Category: Health

Moving trees!

The tree that houses our internet connection has died!

Our local arborist from Liberty Tree Enterprises is on the property tomorrow, Wednesday, to fell a dead tree. It is the tree that has our Outreach Internet wireless antenna attached to it very close to its top.

Outreach are standing by to re-install the antenna in another tree close by but it’s reasonable to plan for being off-line for a couple of days.

Thus, the following article that recently appeared on Mother Nature Network seems a most appropriate item to share with you all.

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How to tell if a tree is dead or dying.

by NOEL KIRKPATRICK, May 19, 2018.

A sick tree can infect the other trees in your yard. (Photo: Jannarong/Shutterstock)

A dying tree in a forest is nature simply running its course and eventually giving back to its ecosystem. A dying tree in a well-landscaped yard, however, can pose problems for other trees and everything else around it.

If you have trees near your home, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on their health and to take action if you think a tree is dying or dead.

But first it’s important to be sure your tree is actually sick. This may seem like common sense, but some trees will exhibit signs of illness as part of their usual seasonal cycles. Kevin Zobrist, a Washington State University extension forestry educator, explains that some trees, like the western red cedar, will temporarily appear sick “due to normal seasonal dieback.” So the first step to identifying if a tree is dying is to identify the tree to make sure it’s not just behaving like it’s supposed to.

It’s also important to remember that not all causes of tree sickness are insect-related. Ailments can be the result of improper planting, diseases and weather-related events, like severe storms, winds and drought.

5 signs your tree may be dying

Strong winds can cause trees to lean out of their original shape. (Photo: kenkistler/Shutterstock)

1. Too much leaning or an otherwise odd shape. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), trees leaning 15 degrees away from their original vertical position aren’t doing so well. Trees that were originally straight that are leaning like this are likely the victims of strong winds or root damage. The InterNACHI says that large trees that are leaning due to wind “seldom recover.”

2. Cracks in the tree. These are deep splits in the bark of the tree that can be difficult to identify. Some trees are supposed to have cracks. But deep cracks and gashes can lead to serious issues and “indicate the tree is presently failing,” per the InterNACHI.

Trees aren’t big fans of cankers, either. (Photo: Ngukiaw/Shutterstock)

3. Trees can get cankers, too. Cankers are deeply unpleasant things for both humans and trees. In the case of our arboreal friends, cankers are areas of dead bark, the result of a bacterial or fungal infection, according to the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), a trade group for tree professionals. These infections get inside the tree through an open wound, and the stress of the infection causes the bark to become sunken or fall off the tree. A tree is more likely to break apart near a canker.

4. Wood shows signs of decay. Decay is often hard to spot because it often starts on the inside of the tree, according to TCIA. There are still signs of decay that you can see, however. Mushroom-like spores on the visible roots, stems or branches are clear signs of decay, and cavities where wood is missing also indicate that the tree isn’t healthy.

5. The tree has deadwood. This is exactly what it sounds like: It’s wood that’s dead. When a tree starts dropping branches or limbs, it’s a sign it’s trying to conserve resources by making itself smaller. In addition to being dry and easy to break, deadwood can also be identified by the color of the wood. If it’s bright green, the tree is still healthy. If it’s dull green, it’s dying, and if it’s brown, it’s deadwood. Be sure to test other branches from around the tree as it is possible that only that section of the tree is dying.

Arborists can help

Arborists can help you with many of your tree-related needs, including tree removal. (Photo: Evgeniy Zhukov/Shutterstock)

If you don’t feel comfortable making the call regarding your tree’s health, consult the professionals. Agricultural extensions organized through universities can help you determine the state of your tree, and let you know if trees in your county or state are experiencing problems. If you’re not sure how to contact your extension, the National Pesticide Information Center maintains a list of extensions in each state and U.S. territory.

You can also reach out to an arborist, also referred to as a tree surgeon. These individuals can help you determine the health of your tree and if a removal is necessary. If it is, many arborists can help you with that as well. The International Society of Arboriculture has an easy-to-use tool to help you locate ISA-certified arborists in your area.

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I hope that the above article has been informative and that you will understand why there may be a pause from this end.

So I will close the post by including another photograph taken on Monday afternoon of our tree that confirms that it has come to the end of its natural life and that if not felled could be a danger to the house.

See you soon (fingers crossed!)

The continuing fallout from Chernobyl

Will you, please, consider taking one of these puppies!

I closed last Saturday’s post with this plea: “If only there wasn’t a single dog in need of adoption in the world!

That plea is being used to introduce today’s post. An article that was recently read on the Smart News section from The Smithsonian magazine website.

I have republished it, hopefully without infringing copyrights, because it’s a story that needs to be circulated as far and wide as possible.

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Chernobyl Puppies Going Up for Adoption in the U.S.

Now in quarantine, the pups are expected to come to the U.S. this summer in search of their forever homes.

