Category: Science

Our beautiful planet.

It is the only lovely planet that we all have.

That ‘we’ being all the animals, plants, insects and humans there are.

I’m not saying anything new and not making this plea for the first time in this place.

But just take a few minutes out of your busy day to reflect that for you, for me, for everyone wherever they are in the world, physically and culturally, doing nothing is not an option.

More of that in a minute.

First I want to share with you a few autumnal photographs of our home here in Oregon.

Below was taken at 9am on October 24th showing the  mountain mist right down to the tops of our trees that mark the edge of our driveway from the house to our Hugo Road entrance.

Next, a sunrise photograph with the camera pointing to the East. The tree line follows the ridge of some hills the other side of Hugo Road. The picture taken on the 19th October at 07:20.
Now a close-up of the remains of a very old tree trunk with the trees that border Bummer Creek, that runs through our land, just showing through the morning mist. Taken on the 24th October at 09:05.

Final photograph I wanted to share with you is this beautiful sight of the moon taken from our property at 16:05 on the 25th. October.

Regular readers will know that Jean and I are not believers in any religion; we are atheists. But to my way of thinking that puts even more pressure on me and Jean to try to make a difference. We do all that we can but there’s no doubt that we can do more.

Yesterday, I referred to Bill Ripple, or to give him his full signature: William J. Ripple, Distinguished Professor of Ecology, Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

I sent Bill an email:

Dear Bill (and forgive the over familiarity if that offends),
I am a Brit, just turned 73, living with my beautiful wife, Jean, London-born as I was, down in Merlin, Oregon.

We live on 13 wonderful acres of rural property with 6 dogs (down from 12 when we moved here 5 years ago) and 4 horses, the majority of whom are ex-rescues.

I am the author of the blog Learning from Dogs and want to publish a post highlighting that viewpoint article. Because I believe with every neuron left in my ageing brain that the political changes that this world so urgently needs can only come when 99.9% of the public are screaming out “enough is enough”!

But there’s another saying that comes to mind, the one about being the change you want to see or something like that.

Is there information anywhere online that spells out, almost in words of one syllable, what lifestyle changes each of us can and need to commit to today? Changes that are as appropriate for elderly authors living in the country as young people seeking their first job or those up to their necks in working and raising families?

For that is what I want to publish on my blog!

If it would be easier for me to make an appointment to call you and take notes over the phone then I am just as happy to do that.

Sincerely,

Paul Handover
Hugo Road, Merlin,

Bill promptly replied:

Hi Paul, how long of a list of lifestyle changes do you want to make? Would three or four be enough? Bill

then followed that up with another email:

Paul, Consider suggesting that if people want to help, they could have fewer children, reduce energy consumption such as driving autos and flying, avoid meat and eat mostly plant-based foods and avoid wasting food. Below are quotes from our paper. Bill

“It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources ….

… reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure; promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods

Now watch this video

I will close this post by listing out all the things that you and I can do now!

  • Set a target for reducing your car mileage next year compared to 2017,
  • If you are a regular aircraft passenger, then set a target for flying fewer hours in 2018 compared to 2017,
  • reduce or stop eating meat,
  • do not waste food,
  • reduce the use of heating and cooling in your home/s for next year,
  • commit to a dietary change away from meats and processed foods to a plant-based diet.

Then for younger couples who want a family around them, limit the number of children to a “replacement level” at most. Adopt??

A plea for this planet!

I feel compelled to ‘bang the drum’!

The recent news that many scientists have signed an open letter warning about how soon it will be too late to “save Earth” has been widely broadcast; not that this stops me from republishing the version of the news story that I read on the EarthSky blog site.

Here it is.

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Scientists warn: Soon it will be too late to save Earth

By Eleanor Imster in EARTH | HUMAN WORLD | November 16, 2017
More than 15,000 scientists in 184 countries have signed a letter urging the world to address major environmental concerns. “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out.”

A letter to all of us, signed by more than 15,000 scientists (and counting) in 184 countries, warns that human well-being will be severely jeopardized by continuing trends in environmental harm, including our changing climate, deforestation, loss of access to fresh water, species extinctions and human population growth.

Entitled World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice, it was published in the international journal Bioscience on November 13, 2017.

In 1992, more than 1,700 scientists signed a World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity published by the Union of Concerned Scientists. But global trends have worsened since 1992, the authors wrote in the new letter. In the last 25 years, trends in nine environmental issues suggest that humanity is continuing to risk its future.

Read the letter here.

The scientists wrote:

Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.

The letter also says …

By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere.

