Category: People and their pets

Dog love – My post from May, 2020

This beautiful topic just runs and runs; and so it should!

I saw a post on Newsweek published a couple of weeks ago and saved the link. It opens:

It’s probably impossible to know exactly what your dog is thinking. But a few years ago, Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University, decided he wanted to try and find out anyway.


But then I realised that over the years I had published numerous posts on the topic. So I thought it was best to republish one of them, and I chose this one.


The love of dogs

Pure and simple!

Thank you, M.K.

I promise you that you won’t be able to resist a tear or two.

It’s simply wonderful; the unconditional love of our dogs!



Rescuing a dog in South Africa

A delightful story that one hopes will be allowed to share.

One is constantly looking for lovely dog stories and recently I came across this story from The Dodo.


Woman Stops In Her Tracks When She Sees Brown Legs Poking Out Of Trash

She almost didn’t notice …

By Maeve Dunigan

Published on the 20th April, 2023

The other day, members of the neighborhood watch in Richards Bay, South Africa, received a shocking phone call. A woman said she’d been walking through an undeveloped area of wilderness nearby and stumbled on something heartbreaking.

Two watch captains rushed to the scene. When they arrived, they found a discarded pile of rubble and plastic — not necessarily a surprise, given that trash is occasionally dumped in the area. What was upsetting, though, were the pair of long brown legs and pleading black eyes barely visible under the debris.

A little dog was trapped, and he needed help.

With caution, the team began to cut the dog loose from the plastic bag where he’d been tied up. After freeing the pup, they carried him out of the trash and gently placed him in the grass nearby.

The dog, later named Rocky, was so happy to be able to move around, though he was very weak from his ordeal. Neighborhood watch personnel gave the pup some ice cubes to suck on while they waited for SPCA Richards Bay staff to arrive.

Safe at the SPCA, a veterinary team examined Rocky and treated him for a small wound on his head. The malnourished pup was given plenty of food and water, and, in no time, Rocky’s slim figure began to improve and his personality began to shine.

“Rocky is now the sweetest, most outgoing puppy,” a representative from SPCA Richards Bay told The Dodo.

SPCA staff were inspired by Rocky — who spread so much love and who didn’t seem jaded by his harrowing ordeal.

“We were amazed at how a puppy who had been discarded like trash could love and trust again,” the representative said.

Rocky has since been adopted into a loving family and taken to live with them on their farm. The grateful pup, who once spent hours trapped under garbage, unable to move, will spend the rest of his days running through the ample fields of his new home, loving every minute.


All of the above photographs are taken by FACEBOOK/SPCA RICHARDS BAY

No matter where in the world one is there is a love for dogs and this account shows it to be so!

Picture Parade Four Hundred and Eighty-Seven

More dogs from Unsplash!

Alex has been in the Isle of Mull this past week taking the most amazing photographs of birds and I hope that in time some of Alex’s photographs will be shared with you on Learning from Dogs.







This week I went for Poodles and selected the above photographs.

See you all next Tuesday.

The Power of a Gentle Touch

An interesting film.

On Sunday evening Jean and I watched a documentary on touch. It was most interesting and included the obvious thought (that I needed reminding of) that babies when they are born cannot see more than 30 centimetres and cannot hear at first. So touch is vital for the health and early bonding of the babe and its parents with the mother being the dominant parent and the provider of breast milk.

Then yesterday I poked around online and found that the benefits of touch not only were for the very young but also for all ages and also were more broadly available across many animals, especially dogs.

But here’s the first film:

Touch shapes us as humans. Indeed, touch is fundamental to what makes us social beings. Touch influences how we perceive stress and pain, who we trust and who we fear. How does this work? And what happens to us in the absence of touch? Gentle touch is vital for us humans. It creates the first contact with the world for newborns, giving us a sense of security and belonging. Touch influences our immune system, and on our feelings for our fellow human beings. Especially strong feelings, such as love or compassion, can be better conveyed through touch than through words, facial expressions or gestures. Given how important touch is, it’s no surprise that humans have a highly specialized system devoted exclusively to perceiving gentle touch stimuli. Why does the touch of a stranger feel so different to that of someone we are emotionally close to? What is happening in our brain – and what role does the brain play in all this? In an era of social distancing, touch research is becoming increasingly relevant. How does it affect us, and our relationships, when we are required to keep our distance? Researchers explore what role touch plays in our physical and emotional well-being, and what the consequences are when touch is missing.

