Category: Health

A repeat of my unchain the dogs post.

Independence Day should also apply to our beloved dogs!

This was first published four years ago but I wonder if there has been any real change. So it’s being published again for the 2020 Independence Day.

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So today is July 4th. One of the key days of the year in the American calendar, if not the key day.

Freedom and independence are the corner stones of a healthy nation. That ‘nation’ should include our dogs. Ergo, I have no hesitation in republishing the following that first was seen on the Care2 site.

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How to Help Chained Dogs in Your Community

3182140.largeBy: Natalia Lima June 28, 2016

About Natalia Follow Natalia at @TheNatiLima

The sight is heartbreaking: a sad animal, exposed to the heat or the cold, often without shelter, chained in a backyard. Sometimes all it takes to secure them is a thin rope tied around their collar on one end and a dog house on the other, in others it’s a thick metal chain that keeps the dog from moving away from a tree. Whatever the case, it’s enough to inspire any animal lover to change that dog’s life, but how? The answer is simpler than one would imagine: build a fence.

“Building a fence really changes the relationship between dogs and owners,” explains Michele Coppola, President of Fences for Fido, a nonprofit organization that builds fences in houses that have chained dogs so the dogs can run freely in the backyard. “Many times dogs who were outside 24/7 go on to become a family member, spending time in the house and outside because they’re no longer a location.”

Since 2009, Fences for Fido has been helping dogs in the Southwest Oregon and Washington state areas. People can anonymously nominate a house with a chained dog on their website or people can nominate themselves if they don’t have the means to build their own fence. According to the Coalition to Unchain Dogs, who helped Fences for Fido get started and has been building fences since 2006 in North Carolina, that lack of resources is the most common reason why people keep dogs chained.

“When we first started we thought we would build this fence and solve a problem but we quickly saw the problem is not chained dogs, it’s poverty,” explains Lori Hensley, Director of Operations at Coalition to Unchain Dogs. “No one wants to chain a dog. They just don’t have the means to build a fence.”

Other common reasons are not understanding that dogs are social animals that need to run around, an owner not knowing how to address behavioral problems and trying to keep the dog from running away, says the Humane Society of the United States.

“People chain their dogs for a variety of reasons so we always approach them without judgement because most times we’re not seeing the whole story,” says Coppola adding that those issues are addressed when building a fence for someone to make sure they’re educated on why chaining their dogs shouldn’t be a solution. “Maybe they didn’t have a fence to start with and someone, maybe a family member, dumped a dog with them and they’re keeping it out of the goodness of their hearts but they don’t have a fence. You don’t know.”

Between the two organizations, over 3,400 dogs have been freed from chains but since they only operate locally, they have created resources for people in other parts of the country who want to help. Unchained Planet, a Facebook group of volunteer fence builders, offers advice and tips to anyone looking to start their own fence building organization and a DIY tutorial is also available for free download.

From materials needed to step by step instructions, anyone can start building a fence to help chained dogs in their communities, though to complete novices, the guidance of a seasoned builder or a professional is encouraged.

“If you’re starting out for the very first time, it might be a good idea to pair up with a fence company who may be willing to help and even donate the materials,” suggests Coppola. “Or you want to find somebody who’s done a fence before and can kind of show you how to go about it.”

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

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Please, please help these poor dogs in any way that you can.

A story about a Corgi from Portland!

This is a gorgeous story about a Corgi.

There was a story in the Daily Dodo that is just lovely.

I wondered why the Corgi was named Potato but that’s another question!

Enjoy the story!

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Attention-Loving Corgi’s Sign Brings Happiness To Everyone On Her Block

“It’s pretty wholesome” ❤️️

By Lily Feinn
Published on 6/8/2020.

Potato the corgi never misses an opportunity to say hi to her neighbors. So when social distancing started in Portland, Oregon, Potato’s parents, Cee and Pan, knew their dog wouldn’t be getting the kind of attention she was used to.

Instagram/potato_corgo

“She loves everyone — any dog, any kid, any adult human, doesn’t matter,” Cee told The Dodo. “Even dogs who snarl at her she’s like, ‘It’s OK, I’ll check back in five minutes.’”

“She’s in a polyamorous relationship with all of the mail, UPS and FedEx delivery people but the UPS man is her primary partner,” Cee added. “If you’re having a picnic at the park she will invite herself to your blanket and join in on the gossip.”

Instagram/potato_corgo

Potato knows a number of tricks, including how to ring a bell when she wants to go outside to the yard and socialize with the passersby. Cee, who works from home running a web agency, is always there to keep an eye on Potato when she goes out. And they noticed right away how difficult it was for Potato when her friends started ignoring her.