The article was written by an international team led by William Ripple of Oregon State University led the international team of scientists who created the letter. Ripple said in a statement:

Some people might be tempted to dismiss this evidence and think we are just being alarmist. Scientists are in the business of analyzing data and looking at the long-term consequences. Those who signed this second warning aren’t just raising a false alarm. They are acknowledging the obvious signs that we are heading down an unsustainable path. We are hoping that our paper will ignite a wide-spread public debate about the global environment and climate.

Progress in some areas — such as a reduction in ozone-depleting chemicals and an increase in energy generated from renewable sources — shows that positive changes can be made, the authors wrote. There has been a rapid decline in fertility rates in some regions, which can be attributed to investments in education for women, they added. The rate of deforestation in some regions has also slowed.

The warning came with steps that can be taken to reverse negative trends, but the authors suggested that it may take a groundswell of public pressure to convince political leaders to take the right corrective actions. Such activities could include establishing more terrestrial and marine reserves, strengthening enforcement of anti-poaching laws and restraints on wildlife trade, expanding family planning and educational programs for women, promoting a dietary shift toward plant-based foods and massively adopting renewable energy and other “green” technologies.

Scientists who did not sign the warning prior to publication can endorse the published warning here.

Bottom line: A letter entitled World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice, urging the world to address major environmental concerns. was signed by more than 15,000 scientists in 184 countries.

Read more from Oregon State University

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As is the way with this modern inter-connected world it was but a moment to track down said William Ripple, find his email address and ask him what he recommended as the top things that you and I should be doing now.

Not just for you and me but for all the animals as well on this very beautiful planet.

Bill’s reply is part of tomorrow’ post. See you then!

Memories, dear memories

A republication of a post from earlier times.

(I came across this when researching my posts for my second book.)

It was published on the 18th June, 2016.

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A Eulogy For Hazel

This dear, precious dog!

Back in March, 2014 when I was writing a series of posts about our dogs, I published a Meet the dogs – Hazel post. This eulogy consist mainly of what I wrote then, with a few minor changes to bring it up to date, and a closing thought.

Hazel

I first met Jean in Mexico; namely, in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico to be precise. Just a few days before Christmas, 2007. At that time, Jean had 16 dogs, all of them rescues off the streets in and around San Carlos. Jean was well-known for rescuing Mexican feral dogs.

In September, 2008 I travelled out to Mexico, via London-Los Angeles, with my Pharaoh. Jean and I have been together ever since. In February, 2010, because we wanted to be married and to be married in the USA, we moved from San Carlos to Payson, in Arizona; some 80 miles North-East of Phoenix.

One morning, just a few days before we were due permanently to leave San Carlos and move our animals and belongings the 513 miles (827 km) to Payson, AZ, Jean went outside the front of the San Carlos house to find a very lost and disorientated black dog alone on the dusty street. The dog was a female who in the last few weeks had given birth to puppies that had been weaned. Obvious to Jean because the dog’s teats were still somewhat extended.

The dog had been abandoned outside in the street. A not uncommon happening because many of the local Mexicans knew of Jean’s rescues over many years and when they wanted to abandon a dog it was done outside Jean’s house. The poor people of San Carlos sometimes resorted to selling the puppies for a few Pesos and casting the mother dog adrift.

Of course the dog was taken in and we named her Hazel. Right from Day One Hazel was the most delightful, loving dog and quickly attached herself to me.

The truest of love between a man and a dog!
The truest of love between a man and a dog!

Of all the dogs that we have here at home, and, trust me, many are extremely loving, my relationship with Hazel was precious beyond description. She was in Pharaoh’s ‘group’ (Pharaoh, Cleo, Sweeny, Pedy and Brandy) so slept in our bedroom at night. Most nights Hazel was tucked up against me.

Plus frequently during the day Hazel would take an interest in what I was doing, as the next photograph illustrates.

Hazel taking an interest in my potterings.
Hazel taking an interest in my potterings; March 2014.

If ever one wanted an example of the unconditional love that a dog can offer a human, then Hazel was that example. Precious creature.

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Just stay with me for a little longer.

Recently there was a documentary on the BBC about Koko the gorilla and how many hand signs Koko had learnt. As Wikipedia explains (in part):

Hanabiko “Koko” (born July 4, 1971) is a female western lowland gorilla who is known for having learned a large number of hand signs from a modified version of American Sign Language (ASL).

Her caregiver, Francine “Penny” Patterson, reports that Koko is able to understand more than 1,000 signs of what Patterson calls “Gorilla Sign Language” (GSL). In contrast to other experiments attempting to teach sign language to non-human primates, Patterson simultaneously exposed Koko to spoken English from an early age. Reports state that Koko understands approximately 2,000 words of spoken English, in addition to the signs.

The reason why I mention this is at the end of the programme it is stated that Koko’s ability to communicate shows very clearly that she is capable of feelings and emotions. Indeed, the way that Koko hugs Penny is very moving.

