Category: Musings

Musings from a 77 year old!

Where did it all go? That is: Life! Or more accurately my life.

I was born in Acton, London before the end of WWII. I am in my 77th year. Life these days seems to be more or less a paradox.

There are so many challenges at the moment. Not just in the USA nor in the UK but globally. We love where we live here in rural Merlin but we are already in the third year of below normal rainfall.

A view of the sunrise from taken from our property.

The contradictions in terms of our life locally and the global scene are huge. This is all leading to me quoting extracts from a recent George Monbiot article. The article starts by saying: “On both sides of the Atlantic, powerful interests seem determined to trigger the collapse of life on Earth. Why?

Sexton Mountain last winter. Again photo taken from our property.

A little later on in Geo. Monbiot’s article, he writes: “When I began work as an environmental journalist in 1985, I knew I would struggle against people with a financial interest in destructive practices. But I never imagined that we would one day confront what appears to be an ideological commitment to destroying life on Earth. The UK government and the US supreme court look as if they are willing the destruction of our life support systems.

Because it does seem as though the political leaders are not taking the future of the planet seriously. As Patrice Ayme concluded recently in a remark to that post: “Biden ought to declare a climate emergency.” But it won’t happen!

(Well I may stand corrected. Yesterday it was widely reported, and I chose Renewable Energy: “The clean energy industry celebrated a moment on August 7 that would have seemed impossible just a few weeks earlier: The Senate passed a budget measure that includes the largest investments in clean energy and climate change in U.S. history.“)

Every morning when I go down to feed our two ex-rescue horses I also feed the wild deer. I have been doing it for many years. Long enough that a young buck has turned into an adult and comes within a few feet of me.

It never ceases to delight.

The contradiction between me going every morning down to the stable area and feeding the horses and the wild deer, and the outcome for the planet is beyond words. In a very real way it is incomprehensible.

Again, Geo. Monbiot writes: “All this might seem incomprehensible. Why would anyone want to trash the living world? Surely even billionaires want a habitable and beautiful planet? Don’t they like snorkelling on coral reefs, salmon fishing in pristine rivers, skiing on snowy mountains? We suffer from a deep incomprehension of why such people act as they do. We fail to distinguish preferences from interests, and interests from power. It is hard for those of us who have no desire for power over others to understand people who do. So we are baffled by the decisions they make, and attribute them to other, improbable causes. Because we do not understand them, we are the more easily manipulated.”

Under our apple tree!

It really is a paradox! And who knows the outcome. All I can say is that, despite me being the age I am, I would not want to be any younger and aware that soon one would be facing the global changes full on.

Stacked cumulus clouds to the North-East.

More words from Geo. Monbiot: “Since 1985, I’ve been told we don’t have time to change the system: we should concentrate only on single issues. But we’ve never had time not to change the system. In fact, because of the way in which social attitudes can suddenly tip, system change can happen much faster than incrementalism. Until we change our political systems, making it impossible for the rich to buy the decisions they want, we will lose not only individual cases. We will lose everything.”

I have no idea of the global changes that are afoot and how they will affect us in Merlin. Indeed, I have no idea how long I have to live.

Jean and I met in December, 2007. We met in Mexico but Jean was also born in London, just a few years after me. How’s that for chance!

Jean’s American husband had died in 2005. She was rescuing dogs off the streets, sorting them out, and finding homes for them, mainly in Arizona.

Jean and me in San Carlos, Mexico.

I went out to Mexico with Pharaoh in 2008. With a one-way ticket!

Pharaoh digging in the sand in Mexico.

However of one thing I am sure. Since that meeting in December, 2007 life has been as good as it comes. I have never been happier.

What a contradiction!

This is one quick-thinking man!

He saves the life of a dog.

This is a story from Peru. But world-wide our fondness and love for dogs is beyond measure.

ooOOoo

Quick-Thinking Man Saves Life Of Dog Falling From Building

“She didn’t stop wagging her tail out of happiness.”

By Stephen Messenger

Published on the 7th July, 2022

The other day, after a two-week-long stint working in the field, John Alexander Palomino Bendives was looking forward to finally relaxing in the apartment he shares with his mother and four dogs in Peru.

But, before he could even get inside the building, Bendives was called into action once more — to save the life of his beloved dog Mina.

When Bendives, along with his girlfriend, got to the front of his apartment building, their arrival didn’t go unnoticed. High above, in his family’s fourth-story rooftop apartment, Mina and the other pups were peering down over the railing, excited to see him home.

