Category: Food

Adding a dog to your life.

A guest post from Penny offers some advice.

Penny Martin has previously written some guest posts for Learning from Dogs and here she is again with today’s post. The subject is not directly about dogs but trying to turn around one’s life; and that is something that most of us have faced up to at some point in their past.

(I think the references to Learning from Dogs are not needed but I’m not Penny!)

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Six Simple Self-Improvement Strategies for Your Health and Career

By Penny Martin,

Published 24th January, 2023.

Are you trying to turn your life around? Focusing on improving your self-care habits, your relationships, and your career prospects can yield change your life for the better. Furthermore, Learning From Dogs can introduce you to all of the benefits of becoming a dog owner! Here’s how to invest in your education, upgrade your resume, explore business ownership, and adopt healthy routines.

Advance Your Education

If you’re looking to move up in your career, you may want to head back to school to earn another degree. It’s okay if you’re not able to commit to attending courses at a physical campus – instead, consider studying through an online degree program. This will allow you to simultaneously work and care for your family. Double-check that any online programs you’re considering are accredited and that you can easily afford the tuition. You can choose a major like marketing, education, information technology, business, healthcare administration, and more.

Update Your Resume

Perhaps you’re hunting for a new job. Make sure to revise and update your resume prior to sending out applications! To make the process easier, just pick out a free resume template from an online library – this free resume may help. Then, you’ll input your work history. Finally, you can spruce up this document with a photo or a color scheme.

Consider Entrepreneurship

What if you’re frustrated with your boss, and you feel like working at a traditional 9-to-5 job is holding you back? If you’ve got a business idea, you can always register for LLC status for limited liability and tax breaks. Remember, if you form an LLC, you’ll have to choose a registered agent who can handle communications regarding your formation documents with law firms, tax agencies, and the government. You can hire a registered agent or service for help in this area.

Health and Fitness

Even as you prioritize your career, it’s still important to take care of your physical and emotional well-being. As you plan out meals each week, The Every Girl recommends cooking with lots of leafy greens and incorporating plant-based protein into your diet. Furthermore, try to block off a few workout sessions per week in your schedule. You might want to sign up for a gym membership.

Pick Up a Good Book

Reading is a great use of your downtime, especially if you’re on a self-improvement journey! Healthline states that reading can reduce your stress levels, prevent cognitive decline, and even alleviate symptoms of depression. Plus, you’ll be able to learn more about topics that you’re interested in! You might want to choose books that cover subjects related to self-help, like nutrition, fitness, meditation, or time management.

If you feel like you don’t have time to read, consider how you could cut down on screen time. Alternatively, you could listen to audiobooks while you commute to work or do chores around the house.

Get a Dog

If you could use another companion, consider getting a dog! Owning a dog can significantly improve your mental health. Canadian Living states that having a dog around actually decreases your blood pressure, boosts your levels of mood-enhancing hormones, and even helps you make friends in your neighborhood – taking your dog for walks helps you connect with other local dog owners!

Self-improvement is a lifelong process. When you take small steps in the right direction, you’ll be able to look back in a year and feel proud of how far you’ve come. With these tips, you can earn another degree, put together an impressive resume, become a pet owner, open your own business, and more!

Are you thinking about getting a dog? Read all about the benefits on Learning from Dogs! Visit the blog today to find out why getting a dog might be right for you.

Photo via Pexels

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Thank you, Penny.

Let me publish again the opening remarks that are on the home page of this blog:

Dogs live in the present – they just are!  Dogs make the best of each moment uncluttered by the sorts of complex fears and feelings that we humans have. They don’t judge, they simply take the world around them at face value.  Yet they have been part of man’s world for an unimaginable time, at least 30,000 years.  That makes the domesticated dog the longest animal companion to man, by far!

Learning from Dogs

I cannot put it better than that!

Putting aside the pills!

A fascinating article presents an alternative.

There was a recent item on The Conversation that is being shared with you all today. It is about the role of meditation and mindfulness is keeping one healthy, and I sense this will be a popular article!

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Meditation and mindfulness offer an abundance of health benefits and may be as effective as medication for treating certain conditions

By Hilary A. Marusak

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University

Published January 12th, 2023

Many people look to diet trends or new exercise regimens – often with questionable benefit – to get a healthier start on the new year. But there is one strategy that’s been shown time and again to boost both mood and health: meditation.

In late 2022, a high-profile study made a splash when it claimed that meditation may work as well as a common drug named Lexapro for the treatment of anxiety. Over the past couple of decades, similar evidence has emerged about mindfulness and meditation’s broad array of health benefits, for purposes ranging from stress and pain reduction to depression treatments to boosting brain health and helping to manage excessive inflammation and long COVID-19

Despite the mounting body of evidence showing the health benefits of meditation, it can be hard to weigh the science and to know how robust it is.

