Category: Culture

Earth Day 2016

A fabulous example of how we reach out to others across the internet!

A week-and-a-half ago in came an email to me:

Hi Paul,

Just came across a post of yours for Earth Day 2014.

Absolutely love the fact that you’ve written about a “Green” topic!
In fact, I wanted to reach out and let you know that in honor of this year’s Earth Day (April 22), I just finished designing an infographic about 14 easy ways dog owners can become more environmentally friendly people.
Would it be okay with you if I passed it along? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Mike was Mike Shannon, about which more at the bottom of this guest post. Of course, I was delighted to receive his lovely guest post and infographic. Over to Mike.


In its 46th anniversary to date, Earth Day is bound to continue to do what it has always succeeded in doing, help raise awareness among† individuals from all across the globe about environmentally-friendly topics so they work together to make this† world a better place to live in for the future generations to come.

In honor of this year’s Earth Day, which happens to be on Friday, April the 22nd, Ultimate Home Life have designed an info-graphic† that explains the most important 14 steps you can take as of today to go green with your dog.

This topic is certainly nothing to be taken lightly, and most certainly nothing of the impossible. Just look at the statistic provided at the beginning of the info-graphic – nearly 50% of families in the United States alone have a dog at home, which makes for more than 70 million dogs!

Let’s kick off our “going green” mission this year by making our dogs greener, one dog at a time.

If you have any tips for going green with your dog, make yourself heard in the comments!

Infographic Courtesy Of Ultimate Home Life

Bio: Michael is the creator, editor, webmaster – alright, let’s just say he runs the show over at UltimateHomeLife.Com! He regularly blogs about anything and everything dog related, with an emphasis on trying to cover all questions that dog owners tend to worry about. So, hop over and give him a bark!


What a fabulous and highly pertinent post for these times.

Happy Earth Day to all of us and our wonderful dogs right across this magnificent planet.

Inner Thinking: Of dogs and humans.

We are what we think about most.

Today’s post was inspired by something yesterday I read, not for the first time, over on The People Workshop site. (As an aside, I know that many regulars of this place are familiar with the history of my friendship with Jon.) On the page that explains more of Jon Lavin’s approach to his work with clients, he writes:

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Thus said Albert Einstein (1879-1955).

Intuitively, it strikes one as correct. However, reflect for a few moments on how you think and very quickly it becomes clear that how you think is based on deep-seated experiences and the learnings that flow from those experiences.

As it is for all of us.

Just as relevantly, perhaps more so, is that how we behave is based on those same deep-seated experiences and subsequent learnings. This offers a clue as to why bringing about lasting, behavioural change can often feel like pushing water uphill!

That prompted me to look up a previous time when I had written a post about feelings. It was last December when in a post called Feelings – Of Both Humans and Animals, I wrote this:

There couldn’t have been a better answer to that ponder than a recent video that was presented by TED Talks. It was a talk by Carl Safina about what is going on inside the brains of animals: What are animals thinking and feeling? Or in the fuller words of that TED Talk page:

What’s going on inside the brains of animals? Can we know what, or if, they’re thinking and feeling? Carl Safina thinks we can. Using discoveries and anecdotes that span ecology, biology and behavioral science, he weaves together stories of whales, wolves, elephants and albatrosses to argue that just as we think, feel, use tools and express emotions, so too do the other creatures – and minds – that share the Earth with us.

So back to what inspired today’s post. It was the challenge of really knowing why we behave the way we do, both humans and dogs. With dogs, however, we accept they cannot speak to us clearly. Or as Esme put it in a recent reply to an update on Hazel: “Well you’re getting there, half the battle is diagnosis with dogs because they can’t actually tell us how they feel.” (My emphasis.)

Back to humans. When Jon wrote on his site, “…. how you think  …… is based on deep-seated experiences ….”, what I heard is that for us humans there are many times when we cannot actually tell ourselves what we are feeling. That is why we need the counselling of someone who has the professional training and experience to expose those deep emotional and psychological drivers within us; those drivers that are normally out of sight from us.

In my own case, how my father’s death was managed by my mother back in December, 1956 left an emotional wound that was totally out of sight from my conscious mind for 50 years.  The emotional crisis that I went through back then was discovered by Jon to have its roots back in December, 1956. By a massive stroke of fortune Jon gave me the insight into that mental place of old and a year later I met Jean down in Mexico.

