delicious food. For play time, pull out toys for special play sessions, reserving tug-o-war, fetch, hide-and-seek and other games for when the two of you play together, or as a reward during or after training sessions.

When you are the provider of all life’s good things, your dog will look to you — and listen to you — much more readily. This will help so much with getting and keeping your dog’s attention when you need it.

Spend one-on-one time every day

Your dog wants her own special time with you every day. (Photo: Holly Michele/Shutterstock)

Speaking of special play sessions, make sure you spend time focused on just your dog every day. This doesn’t include walks when you’re distracted on your phone, or in the yard when you’re gardening and your dog is wandering around smelling things. One-on-one time is 30 minutes or more of time spent playing brain games, grooming, going on an interactive walk, even talking with your dog.

This is a great time to practice reading your dog’s body language, to gauge his energy level to see if he needs extra exercise, and to build on all you’ve done to help grow and solidify the connection and trust you have with your dog. Plus, it’s simply quiet, stress-free time for you to enjoy with the company of your four-legged friend.

Dogs are a social species just like humans, and time spent focused on each other will increase the connection you share, which benefits both of you.

ooOOoo

This is a really great article. As it says about Jaymi: “Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

The content is fabulous and everyone, including us, should read it carefully. That last sentence says it all: “Dogs are a social species just like humans, and time spent focused on each other will increase the connection you share, which benefits both of you.

Please, if you come across dogs being treated in a less than loving manner, report the human!

Wow! What a stupendous sight!

Mars!

I’m not going to do anything other than launch straight into this post. Taken from EarthSky.

ooOOoo

Curiosity rover on Mars snags highest-resolution panorama yet

There’s no escaping it!

Getting old is inevitable.

Becoming wiser as one ages less so!

I am minded to start today’s post with that reflection because quite simply it was the way to introduce my republication of Wibble’s post.

The article is about Dexter and is just lovely. It is called Older or wiser.

Enjoy!

ooOOoo

Older or wiser

By Dexter, February 19th, 2020

I’m sitting here and the rain is drizzling down the window. It’s February, its windy, we’ve had two winter storms in quick succession and they are digging up the road outside my house. Do they not know I am trying to sleep. Even more surprising but equally as joyous, Lenny isn’t trying to bite me. Now if you have read some of my recent blogs, you will know I have been somewhat contemplative. If you are hoping for shenanigans in this article, then I fear you will again be somewhat disappointed. Earlier today I was wondering to myself about becoming older and, apparently, wiser.

Being older is a bit obvious really. I have more grey hair, I eat my dinner more slowly and I don’t need to walk as far as I used to. I’ve even missed scenting rabbits and squirrels according to assorted parents I have been attached to when these alleged missed sightings have taken place. I can still play bitey face with Lenny, and give him what for, but I tend to duck out of said prolonged snout jousting after a short time. Being beagles we are docile chaps and even when we are in full cry with sofa covers flying around, furniture being rearranged and rugs being ruffled, we manage to stop for a breather on fairly regular occasions. Sometimes it takes a parent stepping in between us to remind the warring parties that its time for a break but, on the whole, we tend to cease and desist quite readily. I am then happy to retire to one of my six or so beds to snooze. However Lenny seems to have a little extra bounce in his paws although I think that is because he is around eighteen months old and I am, allegedly, going to be ten next birthday. No one truly knows how old I am due to me being a rescue but the wise money is on nearly ten now. I am happy for him to run around a little longer, chew what remains of one of my toys and then fall asleep on the sofa. Usually this is interspersed with trying to bite me but again, being docile, I try and fend him off without sending clear signals that I just want to rest.

Older?

As for being wiser, I don’t really know what that entails. If it means that I have seen things, been places and done stuff, then yes I am wiser. If it means that having done said activities, I have learned from the experiences, then not necessarily. For example I have been on the tube and train to London quite a few times, however I still want to investigate what those wonderful smells are down on the track. Thank goodness for a lead and attached human apparently. Another example, is that I have lived here for seven Christmases and, despite the jolly red faced man delivering me many wonderful things but nothing closely resembling a pizza tasting gift, it is wrapping paper I am still fascinated by. I can’t eat it, I know I can’t, but does it stop me from trying? Of course not. Many winters have I seen here, many dirty puddles have I walked through in a Moses style and many times have I been told “Dex, no, ugh good grief you look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon”. Does it stop me stomping through puddles in the most triumphal fashion? No, of course not. I have stopped chasing pigeons in the garden and that’s not because I am banned from the garden. Far from it, for I merely allow my protege to chase them for me. Young whipper-snapper legs are faster than these old bones of mine. I have stopped chewing my toys to a misshapen soggy jumble of fabric, with an accompanying scene of death and destruction wrought across the rugs. Again I leave the dental lobotomisation of toys to Lenny, as he seems to have picked up the baton fairly quickly and extremely proficiently.