I am a neuroscientist studying the effects of stress and trauma on brain development in children and adolescents. I also study how mindfulness, meditation and exercise can positively affect brain development and mental health in youth.

I am very excited about how meditation can be used as a tool to provide powerful new insights into the ways the mind and brain work, and to fundamentally change a person’s outlook on life. And as a mental health researcher, I see the promise of meditation as a low- or no-cost, evidence-based tool to improve health that can be relatively easily integrated into daily life. 

Meditation requires some training, discipline and practice – which are not always easy to come by. But with some specific tools and strategies, it can be accessible to everyone.

What are mindfulness and meditation?

There are many different types of meditation, and mindfulness is one of the most common. Fundamentally, mindfulness is a mental state that, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn a renowned expert in mindfulness-based practices, involves “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” 

This means not ruminating about something that happened in the past or worrying about that to-do list. Being focused on the present, or living in the moment, has been shown to have a broad array of benefits, including elevating mood, reducing anxietylessening pain and potentially improving cognitive performance

Mindfulness is a skill that can be practiced and cultivated over time. The goal is that, with repetition, the benefits of practicing mindfulness carry over into everyday life – when you aren’t actively meditating. For example, if you learn that you aren’t defined by an emotion that arises transiently, like anger, then it may be harder to stay angry for long. 

The health benefits of meditation and other strategies aimed at stress reduction are thought to stem from increasing levels of overall mindfulness through practice. Elements of mindfulness are also present in practices like yoga, martial arts and dance that require focusing attention and discipline.

The vast body of evidence supporting the health benefits of meditation is too expansive to cover exhaustively. But the studies I reference below represent some of the top tier, or the highest-quality and most rigorous summaries of scientific data on the topic to date. Many of these include systematic reviews and meta-analyses, which synthesize many studies on a given topic. 

Stress and mental health

Mindfulness-based programs have been shown to significantly reduce stress in a variety of populations, ranging from caregivers of people living with dementia to children during the COVID-19 pandemic

Meta-analyses published during the pandemic show that mindfulness programs are effective for reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorderobsessive-compulsive disorderattention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and depression – including the particularly vulnerable time during pregnancy and the postnatal period.

Mindfulness-based programs also show promise as a treatment option for anxiety disorders, which are the most common mental disorders, affecting an estimated 301 million people globally. While effective treatments for anxiety exist, many patients do not have access to them because they lack insurance coverage or transportation to providers, for instance, or they may experience only limited relief.

It’s important to note, however, that for those affected by mental or substance use disorders, mindfulness-based approaches should not replace first-line treatments like medicine and psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Mindfulness strategies should be seen as a supplement to these evidence-based treatments and a complement to healthy lifestyle interventions like physical activity and healthy eating. 

How does meditation work? A look into the brain

Studies show that regular meditators experience better attention control and improved control of heart rate, breathing and autonomic nervous system functioning, which regulates involuntary responses in the body, such as blood pressure. Research also shows that people who meditate have lower levels of cortisol – a hormone involved in the stress response – than those who don’t. 

A recent systematic review of neuroimaging studies showed that focused attention meditation is associated with functional changes in several brain regions involved in cognitive control and emotion-related processing. The review also found that more experienced meditators had stronger activation of the brain regions involved in those cognitive and emotional processes, suggesting that the brain benefits improve with more practice. 

A regular meditation practice may also stave off age-related thinning of the cerebral cortex, which may help to protect against age-related disease and cognitive impairment. 

Limitations of meditation research

This research does have limits. These include a lack of a consistent definition for the types of programs used, and a lack of rigorously controlled studies. In gold-standard randomized controlled trials with medications, study participants don’t know whether they are getting the active drug or a placebo. 

In contrast, in trials of mindfulness-based interventions, participants know what condition they are assigned to and are not “blinded,” so they may expect that some of the health benefits may happen to them. This creates a sense of expectancy, which can be a confounding variable in studies. Many meditation studies also don’t frequently include a control group, which is needed to assess how it compares with other treatments.

Benefits and wider applications

Compared with medications, mindfulness-based programs may be more easily accessible and have fewer negative side effects. However, medication and psychotherapy – particularly cognitive behavioral therapy – work well for many, and a combination approach may be best. Mindfulness-based interventions are also cost-effective and have better health outcomes than usual care, particularly among high-risk patient populations – so there are economic benefits as well.

Researchers are studying ways to deliver mindfulness tools on a computer or smartphone app, or with virtual reality, which may be more effective than conventional in-person meditation training. 

Importantly, mindfulness is not just for those with physical or mental health diagnoses. Anyone can use these strategies to reduce the risk of disease and to take advantage of the health benefits in everyday life, such as improved sleep and cognitive performance, elevated mood and lowered stress and anxiety. 

Where to get started?