The presenter of the BBC programme concludes how things have changed over all the years from the birth of Koko some 45 years ago to today. As in back in the ’70s’ the idea that animals had emotions was just not accepted whereas nowadays there is mounting evidence that many warm-blooded animals have emotions; are capable of emotional feelings.

Why do I mention this?

For there isn’t one shred of doubt in the minds of Jean and me that Hazel was full of feelings of love and affection towards her human friends.

That is the epitaph with which Hazel will be remembered! This is her legacy.

Picture of Hazel taken in the last twenty-four hours.
Picture of Hazel taken in March, 2014.

Beware of antifreeze

A very timely reminder!

The other day we went to buy more hay and feed from our local supplier The Red Barn on Upper River Road in Grants Pass.

Tyler, the owner, was distraught having just returned from urgently running his dog in to see Dr. Russ at local Lincoln Road Vet Clinic. The reason being that his dog had eaten some rat poison that he had put out on one of the upper floors of the barn.

Later I was discussing this with our good friend, Jim Goodbrod, also a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and Jim said that so long as the dog is caught quickly and taken to a vet it is unlikely that it would leave the dog with any permanent harm.

However, Jim then went on to say that especially at this time of the year the thing that vets see far too often is dogs who have drunk antifreeze that car owners put into their radiators ahead of the winter season.

Jim stressed that dogs very rarely are unharmed after having contact with antifreeze. Even a teaspoonful was sufficient to kill a cat and cause severe kidney damage in dogs!

So it was essential to spread the word.

No better done than by offering you this video. Watch it! Especially through to the end where Dr. Barker offers clear advice as to what to do if you suspect antifreeze poisoning of your dog or cat.

Published on Nov 23, 2014

If this prevents even a single dog or cat from being poisoned by antifreeze then that’s a win!
So spread the word!

Are we awake!

Returning to Earth with a bang!

My posts of the last few days have been in the ‘cuddly, cosy’ vein of life and, as many would say, a long way from the reality of this 21st century.

The reality is tough and scary and many, including me, favour running away from scary places. I’m sure that the urge to flee and hide is a survival behaviour from long time ago. BUT!! But the only hope for us humans is to face the facts full on.

Take, for example, the Ganges River. We have all heard of this famous river (my emphasis below):

The Ganges  is a trans-boundary river of Asia which flows through the nations of India and Bangladesh. The 2,525 km (1,569 mi) river rises in the eastern Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. It is the third largest river in the world by discharge.

The source of the Ganges is the Gangotri glacier. Here it is:

Gaumukh, snout of the Gangotri glacier,surrounded by the Bhagirathi peaks of Garhwal Himalayas, at an altitude of over 4,000 metres. Photo: Vidya Venkat.

The photograph was taken from this article; from which I offer:

Scientists say dwindling snowfall affects volume of water fed to the Bhagirathi, the main source of the Ganga

After a four-hour-long trek from Bhojwasa, the final camping spot in Gangotri, when a brown, fractured pile of rocks finally came into view it was hard to believe that this was the mouth of the glacier from which the ‘holy’ Ganga emerged.

Gaumukh, the snout of the Gangotri glacier, named after its shape like the mouth of a cow, has retreated by over 3 kilometres since 1817, says glaciologist Milap Chand Sharma of Jawaharlal Nehru University.

It was nearly two centuries ago that the retreat of the glacier was first documented by John Hodgson, a Survey of India geologist.

With 10 Indian States reeling under drought and the country facing a severe water crisis after two weak monsoons, the story of retreating freshwater sources such as the Himalayan glaciers is worrying. And though a three-kilometre retreat over a period of two centuries might seem insignificant at first glance, data shows that the rate of retreat has increased sharply since 1971. The rate of retreat is 22 metres per year.

Twenty-two metres or seventy-two feet a year!

Wringing our hands is no good. All of us who care for our Living Planet have to shout out just what is going on. As George Monbiot continues to do. Take his latest essay, for example, that is republished here in full with GM’s very kind permission.

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Insectageddon

The scale and speed of environmental collapse is beyond imagination.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 20th October 2017

Which of these would you name as the world’s most pressing environmental issue? Climate breakdown, air pollution, water loss, plastic waste or urban expansion? My answer is none of the above. Almost incredibly, I believe that climate breakdown takes third place, behind two issues that receive only a fraction of the attention.

This is not to downgrade the danger presented by global heating – on the contrary, it presents an existential threat. It is simply that I have come to realise that two other issues have such huge and immediate impacts that they push even this great predicament into third place.

One is industrial fishing, which, all over the blue planet, is now causing systemic ecological collapse. The other is the erasure of non-human life from the land by farming.