Bendives would be up to greet them in a few seconds. But that was apparently just a bit too long to wait for Mina.

Having either lost her balance and slipped or misjudged the distance and leapt, Mina began falling to the street below. Thankfully, quick-thinking Bendives took notice — and was able to catch her in his arms.

Bendives was able to save Mina from what may have been certain death — to his great relief. And to hers.

“She was OK, unharmed,” Bendives told The Dodo. “Mina was happy and grateful. She didn’t stop wagging her tail out of happiness.”

All his pups were thrilled that Bendives was finally home. Mina, clearly, just a bit too much so.

Bendives said this scary incident has the family planning to make some changes: “We are looking at putting up a mesh [barrier] on the roof so that they can continue to sit up there, but without the risk of falling again.”

Now that the unthinkable happened — and disaster narrowly avoided — it’s the least they could do.

“I love my pets very much,” Bendives said. “They always receive me with a lot of love and emotion. The time I spend at home, I try to spend as much time as possible with them.”

ooOOoo

(Both photographs by John Bendives.)

Another wonderful story of a life-saving act on behalf of Bendives and his saving of his dog, Mina. Four stories high is no laughing matter and Snr. Bendives certainly saved Mina from serious injury and probably death.

Literally hundreds of times every day, with the vast majority of the stories unreported, we humans save the lives of dogs!

Just wonderful!

Another happy dog!

Dogs are so perfect in their expressions!

Dogs are not always happy as we know with the loss of our Sheena. Because the other dogs felt the loss inexplicably. But in the main they are happy, happy animals. Unlike us humans who have lots of things to contend with. I say this because in the last twenty-four hours we have had the sudden explosion of fire down in Northern California, the McKinney blaze, which has grown very rapidly.

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency over the fire, which began on Friday afternoon before rapidly exploding in size due to a combination of dry fuel after a drought, strong winds and lightning strikes.

Around 650 firefighters are battling to contain the fire, officials say, but with little success. Sheriffs said on Sunday evening that it was “0% contained”.

As a result, more than 2,000 inhabitants of the area around the Klamath National Forest are being forced to evacuate their homes. Rescue teams have been aiding hikers who had been on the national park’s trails.

The China 2 fire, that is part of the group of California fires, is about 55 miles due south of home. Far enough not to panic but not far enough not to get us to check our evacuation preparations.

We hope that we are not evacuated in the next few weeks because of fire!

Here is a delightful dog article courtesy of The Dodo.

ooOOoo

Dog Dances In The Rain After 175 Days Stuck In Shelter 

“The absolute joy in his eyes and the feeling of freedom was wonderful to watch.”

By Maeve Dunigan

Published on the 1st July, 2022

When staff members from Forgotten Dogs Rescue pulled Rambo from a shelter and placed him with a foster family, they had no idea how much the pittie mix would love the feeling of freedom.

It was raining outside, but that wasn’t going to stop him. After 175 days, Rambo was finally out of the shelter, and he was so happy that he started running and dancing in the rain.

“I cried happy tears when his foster mom sent me the video,” Julie Saraceno, a shelter volunteer, told The Dodo. “That was his second day in his foster home, and the absolute joy in his eyes and the feeling of freedom was wonderful to watch.”

When Rambo went from a small concrete kennel to a large grass-covered yard, he couldn’t believe his eyes.

The young dog with beautiful, big eyes has an exuberance that shows. He loves other dogs and cats, and while he’s certainly high energy, he’s also always willing to snuggle on the couch.

“He is the sweetest guy to the people he considers his crew,” Saraceno said.

Rambo, who was originally found roaming the streets of Kennewick, Washington, as a stray, is working every day to become more confident and less fearful. Through his work with a trainer, he has learned obedience, how to meet strangers and lots of other skills that have made him a good boy.

Once Rambo finishes his training, he’ll be ready to meet potential fits for his forever home, ideally one where there’s space for him to exercise all his energy.

Pretty soon, Rambo won’t have to jump at every opportunity to get outside. He’ll have a yard — and a family — all his own.

ooOOoo

(The first photograph was taken by Julie Saraceno and the last two were taken by Billie Wensveen.)

Six months in a shelter! That must have been a real joy for Rambo when he was let out. Correction: It was a real joy because that was how Rambo expressed himself.

As I called this post: Another Happy Dog.