Many recreation centers, fitness studios and even universities offer in-person meditation classes. For those looking to see if meditation can help with the treatment of a physical or mental condition, there are over 600 clinical trialscurrently recruiting participants for various conditions, such as pain, cancer and depression. 

If you want to try meditation from the comfort of your home, there are many free online videos on how to practice, including meditations for sleep, stress reduction, mindful eating and more. Several apps, such as Headspace, appear promising, with randomized controlled trials showing benefits for users

The hardest part is, of course, getting started. However, if you set an alarm to practice every day, it will become a habit and may even translate into everyday life – which is the ultimate goal. For some, this may take some time and practice, and for others, this may start to happen pretty quickly. Even a single five-minute session can have positive health effects.

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This is a comprehensive article on a most important topic.

For whatever is happening in our world it is getting busier especially for those that are a great deal younger than me.

Christmas food for your pets

They can be toxic!

This is a timely warning that feeding our dogs and cats nibbles from the plate or worse can be life-threatening.

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Holiday foods can be toxic to pets – a veterinarian explains which, and what to do if Rover or Kitty eats them

Treat Kitty to a new box or pet-safe treat, but not scraps from holiday meals. Cyndi Monaghan/Moment via Getty Images

Leticia Fanucchi, Oklahoma State University

During the holidays, it’s typical for people to indulge in special foods. Being a pet owner myself, I know that many pet parents want to give their fur babies special treats as well.

As a veterinarian and clinical veterinary researcher, however, I also know that some very common foods – including many popular holiday staples – are dangerous to pets.

Here are some of the most common food-related crises we veterinarians encounter in the animal ER during the holidays, and what to do if they happen.

Fatty food risks

Turkey with gravy is probably among the most popular holiday meals. And most dogs or cats would certainly agree with their humans that roast turkey is delicious.

However, the fat contained in turkey skin – and the excess of fatty, greasy foods that can accompany it, such as gravy, butter and bacon – don’t go down well with cats and dogs. Pets that ingest an overload of fats may develop pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, the organ that helps break down fat, protein and carbs.

Pancreatitis causes the pancreas to leak digestive enzymes and ultimately “digest” itself. If untreated, pancreatitis can affect other organ systems such as the kidneys and the liver and even cause blood clotting.

The most common symptoms of pancreatitis include vomiting and diarrhea. Pets that may have pancreatitis should be rushed to the closest veterinary hospital or ER. The vet will perform diagnostic blood tests, including a specific test for pancreatic enzymes called pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity or cPLI/fPLI.

Treatment for pancreatitis mostly involves dealing with its symptoms. The pet receives IV fluids to help establish electrolytes balance, with added anti-nausea and pain medications to stop the vomiting. Antibiotics may be necessary, as well as liver protectants and probiotics, and a special diet.

Onion offenses and bread badness

If only turkey were the sole problem! Many other common holiday ingredients can also harm pets.

Several allium species common to holiday cooking, such as leeks, garlic, onions, chives and shallots, can be healthy for people. For dogs and cats, though, alliums are toxic. If ingested, they can cause hemolytic anemia – a decreased number of red blood cells.

The signs of hemolytic anemia, which normally appear a few days after ingestion, include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and jaundice.

To treat hemolytic anemia in pets, veterinarians do blood tests to determine whether a transfusion is necessary. They address the symptoms of allium intoxication with IV fluids, antioxidants and anti-nausea drugs.

Yeast-risen foods like rolls and breads are also holiday dinner staples that people should keep away from their pets. The yeast in these foods can ferment in a pet’s warm stomach and produce toxic levels of ethanol. In pets, ethanol toxicity may lead to metabolic acidosis, which can cause sudden drop in blood glucose, respiratory depression, seizures and cardiac arrest.

Normally, pet owners do not suspect metabolic acidosis until it is almost too late, because it has few outward symptoms. So if there’s a possibility that a pet has swallowed any type of cooked or raw yeast dough, get it to a veterinary ER right away.

By the way, pets can also experience ethanol toxicity by lapping up cocktails or beer, so keep alcoholic drinks out of their reach as well.

No chocolate for pets

Now, what about a favorite holiday treat – chocolate?

Substances that may actually attract humans to chocolate – methylxanthines like theobromine and caffeine – are toxic to both dogs and cats. When vets provide emergency treatment for chocolate ingestion, we typically hear that children shared their candy with their beloved pet.

A boy holding a puppy sits with his family during the lighting of candles on a hanukkiah menorah.
Chocolate contains substances that are poisonous to pets, even though they are safe for people. Nathan Bilow/Photodisc via Getty Images

Pets that ingest chocolate can develop “chocolate intoxication,” a condition in which methylxanthines accumulate in the body and make them sick. Signs of chocolate intoxication in pets include tremors, increased heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness and even seizures.

