Category: Philosophy

Sir David Attenborough.

There are not many who achieve so much, but Sir David most definately has!

This is our planet. It is the only one we have (stating the obvious!).

This beautiful photograph taken from the Apollo 11 mission says it all. That Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969 changed everything.

But one thing that was not on anyone’s mind then; the state of the planet!

This view of Earth rising over the Moon’s horizon was taken from the Apollo 11 spacecraft. The lunar terrain pictured is in the area of Smyth’s Sea on the nearside. Coordinates of the center of the terrain are 85 degrees east longitude and 3 degrees north latitude.
While astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, descended in the Lunar Module (LM) “Eagle” to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Michael Collins remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) “Columbia” in lunar orbit.
Image Credit: NASA

How that has changed since 1969.

David Attenborough is a giant of a man, and I say this out of humility and respect for what he has done in his long life, he was born in May, 1926, and he is still fighting hard to get us humans to wake up to the crisis that is upon us.

Wikipedia has an entry that lists all the television shows, and more, that David Attenborough has made. As is quoted: “Attenborough’s name has become synonymous with the natural history programmes produced by the BBC Natural History Unit.”

Please take 45 minutes and watch this film. It is so important.

But before you do please read this extract taken from this site about the film:

For decades David Attenborough delighted millions of people with tales of life on Earth, exploring wild places and documenting the living world in all its variety and wonder. Now, for the first time he reflects upon both the defining moments of his lifetime as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen.

Honest, revealing and urgent, the film serves as a witness statement for the natural world – a first-hand account of humanity’s impact on nature, from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the jungles of central Africa, the North Pole and Antarctica. It also aims to provide a message of hope for future generations.

“I’ve had a most extraordinary life. It’s only now I appreciate how extraordinary,” Sir David says in the film’s trailer, in which he also promises to tell audiences how we can “work with nature rather than against it”.

The film retraces Sir David’s career, his life stages and natural history films, within the context of human population growth and the loss of wilderness areas. “I don’t think that the theoretical basis for the reason why biodiversity is important is a widely understood one,” he told the Guardian in September.

This autumn, a series of publications warned that “humanity is at a crossroads” in its relationship with nature, culminating in a UN report that the world has failed to meet a single target to stop the destruction of nature in the past decade.

Sir David has been vocal about the threat of climate change in recent years, calling on politicians to take their “last chance” to act rather than continue to “neglect long-term problems”.

We need to learn how to work with nature, rather than against it”, according to Sir David. In the film, he is going to tell us how.

Now watch the film. Please!

As you can see, in the film Sir David states that the only way out of this mess is a massive focus on rewilding.

Coincidentally, Patrice Ayme last Sunday wrote about rewilding: California Grizzly: Rewilding Is A Moral Duty. In the latter half of that essay, he wrote: “One should strive to reintroduce American megafauna, starting with the more innocuous species (and that includes the grizzly). By the way, I have run and hiked in grizzly country (Alaska), with a huge bear pepper spray cannister at the ready. I nearly used the cannister on a charging moose (with her calf which was as big as a horse). The calf slipped off, and I eluded the mom through a thicket of very closely spaced tough trees. But I had my finger on the trigger, safety off. Moose attack more humans than grizzlies and wolves combined (although a bear attack is more dangerous). In any case, in the US, stinging insects kill around 100, deer around 200 (mostly through car collisions), and lightning around three dozen people, per year.

As it is, I run and hike a lot in California wilderness, out of rescue range. I generally try to stay aware of where and when I could come across bears, lions and rattlers. My last close call with a large rattlesnake, up a mountain slope, was partly due to hubris and not realizing I was moving in dangerous terrain. Fortunately I heard the slithering just in time. Dangerous animals make us aware of nature in its full glory, and the real nature of the human condition. They keep us more honest with what is real, what humanity is all about.

And that should be the primordial sense.

I will close by offering you this photograph. May it inspire you to rewild, in small ways and also, if you can, in bigger ways. All of us must be involved. Otherwise…

…otherwise… (sentence left unfinished).

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.

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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!

The never-ending sensitivity of dogs!

How about this for a story from Peru.

Not only do dogs come in a myriad of sizes and shapes, witness our own Brandy and Pedi, but they are also conscious creatures, as in they remember and grieve; albeit in a dog fashion.

