Category: Core thought

Dogs teach us so much!

But the single most important lesson is integrity.

Again, another post from previous times. Albeit just a couple of years ago.

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Another tribute to dear Pharaoh.

The most profound thing that I learned from Pharaoh is that dogs are creatures of integrity. That goes back to a day in June, 2007. Some six months before I met Jeannie in Mexico in December, 2007. I was sitting in Jon’s home office just a few miles from where Pharaoh and I were then living in South Devon.

It was a key chapter in Part Four of my book where I examine all the qualities that we humans need to learn from our dogs.

So here is Chapter 13 from my book Learning from Dogs. (Written in ‘English’ English!)

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Chapter 13
Integrity

In the Introduction to this book I mentioned how the notion of “learning from dogs” went back to 2007 and me learning that dogs were creatures of integrity. Let me now elaborate on that.
It is a Friday morning in June in the year 2007. I am sitting with Jon at his place with Pharaoh sleeping soundly on the beige carpet behind my chair. I didn’t know it at the time but it was to become one of those rare moments when we gain an awareness of life that forever changes how we view the world, both the world within and the world without.

“Paul, I know there’s more for me to listen to and I sense that we have established a relationship in which you feel safe to reveal your feelings. However, today I want to talk about consciousness. Because I would like to give you an awareness of this aspect of what we might describe under the overall heading of mindfulness.”
I sat quietly fascinated by what was a new area for me.

“During the years that I have been a psychotherapist, I’ve seen an amazing range of personalities, probably explored every human emotion known. In a sense, explored the consciousness of a person. But what is clear to me now is that one can distil those different personalities and emotions into two broad camps: those who embrace truth and those who do not.”

Jon paused, sensing correctly that I was uncertain as to what to make of this. I made it clear that I wanted him to continue.

“Yes, fundamentally, there are people who deny the truth about themselves, who actively resist that pathway of better self-awareness, and then there are those people who want to know the truth of whom they are and seek it out when the opportunity arises. The former group could be described as false, lacking in integrity and unsupportive of life, while the latter group are diametrically opposite: truthful, behaving with integrity and supportive of life.”
It was then that Jon lit a fire inside me that is still burning bright to this day. For he paused, quietly looking at Pharaoh sleeping so soundly on the carpet, and went on to add, “And when I look at dogs, I have no question that they have a consciousness that is predominantly truthful: that they are creatures of integrity and supportive of life.”
That brought me immediately to the edge of my seat, literally, with the suddenness of my reaction causing Pharaoh to open his eyes and lift up his head. I knew in that instant that something very profound had just occurred. I slipped out of my chair, got down on my hands and knees and gave Pharaoh the most loving hug of his life. Dogs are creatures of integrity. Wow!

****

Later, when driving home, I couldn’t take my mind off the idea that dogs were creatures of integrity. What were those other values that Jon had mentioned? It came to me in a moment: truthful and supportive of life. Dogs have a consciousness that is truthful, that they are creatures of integrity and supportive of life: what a remarkable perception of our long-time companions.
I had no doubt that all nature’s animals could be judged in the same manner but what made it such an incredibly powerful concept, in terms of dogs, was the unique relationship between dogs and humans, a relationship that went back for thousands upon thousands of years. I realised that despite me knowing I would never have worked it out on my own, Jon’s revelation about dogs being creatures of integrity was so utterly and profoundly obvious.

As I made myself my usual light lunch of a couple of peanut butter sandwiches and some fruit and then sat enjoying a mug of hot tea, I still couldn’t take my mind off what Jon had revealed: dogs are examples of integrity and truth. I then thought that the word “examples” was not the right word and just let my mind play with alternatives. Then up popped: Dogs are beacons of integrity and truth. Yes, that’s it! Soon after, I recognised that what had just taken place was an incredible opening of my mind, an opening of my mind that didn’t just embrace this aspect of dogs but extended to me thinking deeply about integrity for the first time in my life.

Considering that this chapter is titled “Integrity”, so far all you have been presented with is a somewhat parochial account of how for the first time in my life the word “integrity” took on real meaning. That until that moment in 2007 the word had not had any extra significance for me over the thousands of other words in the English language. Time, therefore, to focus directly on integrity.

If goodness is to win, it has to be smarter than the enemy.

That was a comment written on my blog some years ago, left by someone who writes their own blog under the nom-de-plume of Patrice Ayme. It strikes me as beautifully relevant to these times, times where huge numbers of decent, law-abiding folk are concerned about the future. Simply because those sectors of society that have much control over all our lives do not subscribe to integrity, let alone giving it the highest political and commercial focus that would flow from seeing integrity as an “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” To quote my American edition of Roget’s Thesaurus.

Let me borrow an old pilot’s saying from the world of aviation: “If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt!”

That embracing, cautious attitude is part of the reason why commercial air transport is one of the safest forms of transport in the world today. If you had the slightest doubt about the safety of a flight, you wouldn’t board the aircraft. If you had the slightest doubt about the future for civilisation on this planet, likewise you would do something! Remember, that dry word civilisation means family, children, grandchildren, friends, and loved ones. The last thing you would do is to carry on as before!

The great challenge for this civilisation, for each and every one of us, is translating that sense of wanting to change into practical, effective behaviours. I sense, however, that this might be looking down the wrong end of the telescope. That it is not a case of learning to behave in myriad different ways but looking at one’s life from a deeper, more fundamental perspective: living as a person of integrity. So perfectly expressed in the Zen Buddhist quote: “Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind.” Seeing integrity as the key foundation of everything we do. Even more fundamental than that. Seeing integrity as everything you and I are.

It makes no difference that society in general doesn’t seem to value integrity in such a core manner. For what is society other than the aggregate of each and every one of us? If we all embrace living a life of integrity then society will reflect that.