Chocolate intoxication in pets is a medical emergency. The pet needs to have its stomach emptied and receive support therapy with IV fluids and activated charcoal. The vet will probably want to know the type and how much chocolate the pet ate, because some kinds of chocolate, such as baking chocolate, can have worse toxic effects.

Chocolate also has a lot of fat, so the cat or dog’s pancreas will not enjoy it either.

Grapes and dogs don’t mix

How about fruits? Well, there is a fruit very toxic to dogs that often shows up at holiday gatherings: grapes, both fresh and dehydrated into raisins.

If eaten, the tartaric acid in grapes or raisins may cause acute kidney disease. Common signs of acute kidney disease in dogs are vomiting, intermittent diarrhea and increased intake of water.

Acute kidney disease in dogs is a medical emergency. If it is suspected, the pet should be rushed to a veterinary hospital or ER right away. Treatment is typically limited to stabilizing the pet with IV fluids.

Sweet for people, poison to pets

While xylitol toxicity is one of the more common emergencies we veterinarians see these days, it’s still largely unknown among pet owners.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often used in sugar-free products. While safe for humans, for cats and dogs it’s a fast-acting and potentially deadly poison.

Ingesting even the smallest amount of xylitol can cause a pet’s liver to rapidly release insulin, causing hypoglycemia – unusually low blood glucose levels. Within 30 minutes, the pet will experience symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy and seizures and lose coordination of its limbs – called ataxia.

Emergency treatment for a pet with xylitol toxicity involves giving the animal IV fluids containing dextrose to raise its blood glucose level and carefully monitoring its progress.

The bottom line? Several delicious foods that are safe for humans can be very dangerous for pets in general – not just cats and dogs, but also birds, reptiles and pocket pets like mice, hamsters and gerbils. So make the holidays special for furry or feathery babies by giving them treats from the pet food store or veterinarian’s office, and keep them away from the kitchen counter and trash can.

Leticia Fanucchi, Clinical Assistant Professor of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Oklahoma State University

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

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That’s a very important point about Xylitol. So please take notice and have a wonderful holiday for you and for your pets.

Please take care!

The incredible story of Diablo

Just watch this after the introduction.

Countless numbers of people have dreamt that they can communicate with animals and I would imagine an enormous percentage of those would have dreamt that they can communicate with dogs.

Certainly of the three dogs we have alive still here at home (we had in the past some fifteen dogs) Oliver below appears to understand much of what is said to him by me and Jean

If one goes to the YouTube website then one is introduced to Anna Breytenbach who has made it her life’s passion to better communicate with animals. Here’s a small piece from the extensive WikiPedia entry:

In her twenties she decided to pursue her passion for wildlife (big cats in particular) by becoming a cheetah handler at a conservation education project. On moving to America, she explored wolf and other predator conservation. She has also served on committees for wolf, snow leopard, cheetah and mountain lion conservation.

Anna Breytenbach and friend

So now we come to this video of Anna and Diablo, more properly called Spirit, (and the video will make that clear).

Arjan Postma explains the background to the film:

I just want to share this message as much as possible without any commercial intent, personal benefit or whatsoever. All used materials and therefore copyrights do not belong to me. I hope you enjoy discovering and watching this story and skill as much as I did: What if you could talk to animals and have them talk back to you? Anna Breytenbach has dedicated her life to what she calls interspecies communication. She sends detailed messages to animals through pictures and thoughts. She then receives messages of remarkable clarity back from the animals. In this section, Anna transforms a deadly snarling leopard into a relaxed content cat. The amazing story of how leopard Diabolo became Spirit… I found the source of this amazing documentary here: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/docum… This is the first full length documentary film on the art of animal communication. Nominated for Best Long Documentary, Best Director of “Jade Kunlun” Awards of 2012 World Mountain Documentary Festival of Qinghai China. Director: Craig Foster | Producer: Vyv Simson | Narrator: Swati Thiyagarajan Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2012.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

The wonders of soil!

Jane Zelikova gives a very powerful TED Talk.

The promotion for this TED Talk appeared in my ‘in box’ last week and I was curious as to its contents. So I watched the talk on Sunday afternoon and was amazed. This is so much more significant to all of us than the title suggests.

First watch the talk.

Then some background to Jane, who is a ecosystem scientist:

Dr. Tamara Jane Zelikova works at the intersection of climate science and policy. Her work focuses on advancing the science of carbon removal and she has published in scientific journals like Nature and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, written and contributed to climate policy reports and published articles in popular media outlets like Scientific American. She is currently the executive director of the Soil Carbon Solutions Center at Colorado State University, where she works with leading scientists to build the tools and approaches needed to accelerate the deployment of credible soil-based climate solutions, measure their impacts and bring them to scale.

