This just in … a new super-cool composite from Curiosity on Mars. The panorama contains more than 1,000 images taken last Thanksgiving and assembled over the past few months … 1.8 billion new pixels of Martian landscape!
Yesterday (March 4, 2020) NASA released a panoramic image of the Martian surface captured by the Curiosity rover. It’s the highest-resolution panorama yet of the planet’s surface.
Composed of more than 1,000 images taken during the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday and carefully assembled over the ensuing months, the composite contains 1.8 billion pixels of Martian landscape. The rover’s Mast Camera, or Mastcam, used its telephoto lens to produce the panorama; meanwhile, it relied on its medium-angle lens to produce a lower-resolution, nearly 650-million-pixel panorama that includes the rover’s deck and robotic arm.
The panorama showcases Glen Torridon, a region on the side of Mount Sharp that Curiosity is exploring. They were taken between November 24 and December 1, 2019, when the mission team was out for the Thanksgiving holiday. NASA said:
Sitting still with few tasks to do while awaiting the team to return and provide its next commands, the rover had a rare chance to image its surroundings from the same vantage point several days in a row.
It required more than 6 1/2 hours over the four days for Curiosity to capture the individual shots. Mastcam operators programmed the complex task list, which included pointing the rover’s mast and making sure the images were in focus. To ensure consistent lighting, they confined imaging to between noon and 2 p.m. local Mars time each day.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.
When one stops and reflects one can’t hide the scale of progress that humans have achieved. It is incredible!
It is also a struggle to take the situation so expertly spoken about by George Monbiot in yesterday’s post and square it with the achievement covered in today’s post.
If you’ve ever given a dog a boop on the snout, you may have noticed that its rhinarium—the furless patch of skin that surrounds the nostrils—is wet and cool. A new study published in Scientific Reports has found that these chilly rhinaria make dogs sensitive to radiating heat, which in turn might help them track down warm-blooded prey.
Dog noses are chock full of nerve endings—they have more than 100 million sensory receptor sites in their nasal cavities, compared to humans’ six million—making them extraordinarily keen sniffers. It thus seemed likely, according to the study authors, that dogs’ rhinaria serve some sort of sensory function.
Low tissue temperature seems to compromise sensory sensitivity in animals with one notable exception: crotaline snakes, also known as pit vipers, which seem to strike more accurately at warm-blooded prey when their heat-sensitive pit organs—located between each eye and nostril—are colder. Cool snakes are also more sensitive to thermal radiation. Perhaps, the researchers theorized, pooches deploy their noses for heat detection, too.
To test the theory, the researchers trained three pet dogs to choose the warmer of two panels. One, according to Gizmodo’s George Dvorsky, was heated to between 51 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the ambient temperature, similar to the body temperature of a fur-covered mammal. The other, which served as the control, had a “neutral” temperature close to that of the ambient environment. After the training, the dogs were put to the test in a double-blind experiment; neither they nor the people carrying out the trial knew from the get-go which object was warmer, since nothing visually distinguished them.
Still, all three dogs were able to home in on the warmer object, suggesting that they can detect even weak thermal radiation. “[T]he temperature of the mammalian bodies that emit [thermal radiation is not very high, unlike the Sun for instance,” first study author Anna Bálint, a biologist at Lund University in Sweden, tells Gizmodo. To pick up on the heat radiating from warm-blooded prey, dogs would need “very sensitive sensors.”
The nose seemed like the most likely candidate leading the dogs in the right direction. All other parts of a dog’s body are covered in insulating fur, with the exception of the eyes, which “are not suitable for receiving infrared radiation, because the sensitive structures are hidden behind a thick layer of tissue,” study co-author Ronald Kröger, also a Lund University biologist, tells Gizmodo. But to test their theory once again, the researchers conducted functional MRI scans of the brains of 13 pet dogs. The left somatosensory cortex in dogs’ brains—which “delivers input from the nose,” according to Virginia Morell of Science—was more responsive to objects emitting weak thermal radiation than neutral objects.