Wiser?

If growing older and wiser means seeing things, going places, enjoying the view, smelling more flowers and generally knowing that I should take my time to appreciate and immerse myself in all the things I rushed to see previously, then I am older and wiser. I still have adventures, I still walk and pull on the lead, stick my head down rabbit holes and try to climb the banks along the lanes and byways I explore. I still look in awe at the beauty of the countryside I visit, gaze at the buildings and people in the city. But I let it sink in now, I actually look at what is in front of me and then usually fall asleep soon after, twitching and dreaming. I am trying to pass on my perceived wisdom to Lenny. He is often too busy bouncing around, trying to sniff everything, meet every fur and being a very lovable pest in as quick a time as possible. I see much in Lenny that I had in my youth and this gives me a warm feeling. I hope I can help him to understand that, at some point, he will sit and watch the world go by, with a peace and calmness that I seem to be achieving more often.

Who knows, maybe that is the secret to being older and wiser.

ooOOoo

Just read that last paragraph again. Especially the first sentence: “If growing older and wiser means seeing things, going places, enjoying the view, smelling more flowers and generally knowing that I should take my time to appreciate and immerse myself in all the things I rushed to see previously, then I am older and wiser.

In my opinion dogs do this so much better than we humans. Yet another lesson to be learned from dogs!

Because both for dogs and their human friends, it’s only a matter of time!

That pale blue dot!

Carl Sagan’s legacy!

Last Friday saw the thirtieth anniversary of Carl Sagan’s iconic photograph, or rather NASA’s photograph, of Planet Earth. Carl persuaded NASA to turn Voyager 1, as it left the Solar System, and take the photo. It became famous almost instantly and became known as the pale blue dot.

Here’s a shortened Wikipedia account of Carl Sagan’s book:

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space is a 1994 book by Carl Sagan. It is the sequel to Cosmos and was inspired by the famous 1990 Pale Blue Dot photograph, for which Sagan provides a poignant description. In this book, Sagan mixes philosophy about the human place in the universe with a description of the current knowledge about the Solar System. He also details a human vision for the future.

Here’s the latest from NASA.

ooOOoo

’Pale Blue Dot’ Revisited

February 12th, 2020

This updated version of the iconic “Pale Blue Dot” image taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft uses modern image-processing software and techniques to revisit the well-known Voyager view while attempting to respect the original data and intent of those who planned the images.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For the 30th anniversary of one of the most iconic views from the Voyager mission, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is publishing a new version of the image known as the “Pale Blue Dot.”

The updated image uses modern image-processing software and techniques while respecting the intent of those who planned the image. Like the original, the new color view shows Planet Earth as a single, bright blue pixel in the vastness of space. Rays of sunlight scattered within the camera optics stretch across the scene, one of which happens to have intersected dramatically with Earth.

The view was obtained on Feb. 14, 1990, just minutes before Voyager 1’s cameras were intentionally powered off to conserve power and because the probe — along with its sibling, Voyager 2 — would not make close flybys of any other objects during their lifetimes. Shutting down instruments and other systems on the two Voyager spacecraft has been a gradual and ongoing process that has helped enable their longevity.


This simulated view, made using NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System app, approximates Voyager 1’s perspective when it took its final series of images known as the “Family Portrait of the Solar System,” including the “Pale Blue Dot” image. Move the slider to the left to see the location of each image. (You have to go here to see the full image. Ed.)
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This celebrated Voyager 1 view was part of a series of 60 images designed to produce what the mission called the “Family Portrait of the Solar System.” This sequence of camera-pointing commands returned images of six of the solar system’s planets, as well as the Sun. The Pale Blue Dot view was created using the color images Voyager took of Earth.

The popular name of this view is traced to the title of the 1994 book by Voyager imaging scientist Carl Sagan, who originated the idea of using Voyager’s cameras to image the distant Earth and played a critical role in enabling the family portrait images to be taken.

Additional information about the Pale Blue Dot image is available at:

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/536/voyager-1s-pale-blue-dot/

The original Pale Blue Dot and Family Portrait images are available at:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA00452

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA00451

The Voyager spacecraft were built by JPL, which continues to operate both. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena. The Voyager missions are a part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/voyager

https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov

Calla Cofield​
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
626-808-2469
calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

Written by Preston Dyches

2020-030

ooOOoo

Voyager 1 is now nearly 14 billion miles from Planet Earth and still going strong. It has a plutonium battery that will last for eighty years. A one-way radio signal from Earth takes about twenty hours to reach the probe.