That then led me to the Soil Carbon Solutions Center website and this is a site you should visit. A little piece from their About section:

Unlocking the potential of soil for a more sustainable planet

Soil is one of the largest natural carbon reservoirs and an important climate mitigation tool that is ready to deploy today. Accelerating the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices that build soil carbon on working lands offers the potential to substantially draw down atmospheric carbon while improving the environmental, economic and social sustainability of food, fiber and bioenergy production.

Please, please watch the TED Talk!

Keeping your dog safe and happy.

Without breaking the bank!

Another very useful guest post from Penny Martin who is becoming a very regular contributor to this place. This time Penny writes about being on a budget, aren’t we all, but still keeping your dog safe and happy.

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Image: Pexels

Six Ways to Make Your Home and Yard Dog-Friendly on a Budget

By Penny Martin.

Dogs add many wonderful things to their owners’ lives; however, owning a dog can be a drain on your bank account. According to statistics, the average American dog owner spends $1,480 per year on dog expenses. These tips can help you make your home and yard more dog-friendly without breaking the bank.

1. Add a Fence

Dogs need exercise, a place to go to the bathroom and a chance to sniff around and be a dog. However, if you don’t have a yard with a secure fence, it isn’t safe to allow your dog outside without a leash. Even a well-trained dog may run off to chase a squirrel, greet a strange dog or go exploring. This puts your dog at risk of being hit by a car, getting in a fight with another dog or animal or becoming lost. Adding a fence to your yard allows you to enjoy time with your pet off leash without risking your pet’s safety.

2. Add a Backyard Pool

Not every dog loves to swim, but many do. You can give your dog a place to cool off and have some fun without spending a lot of money by purchasing a wading pool or a small stock tank. If you think your dog would enjoy more than splashing around, search for a dog-friendly place in your area where you can inexpensively take your dog to swim. However, don’t just toss your pup into the deep end. Not all dogs are natural swimmers. Many facilities that have pools for dogs offer swimming lessons.

3. Create Shady Spots

Dogs love to run and play and on hot days they can easily overheat. Help your dogs stay cool by making sure they have plenty of shady spots to hang out. One inexpensive way to do this is to purchase a portable awning. You can set the awning up anywhere in your yard and put it away when you no longer need it. Trees are also a good source of shade, but it is important to keep your trees maintained.

4. Remove Dead Trees and Branches

Dead trees create a safety hazard and provide a home for pests. Have a professional local tree service remove any dead trees and branches in your yard before they cause an injury or accident. Do not try to remove the tree yourself. Professionals have the right gear, tools and safety training to remove the tree safely and without damaging your property. Read online reviews before you reach out to contractors. Get at least three estimates and make sure to ask whether stump grinding and disposal are included in the price.

5. Buy Trash Cans With Lids

Trash cans are smelly, full of tasty food and plenty of stuff to shred. It is no wonder that most dogs love to root through them. However, spoiled food, sharp objects or toxic materials can injure or sicken your dog. Avoid this problem by purchasing trash cans with lids that lock. 

6. Remove Dangerous Plants

Many plants can be harmful to dogs who ingest them. Research the plants in your yard and remove any that could cause a problem.

Owning dogs is not a cheap endeavor. However, you can make your home safe and comfortable for them without spending all your savings by adding a fence and pool, creating shady spots, removing dead trees, purchasing garbage cans with lockable lids, and getting rid of poisonous plants.

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Here at home, because we live in a rural location, dead trees and branches are an ever-present problem. Luckily our dogs don’t seem to be drawn to them but the issue of pests is a different matter. We have thirteen acres of which half is forest and it is all too much for a contractor. Correction: It is all too expensive for us!

For the wider audience of readers this, I am sure, offers very good advice and is another great post from Penny.

Time waits for no man!

Tik: Tok – The Endless Clock.

Here we are on the last day of June and I am going to share a post with you in a few minutes. But I just wanted ahead of that to muse about the passing of time. I’m 77 and who knows how long I have to go before I die. Luckily Oregon is one of the States that has a right do die statute on the books. It is a strange phenomena this business of time. It is a constant but from a personal point of view it seems to be anything but that. Twenty or thirty years ago one thought that time was almost limitless. Now it seems very fragile and restless.

This thought comes to me because of Pebbles. Apparently he is the oldest living dog. Here is the story courtesy of The Dodo.

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A New ‘Oldest Living Dog’ Has Just Claimed The Title

The toy fox terrier is living the good life in South Carolina.

By Ellen Schmidt

Published on the 7th June, 2022

Turns out there’s competition when it comes to who’s truly the oldest living dog. A toy fox terrier named Pebbles just unseated TobyKeith, a 21-year-old Chihuahua, who held the title for only a month.

When news broke in April of TobyKeith’s appointment, Pebbles’ pet parents, Bobby and Julie Gregory of Taylors, South Carolina, realized their dog was even older than TobyKeith. So, the couple decided to apply for the title, and at 22 years, 50 days old, Pebbles was officially crowned “Oldest Dog Living” by Guinness World Records.

