Category: Innovation

The Seafire Spitfire and dogs!

Ray offers us a guest post.

As can happen from time to time, I was contacted by Ray Dunthorne in England. He very kindly said that he had been following Learning from Dogs for a while and also was aware of my previous interest in flying.

So I emailed Ray saying that I would love to publish his account as a guest post and lo and behold in came the following story.

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The Story of Lulu

Ah hello again, I’ll try ever so hard not to give you my full life story, but just stuff you might find interesting and relevant, but can’t promise to get the balance right! 

Willows Activity Farm St Albans 

My adult dog journey began with Lulu, 15 years ago, but the seed was sown some 5 years earlier at a city farm. We’d gone with the then middle-born five-year-old for his birthday party. The shepherd who did herding demonstrations was over from New Zealand and had two dogs who’d just had a litter of puppies, which we were shown. We’d never heard of the New Zealand Huntaway, it was described as a combination of German Shepherd, Border Collie and Labrador, with a few other breeds thrown in for good measure. 

They’d been consistently bred in, yes, you guessed it, New Zealand for over 100 years, specifically to help move large herds of sheep or cattle over long distances. The agile New Zealand Huntaway became known for its ability to move across packed, penned herds by leaping from the back of one sheep to another. Its loud LOUD bark was also required, as if not busy barking to get cattle or sheep moving, the Huntaway would be sent after a sheep or lamb that had strayed out of sight, hold it down (I don’t know how) and BARK so the shepherd could locate the unruly pair. 

Little thought was given to the New Zealand Huntaway for a few years, when – on the other side of divorce – my then ex-wife and I decided to get a dog to raise collaboratively, to keep the disparate family united in some way. Divorce-wise, it wasn’t so amicable initially, as these things usually aren’t, but soon settled down with the three growing boys being the priority. 

Lime End Farm, Sussex

Of course we couldn’t agree on the type of dog. I’d always wanted a German Shepherd, madame a Border Collie and a Labrador was a popular choice with Stanley, Arthur and Sidney (the aforementioned three boys). I bet you can tell where this is going. Yes, I remembered the New Zealand Huntaway. In 2006, it was a lot harder to find a litter in the UK than it is now, but I did. Down on a farm in Sussex. Lulu’s mum and dad were also over from New Zealand with a shepherd, this one herding cattle at Lime End Dairy Farm. 

Lime End is in Herstmonceux, East Sussex, which is as Olde English countryside as it sounds, with a castle and an annual Medieval festival to complete the picture.

As soon as we arrived in the classic farm yard, all the puppies bumbled out to say hello, emerging three at a time from under an old caravan where they’d been sheltering from the sun. Their dad, Lord Toro was tied to a nearby barn, doing some general barking ‘he’s frightened of the puppies’ the lady told us. The nine puppies all toppled about us for a few minutes, then all rushed off to find dinner. All except one.

Eight week old Lulu came back with me, Sidney and Helen, my new girlfriend at the time, who I’d charmingly had to borrow the £300 needed to secure Lulu from. It was a four or five hour round trip for the three of us, four including Lulu. A bonding opportunity all round.

I always remember that – to add to the idyllic Sussex farm scene, as if it wasn’t enough like a scene from a film Hugh Grant drives a Mini in – just as we were leaving, an old barn door got pushed open from the inside and a litter of Border Collie puppies and their mum and dad ran out, to say hello to the remaining Huntaways and good bye to us.

Best Laid Plans

The wisdom of bringing that hard-working herding dog into two separate St Albans houses didn’t cross my mind. It probably should have, especially as my ‘house’ was a rented Maisonette, no dogs aloud. The theory was Lulu would be at the children’s house in the week, mine along with the children at the weekends. It didn’t turn out like that.

After a few months both me and my ex-wife got short contracts that meant heading off to work in an office for the day. Far from ideal, but no money at that point meant no choice. At least it was only temporary. Lulu would have been about six months old by then and absolutely should not have been left alone FOR A SECOND.