Please for to adopt us, Comrade. (Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Authority)
By Jason Daley smithsonian.com , May 16, 2018

In 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant melted down, sending nearby residents fleeing the disaster zone. And sadly, most pets got left behind. Over the last 32 years, the surviving pups have multiplied, creating a community of hundreds that live in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and another 250 that live on the grounds of the former power plant itself.

Now, a dozen of those homeless puppies will head to the United States for adoption, reports Matt Novak at Gizmodo.

According to the Russian website Meduza, Ukrainian authorities have captured 200 of the stray Chernobyl puppies. They are currently keeping them in a 45-day quarantine in the city of Slavutych, and then a dozen will be shipped to the United States.

“We have rescued the first puppies, they are now in our adoption shelter going through the quarantine and decontamination process,” Lucas Hixson, co-founder of the U.S.-based Clean Futures Fund, a non-profit created to take care of Chernobyl clean-up workers, their families and the dogs tells Novak. “The goal is 200 dogs but will likely be more in the long run. My hope is to get 200 dogs rescued and adopted in the next 18 months and then go from there.”

The pups have a heartbreaking story, as The Guardian’s Julie McDowell detailed earlier this year. During the evacuation, more than 120,000 people were herded onto buses to escape the meltdown of the Unit 4 reactor, leaving most of their valuables and their pets behind. Many dogs tried to follow their owners onto the buses but were kicked off. People left notes on their doors asking authorities not to kill their animals, but Soviet Army squads were dispatched to put down as many contaminated animals as they could find.

Some of the dogs survived the army and the radiation, rebuilding their community as a pack. The Clean Futures Fund reports that the 250 dogs living on the grounds of the former power plant were likely driven out of the surrounding forests by wolves and a lack of food. Another 225 dogs roam Chernobyl City and hundreds of others live and scrounge at security checkpoints and throughout the woods and abandoned communities in the Exclusion Zone. Most of the dogs around the plant are under the age of 4 or 5, and clean-up workers at the site sometimes feed and tend to sick animals.

But last year, after becoming aware of the animals, The Clean Futures Fund decided the pups needed a more permanent solution. That’s why they’ve implemented a three-year program in the Exclusion Zone to spay and neuter 1,000 animals and vaccinate them against rabies. At their first clinic last August, the Fund spayed and neutered 350 dogs and cats in the area. Each animal was tested for radiation, given antibiotics, vaccinated for rabies and microchipped. Each dog’s vital data was also recorded.

For the next clinic scheduled for June, the Fund has also partnered with researchers from the University of South Carolina. The team will study the dogs for signs of radiation poisoning as well as genetic damage and disruptions to the dogs’ microbiomes, reports Mary Katherine Wildeman at The Post and Courier. The team will sedate the dogs and look for tumors and cataracts, which can signal radiation poisoning.

Understanding the impacts of radiation exposure is becoming increasingly important, says Timothy Mousseau, a researcher who has studied radiation in the birds, insects and small animals of Chernobyl and will lead the project. Exposure rates in daily life from medical treatments and other sources are on the rise, with the average yearly dose Americans receive doubling in the last 20 years alone.

There is no word when or where the dozen Chernobyl pups will go up for adoption. But even if you’re not lucky enough to have one of the reminders of Soviet-era nuclear power at the foot of your bed, it’s still possible to see the place for yourself and hand out treats to some of the remaining pups. There’s a booming tourism industry in the area to visit the eerie ghost towns and surprisingly quiet and beautiful green space that has overtaken the Zone.

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I am going to contact The Clean Futures Fund to see how one can register a potential interest in taking one of these puppies.

In the meantime, is there any reader who would be interested in having a puppy? Send me an email if so.

All dressed up!

And I am not referring to that wedding!

But on behalf of Jean and me and all you wonderful followers, we would like to wish Prince Harry and Megan Markle many congratulations on their marriage this day in Windsor and a long happy and healthy life together.

No, I was referring to shelter pups all dressed up, as read recently on Mother Nature News.

(And please read my closing remarks about a change in the frequency of my blog posts!)

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These shelter pup moms are all dressed up, waiting for that special visitor

Puppies are quick to get adopted, but the moms are often left behind.

by CHRISTIAN COTRONEOMay 11, 2018.

Duchess, left, and Buttercup, haven’t let losing their families dampen their spirits. (Photo: Christie Lynn/Best Friends Animal Society)

Every mother has her day. And if that old saying holds true, so too does every dog. But it seems a couple of dogs at a shelter in Atlanta have waited a long time for their day to come.

So long, in fact, that both dogs — Duchess and Buttercup — became mothers before finding a family to adopt them.
Although for Buttercup, that distinction was tragically fleeting.

Buttercup has bounced back from the heartbreak of losing her babies. (Photo: Christie Lynn/Best Friends Animal Society)

She was already pregnant when she arrived at Fulton County Animal Services. But in her weak condition, none of her puppies survived.

And Duchess? She experienced a different kind of heartbreak, having arrived at a shelter with five healthy and rambunctious babies in tow. One by one, they were adopted by families — leaving just mom behind.

When it comes to finding a family, puppies are typically the first out the shelter door, even though there are so many reasons why older dogs often make the most meaningful impact on a family.