In response to Pebbles’ new status, Julie Gregory told Guinness World Records, “We are truly honored. Pebbles has been with us through everything; ups and downs, good times and bad, and she has always been the beacon of our lives.”

Weighing in at 4 pounds, the brand-new oldest living dog winner was adopted over 20 years ago, and according to the Gregorys, it was love at first sight. Originally looking for a larger dog, the couple came across Pebbles in their search for a new pet.

“She was jumping and barking so much at Bobby that he had no choice but to pick her up and check her out,” Julie Gregory said.

Flash forward over two decades later, Pebbles was already wearing an unofficial crown before Guinness World Records made it official. The much-loved terrier enjoys sleeping in (and staying up late!), snuggling underneath blankets, listening to country music and taking warm baths — a bubble bath was even part of her 22nd birthday celebration!

Pebbles has enjoyed a wonderful life thanks to good health and lots of love and attention from her pet parents. While she did enjoy snacking on some ribs and dog-friendly cake for her birthday, in general, Pebbles sticks to a healthy diet and is in good health for her advanced age.

Pebbles’ mom said that her secret to supporting pet longevity is to treat each animal, “like family, because they are. Give them a happy, positive environment as much as possible, good clean food, and proper healthcare.”

That pretty much sums it up, right? We like Gregory’s thinking. And by the way, no matter your pup’s age, we think it’s safe to say that all dogs should get to wear a crown, just for being awesome (we’re looking at you, TobyKeith).

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(All photographs Instagram/Pebbles_Since_2000)

Twenty-two! Huge congratulations to Pebbles and her Mom and Dad.

An insight into Parkinson’s

Funny how things turn up!

On the morning of the 1st June I read the latest from the Parkinson’s Foundation. It was a report that covered Can We Put the Brakes on Parkinson’s Progression? Essentially it said that diet and exercise were key. I quote:

Making nutritious food the mainstay of your meals and enjoying regular exercise has countless proven benefits. Studies show targeted nutrition may slow Parkinson’s advancement. Eating a whole-food, plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet — including fresh vegetables, fruit and berries, nuts, seeds, fish, olive and coconut oils and more — may be linked to slower PD progression. When you live with PD, exercise is also critical to optimal health. In fact, the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project shows at least 2.5 hours a week of physical activity can slow PD symptom progression. Research reveals regular exercise also shows neuroprotective effects in animal models with Parkinson’s.

I showed the article to Jean. Later that morning Jean had her regular visit with Doctor David Tullar at our local Asante hospital. He is described on the Asante website as: David is a certified physician assistant with specialized expertise in neurology. But Jean sees him more as a neurologist in her own mind. I attend the appointment just to listen to David for we find him a most interesting man.

Here are some of the key messages from that meeting:

  • Parkinson’s is not a disease, it is a life condition. Just the same as diabetes. One doesn’t call it diabetes disease! These life conditions will be there at the end of life. Some people escape them, some do not.
  • Levodopa produces dopamine. It needs to be taken consistently. Levodopa is not taken at night because the brain requires far less dopamine because the brain is far less active. Don’t skip your doses.
  • Lifestyle does make a real difference. A non-meat diet and exercise really do make a difference with exercise being key. Aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week split into 20 minutes a day. Try to do more!
  • Having a dog extends your life and there is evidence that this is so. So love a dog and be loved by your dog back in return.
  • Make your lifestyle changes as early as you can.
  • An excellent resource of information is the Davis Phinney Foundation. The Foundation has an audio download of the book Every Victory Counts. You can also purchase the book from booksellers.

Then David Tullar turned to the question of freezing. Freezing when one has Parkinson’s is the temporary, involuntary inability to move. For Jean this happens occasionally in the kitchen area especially when she goes to turn around. David recommended practising ‘freezing’ where Jean deliberately stops what she is doing and actively ‘trembles’ on the spot.

The other thing was that while the cause of freezing is unknown, David said that the likelihood was that the brain became overwhelmed with extra, different thoughts when Jean was turning. Most likely with other thoughts that were in her inner mind. Such as what she was she turning for? Maintaining a balance? Doing things with her arms or hands?

In other words Jean was thinking about other stuff! All of these thinking processes were exercising the brain, of course, and the amount of brain power devoted to just the business of turning was smaller than it should be.

Answer: Focus on the business of turning first and foremost. Complete the turn and then think of the next item.

For other people who also suffer from Parkinson’s and have different spots in their lives where they freeze, then the advice from Dr. David Tullar is the same. Focus only on what you are doing at that moment.

For example some of his patients freeze when they are walking through a doorway. Answer: Focus on a point that you are walking towards and do not think of anything else.