Then moving on I found an article on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website called The Friend Who Keeps You Young.

It opens:

Adopting a pet may seem like a selfless act, but there are plenty of selfish reasons to embrace pet ownership. Research has shown that owning a pet provides an amazing array of health benefits, says Jeremy Barron, M.D., medical director of the Beacham Center for Geriatric Medicine at Johns Hopkins.

Not ready for a full-time furry friend in your home? Offer to walk a neighbor’s dog, cat-sit for a friend, or donate time at a local animal shelter—even short interactions provide enough pet exposure to reap some of these rewards.

And that wasn’t the end, far from it! had a powerful article The Health and Mood-Boosting Benefits of Pets. Here’s how it starts:

The benefits of pets

Most pet owners are clear about the immediate joys that come with sharing their lives with companion animals. However, many of us remain unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that can also accompany the pleasure of snuggling up to a furry friend. It’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond.

Pets have evolved to become acutely attuned to humans and our behavior and emotions. Dogs, for example, are able to understand many of the words we use, but they’re even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures. And like any good human friend, a loyal dog will look into your eyes to gauge your emotional state and try to understand what you’re thinking and feeling (and to work out when the next walk or treat might be coming, of course).

Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. Caring for an animal can help children grow up more secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults. Perhaps most importantly, though, a pet can add real joy and unconditional love to your life.

Dogs are the perfect companions to us!

The communication between dogs and humans.

A tremendous guest post from Raphael Wildcom.

Raphael was in contact with me asking whether I had any ideas of a subject that could be written about. I replied that it would be lovely to have a post about the way that dogs understand us humans. The following is the result, and it is great!


Building Bridges: How Dogs Understand Humans and How We Can Improve Our Communication with Them

By Raphael Wildcom.

Dogs have been our faithful companions for thousands of years, and during that time, they have evolved to become incredibly attuned to human emotions and communication. Their ability to understand us and our ability to communicate with them has led to a unique bond between our two species. 

In this article, we will explore how dogs understand humans and offer some tips on how we can improve our communication with our canine friends.

How Dogs Understand Humans

  1. Body language

One of the most crucial ways dogs interpret our emotions and intentions is through our body language. Dogs are highly perceptive when it comes to noticing our posture, eye contact, and movements. They can sense if we are relaxed or tense and often respond accordingly. 

Photo from

For example, a cute Shiba Inu puppy might approach a person exhibiting relaxed body language while avoiding someone who appears tense or stressed.

  1. Facial expressions

Dogs are remarkably adept at recognizing human facial expressions. Research has shown that they can distinguish between expressions of happiness, sadness, and anger, among others. This ability allows them to adjust their behavior depending on our emotional state.

  1. Vocalizations

Although dogs may not understand the specific words we use, they are incredibly sensitive to the tone and pitch of our voices. They can pick up on the emotional content of our speech, which helps them gauge our emotions and intentions. For example, a dog might become excited when they hear a high-pitched, happy voice or become submissive when they hear a low, stern voice.

  1. Training and commands

Dogs can learn to associate specific words or gestures with actions or objects through training and repetition. This ability allows them to respond to our commands and communicate with us effectively. For example, a dog might learn to sit when they hear the word “sit” or see a specific hand signal.

  1. Scent and pheromones

Dogs possess an extraordinary sense of smell, and they can pick up on subtle changes in our body odor, which may be indicative of our emotional state. For example, a dog might be able to detect the scent of stress-related hormones and respond accordingly.

  1. Social cues

Dogs are skilled at observing and interpreting social cues within a group or family. They understand relationships between people and often respond to the social hierarchy within the household. For example, a dog might defer to the person they perceive as the leader of the family.

Improving Communication with Your Dog

  1. Be consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to communicating with your dog. Use the same words, tone, and gestures for specific commands, and make sure all family members are on the same page. This consistency will help your dog understand what you expect from them and make it easier for them to respond correctly.

  1. Use positive reinforcement

Reward your dog with praise, treats, or playtime when they respond correctly to a command or exhibit desirable behavior. Positive reinforcement is an effective way to strengthen your communication with your dog and encourage them to repeat the desired behavior in the future.

