Category: Culture

Oh dear, I meant deer!

A timely reminder from The Conversation.

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

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

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

So this article has to be shared with you!

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

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

Tom Langen, Clarkson University

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

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

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

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

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

Time of day, month and year matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deer still cross roads at any time

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

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

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

Tom Langen, Professor of Biology, Clarkson University

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

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

Eating out with your ….

…. dog!

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

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

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

Relationship goals 💞 

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

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

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

The dog and his owner were apparently on a date.

GEMMA COLÓN

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect!

At last some hope!

Bill McKibben steps forward.

I heard yesterday from Erik Hoffner who is responsible for the Mongabay website that Bill McKibben is stepping up to the mark in wanting to take action regarding climate change.

I very quickly signed up and received the following email:

Dear Friend,

Many thanks for signing up to be a part—and we hope a big part—of Third Act.

My name is Bill McKibben, and I’m one of the volunteers helping to launch this effort for Americans 60 and older who want to build a fairer and more sustainable nation and planet.

We’re very much in the early days of this, and we need your help—especially if you’re good at the behind-the-scenes tasks like administration, development, and project management. If you’ve got some time to donate right now, write to us at info@thirdact.org.

And we will be back in touch as autumn rolls on, with some early campaigns focused on climate action and on ending voter suppression. As you can tell, we’re making this up as we go along. So it should be interesting, and also a little bumpy!

If you can assemble a sizable group of people, I’ll do my best to join you for a virtual talk to explain more about this idea. (And when the pandemic ends, we’ll try to do it in person!).

And if you can donate some small sum of money to help with the launch, here’s the place.

Thank you. This is our time to make some powerful change—we’ve got the skills, the resources, and the desire. So let’s try.

Thanks, Bill McKibben for Third Act

The website is here.

WELCOME TO YOUR THIRD ACT

We’re over 60—the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation. We have skills, we have resources, we have time—and many of us have kids and grandkids. We also have a history. In our early years we saw remarkable shifts in politics and society; now, in our latter years, we want to see those changes made real and lasting.

We were there for the first Earth Day, and we’ve been glad to see cleaner air and water—but now we know that the climate crisis presents an unparalleled threat. The heat is on and we must act quickly to turn it down.

We watched or participated in the civil rights movement—and now we know that its gains were not enough, and that gaps in wealth have only widened in our lifetimes. We’ve got to repair divisions instead of making them worse.
We saw democracy expand—and now we’re seeing it contract, as voter suppression and gerrymandering threaten the core of the American experiment. We know that real change can only come if we all get to participate.

You are the key to this work. Maybe you’ve asked yourself: how can I give back on a scale that matters? The answer is, by working with others to build movements strong enough to matter. That’s why we hope you’ll join us.

Clearly I have signed up and I hope an enormous number of other people will do as well.

Because the time left is not very long and even me at the age of 76 fear for the near future if nothing is done urgently.

Please, please consider joining Third Act.

As the headline says: THIRD ACT — EXPERIENCED PEOPLE WORKING FOR A FAIR AND STABLE PLANET.

The way dogs think

They are incredibly intuitive but not in such a broad way as us humans.

On Friday morning Oliver got lifted up onto the bed. It’s a daily routine and one that Jeannie and I love.

Oliver – He has magnificent eyes.

On this particular early morning I decided to switch the lamp off next to me and snuggle under the covers for a bit more shuteye. At the moment the light went out Oliver moved from his regular position somewhere over my knees to the bottom of the bed in between me and Jean. He has never done that before.

Of all our dogs Oliver is the one that seems to sense what is happening. That is not to say that the other dogs are dumb, far from it, but that Oliver is extra intuitive.

So that’s why this from Science magazine is being republished today. Because it is right on the money, so to speak.

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Dogs Know When You’re Lying to Them

By the BEC Crew, 25th February, 2015

We all know that dogs can sense our emotions, whether happy, sad or angry, but now researchers have found that they can also tell when you’re lying, and will stop following the cues of someone they deem untrustworthy.