And now for something different but still to do with space.

ooOOoo

NASA astronaut Christina Koch recently returned to Earth after 328 days in space, breaking the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman. She completed six spacewalks while on the International Space Station, including the first all-female spacewalk with astronaut Jessica Meir.

When she finally made it home, her beloved pup, LBD (Little Brown Dog), couldn’t contain her excitement.

Koch shared a video on Twitter of the moment she walked through her front door and LBD pounced to shower her with kisses.

“Not sure who was more excited,” she captioned the video. “Glad she remembers me after a year!”

“We call her LBD, little brown dog, she’s from the Humane Society and she couldn’t be sweeter,” Koch told Insider on a phone call with reporters from the Johnson Space Centre.

“And yes, she was very excited, I was very excited, I’m not sure who was more excited! … You know it’s just a symbol of coming back to the people and places that you love, to see your favourite animal.”

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

ooOOoo

Now I can’t disappear without acknowledging the fantastic work of Carl Sagan.

And I can’t do better than republish the first bit of a wonderful piece on Carl put out by Wikipedia.

Carl Edward Sagan (/ˈsɡən/; November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences. He is best known as a science popularizer and communicator. His best known scientific contribution is research on extraterrestrial life, including experimental demonstration of the production of amino acids from basic chemicals by radiation. Sagan assembled the first physical messages sent into space: the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, universal messages that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find them. Sagan argued the now accepted hypothesis that the high surface temperatures of Venus can be attributed to and calculated using the greenhouse effect.[

He died far too young in my opinion!

But not without leaving a tremendous legacy – The Pale Blue Dot.

Dogs observations of us humans

A widely-reported study shows the depth to which dogs understand us.

I have seen this reported both in The Smithsonian and Mother Nature News.

I have included both!

I’ll comment at the end of the articles.

ooOOoo

Stray Dogs May Understand Human Signals, Too

By Brigit Katz

Researchers in India studied whether 160 stray dogs would react to commands like gesturing toward a bowl. This image, taken in 2012, shows street dogs surrounding an Indian tea vendor in Allahabad. (AP Photo / Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Dogs are famously good at interpreting human signals, whether communicated verbally or through gestures. But much of what we know about our furry friends’ comprehension of social cues focuses on pet dogs, which share close relationships with their owners and are trained to follow commands. Now, a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, suggests that stray dogs can also understand human gestures, indicating that this ability might be innate.
The new research took place on the streets of several regions in India, which is home to some 30 million stray dogs. Coexistence between canines and humans there is not always peaceful; people have been known to attack street dogs, and vice versa. Around 36 percent of the world’s annual rabies deaths occur in India, most of them children who came into contact with infected dogs.

To better manage the country’s street dogs, it’s essential to gain further knowledge of their behavior, Anindita Bhadra, study co-author and animal behaviorist at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata, tells Liz Langley of National Geographic. So she and her colleagues set out to discover whether strays, which have never undergone specific training, are able to understand humans in a similar way to their pet counterparts.

The researchers took to the streets equipped with two bowls; one contained chicken and the other was empty but had been rubbed with raw chicken, transferring the food’s scent. The bowls were covered with pieces of cardboard and handed to an experimenter who did not know which one contained the snack. This researcher would approach a stray dog, place the bowls on the ground and point at one of them, sometimes momentarily, sometimes repeatedly.

In total, the researchers studied 160 adult strays. Around half of them refused to get close to either bowl, perhaps because they had negative interactions with humans in the past, the researchers speculate. But of the dogs that did approach the bowls, approximately 80 percent went to the one to which the experimenter had pointed. Whether the researcher had pointed to the bowl briefly or repeatedly did not seem to matter. This response, according to the study authors, suggests that untrained stray dogs are “capable of following complex pointing cues from humans.”

Dogs share an intertwined evolutionary history with humans, with domesticated pooches emerging at least 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, though some experts have argued for an even earlier date. This close contact has prompted dogs to develop a number of skills that allow them to communicate with people, including interpreting human emotion. Still, Bhadra says, the researchers found it “quite amazing” that stray dogs without a history of close human interaction were able to “follow a gesture as abstract as momentary pointing.”

“This means that they closely observe the human, whom they are meeting for the first time, and they use their understanding of humans to make a decision,” Bhadra adds. “This shows their intelligence and adaptability.”

Because some dogs seemed anxious and were wary of approaching the researchers, it’s not clear how a dog’s personality—and past experiences—might affect its ability to interpret human signals. But this ability does not appear to be entirely dependent on training, the study authors say, which in turn should inform efforts to manage stray dogs.

“They are quite capable of understanding our body language and we need to give them their space,” Bhadra says. “A little empathy and respect for another species can reduce a lot of conflict.”

ooOOoo

Mother Nature News had a second picture in their broadly-similar article. Indeed, I’m going to republish this article as well. For although they are of the same story they offer a slightly different account.

ooOOoo

Even stray dogs understand human cues

A new study shows these feral canines are paying close attention.