  1. Pay attention to your dog’s body language

Learn to recognize the subtle signs your dog uses to communicate their emotions and intentions. By understanding their body language, you can respond more effectively to their needs and create a stronger bond.

  1. Be patient and persistent

Training and effective communication with your dog takes time and effort. Be patient, and understand that your dog may need repetition and practice to grasp new commands or break old habits. Persistence and consistency will pay off in the long run.

  1. Learn from the experts

Consider enrolling in a dog training class, consulting with a professional dog trainer, or reading books on dog behavior and training to improve your communication skills and understanding of your dog’s needs.

  1. Socialize your dog

Expose your dog to various people, animals, environments, and situations from an early age. Socialization helps your dog become more comfortable in different settings and makes them better equipped to understand and respond to different cues from humans and other animals. Well-socialized dogs are generally more confident, adaptable, and better communicators.

  1. Develop a routine

Dogs thrive on routines, as they provide structure and predictability. Establish a daily routine for feeding, walks, playtime, and rest. A consistent routine helps your dog feel secure and makes it easier for them to understand your expectations.

  1. Be aware of your own body language and emotions

Remember that your dog is constantly observing you and responding to your body language and emotions. Be mindful of the signals you send through your posture, facial expressions, and tone of voice. By being aware of your own non-verbal communication, you can create a more harmonious and effective relationship with your dog.

  1. Use clear and simple commands

When giving your dog a command, use clear, simple words or gestures that are easy for them to understand. Avoid using multiple words for the same command or giving commands when you are angry or frustrated, as this can confuse your dog and hinder communication.

  1. Engage in interactive play and training

Spend time playing with your dog and engaging them in activities that challenge their mind and body. Interactive play and training sessions can strengthen your bond, improve communication, and provide mental stimulation for your dog.


By understanding how dogs interpret our emotions and intentions and implementing strategies to improve communication, we can forge an even stronger bond with our canine companions. This deeper connection not only enhances our relationship with our dogs but also contributes to their overall well-being and happiness. 

With patience, consistency, and a commitment to understanding each other, we can continue to enjoy the unique and enriching bond that humans and dogs have shared for thousands of years.


This article is such great advice. Thank you very much, Raphael.

I am sure I am not the only one that would love to have more articles from Raphael.

Back to Cats!

Introducing a guest post from Gloria Peters.

Although this blog is 99% about dogs that doesn’t preclude a guest post; one that is really charming.


Fun DIY Toys to Keep Your Cat Entertained

Keep your cat entertained with these easy DIY toys, including puzzle toys and toilet paper roll toys. Challenge your cat’s mind and provide hours of fun with these ideas

Fun DIY Toys to Keep Your Cat Entertained

Cats are known for being playful and curious, so it’s important to give them things to keep them occupied and their minds working. But store-bought toys can be expensive, and your cat may not always be interested in them.

That’s why making your own toys is a good idea. Making your own cat toys is not only cheaper, but it also allows you to make them just the way your cat likes them. In this article, we’ll talk about ten fun toys you can make to keep your cat busy.

  1. Cardboard fort

A cardboard box is one of the easiest and most useful toys you can make for your cat. You can make a box fortress by cutting holes and tubes in the box and filling it with soft bedding. Cats love to hide and look around, and a cardboard box fort is the right place for them.

Find a large cardboard box to start making your cardboard fort. Cut holes and tubes into the sides of the box, making sure the edges are even so the cat doesn’t get hurt. 

You can cut the paper with scissors or a utility knife. Then put something soft inside the box, such as a blanket or towel. Your cat will love hiding in his new fort and exploring it.

  1. Pen game

Cats love feathers and you can make your own feather toy by tying the feathers to a string or stick. Your cat will enjoy chasing and pouncing on feathers, which will exercise them, keep their mind active, and remind you that cat shed.

Start by getting feathers to make a feather toy. You can use feathers you find on the street or feathers bought from a craft store. Use glue or tape to attach the feathers to a string or stick. Make sure the feathers are well attached so they don’t fall off when the kids play. Then hang a feather toy in front of your cat and watch it jump and run after it.

  1. Socks with catnip

Cats love the natural catnip stimulant, and you can make your own catnip toy by placing dried catnip in a sock and tying a knot at the end. Your cat will enjoy rubbing and biting on the sock, and the smell of catnip will keep her interested.