Duchess nursed her puppies — until they were big and strong enough to be adopted. (Photo: Christie Lynn/Best Friends Animal Society)

The thing is, as we’ve seen time and time again, a shelter dog’s heart isn’t easily shattered.

In fact, both Buttercup and Duchess aren’t exactly sulking at the Atlanta chapter of Best Friends Animal Society. In the hands of their heart-healing keepers, they’ve blossomed in every way.

Buttercup is available for adoption at the Best Friends shelter in Atlanta. (Photo: Christie Lynn/Best Friends Animal Society)

Duchess still likes to prance around on her daily walks, and, as the shelter notes in a press release, “demonstrate her good manners with both people and other dogs.”

Buttercup, the release adds, has “healed and made lots of human and canine friends alike.”

But shelter staff know all too well that shelter life can wear a dog down. This weekend, Best Friends is hoping that some families, in the spirit of that special day, will give these mothers the best gift of all — a home where they can truly spread their roots.

Think you can help?

If you happen to be in Atlanta, you can pay these moms a visit at the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center any day between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m., or email atladoptions@bestfriends.org.

Duchess’ manners appear to extend to the dinner table. (Photo: Christie Lynn/Best Friends Animal Society)

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If only there wasn’t a single dog in need of adoption in the world!

Postscript!

Dear people,

I’m struggling to stay on top of stuff in and around the house. So, please forgive me if there are days when a post doesn’t appear!

Thank you!

More tips for healthy dogs

Another interesting article from Susan Combs.

It’s self-explanatory and needs no further introduction from me save to say that this is the third guest post from Susan.

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Four Essential Tips to Make Your Dog Healthy and Active Round the Year

Dogs have been living with us for tens of thousands of years. This evolutionary relationship and a special chemistry with us have made them our best friends. Their affection for us makes them extraordinarily attentive with which they uncannily predict what we are going to do. They are so attuned to our emotional state that whenever we get annoyed, they even express contrition. As stated by a Harris poll, as many as 90 percent of parents consider their cats and dogs to be part of their family.

If you are a dog owner, you surely are treating him as your family member and you also want him to live as long as possible. Living and playing with your dog gives you immense pleasure and also keeps you stress free. However, sometimes your canine friend may go through health issues, which can render him inactive as well as distressed.

So how are you going to take care of your dog’s health?

Usually dogs are happiest when they are healthy; you need to ensure your dog’s physical and mental well-being by keeping him active and stimulated, even when you are not at home.

The following tips will help you make your dog happy and active always:
1. Training and socialization is vital

First of all, your dog needs to know that humans are important and their company is quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, many pets are not properly socialized and are fearful of strangers. You need to expose your dog to a wide variety of people so that he can get accustomed to the presence of people. As a matter of fact, if your dog hangs out with only one person, he may get wary of anybody else. Therefore it’s important to diversify your dog’s attention and make time for ‘meets and greets’. A dog that is confident of his training and routine also becomes highly socialized. Take your dog to training classes because they are a great place to meet other dogs and people in a safe and controlled environment. Stop rewarding dogs for displaying submissive behavior as it can turn them into a nervous wreck.

2. Take care of his diet and nutrition

A nutritious and balanced diet is highly essential to keep your dog healthy. Everything that your dog eats affects him – from weight, to the wear on his teeth, to the luster of her eyes and to the health of their fur. The food that you are giving to your dog can even change his moods. Many cheap packaged dog foods do not contain the necessary nutrient profile to be deemed as healthy.

Your dog also needs a healthy source of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

As suggested by a reputed pet care website, read the label and package for AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) labels such as “complete” and “balanced”.

3. Play with him like a friend

Playing and having fun with your dog eliminates stress from your life – the same holds true for your dog as well. Playing games keep your dog’s heart healthy and its joints well-lubricated. Games that have rules end up honing your dog’s analytical skills. When playing with your pet it’s crucial to realize that you are the boss. You get to decide what boundaries to set for your dog. Both of you also need to learn to communicate better with each other. Moreover, playtime can be an excellent opportunity to teach your dog good manners. When you teach him new games, reward him if he does well. Rewards don’t necessarily have to be treats; you can hug him and give him his favorite toys.

4. Make friends with your vet

Your pet should more often visit vets even if they seem to be fine. Much like humans, dogs need to be kept under a close watch by conducting regular health checkups to keep aging-related health problems at bay. Even if your pet may appear perfectly healthy, he might be sick without you ever knowing about it. Based on data provided by Nationwide pet insurance, one of the primary reasons why their customers seek veterinarian treatment is to treat skin allergies in pets. Dogs with hairy ears are prone to ear infection since germs build up in humid and warm parts of the body. Dogs with allergies also tend to scratch the affected area which aggravates the infection. Visiting the vet is also important for your dog because he can get used to whenever being poked and prodded.

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Susan also included the following graphic that I will leave you with.

We all love our dogs too much to take any risks with them!

Taking our dogs out and about.