Here’s a YouTube video on the topic (and it is very short but you will get the idea):

In conclusion, this is nothing more than me reporting back from Jean’s meeting with Dr. Tullar. If this strikes you as sensible advice and you have Parkinson’s then see your doctor responsible for your condition and discuss it with him or her.

Finally a little more about David Tullar from the Asante website:

David is dedicated to providing advanced care to patients of all ages. He has a special interest in evaluating and treating neurological concerns such as headaches, dementia, movement disorders, multiple sclerosis, and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Services

  • Evaluating and treating patients with neurological health issues 
  • Treating headaches, dementia and movement disorders

What’s that noise?

A rather funny reason about what freaks out dogs!

I was searching my files for something light-hearted to post for today and came across this article.

For some reason I hadn’t really noticed that our dogs are bothered by their farts and, thanks to a broken nose years and years ago, I have a very poor sense of smell.

Anyway, I wanted to share the article with you.

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Why Do Dogs Get Scared Of Their Own Farts? 3 Reasons Passing Gas Spooks Them

Farts can be sooo scary for dogs sometimes 🤣

By Sam Howell

Published on the 13th April, 2022

Have you ever noticed that when your dog farts, he’ll jump up and just stare at his butt totally confused — and even a little spooked — by the gas that just came out?

It seems hard to believe that your pup can actually be caught off-guard by a totally normal bodily function that happens to him on the regular, but here we are. Another day, another fart that’s totally bamboozled your dog.

We spoke with Dr. Sara Ochoa, a small- and exotic-animal veterinarian in Texas and a veterinary consultant for doglab.com, to find out why dogs get scared of their own farts.

And there are a few reasons why your pup’s own flatulence might spook him.

Your dog didn’t know he farted

This might be hard for you to imagine, but there’s a decent chance that your dog just has no idea what a fart even is.

“Most dogs do not know what their farts are,” Dr. Ochoa told The Dodo. “They do not have the mental capacity to process that they just farted.”

Not only does your dog not understand the scientific concept of passing gas, but he also doesn’t expect this gas to be expelled from his body, even if it happens often.

“I think some dogs are surprised to know that some air just came out of them,” Dr. Ochoa said. “The air leaving them is a surprise to them and sometimes a smelly surprise for us.”

Your dog’s farts are loud

An unexpected loud noise can startle anyone, so if your dog rips a particularly noisy fart, he’s probably going to be a little confused and scared.

“Just like with people, some farts are louder and some farts are smellier,” Dr. Ochoa said.

And if you’re wondering why sometimes your dog’s farts are super loud, while others are the silent-but-deadly type, that simply has to do with how much air is coming out of him and how intensely it’s being expelled.

“The sound intensity of the fart is due to the amount of air and force behind the farts,” Dr. Ochoa said.

It happened at the same time as another bodily function

Have you ever sneezed and happened to fart at exactly the same time? (This is a safe space, no one’s judging you.) Well, it probably surprised you when you realized you broke a little wind while you sneezed, because you were only expecting one bodily function.

The same can happen to your dog, too.

“My little dog will commonly cough and fart at the same time, which scares her,” Dr. Ochoa said. “I don’t think she is expecting the fart. When she is coughing, everything just lets loose and she farts, scaring herself.”

Why does my dog fart so much?

It’s actually pretty natural for dogs to fart a bunch.

“Some dogs will fart every day, [and] other dogs will never fart,” Dr. Ochoa said. “I find dogs who snore also fart a lot.”

But if you noticed your pup’s farting a little too frequently, it’s probably related to what he ate. If he’s eaten something nasty or you recently changed his diet, his gastrointestinal (GI) system may need to adjust by releasing a bunch of gas.

Why do my dog’s farts smell so bad?

According to Dr. Ochoa, the reason your dog’s farts smell so bad is because he’s not exactly eating great-smelling food.

“Dog food does not smell like flowers, so the farts are also not going to smell good,” Dr. Ochoa said.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s a great sign if he’s regularly passing some putrid gas. In fact, if your dog’s farts are particularly rancid all the time, you should call your vet just to make sure everything’s OK with his GI system.

So even though passing gas is a common occurrence for your pup, dogs still get scared of their farts because they don’t quite realize what’s going on. But at least you’ll always know exactly when it’s accurate to blame it on the dog.

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I hope you learnt something from this post; I certainly did.

See you on Sunday.

Transformation

A more positive view as to how the future will pan out.

I tend to be rather pessimistic about the future. Maybe it is my age, I don’t know. But a week ago I posted an article by Ophelia Benson called Cruising over the Edge.

For this week I am republishing another climate change article but one that has a positive outlook on where we are going.

Have a read and let me know your thoughts.