Researchers led by Akiko Takaoka from Kyoto University in Japan figured this out by using the old ‘point and fetch’ trick – a human points at the location of something, like a ball, a stick, or some food, and the dog runs off to find it. They wanted to figure out if dogs were just blindly following these cues, or if they were adjusting their behaviour based on how reliable they perceived the person giving the cues to be. And if they didn’t perceive this person as being reliable, how quickly would they learn to mistrust and disobey the humans who pointed in the wrong direction?

Working with 34 dogs, the team went through three rounds of pointing. The first round involved truthfully pointing out to the dogs where their treats and toys were hidden in a container. In the second round, after showing the dogs what’s in the container, they pointed out the location again, but this time, it was a trick – the container was empty. In the third round, the team pointed to the location of the box, which was filled with treats again.

They found that the dogs were following the age-old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” because by round three, many of them were done believing the actions of the pointing volunteers.

A second experiment was performed in exactly the same way as the first one, except the person was replaced by an entirely new one. The dogs happily started the process all over again, and were fully open to trusting their new ‘friend’. “That suggests, says Takaoka, that the dogs could use their experience of the experimenter to assess whether they were a reliable guide,” Melissa Hogenboom writes for BBC News. “After these rounds, a new experimenter replicated the first round. Once again, the dogs followed this new person with interest.”

What’s going on here, the researchers report in the journal Animal Cognition, is that the dogs were ‘devaluing’ the reliability of the human when they experienced their lies. “Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought,” Takaoka told Hogenboom. “This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans.” 

The experiment reaffirms what we know about the nature of dogs – they love routine, but they also love new things. In round one, they learnt how the activity goes: the human points, I sniff out something great. But in round two, the rules changed and the dogs became stressed out. But when round three came along, the human who broke the rules was replaced by a different human, and the dogs were happy to trust this one because of their love of trying new things.

“Dogs are very sensitive to human behaviour but they have fewer preconceptions,” Bradshaw told the BBC. “They live in the present, they don’t reflect back on the past in an abstract way, or plan for the future.” And they certainly don’t approach a situation by “thinking deeply about what that entails”, he said. 

Something to think about when you consider inflicting the ‘fake tennis ball’ game on your dog. It might work a few times for hilarious effect, because your dog trusts you way more than the dogs in the experiment trusted the strangers they just met, but how long will it last?

It also explains why dogs are so unsure about magicians:

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So to all the dogs in the world I say this: “Keep on trusting us humans!” And to the millions of dog owners in the world, I say this: “Never lie, especially to a dog!”

The big question!

That I wonder if it will ever be answered?

For the first day of September I wanted to change the topic to an item that was recently published by The Conversation.

Space has always been fascinating to me. One of my enduring memories was standing on the roof of my Land Rover in 1969 during a long journey around the interior of Australia. We were in the Nullabor desert and it was flat, and lonely, for miles and miles. This particular night I clambered up onto the roof and just took in the night sky. There was not a single spot of human-caused light pollution and the night sky was beautiful beyond words.

Later on when I was sailing I used to regard the North Star as my friend.

Anyway, here’s a little question for this day.

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Does outer space end – or go on forever?

It can stretch your mind to ponder what’s really out there. Stijn Dijkstra/EyeEm via Getty Images

Jack Singal, University of Richmond


What is beyond outer space? – Siah, age 11, Fremont, California


Right above you is the sky – or as scientists would call it, the atmosphere. It extends about 20 miles (32 kilometers) above the Earth. Floating around the atmosphere is a mixture of molecules – tiny bits of air so small you take in billions of them every time you breathe.

Above the atmosphere is space. It’s called that because it has far fewer molecules, with lots of empty space between them.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel to outer space – and then keep going? What would you find? Scientists like me are able to explain a lot of what you’d see. But there are some things we don’t know yet, like whether space just goes on forever.

Planets, stars and galaxies

At the beginning of your trip through space, you might recognize some of the sights. The Earth is part of a group of planets that all orbit the Sun – with some orbiting asteroids and comets mixed in, too.

A diagram of the solar system, showing the sun and its orbiting planets.
A familiar neighborhood. Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

You might know that the Sun is actually just an average star, and looks bigger and brighter than the other stars only because it is closer. To get to the next nearest star, you would have to travel through trillions of miles of space. If you could ride on the fastest space probe NASA has ever made, it would still take you thousands of years to get there.