Another great article from Mary Jo of MNN

On Monday I published an article written by Wendy Lipscomb about summer heat for dogs, especially for long-haired dogs. It was well-received!

That article implied that our dogs frequently go out with us more often than not.

Summer brings in many outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, running and going for a picnic or maybe going out just for a walk. There is nothing wrong with taking your dog out with you if you know how to regulate your pet’s body temperature.

But Mary Jo of Mother Nature Network published an article just a few days ago that offers another perspective. Here it is!

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Please don’t take your dog everywhere

Not all dogs are happy at public events.

by MARY JO DILONARDO, May 11, 2018.

Always be in tune to your dog’s body language when you take him to a public event. (Photo: Arina P Habich/Shutterstock)

Whether it’s a farmers market or a summer art festival, when the weather warms up, people head outside. And when they go outdoors, many people take their dogs. But while plenty of pups are happy to browse the produce stands and mingle with hundreds of strange people and their pets, there are many who are stressed by the adventure.

Some owners just assume that if they’re having fun, their dogs are happy, too. But not all dogs love the noises and smells, people and activity that come with going to outdoor events or restaurants. They get nervous and maybe even cranky when faced with scary or new situations.

Chicago trainer Greg Raub suggests asking yourself a few questions before snapping on the leash and taking your pup with you:
  • Will my dog be comfortable at the event or would he be happier at home?
  • Can I be sure my dog won’t react aggressively if a stranger rushes up to him?
  • Can I make sure my dog won’t get into something like dropped food or trash?
  • Even though my dog is harmless, could he scare little kids because of his size or looks?
  • Will it get too hot for my dog if I can’t find a spot in the shade?

Tips for a good outing

If you decide to take your dog to a public event, it’s key to set him up for success, says Maryland trainer Juliana Willems.

First up, she says, don’t use a retractable leash.

“There is hardly any control with these leashes, and in high activity environments you need all the control you can get,” she writes on her blog. “For the sake of all other dogs and owners at the event, I encourage you to stick to 4′ or 6′ standard leashes.”

Then, make sure to stuff your pockets with treats.

“I understand that shoving a bunch of treats in your dog’s mouth won’t solve real problems, but it can sure help manage some when you’re out in a distracting environment,” she says. “Oftentimes when there is an overwhelming amount of stimuli, your dog will only pay attention to you if you’ve got something they want: yummy food. In new environments it is essential to be able to capture your dog’s focus. Treats will help enormously for this, especially if they are high value.”

Pick and choose

Some dogs might be very stressed at an outdoor cafe, while other might enjoy watching the people go by. (Photo: Budimir Jevtic/Shutterstock)

Just be smart about when your pet tags along, suggests veterinarian Patty Khuly, V.M.D.

“Over time, I’ve learned that your life has to be 100 percent dog-friendly if your dog is going to tag along 100 percent of the time. And precious few of our lives are that accommodating,” she writes in Vetstreet.

For example, Khuly says that she only takes one of her four dogs to outdoor restaurants because her other three don’t have the right dispositions.

“There’s no point in taking your dog to a restaurant if he doesn’t have the temperament for it, won’t enjoy it or if it will cause a lot of disruption. But smaller, well-behaved and socialized dogs may be just fine.”

Look for signs of stress

Wherever you go with your pup, it’s key that you always pay attention to him. That’s not only so his leash doesn’t get tangled in a stroller, but it’s primarily so you can sense his mood.

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of stress so you know when it’s time to take off. Here are some of the most common things to look for, according to veterinarian Lynn Buzhardt, D.V.M. of VCA Hospitals.

  • Yawning
  • Nose or lip licking
  • Pacing or shaking
  • Whining, barking or howling
  • Pulled or pinned-back ears
  • Tail lowered or tucked
  • Cowering
  • Panting
  • Diarrhea
  • Avoidance or displacement (focusing on something else like sniffing the ground or turning away)
  • Hiding or escape behaviors (hiding behind you, digging, running away)

If you notice any of these stress signs, take your dog home or at least give him a break from all the activity.

“Dogs are extremely sensitive and can go from being fine to absolutely not fine in a matter of minutes. It is essential that you stay in tune to how your dog is reacting to other dogs or people, and the minute things start getting hairy, you skedaddle,” says Willems. “Your dog might not necessarily need to leave all together, but a time out away from all the hubbub can really help a dog’s mentality.”

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Must close by including the following:

Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.

We are on the verge of a thunderstorm arriving so please forgive me for signing off without delay.

Summer heat and caring for our dogs.

A guest post by Wendy Lipscomb.

Already there are some places in the USA that are experiencing some pretty hot days. For instance, at the time of me writing this introduction, around 2pm last Friday, the temperature in Phoenix, Arizona is 97 deg F. (36 deg C.)  That’s perfectly hot enough for us humans even before we think of dogs. Especially dogs that have thicker coats.

Over to Wendy!

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Regulating the Body Temperature of Your Thick-Haired Dog during the Summer.

by Wendy Lipscomb, May 9th, 2018

Summer brings in many outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, running and going for a picnic or maybe going out just for a walk. There is nothing wrong with taking your dog out with you if you know how to regulate your pet’s body temperature.