Integrity equates to being truthful, to being honest. It doesn’t mean being right all the time, of course not, but integrity does mean accepting responsibility for all our actions, for feeling remorse and apologising when we make mistakes. Integrity means learning, being reliable, and being a builder rather than a destroyer. It means being authentic. That authenticity is precisely and exactly what we see in our dogs.

The starting point for what we must learn from our dogs is integrity.

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The face of integrity!

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Dogs don’t lie!

They offer unconditional love!

Their world is relatively straightforward.

That is all that we need to know about them.

We are 10 today!

What an amazing celebration!

To my utter surprise Leaning from Dogs has been going out for 10 years.

Thank you, all 3,881 followers.

How many recall the very first post? I guess hardly any one of you.

Well here it is again!

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Parenting Lessons From Dogs!

Much too late to make me realise the inadequacies of my own parenting skills, I learnt an important lesson when training my GSD (who is called Pharaoh, by the way).  That is that putting more emphasis into praise and reward for getting it right ‘trains’ the dog much quicker than telling it off.  The classic example is scolding a dog for running off when it should be lots of hugs and praise for returning home.  The scolding simply teaches the dog that returning home isn’t pleasant whereas praise reinforces that home is the place to be.  Like so many things in life, very obvious once understood!

Absolutely certain that it works with youngsters just the same way.

Despite being a very dominant dog, Pharaoh showed his teaching ability when working with other dogs.  In the UK there is an amazing woman, Angela Stockdale, who has proved that dogs (and horses) learn most effectively when being taught by other dogs (and horses).  Pharaoh was revealed to be a Beta Dog, (i.e. second in status below the Alpha Dog) and, therefore, was able to use his natural pack instinct to teach puppy dogs their social skills and to break up squabbles within a pack.

When you think about it, don’t kids learn much more (often to our chagrin!) from other kids than they do from their parents.  Still focusing on giving more praise than punishment seems like a much more effective strategy.

As was read somewhere, Catch them in the act of doing Right!

By Paul Handover.

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Despite all our dogs being our very dear family, I still miss Pharaoh.

Let me close with a photograph of him.

What a fabulous animal!

Ring home!

A delightful article courtesy of The Dodo.

There was a simply lovely article on The Dodo about a service dog receiving a call from her Mom.

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Service Dog Has The Sweetest Reaction To Getting A Video Call From Her Mom

Photo Credit: Facebook/Adventures with Moxie: Service Dog

Meet Moxie — a very good girl who works every day to make her mom’s life a little bit easier.

Ever since Moxie met Katie Harris, the two have rarely been apart. Moxie accompanies her mom to work and is always by her side at home.

“Moxie helps me every day and truly has been such a huge blessing to me,” Harris told The Dodo. “Very often, when I would bend over, I would either injure myself from a dislocation or pass out from blood pressure issues. Moxie will pick up anything I drop, retrieve my shoes, clothes or anything else I need.”

Photo Credit: Facebook/Adventures with Moxie: Service Dog

Harris suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder, and recently had surgery to help ease her symptoms. Unfortunately, that meant Moxie had to stay at home while she was in the hospital for an extended stay.

Harris knew it would be difficult to not be around Moxie — but she had no idea how the service pup would react to the separation.

“I hate being away from Moxie, especially during hard times,” Harris said. “When I knew I was going to be transferred to rehab, I kind of jokingly FaceTimed her, not knowing if she would have any reaction.”

Photo Credit: Facebook/Adventures with Moxie: Service Dog

After 12 days apart, it was clear that Moxie missed her mom, too. The pup seemed overjoyed to see her mom’s face again — even if it was just on a phone screen.

“She immediately recognized my voice and when she started licking the phone — I definitely teared up,” Harris said. “I didn’t quite see the full reaction until my stepmom sent me the video and I couldn’t believe it! I truly do believe she knew that was me.”

The next day, Moxie reunited with her mom, and the pup couldn’t contain her excitement. It was clear that though Moxie is a dog with a job, her love for her mom goes far beyond duty or training.

Even the way she greeted her mom shows just how much she cares.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Adventures with Moxie: Service Dog

“I couldn’t wait to see her, but I was a little nervous about my neck due to my cervical fusion,” Harris said. “But although she jumped in my lap and immediately started licking me, she didn’t hurt my neck at all. We eventually just paused in more of a hug as I just held her.”

Harris understands how life-changing a service dog can be and is now working to raise money to gift service animals to those in need.

“I can honestly say that having Moxie has ‘saved me’ and I am so incredibly thankful for her,” Harris said. “Not only does she help me physically, but we truly are a team as we navigate these challenges and hurdles together.”

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Katie Harris is unfortunate but also incredibly lucky. For her Moxie is the centre of her life and one can hardly imagine life without Moxie.

Moxie has developed an amazing relationship with Katie and it’s a lovely example of how close the bond between a human and a dog can get!

The power of a photograph

No words to say how I feel!

The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter lie on the bank of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico. AP Photo/Julia Le Duc

This is a terrible photograph. It has been widely shown but that doesn’t make it any less terrible.

Patrice Ayme recently wrote about the tragedy but for today I am republishing the article in The Conversation.

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How much power can one image actually have?

By

Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon

Professor of Psychology, University of Oregon

When the Associated Press published Julia Le Duc’s photograph of a drowned Salvadoran man, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, and his 23-month old daughter Valeria, it sparked outrage on social media. According to Le Duc, Ramírez had attempted to cross the Rio Grande after realizing he couldn’t present himself to U.S. authorities to request asylum.

But beyond raising awareness via Twitter and Facebook feeds, does an image like this one have the power to sway public opinion or spur politicians to take action?