“Potato takes her job of getting pats through the fence very seriously and honestly seemed depressed that people stopped saying hi to her when social distancing started,” Cee said. “People kept looking really guilty when we’d catch them patting Potato through the fence, or others would ask if they could still pat her.”

Instagram/potato_corgo

To put an end to the confusion, they decided to make a little sign letting everyone know that it was still OK to give Potato the pets she craved, along with a few facts about her. “She’d bark at people she knew who normally would pat her when they’d walk by without saying hi,” Cee said. “So we wanted to make it known that it was consensual for us to take that slight risk of exposure.”

They laminated the sign and tacked it above Potato’s favorite spot on the fence. Potato was instantly happier.

Instagram/potato_corgo

The sign reads: “This is Potato! She’s friendly and yes you can pet her, even now with the virus. She also loves every dog so feel free to intro your dog!”

The sign has done more than cheer up Potato — it’s helped to connect Cee and Pan with neighbors they hadn’t met before. “People approach us more if we’re in the yard, or they send us little notes on [Potato’s] Instagram account,” Cee said. “There’s also an older neighbor lady who specifically comes by every single day to give her treats. It’s pretty wholesome.”

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That’s a really great good-news story!

Zelda, incredible Zelda.

A heart-warming story.

At the end of May this year there was an article on The Dodo blog that just had to be shared with you. It was about the remarkable trait of Zelda, a foster dog that was being cared for. It is about coming home.

Read it for yourself:

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Dog Travels 40 Miles To Find Her Way Back To The Woman She Loves

Photo Credit: Seneca Krueger

When Seneca Krueger first picked up her foster dog Zelda last year, she could never have predicted the remarkable journey the dog would one day make to be with her again.

Krueger, who works as a psychotherapist, is a dog foster mom who specializes in helping rescued dogs learn to trust people again. She’s fostered 30 dogs so far, but Zelda was an especially difficult case.

“She came with anti-anxiety medications,” Krueger told The Dodo. “Zelda paced. All day long she was either pacing or hiding.”

Krueger noticed that Zelda seemed calmest when on a leash, so she began tether training her — and slowly the skittish dog began to open up. “When I was home, she was attached to me,” Krueger said. “Over the course of two weeks of tether training, I had also weaned her off of her anti-anxiety medications, and the pacing had decreased. She was even willing to come out of hiding on her own for brief periods of time.”

After two months of living with Krueger and her two family dogs, Zelda finally wagged her tail. At four months, she began to bark and play — though she still struggled with unexpected noises and when visitors dropped by.

Photo Credit: Seneca Krueger

Still, Krueger knew that she had helped Zelda as much as she possibly could, and it was time to let her go. “As Zelda began to gain a little more confidence, I decided it was time for her to find her forever home,” Krueger said. “This is what you are supposed to do as a dog foster; help them adjust and then happily say goodbye as they go and live their best lives.”

Krueger drove Zelda 40 miles to her new home, but parting with her was more difficult than she anticipated. “I had to pull over to the side of the road because I couldn’t see through my tears,” Krueger said. “For the first time in my 12 years of dog fostering, I felt like I had given away my dog.”

Ten days after saying goodbye, Krueger received the call that every dog owner dreads — Zelda had gone missing after slipping her leash. Krueger immediately jumped in the car to begin searching for her.

An all-volunteer dog search team called START (Search, Track and Retrieval Team) had also gotten word of Zelda’s disappearance. The team set up feeding stations and trail cams around the area, and sightings of Zelda began to pour in.

As temperatures dropped below zero, Krueger refused to give up on her search. “The coldest days were the days I spent the most time searching because I was desperate to get Zelda warm and safe,” Krueger said. “[I] spent hours out in the freezing cold, following dog tracks through ravines, frozen swamps and fields.”

Photo Credit: Seneca Krueger

Over two months later, Krueger got word that Zelda had been spotted in Minneapolis, halfway between the dog’s new home and her foster home.

Only then did Krueger realize that Zelda was trying to make her way back to her.

The adopters surrendered Zelda back to Wags and Whiskers Animal Rescue, the organization that set up the adoption, and Krueger was thrilled to have her dog back — if only on paper. “She was mine again, and I was more determined than ever to find her,” Krueger said.

Two weeks later, Krueger received news that Zelda had been spotted near her home. She put out feeding stations around her house and began dumping dirty laundry on the front lawn in hopes that the smell would coax Zelda back to safety.

A couple reached out to Krueger to let her know that they had been feeding a very skittish dog who looked like Zelda. But after so long, Krueger didn’t want to get her hopes up. “Although I really wanted this dog to be my Zelda, I knew that if there was a lost, scared dog out there on the streets, we had to help it,” Krueger said. “Even if it wasn’t the dog that I knew and loved, and missed so much.”