The office was just 15 minutes away (PC World, Maylands, Hemel Hempstead). I did manage to pop back at lunchtime most days and a child would pop round a few hours later after school. New Zealand Huntaways are like any puppy only more so. They need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation, or else you will pay.

A novice dog guardian then, I learned everything the hard way. Before her first birthday, Lulu had removed the floor covering in the kitchen and the lounge. She’d moved a large old cathode ray TV across the room, knocked bookshelves over and generally done over £1,000 of damage. I know it was that much because I got a bill from the landlord. I paid. 

What dogs do

I will cut to the end here. That was in the first year of Lulu’s life.

The contract I mentioned was my first proper BIG company for the digital stuff I was doing, without it I wouldn’t have been able to have the career I’ve had, which started late as I accidentally tried to be a musician for ten years. Not too successfully. That doesn’t matter though.

The 14 years has gone by and even Sidney, who was about five years old when he came with us to East Sussex to meet Lulu, has gone off to university, the older two long-since moved away, to Nottingham and London respectively, leaving me, Lulu and my Helen, that new girlfriend who’d come to Sussex with us on that early date, who moved in a year or so later and is still here. 

What Lulu did was tie us all together. Yes, she was a nightmare initially. Yes, she would run away, out of sight chasing imaginary deer, for 30 or 40 minutes at a time. Yes, she’d bark at everything, constantly herding the children when they were small, stopping them from fighting among each other as they got bigger, becoming more and more generally in control and charming with each year. Almost without us noticing. All of a sudden, she was one of us. Not a pet, not a ‘furry friend’, not even a dog really.

She could sense when someone was ill or in distress and would attend accordingly. She loved small children and even when in a fierce mood, if a small child the same size as her approached, she would sit down and raise her head waiting for a pair of tiny arms to be thrown around her. It had all just got normal for us. Pretty much every time when we were out with her, she’d do something that would further add to our respect for her understanding of what’s going on. She WAS one of us. 

Lulu loved an air show, going to several with us over the years. Here she is at Eastbourne air show, enjoying the Lancaster Bomber and a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. 

Now it’s all gone

It’s only when Lulu was finally gone I noticed everything else that’s passed too. All that time, pretty much my entire career, moving from acrimoniously divorced to getting along just fine and concentrating on giving the three boys as good a start as we could manage.  The three boys no longer the children they were when Lulu was working out her role in the family, now all long-since scarpered and working harder than I ever have. 

My career is pretty much done too. I’m finding it harder to get new contracts or jobs in digital. ‘What are you doing working in digital? I thought that was a young man’s game’ one marketing director interviewing me for a dull digital role I didn’t want tactfully said, almost ten years ago too. I won’t say where, for reasons of professional discretion (David Lloyd Leisure, Hatfield, Monday 4th March 2013)

When I was working from home and madame, who I now call Mrs Tagmaster, was coming home from London, me and Lulu would go and pick her up. I trained Lulu to sit in the middle of the station and wait for Mrs Tagmaster for as long as 10 minutes, which meant several packed commuter trains unloaded past her. I’d hide out of sight, watching to see how many pats on the head she got. Usually several.

Lulu’s Legacy is Ten Year Tags

Phew, we’re getting up to date at last. Lulu lost dog name tags like it was something she was born to do. Sometimes in a few months, sometimes in a few days. We got through dozens. I’m a bit slow on the uptake, it took me a while to work out the dog name tags on the market just might not be up to the job.

It took about a year of fact-finding, market assessment and trying to work out how to make a better dog name tag before I was ready to start planning the equipment we needed. Having wasted months liaising with companies in China to get the tags made in volume, I gave up on that idea to both keep our carbon footprint down AND have more control over any supply chain and not have to worry about any one critical supplier. 