By Starre Vartan   January 21, 2020

Even untrained dogs can follow simple communications. (Photo: Abir Bhattacharya/Shutterstock)

Dogs were likely the first animals that human beings domesticated — scientific guesses vary as to whether that was 10,000 years ago in Europe or 30,000 years ago in Asia (or, as one theory goes, humans tamed grey wolves two separate times). Regardless, they have been our companions for much of human history, and all of modern history. We have evolved together.

And that longstanding connection shows up in feral dogs.

Behavioral biologist Dr. Anindita Bhadra of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata, India, revealed this by studying stray dogs in several Indian cities. In the experiment, Bhadra and her colleagues would find a solo stray dog and put two covered bowls on the ground nearby. They they’d simply point to one of the bowls; some did this just once, others did it a few times.

The researchers, who published their work in Frontiers in Psychology, recorded the dogs’ reactions. Half the dogs seemed nervous, and didn’t look at or come close to either bowl. But the other half — noted as less anxious dogs by the researchers — approached the bowls. Of those friendlier dogs, about 80% went to the bowl the researcher pointed at. As long as the dogs weren’t too scared of the people, they were easily able to interpret what the pointing meant.

“We thought it was quite amazing that the dogs could follow a gesture as abstract as momentary pointing,” Bhadra said in a news release. “This means that they closely observe the human, whom they are meeting for the first time, and they use their understanding of humans to make a decision. This shows their intelligence and adaptability.”

Wolf puppies surprised researchers with their responses. (Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock)

In another study, three out of 13 untrained 8-week-old wolf puppies spontaneously retrieved a ball for a person who threw it, as MNN’s Mary Jo DiLonardo explains. It was a small study, and a low percentage of retrieving puppies, but it was an unexpected result as these weren’t domesticated dogs. “It was so unexpected, and I immediately knew that this meant that if variation in human-directed play behavior exists in wolves, this behavior could have been a potential target for early selective pressures exerted during dog domestication,” Christina Hansen Wheat, a biologist at Stockholm University, said.

Her observations show that playing with people may be a very old trait for wolves, that could reflect how our human ancestors first got to know them. This playful behavior may have sparked humans’ interest in domestication. If a dog could fetch a stick or other thrown object, they could be quite useful to hunting humans.

Of course, their adorable, big puppy-dog eyes and floppy ears (both traits that have become accentuated over time as dogs evolved) are among the reason we are still drawn to dogs today. (It also helps that they’re great listeners.)

But long before that happened, dogs served an important purpose — assisting people in locating and retrieving prey, and serving as eyes and ears for an intruder. Simple tasks like showing they can follow directions or fetch an object may have moved prehistoric dogs from outside the fire circle to within it, which is why understanding these behaviors are so important.

ooOOoo

If we go back into the mists of time then prehistoric wolves (or dogs) learnt to bond with early humans because it served both their interests to so do. Humans became much more adept at hunting and wolves obviously became the benefactors of food!

Now dogs are so well bonded to human gestures that even non-domesticated dogs understand the signals that we humans put out. I say ‘non-domesticated’ but in a real sense all dogs are domesticated. It would be more accurate to say that these are dogs who do not have a home with humans.

The oldest human-animal relationship by far!

What your pet dogs need to eat! Eat meat!

A fascinating article on vegetarian diets for our dogs.

We are non-meat eaters here at home. Have been for a while. Our diet is essentially vegan most of the time with some fish thrown in as well. It seems to be doing us well!

But what does us good is not what does dogs good. Not at all!

You know that dogs need meat but there was a recent article on Mother Nature Network which went into details:

ooOOoo

Is a vegetarian diet safe for my dog?

By Jessica Knoblauch
June 3, 2019.

Experts say plant-based diets don’t always give dogs the nutrition they need. (Photo: Stickler/Shutterstock)

More people are forgoing meat in their diets for a whole spectrum of reasons — from environmental to philosophical — and now vegetarians are taking a second look at their dogs’ meat-based diets too. As a result, more owners are putting their dogs on a vegetarian or even vegan diet to bypass the health and ethical dilemmas that come with a side of beef, pork or chicken in their pet’s kibble.

“I’ve been vegan for more than two years now, and I don’t wish to contribute to the slaughterhouse or factory farm industry for my own food nor for my dogs’,” explains Debra Benfer, who together with her husband owns three vegan dogs. “If people really read what ingredients are put in dog food, I believe more people would understand why a vegetarian diet is the way to go.”