As journalism and psychology scholars interested in the effects of imagery, we study the ability of jarring photos and videos to move people from complacency to action. While graphic imagery can have an immediate impact, the window of action – and caring – is smaller than you’d think.

A political catalyst?

Photographs and videos – through their perceived authenticity – can have an effect on people.

Research suggests that the graphic photo of slain Emmett Till in his open casket served as a “political catalyst” in mobilizing Americans to action in the civil rights movement. Similarly, news images have been credited as playing an important role in ending the Vietnam War.

But not all scholars agree. A recent article argued that it was a “myth” that the iconic “napalm girl” photo swayed public opinion and hastened the end of the Vietnam War.

Did the ‘napalm girl’ significantly shift public opinion on the Vietnam War? manhhai/flickr, CC BY

We must also look to psychology to understand the impacts of emotional news content. Research demonstrates that audiences need an emotional connection – and not merely a “just-the-facts” reporting approach – as “prerequisite for political action” when it comes to appreciating the importance of distant mass suffering. And imagery can trigger this emotional connection by overcoming the psychic numbing that occurs when casualties mount, images blur and lost lives become merely dry statistics.

Images from Syria

In April 2017, gut-wrenching images seem to have awakened the world to the human atrocities happening in Syria. Following a chemical bomb attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, graphic photos and videos documented the horrific effects of the banned nerve agent sarin. Millions bore witness to excruciating human suffering: gasping, choking, writhing and dying. More than 500 people were injured, with at least 86 deaths, including 28 children.

The vivid, closeup images of sarin attack victims were resonant enough to break through the complacency of people and politicians accustomed to bad news emerging from the war-torn nation. In President Trump’s response – which included a retaliatory missile strike – he seemed to recognize the value of the Syrian lives depicted in the horrific photos and videos.

Syrian doctors treat a child following a suspected chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. Edlib Media Center, via AP, File

“When you kill innocent children,” he said during a news conference, “that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line – many, many lines.”

The limits of an image

Nonetheless, even though the attacks may have briefly heightened U.S. concerns over the wars in Syria, the photographic documentation of the suffering in Syria wasn’t new.

The 2015 photos of a tiny Syrian boy’s lifeless body resting face down in the sand similarly stirred the world’s collective consciousness. Within hours of its release, the photo had reached 20 million people through Twitter, with many more millions seeing it on the front pages of newspapers the next day. Afterwards, government restrictions on accepting refugees were loosened while private donations to organizations like the Red Cross spiked dramatically.

A year later haunting images of a young boy in the back of an ambulance, caked in dirt and blood, galvanized the world.

But the emotional and compassionate responses to both photographs were short-lived. The bombing of civilians in Syria continued. Refugees continued risking their lives to escape the war zone.

After a photograph of a dead Syrian boy went viral in 2015, the number of daily donations to a Swedish Red Cross campaign designated specifically for aiding Syrian refugees spiked dramatically – but only for a brief window. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, CC BY-SA

Since the publication of Le Duc’s photo of the dead migrants, supportive politicians may feel emboldened to sound the alarm on the plight of Central American migrants. Donations to immigrant aid organizations might briefly spike.

But it seems that a photograph, no matter how emotionally devastating, can only do so much.

Yes, it can create a window of time when we’re motivated to act, and we’ll usually do so if we have effective options to pursue. This could mean a charitable donation at the individual level or, collectively, a surge of political will. However, psychology research from the “arithmetic of compassion” suggests that sympathy for distant human suffering declines when we’re presented with rising body counts. Sometimes we’re discouraged by the scope of the problem and this stops us from doing things that actually make a difference – even if partial solutions can save lives. Other times, if the options for helping others seem too narrow or ineffective, we’ll turn away and stop caring.

Images can alert us to the horrors of violence, mass migration and poverty. But as we have seen time and again, photographs and news footage of human suffering generally precipitate a short-term emotional reaction, rather than a sustained humanitarian response.

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As one reads the article it is much more than a comment on a single image despite how terrible that photograph may be.

The two scientists set out to show that the period that we are alarmed or terrified or just plain sad at the state of nations is rather short.

Maybe it’s the self-protective nature of our species that does this.

But it still doesn’t diminish the horror of that top photograph.

Puppy Mills, Part Two

Part Two of this guest post from Monika.

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One of the more alarming facts surrounding the audit was a lack of enforcement against violators. Enforcement has been ineffective, particularly against the worst of the worst where little or no action against a majority of violators resulted. Of the enforcement decisions for 68 sampled violators, 71% (48) resulted in no action taken, 6%  (4) received a “Letter of Information,” 19% (13) received an Official Warning and 4% (3) resulted in Stipulation. In 2007 the AC discontinued using Letter of Information as an enforcement option. Only 20 of 68 dealers (nearly 30%) were cited for repeat violations.

States with Animal Cruelty Laws

Only 5 states have a subsequent-offense felony cruelty law (Arkansas, Idaho, North & South Dakota, Mississippi); and 5 States have a misdemeanor cruelty law (Alaska, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, the remaining 40 states have a first-offense felony cruelty law.

We all know that puppy mills put profit over the health and well-being of the dogs but here are a few of the worst examples cited in the Audit.

Example No. 1. With 83 adult dogs, a Oklahoma breeder was sited with 20 violations during 5 inspections from April 2006 to December 2007. Lack of adequate vet care for 3 dogs hair-loss over their entire bodies and raw, irritated spots on their skins. Despite continuing violations, no enforcement actions were taken due to the agency’s lenient practices against repeat violators.