The researchers don’t know precisely how dog rhinaria convert energy into a nervous signal, and it’s not clear whether pups’ heat-detecting abilities are particularly effective if their hypothetical prey is far away. The test objects were placed around five feet from the dogs; Gary Settles, a mechanical engineer at Pennsylvania State University who was not involved in the study, tells Science that he doubts “dog rhinarium can distinguish patterns of hot and cold objects at a distance.”
But for shorter distances, at least, being able to sense the heat emanating from prey could help canines hunt even if their sight, smell or hearing is obscured. That may not matter much to domestic dogs, but their closest wild relative, the grey wolf, preys on large, warm-blooded animals. “[T]he ability to detect the radiation from warm bodies would be advantageous for such predators,” the authors note in the study. And perhaps most importantly, the study offers yet another reason as to why your dog is great: Its nose knows more than you might think.
The more that we understand our favourite pooch, the more that we are in awe of them. Their noses are incredible. To be honest, it is very difficult to comprehend just what this primary sense of dogs means to a dog.
I will take the closing sentence of the article to close my own thoughts:
To be honest, it is very difficult to comprehend just what this primary sense of dogs means to a dog.
I was born towards the tail end of 1944; six months before the end of WWII in Europe.
As such I was in my early twenties when NASA came to the wider attention of millions of people with their effort to put a man on the moon. It was enthralling to look up at the night sky when a moon was present and think that in time there would be a man standing on the moon’s surface.
Now that I am 75 many things have changed. But one of them has not: Staring up at the night sky and getting lost in thought. Luckily we live in a rural location without artificial light anywhere nearby and the night skies are very clear.
All of which takes me back to my days of sailing. From 1986 until 1991 I lived on a deep-water ketch, a Tradewind 33, based in Larnaca, in Cyprus. Each Spring, I would solo across to the Turkish coast, or the Greek coast, and meet up with friends, or my son and daughter, and go coastal cruising. Then in the last year I sailed for England. I well recall seeing the night sky all around me with the stars practically down the watery horizon.
But more of that some other day. Now back to the moon.
On April 15, 1970, NASA astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise aboard Apollo 13 set a Guinness World Record for the highest absolute altitude attained by a crewed spacecraft at a distance of 248,655 miles from Earth. Nearly 50 years later, that unplanned record still stands as part of a mission beset by technical glitches and saved by engineering heroism.
“We didn’t slow down, unlike the others, when we got to the moon because we needed its gravity to get back, so we hold the altitude record,” Lowell told the Financial Times in 2011. “I never even thought about it. Records are only made to be broken.”
Gliding by the moon’s far side at an altitude of only 158 miles, the crew of Apollo 13 were, at the time, one of only a handful of humans to ever gaze upon this strange and relatively-unknown terrain of our closest neighbor. Because the moon is tidally locked, a phenomenon in which an orbiting body takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its partner, only one side ever faces the Earth.
Using imagery collected by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, NASA has recreated views observed by Apollo 13 during the crew’s harrowing 25-minute journey around the moon’s far side.
“This video showcases visualizations in 4K resolution of many of those lunar surface views, starting with earthset and sunrise, and concluding with the time Apollo 13 reestablished radio contact with Mission Control,” the agency said in a release. “Also depicted is the path of the free return trajectory around the Moon, and a continuous view of the Moon throughout that path. All views have been sped up for timing purposes — they are not shown in ‘real-time.'”
This video uses data gathered from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft to recreate some of the stunning views of the Moon that the Apollo 13 astronauts saw on their perilous journey around the farside in 1970. These visualizations, in 4K resolution, depict many different views of the lunar surface, starting with earthset and sunrise and concluding with the time Apollo 13 reestablished radio contact with Mission Control. Also depicted is the path of the free return trajectory around the Moon, and a continuous view of the Moon throughout that path. All views have been sped up for timing purposes — they are not shown in “real-time.” Credits: Data Visualization by: Ernie Wright (USRA) Video Produced & Edited by: David Ladd (USRA) Music provided by Universal Production Music: “Visions of Grandeur” – Frederick Wiedmann
According to Lowell, despite the astronauts’ extremely close proximity, the moon was not the most awe-inspiring scene outside the spacecraft window.