The Dodo presented this story back on the 4th March about just a dog. Read it and be swept away in the world of dogs.

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Woman At The Beach Meets A Dog Who Won’t Stop Staring Out To Sea

The reason why touched her heart ❤️️

By Stephen Messenger

Published on the 4th March, 2022

The other day, Jolie Mejía and her family decided to visit Punta Negra, a small seaside community near their home in Peru.

It was there, along a rocky shore overlooking the sea, that they came to learn a story of love in its purest form.

After Mejía and her family settled down along the shore, they were approached by a random dog who appeared to be all by himself.

“He didn’t seem abandoned. He wore a ribbon around his neck and his fur was clean,” Mejía told The Dodo. “I pet him, waiting for his owner, but minutes passed and no one came.”

The dog enjoyed Mejía’s pets, but all the while his gaze remained fixed upon the ocean.

And Mejía soon came to learn the touching reason why.

Mejía and her family considered adopting the dog themselves, assuming he had indeed been abandoned. So, when a man local to the area walked by, Mejía asked him if he knew the dog’s status.

“He explained that practically everyone in the area knows the dog and is very fond of him,” Mejía said. “He told us that the dog’s owner was a fisherman who passed away some time ago, and that the dog comes to the beach every day and stares out to sea.”

The dog, it seems, has been holding vigil — awaiting the return of his friend who will never come home.

“We were very moved,” said Mejía.

Mejía believes the dog’s owner died at sea about a year ago, and that the dog has been watching out for him daily ever since.

But though the dog’s owner may never return, the dog isn’t without friends who care for him.

The dog’s sad story is evidently well-known by people in the community, who feed him, shelter him and provide him with health care when he needs it.

A local veterinarian in Punta Negra confirmed to The Dodo that the dog’s name is Vaguito, and that he’s currently in the care of a woman who lives nearby.

By day’s end, Mejía and her family eventually parted ways with Vaguito, his eyes still cast out to sea. But his bittersweet story — one of loyalty to a love he lost, and the loyalty and love he found in the community — is one she won’t soon forget.

“I have a dog at home,” Mejía said. “I love dogs in general. His story really touched my heart.”

(Photos by Jolie Mejía)

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This is the perfect story. But it is more! It is the perfect story of how special a dog is. For this particular dog, Vaguito, clearly was loved by his fisherman and even after a year Vaguito still holds a vigil for him. It is a very lovely article, but that is the unconditional love shown by dogs to humans who care and love them back.

Cruising over the Edge

I am very grateful to the Free Inquiry for permission to republish this article!

I am a subscriber to the print edition of Free Inquiry. Have been for quite a while. In the last issue, the April/May magazine, there was an article by Ophelia Benson that just seemed to ‘speak’ to me. I was sure that I was not alone. It was an OP-ED.

I emailed Julia Lavarnway, the Permissions Editor, to enquire what the chances were of me being granted permission to share the story. Frankly, I was not hopeful!

So imagine my surprise when Julia wrote back to say that she had contacted the author, Ophelia, and she had said ‘Yes’.

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Cruising over the Edge

By Ophelia Benson

The trouble with humans is that we never know when to stop. We know how to invent things, but we seem to be completely unable to figure out how to uninvent them—or even just stop using them once we’ve invented them. We can commission like crazy but we can’t decommission.

Like, for instance, cruise ships the size of condo towers. They’re feats of engineering and ship building no doubt, but as examples of sustainable tourism, a small carbon footprint, a sensible approach to global warning, not so much. How many gallons of fuel do you suppose they burn while cruising? Eighty thousand a day, for one ship.

We can’t uninvent, we can’t let go, we can’t stop. We can as individuals, but that’s useless when most people are doing the opposite. It’s useless when cruise ships keep cruising, SUVs keep getting bigger, container ships are so massive they get stuck in canals, more people move to Phoenix as the Colorado River dries up, more people build houses in the Sierras just in time for more wildfires, air travel is almost back to “normal,” and Christmas lights stay up until spring.

So heads of state go to meetings on climate change and sign agreements and pretend they’ve achieved something, but how can they have? Have any of them promised to shut down nonessential enterprises such as the cruise industry? Will they ever? The CEOs and lobbyists and legislatures would eat their lunch if they did. They can’t mess with profitable industries like that unless they’re autocrats like Putin or Xi … and of course Putin and Xi and other autocrats have zero inclination to act in the interests of the planet.