Then we were four!

Or what a difference a day makes.

There I was celebrating Donald’s exquisite photograph, published on Friday, and today we are bemoaning the loss of Sheena. As in:

Sheena has a one-way journey to Lincoln Road vet.

Jean had been putting it off because she knew the likelihood of the outcome. But yesterday with Sheena heavily breathing, but not in pain, Jean decided it was time to take our girl to Lincoln Road Vet.

Later in the morning Dr. Carolyn called us; Sheena was not at all well, she had fluid inside her, she had a growth in her lungs, and more. Jean decided while Sheena was not in pain it was best to have her put down. Dr. Carolyn said that if Sheena was her dog then that is what she would do. Simply because when Sheena goes downhill she will deteriorate very quickly.

Here are the photos I presented when we took her in back in June, 2020.

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

All things comes to pass but that doesn’t stop the deep sadness that is felt in the Handover household!

As I said at the outset, what a difference a day makes!

Keeping your dog safe and happy.

Without breaking the bank!

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

ooOOoo

Image: Pexels

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

By Penny Martin.

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

1. Add a Fence

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

2. Add a Backyard Pool

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

3. Create Shady Spots

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

4. Remove Dead Trees and Branches

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

5. Buy Trash Cans With Lids

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

6. Remove Dangerous Plants

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

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

ooOOoo

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

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

A pool party with a difference

Dogs are such fun!

Over at The Dodo is an item that I want to share with you. And my apologies for keeping my own comments really short; it is a hectic couple of hours here.

ooOOoo

Random Dog Crashes Pool Party And Everyone Is Overjoyed 

“He floated around the pool, got pets and kisses, went swimming and had a great time!”

By Caitlin Jill Anders

Published on the 24th June, 2022

A bunch of friends were having a pool party when they noticed two dogs hanging around outside the fence on the edge of the yard. The dogs seemed like they wanted to come in, so a bunch of partygoers went over to investigate. One of the dogs had a tag, so they decided to let the dogs into the yard to hang out until they could track down their owners.

The dogs ran into the yard, and while one of them was a little shy, the other immediately decided he was joining the party.

“At that point, some of us were on the deck, some in the pool, and some out in the yard,” Jennifer Motes, one of the partygoers, told The Dodo. “The golden was down to party right away and immediately started running around, wagging its tail, going up to everyone and getting pets. The shepherd was much more timid, kinda stayed in the yard for a bit, but then when she saw her friend up on the deck with us, she eventually came up there too.”

The golden retriever, who they later found out is named Stoker, clearly knew how to have a good time. He didn’t hesitate to join the fun and ran around playing fetch, begging for food, stealing shoes and eventually even hopping into the pool with everyone.

“Some of the people in the pool had slid the innertube raft over to the edge and Stoker climbed right on,” Motes said. “He floated around the pool, got pets and kisses, went swimming and had a great time! The shepherd never was brave enough to go in the pool, she just walked around and watched us, let some of us pet her and she chased after Stoker.”

As the dogs partied, someone was able to get in touch with Stoker’s dad, who said the other dog belonged to his neighbor and that she and Stoker were best friends who played together all the time. Apparently, the pair had run off together in search of a party, and they’d certainly succeeded in that endeavor.

The dogs were there for a few hours before they got picked up — and the party hosts made sure to emphasize that they’re absolutely welcome to come back anytime they want.

The only thing that can make a pool party even better is dogs, and Stoker and his best friend were more than happy to make that dream come true.

ooOOoo

(All pictures are by Jennifer Motes.)

A wag of the tail!

A fascinating post from The Dodo.

One cannot imagine a dog without a tail. One can’t imagine a dog’s tail that doesn’t wag for much of the time. So why do our dogs wag their tails? Sam Schwab answers the question.

ooOOoo

Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails?

It’s not always what you think 🧐

By Sam Schwab

Published 10th September, 2021

When coming home after being away all day, it can be super sweet to be greeted at the door by your dog wagging her tail.

Dogs use their tails to communicate a range of emotions to humans and other dogs, including both positive emotions, like happiness or excitement, and negative ones, like frustration or anger.

In general terms, dogs wag their tails because their level of excitement or agitation has gone up,” Irith Bloom, a professional certified dog trainer and owner of The Sophisticated Dog in Los Angeles, told The Dodo. “So a wagging tail could mean the dog is excited, frustrated, angry or happy, for example — and that’s just a partial list!”