In other words, to return to Albert Einstein:

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

The challenge is having sufficient self-awareness to know when an aspect of our behaviour requires the support of the Jon Lavins of this world.

So what would we require from a counsellor, from a therapist, who was working with us to uncover those hidden aspects? In other words, in terms of assessing that therapist what’s the difference that would make the difference?

Naturally, I don’t have the skills to answer that question in any direct, professional manner. But if I look down at our dogs then a form of answer does ‘speak’ to me. Dogs are creatures of integrity, openness and trust. They relate to us humans and other known dogs around them through friendship and love; frequently unconditional love.

A therapist who embraces those values; nay, lives those values, would display that very quickly after meeting with the ‘client’. Any person seeing that in a therapist would be seeing the difference that makes the difference.

Good people, I’m not asking any of you who read this to divulge any personal stuff but, nonetheless, I would love to hear your thoughts on what I have written today!


Reflections on the internet.

An interesting item that recently crossed my ‘screen’.

I make no apologies for cutting corners for today’s post. Because the last few days of looking after, and worrying about, Hazel have soaked up so much of our time and energy that I just couldn’t find the creative impulse to do much more than ‘copy and paste’.

That’s not to downplay the great interest of this article that appeared over on The Conversation blogsite a few days ago.


Why the Internet isn’t making us smarter – and how to fight back

April 15, 2016 5.58am EDT

Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan

Disclosure statement: David Dunning has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Templeton Foundation in the past.

In the hours since I first sat down to write this piece, my laptop tells me the National Basketball Association has had to deny that it threatened to cancel its 2017 All-Star Game over a new anti-LGBT law in North Carolina – a story repeated by many news sources including the Associated Press. The authenticity of that viral video of a bear chasing a female snowboarder in Japan has been called into question. And, no, Ted Cruz is not married to his third cousin. It’s just one among an onslaught of half-truths and even pants-on-fire lies coming as we rev up for the 2016 American election season.

The longer I study human psychology, the more impressed I am with the rich tapestry of knowledge each of us owns. We each have a brainy weave of facts, figures, rules and stories that allows us to address an astonishing range of everyday challenges. Contemporary research celebrates just how vast, organized, interconnected and durable that knowledge base is.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that our brains overdo it. Not only do they store helpful and essential information, they are also receptive to false belief and misinformation.

Just in biology alone, many people believe that spinach is a good source of iron (sorry, Popeye), that we use less than 10 percent of our brains (no, it’s too energy-guzzling to allow that), and that some people suffer hypersensitivity to electromagnetic radiation (for which there is no scientific evidence).

But here’s the more concerning news. Our access to information, both good and bad, has only increased as our fingertips have gotten into the act. With computer keyboards and smartphones, we now have access to an Internet containing a vast store of information much bigger than any individual brain can carry – and that’s not always a good thing.

Better access doesn’t mean better information

This access to the Internet’s far reaches should permit us to be smarter and better informed. People certainly assume it. A recent Yale study showed that Internet access causes people to hold inflated, illusory impressions of just how smart and well-informed they are.

But there’s a twofold problem with the Internet that compromises its limitless promise.

First, just like our brains, it is receptive to misinformation. In fact, the World Economic Forum lists “massive digital misinformation” as a main threat to society. A survey of 50 “weight loss” websites found that only three provided sound diet advice. Another of roughly 150 YouTube videos about vaccination found that only half explicitly supported the procedure.

Rumor-mongers, politicians, vested interests, a sensationalizing media and people with intellectual axes to grind all inject false information into the Internet.

So do a lot of well-intentioned but misinformed people. In fact, a study published in the January 2016 Proceedings of National Academy of Science documented just how quickly dubious conspiracy theories spread across the Internet. Specifically, the researchers compared how quickly these rumors spread across Facebook relative to stories on scientific discoveries. Both conspiracy theories and scientific news spread quickly, with the majority of diffusion via Facebook for both types of stories happening within a day.

Making matters worse, misinformation is hard to distinguish from accurate fact. It often has the exact look and feel as the truth. In a series of studies Elanor Williams, Justin Kruger and I published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2013, we asked students to solve problems in intuitive physics, logic and finance. Those who consistently relied on false facts or principles – and thus gave the exact same wrong answer to every problem – expressed just as much confidence in their conclusions as those who answered every single problem right.

For example, those who always thought a ball would continue to follow a curved path after rolling out of a bent tube (not true) were virtually as certain as people who knew the right answer (the ball follows a straight path).