And perhaps not only non-human life. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, at current rates of soil loss, driven largely by poor farming practice, we have just 60 years of harvests left. And this is before the Global Land Outlook report, published in September, found that productivity is already declining on 20% of the world’s cropland.

The impact on wildlife of changes in farming practice (and the expansion of the farmed area) is so rapid and severe that it is hard to get your head round the scale of what is happening. A study published this week in the journal Plos One reveals that flying insects surveyed on nature reserves in Germany have declined by 76% in 27 years. The most likely cause of this Insectageddon is that the land surrounding those reserves has become hostile to them: the volume of pesticides and the destruction of habitat have turned farmland into a wildlife desert.

It is remarkable that we need to rely on a study in Germany to see what is likely to have been happening worldwide: long-term surveys of this kind simply do not exist elsewhere. This failure reflects distorted priorities in the funding of science. There is no end of grants for research on how to kill insects, but hardly any money for discovering what the impacts of this killing might be. Instead, the work has been left – as in the German case – to recordings by amateur naturalists.

But anyone of my generation (ie in the second bloom of youth) can see and feel the change. We remember the “moth snowstorm” that filled the headlight beams of our parents’ cars on summer nights (memorialised in Michael McCarthy’s lovely book of that name). Every year I collected dozens of species of caterpillars and watched them grow and pupate and hatch. This year I tried to find some caterpillars for my children to raise. I spent the whole summer looking and, aside from the cabbage whites on our broccoli plants, found nothing in the wild but one garden tiger larva. Yes, one caterpillar in one year. I could scarcely believe what I was seeing – or rather, not seeing.

Insects, of course, are critical to the survival of the rest of the living world. Knowing what we now know, there is nothing surprising about the calamitous decline of insect-eating birds. Those flying insects – not just bees and hoverflies but species of many different families – are the pollinators without which a vast tract of the plant kingdom, both wild and cultivated, cannot survive. The wonders of the living planet are vanishing before our eyes.

Well, I hear you say, we have to feed the world. Yes, but not this way. As a UN report published in March explained, the notion that pesticide use is essential for feeding a growing population is a myth. A recent study in Nature Plants reveals that most farms would increase production if they cut their use of pesticides. A study in the journal Arthropod-Plant Interactions shows that the more neonicotinoid pesticides were used to treat rapeseed crops, the more their yield declines. Why? Because the pesticides harm or kill the pollinators on which the crop depends.

Farmers and governments have been comprehensively conned by the global pesticide industry. It has ensured its products should not be properly regulated or even, in real-world conditions, properly assessed. A massive media onslaught by this industry has bamboozled us all about its utility and its impacts on the health of both human beings and the natural world.

The profits of these companies depend on ecocide. Do we allow them to hold the world to ransom, or do we acknowledge that the survival of the living world is more important than returns to their shareholders? At the moment, shareholder value comes first. And it will count for nothing when we have lost the living systems on which our survival depends.

To save ourselves and the rest of the living world, here’s what we need to do:

  1. We need a global treaty to regulate pesticides, and put the manufacturers back in their box.
  2. We need environmental impact assessments for the farming and fishing industries. It is amazing that, while these sectors present the greatest threats to the living world, they are, uniquely in many nations, not subject to such oversight.
  3. We need firm rules based on the outcomes of these assessments, obliging those who use the land to protect and restore the ecosystems on which we all depend.
  4. We need to reduce the amount of land used by farming, while sustaining the production of food. The most obvious way is greatly to reduce our use of livestock: many of the crops we grow and all of the grazing land we use are deployed to feed them. One study in Britain suggests that, if we stopped using animal products, everyone in Britain could be fed on just 3m of our 18.5m hectares of current farmland (or on 7m hectares if all our farming were organic). This would allow us to create huge wildlife and soil refuges: an investment against a terrifying future.
  5. We should stop using land that should be growing food for people to grow maize for biogas and fuel for cars.

Then, at least, nature and people would have some respite from the global onslaught. And, I hope, a chance of getting through the century.

http://www.monbiot.com

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Please do share this as widely as you can. Please do inform others. Please do make whatever changes, however small, you can within your own lives.

Bhagirathi Peaks from the Gangotri Glacier

And, please, please, listen to our Living Planet that is screaming out to us that this cannot go on!

Dream on my beautiful dog

Science shows that animals, including dogs, do dream!

I wanted to republish a recent and serious article written by George Monbiot but couldn’t bear to push back against the wonderful video of yesterday. Those loving ripples are still spreading across my consciousness and, I’m sure, that’s the same for you.

Consciousness, sleep, and dreaming are fascinating states of the mind. Previously thought exclusively the states of human minds. But not so!

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Do Animals Dream?