Finally, the couple was able to trap the emaciated dog and called Krueger in the early hours of the morning to let her know. Inside the cage, Krueger saw a small, nervous dog, who barely resembled the Zelda she once knew. But when the manager of START arrived, a quick scan of the dog’s chip confirmed the impossible.

Photo Credit: Seneca Krueger

After over three months on the run, Zelda had found her way home.

“It was a miracle, and what else do you do in the face of a miracle? I sobbed,” Krueger said. “I apologized to Zelda for not recognizing her. I touched her for the first time in 97 days. I assured her that she was going home forever and that I never stopped looking for her.”

Zelda has been adjusting well to being at home, and couldn’t be happier to be with her mom again.

“She has become my Velcro dog, and is never more than a few feet away from me at all times,” Krueger said. “My other dogs are happy to have her back as well and groom her a lot.”

For Zelda, this family is forever. “I never could have imagined that the whole time I was searching for Zelda, she was searching for me, too,” Krueger added. “Zelda is officially my dog. But let’s be honest, it’s not like I had a choice. She is very persistent.”

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Seneca Krueger is one hell of a lucky person and so, too, is Zelda!

Zelda was on her own for 97 days and Seneca for the same amount of time was also on her own.

This is a story that warms the cockles of your heart.

Dog & Cat food recall

A food recall that came in yesterday!

We haven’t had a recall for some time but here’s one from Health Canada.

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Carnivora Dog and Cat Food Recall

June 15, 2020 — Health Canada is recalling Carnivora Fresh Frozen Patties for Dogs and Cats due to a possible contamination with E. coli O157.

E. coli O157 is a particularly dangerous strain of bacteria that can cause serious and life-threatening illness in both pets and humans after eating or handling the affected food.

What’s Recalled?

The recall includes 6 varieties of Carnivora brand raw pet food.

Approximately 1,803 packages of the affected products were sold nationwide in Canada between January 13, 2020 and June, 2020.

As of June 12, four cases of illness related to the recalled product have been reported.

About E. Coli Bacteria

E. coli O157 is a bacteria that can cause serious, sometimes life-threatening illness.

Some people infected with E. coli O157 do not get sick at all, though they can still spread the infection to others.

Common symptoms observed after infection include nausea, vomiting, headache, mild fever, severe stomach cramps, and watery or bloody diarrhea.

Most symptoms end within five to ten days.

Pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, young children and older adults are most at risk for developing serious complications and might need hospitalization.

There is no real treatment for E. coli infections, other than monitoring the illness, providing comfort, and preventing dehydration.

People should contact their health care provider if symptoms persist or worsen with time.

What to Do?

Health Canada advises consumers to stop using any of the affected pet food products and contact the retailer where it was purchased from for a full exchange or refund.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to the FDA’s “Report a Pet Food Complaint” page.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Lifesaving Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog and cat food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

There’s no cost. No spam. Cancel any time.

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There you are good people. I trust none of you is affected.

These are very strange times!

A Grist article raises a core question.

On June 4th this year Grist published an article written by Eve Andrews. It is not about dogs at all. Yet, it seems to me to ask a fundamental question about us humans. The article speaks of America but certainly it applies to my old country, the U.K., and it probably applies to most of the countries in the world.

I recently wrote to Annelise McGough, the Growth and Engagement Editor at Grist asking if I could republish the article. She kindly said yes!

So here it is!

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Grist / Windy Kelly / EyeEm

Why is everything falling apart in 2020?

By on Jun 4, 2020

Dear Umbra,

Did any aspect of climate change cause the pandemic to happen this year (versus last year or next year)? Could pandemics happen more often?

— Which Oracle Read Rightly Imminent, Existential Doom?

A. Dear WORRIED,

2020: what a year so far! As anyone who witnessed the crowds of face mask-clad people show up in the middle of a deadly pandemic to protest police violence this weekend can attest, a lot seems to be terrible all at once. You’re asking, in a sense, why now? It almost seems like it must be a rhetorical question. But it’s not — by understanding how we got into this mess, we might presumably be able to find our way out.

This doesn’t just apply to the pandemic.

Let’s start by taking your question at face (mask) value: There are multiple factors that have contributed to the rise of zoonotic illnesses — those of animal origin — over recent years, as my very sharp colleague Shannon Osaka delineated in an article and video earlier in the spring. Scientists believe COVID-19, like several other SARS viruses, likely originated in a bat. It turns out many strains of coronavirus can be traced back to bats! Who knew those little guys were such harbingers of destruction?

