Category: People

Parting is such sweet sorrow!

Slowly returning to our regular life.

My daughter, son-in-law and grandson came to the end of their week’s stay with us yesterday morning.

It felt very strange after they had gone and we had got the house back to some form of order (my grandson is a very lively five-year-old!).

To be honest, I wasn’t feeling very communicative in the afternoon when I sat down to get today’s post ready.

So can I leave you with this photograph of Morten, my grandson, thanking his grandad for a rather special tractor experience!

P1160300Hopefully back to more creative times tomorrow.

Rationally speaking ….

… it’s not that easy to be rational!

It’s alright! I haven’t missed taking my pills!😉

My headline and sub-heading was me trying to catch your eye and persuade you stop what you are doing for eleven minutes and watch this video that was filmed earlier this year at the TEDxPSU conference.  It’s all about being rational.

The presenter is Julia Galef described by WikiPedia (in part) as:


Julia Galef (born 1983) is president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality. She is a writer and public speaker on the topics of rationality, science, technology and design. She serves on the board of directors of the New York City Skeptics and hosts their official podcast, Rationally Speaking, which she has done since its inception in 2010, sharing the show with co-host and philosopher Massimo Pigliucci until 2015. She also blogs with her brother Jesse on the website Measure of Doubt.


Galef received a B.A. in statistics from Columbia University. In 2010 she joined the board of directors of the New York City Skeptics. She co-founded and became president of the nonprofit Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR) in 2012. The organization also gives workshops to train people to internalize and use strategies based on the principles of rationality on a more regular basis to improve their reasoning and decision making skills and achieve goals. She was elected a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry in 2015.

Julia’s website further explains:

The problem I’m most interested in is how to change one’s mind. Starting from the premise that every human being is at least a little wrong about many things that matter — in our careers, or about health, science, politics, our self-image, and more — we should, in theory, be updating our views frequently as we learn more about the world. In practice, however, our opinions ossify.

So here’s that talk from Julia – I bet all of you will find it interesting! Rationally speaking, that is!

Published on Jul 11, 2016

Perspective is everything, especially when it comes to examining your beliefs. Are you a soldier, prone to defending your viewpoint at all costs — or a scout, spurred by curiosity? Julia Galef examines the motivations behind these two mindsets and how they shape the way we interpret information, interweaved with a compelling history lesson from 19th-century France. When your steadfast opinions are tested, Galef asks: “What do you most yearn for? Do you yearn to defend your own beliefs or do you yearn to see the world as clearly as you possibly can?”

If only our leaders and power-brokers across the world yearned for truth!

Feeding one’s inner wolves.

The wisdom of ancient minds.

The following was published by Val Boyco recently over on her blog Find Your Middle Ground.

It is republished here with Val’s very kind permission.


* How to Feed your White Wolf

Life-saving dogs.

The great relationship that can exist between dogs and cheetahs.

Before you read on let me raise my hand in connection with this blog. Or to be clearer, next Monday Jean and I have the very great pleasure in welcoming my daughter, Maija (she of Sonic Journeys from SOUND UK), her husband, Marius, and my grandson Morten. They are staying with us until the 24th July.

Inevitably, and for all the right reasons, I will not be putting in anything like the normal time I usually spend on Learning from Dogs. It did cross my mind to stop blogging for those seven days but that seemed like a step too far.

However, what is certain is that the period from now right through to the last week in July is going to see me lowering the priority of this blog and being more random in nature in terms of if or how I respond to your comments and replies.  You will also read a succession of repeats of posts from previous years. I’m hoping that because so many of you will not have been reading this place during my early years that the number of times you see something that you have previously read is kept to a minimum.

So why this note to you all today? Because the rest of this week is going to be pretty busy as we get the house all tidied up and fully prepared for our visitors.

Having got that off my chest do read the following that appeared recently over on


How Dogs Are Saving Cheetahs From Extinction

3183088.largeBy: Laura Goldman July 10, 2016

About Laura Follow Laura at @lauragoldman

Cheetahs, the fastest land animals on Earth, have been disappearing almost as fast as they can run.