During another visit, AC cited breeder for another 11 violations (one involving a dog that had been bitten by another and left untreated for at least 7 days which resulted in the flesh around the wound rotting away to the bone! The inspector required the dog be taken to a local vet who immediately euthanized it. The case was referred to IES for investigation but only after another violation was documented. AC recommended a stipulation, yet as of early June 2009 (11 months following visit), violator had not been fined.

Example No. 2 was another OK facility with 219 adult dogs. Breeder was cited for 29 violations (including 9 repeats) during 3 inspections from February 2006 to January 2007. Yet the AC did not take enforcement action, but did request an investigation in November 2007 when another inspection revealed five dogs were found dead and other starving dogs resorted to cannibalism. When asked why dogs were not confiscated when the first dead and starving dogs were discovered, inspector cited its own regulations require violator be given opportunity to correct condition before confiscation can occur. Despite those conditions, the AC did not immediately confiscate the survivors, resulting in another 22 dogs dying before the breeder’s license was revoked and surviving dogs were rehomed within a year.

Example No. 3  involved a Ohio facility with 88 adult dogs. Breeder was cited for 23 violations including 7 repeats during 3 inspections from August 2005 to January 2008. An official warning was sent in July 2007 and in a subsequent visit in January 2008, found the same violations with another official warning sent rather than a more severe penalty. When asked by a more serious action was not taken, the regional manager indicated ‘breeder was making progress’ with a ‘reasonable opportunity’ to comply. National instructions state official warning can be sent if no other action was taken against a violator in the previous 3 years. Four months later in June 2008, breeder was cited for another 9 violations (4 repeats) yet the inspector recommended no enforcement action. Upon re-inspection 4 months later, breeder was cited for 4 more violations (including 3 repeats); AC took no enforcement action noting violator was “making credible progress.”

The USDA accompanied 19 of the 99 inspectors to observe dealer facility inspections. While many inspectors are highly committed, inspections are conducted timely and thoroughly and significant efforts are made to improve humane treatment of covered animals, it was noted that at least 6 inspectors did not correctly report direct or repeat violations. Some inspectors did not always document violations with sufficient evidence and direct violations were not reported. The Agency Guide defines a direct violation as one that “has a high potential to adversely affect the health and well-being of the animal” which include: “infestation with large numbers of ticks, fleas, or other parasites” and “excessive accumulations of fecal or other waste material to the point where odors, disease hazards, or pest control problems exist.” In such cases, a facility must be re-inspected within 45 days to ensure that the violator has taken timely actions to treat the suffering animals. By contrast, an indirect violation is one that “does not have a high potential to adversely affect the health and well-being of the animal.” Minor violations include: “inadequate records” and “surfaces not resistant to moisture.” In such cases, a re-inspection may not occur for up to a year.

Major deficiencies of the APHIS administration of the AWA cited in the Audit included:

  • AC’s enforcement process was ineffective against problematic dealers.
  • AC inspectors failed to cite or document violations properly to support enforcement actions.
  • AC inspectors failed to Cite or document violations properly to support enforcement actions.
  • APHIS’ new penalty worksheet calculated minimal penalties. Although APHIS previously agreed to revise its penalty worksheet to produce “significantly higher” penalties for violators of AWA, the agency continued to assess minimal penalties that did not deter violators. This occurred because the new worksheet allowed reductions up to 145 percent of the maximum penalty.
  • APHIS misused guidelines to lower penalties for AWA violators. In completing penalty worksheets, APHIS misused its guidelines in 32 of the 94 cases we reviewed to lower the penalties for AWA violators. Specifically, violations were inconsistently counted and applied “good faith” reductions without merit. A reduction in “no history of violations” when there was a prior history; and  arbitrarily changed the gravity of some violations and the business size. AC assessed lower penalties as an incentive to encourage violators to pay a stipulated amount rather than exercise their right to a hearing.
  • Some large breeders circumvented AWA by selling animals over the Internet. Large breeders that sell AWA-covered animals over the Internet are exempt from AC’s inspection and licensing requirements due to a loophole in AWA resulting in an increasing number of unlicensed breeders are not monitored for their animals’ overall health and humane treatment.

While the USDA does not advocate assessing maximum penalties, at a time when Congress tripled the authorized maximum penalty to “strengthen fines for violations,” actual penalties were down 20 percent less through the use of a new worksheet as compared to the one previously used.

I could go on, but to do so belies cold hard facts that trying to stem puppy mills is a bit like playing a ‘Whack-A-Mole.”

Bottom line, what the Audit tells us is: (1) red tape saddles agencies with convoluted regulations that are difficult to implement or monitor, due in part to (2) the sheer number of puppy mills and (3) a lack of adequate number of inspections conducted.

No doubt resources are limited but until such time as the economics of keeping puppy mills in business is reduced, they will continue to operate with impunity. The resulting advice is make sure your breeder is legit and don’t succumb to adorable puppy faces in pet shop windows.

I shudder to think how many of Elsa’s pups are out there because who easily resists puppies? It makes me wonder how many of them have genetic diseases due to poor breeding practices (in Elsa’s case epilepsy which was diagnosed just two weeks following her adoption), but other dogs seized at the same mill with her suffered from Sebaceous Adenitis (which is also most likely an autosomal recessive inherited disease), Addison’s Disease and one whose severe aggressive behavior (due to lack of socialization) was deemed so severe, he was considered unable to be rehabilitated in any way as to place him and heartbreakingly was euthanized. Bottom line, please adopt, don’t shop (or only use a reputable breeder). Only then can the sheer numbers of puppy mill facilities be reduced and heartbreaking stories like Elsa’s be stemmed.

Live, love bark! 🐾
Tails Around the Ranch

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We must spread the word far and wide that puppy mills have to be brought down by publicity and  lack of business.