Find a clean sock to use as the base for your catnip sock. Put the dried catnip in the sock and then tie a knot at the end so the catnip stays inside. You can also put bells or wrinkled paper inside the sock to make it more interesting. Then give your cat a sock and watch her rub and bite into it, enjoying the smell of catnip.

  1. Post for scratching

Cats naturally love to scratch, but if you give them room to scratch, they won’t scratch your furniture. You can make a scratching post by wrapping string or carpet around a cardboard tube or wooden pole.

Find a sturdy cardboard tube or wooden pole to start making your scratching post. Cut a piece of string or carpet long enough to go around the pipe or pole. Then wrap the rope or cloth tightly around the pipe or pole and glue or staple it to keep it in place. Make sure the scratching post is high enough so that the cat can stretch out its entire body when using it. Place the scratching post where your cat likes to scratch and rub it with catnip so the cat can use it.

  1. Track for ping pong balls

Make a ping pong ball track a fun and responsive toy for your cat. Make a path for the ping pong ball by cutting holes in the cardboard box and attaching the cardboard tubes. Your cat will love trying to catch the ball when you hit him with the bat.

Find a wooden box to start making a ping pong ball track. After making holes in the sides of the box, make sure they are large enough for a ping pong ball to fit through. Then make a maze by inserting cardboard tubes into the holes. The tubes can be glued with hot glue or tape. Finally, place the ping pong ball in the maze and watch your cat try to catch it by hitting it.

  1. Tunnel for paper bags

A paper bag tunnel is another easy and cheap toy you can make for your cat. You can make a tunnel for your cat by cutting the bottom out of a paper bag and sticking several bags together. You can also crumple up some paper and put it in bags to make them rustle and make the animals more excited.

Collect some paper bags to start making the paper bag tunnel. Make a long tunnel by cutting out the bottom of each bag and taping them together. You can also put crumpled paper inside the bags so that the cat makes noise while playing inside. Your cat will have a great time exploring his new cave and hiding in the bags.

  1. Toy fishing rod

Another fun toy for cats that looks like their natural prey is playing with a fishing rod. Stretch a toy or some feathers and tie them to a stick or dowel. Your cat will enjoy chasing and jumping on the toy, which will keep her active and stimulate her brain.

Find a stick or fishing rod to start making a fishing rod toy. Use glue or tape to attach the toy or feathers to the string, and tie the other end of the string to the stick. Hang the toy in front of your cat and watch it run and jump on it.

  1. A toy that gives treats

A toy that gives treats is a fun way to give your cat a treat and keep them entertained at the same time. Cut holes in a plastic bottle and fill it with treats to make a toy that dispenses treats. To get a treat, your cat will break the bottle.

Find a plastic bottle to start making a toy that gives out treats. Use a utility knife or scissors to cut some small holes in the sides of the bottle. Then put the best treats for your cat into the bottle. Your cat will love to hit the bottle and try to get treats out of the holes.


After all, making your own cat toys is a great way to keep them entertained and stimulated while saving money. But when you make these toys, it’s important to put your cat’s safety first and give her a range of toys that stimulate different senses. Don’t forget to play with your cat to bond with her and give her some exercise.


Here is Gloria’s bio that she also supplied:

Gloria Peters is an experienced pet writer and enthusiast, sharing valuable insights on gadgets to keep your feline friend healthy, happy, and entertained. Her expertise in technology and pet care is well-known in the industry, as seen on her popular website blog tulip.

Gloria Peters

I must say that Gloria has done a splendid job in writing the above guest post. It is excellent and way better than I could have done myself.

Thank you, Gloria.

Picture Parade Four Hundred and Eighty-Four

Back to dogs and back to Unsplash!

Seeing how many approved of the photos of Pharaoh, it seemed to me that I should provide photos of German Shepherd dogs; there are plenty of them.

But before that many congratulations to the new King of the United Kingdom, King Charles III, or as Wikipedia put it:

The coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as king and queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms took place on 6 May 2023, at Westminster Abbey. Charles acceded to the throne on 8 September 2022, upon the death of his mother, Elizabeth II.

Now to the dogs!









Wonderful dogs! And just a reminder of Pharaoh to play us out:

Memories of Pharaoh

What a wonderful relationship it has been.

