Category: Philosophy

Adding a dog to your life.

A guest post from Penny offers some advice.

Penny Martin has previously written some guest posts for Learning from Dogs and here she is again with today’s post. The subject is not directly about dogs but trying to turn around one’s life; and that is something that most of us have faced up to at some point in their past.

(I think the references to Learning from Dogs are not needed but I’m not Penny!)

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Six Simple Self-Improvement Strategies for Your Health and Career

By Penny Martin,

Published 24th January, 2023.

Are you trying to turn your life around? Focusing on improving your self-care habits, your relationships, and your career prospects can yield change your life for the better. Furthermore, Learning From Dogs can introduce you to all of the benefits of becoming a dog owner! Here’s how to invest in your education, upgrade your resume, explore business ownership, and adopt healthy routines.

Advance Your Education

If you’re looking to move up in your career, you may want to head back to school to earn another degree. It’s okay if you’re not able to commit to attending courses at a physical campus – instead, consider studying through an online degree program. This will allow you to simultaneously work and care for your family. Double-check that any online programs you’re considering are accredited and that you can easily afford the tuition. You can choose a major like marketing, education, information technology, business, healthcare administration, and more.

Update Your Resume

Perhaps you’re hunting for a new job. Make sure to revise and update your resume prior to sending out applications! To make the process easier, just pick out a free resume template from an online library – this free resume may help. Then, you’ll input your work history. Finally, you can spruce up this document with a photo or a color scheme.

Consider Entrepreneurship

What if you’re frustrated with your boss, and you feel like working at a traditional 9-to-5 job is holding you back? If you’ve got a business idea, you can always register for LLC status for limited liability and tax breaks. Remember, if you form an LLC, you’ll have to choose a registered agent who can handle communications regarding your formation documents with law firms, tax agencies, and the government. You can hire a registered agent or service for help in this area.

Health and Fitness

Even as you prioritize your career, it’s still important to take care of your physical and emotional well-being. As you plan out meals each week, The Every Girl recommends cooking with lots of leafy greens and incorporating plant-based protein into your diet. Furthermore, try to block off a few workout sessions per week in your schedule. You might want to sign up for a gym membership.

Pick Up a Good Book

Reading is a great use of your downtime, especially if you’re on a self-improvement journey! Healthline states that reading can reduce your stress levels, prevent cognitive decline, and even alleviate symptoms of depression. Plus, you’ll be able to learn more about topics that you’re interested in! You might want to choose books that cover subjects related to self-help, like nutrition, fitness, meditation, or time management.

If you feel like you don’t have time to read, consider how you could cut down on screen time. Alternatively, you could listen to audiobooks while you commute to work or do chores around the house.

Get a Dog

If you could use another companion, consider getting a dog! Owning a dog can significantly improve your mental health. Canadian Living states that having a dog around actually decreases your blood pressure, boosts your levels of mood-enhancing hormones, and even helps you make friends in your neighborhood – taking your dog for walks helps you connect with other local dog owners!

Self-improvement is a lifelong process. When you take small steps in the right direction, you’ll be able to look back in a year and feel proud of how far you’ve come. With these tips, you can earn another degree, put together an impressive resume, become a pet owner, open your own business, and more!

Are you thinking about getting a dog? Read all about the benefits on Learning from Dogs! Visit the blog today to find out why getting a dog might be right for you.

Photo via Pexels

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Thank you, Penny.

Let me publish again the opening remarks that are on the home page of this blog:

Dogs live in the present – they just are!  Dogs make the best of each moment uncluttered by the sorts of complex fears and feelings that we humans have. They don’t judge, they simply take the world around them at face value.  Yet they have been part of man’s world for an unimaginable time, at least 30,000 years.  That makes the domesticated dog the longest animal companion to man, by far!

Learning from Dogs

I cannot put it better than that!

Another dog rescue for the New Year.

It was published late last year but so what!

This story from the Dodo caught my eye. Don’t know why because the articles about dogs being rescued are not rare! But anyway, whatever the reason it seemed a good article to share with you all today.

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Dog Trembling In A Pile Of Rubble Is So Grateful Someone Finally Noticed Her

“Her legs were shaking so hard” 💔

By Ashley Ortiz, Published on the 23rd December, 2022

The first time Donna Lochmann searched a crumbling, abandoned apartment building in St. Louis, Missouri, she couldn’t find who she was looking for. A Good Samaritan called Stray Rescue of St. Louis (SRSL) to report a dog sighting, but Lochmann, the shelter’s chief life saving officer, came out empty-handed.