With over 9 million dogs in the UK alone, there’s a good sized market. Research quickly revealed this ubiquitous, low price point product has largely been ignored, especially digitally. Consequently many competitors are getting away with minimal product quality and poor customer experience (I’ll come back to this).  This surprised me, as not many products pretty much anyone can manufacture are actually required by law in the UK courtesy of a stupidly out of date Dog Tag Law

I pretty much, at least subliminally, thank Lulu for every tag I press out and when it’s a busy day that started at 6 am and is only drawing to a close with a 6pm trip to the sorting office with a sack of 50 or more orders, I’m ever so grateful to Lulu, as without her showing us the flaws in all those substandard products over the years, patiently waiting until Raymond here got the hint, we probably wouldn’t be coping at all right now. Lulu is still looking after us.

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Thank you, Ray.

This is such a delightful story. So much so that I am going to post another story for Saturday. Namely, a short article, broadly written by Ray, and featuring the Spitfire.

Ray’s company Ten Year Tags is linked to Ray’s website.

Yet another dog lover!

The Dodo has a brilliant story.

There are so many kind people across the world and so many of those people are kind towards dogs.

Take this story for instance. It is about a Canadian woman who had placed dogs at the top of her care list and had been doing it for a number of years.

It was an article recently published in The Dodo and republished here.

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Woman Builds The Most Adorable Café For Her Neighborhood Dogs

“This is something they can do to bring a little joy to their day” ❤️️

By Lily Feinn

Published on 23rd April, 2021

Kaya Kristina lives right next door to High Park, one of Toronto’s most popular public gardens. Six years ago, the animal lover noticed that many of the pups in her neighborhood looked like they could use a little pick-me-up after running around outside. 

“On hot days, I noticed some of the dogs coming home from the park looked thirsty and tired,” Kristina told The Dodo. “I thought I should put out some water and a sign that said, ‘For thirsty dogs.’”

INSTAGRAM/HIGHPARKPUPS

Her act of kindness didn’t go unnoticed for long. “One day, I got a card from someone in my mailbox,” Kristina said. “It had a pic of their dog on the front and it was written from the point of view of the dog saying thank you for the water. I put the pic up on my fridge and it made me really happy.”

INSTAGRAM/HIGHPARKPUPS

For years, Kristina continued to supply local dogs with water and she continued to receive little messages in return. Then, when the pandemic struck last year, Kristina decided to up her game. She decided to leave some treats on her front lawn for all her furry neighbors to safely enjoy during lockdown.

And StarPups Coffee was born.

INSTAGRAM/HIGHPARKPUPS

“I made a bunch of mini treat bags, made a little menu so people knew what they were giving their dog and put a little stand out with options,” Kristina said. “It was so cute seeing the dogs go by and pulling their owners to my house to go get a snack.”

Kristina provides water, Milk-Bones and specialty all-natural treats made in Canada. And the parade of dogs enjoying them has provided hours of entertainment for her while being cooped up inside.

INSTAGRAM/HIGHPARKPUPS

Regular visitors began swinging by the café every day, so Kristina started an Instagram account as a way to build a little community around the watering hole.

“I thought of all the people living alone during COVID and how their mental health was suffering,” Kristina said. “I thought, ‘Most people are complaining about their husbands and kids driving them nuts being home all together. But do they think about their single friends who only have pets?’ I wanted to give those people something to look forward to and make them feel special.”

INSTAGRAM/HIGHPARKPUPS

One day, Kristina went outside and found that her entire café setup was missing. Someone had stolen StarPups overnight, and Kristina was heartbroken. She posted about it on her Instagram — and, to her surprise, the community she had fostered over the months and years stepped up to help.

“That evening, when I got home, my mailbox was full of cards, notes, photos of people’s dogs, Pet Valu gift cards and even a sweet drawing of my dog,” Kristina said. “It turned out to be a good thing, because I had felt so isolated all year with COVID, and now I felt like I had an army of friends.”

INSTAGRAM/HIGHPARKPUPS

Encouraged by the show of support, Kristina built another StarPups Coffee for the neighborhood dogs to enjoy. And Kristina is currently working on building a more permanent setup on her lawn, which will be weatherproof so that no dogs will have to walk away disappointed when it rains or snows.