Some of those ingredients include meat from animals deemed unfit for human consumption, known in the pet food industry as the 4 Ds — dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals. In addition, many commercial pet foods contain “meat meal” or “byproducts,” which can include various animal parts and slaughterhouse waste that don’t exactly match the idyllic pictures of juicy meat chunks often seen on a bag or can of dog food. Much like commercial meat for humans, meat used in pet food can contain hormones, pesticides and antibiotics, a concern that has led many dog owners to seek alternative diets.

“If someone is saying it’s OK to give my dog these things, I would add a 5th ‘D’ to that equation and say ‘don’t,’” says Jill Howard Church, president of the Vegetarian Society of Georgia. “As a vegetarian, I know what’s in human meat and since the meat that falls below the human standard is what goes into pet food, it gives me cause for concern.”

Church’s two dogs were on a vegetarian diet for their entire lives and lived to be a healthy 15 and 19 years old. Church currently has a 3-year-old black Labrador retriever that’s also thriving on a vegetarian diet.

Church and Benfer’s positive experience with vegetarian dog diets is mirrored in hundreds of testimonials found on the internet from owners who have successfully switched their dogs to a vegetarian diet. Some owners have bypassed the dog food industry altogether by cooking their own wholesome vegetarian dog meals.

“People are taking control of their animals’ diet back into their own hands instead of relying on the pet food industry so much,” says Greg Martinez, author of “Dog Dish Diet: Sensible Nutrition for Your Dog’s Health“. “We’ve all been held hostage by industry a little bit.”

In addition to decreasing a dog’s carbon pawprint (meat production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions), owners say that putting their dogs on a vegetarian diet has resulted in everything from longer life spans and shinier coats to decreased aggression.

‘It is truly unnatural for them’

It would be smart to consult with a veterinary nutritionist before switching to a vegetarian diet for your dog. (Photo: Rasulov/Shutterstock)

However, there are those who worry that vegetarian dogs may not be able to get adequate nutrition from a plant-based diet. Dogs, like humans, are omnivores, meaning they can survive on a diet of either plant or animal origin, but owners must be careful to ensure that their dogs are getting the proper nutrients from plant-based ingredients. (Cats, on the other hand, are strictly carnivores.)

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a non-regulatory industry group that establishes pet food standards, dog food for an average adult dog should contain about 18% protein, an amount deemed necessary for good health and proper growth and development. But since every protein source contains different levels of amino acids, which are protein’s building blocks, all protein is not created equal. Some proteins are better for pets than others. For example, egg and cottage cheese are considered quality sources of protein for dogs.

“Vegetarian proteins tend not to have all the amino acids, so you have to do multiple combinations of varying types of sources of protein to get the right amino acids, which can get a little tricky to manage,” says Dr. Jessica Waldman, a veterinarian who operates a full-time pet rehabilitation clinic in Santa Monica, California. Waldman says she steers her clients away from vegetarian diets because she believes they are unnatural.

“Although I think it would be possible to put a dog on a vegetarian diet, it is truly unnatural for them,” says Waldman. “There are still dogs in the wild and they eat a vast majority of animal protein, so I think that keeping your pet’s diet as close to natural is best for limiting disease and promoting health.”

Other vets disagree, arguing that dogs can successfully be vegetarians as long as their diet is balanced and they are able to get proteins from varying sources.

Dr. Jennifer Larsen, a veterinary nutritionist at the University of California-Davis, says that both commercial and home-cooked vegetarian diets “can be used safely and can provide adequate nutrition if carefully and appropriately formulated” and as long as owners pay special attention to providing their dogs with the proper protein and amino acids.

Commercial vegetarian diets and home-cooked options are prescribed by veterinarians for dogs with specific diseases, but there currently isn’t much extensive research to prove or disprove their healthfulness. One survey conducted by PETA found that 82% of dogs that had been vegan for five years or more were in good to excellent health and that the longer a dog remained on a vegetarian or vegan diet, the greater the likelihood that the dog would have overall good to excellent health.

The study, however, also found that vegetarian dogs may be more prone to urinary tract infections as well as a form of heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy, which can be caused by a deficiency of the amino acids L-carnitine or taurine. But as the researchers pointed out, DCM isn’t just a problem for vegetarian dogs since L-carnitine and taurine also can be washed away in the processing of meat in commercial dog food.

To help bypass this problem, some commercial dog food companies like V-dog, a high protein vegan dog food, have added taurine and L-carnitine to their formulas to insure quality health that “exceeds the nutrient profiles established by the AAFCO,” says V-dog President David Middlesworth.

Though putting dogs on a vegetarian diet may remain controversial until further studies are conducted, veterinarians and vegetarian dog owners can agree that people considering putting their dog on a vegetarian diet should first do their own research to determine what’s best for their individual dog’s needs and/or consult their veterinarian.