But in the African country of Namibia, the cheetah population has grown from 2,500 to 4,000 since 1994. And dogs are helping to keep those numbers rising.

Instead of trapping or shooting cheetahs that wander onto their property and kill livestock, some farmers are relying on Anatolian Shepherds and their fierce barking to scare away the predators.

“You may see in history that this dog can be responsible for saving the cheetah from extinction,” Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, told CBS News. “That is one heck of a story right there.”

The dogs are provided to farmers and ranchers by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), the world’s leading organization dedicated to saving the lives of cheetahs in the wild.

 The majority of cheetahs in the wild – over 90 percent of them, according to the CCF — live outside protected areas, surrounded by farming communities. And many of those farmers, especially poor ones, are more concerned about protecting their livelihood than an endangered species. About 10,000 cheetahs were killed during the 1980s, before CCF launched the Livestock Guarding Dog program in 1994.

Since then, the program has placed more than 500 dogs, helping to reduce the loss of livestock from 80 to almost 100 percent. The program is extremely popular — there’s a two-year wait to get in. It not only provides free Anatolian Shepherd puppies, but also training advice and free veterinary care.

“CCF research shows that the people’s attitudes towards predators are changing as a result of this and other CCF programs,” the organization said on its website.

Dogs and Cheetahs Aren’t Enemies in U.S. Zoos

As a way to promote “the life-saving role dogs play for cheetahs in the wild,” according to CBS News, some zoos in the United States are raising puppies with cheetah cubs.

“The number one question up here, this $40 million exhibit: ‘Are the dogs coming out?’” Suzi Rapp, director of the Columbus Zoo’s animal programs, told CBS News. “And I say the Columbus Zoo built the world’s most expensive Labrador retriever exhibit in the world… the biggest dog run.”

Dogs and cheetahs can also be found together at the Cincinnati Zoo. It was there, as you probably remember, where Harambe the gorilla was shot to death when a boy fell into his exhibit. His killing sparked international outrage and concern over keeping wild animals captive in zoos.

What are domesticated animals doing in these zoos? Like the Anatolian Shepherds in Africa, the zoos say, the dogs are helping to prevent cheetahs from becoming extinct. But instead of scaring cheetahs away from livestock, the zoo dogs are best buddies with the cheetahs. Their friendship, which begins when they’re about 3 months old, helps put the skittish cheetahs at ease so they can more easily be bred.

The San Diego Zoo, which has been raising dogs with cheetahs for over 30 years, gets many of its puppies from animal shelters. So in a way, the rescued dogs are paying it forward by helping save the lives of another species.


That Care2 article by Laura Goldman included a short video from CBS News. However, despite me having a link to that video I couldn’t get it to play.

No problem because YouTube came up with a very good alternative.

Published on Apr 29, 2013

CCF Operations Manager Brian Badger explains how our Livestock Guarding Dog program works as part of the whole of CCF’s operations to help save the cheetah in the wild.

In fact, there was more than one interesting video and I couldn’t make up my mind which was best.

So you got two!

Published on Sep 25, 2013

In Gobabis, Namibia, these Kangal dogs guard the goats against predators, including the worlds largest population of wild cheetahs. This stops the farmers from targeting the cheetahs. Since the big dogs were introduced to Namibia, the cheetah population has reached a 30-year high ! Hurray!

That film!

Adding the words to yesterday’s film.

First thing that must be mentioned is that it was our neighbour Larry Little who opened my eyes to the film. He sent me an email with the link to the film. Thank you, Larry.

Obviously I have no way of knowing how many of you watched the film that was the object of yesterday’s post: Words are Superfluous. But for those of you that did here is the background to that most moving film.