Humans regulate their body temperature by sweating but animals do not have this property. Dogs do sweat very slightly from their nose and paws but that cannot help them regulate their body temperature. Dogs regulate their body temperature by panting; when a dog breathes through his mouth the saliva evaporates cooling down the blood in the veins. Put another way, the air that a dog breathes passes through its nasal passage before reaching its lungs. The air is cooled when it is passed through that nasal passage.

Therefore, it becomes even harder for dogs to regulate their body temperature when the sun is shining down, and also when the humidity in the air increases. This builds up a pressure on the dog’s lungs and heart as he breathes in and out more frequently to regulate his body temperature.

But you can take some measures to help your pet to regulate his body temperature during summer outdoors.

No doubt about it that dogs are super active animals and love to go outdoors. But while taking them out in those summer months it is easy to forget that the paws of our dogs are very sensitive and they can be burned by walking on the pavement and roads in the daytime. So, invest in good protective booties or apply paw wax to protect your dog’s paws.

In addition, your dog can also get sunburned by excessive exposure to the sun. Therefore, either limit the exposure of sun for your four footers or visit your vet clinic so that they can recommend a good sunscreen for your dog.

Another thing that you can consider while going out in the summer is that if you are traveling in a car and stop for rest never ever leave your furry companion in a locked or closed car. Because in summer your car becomes extremely hot by trapping the heat inside. If you leave your pet inside a hot car it can suffocate within minutes. Yes, within minutes!

Always carry a bottle of water to keep your dog hydrated. Create breeze for your dog to make the hot temperature tolerable for them. The breeze helps in cooling sweat and will make your dog feel relaxed. For this purpose buy a shop fan that is portable; a good option to create a breeze to keep yourself and your dog cool.

The above-mentioned tips are general tips that you must keep in your mind to implement in the summer. However, thick-haired dogs require a little more attention to maintain their safe body temperature.

People have the misconception that a dog with thick hair will suffer more during summer but let me tell you that thick-haired dogs are good at regulating their body temperatures. The fur of thick-coated dogs helps them to stay warm in winter and in summer their fur works as insulators and protects their skin from direct exposure to the sun.
Bathing For Thick-Haired Dog:
Well, fleas and ticks are around all of the year. Fleas can survive outside for long periods of time, particularly in a warm and sticky climate. As mentioned previously, summer bring in more heat, humidity and more outdoor time. Thus, it is the peak time for your thick-haired dog to catch fleas or ticks. Therefore, bathing your dog regularly is as important as anything else because it will not only help your dog to regulate his body temperature but bathing will also help you and your puppy be rid of these tiny crawlies as flea bites can cause redness, irritation, allergy and even illness such as Lyme diseases. It is recommended to use a good quality flea shampoo to get rid of fleas. Always examine the ingredients of the shampoo to avoid buying one with harsh chemicals because it may cause a reaction to your dog’s skin.
You should not Shave Your Dog in summer:

People ask me if I am going to shave my thick-haired dog in the summer? The answer to this question is “No”. Thick-haired dogs have two layers of hairs. The long-guard hairs protect the dogs in the winter from snow and the inner layer helps them to stay warm in those same winters. However, these dogs shed their undercoat in the summer and they are left with only long-guard hairs that insulate dogs from heat and protects them from sunburn.
Shaving your double-coated dog is not a good idea because shaving changes the texture of the coat. Your dog sheds off his inner coat in the summer. If you shave his coat his hair will soon start growing back and you will see that the soft and fluffy inner coat will grow first and later on the guard-hairs will combine with them. In addition to this, the texture of the new coat will be sticky and your dog will bring in whatever he passes through and that sticks to his new coat.
Moreover, the combination of the new growing inner and outer coat will also make your dog feel hotter on summer days.
Brush Your Dog Frequently:
Instead of shaving your dog’s coat, try to brush it every alternate day. Brushing your dog’s coat with a fine-toothed comb will untangle the hairs and it will also help in removing the winter undercoat of your thick-haired four-footer. This will increase air circulation and will make your dog feel cool and comfortable.

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I asked Wendy for a little about herself. This is what she sent in:

Wendy is a self-employed beauty therapist, mother of two; life-long pet parent and lover of dogs who somehow manages to squeeze in the time to satisfy another of her loves – writing. Wendy is the founder, main contributor to and editor of TotallyGoldens.com

So no other way than to close this post with the message: Stay Cool Peeps!

(Brandy! Take Note!)

Jean and Brandy at a local yard sale back in June 2016.

To England and France, Part Four.

On to the South of France!

Alex drove us across to Bristol airport mid-morning on the 18th April for our flight, courtesy of easyJet, from Bristol to Nice.

The days with Alex and Lisa had been so wonderful yet had gone by so very quickly. Thank goodness that Alex and Lisa had already made plans to come and see us again in Merlin sometime during August. It made the parting a little less painful.

Our flight was a good one and departed on time and quickly climbed into a beautiful Spring sky.