Now that Ontario has entered back into lockdown, the little front yard café is doing more business than ever before. “One of the few things that’s still allowed is walking your dog,” Kristina said. “So many people are struggling mentally and physically, so this is something they can do to bring a little joy to their day.”

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This is a very beautiful story and just goes to show that Kristina rose to the occasion with returns and rewards far beyond what she may have anticipated. I have said it many times before but nonetheless will say it again: Dogs are the most delightful of animals. They form bonds with us humans that is unmatched by any other animal. Let’s just let this story above sink into our deeper selves.

More than that, they bring out the very best in people!

It’s not just us who are social

How about plants!

Yes, a deeply interesting post from The Conversation website shows how plants thrive by communicating and much more.

Now this post doesn’t have a dog within sniffing distance but I still wanted to share it with you.

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Plants thrive in a complex world by communicating, sharing resources and transforming their environments

April 14, 2021. 

By Beronda L. Montgomery

Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology & Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; Interim Assistant Vice President of Research & Innovation, Michigan State University.

As a species, humans are wired to collaborate. That’s why lockdowns and remote work have felt difficult for many of us during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For other living organisms, social distancing comes more naturally. I am a plant scientist and have spent years studying how light cues affect plants, from the very beginning of a plant’s life cycle – the germination of seeds – all the way through to leaf drop or death. In my new book, “Lessons from Plants,” I explore what we can learn from the environmental tuning of plant behaviors. 

One key takeaway is that plants have the ability to develop interdependence, but also to avoid it when being connected could be damaging. Generally, plants are constantly communicating and engaged with other organisms in their ecosystems. But when these ongoing connections threaten to cause more harm than good, plants can exhibit a form of social distancing.

The power of connection and interdependence

When conditions are good, most plants are networkers. The vast majority of plants have fungi that live on or within their roots. Together, the fungi and roots form structures known as mycorrhizae, which resemble a netlike web.

Mycorrhizae increase their host plants’ ability to absorb water and nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphate, through their roots. In return, the plants share sugars that they produce through photosynthesis with their fungal partners. Thus, the fungi and host plants are powerfully interconnected, and depend on one another to survive and thrive. 

Mycorrhizal connections can link multiple plants in a functioning network. When plants produce more sugars than they need, they can share them via this interconnected root-fungal network. By doing so, they ensure that all plants in the community have access to the energy they need to support their growth.

Put another way, these connections extend beyond a single host plant and its fungal partner. They create communitywide relationships and interdependent networks of plants and fungi. Factors in the external environment, such as the amount of light available for photosynthesis and the composition of soil around the plants, fine-tune the connections in these networks.

Mycorrhizhae also serve as communication channels. Scientists have documented that plants pass defensive chemicals, such as substances that promote resistance against insect pests, to other plants via fungal networks. These connections also allow a plant that has been attacked by aphids or other such pests to signal to neighboring plants to preemptively activate their own defense responses.

Mycorrhizhae are living communities of plant roots and fungi that benefit mutually from their relationship.

When it’s safer to keep your distance

Sharing resources or information that helps other plants ward off danger is a valuable example of the power of connectedness and interdependence in plant ecosystems. Sometimes, however, surviving requires plants to disconnect. 

When environmental cues such as light or nutrients become scarce enough that a host plant can produce enough sugars through photosynthesis to support only its own growth, staying actively interconnected in a larger community network could be dangerous. Under such conditions, the host plant would lose more from sharing limited sugar supplies than it would gain from the network in water and nutrients. 

At times like these, plants can limit mycorrhizal connections and development by restricting how many materials they exchange with their fungal partners and avoiding making new connections. This is a form of physical distancing that protects the plants’ ability to support themselves when they have limited energy supplies so they can survive for the long term. 

When conditions improve, plants can resume sharing with their fungal partners and establish additional connections and interdependence. Once again, they can benefit from sharing resources and information about the ecosystem with their extended plant and fungal communities.