By: Care2 Causes Editors October 22, 2017

About Care2 Follow Care2 at @care2

Written by Sy Montgomery, coauthor of Tamed and Untamed: Close Encounters of the Animal Kind

The electric eel exhibit at the New England Aquarium has a feature that makes it a favorite. Whenever the eel is hunting or stunning prey, the charge powers a voltmeter above his tank. It lights up when the eel is using his electricity, and allows you to see the invisible—like magic.

One day I saw another magical thing happen in the tank. Thanks to the voltmeter, I was able to watch the eel dream.

It happened when I was standing in front of the exhibit with Scott Dowd, the lead aquarist for the freshwater gallery, watching the eel resting motionless at the bottom of the tank. “I think he’s asleep,” I said to my companion.

“Yes, that eel is catching some serious z’s,” he agreed.

Being hard-core fish enthusiasts, we continued to watch transfixed while the electric eel slept. And that’s when it happened: A big flash shot across the voltmeter display—and another and another.

Electric eels hunt while swimming forward, wagging their heads to and fro, sending out electric signals that bounce back to them, sort of like a dolphin’s echolocation. But he was still motionless. So what was the flash for?

“I thought the eel was asleep!” I said to Dowd.

“He is asleep,” he replied.

We realized at once what we were almost surely witnessing. The electric eel was dreaming.

“It would appear that not only do men dream,” Aristotle wrote in History of Animals, “but horses also, and dogs, and oxen; aye, and sheep and goats. . . .”

It was obvious: Like most of us, Aristotle had watched sleeping dogs twitch their ears, paddle their paws, and bark in their sleep. Surely other animals dreamed as well.

But since Aristotle’s day, more “modern” thinkers denied that animals could dream. Complex and mysterious, dreams were considered the exclusive province of so-called higher minds.

As brain research advanced, however, researchers were forced to concede that Aristotle was right. Animals do dream.

And now we are even able to glimpse what they dream about.

Since the 1960s scientists have understood that our dreams happen during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of the sleep cycle. During this time our muscles are normally paralyzed by the pons of the brain stem, so that we don’t act out our dreams. In 1965 researchers removed the pons from the brain stems of cats.* They discovered the cats would get up and walk around, move the head as if to follow prey, and pounce as if on invisible mice—all
while asleep.

By 2007 we would get an even more vivid picture of animals’ dreams. Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists Matthew Wilson and graduate student Kenway Louie recorded the activity of rats’ brains while the animals were running a maze. Neurons fire in distinct patterns while a rat in a maze performs particular tasks. The researchers repeatedly saw the exact same patterns reproduced while the rats slept—and they saw this so clearly they could tell what point in the maze the rat was dreaming about and whether an individual rat was running or walking in his dreams.

The rats’ dreams arose from the hippocampus, the same area in the brain that seems to drive humans’ dreams. It’s an area known to record and store memories, and that supports the notion that one important function of dreams is to help us remember what we have learned. Of course, it’s important to a lab rat to remember the right way to run a maze.

So if rats dream of running mazes, what do birds dream about? Singing.

University of Chicago professor Daniel Margoliash conducted experiments on zebra finches. Like most birds, zebra finches aren’t born knowing their songs; they learn them, and young birds spend much of their days learning and rehearsing the song of their species. While awake, neurons in the forebrain known as the robustus archistrialis fire when the bird sings particular notes. The researcher was able to determine the individual notes based on the firing pattern of the neurons. While the birds were asleep, their neurons fired in the same order—as if they were singing in their dreams.

Much less work has been done on fish than on mammals and birds. No one has found REM sleep in fish—yet. But that does not mean they don’t dream. Interestingly, no one has discovered REM sleep in whales, either. But whales almost surely dream. They are long-lived, social animals with very big brains much like our own, and for whom long-term memory consolidation is crucial.

And if you were looking for rapid eye movement in sleeping owls, you’d never see it—because owls’ eyes are fixed in their sockets. That’s why they need to turn their heads around, Exorcist-style. Yet owls’ brain waves show they dream, too.

Fish do sleep, however—that much is well known. It’s been carefully documented that if zebra fish are deprived of sleep (because pesky researchers keep waking them up), they have trouble swimming the next day—just as a person would have trouble concentrating after a dreamless night.

What might an electric eel dream about? The voltmeter at the New England Aquarium showed us the answer: hunting and shocking prey.

This excerpt is from Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas Tamed and Untamed: Close Encounters of the Animal Kind (Chelsea Green Publishing, October 2017) and is printed with permission from the publisher.

*Care2 stands firmly against animal testing and believes it to be a cruel and unnecessary practice for which there are viable alternatives, such as computer modeling.

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A young Pharaoh asleep, and dreaming?? September, 2003.

Four-legged gardening.

Another great guest post from Emily Ridgewell.