Looking down on the beautiful planet underneath us I tried very hard not to think of the 8,000 or so litres of aviation fuel that Alex estimated our Airbus would burn on this 90-minute flight. (Alex is a Commercial pilot flying for an airline out of Bristol.)

But no time to get too introspective about the wake we humans are leaving on the face of Planet Earth because before Jean and I had really got our heads around the fact that we would shortly be seeing Reggie and his wife, Chris, our aircraft was positioning itself over Nice in readiness for landing at Nice airport.

The metropolis that is present-day Nice.

Reggie and Christine’s house was situated at La Croix des Luques, about an hour’s drive from Nice and up in the beautiful countryside that lay inland from the Cote d’Azur; that famous coastal region to the East of Toulon that boasted such places as Cannes, St. Tropez, Monaco and, of course, Nice itself. It was glorious countryside and in some ways familiar with the forested country back in Merlin, Oregon.

By 5pm French time we were at the house and Jean and Reggie were catching up in earnest!

I had a very strong sense that the next six days were going to be very relaxing and very entertaining.

Merlin curled up on the carpet below Hugo.

Plus Reggie and Chris had two dogs; two wonderful dogs. But talk about the fickle finger of fate. For their two dogs were named Merlin and Hugo! And, I should hasten to add, named before we moved from Arizona to Oregon in 2012.

Seriously!

To put that into context for any new readers of this place, where Jean and I live in Southern Oregon is on Hugo Road, Merlin!

Tomorrow will be the last day of sharing the details with you all of our vacation.

It will cover the balance of the time that we spent with Reggie and Chris in the South of France, a most amazing ‘blast from the past’ for yours truly, our return to England and another stay, just for 36 hours this time with Maija, Marius and Morten, then on the 26th our return flight to Portland.

See you tomorrow!

To England and France, Part Three

Refreshing dear connections from the past!

So on Friday the 13th of April daughter Maija ran Jean and me to the railway station at Haywards Heath to catch a train into London, specifically to Victoria Station.

Then we boarded the London Underground to get ourselves from Victoria Station to Bounds Green tube station on the Picadilly Line. It was a bit of a culture shock for both Jean and me; to say the least. But we managed it somehow and once at Bounds Green there was my sister Eleanor to greet us. Eleanor lives in Johannesburg in South Africa (long story) but needed to come to England and made arrangements that meant she could meet with us for this one afternoon and evening. For Eleanor had pre-booked a bed and breakfast in Coniston Road, London N10.

Eleanor is twelve years my younger sister and it was only later on in life that both of us realised what a precious age gap that was. For as Eleanor was growing up in her early years I was at the age of wanting to be the big brother to her and it became, and still is, a very close bond.

Eleanor holding her arms around Jean and me!

Immediately upon meeting we found a nearby cafe to grab some lunch and do a bit of catching up!

The afternoon and evening went by far too quickly and fairly smartly on the Saturday morning, the 14th, we said our ‘goodbyes’ and Jean and I struggled for the second time in twenty-four hours with the Underground! This time making our way from Bounds Green to Paddington Station, the main line station that serves Bristol and places in between, as in the Great Western Railway, as well as down to the South-West including Exeter and then on to Plymouth and into Cornwall.

Our train journey was from Paddington to Swindon Station to be met by Richard and Julie.

Richard is my longest, closest and dearest male friend.

He and I go back very many years, for we met not long after I had left IBM in 1978, where I had been an Office Products salesman, and then started my own company. Richard had, in turn, recently left Olivetti where he, too, had been an Office Products salesman.

We hit it off immediately and over the intervening years, as in the thick end of 40 years, there’s not a lot that we haven’t shared in terms of fun and frolics, and especially a great many flying exploits in my group-owned Piper Super Cub!

Piper Cub R151

When Jean and I got together in 2008 as you might imagine she quickly became close friends with Richard and Jules, as Richard calls Julie.

Plus Jean and Richard share a rather ironic, if that’s the right term, event. For both of them were diagnosed in December, 2015 with the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease!

As with seeing Eleanor, the time with Richard and Jules was far too short but, nonetheless, very

Murphy being cuddled by Jules

precious. Plus, dear Murphy gave Jean and me a much-needed dog fix!

Thus on the morning of the 15th, Richard and Jules ran us across to Bristol which is where my son, Alex, is living with Lisa, his partner.

The plan was to spend from Sunday, the 15th, through to Wednesday, the 18th, with Alex and Lisa. Alex had booked time off work for those days but Lisa unfortunately was working during the weekdays.

Yet another meeting of dear friends, as in Richard and Jules catching up with Alex.

Alex had arranged for Jean and me to go down to South Devon on Monday, 16th, to meet with John Joiner, my dear brother-in-law.

Let me explain some family background. My father had had two daughters with a previous wife to my mother. Their names were Rhona and Corinne and when they were alive they both lived in South Devon. In the years that followed my father’s death in December, 1956, both Rhona and Corinne, and their respective husbands, Reider and John, made me feel very special and very deeply loved by both of them. (Indeed, it was because of wanting to be close to Rhona and Corinne’s families that I settled in South Devon when I returned from Cyprus in 1991.)