Only when the last puppy mill goes out of business can we relax.

Finally, here’s a picture of a million miles from a puppy mill!

Melissa Lentz

Puppy Mills, Part One!

A guest post from Monika McDonald

If there’s one thing that raises the blood pressure of an animal lover, especially a dog lover, it’s a puppy mill.

I am very grateful for Monika to have sent me this piece, and for it to be her first guest post.

Here it is!

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Puppy Mills

By Monika McDonald

Puppy Mills…a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. Elsa, a Standard Poodle who probably lived 4 years or more in a mill, was rescued from a Northern Colorado puppy mill along with 8 other Standards (you can  read her story at the link). She was basically feral, shy but very sweet and curious and showed signs there was a lovely sweet companion beneath the matted filthy hair.

Recently I was given the opportunity to write a guest post for Paul at Learning from Dogs. Hold on to your hankies while I share some of the more disturbing facts uncovered from various sources. After much negative media coverage concerning large-scale dog dealers (i.e. breeders and brokers) failing to adequately monitor humane treatment for the animals under their care, the United States Department of Agriculture conducted an audit in 2010, some findings of which are noted below. Although Elsa was rescued through the local poodle rescue organization, I’m also featuring another group, the National Mill Dog Rescue group, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

It is estimated there may be as many as 15,000 mills throughout the country, with a large number located in the heartland of the US. Simply put, puppy mills are dog breeding operations that put profit over the health and well-being of the dogs.

They can be a large or small operation, licensed by the USDA or unlicensed. It should be noted that in order to sell to a pet store, a breeder must be licensed, though many violate that requirement. According to the USDA, breeders…breed and raise animals on the premises whereas brokers negotiate or arrange for the purchase, sale or transport of animals in commerce. Puppy mills may house anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dogs, however smaller does not necessarily mean better.

Elsa was rescued from a very small mill with the same horrific conditions as the large ones. Puppy mills are everywhere, but a large concentration is located in the Midwest. Missouri has the largest number of puppy mills in the United States. Amish and Mennonite communities (particularly in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania) also run a large number of puppy mills.

Breeding parents spend their lives in 24-hour confinement in cages often stacked on top of each other. Protection from heat, cold, or inclement weather is rare and dogs live in filthy, unsanitary conditions receiving little or no veterinary care (some puppy mill owners often provide veterinary care without anesthesia or vet training). Female dogs are bred every heat cycle and are killed (or offered at auction) when they can no longer produce litters. Puppies are often taken from their mothers too young and can develop serious health or behavioral issues due to the conditions in which they are bred and shipped. Genetic diseases often result from the over-breeding. The bottom line is that puppy mills are all about profits. Any money spent on veterinary care, quality food, shelter, or staff to care for the dogs cuts into the profit margin.

Where are puppy mill puppies sold? Two primary sales outlets for puppies bred in  mills are pet stores, and the Internet. Nearly all puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills. Pet stores are the primary sales outlet for puppy mills and are essential for keeping puppy mills in business. Both licensed and unlicensed mills sell to pet stores with many mills selling to pet stores without the required license and not held accountable. Puppies are bred in mills and then shipped all over the country. Shipping conditions are inhumane. They can be forced to go up to 12 hours without food or water, and confined in a small space where diseases can be easily transmitted. Many puppies do not survive.

Background Info. In 1966, Congress passed Public Law 89-544, known as the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act, to regulate the humane care and handling of dogs, cats, and other laboratory animals. In 1970 the law was amended (Public Law 91-579), changing the name to Animal Welfare Act (with subsequent amendments passed in 1970, 1976, 1985, 1990, 2002, 2007, and 2008). In 2010 the USDA conducted an audit of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Animal Care unit (AC) who are responsible for enforcing the act (the “Audit)”. Data cited is compiled from that Audit.

Inspections Conducted in FYs 2006-2008

Years

2006

2007

2008

No. of Inspectors

99

101

99

No. of Inspections*

17,978

16,542

15,722

Average Inspections Per Inspector

182

164

159

* These numbers include inspections on all licensees (i.e., dealers and exhibitors) and registrants (i.e., research facilities) under AWA.
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Tomorrow I will publish Part Two of Puppy Mills.

Reflections on the future

Father’s Day ….

….. was OK in the morning but for some reason I was in a dark mood in the afternoon.

(And if you want to skip today’s post I don’t blame you at all. This is not my usual style albeit it is important.)

I was reflecting on the state of the world. Global population was well in excess of seven billion people. The longevity of those people was increasing. That’s good news. The health standards were increasing. That’s also good news.

However, the pressure on farming is intense. More and more land is required. The natural world is under supreme pressure. Extinction rates of many natural species are soaring.

Planet Earth has far too many people!

OK, maybe in time the population level will come down but right now it is too high.

Then in came Tom Engelhardt’s latest essay. I read it and reflected. Is it too dark to post? Then Jeannie said that if you really want to share it then publish it.

Here it is, published with Tom’s kind permission.

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Tomgram: Engelhardt, Trump Change

Posted by Tom Engelhardt at 4:23pm, June 16, 2019.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

If Donald Trump Is the Symptom…
Then What’s the Disease?

By Tom Engelhardt
Don’t try to deny it! The political temperature of this country is rising fast. Call it Trump change or Trump warming, if you want, but grasp one thing: increasingly, you’re in a different land and, whatever happens to Donald Trump, the results down the line are likely to be ever less pretty. Trump change isn’t just an American phenomenon, it’s distinctly global. After all, from Australia to India, the Philippines to Hungary, Donald Trumps and their supporters keep getting elected or reelected and, according to a recent CNN poll, a majority of Americans think Trump himself will win again in 2020 (though, at the moment, battleground-state polls look grim for him).