Last October 4th, just three weeks ago tomorrow, I introduced Emily Ridgewell to you. She had written a guest post for us Return to the Movies. It was well-received.

For many, the next few weeks are an important time of the year to do a spot of gardening. A time when dog-owners allow their loved ones to ‘help’, especially in the digging department. But are our gardens as safe for dogs as many of us might like to believe? Emily’s second guest post addresses that question.

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How to Create a Dog-Friendly Garden

by Emily Ridgewell, October 18th, 2017

Being a pet owner is not only a great pleasure but also a huge responsibility. While most of the people think that taking care of dog only included feeding and walking it three times a day, the truth is that being a good dog owner means much more than that. There are plenty of unobvious things that might pose potential threats to the health and wellbeing of dogs, and plants from home garden is a telling example of such threats.

Turns out, not all home plants are equal and your favorite flowers might be a poison for your dog if ingested. The consequences might be serious, which is why it’s important for you as a responsible dog owner to ensure your home garden is dog-friendly and learn what to do if your dog ingested a poisonous plant. The goal of this article is to help you on this matter.

Basic Rules to Follow

Before listing all home plants and flowers that might pose threat to your dog, it makes sense to say a bit about general rules of creating a dog-friendly garden. After all, it is not about the right or wrong plants only.

  • If possible, choose robust plants

Young plants or plants with especially delicate stems might not survive if your dog will run through them every now and then. That’s why you are strongly advised to plant large and robust plants like astilbe, hardy geranium, or lavender.

  • Remember to protect your garden

If you don’t want your home garden to be ruined by a happy running dog, make sure your garden has clearly defined boundaries and borders. Low-growing box hedge serves perfectly for this matter.

  • Be careful using chemicals

The importance of this point is paramount. Plenty of gardeners use non-organic slug pellets and other chemicals when taking care of a garden. If you own a dog, the only option for you is to learn how to deal with snails and slugs organically and avoid any chemicals altogether.

  • Choose gentle materials

If you want garden decorations, avoid sharp stones and kinds of materials that might become extremely hot under the sun or too slippery when wet.

Which home plants and flowers are not dog-friendly?

By now you know the most common rules you should follow when creating a dog-friendly garden. Now it is time to learn which particular plants and flowers might be dangerous for dogs and should be avoided at all cost.

All poisonous plants range from slightly toxic (those that might cause vomiting, but nothing more serious) to extremely toxic (those that might cause serious health problems, including death). The list of plants that are dangerous to dogs is long, so it makes sense to divide all plants into subcategories.

In the case with perennial flowers, you should avoid Foxglove, Mums, Lenten Rose, Bleeding Hearts, Hosta, Lily-of-the-valley, Monkshood, Yarrow, and Iris. Speaking of vines, your home garden should not have Morning Glory, English Ivy, Clematis, Bittersweets, Boston Ivy, and Wisteria. As for annuals, you’d better stay away from Lantana and Begonia. The list of poisonous shrubs includes Rose of Sharon, Hydrangea, Yew Bushes, Burning Bush, Azalea Genus, Boxwood, Daphne, and Andromeda. You should also be careful with certain trees, including American Holly, Golden Chain, Oak Trees, Yellow Bird of Paradise, and Oleander.

Armed with this information, you should not have any problems creating a beautiful and dog-friendly home garden. Just make sure to double-check all plants that you decide to plant and refer to common sense when choosing home garden decorations.

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 I thought this was valuable information and a very helpful article from Emily.

Then wanted to close this post by sharing with you an example of how our dogs help with the gardening around here.

But all I could find was this photograph of Cleo ‘thinking’ of doing the front lawn.

Win some: Lose some!

Life-giving water!

Funny how the world goes around!

Why do I write that?

Well during the last week I was referred by my local doctor to see a urologist in connection with a query regarding my ‘back end’. Dr. N, the urologist pointed out that the human body, especially the brain, places such demands on ensuring that water is readily available (non-scientific description!) that it will ‘steal’ water from the bowel. Ergo, when I do my bike rides in the morning I was told to drink the water that I carry with me but previously have not been consuming. For even my hour’s ride three times a week will cause sufficient perspiration that other parts of my body will remove water from my bowel.

All of which seems more than sufficient introduction to today’s post that I first read on the Care 2 site.

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Is Your Dog Drinking Enough Water?

By: Abigail Geer October 14, 2017

About Abigail

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on June 14, 2015. Enjoy!
Water makes up around 80 percent of a dog’s body. It’s essential for optimum health — for both humans and pets — but how much is enough for our pets? And is there such thing as too much water?

Looking after an animal is a major responsibility, since they depend on humans for their needs. We tend to assume that as long as we provide our dogs with a water bowl, they will drink the necessary amount, but unfortunately this is not always true.

