Category: Science

Questions; questions; questions!

About the position of our pet dogs and cats in this current pandemic.

So many of us are spending time at home. Lots of time!

And so many are asking questions about CORVID-19 and out pets.

Therefore I think it’s worthwhile to republish this article that appeared on Mother Nature Network yesterday.

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6 questions pet owners are asking during the COVID-19 pandemic

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Mary Jo DiLonardo,  April 8, 2020.

Ziggy looks out the window of his Maplewood, New Jersey, home as his owner sews masks for health care workers. (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

Many pet owners are spending a lot more time at home these days, and they have lots of questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their animals and their daily activities. Here are some answers.

Can pets get or spread COVID-19?

Two women walk past a billboard showing cats and dogs urging social distancing on April 4 in Berlin. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

There have been reports that two dogs in Hong Kong and a cat in Belgium were infected with COVID-19. However, infectious disease experts and human and animal health organizations agree there’s no evidence the pets spread the virus to people.

The World Health Organization currently advises that there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. The World Organisation for Animal Health says there’s no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this disease or that they become sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees, stating “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.”

Experts believe the pets might have tested positive due to “environmental contamination” of their snouts. The germs could have been living on the animal’s nose or mouth, just like they can live on other surfaces like a doorknob or a countertop.

A preprint of a research article posted online in late March raised concern because it suggested that cats and ferrets might be able to be infected with the virus and then transmit it to other animals. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) points out that the research has not been peer-reviewed, involved only a small number of animals and the way subjects are infected with a virus in a research setting does not mirror how infections happen naturally. Another preprint looked at whether cats in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began, developed antibodies to the virus.

The AVMA concluded that “nothing in these research articles provides conclusive evidence that cats, ferrets, or other domestic animals” can be infected with the virus or can transmit the virus under normal circumstances. The organization recommends that pet owners without symptoms wash hands before and after handling food, waste or supplies for their pets. Owners who have COVID-19 should restrict contact with pets, just like they would with people “out of an abundance of caution.”

There have been no reports of pets or livestock testing positive in the U.S. so far. However, when a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the virus, it was the first known case of a non-domesticated animal showing symptoms of COVID-19. The tiger likely contracted the coronavirus in early April from an asymptomatic zookeeper, according to National Geographic. The situation raised natural questions about transmission, but so far, the answer from the health experts remains the same, as mentioned above.

Can I still go to the vet (and should I)?

It depends on what your pet needs. The American Veterinary Medical Association issued suggested strategies for veterinarians that include limiting in-patient appointment to emergencies and critical care. They suggested veterinarians abide by social distancing guidelines with humans (at least six feet) when discussing care.

Many practices are only allowing one client in the office at a time, while others are sending an employee — wearing a gown, mask and gloves — out to a car to pick up the pet. The doctor then calls the client to talk about a diagnosis and treatment options.

Veterinarian Will Draper consults with a client with help from his dog, Frankie. (Photo: The Village Vets)

That’s what veterinarian Will Draper of The Village Vets is doing at his three metro Atlanta practices. Staff veterinarians are seeing patients for time-sensitive issues like rabies vaccinations and critical surgeries, while putting off spays, neuters and annual visits.

“We’re still seeing as much as we can within reason while still maintaining the balance of keeping our team and our clients healthy,” Draper tells MNN.

He’s also ramped up telemedicine, virtually seeing as many pets as he can for ailments like ear infections and rashes.

They try to keep all human clients out of the clinic but have many a handful of exceptions, most notably when pets have had to be euthanized.

“We’ve put a long IV in and will stand there six feet away while we give the medication,” Draper says. “That way we can allow the owner to be there with their pet.”

Is my dog stressed out?