“The impression I got up there wasn’t what the moon looked like so close up, but what the Earth looked like,” he said.
“The lunar flights give you a correct perception of our existence. You look back at Earth from the moon and you can put your thumb up to the window and hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything you’ve ever known is behind your thumb, and that blue-and-white ball is orbiting a rather normal star, tucked away on the outer edge of a galaxy. You realize how insignificant we really all are. Everything you’ve ever known — all those arguments and wars — is right behind your thumb.”
Did you watch the video? It’s amazing and is literally the dark side of the moon!
Accidental ignition of damaged wire insulation inside the oxygen tank as it was being routinely stirred caused an explosion that vented the tank’s contents. Without oxygen, needed both for breathing and for generating electric power, the SM’s propulsion and life support systems could not operate. The CM’s systems had to be shut down to conserve its remaining resources for reentry, forcing the crew to transfer to the LM as a lifeboat. With the lunar landing canceled, mission controllers worked to bring the crew home alive.
Although the LM was designed to support two men on the lunar surface for two days, Mission Control in Houston improvised new procedures so it could support three men for four days. The crew experienced great hardship caused by limited power, a chilly and wet cabin and a shortage of potable water. There was a critical need to adapt the CM’s cartridges for the carbon dioxide removal system to work in the LM; the crew and mission controllers were successful in improvising a solution. The astronauts’ peril briefly renewed interest in the Apollo program; tens of millions watched the splashdown in the South Pacific Ocean by television.
An investigative review board found fault with preflight testing of the oxygen tank and the fact that Teflon was placed inside it. The board recommended changes, including minimizing the use of potentially combustible items inside the tank; this was done for Apollo 14. The story of Apollo 13 has been dramatized several times, most notably in the 1995 film Apollo 13.
Last Friday saw the thirtieth anniversary of Carl Sagan’s iconic photograph, or rather NASA’s photograph, of Planet Earth. Carl persuaded NASA to turn Voyager 1, as it left the Solar System, and take the photo. It became famous almost instantly and became known as the pale blue dot.
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space is a 1994 book by Carl Sagan. It is the sequel to Cosmos and was inspired by the famous 1990 Pale Blue Dot photograph, for which Sagan provides a poignant description. In this book, Sagan mixes philosophy about the human place in the universe with a description of the current knowledge about the Solar System. He also details a human vision for the future.
For the 30th anniversary of one of the most iconic views from the Voyager mission, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is publishing a new version of the image known as the “Pale Blue Dot.”
The updated image uses modern image-processing software and techniques while respecting the intent of those who planned the image. Like the original, the new color view shows Planet Earth as a single, bright blue pixel in the vastness of space. Rays of sunlight scattered within the camera optics stretch across the scene, one of which happens to have intersected dramatically with Earth.
The view was obtained on Feb. 14, 1990, just minutes before Voyager 1’s cameras were intentionally powered off to conserve power and because the probe — along with its sibling, Voyager 2 — would not make close flybys of any other objects during their lifetimes. Shutting down instruments and other systems on the two Voyager spacecraft has been a gradual and ongoing process that has helped enable their longevity.
This celebrated Voyager 1 view was part of a series of 60 images designed to produce what the mission called the “Family Portrait of the Solar System.” This sequence of camera-pointing commands returned images of six of the solar system’s planets, as well as the Sun. The Pale Blue Dot view was created using the color images Voyager took of Earth.
The popular name of this view is traced to the title of the 1994 book by Voyager imaging scientist Carl Sagan, who originated the idea of using Voyager’s cameras to image the distant Earth and played a critical role in enabling the family portrait images to be taken.
Additional information about the Pale Blue Dot image is available at:
The Voyager spacecraft were built by JPL, which continues to operate both. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena. The Voyager missions are a part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit:
Voyager 1 is now nearly 14 billion miles from Planet Earth and still going strong. It has a plutonium battery that will last for eighty years. A one-way radio signal from Earth takes about twenty hours to reach the probe.
And now for something different but still to do with space.