Janos Pasztor wrote in Foreign Policy after COP26, the UN climate change conference in Glasgow this past November:

Even if all Glasgow pledges are fulfilled, we are still facing a temperature overshoot of approximately 2 degrees Celsius. In the more likely scenario of not all pledges being fulfilled, warming will be more: perhaps 3 degrees Celsius. This would be catastrophic in nearly every sense for large parts of humanity, especially the poorest and most vulnerable who are suffering first and worst from escalating climate impacts.

Ironically, the technologies we can’t uninvent aren’t just the material luxuries such as huge cars, they’re also intangibles like democracy and freedom and individual rights. It may be our very best inventions along these lines that are the biggest obstacles to doing anything about the destruction we’ve wrought. We believe in democracy, and a downside of democracy is that governments that do unpopular things, no matter how necessary, are seldom governments for long. Biden and Macron and Trudeau and Johnson probably can’t do anything really serious about global warming and still stay in office to carry the work through.

Pasztor went on to ask a pressing question:

So how do we avoid temperature overshoot? The most urgent and important task is to slash emissions, including in the hard-to-abate sectors (such as air transport, agriculture, and industry), which will require substantial lifestyle changes.

Yes, those substantial lifestyle changes—the ones we show absolutely no sign of making. Maybe the biggest luxury we have, and the one we can least afford to sustain, is democracy.

Democracy at this point is thoroughly entangled with consumerism or, to put it less harshly, with standards of living. We’re used to what we’re used to, and anybody who tries to take it away from us would be stripped of power before the signature dried.

This is why beach condos in Florida aren’t the only kind of luxury we have to give up; we also have to give up the “consent” part of the “consent of the governed” idea when it comes to this issue. Not that I have the faintest idea how that would happen, but it seems all too obvious that democratic governance as we know it can’t do what needs to be done to avoid catastrophe.

We don’t usually think of democracy as a luxury alongside skiing in Gstaad or quick trips into space, but it is. It relies on enough peace and prosperity to be able to afford a few mistakes.

We take it for granted because we’ve always had it, at least notionally (some of us were excluded from it until recently), but it’s not universal in either time or place. To some it’s far more intuitive and natural to have “the best” people in charge, because they are the best. It’s a luxury of time and location to have grown up in a moment when non-aristocrats got a say.

The British experience in the Second World War is an interesting exception to the “take people’s pleasures away and lose the next election” pattern. Hitler’s blockade on shipping created a very real threat of starvation, and the Churchill government had to take almost all remaining pleasures away in pursuit of defeating the Nazis. Rationing, the blackouts, conscription, censorship, evacuation, commandeering of houses and extra bedrooms were all commonplace. Much of the dismal impoverished atmosphere of George Orwell’s 1984 is a picture not of Stalin’s Russia but of Churchill’s Britain. Life was grim and difficult, but Hitler was worse, so people drank their weak tea without sugar and planted root vegetables where the roses had been.

It’s disastrous but not surprising that it doesn’t work that way with a threat that’s unfolding swiftly but not so swiftly that everyone can see how bad it’s going to get. We can see what’s in front of us but not what’s too far down the road, especially if our contemporary pleasures depend on our failure to see. We’re default optimists until we’re forced to be otherwise, Micawbers assuring ourselves that “something will turn up”—until the wildfires or crop failures or mass migrations appear over our horizons.

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I do not know what the answer is? But I do know that we have to change our ways and change in the relatively near future; say, ten years maximum.

Because as Janos wrote, quoted in part above: “This would be catastrophic in nearly every sense for large parts of humanity…”

We are in a war. Not a military one but a war with the reality of where we are, all of us, heading. We have to stop ducking and weaving and come out fighting. Fighting for the very survival of our species. Do I think it will happen? I am afraid I do not. Not soon enough anyway: not without the backing of every government in the free world.

I really wonder what will become of us all!

Are we alone?

As in: Is there life on other planets?

Last Saturday, we went to the local Freethinkers meeting in Grants Pass. It was a fascinating presentation by fellow member, Chas Rogers. Chas teaches Earth Science courses for the Rogue Community College and elsewhere.