Defend yourself

So, how so we separate Internet truth from the false?

First, don’t assume misinformation is obviously distinguishable from true information. Be careful. If the matter is important, perhaps you can start your search with the Internet; just don’t end there. Consult and consider other sources of authority. There is a reason why your doctor suffered medical school, why your financial advisor studied to gain that license.

Second, don’t do what conspiracy theorists did in the Facebook study. They readily spread stories that already fit their worldview. As such, they practiced confirmation bias, giving credence to evidence supporting what they already believed. As a consequence, the conspiracy theories they endorsed burrowed themselves into like-minded Facebook communities who rarely questioned their authenticity.

Instead, be a skeptic. Psychological research shows that groups designating one or two of its members to play devil’s advocates – questioning whatever conclusion the group is leaning toward – make for better-reasoned decisions of greater quality.

If no one else is around, it pays to be your own devil’s advocate. Don’t just believe what the Internet has to say; question it. Practice a disconfirmation bias. If you’re looking up medical information about a health problem, don’t stop at the first diagnosis that looks right. Search for alternative possibilities.

Seeking evidence to the contrary

In addition, look for ways in which that diagnosis might be wrong. Research shows that “considering the opposite” – actively asking how a conclusion might be wrong – is a valuable exercise for reducing unwarranted faith in a conclusion.

After all, you should listen to Mark Twain, who, according to a dozen different websites, warned us, “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”

Wise words, except a little more investigation reveals more detailed and researched sources with evidence that it wasn’t Mark Twain, but German physician Markus Herz who said them. I’m not surprised; in my Internet experience, I’ve learned to be wary of Twain quotes (Will Rogers, too). He was a brilliant wit, but he gets much too much credit for quotable quips.

Misinformation and true information often look awfully alike. The key to an informed life may not require gathering information as much as it does challenging the ideas you already have or have recently encountered. This may be an unpleasant task, and an unending one, but it is the best way to ensure that your brainy intellectual tapestry sports only true colors.


The way the world now communicates, for good and bad, using the internet is staggering. As the website Internet Live Stats reveals: (as of this moment today)

3,352,197,085 Internet Users in the world

1,016,623,500 Total number of Websites

2,060,120 Blog posts written today

So with that last figure in mind, I’ll send this for posting without delay!😉

In praise of the ‘mutt’.

Welcome to Territorio de Zaguates, or “Land of the Strays”.

When it comes to loving stray dogs I thought that the friends of John Zande and his wife were showing the rest of the world how to do it. For it is my understanding that Sandra and her partner down in Brazil are providing a home for around 300 ex-rescue dogs.

Then I came across this recent item over on Mother Nature News about 700 rescued ‘mutts’ living in a doggie paradise.

Here’s the full article:


700 rescued mutts live the life at Costa Rica’s ‘Land of the Strays’

Catie Leary

April 13, 2016.
Dogs frolic in a lush green field at the Territorio de Zaguates dog sanctuary in Costa Rica. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
Dogs frolic in a lush green field at the Territorio de Zaguates dog sanctuary in Costa Rica. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Welcome to Territorio de Zaguates, or “Land of the Strays,” an amazing, privately funded, volunteer-run animal sanctuary in Costa Rica where no mutt is turned away.

Located less than an hour outside the bustling capital city of San José, this doggie safe haven is home to hundreds of abandoned canines that have been given a second chance at life.

This is no ordinary animal sanctuary, though. After all, when you live in a place as beautiful as Costa Rica, you take advantage of what the landscape provides. That’s why volunteers lead the ragtag pack of rescued mutts on scenic hikes through the gorgeous mountains nearly every day. It’s a sight to behold.

 A volunteer at Territorio de Zaguates leads a pack of dogs up a hill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
A volunteer at Territorio de Zaguates leads a pack of dogs up a hill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Aside from the free-range mountain hikes with breathtaking scenery, Territorio de Zaguates functions just like any other animal rescue or sanctuary.

“First thing we do when a new dog gets here is spay/neuter, vaccinate and get rid of parasites,” the organization explains on its Facebook page. “Then we assess if the dog requires any other type of special treatment [and] put them in quarantine if necessary.”

Once this initial processing is completed, the new dog is released into the general population, where it can either be adopted by a loving human or spend the rest of its days frolicking in what is essentially a doggy paradise.

There are all kinds of mutts living at Territorio de Zaguates. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
There are all kinds of mutts living at Territorio de Zaguates. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

What makes Territorio de Zaguates even more special is the creative approach to finding the dogs forever homes.