Corinne died in June, 2013. John, who is now well into his 80s, lives in a small apartment in the village of South Brent just a few miles from Totnes in South Devon. I make a point of calling him from Oregon at least once a week but to be able to see John again after so many years was another big highlight of the vacation.

Inevitably, along came another lunch and in the photograph above you can see John on the right-hand side and sitting next to him, as in the left of the photo, is Greta, my cousin as in Rhona’s daughter, who spends a great deal of her spare time looking after John. Dear Greta!

After the pub lunch we returned to John’s apartment for tea and carried on sharing many special memories.

Indeed, one of those special memories was Benji the wonderful dog that Corinne and John had for many years. On one of John’s walls was this wonderful painting of Benji.

The other fact about John is his incredible use of the English language. Both in terms of his vocabulary and his diction. John’s legacy to me is, and will be for the rest of my days, the value of speaking well.

Another wonderful connection with past times.

The truth is that the odds are that I may never see John again. That made this day with John so incredibly special. Huge thanks to Alex and Greta. What a fabulous day!

The next day, Tuesday, the 17th, was Lisa’s birthday and yet another wonderful evening out.

Then came the 18th and the last few hours of being with Alex. At 12:50 that day we were due to fly from Bristol down to Nice in Southern France to spend six nights with Reggie, Jean’s brother.

Those beautiful days will be the topic of tomorrow’s post. See you then!

But before I turn away from today’s description of our days in England, let me address a question that John Zande raised yesterday. Namely: “Have to ask, do you miss the English village life? It’s so beautiful.

Here’s my answer:

John, yes there was no question that there were stirrings of great familiarity when down with John near Totnes. In my mind’s eye, I could still walk up Totnes High Street and name many of the stores that I used to visit on an almost weekly basis when living in Harberton.

But at the same time I was shocked and disappointed by the huge growth in new housing, someone said an additional 500 homes built in the area in the last 5 years, and all the traffic and crowded lanes that go with that expansion. Many of the lanes were so crowded with parked cars that they were effectively single-lane carriageways.

The relatively sparse housing in the part of Oregon where we now live, the way that the natural world seems untouched by us humans here on Hugo Road, felt very beautiful in comparison. We looked forward to being back in Merlin.

Upper Barn, Harberton, where I used to live before meeting my Jeannie!

More dog food recall notices

The following came in while we were away.

On the 13th April:

K9 Natural is recalling 4 batches of its raw frozen dog food due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in humans and animals.

To learn which products are affected, please visit the following link:

K9 Natural Dog Food Recall

Please share the news of this alert with other pet owners.

April 13, 2018 — K9 Natural Ltd is voluntarily recalling 4 batches of its K9 Natural Frozen Chicken Feast that were imported into the US in June 2017 because they have the potential to be contaminatedwith Listeria monocytogenes.

Then on April 16th.

April 16, 2018 — Carnivore Meat Company of Green Bay, WI, is voluntarily recalling two of its Vital Essentials freeze-dried dog foods because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.

What’s Recalled?

The following affected products were distributed in the continental USA through independent retailers and via online retailers Chewys.com and Amazon.com through direct delivery.

  • Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Beef Toppers
  • 6 oounce (170 g) package size
  • Best by date: 06/04/2019 or 06/20/2019
  • Lot #: 13815
  • Product UPC: 033211006059
  • Vital Essentials Frozen Beef Chub Entrée for Dogs
  • 5 pound (2.27 kg) package size
  • Best by date: 12/27/18
  • Lot #: 13816
  • Product UPC: 033211008817

There’s more to see about this recall so please, please go here to read the details.

Then two days later, April 18th, in came this:

April 18, 2018 — TruDog is withdrawing one lot of its freeze-dried dog food from the market because it may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.

What’s Recalled?

The affected products were distributed in the continental USA via online retailer Chewy.com and TruDog.com through direct delivery.

The recall is limited to 400 cases and appears to include a single batch of TruDog BoostMe Mighty Meaty Beef Topper Meal Enhancer identified only as Lot #20190531 13815.

Full details here.

Then more came through on the 21st April. As in:

Dear Fellow Dog Lover,
Because you signed up on our website and asked to be notified, I’m sending you this special recall alert. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, please click the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of this message.

Important: This email alert includes 2 different recalls.

OC Raw Dog is recalling one lot of its Freeze-Dried dog treats product because it has the potential to cause botulism poisoning.

To learn which products are affected, please visit the following link:OC Raw Dog Recalls Dog Treats | April 2018

In addition…

OC Raw Dog is also recalling one lot of its raw frozen dog food due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

To learn which products are affected, please visit the following link:

OC Raw Dog Recalls Dog Food Due to Risk of Listeria

Please share the news of this alert with other pet owners.

Mike Sagman, Editor

The Dog Food Advisor

P.S. Get instant access to a list of The Dog Food Advisor’s safest and most recommended dog food brands. Click here for details.