Here is a taste of what we saw:

The Rare Earth Hypothesis argues that the development of complex life on Earth, not to mention intelligence, was an incredibly improbable thing in terms of the geological and astronomical variables involved, suggesting that the galaxy is not filled with other intelligent life forms waiting to be found.

One important factor is the Drake Equation. Here it is explained on the SETI website:

How many alien societies exist, and are detectable? This famous formula gives us an idea. The Drake Equation, which was the agenda for a meeting of experts held in West Virginia in 1961, estimates N, the number of transmitting societies in the Milky Way galaxy.

Here is that Drake Equation.

N    : The number of civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy whose electromagnetic emissions are detectable.

R*   : The rate of formation of stars suitable for the development of intelligent life (number per year).

fp   : The fraction of those stars with planetary systems.

ne   : The number of planets, per solar system, with an environment suitable for life.

fl    : The fraction of suitable planets on which life actually appears.

fi    : The fraction of life bearing planets on which intelligent life emerges.

fc    : The fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that produces detectable signs of their existence.

L    : The average length of time such civilizations produce such signs (years).

There is a great deal of information online for those that want to look into the question in much more detail. But I rather like this YouTube video by Carl Sagan.

(Sorry about the funny ending to that video.)

Carl was speaking of the Milky Way. There are plenty of astronomers who believe that the universe holds many galaxies. Plus, the universe is expanding drawn ever outwards by something that is completely unknown!

What a way to think outside the box for a while!

John Fowler

Never sleeping alone!

A story about an amazing gentleman.

There are so many stories about humans going beyond the call of duty in giving dogs love and attention. In my own case, complete chance meant that I met Jean down in San Carlos, Mexico, rescuing street dogs and giving them love and support before finding homes for as many as she could in America, mainly Arizona. Jean had upwards of 20 dogs around her beach-front home and all the dogs were incredible, as in attentive and friendly and well-behaved.

The following article was seen in The Dodo and I wanted to share it because it says so much about the relationship that can be achieved between a human and dogs.

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Woman Walks In On Her Dad Napping With All The Neighbor Dogs

“They come running when they see his car and follow him inside.”

By Lily Feinn

Published on the 18th March, 2022

When Catey Hall checks in on her dad, it’s not unusual to find him napping on the couch. But Hall’s dad never sleeps alone — dogs from around the neighborhood join him to make one big comfy pile.

“Dad sees, plays with and naps with one or more of these dogs on a daily basis,” Hall told The Dodo. “They come running when they see his car and follow him inside.”

Catey Hall

Hall’s dad, Lon Watson, has always loved dogs and works with the local rescue Pound on the Hill to make sure every animal gets the help they need.

“For as long as I can remember, my dad has rescued stray dogs,” Hall said. “Growing up, we always had a dog. But there was always room for a stray in need. Now that he lives alone with his wife, there’s room for several. They work with rescues in the area to find homes for the dogs in need; however, not all of them are re-homed, and they stay with dad forever.”

Catey Hall

Watson has four resident dogs at home, all of whom he and his wife have rescued and rehabilitated.

But he receives daily visits from Hooch, Fluffer-Nutter and Rosie — all of whom live nearby and have a special connection with Watson.

Catey Hall

The neighborhood dogs are happy to wait all day just for some brief one-on-one time with Watson.

Catey Hall

“The neighborhood is an unincorporated section of semi-rural Alabama. The houses are set far back from the street, so the dogs can bounce from house to house safely,” Hall said. “The dogs can usually hear my dad’s truck coming, and they will meet him in the driveway.”

Catey Hall

Luckily, Watson’s human neighbors don’t seem to mind that their dogs spend most of their time with Watson — and would never get in the way of their special naptime.

Watson just seems to have a way with every dog he meets. Even Hall’s two dogs try to get in on the action. “As a matter of fact, they try to leave with Dad when he’s here visiting,” Hall said.

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Hall’s dad is a very fine person, in my book. If one clicks the link to go to the Pound on the Hill Animal Rescue, almost the first thing that one sees is a piece written by Dana Derby. I am taking the liberty of finishing off today’s post by quoting Dana’s words.

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I am a wiggly butt, adorable puppy. Who wouldn’t want ME? I am cuddly and warm. I look at you as my hero… and you are my hero… you saved me! I want to be with you; I feel safe in your arms. And you know I love you unconditionally. It matters not what you wear, your age, your weight or if your roots are showing… I love you just for you! 