The Dodo spoke with Bloom to understand the meaning of your dog’s tail wagging and to get some tips for interpreting your dog’s tail language.

She’s happy

Dogs will wag their tails when they’re happy to see someone — which is usually what most people assume a dog is feeling when they wag their tail (though, this isn’t always the case).

To know if your dog is happy when she’s wagging her tail, pay close attention to the position of your dog’s tail and her body language.

If your dog’s whole body seems relaxed in general while wagging her tail, she’s most likely communicating happiness. “If the dog’s tail is wagging in a loose, relaxed arc, and the dog’s body is also loose or even wiggly, odds are the dog is happy to see you,” Bloom said.

A quick wag, or a tail wagging in circles really fast, can also mean your dog’s happy. “Sometimes dogs wag their tails really fast in these situations, too, and their tail may even move a little like a propeller,” Bloom said.

You should also consider context: If you’re returning home after being out, or your dog sees someone she likes, the tail wagging is most likely due to happiness.

In one study, researchers found that dogs who wagged their tails more to the right side of their bodies were more relaxed, while dogs who wagged their tails to the left side of their bodies were more stressed, alert and anxious. (So, next time your dog wags her tail, check to see if it skews to either side!)

She’s excited

You might also see dogs wagging their tails when they’re really excited.

“Among other things, dogs may wag their tails when they are looking forward to something,” Bloom said.

You’ll commonly see your dog wagging her tail out of excitement when she’s waiting for a treat, meeting new dogs or playing fetch.

When your dog’s excited, her whole body will pretty much zero in on the object of her excitement, but her body language won’t be too tense.

“If a dog’s tail is moving fast, the rest of the body is ready for action but not ‘tight,’ and the dog is focused on something like a ball, they are probably looking forward to playing,” Bloom said.

She’s agitated

A wagging tail doesn’t always mean a dog is happy — sometimes it means she’s feeling agitated.

“A lot of people are surprised to learn that dogs sometimes also wag their tails when they are upset or angry,” Bloom said.

If a dog’s tail starts wagging out of anger, she could easily become aggressive, so it’s important to back away from the pup or leave the situation if that happens.

“I cannot tell you how many people have told me they were bitten by a dog whose tail was wagging!” Bloom said. “It’s important to remember that a wagging tail does not mean a friendly dog.”

You’ll be able to tell if a dog is wagging her tail out of anger if her tail and overall body language are very tense.

“If the dog’s tail is wagging slowly and stiffly, though, look to see if the dog’s muscles look tight or if their face seems tense,” Bloom said. “You might notice that their mouth is tightly closed or their brow is furrowed.”

An aggressive dog might also be more vocal. “They might also be growling or snarling,” Bloom said.

“Any of these behaviors, even when the tail is wagging, mean that the tail wag is more about being agitated or angry than happy and welcoming, so be sure to keep your distance!” Bloom added.

Be careful when meeting a new dog for the first time

Paying attention to a dog’s body language (as well as the context of the situation) can give you valuable insight into how a dog is feeling — and if the tail wagging means aggression.

“To figure out what a tail wag means, look at the whole dog’s body, but keep in mind that not every dog’s body language will be the same,” Bloom said.

You should have a good idea of what your own dog looks like when she’s happy, but since it can be difficult to tell the emotions of an unfamiliar dog, you should always be very careful when meeting a new dog for the first time.

According to Bloom, in these situations, you should let the dog approach you first and not vice versa.

“It bears repeating: A wagging tail does NOT mean a friendly dog,” Bloom said. “Sometimes it’s hard for even an expert to tell what a dog’s body language is saying, so it’s a good idea to let dogs decide whether or not they want to approach you instead of invading their space.”

Why do dogs have tails, anyway?

In addition to using their tails to communicate with people and dogs around them, dogs use their tails for movement and balance.

“Dogs use their tails for balance,” Bloom said. “They do this both in everyday activities and when moving fast, like during a game of fetch.”

Tails can also assist your dog in completing a turn while she runs: Her front legs turn in one direction, while her back legs continue moving forward, and her tail moves with the front legs to keep her body on course.

“Watch your dog’s tail movement when they make a fast turn to see an example of how the dog’s tail helps keep the dog’s body in balance!” Bloom said.