Shawn Welling
Shawn Welling


If one goes across to Shawn Welling’s website and clicks on the About link one reads a bio that is truly fascinating. WikiPedia also has a very good summary of Welling Films that opens thus:

Welling Films (sometimes written as WF) is an American film production company and studio based in Houston, Texas. It was launched in mid-2006 by Houston-born choreographer and photographer Shawn Welling. They have produced five feature films, along with the web series AXI: Avengers of eXtreme Illusions, and several narrative and documentary short films.


Yesterday’s post, quite deliberately, did not include all the credits and background information. Here it is:

Published on Mar 27, 2015

Thanks for watching my film. I really hope you share and comment as we love your feedback also feel free to email your thoughts as well. for more info and my email.
The Director
-Shawn Welling

Full Synopsis:
A friend to share the ups and downs of life with him — and, soon, his family. “If I Could Talk” gives this dog the one chance he wants to share his thoughts.

Director: Shawn Welling AXI
Story: Mark Galvin
Screenplay: Shawn Welling

Max Welling / The White Lab
Shawn Welling / Shawn Welling
Michelle Simmons / Michelle Welling
Grace Calabrese / Grace Welling
Kalyssa Lauer / Kalyssa Welling

Phillip Glass

Shawn Welling
Art Giraldo
Scott Budge

To close today’s post here’s another film from Shawn Welling. (And trust me, this film is very different to yesterday’s!)

Published on Jul 24, 2014

(Latin for ICON or statue of “THE SAVIOR”)
Another beautiful collaboration between Les Twins and Shawn Welling AXI Films.
Filmed on in front the statue of “the Savior” at the First Presbyterian Church of Houston, Houston, TX

Directed by Shawn Welling

Music: James Blake – Retrograde (CloZee Remix)

Unchain every single dog out there!

Independence Day should also apply to our beloved dogs!

So today is July 4th. One of the key days of the year in the American calendar, if not the key day.

Freedom and independence are the corner stones of a healthy nation. That ‘nation’ should include our dogs. Ergo, I have no hesitation in republishing the following that first was seen on the Care2 site.


How to Help Chained Dogs in Your Community

3182140.largeBy: Natalia Lima June 28, 2016

About Natalia Follow Natalia at @TheNatiLima

The sight is heartbreaking: a sad animal, exposed to the heat or the cold, often without shelter, chained in a backyard. Sometimes all it takes to secure them is a thin rope tied around their collar on one end and a dog house on the other, in others it’s a thick metal chain that keeps the dog from moving away from a tree. Whatever the case, it’s enough to inspire any animal lover to change that dog’s life, but how? The answer is simpler than one would imagine: build a fence.

“Building a fence really changes the relationship between dogs and owners,” explains Michele Coppola, President of Fences for Fido, a nonprofit organization that builds fences in houses that have chained dogs so the dogs can run freely in the backyard. “Many times dogs who were outside 24/7 go on to become a family member, spending time in the house and outside because they’re no longer a location.”

Since 2009, Fences for Fido has been helping dogs in the Southwest Oregon and Washington state areas. People can anonymously nominate a house with a chained dog on their website or people can nominate themselves if they don’t have the means to build their own fence. According to the Coalition to Unchain Dogs, who helped Fences for Fido get started and has been building fences since 2006 in North Carolina, that lack of resources is the most common reason why people keep dogs chained.

“When we first started we thought we would we would build this fence and solve a problem but we quickly saw the problem is not chained dogs, it’s poverty,” explains Lori Hensley, Director of Operations at Coalition to Unchain Dogs. “No one wants to chain a dog. They just don’t have the means to build a fence.”

Other common reasons are not understanding that dogs are social animals that need to run around, an owner not knowing how to address behavioral problems and trying to keep the dog from running away, says the Humane Society of the United States.

“People chain their dogs for a variety of reasons so we always approach them without judgement because most times we’re not seeing the whole story,” says Coppola adding that those issues are addressed when building a fence for someone to make sure they’re educated on why chaining their dogs shouldn’t be a solution. “Maybe they didn’t have a fence to start with and someone, maybe a family member, dumped a dog with them and they’re keeping it out of the goodness of their hearts but they don’t have a fence. You don’t know.”