To encourage adoption, every doggie resident at the sanctuary is not only given a name, but also a customized “breed” name based on the dog’s phenotypic traits. These one-of-a-kind breed monikers include memorable titles like “Alaskan collie fluffy terrier” and the “chubby-tailed German doberschnauzer.”

The resounding message behind this strategy is that when you adopt a mutt, you’re adopting a unique breed. Learn more about this clever campaign in the video below:


Caso: Territorio de Zaguates from GARNIER BBDO on Vimeo.

As any animal rescuer will know, maintaining such an massive sanctuary requires an enormous amount of time, money and labor. But thanks to a host of charitable donors and an eager base of volunteers, the sanctuary is a great success.

“We have a very small staff but still we manage to do everything from daily picking up the poo and disposing of it properly, to feeding and medicating the dogs, and everything in between,” a spokesperson for the organization writes.

Continue below for just a glimpse of what life is like for these adorable pups at Territorio de Zaguates:

Mattresses are provided for the dogs to lounge on throughout the day. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
Mattresses are provided for the dogs to lounge on throughout the day. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Mattresses provide natural lounge spots for the dogs throughout the day.

A pack of rescued dogs take a leisurely walk in the woods with a few of the sanctuary's hard-working volunteers. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
A pack of rescued dogs take a leisurely walk in the woods with a few of the sanctuary’s hard-working volunteers. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

The pack takes a leisurely hike in the woods with a few of the sanctuary’s hard-working volunteers and some prospective dog adopters

Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Lunch time at Territorio de Zaguates means serious business, which is why kibble donations are so important!

Cushy bed donations are also very important for the sanctuary. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
Cushy bed donations are also very important for the sanctuary. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

In addition to food, comfy dog beds are also a much welcomed donation item for the sanctuary!

A volunteer leads the pack downhill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
A volunteer leads the pack downhill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

A sanctuary volunteer leads the pack downhill during a scenic hike through the mountains.

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

In case you were wondering where all those yummy kibble donations went … behold the trough

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

A few of the sanctuary’s senior residents rest on the steps of the facility. Even if the pups aren’t adopted out, they’ll always be guaranteed a luxurious forever home at the sanctuary.

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Concrete drainage pipes makes excellent (and sturdy!) makeshift dog houses

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Rescued dogs hang out in the shade of the sanctuary’s many trees

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

A nice refreshing dip … in some drinking water

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

After a long, fun-filled day of being a dog, there’s nothing like cuddling up with a friend and snoozing before dinner time


Well it certainly puts our ten dogs in the shade!

In doing a trawl through YouTube I came across this video that I will use to close off today’s post. Chances are that, as with me, you won’t understand the voice-over but it won’t diminish your pleasure at looking at these dogs.

Published on Jul 3, 2014

“Territorio de Zaguates” ubicado en las hermosas montañas de Costa Rica, es un albergue de animales donde se le da casa, comida, atención veterinaria, ejercicio, esparcimiento y cariño a 700 perros callejeros víctimas del maltrato, el abuso, el abandono y la negligencia humana.
–ENGLISH– “Territorio de Zaguates” is a No-kill-shelter in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica that provides home, food, vet care, exercise, recreation and affection to over 700 stray dogs, victims of neglect, abandonment and abuse.

Actually, let me close off today’s post with these two sets of words from the story above:

Once this initial processing is completed, the new dog is released into the general population, where it can either be adopted by a loving human or spend the rest of its days frolicking in what is essentially a doggy paradise.

“essentially a doggy paradise.”

The resounding message behind this strategy is that when you adopt a mutt, you’re adopting a unique breed.

That is so true! Each and every dog, especially an ex-rescue dog, is a unique breed.

Time – Like the flick of a finger.

Five years has just gone by in a flash.

A few weeks ago I was speaking to Larry, one of our lovely neighbours who, as with me, is the wrong side of 65 (as with me, by quite a lump) and he was bemoaning how more quickly time seems to pass by the older one gets. It had never previously crossed my mind but in that instant I knew exactly what Larry meant.

For today I have been a Permanent Resident (aka Green Card holder) for precisely five years. And in seven months time I will be 72 years old. Where did it all go!

So it seemed very appropriate for others who are staring at their ‘senior’ years to republish an item that recently appeared on the Dr. Sinatra website. It is all about the amazing benefits of regular exercise.