“Not sure who was more excited,” she captioned the video. “Glad she remembers me after a year!”
“We call her LBD, little brown dog, she’s from the Humane Society and she couldn’t be sweeter,” Koch told Insider on a phone call with reporters from the Johnson Space Centre.
“And yes, she was very excited, I was very excited, I’m not sure who was more excited! … You know it’s just a symbol of coming back to the people and places that you love, to see your favourite animal.”
It’s just six-and-a-half minutes long. Please watch it!
Then ponder on how these dogs were trained up to such a high standard!
Here’s the introduction to the video.
Hooked On Swing
World renowned dog trainer Mary Ray performs her “Hooked on Swing” routine at Crufts in 2002 with a couple of dancing dogs, Quincy and Kizzy as her dance partners. Since some of the tunes are Glenn Miller songs Mary is dressed in an authentic uniform from the World War Two era. A great performance that both Dance Fans and Dog Lovers should find entertaining.
From time to time I have an offer of a guest post. That is a person who wishes to write for Learning from Dogs. In nearly all cases I say ‘yes please’.
So it was with Adrian.
On the 15th January this year Adrian emailed me:
My name is Adrian and I am reaching out on behalf of Scott’s Police K9. I’ve followed your Learning from Dogs blog for a while now!
We write content for the family protection dog industry and love to share our expertise.
I’ll keep it short, I think I could be a valuable contributor and I would love to provide additional content to your site!
Please let me know if you are interested, I will send you a couple suggestions to choose from, which I feel would resonate with your readers’ interests. We’re also open to topic suggestions that you might want to touch upon on.
Thanks for your time and we hope to hear back from you soon.
I replied to say that I would love a guest post, and here it is!
How to Get Your New Protection Dog Adjusted to the Family
By Steve Scott
If you’re the new parent of a protection dog, congratulations! You just made one of the best purchases for you and your family’s well being. Personal protection dogs are loyal animals that will happily become one of the “pack” and put all of its training, skills, and intelligence to work in looking after your family.
Should you be on the verge of bringing home your new family member, you’ll likely be wondering how to help them adjust to life at their new home. Read on for the best tips and tricks for a smooth adjustment for your trained K9 companion.
Visits with the Family
Dogs, even intelligent ones, prefer to be familiar with their surroundings, people, and environment. When your protection dog is being raised and trained, it will be beneficial to visit and begin bonding with the dog.
Bring each member of your family, and any important people your protection dog will be in charge of protecting once you take them home. If you have another dog and the trainer or foster allows it, provide some time for your protection dog to play with your current family pet.
Getting to know your protection dog before the big day when you take them home will help them, and you adjust to the new living arrangement. They will begin to associate you with someone they enjoy being around and when it comes time for you to train with the dog and the trainer, you’ll be a step ahead.
During this time, the dog shouldn’t leave the trainer or foster parent to spend time with you. Instead, you should visit the dog in the environment and surrounding it knows best with the trainer present.
Time of Day
When the big day comes, and it’s time to bring your personal protection dog home, plan to do so early in the day. Great protection dogs are raised to protect you and they’ll want to get a good look at their surroundings.
Moving a dog at night will cause a greater sense of unease and anxiety.
Introduce them to unfamiliar territory when there is plenty of daylight and the opportunity to explore together. Show them your house, the surrounding, and if you live in a place with property, walk the land with your new pup.
This will help them get oriented with the place they have sworn to protect and settle them in right away.
Be Ready for Their Arrival
When you bring your personal protection dog home, be ready for their arrival. Have their food bowl ready and filled. Ensure they have fresh water and a comfortable place to sleep. Acquaint them with their belongings, toys, dog bed, and everything related to their personal ownership.
Be prepared to spend most of the day with your dog, getting him used to your house, property, and your family. It’s important that you don’t bring your dog home then leave shortly after.
Adjusting your dog to your home and family takes time and is a crucial part of the bonding process.
Establish a Routine
All dogs thrive on routine. Help your new protection dog get to know yours. It’s a good idea to bring your protection dog home when life is normal, and you’re not planning on going on vacation in the following week.