Some dogs are under-hydrated, while others may drink too much. Here’s what every pet owner should know about hydration.

Water’s Vital Role in the Body

Water is the basis of life, as it hydrates, nourishes and cleanses the body. While your dog can survive for a long time without food, insufficient water consumption can seriously damage the body. In a relatively short period of time, just a 10 percent drop in hydration can be fatal.

From mental alertness and ease of breathing, to optimum digestion and bowel movements, every metabolic process in a dog’s body will be affected by its level of hydration.

Blood flow pumps oxygen through the body and removes toxins, but poor hydration can lead to a buildup of toxins in the muscles and organs, causing a huge array of health issues. Dogs regulate their heat by panting, and this heavy breath causes a lot of moisture to leave the body — especially on hot days or while exercising.

Lack of water can result in dehydration, organ failure and kidney stones or other urinary tract problems, but apart from these direct health issues, insufficient water intake can be an indicator of existing problems.

Water Consumption Can Be a Health Indicator

Dogs who are not drinking enough water or who have an insatiable thirst could be displaying signs of more serious health problems — and that’s why it’s essential to keep a close eye on their drinking habits.

Dogs with illnesses such as parvovirus, pancreatitis and leptospirois — as well as many others — do not tend to drink much water, so if you notice that your dog is barely drinking anything, it may be worth taking them for a check-up. On the flip side, dogs with bladder infections, diabetes and Cushing’s disease — among others — are often extremely thirsty and can be observed drinking excessive amounts of water.

While it’s important to monitor how much your dog is drinking, remember to keep things in perspective with their other behaviors, temperature conditions and so on, so that you don’t become overly concerned every time your dog has a big drink of water!

So How Much Water Does Your Dog Need?

A dog’s water needs vary from breed to breed, and they also depend on size, age, diet, activity level and environmental conditions.

The recommended water intake for a dog is approximately one ounce of water per pound of bodyweight, per day.

Your dog’s diet will play a big role in the amount of water that it needs to consume. For instance, dogs who solely eat dry biscuits or kibble will get significantly less hydration from their food than those on moisture-rich diets.

During the hot weather, if your dog is very thirsty after a long walk or play session, it’s a good idea to let him or her rehydrate over an extended period of time, rather than letting the dog guzzle down too much water at once.

If your dog finishes all the water in its bowl, wait for half an hour before refilling it, so that your pup has time to rest and digest. You can also help keep dogs hydrated during exercise by giving them access to water — little and often is best.

To test whether your dog may be dehydrated, you can lift the skin on the back of the neck and watch to see how quickly it returns to its normal position. If it forms a sort of tent, and doesn’t fall back into place immediately, then your dog may be dehydrated.

Nobody knows your dog better than you, and by keeping a close eye on your dog’s behavior you can tell if he or she is happy and healthy — or showing signs of dehydration or illness. Regularly monitoring water intake should become a habit, as it can tell you a lot about your dog’s health and wellness.

Photo Credit: ThePatronSaint

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Thus picking up on that recommended water intake, a 20lb dog should be drinking 20 oz of water a day. And for your reference:

USA system: 16 USA ounces to the USA pint
Imperial system (old British system): 20 imperial fluid ounces to the imperial pint

So Brandy, who weighs in at 140 lbs, should be drinking 8.75 US pints or more than 1 gallon of water a day!

Our Brandy!

Back to what you and I should be drinking? Sound advice in this Mayo Clinic article (that includes this):

So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:

  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women

These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food. About 20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks.

Cheers!

Visiting the Vet – Ruby’s Urine Culture

At last we have the details.

On September 1st, I published an update on Ruby’s condition with regard to her UTI. This was because Ruby had had a re-occurrence of blood in her urine. Dr. Jim took an xray and also wanted Ruby’s urine sent across to Three Rivers Hospital for a culture. As I explained in that post, using information found online:

A urine culture is a test to find germs (such as bacteria) in the urine that can cause an infection. Urine in the bladder is normally sterile. This means it does not contain any bacteria or other organisms (such as fungi). But bacteria can enter the urethra and cause a urinary tract infection (UTI).

A sample of urine is added to a substance that promotes the growth of germs. If no germs grow, the culture is negative. If germs grow, the culture is positive. The type of germ may be identified using a microscope or chemical tests. Sometimes other tests are done to find the right medicine for treating the infection. This is called sensitivity testing.

Late on Tuesday afternoon, the Clinic rang to say that the full results were in.

So yesterday morning, the air still heavy with the smoke from the forest fires, we called in to Lincoln Road.