Still, whether or not he gets a second term in the White House, he only seems like the problem, partially because no president, no politician, no one in history has ever gotten such 24/7 media coverage of every twitch, tweet, bizarre statement, falsehood, or fantasy he expresses (or even the clothes he wears). Think of it this way: we’re in a moment in which the only thing the media can’t imagine saying about Donald Trump is: “You’re fired!” And believe me, that’s just one sign of a media — and a country — with a temperature that’s anything but 98.6.

Since you-know-who is always there, always being discussed, always @(un)realdonaldtrump, it’s easy enough to imagine that everything that’s going wrong — or, if you happen to be part of his famed base, right (even if that right isn’t so damned hot for you) — is due to him. When we’re gripped by such thinking and the temperature’s rising, it hardly matters that just about everything he’s “done” actually preceded him. That includes favoring the 1%, deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants, and making war (unsuccessfully) or threatening to do so across significant parts of the planet.

Here, then, is the question of the day, the sort you’d ask about any patient with a rising temperature: If Donald Trump is only the symptom, what’s the disease?

Blowback Central

Let me say that the late Chalmers Johnson would have understood President Trump perfectly. The Donald clearly arrived on the scene as blowback — the CIA term of tradecraft Johnson first put into our everyday vocabulary — from at least two things: an American imperium gone wrong with its never-ending wars, ever-rising military budgets, and ever-expanding national security state, and a new “gilded age” in which three men (Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett) have more wealth than the bottom half of society and the .01% have one of their own, a billionaire, in the Oval Office. (If you want to add a third blowback factor, try a media turned upside down by new ways of communicating and increasingly desperate to glue eyes to screens as ad revenues, budgets, and staffs shrank and the talking heads of cable news multiplied.)

Now, I don’t mean to sell Donald Trump short in any way. Give that former reality TV star credit. Unlike either Hillary Clinton or any of his Republican opponents in the 2016 election campaign, he sensed that there were voters in profusion in the American heartland who felt that things were not going well and were eager for a candidate just like the one he was ready to become. (There were, of course, other natural audiences for a disruptive, self-promoting billionaire as well, including various millionaires and billionaires ready to support him, the Russians, the Saudis… well, you know the list). His skill, however, never lay in what he could actually do (mainly, in these years, cut taxes for the wealthy, impose tariffs, and tweet his head off). It lay in his ability to catch the blowback mood of that moment in a single slogan — Make America Great Again, or MAGA — that he trademarked in November 2012, only days after Mitt Romney lost his bid for the presidency to Barack Obama.

Yes, four years later in the 2016 election, others began to notice the impact of that slogan. You couldn’t miss the multiplying MAGA hats, after all. Hillary Clinton’s advisers even briefly came up with the lamest response imaginable to it: Make America Whole Again, or MAWA. But what few at the time really noted was the crucial word in that phrase: “again.” Politically speaking, that single blowback word might then have been the most daring in the English language. In 2016, Donald Trump functionally said what no other candidate or politician of any significance in America dared to say: that the United States was no longer the greatest, most indispensable, most exceptionable nation or superpower or hyper-power ever to exist on Planet Earth.

That represented a groundbreaking recognition of reality. At the time, it didn’t matter whether you were Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Marco Rubio, you had to acknowledge some version of that formula of exceptionalism. Trump didn’t and, believe me, that rang a bell in the American heartland, where lots of people had felt, however indirectly, the blowback from all those years of taxpayer-funded fruitless war, while not benefitting from infrastructure building or much of anything else. They experienced blowback from a country in which new billionaires were constantly being created, while the financial distance between CEO salaries and those of workers grew exponentially vaster by the year, and the financing of the political system became a 1% affair.

With that slogan, The Donald caught the spirit of a moment in which both imperial and economic decline, however unacknowledged by the Washington political elite, had indeed begun. In the process, as I wrote at that time, he crossed a psychologically taboo line and became America’s first declinist candidate for president. MAGA captured a feeling already at large that tomorrow would be worse than today, which was already worse than yesterday. As it turned out, it mattered not at all that the billionaire conman spouting that trademarked phrase had long been part of the problem, not the solution.

He caught the essence of the moment, in other words, but certainly didn’t faintly cause it in the years when he financed Trump Tower, watched his five Atlantic City casinos go bankrupt, and hosted The Apprentice. In that election campaign, he captured a previously forbidden reality of the twenty-first century. For example, I was already writing this in June 2016, five months before he was elected president:

“In its halcyon days, Washington could overthrow governments, install Shahs or other rulers, do more or less what it wanted across significant parts of the globe and reap rewards, while (as in the case of Iran) not paying any price, blowback-style, for decades, if at all. That was imperial power in the blaze of the noonday sun. These days, in case you hadn’t noticed, blowback for our imperial actions seems to arrive as if by high-speed rail (of which by the way, the greatest power on the planet has yet to build a single mile, if you want a quick measure of decline).

“Despite having a more massive, technologically advanced, and better funded military than any other power or even group of powers on the planet, in the last decade and a half of constant war across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, the U.S. has won nothing, nada, zilch. Its unending wars have, in fact, led nowhere in a world growing more chaotic by the second.”

Mind you, three years later the United States remains a staggeringly powerful imperial force, with hundreds of military bases still scattered across the globe, while its economic clout — its corporations control about half the planet’s wealth — similarly remains beyond compare. Yet, even in 2016, it shouldn’t have been hard to see that the American Century was indeed ending well before its 100 years were up. It shouldn’t have been hard to grasp, as Donald Trump intuitively did, that this country, however powerful, was already both a declining empire — thank you, George W. Bush for invading Iraq! Mission Accomplished! — and a declining economic system (both of which still looked great indeed, if you happened to be profiting from them). That intuition and that slogan gave Trump his moment in… well, dare I call it “the afternoon sun”? They made him president.