Recognizing kin and collaboration

Social distancing isn’t the only trick plants use to make their way in the world. They also recognize related plants and tune their abilities to share or compete accordingly. When the plants that are interconnected by a fungal network are close genetic relatives, they share more sugars with the fungi in that network than they do when the other plants are more distantly related.

Prioritizing kin may feel highly familiar to us. Humans, like other biological organisms, often actively contribute to help our kin survive. People sometimes speak of this as working to ensure that the “family name” will live on. For plants, supporting relatives is a way to ensure they carry on their genes. 

Plants can also transform aspects of their environment to better support their growth. Sometimes essential nutrients that are present in soil are “locked up” in a form that plants can’t absorb: For example, iron can become bound up with other chemicals in forms very similar to rust. When this happens, plants can excrete compounds from their roots that essentially dissolve these nutrients into a form that the plants can readily use

Plants can transform their environments in this way either individually or collectively. Plant roots can grow in the same direction, in a collaborative process known as swarming that is similar to bee swarms or bird flocks. Such swarming of roots enables the plants to release a lot of chemicals in a particular soil region, which frees up more nutrients for the plants’ use.

Trees use fungal networks to send one another messages – and some species hijack the system to sabotage their rivals.

Better together

Behaviors like mycorrhizal symbiosis, kin recognition and collaborative environmental transformation suggest that overall, plants are better together. By staying in tune with their external environment, plants can determine when working together and fostering interdependence is better than going it alone. 

When I reflect on these tunable connections and interdependence between plants and fungi, I draw constant inspiration – especially during this pandemic year. As we make our way in a constantly changing world, plants offer all kinds of lessons for humans about independence, interdependence and supporting each other.

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I agree with Professor Montgomery. Who would have though it! Plants do indeed offer strong social lessons for us humans. Maybe that explains why trees, especially trees, have such a profound, beautiful appeal to yours truly as well as many other people.

Going to close with a photograph taken of our trees and pond here at home.

They are communicating!

No end to the insights into our dogs!

Some dogs are always jealous

The fact that some dogs get jealous from time to time is nothing new. Our own Cleo, a female GSD, is especially jealous of some of our other dogs.

Cleo as a puppy

But researchers have found dogs exhibit three human-like signatures of jealous behaviour and I want to share the details with you.

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Your Dog Gets Jealous Just Imagining You With Another Canine, Study Finds

By Mary Jo DiLonardo, April 13th, 2021

Dog owners recognize jealousy when they see it. Edoma / Getty Images

To the surprise of no dog owner anywhere, a new study finds that dogs get jealous.

You may know the feeling when you’re out on a walk and stop to pet another pooch. Your dog may bark or whine, or even come in between you and the offending canine.

New research published in the journal Psychological Science finds that dogs exhibit these types of jealous behaviors even when they only imagine their owner is interacting with another dog.1 In the case of this study, the perceived rival was an artificial dog.

In the past, some scientists have insisted jealousy is strictly a human trait and people are merely projecting emotions on their pets.1

“​I think it is natural for dog owners to project a range of human thoughts and emotions onto their pets,” lead author Amalia Bastos, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, tells Treehugger.

Bastos cites a study published in 2008 in the journal Cognition and Emotion where 81% of dog owners said their pets get jealous. But as much as pet owners love their animals, they are sometimes wrong about them, she says.2

That same study found that 74% of dog owners reported their pets feel guilty after misbehaving.2 But several studies have found that what people see as a “guilty look” is merely dogs responding to getting in trouble from their owners, whether they actually misbehaved or not.3,4

“Anecdotes from dog owners are interesting and can inspire fascinating research into dog intelligence and behavior, but it is important that this is taken only as a starting point for rigorous science before we can make such claims,” Bastos says.

She adds: “Work on dog jealousy to date is more promising than for guilt: our study shows that dogs exhibit three signatures of human jealous behavior. However, we caution that the fact that dogs display jealous behavior does not necessarily mean that they experience jealousy as we do.”