It’s not really on the bats, of course. Warmer temperatures (an established feature of climate change) and environmental degradation (often attributed to climate change, industrialization, or other products of human development) have driven a lot of animals to migrate out of their normal habitats and into human ones. Those factors have also contributed to different species coming into close contact with each other, which makes viruses normally contained to one species more likely to “spill over,” or jump to a new type of animal.

So clearly, the lead-up to the novel coronavirus’s outbreak was a gradual one. But perhaps 2019 was just warm enough to kill off enough of the insect population that some COVID-19-carrying bat depended on for food, and that drove it out to wreak some (unintentional) havoc on humanity. The bat’s habitat could have been destroyed by a new coal mine development. It could have woken up one morning and thought: This is my time to fuck shit up! Revenge on those humans that messed up my home! (OK, there was also probably a pangolin involved, but let’s keep things simple.)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 is the fourth major pandemic caused by a novel virus to hit the United States since the 1918 “Spanish flu” that killed 50 million people worldwide. And there are so many factors and variables that lead to the sprout of a pandemic that you could very well argue that, “Yes, of course it happened at this exact point in time” or “No, it could have happened at any point in time.” It’s impossible to know for sure. But climate change and habitat destruction are certainly working together to create circumstances more favorable to the spread of disease, and that means pandemics will likely become more common as the world grows warmer.

The thing is, highly contagious, devastating illnesses have always been a part of human life, even though a real pandemic is a few-times-per-century event. It’s a fact of sharing the Earth with other living things; it just happens. But humans are ostensibly equipped with the means to contain the spread of diseases and help heal those who become sick. At this moment, thanks to advances in medicine and information-sharing and communication, that’s more true than ever before!

And yet. The United States, an astonishingly wealthy nation with ostensibly the most advanced — certainly the most expensive! — medical system in the world, has lost around 100,000 people to COVID-19, with many more surely to come. That doesn’t even take into account the far-reaching hardship caused by an economic collapse as drastic, by some metrics, as the Great Depression. The current unemployment rate, for example, exceeds 20 percent.

The reality is that what some have referred to as “the lost spring” (and what could very well be “the lost year”) is not the product of a single infectious disease, but the boiling over of many long-standing crises, including structural forms of injustice. Like everything else in American society, the damage done by the coronavirus is unevenly distributed across race. The death rate of black Americans from COVID is three times that of whites, and 40 percent of black-owned businesses have shuttered due to social distancing measures. As of April, rates of black and Latino unemployment were 16.7 and 18.9 percent, respectively, compared to 14.2 percent for whites. These hardships continue to feed into the cycle of racial inequality in this country.

The devastation to American society that we are witnessing in real time, one could argue, could only have happened at the present moment. That’s due to the nightmarish confluence of horrific leadership, centuries of racial oppression, unprecedented wealth inequality, the erosion of the social safety net, privatization of medicine, a far-too-consolidated supply chain, politicization of science, a highly globalized economy, and one misguided or mischievous bat. Oh, and the climate change and environmental degradation that could have led to said bat’s misbehavior.

COVID-19 could have popped up at any time, as viruses do. The degree to which it’s ravaged American society, however, has little to do with the virus itself. Other countries such as New Zealand and South Korea, faced the same disease and came out the other side with far fewer deaths and less severe economic devastation. This is, to a significant degree, about governance and leadership.

It’s also a preview of what climate change can do. A very contagious respiratory virus is an unfortunate fact; it’s not going away, and it is a challenge to be dealt with. Climate change, just the same, is coming whether or not we pay attention to it. Communities, cities, and states are going to have to put measures into place to ensure that it doesn’t literally kill us all. That’s what adaptation means, and that’s why people talk about things like seawalls and tree cover and managed retreat.

But creating a climate-resilient society requires a lot more than just building or planting stuff! This is where I would normally tell you to vote for leaders who support all that building and planting and, more importantly, cutting carbon emissions in the first place. Yes, do that. And additionally, vote for leaders who will feed our starving public systems to make it so they actually support the people who need them. Vote for those who understand and want to change what non-white people experience, what poor people experience, what immigrants experience. Without all of these things, there cannot be a climate-resilient civilization.

If anything were made clear by the unique, mind-boggling suffering that the United States has seen in the past week, brought about by the collision of a viral pandemic and police brutality, it’s that voting is a necessary condition but it is not enough. You, WORRIED, wrote to me to ask why the pandemic happened right now, possibly because it seems like such a uniquely terrible moment for the country to have to deal with it. We not only have the worst possible leader, but also a general absence of leadership altogether.