“We searched every floor and never saw anything,” Lochmann told The Dodo. “There was not one dog, nothing.”

With temperatures dropping and more calls coming in about a dog barking from inside the building, Lochmann decided to go back again and keep searching. This time, she found someone.

“When I got to the backside of the building, I saw a dog lying in the grass,” Lochmann said. “I saw her run towards the back of the building and she went in, so I followed her.”

Unfortunately, by the time Lochmann made it inside the building, the dog had already disappeared into one of the many empty apartments. She couldn’t find the pup on her own, so Lochmann went back to the shelter and recruited the help of other staff members.

Lochmann and her team went back to the building the next day, and as they went from room to room searching for the scared pup, they suddenly heard barking coming from inside.

“I got over there and there was a poor dog just lying in the rubble of this building,” Lochmann said. “She was absolutely trembling, her legs were shaking so hard.”

The weather was cold that day, but Lochmann knew that the dog’s shaking was caused by fear more so than lack of warmth.

“I felt so bad for her,” Lochmann said. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen one shaking that hard, and it’s just gut-wrenching to see them so scared of you.”

To get the dog out of the building, Lochmann decided to use a plastic crate instead of attempting to walk her out on a leash. Not only would it be physically difficult to lead the pup out of the crumbling building on a leash, but Lochmann feared it would stress her out even more.

So Lochmann used the leash she had to guide the dog into the plastic crate, then quickly closed the door behind her.

“Once she was in the crate, she was calm,” Lochmann said.

Lochmann and her team carried the crate out of the building, then gently loaded it into her Jeep. They brought her back to the shelter, where she underwent a medical evaluation. Luckily for the pup, she passed with flying colors.

The dog, whom Lochmann named Habenero, was OK physically, but she was still a little nervous when she first got to the shelter.

“She was still pretty scared at first,” Lochmann said. “But she came around fairly quickly. Within a few days, she wasn’t growling anymore and she stopped shaking when we would talk to her.”

Habanero has since been spending time with Lochmann and her crew at the shelter, slowly getting used to her surroundings. Together, they go on walks around the neighborhoods surrounding the shelter and enjoy plenty of snuggles throughout the day.

Now that Habanero is feeling more comfortable, Lochmann believes that she’s finally ready to go into a foster home. It’ll be yet another change for the 7-year-old pup, but Lochmann is confident that she’ll thrive.

“Once she gets into a home, she’s gonna have a bit of adjustment to do,” Lochmann said. “But she’ll do great. I’m just glad she’s not trembling anymore.”

All images by STRAY RESCUE OF ST. LOUIS with whom copyright rests.

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The thing about dogs is the way that we, as in humans, bond so well with the majority of dogs, and that the majority of dogs bond so well with us.

I was just saying this to Jeannie yesterday morning when Oliver jumped up on to the three-seat settee, admittedly onto his special cushion, next to me and proceeded to snooze with his head on my thigh. Dogs are the perfect companions and they are incredibly conscious of the states of mind of their loving humans.

The incredible story of Diablo

Just watch this after the introduction.

Countless numbers of people have dreamt that they can communicate with animals and I would imagine an enormous percentage of those would have dreamt that they can communicate with dogs.

Certainly of the three dogs we have alive still here at home (we had in the past some fifteen dogs) Oliver below appears to understand much of what is said to him by me and Jean

If one goes to the YouTube website then one is introduced to Anna Breytenbach who has made it her life’s passion to better communicate with animals. Here’s a small piece from the extensive WikiPedia entry:

In her twenties she decided to pursue her passion for wildlife (big cats in particular) by becoming a cheetah handler at a conservation education project. On moving to America, she explored wolf and other predator conservation. She has also served on committees for wolf, snow leopard, cheetah and mountain lion conservation.

Anna Breytenbach and friend

So now we come to this video of Anna and Diablo, more properly called Spirit, (and the video will make that clear).