For the study, researchers set up an experiment where 18 dogs imagined their owners interacting with either a realistic-looking stuffed dog or a similarly sized fleece-covered cylinder that looked nothing like a dog. The fake dog played the role of a potential rival while the cylinder was a control.1

First, the dogs watched the stuffed dog next to their owner. Then, a barrier was placed between the dog and the stuffed animal so they could no longer see the potential rival. The dogs pulled strongly on their leashes when their owners appeared to be petting the fake dog behind the barrier. In a second experiment, the dogs pulled on the leashes with less force when the owners appeared to be petting the fleece cylinder.1

“We developed a novel methodology whereby we could directly measure the amount of force a dog used to pull on its lead,” Bastos explains. “This provided the first easily quantifiable, objective measure of how strongly dogs attempt to approach a jealousy-inducing interaction between their owner and a social rival.”

This is called the “approach response” as the dog tries to get closer to the owner and the potential rival. It’s also how babies and kids respond when they are jealous, Bastos says.

“The approach response is a straight-forward and clean measure which happens to be the single most universal reaction to jealousy-inducing situations in human infants and children,” she says. “Although infants and children show a range of behaviors when observing their mothers interact with another infant — including but not limited to attacking the rival, crying, seeking physical contact with the mother, throwing a tantrum, or screaming — almost all react primarily by approaching the jealousy-inducing interaction.”

Researchers were able to measure the actual strength of the approach response rather than relying on inconsistent behaviors like barking, whining, growling, or attempting to bite, which would vary among dogs.1

The Canine Subjects Showcased Jealousy Signatures 

The researchers found the dogs exhibited three human-like signatures of jealous behavior.1

These findings were different from earlier research because it’s the first to show dogs can mentally represent — or imagine — social interactions that they can’t directly see, Bastos says.

“We know this because when their owners appeared to pet a fake dog the dogs could not see behind an opaque barrier, they reacted with an approach response, which is a common jealous behaviour in humans. This suggests that dogs could mentally simulate what their owners must have been doing out of their direct line of sight,” she says.

It also showed that, like humans, dogs reacted more strongly when their owners interacted with a potential rival than with an inanimate object. And the reactions happened due to the interaction, and not when the owner and the rival were in the same room but not interacting.1

“Previous studies confounded jealous behavior with play, interest, or aggression because they never tested dogs’ reactions to the owner and the social rival being present in the same room but not interacting,” Bastos says.

“In our control condition, where owners petted a fleece cylinder, the fake dog was still present nearby,” she adds. “Dogs did not try to approach it as they did when they were being petted by the owner, showing that the interaction itself triggered their approach response, and therefore this is caused by jealous behaviour.”

Although this research is the first step, more research is necessary to figure out if dogs experience jealousy the same way people do.1

“There is still much work to be done to establish what dogs subjectively experience while exhibiting jealous behaviours, and this is a very difficult question to answer scientifically,” Bastos says. “We may never have an answer!”

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The researchers went to some lengths to show that the dogs were able to detect real interaction with another dog rather than a fake dog. The video is very interesting and I hope you are able to watch it.

Is there no end to the smartness of dogs!

A recent video suggests not!

I was idly browsing the BBC News online a couple of days ago and saw this small but wonderful piece.

The dogs helping endangered Tasmanian devils find a mate

A world-first trial in Australia is using detection dogs to help zookeepers identify when Tasmanian devils may be ready to breed.

If the programme is successful, it’s hoped the method could help other endangered species too.

Video by Isabelle Rodd

There is a video available but it is nearly an hour long.

Enjoy!

Well done the team at NASA.

What an outstanding feat.

Many, many congratulations!

On Feb. 18, 2021, NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover makes its final descent to the Red Planet.

A little more information:

Landed: Feb. 18, 2021, 12:55 p.m. PST (3:55 p.m. EST), (20:55 UTC)

Landing Site: Jezero Crater, Mars

Mission Duration: At least one Mars year (about 687 Earth days)

Main Job: The Perseverance rover will seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth.