Give them time to adjust to your routine. Protection dogs like knowing what to expect, what type of work they’ll regularly do, and the way your “pack” functions so they can better serve you.
Will you take them with you to work? Start taking them right away and put routines in place, so your protection dog knows this will happen regularly.
Will you leave them with your spouse and child at home? Have a ritual of letting them know you’re leaving and make sure they know that their job is to take care of your loved ones.
Plan regular times of continued training, running and playing daily after work and on the weekends. This will help them smoothly fit into the regular ebb and flow of your family’s work, school, and routine schedules. Also, protection dogs love to remain active.
As you show your new protection dog around the house, yard, property, and introduce them to friends and family members they haven’t met, keep in mind that supervision is required.
They will still be getting used to their new location and the people they are supposed to protect, and introductions are best done in person with you by their side. Supervision is especially important when it comes to spending time with small children for the first several months.
Are You Ready?
Introducing your protection dog to its new home is an exciting and fun time. You alone have the opportunity to make its first impression the best one possible. How you begin life at home for your protection dog goes a long way in setting the tone for how it lives with you, your family, and your friends.
Are you ready for your protection dog to make its grand entrance?
I asked for some background and this is what was sent:
Steve Scott – After his service in the Army, Steve pursued a career in Law Enforcement, earning honors as the head trainer of his Police Department’s K9 Unit. Steve’s real-world police K9 experience is what sets Scott’s Police K9 apart from other protection dog companies. With Steve’s dog training expertise and his access to the top European kennels, our Family Protection Dogs and trained Police Dogs are second to none.
This is a fabulous piece of advice. From, I have to say, someone who jolly well knows what he is talking about!
Unfortunately, there are still some drivers out there who apparently don’t know how to treat pedestrians with the respect that they deserve.
But this little dog is doing his best to set them straight.
The other day, Beqa Tsinadze happened upon a curious scene in the town of Batumi, Georgia. There, at a clearly marked crosswalk, a group of young kids were waiting for cars to yield so they could safely cross the road.
Regrettably, though, it seems that many drivers weren’t eager to extend that courtesy without being told to.
So, that’s exactly what this dog did — taking on the role of crossing guard on the kids’ behalf. The moment was captured on video.
The thoughtful dog tackled the situation like a pro. But apparently this wasn’t just a one-time thing.
Tsinadze shared another video of the same dog stopping traffic and escorting yet another group of kids across the street.
Though it’s unclear why the pup came to adopt the role of crossing guard, it may be as a way of saying thanks.
According to Georgian media, the dog arrived to the area as a helpless stray a few years back, and has since endeared himself to members of the community who have taken it upon themselves to care for him.
The report above states that the dog goes by several names among folks in the neighborhood who know him — but there’s no doubt that you’d be safe in calling him a very good boy.
Another wonderful report.
I’m sorry, I ought to write more but I would only be waffling!
Dogs are famously good at interpreting human signals, whether communicated verbally or through gestures. But much of what we know about our furry friends’ comprehension of social cues focuses on pet dogs, which share close relationships with their owners and are trained to follow commands. Now, a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, suggests that stray dogs can also understand human gestures, indicating that this ability might be innate.
The new research took place on the streets of several regions in India, which is home to some 30 million stray dogs. Coexistence between canines and humans there is not always peaceful; people have been known to attack street dogs, and vice versa. Around 36 percent of the world’s annual rabies deaths occur in India, most of them children who came into contact with infected dogs.
To better manage the country’s street dogs, it’s essential to gain further knowledge of their behavior, Anindita Bhadra, study co-author and animal behaviorist at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata, tells Liz Langley of National Geographic. So she and her colleagues set out to discover whether strays, which have never undergone specific training, are able to understand humans in a similar way to their pet counterparts.
The researchers took to the streets equipped with two bowls; one contained chicken and the other was empty but had been rubbed with raw chicken, transferring the food’s scent. The bowls were covered with pieces of cardboard and handed to an experimenter who did not know which one contained the snack. This researcher would approach a stray dog, place the bowls on the ground and point at one of them, sometimes momentarily, sometimes repeatedly.