Between the two organizations, over 3,400 dogs have been freed from chains but since they only operate locally, they have created resources for people in other parts of the country who want to help. Unchained Planet, a Facebook group of volunteer fence builders, offers advice and tips to anyone looking to start their own fence building organization and a DIY tutorial is also available for free download.

From materials needed to step by step instructions, anyone can start building a fence to help chained dogs in their communities, though to complete novices, the guidance of a seasoned builder or a professional is encouraged.

“If you’re starting out for the very first time, it might be a good idea to pair up with a fence company who may be willing to help and even donate the materials,” suggests Coppola. “Or you want to find somebody who’s done a fence before and can kind of show you how to go about it.”

Photo Credit: ThinkStock


Fences for Fido is an Oregon-based organisation and I’m going to contact them and ask for more information to share with you all.

I am also going to contact local charity The Toby Fund of Wolf Creek (Oregon) who do great work in unchaining dogs and seek an article from them for you.

Affairs of the heart.

Warning: Emotional post coming up!

This is the second time I have used Affairs of the Heart as a title to a post. The previous time was January 20th, 2012 (and I’m republishing that post tomorrow). How time flies!

Indeed, in a little over two week’s time, on July 15th, all you dear, dear readers and I will be celebrating me writing this blog for seven years! Indeed, how time flies!

Yesterday, John Zande from down in Brazil, another great friend of this place, posted a comment that included a most powerful video. His comment was, “Not sure if this link will work, but this is a lovely story of an adoption that saved a life.

Sue Dreamwalker watched the video and responded:

John that was one amazing video, still wiping away tears.. Thank you.. Through our choices we CAN make Changes in our lives..:-)❤

I then followed Sue with this comment, written at 05:45 local time (PDT) yesterday:

John, Jean awoke just a few moments ago and I have just played your video in front of us both. It is so beautiful and important that I want some time to fully compose my response. Plus Jean and I need some time to stop weeping!

Just had this idea to feature your video and my reply as tomorrow’s post.

Thank you, John, for sharing this. Thank you so much.

Even if you watched this video yesterday do watch it again before continuing. Same applies to those that haven’t yet watched it. Do that now!🙂

So now we head for my emotional response to that video.

Change is inevitable. Another word for change would be time. Time is the most fundamental principle of the Universe. Call it the Arrow of Time. It flows only in one direction. From order to disorder.
Or to put it in the words of physics (my emboldening in 2.2):
noun: entropy; plural noun: entropies; symbol: S
  1. 1.
    a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.
  2. 2.
    lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.
    “a marketplace where entropy reigns supreme”
    synonyms: deterioration, degeneration, crumbling, decline, degradation, decomposition, breaking down, collapse; More

Entropy – “the gradual decline into disorder.

It has to be that way. For evolution is a product of the decline of one variant of life (plant, animal, insect, higher order ‘animals’, etc. ) and a new aspect of that life emerging (or not). That’s how it has to be for the beauty of life, the beauty of life in all its forms (even including politicians!😉 ). Life is a function of a “gradual decline into disorder“.

I’m not a religious person, nor is Jean, and do not believe in any form of afterlife. When I die that’s it.

I was born in 1944. I am ageing. I have suffered some brain atrophy that means that my recall is terrible. I know that the ageing process is going to continue. It scares me. At least it motivates me to keep as physically and mentally fit as I can.

I have tried hard most of my life to stay fit, physically and mentally. I’m only now aware of the reward of such an attitude.

But I haven’t been emotionally fit. In the sense of not truly knowing who I am and what my values are. That darkness was illuminated for me in the Summer of 2007, thanks to Jon.

That very moving video of Eric and Peety speaks of Eric being saved by Peety. I so deeply understand Eric.

For in December, 2007, just a few months after Jon (as in being the best we can be) made me fully aware of my distorted view of myself I travelled out to Mexico and met Jean and all her dogs.