Dogs have subtle ways of telling us they are stressed out. In a situation like this pandemic, their stress might be revealed by unusual and unexplained episodes of diarrhea. (Photo: naeg/Shutterstock)

Your dog or cat didn’t sign up to be a therapy pet, but they are likely helping shore up your mental health these days. You might think all that extra cuddling and petting is a great thing for them, but our pets definitely pick up on our emotions. When we’re stressed, they can get stressed too.

Their routines have changed and they might act out behaviorally or with physical symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea.

“Getting into things they shouldn’t is a top phone call we’ve been receiving,” Dr. Heidi Sutcliffe of Norwell Veterinary Hospital told WBZ-TV. “Surfing counters, getting into the trash, destructive behavior, pent up energy and not being able to settle down are all signs they may be stressed.”

To help keep your pet’s world relatively normal, it’s important to maintain your routines, certified dog trainer and behaviorist Susie Aga of Atlanta Dog Trainer tells MNN. Try to feed your pets and go for walks the same time you normally would. If you have kids and normally have playtime when the kids come home from school, keep that same time reserved for fun with your pet.

How can I prevent my dog from getting separation anxiety?

Let your dog practice coping skills by having him ‘place’ on a bed or mat. (Photo: Mary Jo DiLonardo)

You’re spending a lot more quality time with your pet than normal and you both probably enjoy it immensely. But when the world rights itself and things go back to normal, it’s going to be tough — especially if you have a dog that has become used to you being there all day. If you go back to your old pre-coronavirus routine, there’s a chance your pet will develop separation anxiety.

There are things you can do now to prevent that from happening, says trainer Aga.

She suggests teaching your dog a “place” command on a mat, rug or bed. Your dog can do whatever he wants on that bed (sit, roll, lie down) as long as he stays on it. Start with a minute, then let him hop off. Then add a minute or so each time. Leave the room, come back in, pick up something, all while your dog is on his special spot.

Another option is to put up a see-through baby gate, keeping your dog in a nearby room as you walk past often. Give them interactive toys or peanut butter-filled Kongs to keep them busy. Start with just a few minutes at a time. If you don’t have the room and live in a studio apartment, try stepping out the front door for a minute or two.

“You’re teaching your dog how to have coping skills,” Aga says. “Eventually they’ll just relax and lay down, knowing they’re OK.”

It’s also important to keep routines. Try to feed your pets and go for walks the same time you normally would. If you have kids and normally have playtime when the kids come home from school, keep that same time reserved for fun with your pet.

If you go for walks, sometimes go without your dog so he can practice being alone. And when you get home, don’t make a big deal about being reunited.

“Downplay arrivals,” Aga says. “It’s a good five minutes before I acknowledge my dogs when I get home. In that high excitement, they need to be taught coping skills and how to deal with isolation.”

And it’s also OK to have other alone time too.

“Your dog has to learn that it’s acceptable to close the bathroom door,” Aga says. “It’s really about teaching them to be able to be OK by themselves while you’re home with them.”

Is there a dog food shortage?

There were initial concerns about dog food availability. (Photo: Ekaterina Markelova/Shutterstock)

Early on, when people were stocking up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer, there were reports of some people buying pet food by the pallet. Now, some pet owners report having a hard time finding food for their animals. Some people say they’ve had to switch brands because they can’t find their pet’s usual food in stock anywhere. Others report driving all over to find specific brands. Even online pet retail giant Chewy has a homepage note saying, “Due to high demand, current delivery times are running considerably longer than usual on food and supplies.”

But call around or look online. Most big pet supply retailers and independent pet stores offer curbside pickup and local delivery. Anecdotal accounts find that it often takes just a few days for most places to restock. Some brands take longer than others, so ask when you’re calling around.

If you decide to switch foods, don’t wait until you’re already out of your pet’s regular food. Do it gradually, substituting a small portion of the new food for the old food each day.

Can I still take my dog to day care or for grooming?