In total, the researchers studied 160 adult strays. Around half of them refused to get close to either bowl, perhaps because they had negative interactions with humans in the past, the researchers speculate. But of the dogs that did approach the bowls, approximately 80 percent went to the one to which the experimenter had pointed. Whether the researcher had pointed to the bowl briefly or repeatedly did not seem to matter. This response, according to the study authors, suggests that untrained stray dogs are “capable of following complex pointing cues from humans.”
Dogs share an intertwined evolutionary history with humans, with domesticated pooches emerging at least 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, though some experts have argued for an even earlier date. This close contact has prompted dogs to develop a number of skills that allow them to communicate with people, including interpreting human emotion. Still, Bhadra says, the researchers found it “quite amazing” that stray dogs without a history of close human interaction were able to “follow a gesture as abstract as momentary pointing.”
“This means that they closely observe the human, whom they are meeting for the first time, and they use their understanding of humans to make a decision,” Bhadra adds. “This shows their intelligence and adaptability.”
Because some dogs seemed anxious and were wary of approaching the researchers, it’s not clear how a dog’s personality—and past experiences—might affect its ability to interpret human signals. But this ability does not appear to be entirely dependent on training, the study authors say, which in turn should inform efforts to manage stray dogs.
“They are quite capable of understanding our body language and we need to give them their space,” Bhadra says. “A little empathy and respect for another species can reduce a lot of conflict.”
Mother Nature News had a second picture in their broadly-similar article. Indeed, I’m going to republish this article as well. For although they are of the same story they offer a slightly different account.
Even stray dogs understand human cues
A new study shows these feral canines are paying close attention.
And that longstanding connection shows up in feral dogs.
Behavioral biologist Dr. Anindita Bhadra of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata, India, revealed this by studying stray dogs in several Indian cities. In the experiment, Bhadra and her colleagues would find a solo stray dog and put two covered bowls on the ground nearby. They they’d simply point to one of the bowls; some did this just once, others did it a few times.
The researchers, who published their work in Frontiers in Psychology, recorded the dogs’ reactions. Half the dogs seemed nervous, and didn’t look at or come close to either bowl. But the other half — noted as less anxious dogs by the researchers — approached the bowls. Of those friendlier dogs, about 80% went to the bowl the researcher pointed at. As long as the dogs weren’t too scared of the people, they were easily able to interpret what the pointing meant.
“We thought it was quite amazing that the dogs could follow a gesture as abstract as momentary pointing,” Bhadra said in a news release. “This means that they closely observe the human, whom they are meeting for the first time, and they use their understanding of humans to make a decision. This shows their intelligence and adaptability.”
In another study, three out of 13 untrained 8-week-old wolf puppies spontaneously retrieved a ball for a person who threw it, as MNN’s Mary Jo DiLonardo explains. It was a small study, and a low percentage of retrieving puppies, but it was an unexpected result as these weren’t domesticated dogs. “It was so unexpected, and I immediately knew that this meant that if variation in human-directed play behavior exists in wolves, this behavior could have been a potential target for early selective pressures exerted during dog domestication,” Christina Hansen Wheat, a biologist at Stockholm University, said.
Her observations show that playing with people may be a very old trait for wolves, that could reflect how our human ancestors first got to know them. This playful behavior may have sparked humans’ interest in domestication. If a dog could fetch a stick or other thrown object, they could be quite useful to hunting humans.
But long before that happened, dogs served an important purpose — assisting people in locating and retrieving prey, and serving as eyes and ears for an intruder. Simple tasks like showing they can follow directions or fetch an object may have moved prehistoric dogs from outside the fire circle to within it, which is why understanding these behaviors are so important.
If we go back into the mists of time then prehistoric wolves (or dogs) learnt to bond with early humans because it served both their interests to so do. Humans became much more adept at hunting and wolves obviously became the benefactors of food!
Now dogs are so well bonded to human gestures that even non-domesticated dogs understand the signals that we humans put out. I say ‘non-domesticated’ but in a real sense all dogs are domesticated. It would be more accurate to say that these are dogs who do not have a home with humans.