Jennifer Adolphe, an animal nutritionist at the University of Saskatchewan, told The Washington Post that pet owners should do research. She advises pet owners to do “some homework to find out who is behind the company, if it employs a full-time qualified nutritionist, what kind of quality control measures do they use.”

“It just takes research and the willingness to stick by your reasons for having your dogs on a vegetarian diet,” says Benfer, who often makes homemade dog food for her three vegan dogs. “I get strange looks when I let people know my dogs are vegan, but it’s only because they aren’t educated about dogs being vegetarian and don’t realize how easy and possible it really is to do.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information since it was published in August 2010.

ooOOoo

Well not much to add from me. This article is completely clear to my mind.

Dogs need meat!

Being ever so grateful for one’s lot.

There’s a science background to being healthy and happy.

Especially as one gets older.

It’s Jean’s birthday today and we are grateful for our lot. I’m 75 now and Jean is a few years younger. But more importantly we are so grateful to have met and, subsequently, fallen in love.

As well as Jean’s love in return we have our gorgeous dogs as well (not to count in addition the two horses, the two parakeets and the cat) and they reinforce the feelings of happiness that surround us.

All of which is an introduction to an article on The Conversation that caught my eye yesterday.

I’m afraid it doesn’t mention dogs but then again we dog owners know for sure how they benefit us humans.

ooOOoo

Are you as grateful as you deserve to be?

November 26, 2019
By
Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, Indiana University

Gratitude is not only a great feeling but a healthy one. Aaron Amat/Shutterstock.com

As a physician, I have helped to care for many patients and families whose lives have been turned upside down by serious illnesses and injuries. In the throes of such catastrophes, it can be difficult to find cause for anything but lament. Yet Thanksgiving presents us with an opportunity to develop one of the healthiest, most life-affirming and convivial of all habits – that of counting and rejoicing in our blessings.

Gratitude’s benefits

Research shows that grateful people tend to be healthy and happy. They exhibit lower levels of stress and depression, cope better with adversity and sleep better. They tend to be happier and more satisfied with life. Even their partners tend to be more content with their relationships.

Perhaps when we are more focused on the good things we enjoy in life, we have more to live for and tend to take better care of ourselves and each other.

When researchers asked people to reflect on the past week and write about things that either irritated them or about which they felt grateful, those tasked with recalling good things were more optimistic, felt better about their lives and actually visited their physicians less.

It is no surprise that receiving thanks makes people happier, but so does expressing gratitude. An experiment that asked participants to write and deliver thank-you notes found large increases in reported levels of happiness, a benefit that lasted for an entire month.

Philosophical roots

Giving thanks is important for our psyches and our souls. Love You Stock/Shutterstock.com

One of the greatest minds in Western history, the Greek philosopher Aristotle, argued that we become what we habitually do. By changing our habits, we can become more thankful human beings.

If we spend our days ruminating on all that has gone poorly and how dark the prospects for the future appear, we can think ourselves into misery and resentment.

But we can also mold ourselves into the kind of people who seek out, recognize and celebrate all that we have to be grateful for.

This is not to say that anyone should become a Pollyanna, ceaselessly reciting the mantra from Voltaire’s “Candide,” “All is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds.” There are injustices to be righted and wounds to be healed, and ignoring them would represent a lapse of moral responsibility.

But reasons to make the world a better place should never blind us to the many good things it already affords. How can we be compassionate and generous if we are fixated on deficiency? This explains why the great Roman statesman Cicero called gratitude not only the greatest of virtues but the “parent” of them all.

Religious roots

Gratitude is deeply embedded in many religious traditions. In Judaism, the first words of the morning prayer could be translated, “I thank you.” Another saying addresses the question, “Who is rich?” with this answer: “Those who rejoice in what they have.”

From a Christian perspective, too, gratitude and thanksgiving are vital. Before Jesus shares his last meal with his disciples, he gives thanks. So vital a part of Christian life is gratitude that author and critic G.K. Chesterton calls it “the highest form of thought.”

Gratitude also plays an essential role in Islam. The 55th chapter of the Quran enumerates all the things human beings have to be grateful for – the Sun, Moon, clouds, rain, air, grass, animals, plants, rivers and oceans – and then asks, “How can a sensible person be anything but thankful to God?”

Other traditions also stress the importance of thankfulness. Hindu festivals celebrate blessings and offer thanks for them. In Buddhism, gratitude develops patience and serves as an antidote to greed, the corrosive sense that we never have enough.

Roots even in suffering

In his 1994 book, “A Whole New Life,” the Duke University English professor Reynolds Price describes how his battle with a spinal cord tumor that left him partially paralyzed also taught him a great deal about what it means to really live.