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Climate change will transform how we live, but these tech and policy experts see reason for optimism

Authors

  1. Robert Lempert Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School
  2. Elisabeth Gilmore Associate Professor of Climate Change, Technology and Policy, Carleton University

Published April 18th, 2022

It’s easy to feel pessimistic when scientists around the world are warning that climate change has advanced so far, it’s now inevitable that societies will either transform themselves or be transformed. But as two of the authors of a recent international climate report, we also see reason for optimism.

The latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change discuss changes ahead, but they also describe how existing solutions can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help people adjust to impacts of climate change that can’t be avoided.

The problem is that these solutions aren’t being deployed fast enough. In addition to push-back from industries, people’s fear of change has helped maintain the status quo. 

To slow climate change and adapt to the damage already underway, the world will have to shift how it generates and uses energy, transports people and goods, designs buildings and grows food. That starts with embracing innovation and change.

Fear of change can lead to worsening change

From the industrial revolution to the rise of social media, societies have undergone fundamental changes in how people live and understand their place in the world.

Some transformations are widely regarded as bad, including many of those connected to climate change. For example, about half the world’s coral reef ecosystems have died because of increasing heat and acidity in the oceans. Island nations like Kiribati and coastal communities, including in Louisiana and Alaska, are losing land into rising seas.

Other transformations have had both good and bad effects. The industrial revolution vastly raised standards of living for many people, but it spawned inequality, social disruption and environmental destruction.

People often resist transformation because their fear of losing what they have is more powerful than knowing they might gain something better. Wanting to retain things as they are – known as status quo bias – explains all sorts of individual decisions, from sticking with incumbent politicians to not enrolling in retirement or health plans even when the alternatives may be rationally better. 

This effect may be even more pronounced for larger changes. In the past, delaying inevitable change has led to transformations that are unnecessarily harsh, such as the collapse of some 13th-century civilizations in what is now the U.S. Southwest. As more people experience the harms of climate change firsthand, they may begin to realize that transformation is inevitable and embrace new solutions. 

A mix of good and bad

The IPCC reports make clear that the future inevitably involves more and larger climate-related transformations. The question is what the mix of good and bad will be in those transformations.

If countries allow greenhouse gas emissions to continue at a high rate and communities adapt only incrementally to the resulting climate change, the transformations will be mostly forced and mostly bad

For example, a riverside town might raise its levees as spring flooding worsens. At some point, as the scale of flooding increases, such adaptation hits its limits. The levees necessary to hold back the water may become too expensive or so intrusive that they undermine any benefit of living near the river. The community may wither away.

Riverside communities often scramble to raise levees during floods, like this one in Louisiana. Scott Olson/Getty Images

The riverside community could also take a more deliberate and anticipatory approach to transformation. It might shift to higher ground, turn its riverfront into parkland while developing affordable housing for people who are displaced by the project, and collaborate with upstream communities to expand landscapes that capture floodwaters. Simultaneously, the community can shift to renewable energy and electrified transportation to help slow global warming.

Optimism resides in deliberate action

The IPCC reports include numerous examples that can help steer such positive transformation.

For example, renewable energy is now generally less expensive than fossil fuels, so a shift to clean energy can often save money. Communities can also be redesigned to better survive natural hazards through steps such as maintaining natural wildfire breaks and building homes to be less susceptible to burning.

Costs are falling for key forms of renewable energy and electric vehicle batteries. IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

Land use and the design of infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, can be based on forward-looking climate information. Insurance pricing and corporate climate risk disclosures can help the public recognize hazards in the products they buy and companies they support as investors.

No one group can enact these changes alone. Everyone must be involved, including governments that can mandate and incentivize changes, businesses that often control decisions about greenhouse gas emissions, and citizens who can turn up the pressure on both.

Transformation is inevitable

Efforts to both adapt to and mitigate climate change have advanced substantially in the last five years, but not fast enough to prevent the transformations already underway.

Doing more to disrupt the status quo with proven solutions can help smooth these transformations and create a better future in the process.

Disclosure statement

Robert Lempert receives funding from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Transportation and Culver City Forward. He was coordinating lead author of the IPCC WGII Sixth Assessment Report, Chapter 1, and is affiliated with RAND Corp.; Harvard; SCoPEx (Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment) Independent Advisory Committee; National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Decision Science and Analysis Technical Advisory Committee (TAC); Council on Foreign Relations; Evolving Logic; and the City of Santa Monica Commission on Environmental, Sustainability, and Environmental Justice.

Elisabeth Gilmore receives funding from Minerva Research Initiative administered by the Office of Basic Research and the Office of Policy at the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. She is affiliated with Carleton University, Rutgers University, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and was a lead author on the IPCC WGII Sixth Assessment Report.

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The article makes the proposition that fear gets in the way of change. I think this is true because I tend to be a person that goes around saying ‘what can be done’ or ‘it is down to governments to set the changes required’ but not taking action personally.

So this is wakeup call for me and many others to be more positive and to support those changes that are beneficial, and to undertake them ourselves if at all possible.