The report from Rogue Regional Medical Center, as in Three Rivers Hospital, offered the following:

VET URINE CULTURE

SPECIMEN SOURCE: URINE

COMMENTS TO MICRO: URINE

CULTURE RESULTS: 20,000 CFU/ML PROTEUS MIRABILIS

REPORT STATUS: FINAL 09/02/2017

(My emphasis)

That translated into Ruby’s medicine being changed from her present course of Amoxicillin antibiotic to Enrofloxacin (Two 136 mg tablets by mouth every 24 hours for 10 days.)

A quick web search produced this (in part):

Enrofloxacin (ENR) is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic sold by the Bayer Corporation under the trade name Baytril. Enrofloxacin is currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of individual pets and domestic animals in the United States.

Jeannie reading the details on the label.

Onwards and upwards!

Returning to diet!

Another fabulous guest post.

Just a few days ago I was contacted by June Frazier who offered me (and all of you!) a couple of topics for a guest post to be written by June. The two topics were 5 Common Winter Illnesses in Dogs (And How To Treat Them) and Why Now Is The Right Time To Change Your Dog’s Diet.
Of course I said ‘Yes’ and chose the second one thinking it was a tad too early for a post about Winter illnesses.

Here it is.

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Why Now Is The Right Time To Change Your Dog’s Diet.

3 Critical Signs That You Need To Change

by June Frazier.

Today, 96% of all dog owners in the world feed their dog’s commercial pet food. A good number of this population believes that the dried pet food is all their dog needs to stay healthy. Hence, the dogs are fed one type of food all the time.

In fact, they never consider introducing their dog to the many homemade dog food recipes available. Many dog owners are unaware of the fact that as a dog’s body changes, it requires different diets to stay healthy. If you are one of these dog owners, it is time to change your dog’s diet.

Three major reasons why now is the right time to change your dog’s diet:

1. The Age of the dog

As your dog ages, he needs extra diet considerations to stay nimble. At the age of 5, your dog is considered to be middle aged. You need to change their diet at this point as they need fewer calories and more fiber. This is because middle aged dogs are less active and their new lifestyle does not require the same diet they were on when they were younger. In addition, high calorie foods may do them more harm than good. Also, avoid giving your dog too much protein since it can damage his liver and kidneys.

Feed your dog with the right food that will benefit his joints to stay stronger, or foods that have plenty of antioxidants. Your middle aged dog may also need supplements to keep his joints and organs working optimally.

2. Obesity

Most dog parents do not realize that even in moderation, some food types contribute more to their pet’s weight than others. When your dog starts to put on a few extra pounds in their midsection, this is a clear indication that you need to change his diet.

The additional weight can easily slow down your dog. Obesity in dogs also opens them up to a variety of potential health problems. Change his diet to foods that can give them all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals without adding some extra kilos.

There are special diets for dogs that are specially designated for weight loss. These diets take advantage of the latest research in pet weight management, to ensure your dog leads a healthy, happier life. If your pet dog is extremely overweight, you are advised to consult with your veterinarian for a detailed and therapeutic nutritional solution.

3. Allergies and Skin conditions

On average, an itchy dog is an allergic dog. Most times, the reason behind their allergy and skin condition is their food or environment. You need to switch your dog’s diet to something a little simpler or less processed food.

In a case of an allergy, vets prescribe non-allergen diets or foods that do not trigger your dog’s allergic reaction. Homemade dog food recipes are ideal as you can mix the ingredients on your own as well as do an easy control experiment to figure out which foods cause his allergy. Also, make sure to alter one food ingredient per time until you get the culprit.

Although the transition may take a long time before you figure out what your dog is allergic to, the diet you end up with will be far healthier and nutritional to help him lead a better life. You can also take your dog to the vet to find out more about their allergy and skin condition.

Sometimes, the reason behind your dog’s skin condition may be due to a deficient diet. If your dog has a dull, matted coat, make sure you feed your dog foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids to help improve their coat quality and gastric health.

Choosing the right food for your pet is essential for your dog’s long-term health. However, it is not a substitute for medical care.

Make sure you visit a veterinarian on a regular basis to ensure your pet is healthy and happy. Along with your new diet, make sure your dog has plenty of fresh, clean water available at all times.

It is also advisable that you change your dog’s diet gradually and systematically. Substitute a little of the new diet with the old food. Swap out a little more of the old with the new until your dog is comfortable with the new diet.

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No question in my mind that this was a useful and informative article. I did ask June to offer a little about herself and this is what she wrote me:

June is the founder of the blog Toby’s Bone where she shares her passion for writing and love for dogs. She wants to help you deal with your dog’s behavior issues, grooming and health needs, and proper training. Through her blog, you can find informative and reliable posts, tips and tricks, and a lot of interesting reads that will help you maintain a close bond with your furry companion.

Well this gets my vote and I sincerely hope this isn’t the last time we hear from June.