Arjan Postma explains the background to the film:

I just want to share this message as much as possible without any commercial intent, personal benefit or whatsoever. All used materials and therefore copyrights do not belong to me. I hope you enjoy discovering and watching this story and skill as much as I did: What if you could talk to animals and have them talk back to you? Anna Breytenbach has dedicated her life to what she calls interspecies communication. She sends detailed messages to animals through pictures and thoughts. She then receives messages of remarkable clarity back from the animals. In this section, Anna transforms a deadly snarling leopard into a relaxed content cat. The amazing story of how leopard Diabolo became Spirit… I found the source of this amazing documentary here: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/docum… This is the first full length documentary film on the art of animal communication. Nominated for Best Long Documentary, Best Director of “Jade Kunlun” Awards of 2012 World Mountain Documentary Festival of Qinghai China. Director: Craig Foster | Producer: Vyv Simson | Narrator: Swati Thiyagarajan Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2012.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Why is intelligent life so rare?

Maybe it is because of a ‘Great Filter‘.

Like so many others I read many items online. One of the websites that I follow is the EarthSky site because for a long time I have been interested in space.

So when I saw an article on why intelligent life is so rare in our Milky Way I read it fully. And hoped it would be of interest to others.

Here it is:

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What is the Great Filter, and can we survive it?

Posted by

Kelly Kizer Whitt and Deborah Byrd

November 17, 2022

This graphic depicts intelligent civilizations as stars. The vertical lines represent Great Filters that civilizations do or don’t survive. This graphic depicts Earth’s human population (the yellow “star”) approaching its own Great Filter. How would we surpass it, and keep going? Image via NASA/ arXiv.

What is the Great Filter?

Is intelligent life common, or rare in our Milky Way galaxy? If it’s common, why haven’t we encountered it? While discussing UFOs on a walk to lunch in the year 1950, the physicist Enrico Fermi is famously said to have asked, “But where is everybody?” Scientists today call that riddle Fermi’s Paradox. Now a new paper by NASA scientists explores one possible answer to the paradox. The answer may be what’s called the Great Filter.

Economist Robin Hanson first proposed the Great Filter, in the late 1990s. It’s the idea of that – even if life forms abundantly in our Milky Way galaxy – each extraterrestrial civilization ultimately faces some barrier to its own survival. The barrier might come from without (for example, an asteroid striking a planet, and wiping out all life forms). Or it might come from within (for example, all-out nuclear war).

Hanson proposed that a Great Filter might be at work within our Milky Way galaxy. He argued – from what we can see here on Earth – life expands to fill every niche. And so, he argued, we should see signs of intelligent life beyond Earth in nearby star systems, perhaps even in our solar system. But we don’t see this.

Is humanity facing a Great Filter?

The authors of the new paper take Hanson’s idea further. They explore the idea that humanity may now be facing a Great Filter. The authors wrote:

We postulate that an existential disaster may lay in wait as our society advances exponentially towards space exploration, acting as the Great Filter: a phenomenon that wipes out civilizations before they can encounter each other … In this article, we propose several possible scenarios, including anthropogenic and natural hazards, both of which can be prevented with reforms in individual, institutional and intrinsic behaviors. We also take into account multiple calamity candidates: nuclear warfare, pathogens and pandemics, artificial intelligence, meteorite impacts, and climate change. 

And they offer solutions, beginning with, as they say:

… a necessary period of introspection, followed by appropriate refinements to properly approach our predicament, and addressing the challenges and methods in which we may be able to mitigate risk to mankind and the nearly 9 million other species on Earth.

In a sense, the authors of the new paper – including lead author Jonathan H. Jiang of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California – are engaging in a “necessary period of introspection” by the act of writing their paper.

And, with their paper, they’re laying out the challenges we’re facing and methods of addressing them.

We’ve already survived some ‘filters’

The scientists point to life’s resilience. Life on Earth has already survived a number of filters in the form of mass extinction events. The Permian-Triassic extinction – aka the Great Dying – occurred 250 million years ago and nearly ended all life on the planet. This extinction event wiped out about 96% of marine life and 70% of land species. The exact cause of the Great Dying is still a matter of study, but some scientists have said it was a combination of warming temperatures and decreasing oxygen.

But these previous filters, or extinction events, have been natural, arising from the evolution of our planet and solar system, including volcanic eruptions and asteroid impacts

A Great Filter of our own making

But now, clearly, humanity may be facing a Great Filter of our own making, and one that other intelligent civilizations in the galaxy have faced … and failed to withstand. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the technological advancements humans have achieved might ultimately lead to our undoing. Perhaps that’s nature’s way. As the new paper said:

It seems as though nearly every great discovery or invention, while pushing back the borders of our technological ignorance, is all too quickly and easily turned to destructive ends. Examples such as splitting the atom, biomedical innovations and resource extraction and consumption come to mind with disconcerting swiftness. Still, some have suggested artificial intelligence (AI) as yet another factor, which, pending substantial technical hurdles, may yet have its chance to prove friend or foe.