What I need to know is will you still love me? I will make mistakes. I may piddle on your best rug. If I am lonesome, I may chew on your favorite shoe… because it smells like you.

Will you still love me? I will grow into a dog. Though I will be cute, I won’t be the tiny baby you held in your arms. I may be rowdy until I learn my manners. It could be trying, at times. My tail might knock things over when I am so happy to see you it won’t stop wagging! I may run in circles, jump and bark simply because I am happy to love you so very much. 

Will you still love me? As years pass, I will slow down. We age just like humans… only at a faster rate. This is because I cannot live without you. My face may become white with age, my legs not work so well, and my eyesight could deteriorate.

Will you still love me? And when my time comes to go to the Rainbow Bridge… I will want you by my side as I say goodbye. Not so much for me, but for you. I will want to be with you during this difficult time, just as we have shared the joy and sorrow of life together for years. I am your companion and will be with you forever… and I will still love you as I live patiently in your heart.. until we meet again.

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Happiness!

Two events, by chance, lead me to today’s post.

The first was the closing paragraph in that guest post by Indiana Lee last Thursday. Let me quote him:

It’s already been said, but it’s worth saying again. A happy dog leads to a happy owner. That isn’t just a cute saying, either. People are literally known to live longer and have good mental health if they have a dog in their lives.

The second was a talk at our local (Grants Pass) Freethinker’s meeting, held on Saturday. Jerry had sent out an introduction a few days before and included in that were three videos that we were encouraged to watch.

One, in particular, was excellent. It is a talk by Robert Waldinger, and it is reproduced below.

What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.

YouTube

It is just under thirteen minutes long; please watch it!

Therapy dogs.

What a precious dog this one is.

Margaret down in Tasmania recently sent me a link to a story about a surfing dog. It was remarkable and I am going to share it with you. (I hope that I am allowed to!)

The link was to a website called Goodness-Exchange.

Here is the story.

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The Surfing Therapy Dog Helping Those with PTSD and Autism

It’s no secret that dogs are capable of extraordinary things. We’ve seen them predict seizuresdetect cancersniff out buried truffles, and assist in the conservation of some of our world’s most precious ecosystems. But can a canine heal a wounded soul? Grab your surfboard (and maybe some tissues) because we are about to introduce a dog named Ricochet who is sure to melt your heart and bring on the happy tears. This sweet golden retriever has multiple championship surfing titles under her collar, but it’s the way she uses her unique talents to help others that truly makes her so special. 

As many remarkable stories do, Ricochet the Surf Dog’s story began where another journey ended. She was just a lil’ pup when she began training to become a service dog, where part of her training was balancing on a boogie board in a kiddie pool. In 2009 she took her first steps into the ocean, and just a short time later that year she won third place in the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge Surfing Dogs Competition!

Alas, the temptation to chase critters was too great for Ricochet to become a service dog, but her owner Judy decided to focus on what she could do instead.

Courtesy of Judy and Surf Dog Ricochet

The “Aha Moment” that decided Ricochet’s destiny. 

2009 was a big year for Ricochet, as this was the year she made it clear to the rest of us what her purpose really was. One day out in the water, she decided to jump aboard the board of quadriplegic surfer Patrick Ivison, and it was at this moment that her owners discovered Ricochet’s true potential.

Surfing has been at the forefront of Ricochet’s work, but her true magic lies in the way that she intuitively adapts with each individual she interacts with. According to her owner,

“…It’s her mystifying ability to make immediate, heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul connections with strangers both in and out of the water.”

Ricochet makes deep connections with all types of people, but she is most sensitive to those with PTSD who have served in the military, and children with autism. In the video we’re about to watch by the Smithsonian Channel, you can see for yourself how Ricochet has an instant calming effect on Audrey Estrada, a military veteran who suffers from PTSD and an intense fear of the ocean.

I get by with a little help from man’s best friend.

Many of us suffer from invisible threats that intrude on our mental well-being. In the U.S. alone, 6% of the population have PTSD, that’s approximately 15 million adults each year. 2

It’s a condition that is often hard to explain to other humans, so it makes total sense that a dog would make the perfect confidant. They don’t judge you, they don’t talk back or tell your secrets, they simply feel you. And in turn, carrying the weight of it all feels less heavy.