After surgery, Price describes “a kind of stunned beatitude.” With time, though diminished in many ways by his tumor and its treatment, he learns to pay closer attention to the world around him and those who populate it.

Reflecting on the change in his writing, Price notes that his books differ in many ways from those he penned as a younger man. Even his handwriting, he says, “looks very little like that of the man he was at the time of his diagnosis.”

“Cranky as it is, it’s taller, more legible, and with more air and stride. And it comes down the arm of a grateful man.”

A brush with death can open our eyes. Some of us emerge with a deepened appreciation for the preciousness of each day, a clearer sense of our real priorities and a renewed commitment to celebrating life. In short, we can become more grateful, and more alive, than ever.

Practicing gratitude

Good conversation, good friends and connections – not material possessions – bring great joy. Jacob Lund/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to practicing gratitude, one trap to avoid is locating happiness in things that make us feel better off – or simply better – than others. In my view, such thinking can foster envy and jealousy.

There are marvelous respects in which we are equally blessed – the same Sun shines down upon each of us, we all begin each day with the same 24 hours, and each of us enjoys the free use of one of the most complex and powerful resources in the universe, the human brain.

Much in our culture seems aimed to cultivate an attitude of deficiency – for example, most ads aim to make us think that to find happiness we must buy something. Yet most of the best things in life – the beauty of nature, conversation and love – are free.

There are many ways to cultivate a disposition of thankfulness. One is to make a habit of giving thanks regularly – at the beginning of the day, at meals and the like, and at day’s end.

Likewise, holidays, weeks, seasons and years can be punctuated with thanks – grateful prayer or meditation, writing thank-you notes, keeping a gratitude journal and consciously seeking out the blessings in situations as they arise.

Gratitude can become a way of life, and by developing the simple habit of counting our blessings, we can enhance the degree to which we are truly blessed.

[ Thanks for reading! We can send you The Conversation’s stories every day in an informative email. Sign up today. ]

ooOOoo

That reference to Reynolds Price and his challenges make one think. I have been fortunate that nothing really dreadful has happened to me; apart from my father’s death when I had just turned 12. I’m getting a little hazy in terms of certain memories but that’s an old age thing rather than an illness. But to go through what he did; I just don’t know the person that I am, in terms of how I wold react to that.

But to the general tone of the article, I would hope that I can get better and better.

For it’s splendid to cultivate that disposition.

One is to make a habit of giving thanks regularly – at the beginning of the day, at meals and the like, and at day’s end.

Perfect!

FindShadow to the rescue!

There’s nothing so bad as losing one’s dog.

I was recently contacted by John Brooks. He writes of himself:

John Brooks loves animals from the core of his heart. Whenever he gets time, he tries to write regarding animal health & condition so that all pet lovers like you don’t fall in any hazardous situation.

He went on to explain that:

One day, Findshadow helped me to find my lost dog. So that I wrote about Findshadow.

So with no further ado, here is John’s post.

ooOOoo

What Is Findshadow How It Can Help You Find Your Missing Dog

Dog owners share a lot of the same grievances, annoyances, and frustrations. From getting up to your pet barking in the wee hours of the night to cleaning up after your dog’s mess during walks around the neighborhood, raising and taking care of a pet comes with a host of responsibilities. And with those responsibilities come work, and with work comes grievance, annoyance, and frustration.

However, one of the worst, most gut-wrenching feelings that dog owners can relate to is the moment you realize your dog is missing. After searching every room, backtracking to the park you were at with your dog in the morning, asking your neighbors if they have seen them and posting flyers on every telephone you can find, the hopelessness begins to set in.

Luckily for you, Findshadow, a free app that helps dog owners locate their missing companions, is harnessing the power of community and technology to reunite you with your lost pets. And it is doing a pretty darn good job.

So, what is Findshadow? It is is a free smartphone app that walks owners who have lost their pets step-by-step through the process of finding their dogs.

The app offers a wide array of services and tips for their users, all for free. First, you post your lost or found dog to the community. Then, the app gives you a completely personalized, step-by-step plan on how to use the app and other resources to locate your dog. While you may think of some of these steps yourself, you’ll be surprised how thorough the process can be.

After going through these first introductory steps, you can use Findshadow to print or download personalized street flyers. Although posting your pup to the community in-app will definitely increase visibility far more than strictly putting up posters, having physical images of your dog around the neighborhood will still help you get in front of a demographic that doesn’t have Findshadow downloaded.

You can share your post on social media to easily reach friends and family. With just the three aforementioned features, Findshadow has already allowed you to reach three different populations: Findshadow users, people in your neighborhood and your connections on social media.

Getting your dog’s photo in front of as many people as possible is the recipe to success for finding your dog as quickly as possible. The more people who see it, regardless if they use Findshadow or not, the more people who will be able to identify your pet if they see it.