As someone who watched the television non-stop in 1969 to see man’s remarkable achievement, NASA has been an organisation of considerable interest all my life.

At 10:56 p.m. EDT Armstrong is ready to plant the first human foot on another world. With more than half a billion people watching on television, he climbs down the ladder and proclaims: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.

What an achievement!

Now here’s an idea!

Using the dog’s nose to sniff out positive Covid cases!

I follow Tony and I have been across to his blog before One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100.

But on the 15th February Tony came up with a brilliant idea; read it for yourself:

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Dogs’ highly evolved noses can rapidly detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus

For some 15,000 years, dogs have been our hunting partners, workmates, helpers and companions. Could they also be our next allies in the fight against COVID-19? As a dog owner with a small poodle who could sniff out a chicken bone in the middle of a football field I was not surprised to learn this.

According to UC Santa Barbara professor emeritus Tommy Dickey and his collaborator, BioScent researcher Heather Junqueira, they can. And with a review paper published in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine they have added to a small but growing consensus that trained medical scent dogs can effectively be used for screening individuals who may be infected with the COVID-19 virus.

I would volunteer my 15-year-old poodle, Gabi, for this study.

This follows a comprehensive survey of research devoted to the use of trained scent dogs for detecting COVID. “The most striking result is that studies have already demonstrated that dogs can identify people who are COVID-19 positive,” Dickey said of their findings. “Not only that,” he added, “they can do it non-intrusively, more rapidly and with comparable or possibly better accuracy than our conventional detection tests.

Not surprisingly, the magic lies in canine sense of smell, which gives dogs the ability to detect molecules in tiny concentrations — “one part in a quadrillion compared with one part in one billion for humans,” according to the paper. Add to that other optimizations for smell, such as a large nasal area and the structure of their noses, which allows inflow through the nostrils and outflow through nasal folds. Further, with 125-300 million olfactory cells and a third of their brains devoted to interpreting odors, dogs are well equipped with the ability to sniff out the volatile organic compounds that indicate the presence of COVID.

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I must gently disagree with Tony’s opening statement. Dogs evolved from the grey wolf something like 23,000 years ago.

But what a great article and will we see the authorities take him up on the idea? I certainly hope so.

Puppies

An insight into the bringing up of young dogs out in Patagonia.

I subscribe to Treehugger. It is an online service that features Sustainability for All.

A few days ago it had an article that I just had to share with you all. It is how puppy dogs will grown up to protect pumas.

Here it is:

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Puppies in Patagonia Will Grow Up To Protect Pumas

By 

Published January 25th, 2021

Their main job is to guard livestock, but wildlife benefits too.

The puppies will grow up alongside the livestock they will one day protect. WCS Argentina

A new litter of livestock dogs was just delivered by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Argentina. Currently cuddly and very cute, the puppies will be specially trained to protect goats and sheep from predators. Not only will this help save the livestock, but these dogs will help limit conflicts between herders and the pumas and other native carnivores living around them in the Patagonian Desert.

The puppies are a mix of Great Pyrenees and Anatolian shepherd — large, working breeds trained to guard livestock. In the early weeks of the project, the puppies bond with the livestock to form protective relationships. WCS representatives work closely with herders to provide care and training for the puppies and the livestock during what’s known as this key “imprinting” period.

“During the first eight weeks of life, puppies will create a very strong bond, first with their mother and then with their social group. During the first 40 days, puppies remain with their mother, but livestock is kept in the same pen or corral with the dogs so they can smell them, see them, and progressively make physical contact with livestock,” Martín Funes, project manager of WCS Argentina, tells Treehugger.

“Progressively, during three months the bond between puppies and livestock will get stronger, and dogs will start to show a protective behavior. After this period they will recognize a certain species (we work with sheep and goats) as their social group, and that will remain for the rest of its life.”

For many years, WCS Argentina has been working with area herders to come up with new ways to stop conflicts with area predators. In the past, herders have resorted to shooting, poisoning, or trapping wildlife that have threatened their flocks.