Ricochet has had such a profound impact on people’s mental health, it’s enough to make one want to ask the doctor to prescribe an empathetic dog with a pink vest. But in addition to being an adorable floof of empathy and innocence, as of 2015, Ricochet is a certified therapy dog and level II Reiki healer!

The story has only just begun.

Our wish for anything pure and good like Ricochet’s story, is that it will continue to fan out over humanity in the best way possible. And in this case, it really has.

Ricochet’s owner Judy started a non-profit called Puppy Prodigies that offers swimming lessons, canine assisted water rescue, dog training, and adaptive surfing! Click here to meet Aqua Dog Cori, a super cute female golden lab who was donated to the group and now uses her natural instinct to perform trained water rescues!

In addition to these programs, Puppy Prodigies also tackles the root of the problem that they see in many of the people they help by creating awareness for PTSD, anti-bullying campaigns, and mentorship programs. Learn more about these branches of their mission and learn how you can contribute by checking out their website here.

Catch a wave and ride that baby for as long as you can!

I hope you found this story as wonder-filled and inspiring as I did. It really made me think about the journeys that we find ourselves traveling, and the people we can help along the way if we look at our abilities through a lens of opportunity. 

If you find yourself failing at something, or your plans didn’t turn out the way you had hoped, remember Ricochet. If a golden retriever can find it’s true purpose and have such a life-changing impact on others, I have full confidence that you can, too. 

And when you do find it, stand sturdy and ride that wave of goodness!

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What a fantastic video that was. But there are many videos about Ricochet so if you want to stay with him then YouTube is as good as place to start as any.

But as we all know when it comes to dogs each dog is an individual with their own likes and dislikes. Their ability to understand us humans is magical as well. I swear that many of our dogs here at home can understand words spoken by Jean and me. Whether they interpret the words directly or associate the tones expressed with each phrase, rather like a musical sound, is beyond me. I am sure someone knows and if anyone has a link to the researcher who has discovered this about dogs then please let me know.

Correction! This is Indiana’s latest post.

Getting my ducks in a row!

I apologise but this is the next guest post from Indiana Lee not the one I published yesterday.

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Courtesy of Unsplash

Maximizing the Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Dog Ownership

Dogs do so much for us and our health. They help us overcome depression, prompt us to move more often, and give us joy through their play and cuddles — sometimes it feels as though they’re the ones looking after us! 

But, not everyone who owns a dog maximizes the health benefits that our canine companions can bring. Oftentimes, owners get lazy and fall out of a regular walking schedule, or use their dog as an excuse to stay home and avoid travel or social events. 

Finding ways to take advantage of the health benefits that dogs can bring is crucial for owners. So, here are a few tips to help you get the most from your relationship with your pup. 

Dogs and Mental Health

The positive impact that dogs have on our mental health is gaining recognition amongst researchers and healthcare providers. There are a few different theories as to why dogs are so good for our mental health, but the leading idea involves the chemical oxytocin. 

Ann Robinson, writing for the Guardian, calls Oxytocin “the so-called ‘hug’, ‘love’ or ‘cuddle’ hormone”, and is the chemical that is present when we form deep, meaningful relationships. This chemical is present when we form relationships with our parents or children, but is also at play in the pet-owner relationship. 

While the research on oxytocin and mental health is still in its infancy, we do know that dogs help us combat stressors and mental health conditions. It should come as no surprise that service dogs can help folks who suffer from PTSD or anxiety manage their conditions. But, dogs can also help anyone who is struggling with stress from day-to-day sources. 

Dogs and Physical Health

Dog owners spend about 200 more minutes a week walking than folks who don’t own a dog. This has a range of welcome health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular function, more effective immune systems, and a stronger muscle-skeletal system. 

But, thousands of dog owners do not take their dogs out for a walk or to a local dog-play park. This may be for perfectly valid reasons like a disability, but if you can walk your dog, yet choose not to, then both you and your dog are missing out on the incredible health benefits of being outdoors. 

You don’t need to start hiking mountains to enjoy the physical health benefits of dog walking. Start slow, with a walk that lasts about 15 minutes. This will ensure that neither you nor your dog will be “over walked”, which can lead to conditions like arthritis and joint pain. Preferably, aim to walk on grass or soft surfaces as these will be easier for your pup to walk on because they won’t burn their paws. 