Going back just a few months, I believe there was an opportunity for an alternate version of this moment in American history in which one incredibly dangerous virus did not kill as many people nor ruin as many lives. But even in that universe, it’s important to acknowledge that pre-pandemic life wasn’t so great for most people. Undoing this path and “restoring order” is a ridiculous hope, since the order that has existed for so long has created a society that is wholly unsustainable judging from almost any social, environmental, or economic perspective.

So what can we do with this knowledge? One, you should be angry. Be angry that leaders missed opportunities to fortify the nation beyond its military, to break down racist systems and promote equality, and to instate laws and policies designed to help prevent crises that, by all accounts, were utterly predictable.

Then I think you should show your anger, whether that’s through protesting, hurling money or your time or whatever you have at worthy organizations that will put it in the right hands, or just screaming and yelling, if you have to. And while voting might not feel like enough when so much feels so wrong, it’s a necessary condition for change — force people in power to know that they created that mess and that they are accountable for it.

Furiously,

Umbra

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Climate change or global warming is with us NOW. It is time to make fundamental changes to the way we live NOW. While many individuals are doing their bit we need international agreement, especially international support for the United Nations, for all the nations in the world NOW.

Thank you for reading this!

It breaks my heart.

Let me not stop with that. I want to hear from you. Are you worried? Or not quite as concerned as me and Umbra? Do you think it is in the hands of our leaders or is it an international problem?

Let’s have a bit of a discussion.

Sheena!

Sheena’s visit was a great success.

As you know, we had Renate come round Sunday morning together with Sheena to get to know our dogs.

It all went extremely well and we ended up taking Sheena indoors, together with Renate, and we sat and chatted for quite some time.

Here are a few photos of the occasion.

Here Sheena is getting to know the inside of our home, looked on by Cleo, Pedi, Sweeny and Ruby.

Settling in quickly with Pedi taking an interest in Sheena.

Sheena giving Renate a loving look!

So Renate is coming back this Friday, the 12th June, to bring Sheena to us and we will be seven!

Please help Sheena!

I am simply posting this plea from Maria.

This email came in on the 4th June.

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Sheena

Foster needed for a Senior dog

Hi there,

As you may know, I run a rescue for pets of the homeless. Sheena had lived most of her life on the streets. For the last 4 years or so, she has been in either our house or with a foster.

Her current foster is moving out of the country and I need a new home for Sheena. My Shepard started attacking her out of the blue. 4 times over 8 months, so for safety reasons, I rehomed Sheena.

Our rescue, Tail Waggers Rescue, a non-profit, provides all food and needs for Sheena. We pay her veterinary expenses as well. She is on the cancer diet.

She is extremely sweet, about 13 years old, and is /has fighting cancer. We had the tumors removed a few months ago. She weighs approx 55 lbs. She is short-haired.

She is dog friendly, with dogs of all sizes. I am unsure about cats.
She is not used to being around children so a home with little kids would not be preferred. A quieter home is ideal.

She also does not like people who are intoxicated. She does lay on the furniture, after all, she is a Queen. She is mostly an indoor dog. She is house trained. She will run to the door to let the person know she is there. She is not a huge barker. She loves going on car rides and insists on the front seat.

If you have room in your home and heart, and a fenced yard, and are willing to put her meals together to the menu of the cancer diet, (I help you with this) please let me know. An application and home check are required.

We will supply all her food, bed, dining table, bowls, leashes. You may need to drive her to her vet from time to time in Phoenix.

She is NOT leashed trained but loves to go on walks.

Pictures of Sheena are below.

Please contact me at the store if you are interested in meeting Sheena and being her long term foster.

Regards,

Maria Modica
Lulu’s Pet Store

Sheena

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Lulu’s Pet Store is located here in Merlin.

The website is here!

It is getting very good reviews and they can ship products to those that can’t make it to the store. And I have no direct interest in Maria’s business.

Music makes the (dog) world go round!

A Daily Dodo item that is just lovely!

Now this is a story about a specific event, taking Sadie to the vet. But there’s a more fundamental theme to this post and that is the role of music in our lives and in the lives of our dogs.

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Dog Is Terrified Of Vet — Until He Decides To Sing To Her

From the Daily Dodo, May 22nd, 2020

Photo Credit: Kaeley Simek

Sadie was rescued from a local shelter when she was around a year old, and when she joined her family, she was quick to let them know that she was always down to have fun.

“Her personality is SO sassy and playful,” Kaeley Simek, Sadie’s mom, told The Dodo. “Ever since we gave her her first toy, she loves to play as often as she can. She is very high-energy and pretty much up for anything.”

While Sadie is usually the life of the party, the one thing that doesn’t make her smile is having to go to the vet.