WCS Argentina places the puppies with herders based on their location, the amount of conflict they’re having with carnivores, and their willingness to participate in the program, which includes proper care of the dogs through adulthood.

The dogs become a very powerful tool, says Funes.

“Livestock guarding dogs (LGD) stay with livestock 24/7, which is impossible for the other methods [of predator control]. They behave as part of the flock, and they will protect it against any threat,” he says.
“They tend to be very protective but they don’t have the hunting instinct of wolves or some other dog breeds (i.e., greyhounds or lebrels). However we should always consider a basic principle for reducing livestock losses by carnivores: The more methods you use, the safer your livestock will be. Combining different strategies is always an efficient approach to reduce attacks by carnivores.”

The dogs are raised alongside the sheep and goats. WCS Argentina

In the Patagonian Desert, also known as the Patagonia Steppe, livestock face threats from several wild cats including pumas, Geoffroy’s cat, pampas cat, and the threatened Andean cats. Other predators include Patagonian foxes and Andean condors.

“Even though we have been hunting, trapping, and killing carnivores, it has never been effective in reducing our losses,” said Flavio Castillo, a herder participating in the program, in a statement. “It is our hope that [the dogs] will be a very useful tool to stop predation. With the dogs, we can co-exist with carnivores and protect our production. Wildlife belongs here and we have to protect and co-exist with it.”

In addition to saving the lives of the flocks and their predators, the presence of the guardian dogs also can have a positive impact on habitat restoration.

“As attacks from carnivores diminish, producers tend to stop trapping, hunting and poisoning of wild animals, which is an outstanding benefit for the entire ecosystem,” says Funes.
“A secondary benefit, as producers perceive a reduction in annual livestock losses, is that herders might adjust livestock stocking rates density and improve soil and vegetation conditions and its performance, reducing overgrazing and desertification, a major and widespread environmental problem in arid Patagonia for the last two centuries.”

ooOOoo

This is a powerful story of the many ways that dogs may be used to help humans.

Dogs are by far the longest domesticated animal that has bonded to humans and I’m trying to receive permission to republish a wonderful article that John Zande sent me to read. It is about the Neanderthals and homo sapiens and the relationship with dogs.

Learning with Lisa!

It is amazing what can be shared these days!

But to get you in the mood, I am going to start with this video about small dog breeds for young persons.

Right, now to the essence of today’s post.

My son, Alex, recently sent me details of a new teaching programme introduced by his partner, Lisa. It is called Learning with Lisa.

It consists of 32 videos each one being published at 0700 British time (presently GMT). In other words one new video each working day; i.e. Monday to Friday.

Here is the background to this new service.

Learning with Lisa.

I am a qualified primary school teacher of 26 years now teaching a series of early phase phonics lessons designed for children in the Early Years Foundation Stage (pre-school and reception).

The first series – “Preparing for reading and writing in the Early Years” aims to give children, aged 3 to 4, the best possible start with early literacy skills by providing fun yet challenging activities 5 days a week. Some of the later sections are also suitable for children aged 4 to 5.

These videos are suitable for parents, carers and their children, trainee teachers and other early-years practitioners.

Here is the link to the YouTube channel that you will need if you want to subscribe to each new video:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGlsoYGeT6YOZAvbsOWe9YQ/featured

Preparing for reading and writing in the Early years.

The video gives an outline of the lessons included in the series and discusses the teacher’s philosophy. The video is aimed at parents, carers and early-years practitioners and gives an understanding of the processes involved in early phonics, reading and writing.

It will help viewers to navigate their way through the series so their child can participate in a fun and challenging experience. The series aims to give pre-school children the best possible start to early literacy.

Below, this is the first teaching video in the series.

If there are any readers willing to share and subscribe to Lisa’s channel please do.

Especially those that have 3-4 year old children and/or grandchildren, that would be great.

Have a think as to your friends who have young children and send them this link: Please!