If stars are like houses, then galaxies are like cities full of houses. Scientists estimate there are 100 billion stars in Earth’s galaxy. If you could zoom out, way beyond Earth’s galaxy, those 100 billion stars would blend together – the way lights of city buildings do when viewed from an airplane.

Recently astronomers have learned that many or even most stars have their own orbiting planets. Some are even like Earth, so it’s possible they might be home to other beings also wondering what’s out there.

An image showing detail of one galaxy, but visually implying there are many more.
A galaxy among many other galaxies. Michael Miller/Stocktrek Images via Getty Images

You would have to travel through millions of trillions more miles of space just to reach another galaxy. Most of that space is almost completely empty, with only some stray molecules and tiny mysterious invisible particles scientists call “dark matter.”

Using big telescopes, astronomers see millions of galaxies out there – and they just keep going, in every direction.

If you could watch for long enough, over millions of years, it would look like new space is gradually being added between all the galaxies. You can visualize this by imagining tiny dots on a deflated balloon and then thinking about blowing it up. The dots would keep moving farther apart, just like the galaxies are.

Is there an end?

If you could keep going out, as far as you wanted, would you just keep passing by galaxies forever? Are there an infinite number of galaxies in every direction? Or does the whole thing eventually end? And if it does end, what does it end with?

These are questions scientists don’t have definite answers to yet. Many think it’s likely you would just keep passing galaxies in every direction, forever. In that case, the universe would be infinite, with no end.

Some scientists think it’s possible the universe might eventually wrap back around on itself – so if you could just keep going out, you would someday come back around to where you started, from the other direction.

One way to think about this is to picture a globe, and imagine that you are a creature that can move only on the surface. If you start walking any direction, east for example, and just keep going, eventually you would come back to where you began. If this were the case for the universe, it would mean it is not infinitely big – although it would still be bigger than you can imagine.

In either case, you could never get to the end of the universe or space. Scientists now consider it unlikely the universe has an end – a region where the galaxies stop or where there would be a barrier of some kind marking the end of space.

But nobody knows for sure. How to answer this question will need to be figured out by a future scientist.

Jack Singal, Associate Professor of Physics, University of Richmond

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

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“But nobody knows for sure. How to answer this question will need to be figured out by a future scientist.”

I wonder if that future scientist will ever be able to answer the question.

Then there’s the thought that the universe may be infinite. That is an astounding idea, that it goes on forever.

There’s only one way to close this post. With this photograph from Unsplash.

Perfect families!

What are the best dog breeds for families.

Again I am drawn to The Dodo and to an article that was published earlier this year. It is not a long piece but it seems to be full of common sense.

Have a read and tell me your thoughts.

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These Are Some Of The Best Dog Breeds For Families

And why you should find one at a rescue 🐶👪

By SAM HOWELL, Published on the 26th April, 2021

Adopting a dog is one of the most exciting ways to grow your family.

But you might be wondering if certain dog breeds are better for living with families than others.

The Dodo spoke with Iris Ulbrich, a behavior consultant and owner at Trust Your Dog in Los Angeles, who explained why you should actually pay more attention to a pup’s personality than his breed.

The best dog breeds for families

While there are some dog breeds that tend to be a bit more inclined for family life, it’s super important to remember that breed is not everything.

“Yes, there are characteristics that are tied to dog’s breed, but a lot has to do with the quality of breeding as well as the first few months of a puppy’s life,” Ulbrich told The Dodo.

What’s most important is an individual dog’s personality because, ultimately, that will determine whether or not he will work great in a family environment, regardless of his breed.

With that in mind, here are some dog breeds that — on average — tend to have traits that make them good family pets:

  • Labradors
  • Golden retrievers
  • Collies
  • Wheaten terriers

“Both [Labradors and golden retrievers] are very friendly, active, good with kids and eager to please,” Ulbrich explained.

As for wheaten terriers, they don’t shed. So if someone in your family has allergies, these terriers could be a good fit.

“Collies are very devoted family dogs and can be both very active but also know how to relax and be calm at home,” Ulbrich said.

That being said, these are just generalizations! There are some labs out there who are absolutely terrible with kids — and literally millions of individual dogs from breeds not on this list who are perfect family pets. 