To Live a Longer Life, Even Moderate Exercise Gives You Big Benefits

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, General Health
Last Reviewed 02/29/2016

As you know, exercise is essential for your heart and overall health. Now, a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise has quantified the powerful impact exercise can have on the length of your life.

For this study, researchers looked at data collected in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study which included 3,000 participants ages 50-79. All of the study participants wore highly sensitive activity trackers, called accelerometers, for seven days. Then, they compared the participants’ activity levels with recorded deaths during the following eight years. What they found is that the participants who had the lowest level of activity were five times more likely to have died during the follow-up period than those participants who had the highest activity level. Those with the lowest level of activity were also three times more likely to have died than those who had moderate activity levels.

There’s no question that inactivity is a prominent risk factor for many health problems, and even minimal amounts of regular activity can have immediate benefits. Plus, for seniors the benefits of exercise go far beyond good cardiovascular health, increasing strength and flexibility so you can stay independent in your senior years.

What Type of Exercise Should You Do?

My answer is always the one that you will enjoy and stick with for the long-term—whether it’s walking, tennis, dancing, swimming or another activity you enjoy. My personal favorites are pilates and yoga, which are good for range of motion, flexibility, and strength.

But regardless of the type of activity you choose, here are some tips to get you started:

  • If you haven’t exercised in a long time and you have a medical condition such as osteoarthritis or cardiovascular disease, talk to your doctor about what kind of limits you may need to abide by. You don’t want to take on more than your body can handle. Also, consider having your feet checked for irregularities that require shoe inserts.
  • Start slowly and pace yourself. Should you experience shortness of breath or pain in your chest or arms, see your doctor as soon as possible. If you feel ill, stop. If symptoms persist after 3–5 minutes of rest, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms may occur up to an hour after exercising, so be mindful of how you feel as you cool down and resume your regular activities.
  • The joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles aren’t as forgiving as they were when we were younger, and they require an appropriate level of training. If you train with weights—even light ones—you must use correct form to avoid microtrauma and aggravation to joints. A personal trainer who is experienced in working with middle-agers and seniors can help with this. Long term, strengthening the muscles around ailing joints can help reduce pain.
  • Warning signs that you may be doing too much exercise include light-headedness or dizziness, palpitations, jaw pain, tingling or numbness in the arms, a tight feeling in the lungs, and shortness of breath (being unable to carry on a conversation).

Now it’s your turn: What are your exercise goals?

You May Also Be Interested In:


 And to close this post with nothing at all to do with exercise but everything to do with loving a dog, here’s a picture of Brandy taken on Tuesday morning.

Very good exercise for the heart! :-)
Very good exercise for the heart!:-)

Repeat of the Meet Molly post

Three years ago today.

I was working outside until late afternoon and didn’t leave myself sufficient time for a new post for today. So, as I do on these occasions, I pick one from previous times. Like Meet Molly from this day three years ago.


A most heart-warming story! Beats the heck out of murders, politics and terrorists!

This was sent in by John Hurlburt for Jean who has been a bit of a ‘horse lady’ in her times and is devoted to the two miniature horses we have here in Oregon.


Meet Molly

molly1Molly is a gray speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when Hurricane Katrina hit southern Louisiana . She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a dog and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected and her vet went to Louisiana State University (LSU) for help.

However, LSU were overwhelmed and Molly became a ‘welfare’ case. You know where that goes, don’t you!

Then surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly and changed his mind. He saw how Molly was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn’t seem to get sores. He saw how Molly allowed people to handle her. She protected her injured leg. She constantly shifted her weight and didn’t overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Surgeon Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and, in a very real sense, that’s where her story really begins.

This was the right horse and the right owner!” Moore insisted.

Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She’s tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood that she was in trouble. The other important factor, according to Moore , is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.

Molly’s story turns into a parable for life in Post-Katrina Louisiana. The little pony gained weight and her mane finally felt a comb. Then, amazingly, a prosthesis designer built her a leg.

The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly’s regular vet, reports:

And she asks for it. She will put her little limb out and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too. And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. “It can be pretty bad when you can’t catch a three-legged horse,” she laughs.

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck. She inspired people, and she had a good time doing it.

It’s obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life,” Kay said. “She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.

Allison Barca concluded, “She’s not back to normal, but she’s going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.”

This is Molly's most recent prosthesis.
This is Molly’s most recent prosthesis.