Jean has saved me. Directly from the love, companionship and  intimate friendship that she offers me. But Jean has also saved me indirectly. By that I mean from me living my daily life these last nearly ten years surrounded by the most beautiful dogs that one could imagine. Those dogs, each one of them in their own special way, also offering me love, companionship and intimate friendship.

Prior to December, 2007 I didn’t know how to feel my true emotions and, in consequence, didn’t know how to express them. Jean and the dogs have enabled me to feel my true emotions, and to express them.  Dozens of things pain me and it’s rare day when I don’t have the odd weep or two. However, dozens of things please me each day and now bring out a laugh, or a giggle. Even better, dozens of times each day I am loved by our dogs and the gift that goes with that love is me feeling so beautifully accepted; accepted in an utterly unconditional manner.

The love given to me from our dogs and the love from my beautiful Jean make it so easy for me to be good to myself. That love, from Jeannie and the dogs, has been a gift to me beyond my imagination.

I have hanging on my office wall a framed print of a poem by Roy Croft. I gave it to Jeannie on the first anniversary of our marriage. I want to share Roy Croft’s words with you. For they so beautifully describe the gift of love I receive from Jean. But in a way that I suspect Mr. Croft didn’t imagine when he first penned his poem, his words also so beautifully describe the gift of love I receive from our dogs.


“Love” by Roy Croft

I love you,

Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.


I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.
I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.


I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple;
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.


I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all.


If you have read my post through to the end, thank you!

A Romantic Proposal in mind?

Just had to share this with you!

I sat down in front of my PC a little after 3pm. I was knackered, not to put too polite a spin on it! For the reason that since 9am this morning young Justin and I had been working outside repairing the front, road-side, boundary fence because our lovely Brandy had discovered a hole in it. Jean and I only becoming aware of that break in the fence when neighbouring residents, Dordie and Pam, on setting out for a bike ride yesterday, found Brandy waiting outside our front gate, which is a quarter-of-a-mile from our house. Brandy, as with all the other dogs that we have, is far too precious to delay mending the fence.

Jean and Brandy at our local yard sale last weekend.
Jean and Brandy at our local yard sale last weekend.

So, as I always do, when I can’t muster the creative juices is to see what’s sitting in my ‘blog’ mail folder.


The following recently was sent to me by neighbour Larry, his email simply saying, “Is this what they call “British Humor”??


(P.S. Best to watch a little after you have eaten!)

Follow that, as they say!


The stranger the times the more we need to ‘ground’ ourselves.

Without doubt these are incredibly strange and unsettling times. For the United Kingdom, for the USA, for the British Commonwealth, for Scotland, for Gibraltar; and for many other places.

When we are faced with unsettling periods then it is essential to ‘ground’ ourselves, and there are many effective ways of doing this.

One way that always works for me is to gaze into a clear, night sky. The night sky over one’s head is captivating beyond words. Perhaps I should have written that it is captivating beyond my words.

Not so for Sue Dreamwalker. Just read this most beautiful poem that Sue published a little over two weeks ago. Republished here with Sue’s kind permission.

(And to demonstrate how your’s truly is becoming a forgetful old fart when I read this out to Jeannie last night she reminded me that I had already published it! It’s worthy of another showing!)


Mother Gaia ~ The Blue Dot.

11 Jun 2016

Three Sisters Glen Coe Scotland
Three Sisters Glen Coe Scotland

How many times have you gazed at the stars?

To ask the question of whom we are

This Blue Dot in the vastness of space

Have you questioned the existence of the Human Race?


Did we really evolve from Neanderthal Man?

From Ape to Human imagine if you can

Woolly Mammoths along with Sabre Tooth Tigers

Ice Ages and Floods, Volcanoes and Fires


Mountains crashing, rising from ocean floors

Fossils created into stony forms

Petrified wood in glaciers saved

While Crystals grow beneath deep dark cave


How many times have you asked ‘Who am I?’