Non-emergency needs like a basic bath can be handled at home, but many doggie daycares remain open during the pandemic because front-line workers still need these services. (Photo: Jim Vallee/Shutterstock)

Technically, that depends on where you live. It seems that most cities, states and counties with stay-at-home or other ordinances requiring people to only go out for essential reasons don’t consider grooming to be essential. The exception would be if a dog was heavily matted and needed to be shaved for medical reasons, Draper suggests.

Doggy day care centers are typically considered essential, along with animal shelters and boarding kennels because they serve essential workers, among others, who need a place for their pets to go while they work.

“It’s really nice that we’re able to offer those services to people who work odd hours, people in the health care industry, people in manufacturing, firemen, police, things like that,” owner Amy Forrester of Stay Dog Day Care and Boarding in Cleveland told News 5 Cleveland. “I would say about 80% of the dogs that are being dropped off right now belong to health care workers and other essential workers that are still going to work every day, and then about 20% are like, ‘Hey man, get my dog out of the house.'”

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Now it is quite a long article but then again you probably have much more time to read this post! And, frankly, there is a lot of good information contained within it!

So, be safe and look after your pets!

How are these present times affecting pet owners?

A timely post on pets and COVID-19

I have chosen up to now to leave the topic of the COVID-19 pandemic to others to write about.

However, the following article published by Mother Nature Network on April 1st seemed relevant to the many hundreds who read this blog and have pets.

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6 questions pet owners are asking during the COVID-19 pandemic

Mary Jo DiLonardo Mary Jo DiLonardo,   April 1, 2020

Ziggy looks out the window of his Maplewood, New Jersey, home as his owner sews masks for health care workers. (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

Many pet owners are spending a lot more time at home these days, and they have lots of questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their animals and their daily activities. Here are some answers.

Is my dog stressed out?

Your dog or cat didn’t sign up to be a therapy pet, but they are likely helping shore up your mental health these days. You might think all that extra cuddling and petting is a great thing for them, but our pets definitely pick up on our emotions. When we’re stressed, they can get stressed too.

Their routines have changed and they might act out behaviorally or with physical symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea.

“Getting into things they shouldn’t is a top phone call we’ve been receiving,” Dr. Heidi Sutcliffe of Norwell Veterinary Hospital told WBZ-TV. “Surfing counters, getting into the trash, destructive behavior, pent up energy and not being able to settle down are all signs they may be stressed.”

To help keep your pet’s world relatively normal, it’s important to maintain your routines, certified dog trainer and behaviorist Susie Aga of Atlanta Dog Trainer tells MNN. Try to feed your pets and go for walks the same time you normally would. If you have kids and normally have playtime when the kids come home from school, keep that same time reserved for fun with your pet.

Can I still go to the vet (or should I)?

Veterinarian Will Draper consults with a client with help from his dog, Frankie. (Photo: The Village Vets)

It depends on what your pet needs. The American Veterinary Medical Association issued suggested strategies for veterinarians that include limiting in-patient appointment to emergencies and critical care. They suggested veterinarians abide by social distancing guidelines with humans (at least six feet) when discussing care.

Many practices are only allowing one client in the office at a time, while others are sending an employee — wearing a gown, mask and gloves — out to a car to pick up the pet. The doctor then calls the client to talk about a diagnosis and treatment options.

That’s what veterinarian Will Draper of The Village Vets is doing at his three metro Atlanta practices. Staff veterinarians are seeing patients for time-sensitive issues like rabies vaccinations and critical surgeries, while putting off spays, neuters and annual visits.

“We’re still seeing as much as we can within reason while still maintaining the balance of keeping our team and our clients healthy,” Draper tells MNN.

He’s also ramped up telemedicine, virtually seeing as many pets as he can for ailments like ear infections and rashes.

They try to keep all human clients out of the clinic but have many a handful of exceptions, most notably when pets have had to be euthanized.

“We’ve put a long IV in and will stand there six feet away while we give the medication,” Draper says. “That way we can allow the owner to be there with their pet.”