As in:

April 20, 2018 — OC Raw Dog, LLC of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, is recalling its OC Raw Dog Freeze Dried Sardines product because it has the potential to cause botulism.

Botulism is a deadly disease caused by a toxin-producing bacterium known as Clostridium botulinum.

The toxin itself is one of the most potent poisons known and can be fatal to both pets and humans.

Further details here.

Plus:

April 20, 2018 — OC Raw Dog, LLC of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, is recalling a specific lot of its raw frozen dog food due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

Further details of this one here.

But apart from that nothing in particular really happened!!

Please share these details with as many other dog lovers as you can! Thank you!!

 

Real Learning from Dogs – for our Children!

Another wonderful guest post from Zara Lewis.

Back on March 13th, Zara published her first guest post in this place. It was called Dogs and allergies and was very well received by many if not most of you.

So what a pleasure it was to receive a further email and material from Zara last Friday.

Here it is for all you good people!

ooOOoo

How Your Family Pooch Can Teach Your Youngsters Responsibility

by Zara Lewis, March 30th 2018

It’s easy to confuse pure obedience with true responsibility, simply because the former serves as the stepping stone, while the latter is a mindset that takes years to build. We as parents make choices every day that affect how well this mindset develops in our kids, but one of the best, most seamless ways for them to succeed is by nurturing their relationship with your family doggo.

With a four-legged friend by their side, kids tend to assume the role of a leader, a friend, and a caregiver with greater ease. Although it comes with its own set of parenting challenges, teaching your kids responsibility with your little fuzzy buddy is a rewarding experience that will enrich your kids’ childhood and help you be a better parent, as well!

Building healthy habits

From regular vet check-ups, vaccines, feeding on a schedule, and taking them for walks every day, your kids will quickly realize that only a healthy dog will be a happy dog. I know that some kids will be eager to split their chocolate cake with their furry pal, but when you explain to them that such a diet can be very harmful, they will be much more careful when choosing the right dog food.
When they’re young, they won’t perceive those walks and frisbee throws as exercise, but if they start embracing this lifestyle so early, they will be much more likely to stay active throughout their adulthood, too.

Learning about boundaries
No matter how in love your youngsters may be with their pet, they often don’t understand that dogs have moods, too. That means they won’t always be in the mood to be hugged, or that dogs won’t put up with having their tail pulled all the time.

The sooner they understand to respect the needs and wants of their pets, your kids will appreciate the meaning of personal preferences even in life. They will learn how to recognize certain body language signals that they are about to cross a line and transfer that knowledge to their hooman friends as well.

 

Mastering discipline

Just like that birthday cake is almost too irresistible not to be shared with your pooch, it’s no surprise that many kids want to take their dogs everywhere and share absolutely everything with them. My own little boy wanted to share his bed with our dog, Joey, and even though this is perfectly fine from time to time, making it into a habit wasn’t the best option for either of them.

So, we got a Snooza bed for Joey and placed it in our son’s bedroom and explained that it’s best for each of them to have their own space, since they both grow very fast. Plus, once I told my son that the cleaning of his room will be much more difficult if his bed was filled with dog hair, he immediately changed his mind!

 

Handling suitable tasks

Overburdening your kids with too many difficult chores is as bad as not giving them enough opportunities to be responsible. It’s best to discern how much your youngsters can handle depending on their age. For example, toddlers can tell you if their water bowl is empty or if they caught the little rascal in the potty act.

Older kids can share the entire feeding, grooming, and walking routine with you, depending on their school responsibilities and other chores. In fact, older kids can even help you train the dog by teaching them various tricks, and playing sessions are beneficial both for your kids and the dog, as they’ll help them grow stronger, and build their bond over time.

Fostering independence

Sometimes the homework will pile up and perhaps the flu season will kick in, so you’ll feel the need to spare your kids the trouble of caring for your pet. Even though it’s perfectly fine to help them manage their chores and take over a portion until they are well enough, they shouldn’t suddenly let you take over for good.
Moreover, encourage your kids to pitch in, no matter how little, with their birthday savings or their pocket money when buying dog food, or getting new chew toys. This is yet another way of sharing and learning to become more autonomous even financially with their pets.

The cycle of learning and teaching
While we’re on the subject of sharing, some kids perceive their pooch as another toy at first, or even as a chore you’ve added to their “unwanted” list. This is especially common among very young kids, and it becomes essential for parents to help them cope with these responsibilities by gradually introducing new ones.
Talk to them, see if they would actually like to take charge of a particular activity such as feeding or walking, while you share other responsibilities with them. Explain why these actions are important for keeping your pooch happy and healthy, and they will be much more likely to take on more responsibilities over time.

Finally, don’t forget to be a true role model while your kids are still in the learning stages of caring for your family pet. They will make mistakes, but they should look up to you for better behavioral patterns, and it’s your duty to be the caregiver you’d want your kids to become for your pooch.

ooOOoo

You do know if Zara carries on like this I shall hang up my keyboard and just savour Zara’s writings!!