Wherever Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind. Literally as well as metaphorically.

The photo shows the ground surface that she stands on has a smiley face embossed in it!
The photo shows that the bottom flat surface of the prosthesis has a smiley face embossed in it!

Leave you with that wonderful feeling of love for Molly? Feel free to share it with all the animal lovers that you know.


See you tomorrow!

A loving welcome to Brandy!

Yes, we are back up to ten dogs.

Funny how things go!

On Saturday morning Jean and two girl friends, Janet and Pam from close by, went to a $1 Clothing Fair. The Fair sold off donated garments raising money for a local charity for abused women. After they had had their fill of clothes Janet suggested going to a garage sale about three miles from home.

It turned out to be a couple and their daughter that were selling off stuff in advance of having to move to a much smaller house including needing to re-home their dog.

There in the garage was the dog, a beautiful tan coloured Great Pyrenees, as they are known in North America. Or as Wikipedia explains:

The Pyrenean Mountain Dog, known as the Great Pyrenees in North America, is a large breed of dog used as a livestock guardian dog. It should not be confused with the Pyrenean Mastiff.

Jean, of course, went up to fondle the dog and enquired as to how they were going to re-home him. Taking the dog to a local dog shelter was mentioned by way of reply.

I heard all about this when Jean returned and we quickly agreed we should offer the dog a new home.

So after a quick lunch we both went to meet the dog.

An hour later Jean and I returned home with Brandy! He is gorgeous and here are some photographs of the first few hours of welcoming Brandy to his new place. Note: Brandy was recently shaved by his owners thus coat-wise doesn’t quite look like the Great Pyrenees that he is (possibly with a slight cross with a Mastiff but Dr. Jim doesn’t think so).

Brandy's first look at his new home from the back of the car in the garage.
Brandy’s first look at his new home from the back of the car in the garage.
Brandy signalling that he is ready for big changes!
Brandy signalling that he is ready for big changes!
First sniff of our grass.
First sniff of our grass.
Brandy, welcome!
Brandy, welcome!
So far, so very good!
So far, so very good!
Now the meet and greet with, of course, first up being the old king!
Now the meet and greet with, of course, first up being the old king!
And it didn't stop with Pharaoh!
And it didn’t stop with Pharaoh!
More smells than you could shake a stick at!
More smells than you could shake a stick at!
Yet more new friends to meet!
Yet more new friends to meet!
Then time to settle down at home.
Then time to settle down at home.
What an adorable boy he is going to be.
What an adorable boy he is going to be.
Sunday morning and everything is still going well.
Sunday morning and everything is still going well.
Just another dog for Jeannie to love.
Just another dog for Jeannie and me to love.

Apparently, Brandy is a three-year-old dog but hasn’t yet been neutered. As soon as Brandy has settled down we will get Dr. Jim to check him over thoroughly over at Lincoln Road Vet Clinic, make sure everthing is fine and perform the neutering. (It was neighbour Dr. Jim who wrote the foreword to my book, by the way.)

So that was our weekend – how was yours?

The essence of our relationship with dogs.

Woman Rescues Burned Puppy and He Grows Up to Save Her Life

This wonderful story was recently published on the Care2 site and is republished here to share with you all and to underline the importance of always trying to find your next pet from a rescue shelter.


Woman Rescues Burned Puppy and He Grows Up to Save Her Life

2997475.largeBy: Laura S. April 6, 2016

About Laura

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on January 7, 2013. We are republishing it for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Anyone who has ever saved an animal will tell you that its the kind of experience that shakes up your DNA. You won’t regrow hair on a balding head or suddenly run a four-minute-mile, but there is a pulse of positive energy that churns through the human body much like a twister. In some cases, fragments of that emotional explosion are powerful enough to be credited with modern medical miracles. And for one Texas woman, the experience was profound enough to help wake her from a coma.

My Name is Danielle…

“My name is Danielle and it’s been over a year since something terrible happened to me. I am ready now to share my story,” explained the letter we received recently from veterinary technician Danielle Torgerson of Killeen, Texas. ”Four years ago somebody brought a puppy to the clinic. I was not assigned to that room but I was in the second room when I felt something pull me into the hallway. It was strange, but I glanced into the other exam room and saw a puppy on the table. He looked at me with so much pain and despair. A man had brought him in for a ‘sting’ but I knew instantly that was not the case. The puppy was horribly burned on the head like somebody had poured gasoline over him and set him on fire. He was there to be euthanized.”