Can I still take my dog to day care or for grooming?

Technically, that depends on where you live. It seems that most cities, states and counties with stay-at-home or other ordinances requiring people to only go out for essential reasons don’t consider grooming to be essential. The exception would be if a dog was heavily matted and needed to be shaved for medical reasons, Draper suggests.

Doggy day care centers are typically considered essential, along with animal shelters and boarding kennels because they serve essential workers, among others, who need a place for their pets to go while they work.

“It’s really nice that we’re able to offer those services to people who work odd hours, people in the health care industry, people in manufacturing, firemen, police, things like that,” owner Amy Forrester of Stay Dog Day Care and Boarding in Cleveland told News 5 Cleveland. “I would say about 80% of the dogs that are being dropped off right now belong to health care workers and other essential workers that are still going to work every day, and then about 20% are like, ‘Hey man, get my dog out of the house.'”

How can I prevent my dog from getting separation anxiety?

Let your dog practice coping skills by having him ‘place’ on a bed or mat. (Photo: Mary Jo DiLonardo)

You’re spending a lot more quality time with your pet than normal and you both probably enjoy it immensely. But when the world rights itself and things go back to normal, it’s going to be tough — especially if you have a dog that has become used to you being there all day. If you go back to your old pre-coronavirus routine, there’s a chance your pet will develop separation anxiety.

There are things you can do now to prevent that from happening, says trainer Aga.

She suggests teaching your dog a “place” command on a mat, rug or bed. Your dog can do whatever he wants on that bed (sit, roll, lie down) as long as he stays on it. Start with a minute, then let him hop off. Then add a minute or so each time. Leave the room, come back in, pick up something, all while your dog is on his special spot.

Another option is to put up a see-through baby gate, keeping your dog in a nearby room as you walk past often. Give them interactive toys or peanut butter-filled Kongs to keep them busy. Start with just a few minutes at a time. If you don’t have the room and live in a studio apartment, try stepping out the front door for a minute or two.

“You’re teaching your dog how to have coping skills,” Aga says. “Eventually they’ll just relax and lay down, knowing they’re OK.”

It’s also important to keep routines. Try to feed your pets and go for walks the same time you normally would. If you have kids and normally have playtime when the kids come home from school, keep that same time reserved for fun with your pet.

If you go for walks, sometimes go without your dog so he can practice being alone. And when you get home, don’t make a big deal about being reunited.

“Downplay arrivals,” Aga says. “It’s a good five minutes before I acknowledge my dogs when I get home. In that high excitement, they need to be taught coping skills and how to deal with isolation.”

And it’s also OK to have other alone time too.

“Your dog has to learn that it’s acceptable to close the bathroom door,” Aga says. “It’s really about teaching them to be able to be OK by themselves while you’re home with them.”

Can pets get or spread COVID-19?

There have been reports that two dogs in Hong Kong and a cat in Belgium were infected with COVID-19. However, infectious disease experts and human and animal health organizations agree there’s no evidence the pets spread the virus to people.

The World Health Organization currently advises that there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. The World Organisation for Animal Health says there’s no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this disease or that they become sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees, stating “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.”

Experts believe the pets might have tested positive due to “environmental contamination” of their snouts. The germs could have been living on the animal’s nose or mouth, just like they can live on other surfaces like a doorknob or a countertop.

Is there a dog food shortage?

Early on, when people were stocking up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer, there were reports of some people buying pet food by the pallet. Now, some pet owners report having a hard time finding food for their animals. Some people say they’ve had to switch brands because they can’t find their pet’s usual food in stock anywhere. Others report driving all over to find specific brands. Even online pet retail giant Chewy has a homepage note saying, “Due to high demand, current delivery times are running considerably longer than usual on food and supplies.”

But call around or look online. Most big pet supply retailers and independent pet stores offer curbside pickup and local delivery. Anecdotal accounts find that it often takes just a few days for most places to restock. Some brands take longer than others, so ask when you’re calling around.