Which is why your best bet is to go to a rescue center, where adoption counselors can match you with a pup who has the exact personality you’re looking for.

Personality traits that make a dog the best fit for a family

Since personality is far more important than breed when finding your perfect pup, you should know which traits to look for in your family’s potential new addition.

After all, a rescue is going to help you find a dog that’ll vibe with you and your loved ones, since you’ll be able to pick a pup with a fully formed personality. If you get a puppy from a breeder, on the other hand, you’ll have no idea if he’ll grow up to be a good match for your family.

When it comes to finding the best dog for your family, here’s the personality traits Ulbrich recommends you look for.

“A healthy amount of energy in combination with eagerness to please their owner is usually a great combination,” Ulbrich said.

And since families are all different, it’s actually most important to look for a dog that’ll mesh with your family’s interests, hobbies and lifestyles.

“An active and outdoorsy family with slightly older kids that live in a house would pick a different dog to a family that lives in an apartment and has twin toddlers,” Ulbrich explained.

In those cases, both of those potential pups might not even be any of the breeds listed above, since it all boils down to each individual pup’s personality.

“A dog’s demeanor also plays a big role in [a] successful family integration,” Ulbrich said. “I try and recommend people ask a trainer to temperament test a puppy before making a final decision on breed and particular puppy within a litter.”

And since that individual temperament is so important, any dog breed can be the best dog breed for your family.

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I hadn’t thought of it before but Iris Ulbrich stating that personality was far more important than the breed of the dog. Of course! Perfect sense! And always take in a rescue dog!

Loving dogs!

Yet another article about a sweet dog! Keep them coming!

I know Jeannie and I are very biased but so are millions, literally, of other good folk around the world. I am speaking of people who love dogs. And thank goodness that is the case because The Dodo is just one of a number of doggie websites and in the absence of such websites Learning from Dogs would have never got started!

So I am pleased to present another story from The Dodo about Levi. Read on:

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Very Sweet Dog Always Welcomes Mom Home With A Gift

It’s the thought that counts 😂

By Lily Feinn, published on the 16th July, 2021

Levi knows to never greet someone empty-handed. The Lab mix gets so excited every time his mom comes home that he immediately has to find the perfect gift to show his love.

However, when it comes to Levi’s presents, his mom knows it’s the thought that counts.

LORI EDDINS

“The very first thing that stands out was when he brought me an open, half-chewed box of screws,” Lori Eddins, Levi’s mom, told The Dodo. “So I took him to the vet for X-rays.”

Thankfully, Levi hadn’t snacked on any of the hardware and got a clean bill of health, but Eddins’ reaction to the “gift” encouraged Levi to start an adorable routine.

“I think my begging and baby-talking for him to surrender the box of screws might be what inspired his deliveries,” Eddins said. “He thought it was great!”

LORI EDDINS

Now, the rescue dog always gives his mom something special when she comes home after a hard day’s work. 

LORI EDDINS

“He has brought everything from his toys, to bones and blankets, to clumps of grass, pieces of cardboard or paper (I call them ‘cards’) and landscape timber,” Eddins said. “My favorite was when he found where the flower bed had been cleaned out and he brought me flowers.”

“If he meets me at the gate empty-handed, I let him carry my keys to the door, and he is so proud,” she added.

LORI EDDINS

Some of Levi’s gifts are not necessarily what Eddins would pick out for herself. Occasionally, he’ll bring her clumps of horse manure or try to pick up one of the chickens on the property to deliver to his mom. 

LORI EDDINS

Though Eddins’ chickens aren’t so fond of this gift-giving, Eddins is so grateful to have such a generous, happy-go-lucky dog bringing joy to her life — and she makes sure Levi knows it.

“I give him huge hugs and thank him as if he brought me the winning lottery ticket,” Eddins said. “Most things I give back to him, some end up in the trash. I did keep the flowers!”

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It is a delightful story and one that rings true for so many people. Lori knows the golden rule in the way that she praises Levi.

Always make a dog feel as though he or she is such a special animal that life wouldn’t work without that dog. Always praise them and when a dog does something negative do not punish them. Just don’t praise them.