Dog tails are super important for your pup and play a huge role in how they communicate. So next time you see your dog’s tail wagging, you’ll know that there might be more going on than meets the eye, and you should always check your dog’s body language to get the full picture.

ooOOoo

I think that is a comprehensive review of the subject and, hopefully, some out there learnt some more about dogs’ tails.

For people who want to delve more deeply into the subject there’s an excellent study over on Current Biology, from which I take this small extract:

Left-right asymmetries in behavior associated with asymmetries in the brain are widespread in the animal kingdom and the hypothesis has been put forward that they may be linked to animals’ social behavior. Dogs show asymmetric tail-wagging responses to different emotive stimuli the outcome of different activation of left and right brain structures controlling tail movements to the right and left side of the body. 

We can never stop learning!

Finally, enjoy this:

How to balance your working life with your dog.

Yet another great guest post from Penny Martin.

Penny writes about starting your own business but in my experience any person who is devoted to their job, be it self-employed or not, should read what Penny has to say.

(Apologies for forgetting a post last Tuesday)

ooOOoo

Five Recommendations for Balancing Time With a New Pet While Starting a Business

Whether your new pet purrs, barks, neighs, squawks or something in between, welcoming a new animal into your home brings a little more love into your life. However, extra chores come hand-in-hand with a new pet. Add in the fact that you are starting a business and all the to-do lists can feel daunting. To ensure you have time to grow your company and bond with your pet, follow these five tips.

1. Stock Up on Supplies

Time is extremely valuable when getting a company off the ground; the last thing you want chipping away at your precious time is numerous trips to the stores for your animal. To prevent this, set aside time each week to make a list of the food, toys, treats, bedding, and any other items your pet requires.

Note which stores you need to visit for all the supplies. Take a few hours to go to each shop to make sure your pet has everything he or she needs for the week. 

2. Revamp Your Space

Starting a company comes with lots of stress; turning your home into a fresh and vibrant space helps relieve this tension. A clean home makes it easier to be effective at work and relax during off-hours. Plus, revamping your rooms gives you the opportunity to create a special space for your animal to feel safe and cozy.

Create a productive and positive atmosphere by cleaning and decluttering your house. Open windows to let in fresh air and sunlight. According to one study, nearly every participant felt less anxiety and depression and had better focus when exposed to sunlight. So scrub those windows and let in some light!

3. Remove Distractions

During your room makeovers, remove as many distractions from your office space as possible. TVs, video games, social media, and music can all be distracting when trying to work and waste valuable time that could be spent bonding with your new pet.

Do not put a TV or game console in the office. If you like background noise but find it tends to interrupt your workflow, put on a calming playlist, such as instrumental songs or sounds of nature.

While you probably need your phone during office hours, do your best to resist games and social media during this time. Update your phone’s layout so the tempting apps are not visible, or download an app, such as Forest, that encourages you to focus during work hours. 

4. Save Time With Invoicing Software

Invoicing software can be a lifesaver for busy small business owners. Rather than spending hours creating invoices by hand, by choosing invoicing software, you can simply enter your customers’ information into the software and let it do the rest. The software will generate professional-looking invoices that you can send to your customers electronically. Not only does this save you time, but it also allows you to get paid faster. In addition, most invoicing software comes with built-in accounting features that make it easy to track your expenses and keep tabs on your profitability. If you’re not using invoicing software, you’re needlessly wasting valuable time that could be better spent growing your business and spending more time with your new pet.

5. Schedule Time for Important Tasks

Having important tasks scheduled in your planner makes certain you have time to get them done. Perhaps your fuzzy, furry, or fluffy friend needs weekly grooming. Instead of doing it “when you have time,” schedule a specific period during the week to wash and clean your pet.

When it comes to your company and your pet, you do not have to choose one over the other. Make time for both by grabbing all the supplies you need, refreshing your home, removing distractions, utilizing invoicing software, and making time for crucial tasks. 

Image via Pexels

ooOOoo

This is good advice from Penny and I would applaud her.

If I was to pick out one piece of advice above all others it has to be the one about scheduling, or planning as I prefer to call it. When you are really busy the only way to stay on top of everything, and that includes time with your dog, is to plan.

Finally, I asked Penny to tell me a little more about herself. This is what she said:“Penny Martin is an advocate for rescue dogs. Her goal is to inform people of what to expect and how to react to their dog so that the relationship always retains love. She created fureverfriend.info to help new owners prepare themselves for new furry friends

Splendid!

The critical value of a dog.

I am republishing an item from the American Kennel Club on the subject.