But Danielle’s conscience began to wrestle down the injustice of extinguishing this young life before it had known the simple joys that every dog should know. She wondered if he might be able to have a bed of his own. Could there be walks through the park in the cool evening air? Was it possible that this puppy might wake up each morning beside a person whose first words were his name?

“I asked the vet if something could be done,” Danielle recalls. “He said that treatment could be carried out, but only with lots of money.”

The Rescue Begins

And that was all Danielle needed to hear. She wasn’t wealthy, but she was determined and if there was a chance at recovery, she’d already made up her mind to take it. So Danielle had the man who brought in the puppy sign over custody to her. She then contacted Dr. Elaine Caplin in Austin and the puppy was brought in for a surgical consulation to see what could be done.

“He was not able to eat or drink because part of his mouth was melted,” Danielle recalls.
“He was not able to eat or drink because part of his mouth was melted,” Danielle recalls.

Skingraft surgery was undertaken to reconstruct the mouth and soon the puppy’s condition improved dramatically and he began to function on his own.

Danielle named the puppy D’Artagnan (who served Louis XIV as captain of the Musketeers of the Guard) or Mister D for short and introduced him to other dogs and cats who welcomed him.

Mister D began to grow into a large dog and earned a reputation for his generous nature. “He allows all the cats to sleep with him and we have actually seen him share food with other dogs. He picks out pieces of food and gives it to them.”

All grown up.
All grown up.
But in the street, Mister D is sometimes regarded as a beast.“He looks like a werewolf with his skin grafts and people are kind of scared,” Danielle explains. “But he truly is my loving angel and I know that saving him is what helped save me.”You see, last year, Danielle was in a terrible motorcycle accident when she tried to avoid a collision with a car. Within seconds, she was on the ground bleeding with a broken skull and awaiting a lifelight helicopter to a trauma center where doctors would find no brain function.Photo00811For 12 days, Danielle lay motionless in her pale blue hospital gown while her mother, who flew in from Germany, went back and forth between the hospital and Danielle’s home to take care of not only her dying daughter, but of the animals who meant the world to her.

At night, Danielle’s ex-husband would help look after the pets so that her mother could spend more time with Danielle, and try to get some rest, but everyone feared the worst.

But in the silence of the mind, a louder voice came from Danielle’s soul.

“I had to get back to Mister D and my other ‘kids’ because they needed me and I needed them,” Danielle says of her sense that she carried that desperate need to be reunited with her pets, despite the lack of medical evidence that she was processing those emotions during her coma.

I Had to Wake Up for My Animals

“After 12 days, a miracle happened,” Danielle says tearfully. “I woke up. The doctors and nurses have told me that the first words that I uttered were ‘Mister D.’”

For several weeks, Danielle remained in rehabilitation while she learned to walk and to fully speak again. It seemed so painfully long for her to be away from the ones she loved and that motivated her to work harder each day.

“When I finally got home, Mister D was so happy,” Danielle said. “He checked on me all the time. When he felt that I was hurting, he would put his paw very carefully on my head and sigh. I truly know that if it was not for Mister D, I would not be here. He has become my musketeer, my protector and has given me the security and protection that I never had from people.”

together-todayNow fully recovered, Danielle’s greatest hope is that her story will inspire others to rescue animals. She asks people to consider rescuing, rather than buying pets and explains that “the bond between you is one that can never be broken.”


Please help share this message of the bond and love that is possible between us and our pets and to always consider taking on rescues.

Keep shouting it out!

The force of public opinion has never been more important; critically so!

As you all know this world of blogging: authors; followers; readers, is a great number of wonderful communities right across the planet. It is nothing like the traditional media, now owned and controlled by just a handful of large corporations, because the vast majority of blogging participants are free to say what they want, when they want.

Here’s an example.

Martin Lack is an Englishman who is the author of the blog Lack of Environment. As his home page quietly states:

Although scientificly trained (with degrees in Geology and Hydrogeology – see my About page), this blog arises from my having also got an MA in Environmental Politics and, as such, as the tagline indicates, is a blog on “the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems”… I hope you will take this on board; and enjoy the discussion.

“There is something fundamentally wrong in treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation” – Herman E. Daly (former World Bank economist).

The science about the chemistry of climate change especially the new danger of methane is clear. The commitment of our political leaders is less clear. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep shouting out loud.

As Martin Lack did recently.