MTPGA

In a sense, all of this should have been expectable enough. Despite the oddity of Donald Trump himself, there was little new in it, even for the imperial power that its enthusiasts once thought stood at “the end of history.” You don’t need to look far, after all, for evidence of the decline of empires. You don’t even have to think back to the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991, almost three decades ago in what now seems like the Stone Age. (Admittedly, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a brilliant imagineer, has brought back a facsimile of the old Soviet Union, even if, in reality, Russia is now a rickety, fraying petro-state.)

Just take a glance across the Atlantic at Great Britain at this moment. And imagine that three-quarters of a century ago, that modest-sized island nation still controlled all of India, colonies across the planet, and an impressive military and colonial service. Go back even further and you’ll find yourself in a time when it was the true superpower of planet Earth. What a force it was — industrially, militarily, colonially — until, of course, it wasn’t.

If you happen to be looking for imperial lessons, you could perhaps say that some empires end not with a bang but with a Brexit. Despite all the pomp and circumstance (tweeting and insults) during the visit of the Trump royal family (Donald, Melania, Ivanka, Jared, Donald Jr., Eric, and Tiffany) to the British royals, led by a queen who, at 93, can remember better days, here’s something hard to deny: with Brexit (no matter how it turns out), the Earth’s former superpower has landed in the sub-basement of history. Great Britain? Obviously that adjective has to change.

In the meantime, across the planet, China, another once great imperial power, perhaps the greatest in the long history of this planet, is clearly on the rise again from another kind of sub-basement. That, in turn, is deeply worrying the leadership, civilian and military, of the planet’s “lone superpower.” Its president, in response, is wielding his weapon of choice — tariffs — while the U.S. military prepares for an almost unimaginable future war with that upstart nation, possibly starting in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the still-dominant power on the planet is, however incrementally, heading down. It’s nowhere near that sub-basement, of course — anything but. It’s still a rich, immensely powerful land. Its unsuccessful wars, however, go on without surcease, the political temperature rises, and democratic institutions continue to fray — all of which began well before Donald Trump entered the Oval Office and, in fact, helped ensure that he would make it there in the first place.

And yet none of this, not even imperial decline itself, quite captures the “disease” of which The Donald is now such an obvious symptom. After all, while the rise and fall of imperial powers has been an essential part of history, the planetary context for that process is now changing in an unprecedented way. And that’s not just because, since the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, growing numbers of countries have come to possess the power to take the planet down in a cataclysm of fire and ice (as in nuclear winter). It’s also because history, as we’ve known it, including the rise and fall of empires, is now, in a sense, melting away.

Trump change, the rising political temperature stirred by the growing populist right, is taking place in the context of (and, worse yet, aiding and abetting) record global temperatures, the melting of ice across the planet, the rise of sea levels and the future drowning of coastlines (and cities), the creation of yet more refugees, the increasing fierceness of fires and droughts, and the intensification of storms. In the midst of it all, an almost unimaginable wave of extinctions is occurring, with a possible million plant and animal species, some crucial to human existence, already on the verge of departure.

Never before in history has the rise and decline of imperial powers taken place in the context of the decline of the planet itself. Try, for instance, to imagine what a “risen” China will look like in an age in which one of its most populous regions, the north China plain, may by century’s end be next to uninhabitable, given the killing heat waves of the future.

In the context of both Trump change and climate change, we’re obviously still awaiting our true transformative president, the one who is not a symptom of decline, but a factor in trying to right this country and the Earth before it’s too late. You know, the one who will take as his or her slogan, MTPGA (Make The Planet Great Again).

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

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

Copyright 2019 Tom Engelhardt

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I’m 74. I don’t know how long I’ve got.

Part of me wants to live for a long time. That’s why I am vegan and trying to stay as fit as I can. (I’m also aware that Jeannie’s Parkinson’s Disease is a terminal disease and that in the latter stages she will need me to look after her.)

But then again I’m not sure I want to live in a world that continues to degrade especially continues to degrade in natural ways.

What’s the answer?

What do others who are on or around my age think about it?

What is the disease?

Offering a clue

A republication of an earlier post from The Smithsonian

Those who read yesterday’s post will find today’s post highly interesting.

A copy of an article from two years ago in The Smithsonian.

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New Study Has a Bone to Pick With Dog Domestication Findings

Contrary to past research, a new DNA study suggests fido was only tamed once

One wave of domestication or two? The debate rages on. (Dageldog/iStock)

By Jason Daley
smithsonian.com
July 19, 2017

Though dogs are humanity’s oldest and most consistent animal friend, scientists have long struggled to figure out just how Canis familiaris came to be. Though researchers agree dogs are descended from wild wolves, they aren’t sure when and where domestication occurred. And as Tina Hesman Saey at Science News reports, a new study has revived the debate, suggesting that dogs were domesticated one time between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago.

Dog domestication has gotten a lot of attention in recent years. In 2016, researchers looked at the mitochondrial DNA of modern and ancient dog species, determining that dogs come from two different wolf populations, one found in Europe and one found in Asia. That means that wolves would have been domesticated in two different places, with the two lineages eventually mixing in modern dogs.

But this latest research contradicts the double-domestication hypothesis. According to Ben Guarino at the Washington Post, researchers looked at the well-preserved DNA of two ancient dogs found in Germany, one 7,000 years old and one 4,700 years old, as well as the complete genomes of 100 modern dogs and snippets of DNA from 5,600 other wolves and dogs.