“Sadie was not scared of vets when first rescuing her, but once she realized that she always goes there to get shots or if she has pain, she quickly learned it is not a fun place to be,” Simek said.

Photo Credit: Kaeley Simek

Sadie didn’t have great vet experiences when she was first rescued, and after that, she was absolutely terrified every time she realized that’s where she was headed. Her mom desperately wanted to find a vet who would understand Sadie’s anxiety and try to work with her to overcome it — and that’s when they met Dr. Noah.

“We started going to Dr. Noah of Dr. Noah’s Ark in Shorewood, [Wisconsin], in September of 2019,” Simek said. “After the bad experiences, I researched heavily a vet who would take time to understand and accept scared/reactive dogs. He was very highly rated and I also saw many reviews that [said] he doesn’t wear the ‘white coat’ at appointments, which can be a huge trigger for dogs.”

At their first visit, Simek explained Sadie’s anxieties to Dr. Noah, and it wasn’t hard to see how scared she was. That’s when Simek learned that Dr. Noah’s secret trick was singing to his patients.

In order to try and calm them down and make them feel more comfortable, Dr. Noah serenades the dogs who are scared or nervous — and most of the time, it totally works.

Photo Credit: Kaeley Simek

“The first time we went to him, he sang to her and she ended up on the floor kissing him and he was able to give the two shots she needed,” Simek said. “He has sang to her ever since.”

Dr. Noah understands that going to the vet can be overwhelming for some pets, so he does his best to create a positive experience for them the best way he knows how — through music.

“He heavily believes that music can completely change the mood,” Simek said.

For Sadie, it’s definitely been working. Even though she’s still scared when she first gets there, she definitely trusts Dr. Noah more than any other vet she’s been to, and with his help and his music she’s slowly learning that the vet isn’t actually so scary after all.

“She still has a lot of fear about the vet but he takes the time to sit down with her and we go for happy vet visits weekly so she can have positive associations,” Simek said. “He has the biggest heart out of any vet I’ve ever seen.”

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It’s very clear, from this story and many others including our personal experience of dogs, that dogs’ emotional responses are advanced and in many ways their emotions are familiar to us humans.

I’m going to include two videos.

The first is from 2012 and is a very short extract from the BBC Horizon video: Can dogs sense emotion?

And the second is a longer video but still only 18 minutes.

That second video shows the remarkable qualities of the dog and the similarities between the dog’s brain and the human brain!

They are such gorgeous, beautiful creatures.

This is perfect news about a dog – again!

An Australian Koolie dog makes global news.

From the BBC News website.

An Australian Koolie dog who was abandoned by his family has been rescued and retrained to detect koalas.

Bear has been following the aftermath of Australia’s bushfires since January, finding sick, injured or starving koalas that otherwise would have perished. He has now found more than 100.

Produced and edited by Isabelle Rodd

This is a delightful news story and a change from the more ‘normal’ news that we get.

Well done all concerned!

A sailing memory, part two.

Again, this is for Pendantry.

I left yesterday’s post with the statement: “However, getting to Gibraltar was not without its challenge for we suffered a knockdown and this scared us both to the core.

This is the account of that knockdown.

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The knockdown

So this was it, the end of life. This is what that end felt like. A lifetime of experiences reduced to this stilled moment; all my hopes, dreams, pleasures, memories, everything shrunk to this tiny moment of now.

I knew, in some trance-like way, that if just one of those foaming, giant waves swept across us, so utterly over-whelmed as we were on our side, it would flood the cabin, and down Dave and I and the yacht would go.

Other sensations came to me. Feelings of quiet, of calm, even of peace. My world now reduced to close, intimate dimensions. To the yacht’s wheel, to which I so grimly hung. To the front edge of the port cockpit seat, now underneath me, against which I braced my feet. To the starboard guardrail, bizarrely above my head, and to those raging seas so very close that seemed to beckon, ‘Give up, give up now and slip away.’

Me and Dave, alone in this Mediterranean storm 10 days West of Cyprus, are going to drown, founder without trace in these vast waves and probably end up not being missed for many days. Our dream of sailing across the Atlantic snuffed out as easily as Songbird of Kent would sink the 5,000 feet down to the seabed. The futility of it all.

It was a strange, detached perspective that hardly registered the gusts coming at us like great padded hammers. This unimaginable gale that had Songbird of Kent, my floating home for the last 5 years, totally pressed down on her port side, even though the yacht offered nothing more to the winds than her bare mast and rigging.

From within the cabin, Dave could do no more than simply watch. Hunkered down outside, I could do no more than simply hang-on. Both of us transfixed in this stillness of life’s imminent ending. Dave would later say no words would ever properly describe what his eyes had seen.