Here’s a look at some of the issues that might compose Earth’s Great Filter.

Unchecked population growth

One of the factors Earth faces, according to the paper, is unchecked population growth. Earth just passed a milestone on November 15, 2022, when it reached 8 billion human inhabitants. The paper said with our current population figures, Earth has experienced:

… an exponential rise from about 1.6 billion [people] at the start of the 20th century.

Technological advancements in farming, energy production and distribution have made such a large population possible on Earth. But, as the paper said, these advancements cannot:

… indefinitely offset the multifaceted stresses imposed by an ever-escalating population.

When will Earth’s human population reach its peak size? Some projections report that education in developing nations might allow Earth’s population to peak at 10 billion in the 2060s. But, of course, no one really knows.

Nuclear war

While warfare has long been a factor of life on Earth, only in the past century has humanity had a weapon that could destroy all nations, not just those participating in a nuclear war. The scientists said the greater the number of democracies in the world, the better our chances for avoiding nuclear war. The scientist also saw other encouraging signs, including:

Peace agreements in the historically troubled Middle East, a vast reduction in nuclear warheads since the height of the Cold War and a wide coalition of nations rallying their support for the besieged in Eastern Europe.

Pathogens and pandemics

The threat of illness and pandemics continues to grow simply because our world is so interconnected. Spreading diseases have a much easier time in our global society. But on the positive side, advancements in medicine have also given us an edge. The scientists said that having current and reliable data is crucial:

… in predicting how future pandemics will spread, how deadly they will be and how quickly and effectively we will be able to leverage our knowledge of the life sciences to counter this manifestation of the Great Filter.

Artificial intelligence

While true artificial intelligence as a separate sentient being is not yet reality, the authors of the paper urge a proactive plan to peacefully share Earth. They project that computer sophistication will one day rival that of the human mind. The scientists said:

As for whether AI would be benign or otherwise, self-imposing a Great Filter of our own invention, that will depend on the evolving nature and disposition of Earth’s first high-tech species.

Asteroid and comet impacts

Here’s an extinction event from the past that could still spell our doom in the future. While large impacts are exceedingly rare, there is, as the scientists said:

… a non-zero percentage [of asteroids or comets] which are large enough to survive passage through the atmosphere and, impacting the surface, cause catastrophic destruction to our sensitive biosphere.

The odds of a mass extinction level event in the coming years is vanishingly small. But, over time periods extending into the very distant future, the odds increase toward 100%. Meanwhile, with projects such as the DART mission, and given enough lead time, humanity has a way of defending itself.

Climate change

Climate change has become one of the most studied threats to life on Earth. Because the threats from climate change happen on a slower time scale than, say, the time it takes to launch a nuclear weapon, the efforts to curb these effects have not been as rapid as they could have been. The scientists said:

The major impediment to taking more decisive actions, however, are the challenges imposed by transitioning to non-carbon-based energy sources such as solar, wind, nuclear power. Here again, rapidly advancing technologies in areas such as modularized nuclear power plants and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) are among the best hopes for avoiding slow-motion ensnarement by this lulling but lethal Great Filter.

Avoiding the Great Filter

So you see there’s not just one possible Great Filter for Earth, but many. Any one of them could be our downfall. These scientists are suggesting something that sounds simple on its face, but is (apparently) hard to do. That is, in order to avoid the Great Filter, humans must work together and recognize the big picture. As the paper said:

History has shown that intraspecies competition and, more importantly, collaboration, has led us toward the highest peaks of invention. And yet, we prolong notions that seem to be the antithesis of long-term sustainable growth. Racism, genocide, inequity, sabotage … the list sprawls.

Meanwhile, we continue to look outward, peering at the dark depths between the stars, hoping for a sign that we aren’t alone in the universe. Ultimately, our quest to find life beyond Earth is part of trying to understand life on our planet and where we fit in. As Carl Sagan said:

In the deepest sense, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is a search for ourselves.

Bottom line: Scientists say the reason we haven’t found intelligent civilizations in the galaxy is that they may not have survived the Great Filter. And they say we may be facing down our own Great Filter.

Source: https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/2210/2210.10582.pdf

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We are a funny bunch! As was said just a couple of paragraphs ago we humans must work together and recognise the big picture. But we do not!

Why do we not do that?

I wish I knew the answer to that conundrum! Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed the article.

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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