A woman who cares for sick and disabled pooches from around the world has been dubbed a “miracle worker” after getting many of them back on their feet again.
Claire-Louise Nixon, 48, is a dog lover and shares her modest home with 27 canines that no one else wants.
Many of them are street dogs that have been abused or have lost limbs from mines and explosives in former war zones. But regardless of what conditions the dogs arrive in, Claire is determined to get them walking again through intense physio sessions and walks on wheels.
Her motley crew of dogs all live in her four-bedroom, semi-detached house in Milton Keynes with her husband, Gary, 50 and daughter, Rhia-Louise, 22. While Claire’s initial plan is usually to find forever homes for the dogs, quite often, their needs are too complex, with some even having to wear nappies.
She said: “When I get these dogs who are in such a bad way, the vet would say: ‘Claire, you won’t get them walking again.’
“But now they say nothing is impossible! They say we work miracles with them!
“I think all they need is love, kindness and patience. When they walk into my house they see other dogs like them so they don’t feel any different that’s why I think they do so well here.
“If you give them a reason to walk again then they will.”
Claire, who looks after the brood of canines—seven of which are paralyzed—says it’s a full-time job and takes her from 6 a.m. until midnight. Feeding them alone is a mammoth chore involving 15 kilograms (approx. 33 pounds) of biscuits and a complete crate of dog food every single day.
Eight of the dogs have to wear nappies, with little bodysuits to keep them in place, and they all need daily baths to keep them clean and infection-free. There’s a lot of cleaning up involved, and Claire is constantly trying to keep on top of the housework.
Claire’s passion to care for sick dogs all started 12 years ago when a puppy named Thomas Cook, who was only a few days old, was brought to the vets to be put down. The puppy had a hair lip and cleft palate, which prevented him from suckling milk and feeding, but Claire was determined to save him.
Claire painstakingly hand-reared Thomas Cook by feeding him a bottle every few hours, and from there, it escalated to having 27 disabled and sick dogs.
She said: “It went into having paralyzed dogs and dogs that had their legs blown off in Bosnia and dogs that had been shot and still had bullets inside them.”
All of Claire’s dogs are named after celebrities that she feels describe their personalities.
Sir Elton John, who Nixon named because of the song “I’m still standing,” was rescued from Romania after he was run over and left on the road to die. This left him with a broken spine. However, with Claire’s help, he can now go on small walks.
Sherlock Holmes, who was rightly named for his intelligence and curiosity, was a street dog in Oman who was shot by a security guard.
The other dogs to name a few are Patrick Swayze, who twitches all the time and was previously paralyzed, Freddie Mercury, who wanted to “break free,” and David Bowie, who was “under pressure.”
Claire said: “They’re part of the family. The dogs have a free run of the house.
“They sit where they want and they sleep wherever they happen to fall asleep—often on our beds.
“The dogs arrive with the most horrible past we give them love and [a] wonderful future. They come from all over the world but with me they are home forever.”
She further added: “I’m really lucky in that all the neighbors have dogs themselves so we don’t get complaints. And although 27 dogs sounds a lot, they are really quite well behaved.”
Claire raises funds through her organization, Wheels to Paws UK, to provide them with medical treatment, rehabilitation, and the equipment they need to walk again. Vets bills can be a huge drain on resources, but local vets are sympathetic to her cause and often offer a discount.
For long walks, the dogs are put in specially made harnesses with wheels to act as false legs so they can enjoy going out for walks. Meanwhile, those that can’t walk are put in buggies.
Other dogs are regularly taken for doggy hydrotherapy, while all those that can walk are taken out for exercise in rotation.
Claire said: “The dog rescue charities abroad all know of me. So if they get a badly injured or disabled dog in need of specialist care they will pay to transport them to me in the UK. I can never say no.”
She further added: “It is tremendous hard work but I can’t tell you how rewarding it is. The love these dogs give back is amazing. I would not be without any single one of them.”
There are some people around who do so much more than can be expected and Claire is very much one of those people.
To be impressed with her is only just the half of it.
Thank you Margaret for bringing this wonderful story to all our attentions.