My past life, rather ominously, started running before me. How one year, in the early 1950s, when I was 7 or 8 years old, my parents had rented a holiday villa in the French Atlantic coastal town of Arcachon. What a glorious summer holiday that had been.

Arcachon’s beautifully sheltered bay had enabled me to learn to swim. The buoyant sea-water helping me increase the number of strokes each day, until one afternoon I had swum out to a yacht anchored well off the beach. As I hung on to the anchor chain, panting hard, the owner looked over the guardrail. Next, me being rowed back to the beach in a dinghy and then everyone getting to know Englishman John Calvert, a solo sailor living aboard his yacht, Garrawog.

Next year we had holidayed again in Arcachon and found Garrawog moored in the small yacht harbour. I recalled fond memories of sitting in the cabin with my father and John Calvert, drinking lemonade, eating cream crackers and loving the cosiness of it all.

Then the amazing coincidence when the following year we had holidayed at the French Mediterranean town of Menton and Garrawog had sailed into the harbour. That had led to John taking us sailing along the coast, memories so vivid, all these years later, of helping to haul sails, steer Garrawog, even remembering the gentle nudge of the yacht into the waves.

I was clear how those memories had fuelled my romantic obsession with sailing. How as a young teenager growing up in London I had joined the Welsh Harp sailing club, based at a large lake, well a reservoir, just three miles from home, and learnt to sail a dinghy. All fuelling this fascination with the sea. Yet that romantic obsession didn’t revolve around idyllic meanderings along the Mediterranean coastline. No, my dreams involved ocean sailing. Not even as part of a crew, but sailing, single-handed, across the oceans.

I had devoured every book written by those sailors who, totally alone, had journeyed the vast oceans in a small yacht. Joshua Slocum, who wrote of his solo trip around the world in his yacht, Spray, way back in 1895. Master English navigator, Francis Chichester, who conceived the idea of a single-handed yacht race across the Atlantic ocean, later completing a round-the-world solo circumnavigation in his yacht, Gipsy Moth IV. Eric Tabarly, Chay Blyth, Robin Knox-Johnston and many more.

I reflected how that dream had remained with me for years. All through nearly 20 years as a salesman and entrepreneur to the point when, quite suddenly, on a Monday in the Spring of 1986, uncharacteristically I had nothing in my diary for that day, or for many days ahead. I had just sold my thriving company in Colchester and there was no longer a job to go to!

Then not so long after I had taken a holiday in Larnaca and in wandering around the marina I had seen Songbird of Kent for sale, and had bought it! I had previously read about Tradewind yachts and knew how many had made world circumnavigations. Thus by the end of 1986, my new address had become: Yacht ‘Songbird of Kent’, Larnaca Marina, Cyprus.

A shout from Dave jerked me back to the real world.

Hey, is it my imagination or is that wind easing?

I lifted my head and turned my face into the weather coming full at us. The seas were just as terrible but, yes, something was different, some subtle lowering of the tone of the wind.

Dave, you’re right, it has eased back a bit. We’re not so pressed down, are we?

Don’t think so. What do you reckon?

Not sure what to do, frankly these conditions scare the shit out of me!

In the subtlest way imaginable, Songbird provided the answer. The yacht now showed some response to the waves rather than previously being so overwhelmed. A tiny thought entered my mind, something I hardly dared acknowledge: Songbird is not going to founder.

Those 3 tons of lead at the bottom of Songbird’s keel were, at last, overcoming the wind pressure on her topsides and with seawater cascading down from the mast and rigging, the yacht slowly righted and bestowed on me and Dave the continuation of our lives. A miracle of miracles!

I quickly helmed the bow round to point us downwind, putting the full force of the gale directly aft. Within moments, a wave slowly started to overtake us but I couldn’t do anything other than keep my eyes on the mast-head wind-vane that, against all odds, had stayed intact during the knock-down. Watching the arrow head that absolutely had to keep pointing directly into the wind. We may be upright but one slip of steering, one moment’s loss of concentration and I knew we would slew broadsides to the seas and go over again.

I couldn’t believe the size of this wave that lifted us up and up, as if we were in giant, invisible hands. Up to the foaming crest from which was revealed, all around us, wild, angry, jagged waves, huge crests covered in white foam, an Alpine-like scene of raging hell as far as the eye can see. A vista of utter desolation.

Then the foaming crest moved ahead of us and Songbird slid down that vast lee of the wave, down towards the trough that lay behind us. Our bowsprit pointed directly into the dark green water ahead, water streaked with spume, as down and down we went until the inevitable arrival of the next wave started us up to another foaming crest.