As you gaze longingly at the starlit sky

So many treasures now upon this Blue Dot

So sad that we’ve evolved, but we also forgot


That we Humans just like the Dinosaur race

Could soon disappear without a trace

As our superior brains seemed to have lost the plot

Of our coexistence within this amazing Blue Dot


As we pollute our Mother who brings such life

While we rage in greed creating more strife

We poison our land modifying crops

Caring less and less until the last Bee drops


Long after we’re gone as the planets realign

A new dawn will break over the memory of mankind

His legacy I’m sure one day will be discovered

As some future traveller his fossils will uncover.


But it’s never too late to alter our future

When we live in harmony and learn to nurture

Holding onto LOVE and Letting go of Hate

We can all help our Blue Planet Regenerate.

Copyright Sue Dreamwalker 2016.


Just meditate on those thoughts for a while without doing anything else.

Sonic Journeys

Innovation – Pure and Simple.

Note: Let me declare immediately that I have a personal interest in this post. Namely that my daughter, Maija Handover, is a partner of the charitable company SOUND UK. Their most recent sound adventure is extremely interesting.

It is called Sonic Journeys and, as the home page of the website explains:

Sonic Journeys are soundtracks to specific journeys. Each commissioned piece is available as a free download for limited periods, enabling listeners to experience the music travelling through the landscape that inspired it. Or wherever they choose.

There are a number of Commissioned Journeys but one is also able to create personal sound journeys.

Let me allow Sonic Journeys to explain in their words what it is about:

Sonic Journeys is a series of soundtracks to specific journeys. The series commissions artists to create new works in response to journeys that inspire them. These works are recorded and available for free download for a limited period, enabling listeners to experience the music travelling through the landscape that inspired it. Previous commissions include Adrian Utley from Portishead (2012, a walk through ancient trees at National Trust’s Croft Castle & Parkland), Mica Levi (2011, a walk at Barbican Centre), Shackleton & Vengeance Tenfold (2011, two train journeys in Devon), Will Gregory from Goldfrapp (2009, a walk in Malvern Hills for Big Chill festival).

For those that would like to create and share their own Sonic Journey, we are inviting online submissions of music, or music and video, to journeys the public find personally inspiring here. Previous Your Sonic Journeys have included music to journeys in Kew Gardens in London, Bregenz in Austria, South Western Transylvania and more.

Here’s an example of one of those commissioned journeys, from my old home county of Devon. It is called Shackleton + Vengeance Tenfold – South Devon, stopping train from Starcross → Teignmouth and the Field Notes explain:

Unique British bass producer Shackleton collaborated with his original musical partner, spoken word artist Vengeance Tenfold, to present his own distinctive vision of a journey through some very special parts of Devon; the main railway line between Exeter and Totnes, and part of the Tarka railway line between Exeter and Barnstaple.

Travelling from Exeter to Newton Abbot, in South Devon the artists respond to the iconic stretch of railway as the stopping train travels through the Exe estuary from Starcross station and journeys along the sea and wonderfully dramatic scenery.

Earl Fontainelle a.k.a. Vengeance Tenfold lives on Dartmoor in Devon. He plays in the Amsterdam-based Cajun deathcountry band Earl Fontainelle and the Pearl of Great Price and has worked in many other musical and lyrical projects, including a long-term collaborative relationship with Shackleton with whom he worked together on a live performance alongside the Tom Dale Dance Company involving spoken word, live electronic music, a Siberian Jew’s harp, and a lantern.

This link will allow you to listen to the Sonic Journey. To give those unfamiliar with this part of Devon, South-West England here’s a video of that train journey.

Published on Sep 17, 2013

Here I have some footage of a famous scenic coastal main line railway route that runs from Teignmouth via Dawlish to Starcross in South Devon. It is used by both long distance and local train services currently operated by First Great Western and Cross Country that runs from Cornwall and Plymouth to all points north and east.

I know I’m biased but it still strikes me as one incredibly innovative idea! Well done, the team!