(This post was drafted back in 2020 and, for whatever reason, never got published, until today! Pharaoh, of course, is no longer with us)

Years ago if I was ever to own a dog, it had to be one breed and one breed only: a German Shepherd Dog.

The reason for this was that back in 1955 my father and mother looked after a German Shepherd dog called Boy.  Boy belonged to a lovely couple, Maurice and Marie Davies.  They were in the process of taking over a new Public House (Pub); the Jack & Jill in Coulsdon, Surrey.  My father had been the architect of the Jack & Jill.

Jack & Jill, Longlands Avenue, Coulsdon, Surrey
Jack & Jill, Longlands Avenue, Coulsdon, Surrey

As publicans have a tough time taking holidays, it was agreed that the move from their old pub to the Jack & Jill represented a brilliant opportunity to have that vacation.  My parents offered to look after Boy for the 6 weeks that Maurice and Marie were going to be away.

Boy was the most gentle loveable dog one could imagine and I quickly became devoted to him; I was 11 years old at the time.  So when years later it seemed the right time to have a dog, there was no question about the breed.  Boy’s memory lived on all those years, and, as this post reveals, still does!

Pharaoh was born June 3rd, 2003 at Jutone Kennels up at Bovey Tracy, Devon, on the edge of Dartmoor.  As the home page of the Jutone website pronounces,

The Kennel was established in 1964 and it has always been the aim to breed the best German Shepherd Dogs for type and temperament. To this end the very finest German bloodlines are used to continue a modern breeding programme.

and elsewhere on that website one learns:

Jutone was established by Tony Trant who was joined by Sandra Tucker in 1976. Sandra continues to run Jutone since Tony passed away in 2004. Both Tony and Sandra qualified as Championship Show judges and Sandra continues to judge regularly. Sandra is the Secretary and a Life Member of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Devon.

Tony Trant

Turning to Pharaoh, here are a few more pictures over the years.

Pharaoh, nine months old.


One year old: June 3rd 2004.

The next picture of Pharaoh requires a little background information.

For many years I was a private pilot and in later days had the pleasure, the huge pleasure I must say, of flying a Piper Super Cub which is a group-owned aircraft based at Watchford Farm in South Devon.  The aircraft, a Piper PA-18-135 Super Cub, was originally supplied to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and was permitted by the British CAA to carry her original military markings including her Dutch military registration, R-151, although there was a British registration, G-BIYR, ‘underneath’ the Dutch R-151.  (I wrote more fully about the history of the aircraft on Learning from Dogs back in August 2009.)

Piper Cub R151

Anyway, every time I went to the airfield with Pharaoh he always tried to climb into the cockpit.  So one day, I decided to see if he would sit in the rear seat and be strapped in.  Absolutely no problem with that!

Come on Dad, let's get this thing off the ground!

My idea had been to fly a gentle circuit in the aircraft.  First I did some taxying around the large grass airfield that is Watchford to see how Pharaoh reacted.  He was perfectly behaved.

Then I thought long and hard about taking Pharaoh for a flight.  In the Cub there is no autopilot so if Pharaoh struggled, or worse, it would have been almost impossible to fly the aircraft and cope with Pharaoh.  So, in the end, I abandoned taking him for a flight.  The chances are that it would have been fine.  But if something had gone wrong, the outcome just didn’t bear thinking about.

So we ended up motoring for 30 minutes all around the airfield which, as the next picture shows, met with doggie approval.  The date was July 2006.

That was fun, Dad!

What a dear dog he has been over all the years!

As if to reinforce the fabulous dog he still is, yesterday it was almost as though he knew he had to show how youthful he still was.

Because, when I took his group of dogs out around 7.30am armed with my camera, Pharaoh was brimming over with energy.

First up was a swim in the pond.

Ah, an early birthday dip! Bliss!

Then in a way he has not done before, Pharaoh wanted to play ‘King of my Island’, which is in the middle of the pond.

Halt! Who goes there!


This is my island! So there!

Then a while later, when back on dry land, so to speak, it was time to dry off in the morning sunshine.

Actually, this isn’t such a bad life!

Long may he have an enjoyable and comfortable life.


This was written quite obviously before Pharaoh died. He is still on the home page of this blog.

Beloved Pharaoh. Born: June 3rd., 2003 – Died: June 19th., 2017. A very special dog that will never be forgotten.