Modifying Your Home

You might not realize it, but the design and structure of your home significantly impact the health and wellbeing of your dog. By making design choices that improve your dog’s quality of life, you can expect to have a healthier, happier dog who will reward you with plenty of affection and attention. 

First and foremost, you need to make sure your home is pup-proof. This means you need to remove any hazards like hanging objects or harmful substances like human food and cleaning chemicals. Following this, you should maintain a clean home, where your dog won’t choke or fall ill by eating something you’ve left lying around. 

Once you’ve taken care of the basics, you can get a little more creative about what you choose to include in your house. You can, for example, include pest repellant plants that are also safe for your pup that will keep mosquitoes and other pests away from both you and your dog. Small changes like buying a dog bed for your office can also make a big difference to your dog’s quality of life. 

By taking the time to keep your home clean and dog-safe, you can live with peace of mind knowing that your dog is happy, healthy, and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. 

Travel With Dogs

Many folks mistakenly believe that they can’t take their dogs with them when they travel, or that their pet will put a wrench in their travel plans. This couldn’t be further from the truth — bringing your dog with you on your travels is a great way to stimulate them, and will only improve the connection you have with your canine pal. 

The key to ensuring you have a good time on the road is all about choosing the right mode of transportation. If you’re planning to travel with your dog in the car, then you might want to consider investing in dog cages for cars and make use of factory-installed barriers which keep everyone safe in the event of an accident. 

You can also take your dog with you via other methods like trains or via planes. Nowadays, many airlines allow you to keep your dog with you while you fly, rather than having to place them in the hold. Trains are much the same, as many dog owners choose to travel with their pets via a good old locomotive.

Traveling with dogs is also great in the winter, as many dogs are well suited to colder climates, and love nothing more than playing in the snow and cold weather camping. This can help you beat the winter blues, and improve your overall health and wellness. Just be sure to follow winter-safety travel considerations that are designed to keep you and your four-legged friend safe. 

Conclusion

Maximizing the mental and physical health benefits of owning a dog is tricky. If it’s been a while since your last walk, then it can be daunting to get out on the road again. Likewise, the idea of traveling with a canine pal is overwhelming for many folks. But, by planning ahead, and creating an environment your dog will enjoy, you can be sure to get the most from the special relationship you have with your four-legged friend.

ooOOoo

Dogs are the most amazing and wonderful animals ever. As has been said on this blog many times before dogs offer us unconditional love and that love presents itself in many ways.

I have written before about our Oliver.

Oliver’s eyes are to die for! His ability to read the smallest indications of an emotion on our human face is incredible.

Then there is Brandy. What a love!

Then we have Cleo who came as a puppy to be with Pharaoh.

June, 2007

Again the eyes! We still miss him.

The first day that Pharaoh was passed across to me. Devon, June 2003.

We are now down to five dogs: Pedi, Sheena, Oliver, Cleo and Brandy.

However all the dogs that we have had the greatest pleasure to love are still in our hearts.

Love!

A Valentine Day reflection.

Yesterday was, of course, Valentine’s Day.

Rather than copy something from somewhere else I wanted to be original in my thoughts about love.

Jean was happy that this be published.

ooOOoo

February 14th, 2022

In a world where new gizmos are coming onto the scene with what seems like ever increasing rapidity there is one thing that remains constant. It is love.

To my mind, love is a great deal more than the emotional and romantic connection between a man and a woman. Of course, that love, the romantic connection, is the one that is the subject of countless songs, poems, plays, books, and many other forms of communication, and one that goes back to almost the origins of warm-blooded life.

If one opens one’s mind, however, love can cover so much more. Love for the land; love for the distant stars in a dark sky; love for the sea; love for nature; and on and on. Too many times for me to count, and why would I want to count them anyway, each day I look out to the north-east and towards Sexton Mountain. My fondness for that sight is, I think, a form of love.

But this is Valentine’s Day. Despite the history of the day being an ancient Christian feast, as in Saint Valentine, an early Christian martyr, it has long become an important cultural and commercial celebration of romance. I sense you and me wanting to kick back against the commercial imperatives although, as you can see, I offer you a Valentine’s card.

With this card, I celebrate our love.

With this card, I celebrate that you and I found true love back in 2007; the first time this had happened to me.

With this card, I celebrate all that we have.

Dear Jeannie, I Love You!

ooOOoo

Here is the card:

Card and Brandy!