Oliver has a very special relationship with me. Plus Jean loves him just as much. That is not to say that he isn’t very friendly with other humans that he knows but there’s something that I have trouble putting into words when it comes to the bond between me and Oliver.

It is very, very special and truly magical.

I am reminded of this bond between Oliver and me because of a post that I want to republish.

It is about emotional support animals and was published by the American Kennel Club. Here is that article.

ooOOoo

Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

By Stephanie Gibeault, MSc, CPDT

February 24th, 2021

Key Points

  • Emotional support dogs (ESAs) are pets and not service dogs.
  • Mental health professionals prescribe emotional support animals under the law.
  • Airlines are no longer required to accommodate emotional support animals.

Every dog owner knows there are many benefits to having a dog, from getting themselves out for exercise to receiving loyal companionship. However, for some people with mental or emotional conditions, the presence of a dog is critical to their ability to function normally on a daily basis. The pet provides emotional support and comfort that helps them deal with challenges that might otherwise compromise their quality of life. These pets are known as emotional support animals (ESAs).

What Is an Emotional Support Dog?

Although all dogs offer an emotional connection with their owner, to legally be considered an emotional support dog, also called an emotional support animal (ESA), the pet needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disabling mental illness. A therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist must determine that the presence of the animal is needed for the mental health of the patient. For example, owning a pet might ease a person’s anxiety or give them a focus in life. The dogs can be of any age and any breed.

Emotional Support Dog vs. Service Dogs

ESAs provide support through companionship and can help ease anxiety, depression, and certain phobias. However, they are not service dogs, and ESA users do not receive the same accommodations as service dog users.

A service dog, such as a guide dog or psychiatric service dog, is generally allowed anywhere the public is allowed; ESAs are not. For example, ESAs generally cannot accompany their owners into restaurants or shopping malls.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” The act clearly states that animals that simply provide emotional comfort do not qualify as service animals. Some state and local laws have a broader definition, so be sure to check with local government agencies to learn if ESAs qualify for public access in your area.

The key difference between a service dog and an emotional support dog is whether the animal has been trained to perform a specific task or job directly related to the person’s disability. For example, service dogs are trained to alert a hearing-impaired person to an alarm or guide a visually impaired person around an obstacle or provide pressure on someone with PTSD who is suffering from a panic attack.

Behaviors such as cuddling on cue, although comforting, do not qualify. The tasks need to be specifically trained to mitigate a particular disability, not something instinctive the dog would do anyway.

Emotional Support Dogs Are Not Psychiatric Service Dogs

There are service dogs, known as psychiatric service dogs that require extensive training to work specifically with people whose disability is due to mental illness. These dogs detect the beginning of psychiatric episodes and help ease their effects. Although this sounds similar to the role of an ESA, the difference between a psychiatric service dog and an ESA is again in the tasks performed by the dog and the training received to perform these tasks.

Psychiatric service dogs (recognized by the ADA as service dogs) have been trained to do certain jobs that help the handler cope with a mental illness. For example, the dog might remind a person to take prescribed medications, keep a disoriented person in a dissociative episode from wandering into a hazardous situation such as traffic or perform room searches for a person with post-traumatic stress disorder. If it is simply the dog’s presence that helps the person cope, then the dog does not qualify as a psychiatric service dog.

Housing Accommodations for Individuals Who Use Emotional Support Dogs

Individuals who use ESAs are provided certain accommodations under federal law in the areas of housing and air travel. The Fair Housing Act includes ESAs in its definition of assistance animals. Under the act, people cannot be discriminated against due to a disability when obtaining housing. Rules such as pet bans or restrictions are waived for people who have a prescription for an ESA, and they cannot be charged a pet deposit for having their ESA live with them.

Are Emotional Support Dogs Allowed on Flights?

In December 2020, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) announced final revisions to its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The final rule, effective in January 2021, defines a service animal as a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.  This change in the DOT’s definition of “service animal”  aligns closely with the definition that the Department of Justice uses under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The changes also clarify that emotional support animals (ESAs), comfort animals, companionship animals, animals being trained to be service animals, and species other than dogs are not considered to be “service animals” under the new DOT definition. Instead, airlines may recognize and accommodate emotional support animals as pets. For most airlines, the new no-fly policy for ESAs started on January 11. Some airlines now require passengers with service dogs to complete a DOT-authorized form prior to travel that confirms their training, health, and certification.