They traced the rate of mutations in the over time in the dog genomes. This technique, which creates a “molecular clock,” indicates that dogs diverged from wolves 36,900 years ago to 41,500 years ago in a single domestication event. But they can’t determine exactly where the split occurred. About 20,000 years later, the molecular clock indicates dogs split into European and Asian groups. They published their results in the journal Nature Communications

Not everyone is convinced by the study. Greger Larson, Oxford evolutionary biologist and author of the earlier domestication study, tells Guarino that the latest research does not explain the “ridiculously deep split” between the genetics of ancient European and Asian dogs. He also points out that while ancient dog bones have been found in far eastern Asia and western Europe, the middle of Eurasia seems to be empty of dog bones, suggesting that there were two ancient populations, separated by vast distances.

Krishna Veeramah, a palaeogeneticist at Stony Brook University and author of the new study says he doesn’t anticipate that the paper will put the issue to rest. “More ancient dog DNA from genomes will ultimately solve the problem,” he tells Rachael Lallensack at Nature. Researchers are hoping to find more geographically diverse DNA from dogs as well as samples from different time periods.

Whether it happened once or twice, how and why did domestication occur?

As Veeramah​ tells Helen Briggs at the BBC that it’s likely dogs evolved from wolves that began hanging around human camps, scavenging their scraps. ”Those wolves that were tamer and less aggressive would have been more successful at this,” he says. “While the humans did not initially gain any kind of benefit from this process, over time they would have developed some kind of symbiotic relationship with these animals, eventually evolving into the dogs we see today.”

One early benefit of domesticated dogs may have been that they could help transport meat from carcasses or hunt dangerous game like cave bears and cave lions, Saey writes in an earlier Science News article.

For now, however, exactly when and where Fido first approached humans will remain a mastiff question.

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For my money the origins of the domestic dog are as Krishna Veeramah puts it: ”Those wolves that were tamer and less aggressive would have been more successful at this,” he says. “While the humans did not initially gain any kind of benefit from this process, over time they would have developed some kind of symbiotic relationship with these animals, eventually evolving into the dogs we see today.

When did we come together?

A cache of animal bones 11,500 years old suggests an answer.

Brigit Katz of The Smithsonian wrote an article in January that revealed that dogs and humans hunted together many thousands of years ago.

Here it is:

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Humans and Dogs May Have Hunted Together in Prehistoric Jordan

Bones at a settlement called Shubayqa 6 show clear signs of having been digested—but were much too large to have been eaten by humans

Selection of gazelle bones from Space 3 at Shubayqa 6 displaying evidence for having been in the digestive tract of a carnivore. ( Credit: University of Copenhagen)

By Brigit Katz
SMITHSONIAN.COM
JANUARY 17, 2019

When and where dogs came to be domesticated is a subject of scientific debate, but there is a wealth of research that attests to the long, intertwined history of humans and their best animal buddies. One theory about the early origins of this relationship posits that dogs were used to help early humans hunt. And, as Ruth Schuster reports for Haaretz, a new study suggests that this may have been the case among prehistoric peoples of what is now Jordan.

A team of archaeologists from the University of Copenhagen and University College London studied a cache of animal bones at an 11,500-year-old settlement called Shubayqa 6, which is classified as “Pre-Pottery Neolithic A,” or belonging to the first stage of Neolithic culture in the Levant. In the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, the researchers write that they found bones from a canid species, though they could not identify which one because the remains were poorly preserved. They also unearthed the bones of other animals that had been butchered. But perhaps most intriguing were the bones of animals—like gazelle, for instance—that bore clear signs of having passed through a digestive tract.

These bones were too big for humans to have eaten, leading the researchers to surmise that they “must have been digested by dogs,” says lead study author Lisa Yeomans, a zooarchaeologist at the University of Copenhagen. And the researchers don’t think this was a case of wild carnivores sneaking into the settlement to grab a bite.

For one, archaeological evidence indicates that Shubayqa 6 was occupied year-round, suggesting that “dogs were allowed to freely roam around the site picking over the discarded waste, but also defecating in the vicinity of where humans were inhabiting,” the study authors write.

There was also a noticeable surge in hare bones around the time that dogs started to appear at the site, and the researchers think this may be because the dogs were helping humans hunt small prey. Previously, the people of Shubayqa 6 might have relied on tools like netting to catch hares and other animals, says Yeomans, but it wouldn’t have been very effective. Dogs, on the other hand, could selectively target elusive prey.

Humans and dogs thus appear to have forged a reciprocal relationship in Jordan more than 11,000 years ago. There is in fact evidence to suggest that dogs were domesticated by humans in the Near East as early as 14,000 years ago, and some of that evidence seems to point to dogs being used during hunts. Rock art from a site near Shubayqa, for instance, seems to show dogs driving gazelle into a trap.

In light of such archaeological finds, “it would be strange not to consider hunting aided by dogs as a likely explanation for the sudden abundance of smaller prey in the archaeological record,” Yeomans says. Among the ancient peoples of Jordan, in other words, the complex history of dog domestication may have been well underway.

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That scientific debate mentioned in the first line of the article has been published in this place before. But I’m going to republish it tomorrow as it so perfectly goes with today’s post.

This is just beautiful!

Change of mind!

I wasn’t going to do a post for today.

But that was before I saw Flying With Birds!

Then I changed my mind.

This is the post (and I trust I can share it with you!)

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If you have ever wondered what it must be like to be a bird flying alongside them is about as close as you can come.

Christian Moullec takes us some amazing flights with his birds in this wonderful video. He has been helping birds migrate from Germany to Sweden since 1995. His efforts have raised awareness about the disappearance of migratory birds in Europe. I hope you enjoy this beautiful video as much as I did!

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Enjoy!

It is just beautiful!