We had survived what we could never have imagined. Hardly believing it, we intuitively knew that surviving that first wave increased the odds of us surviving the next few. Then the next few, and the next few until, against all expectations, we knew we stood a chance of living through it all.

I spotted something in the water and shouted, “Dave, look, look there in the water, just to our left. That bit of sail, surely not from our mainsail?

As we ran before the weather, a scrap of white sail had surged past our side, a piece of sail bearing the number 33 and two palm trees, the symbol of a Tradewind 33 yacht.

Dave laughed, “I can’t believe that, Paul. It’s from the mainsail that blew out when the gale first struck. How amazing! It must be from us, can’t be too many other Tradewind 33s out here!“.

Imagine that, Dave, after all that we have been through these past few hours, we’ve just sailed by a bit of our mainsail, close enough to have grabbed it.

That triggered my mind as to when this terrible experience started. How long ago was that? I didn’t have a clue, though surely it couldn’t have been much more than an hour or so ago. Indeed, I struggled to think what day it was, then realised it was Thursday, October 8th, 1992. Just 24 hours since we had left the dirty, commercial port of Algiers for the last leg of our trip from Larnaca in Cyprus to Gibraltar.

Dave, hand me the log, it’s at the back of the chart table.

I read,

Thursday, 8th October, 1992.

08:20 Sea state terrible.

I recalled how the dawn had revealed banks of low angry clouds, skidding across the tops of a nasty swell, made even worse by a vicious cross-swell. The next entry after that read,

09:00 Sky extremely threatening. Wind NE F4. Just 16 miles east of Greenwich meridian.

Then we had approximately 3 hours of sailing to go before we crossed Greenwich. On to the last entry,

12:00 Sea extremely ugly, Wind NNE F5. Longitude 2 minutes East of Greenwich.

Just 15 minutes from crossing that historical navigational line. I recalled how we had chatted about sharing a glass of something to celebrate ‘crossing the line’! Then how my words had been torn away when, in a seeming instant of time, this huge squall had come out of the North, heralding this vast, cauldron of a storm. The mainsail, even tripled-reefed, was way too much sail. But it was far too dangerous to leave the cockpit to drop the sail, too much to do anything other than hang on.

The mainsail failed, ripped into shreds as it tore away from the mast-track and disappeared into the storm. The sounds of the event obliterated by the screaming noise of a wind that I had guessed was now more than 50 knots. The rain and spray had stung my face so hard that I needed to turn my head away just to breathe. Clearly something had to give; I expected the mast to fail.

But it didn’t! Instead, as the wind force grew and grew, it steadily pressed us further and further over until Songbird ended up fully horizontal to the sea. It seemed a lifetime ago.

I looked at my watch: 5.30pm. To hell and back in so few hours!

Dave, what’s our position?

Dave ducked out of sight to read the GPS, came back out with a slip of paper on which he had written our position: Eight minutes of longitude west of the Greenwich meridian. We were now in the Western hemisphere!

Come on, Dave, you take the wheel. I’m going to fetch a couple of beers.

I reckon a double celebration, Paul, crossing the Meridian and living to tell the tale!

We drank our beers, chit-chatted about nothing much, both aware that we had literally stared into the abyss of a dark watery grave, and sailed on.

Just before 13:00 on Saturday, October 10th, Songbird rounded Gibraltar’s breakwater, briefly rolled in the cross-swell, and slipped into the calm waters of the inner harbour.

Soon we were safe and secure in a marina berth, a few minutes walk from good food and friendly bars. Our experiences rapidly migrated into the private worlds of our minds, as if discussing it openly might replay it all with a different, more tragic, outcome.

I struggled through those first nights of sleep. Again and again I awoke, panic across my chest, clinging to the sides of my bunk, trying to lay all the nightmares to rest. Slowly, those October days resting up in Gibraltar shone a light on this sailing obsession. How, with the sudden death of my father in 1956, those memories of idyllic times in and around Garrawog had buried themselves deep into my hidden emotional world. How dreams of sailing had more to do with keeping the memory of my father alive than with anything else.

That gale expunged the obsession. I never sailed on Songbird again or, for that matter, on any other sailing vessel. Paid crew eventually returned Songbird to England, where she was subsequently sold.

I would never forget the stillness I had experienced in the midst of all that chaos, but one knock-down in a lifetime was more than enough.

ooOOoo

This is absolutely a true account of what happened. Yes, an intimate, personal account of what happened but accurate down to the last detail.

I am so pleased I kept a written account of the knockdown all those years ago for if I was to recall it today then much of the detail would have been lost. Maybe lost as a result of old age or lost as a consequence of not wanting it in one’s mind. Who knows.

Finally, there are no photographs because we just had more important things to look after – keeping ourselves alive!