In the past, the AKC has expressed concern for safety with the previous recognition of ESAs as service animals, including the growing number of people misrepresenting their pets as service animals.

Emotional support dogs can perform an important role in the life of a person with mental or emotional conditions. When people who do not have a disability abuse the system by misrepresenting a pet as an ESA to obtain special accommodation, they undermine important accommodations for individuals with a legitimate need for this assistance.

ooOOoo

This is a valuable article in my opinion and, I am sure, in the opinion of many others. It clarifies the legal position of dogs that are not, however loving the animal is to you, legally-defined as service dogs.

It may seem trivial for those not in the category of requiring a dog that is a service dog but I am certain that for those who definitely do require such an animal this clarification was necessary.

Meantime I will stick with our Oliver, our Brandy, our Sheena, our Cleo, and our Pedi.

And we still miss Pharaoh.

Just being a dog!

Downsizing one’s life with a pet.

Another very useful post from Penny Martin.

So today is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere; here we are halfway through 2022! But somethings are constant and, hopefully, will never change.

That’s what I feel towards the group of people that write posts for me. Included in that special set is Penny Martin. Here is her latest about how to go to a smaller home when you have a pet. (We listened to the BBC’s You and Yours yesterday morning about rental housing. This article from Penny could be highly relevant.)

ooOOoo

How to Downsize the Stress-Free Way With a Pet

By Penny Martin

June 15th, 2022

If you’re tired of your current home and you need to move for work or personal reasons, or you just want a change of scenery, downsizing might be a good choice. Downsizing can be a great way to save money, especially if you don’t need all of the space you’re using. However, downsizing when you have a pet can become complicated because your pet needs ample space to live comfortably. Keep reading for some tips, courtesy of Learning from Dogs.

Finding a New Home

Wherever you move, you’ll need to make sure that it offers a suitable amount of space for your pet. If you own a dog or a cat, it can be a big adjustment for them to have less room to move around and live. Downsizing will also affect larger pets more than smaller ones since they’ll feel the effects of having less room more noticeably. If you can place your pet with a friend, family member, or boarding service during the move, that might be a good choice to reduce the stress involved and make the process simpler. 

If your pets live in a cage or a tank, you’ll have to make sure you have a secure place to put their home. Also, consider how the lighting and noise in their immediate environment will affect their sleep patterns and anxiety.

When you purchase a new home, you’ll likely need a mortgage. Inquire with more than one mortgage broker to compare the rates they offer you and choose the best deal. Visit a lender’s website to get an idea about the current rates available. If you’re a veteran, consider applying for a VA loan, which can save you significant amounts of money on the downpayment and the interest rate. If not, an FHA or conventional loan might be the way to go. 

Before moving your pet into your new home, it’s crucial that you pet-proof both indoors and outdoors. Check your yard for any poisonous plants and consider installing a fence to prevent your pup from escaping. 

Preparing Your Home for Sale

If you own your home, you’ll have to prepare it for sale. How well you do this will be a big factor in how fast it sells. You’ll need to clean and organize the home and look into storage for your belongings if there’s going to be a gap between residences, plus you’ll have to make any repairs or upgrades so prospective buyers are more likely to find the property appealing.

Give special attention to curb appeal as well. A neat and well-kept yard will make a great impression on buyers. If your outdoor area could use some beautification, a lawn care company offers mowing, trimming, and debris removal services. Only hire experienced and insured contractors.

Consider hiring a real estate agent to help you prepare the home for sale and guide you through any difficulties or processes you might not understand. Having an agent to show the house and represent you in negotiations can also make the process easier and protect you from losing money.

Do What’s Best for You and Your Pet

Moving into a smaller home is a big decision, and you’ll need to make sure that you’re fully prepared and able to make your pet amply comfortable both during and after the move. Selling a home can be a complicated and financially stressful process, and buying a new one may require a mortgage, so do thorough research to avoid wasting time or losing money. When selling your home, clean and declutter, make repairs, and hire lawn care professionals to boost your curb appeal. Most importantly, be empathetic to what your pet is experiencing during a change in their environment.

Image via Unsplash

ooOOoo

Reading this great advice from Penny reminds me that moving home with a pet or two can be a major upheaval and her tips are valuable. However, when it comes to Jean and me we just have too many pets and we are too old to think of moving, plus we really love where we live (but I don’t want to think about what happens if I can no longer drive!)

Good article!