Findshadow also has a nifty feature that makes it easier to contact nearby shelters to ask if they have seen your dog. Even if you don’t directly contact shelters yourself, Findshadow volunteers can help snap pictures of dogs in shelters and send them to you in-app to see if they match.

The sense of community behind Findshadow is powerful. Past users of Findshadow who have successfully been reunited with their dog because of the app give back to the community by becoming active volunteers. This creates a culture where owners are helping each other out. Every dog is considered important.

The interface of the app is easy-to-use and allows users to quickly switch between different features and services. You can browse through found dog listings to double-check posts to see if someone on Findshadow has already found your dog.

The amount of positive reviews and testimonials from dog owners who gush over the app is well-justified. The app has reunited countless owners with their dogs, oftentimes within the same day they went missing.

Even if you haven’t lost your dog, it is a great app to have downloaded just in case something does come up.

ooOOoo

This is the essence of blogging and sharing.

I hadn’t heard of Findshadow before now but will surely put the app on my phone.

Here’s the link to the FindShadow website.

How old is your dog?

Dan sends me a more accurate calculation.

Dear Dan and I recently had an email ‘conversation’ about the conversion of dog years to human years. Then, yesterday,  as in Thursday, he sent me the following article from ZME Science.

Enjoy!

ooOOoo

Here’s a better way to calculate dog years – backed by science.

Lets’s face it, 1 for 7 years is not accurate.

November 21, 2019

By Mihai Andrei

The formula is about mid-way through the article, and it includes a simple calculator.

We learn, as kids, to approximate dog age thusly: one dog year for seven human years. That’s a decent approximation in some cases, but the more you think about it, the more it starts to fall apart.

All dog breeds tend to follow a similar pattern: they reach puberty at 10 months old. Right off the bat, it’s clear that the approximation doesn’t work here, as humans don’t really reach puberty at 6 years. Dogs can also reach 20 years or even more, and 140 years has never been recorded for a human. All in all, while it can give a ballpark estimate, the 7-for-1 approach falls short in many regards.

But now, researchers have come up with a much more accurate formula to assess dog age in human years. This one, at least, is backed by science.

It started as a way to detect factors associated with dog aging, and it focused on a relatively new concept: DNA methylation. The idea is that as we age, our DNA undergoes chemical modifications which can be used as a sort of genetic clock. It’s a way of looking at our body’s wear and tear, as the influence of diseases and unhealthy lifestyle can also be observed (to an extent) with this approach.

It’s not just humans that have epigenetic clocks. Other species have them too — including dogs. Geneticist Trey Ideker of the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues, analyzed the DNA methylation patterns in the genomes of 104 dogs (all golden retrievers), ranging from 4 weeks to 16 years of age. Although just golden retrievers were analyzed, the patterns are very similar for all breeds.

There were remarkable similarities between the DNA methylation of dogs and humans. Although the two species diverged a very long time ago, dogs live in similar environments to humans, and they even have access to similar healthcare.

Simply put, the patterns of DNA methylation in young dogs tended to be similar to those in young humans — the same goes for older dogs and older humans.

Finally, the study also demonstrates that these patterns can be used to translate the age-related physiology of one organism (in this case, dogs) to another organism (humans).

The formula is not linear, and is not exactly simple, but here it is:

Human Years = 16 ln(Dog Years) + 31,

where ln is the natural logarithm.

Inputs

Dog_years:

Outputs

Human_years:

-∞

Powered by JSCalc.io

 

Logarithmic function for epigenetic translation from dog age (x-axis) to human age (y-axis). Tom Hanks for scale. Image credits: Wang et al

The natural logarithm is used because dogs and humans don’t age similarly. Dogs seem to age very quickly in the first part of their life (which is why the age of young pups seem very weird translated into human years), but their ageing process slows down massively compared to that of humans. So the translation dog to human years cannot be linear — it is logarithmic. When your dog is 1 year old, he’s approximately 30 in human years. When he’s 2 years old, he’s 42. He’s around 60 human years by the time he’s 6, but only 70 by the time he’s 12.

It’s a weird thing to wrap your mind around and it is definitely not a perfect translation from dog years to human years, but it works much better than all existing alternatives. It also works to explain why some dogs reach sexual adolescence as early as 6 months old — the onset for that is around 10-14 years for humans. Dogs are adolescent until about 2 years, which in humans lasts until 25 years old. Then, maturity for dogs is around 2-7 years, and for humans around 25-50 years. Similar calculations (but with a slightly different formula) can be carried out for other animals, including cats and mice, researchers conclude.

The study can be read in its entirety for free on biorXiv.

ooOOoo

M’mmm, I think I need a little more time to absorb that!