Open Letter to David Cameron

29 March 2016

The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP

The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London, SW1A 2AA

Dear Prime Minister,

Whatever happened to the greenest government ever?

Given my experience of working in environmental consultancy or regulation, I understand the importance of making pragmatic, risk-based decisions (as opposed to dogmatic, opinion-based ones).  I therefore believe that government policy should be formulated this way.  Unfortunately, however, this does not always seem to be the case.

As a pragmatic scientist, I am not ideologically opposed to nuclear power.  However, I do question the logic of pursuing ‘Hinkley Point C’ when equivalent investment in distributed renewable technologies – from domestic solar PV to submarine tidal stream – could probably generate more electricity faster.  Indeed, as Greenpeace has recently pointed out, the UK could meet nearly all its electricity generation needs from renewable energy sources by 2030.[1]

With regard to risk, the scientific consensus is that, in order to minimise anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), the World must now embark upon the fastest-possible transition to a zero carbon economy.  Therefore, I also question the logic of simultaneously promoting investment in shale gas; discouraging investment in renewables; and cancelling investment in Carbon Capture and Storage research.

It is now over 50 years since scientists started warning of the climatic implications of continuing to burn fossil fuels;[2] and 50 years since fossil fuel company executives started spending huge sums of money on being “Merchants of Doubt”.[3]  As such, along with their counterparts in the tobacco industry, they have clearly not acted in the long-term interest of humanity as a whole.

However, as with the individual health benefit of ceasing to smoke tobacco, the sooner we stop burning fossil fuels the greater the collective environmental benefit will be. Therefore, I am pragmatically opposed to shale gas exploration because burning it is not consistent with the need to transition away from fossil fuels as fast as possible.

I am certain that you would like to secure an enduring political legacy; and would therefore like to ask just one question:

What could be better than being remembered as the Prime Minister that committed the UK to meeting nearly all its electricity generation needs from renewable energy sources by 2030?

Yours sincerely,

Martin C. Lack

[1] See:

[2] Nuccitelli, D. (2015), ‘Scientists warned the US president about global warming 50 years ago today’, Guardian newspaper, 5 November 2015: London.

[3] Oreskes, N. & Conway E. (2010), Merchants of Doubt,  New York: Bloomsbury. See:


Let me finish today’s post by republishing an exchange between Patrice Ayme and Martin over on a recent PA essay, that I republished in full in this place: Runaway Antarctica.


I know I am wasting my time writing letters to David Cameron; and I know my opinions are irrelevant. However, the facts of history are not; nor will they be in the future.


I know you are doing the right thing. Writing to Cameron is entirely correct. But of course, he is a guy with just a salary and a few “savings”, a few tens of millions dollars of savings, maybe, or maybe not, and knew nothing about his recently deceased father having a fund of around 50 million dollars sheltered by shell companies, out there, somewhere related to Panama, or the British Virgin Islands, or the Bahamas, or Bermuda, whatever…

OK, David’s wife, officially, has a fund of more than twenty million pounds….


For the record: I am socially-conservative (i.e. as opposed to liberal) but under no illusion as to the folly of what has been called ‘money fetishism’ (Karl Marx); and ‘growthmania’ (Herman E. Daly).


Hi Martin, thanks for the comment. I spent a whole hour reading the hard cover version of the paper the electronic version of which I criticized above. It’s quite a bit different. They use RCPs (Reasonable Carbon Projections, or the like in meaning). Yet, they don’t explain what they consist of exactly. All I know is that we are around 500 ppmv, and they work with 400 ppmv, in the 130 K-115 K years BP, when orbital conditions were cooler than now.

Plus we are going to be at 550 ppmv within ten years, at the present rate. The earliest date they have for the failure of Larsen C in their worst RCP 8.5 is 2055 CE. I would be surprised if it did not fail within ten years.

However, the paper version is more insistent on the danger of AIR warming, not just subsurface.

Also the Hansen paper has a scenario, which is suitably apocalyptic, but not apocalyptic enough in my book. Temperatures over the Arctic were strikingly high this winter, of the order of 4 to 5 degrees Centigrade higher than normal, and sometimes more. Nobody expected this sort of jumps. Except for yours truly!😉


Thanks for the explanation, Patrice. This is all very reminiscent of the position of (Arizona) Professor Guy McPherson, who believes most scientists are in denial about the consequences of multiple positive feedback mechanisms we can already see operating:

You all have a wonderful weekend and keep hugging those dogs of yours!