If you decide to switch foods, don’t wait until you’re already out of your pet’s regular food. Do it gradually, substituting a small portion of the new food for the old food each day.

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Mother Nature Network are pretty good in terms of the accuracy of their work so, on balance, you can regard this information as legitimate .

These are very strange times for millions of us spread all over the place.

It will eventually be behind us and I, for one, can’t see it come too soon!

Pure, unconditional love!

Highlighting a very interesting post from Mother Nature Network

Last March 31st Mother Nature Network published an article that, to me and Jeannie, was the essence of what having a dog in one’s life means: unconditional bonding.

In common with thousands and thousands of other dog owners every day all of our dogs, in their own individual ways, show us that our patterns of behaviour are well known and they totally accept them

For example, Jeannie every day uses an exercise bike that’s in the bedroom. We were discussing this yesterday and she mentioned that three or four of our dogs come into the room whenever Jeannie is ‘pedaling’ away and just lie down and watch her.

Oliver comes up to me in the living room frequently and climbs onto the settee next to me, gives my right ear a quick lick and then lays down usually with his head on my knee so I can cuddle him and stroke his tummy. There are numerous other examples every day across all six of our dogs.

I could go on!

However, I should get to the point of this post and that is to republish the following article.

It is most interesting.

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6 ways to improve your bond with your dog

It begins with how connected the two of you are.

Jaymi Heimbuch Jaymi Heimbuch,   March 31, 2020

There are easy ways to build a stronger bond with your dog, including small changes in your daily routine. (Photo: Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock)

As the saying goes, dogs are our best friends. But maybe it doesn’t feel quite so buddy-buddy between you and your dog these days. Perhaps you’re constantly frustrated because your dog ignores your commands or is always getting in your way when you’re doing chores around the house, or doesn’t cuddle like you wish he would.

What these and other issues often comes down to is how bonded you are as a team. This bond isn’t something that automatically happens as soon as you bring a dog home. It also isn’t static. It’s something that takes work to build and can grow over time. If you want to have a dog that is more attentive to you, here’s how to start.

Study up on dog body language

Your dog is communicating. Are you listening? (Photo: Sudowoodo/Shutterstock)

Have you ever had a great friendship where one of you does all the talking? Likely not. A real friendship requires talking and listening by both parties, a two-way communication that allows each to know what the other is thinking and feeling. As two highly social species, both dogs and humans have intricate ways of communicating with others. However, we humans tend to dominate the conversation with our dogs. We have an expectation for them to understand everything we’re asking of them, yet we don’t always put equal work into finding out what they’re asking of us. But we can.

Dogs tell us vast amounts of information through body language. From the more obvious cues like how high or low a tail is held, how quickly it is wagging and in what direction, or how they’re holding their ears, to the more subtle language held in the shape of their eyes, the angle at which they’re holding their body to something, or the tenseness of the corners of their mouths, are all words written on a billboard for us to read.

If you want to build a better bond with your dog, the first place to start is to study how dogs communicate with their bodies. You can then better understand what your dog is trying to tell you, and when you start listening, the two of you will get along much more easily.

Get to know your dog’s likes and dislikes — and respect them

Some dogs like hugs, but many don’t. (Photo: Halfpoint/Shutterstock)

Just like humans, individual dogs have their personal likes and dislikes. Some dogs enjoy cuddling while others prefer to have space. Some adore a game of fetch while others would rather play tug. Some love to learn new tricks and some would rather just go on a walk. Some dogs enjoy affection of all kinds, including hugs, but many dogs barely tolerate, or even flat out dislike being hugged. There are many things we humans assume dogs enjoy when really, they are just tolerating it.

Knowing your dog’s individual likes and dislikes, and then respecting them, is the key to connecting with your dog. If you pay close attention, you may find that your dog doesn’t like the hugs you give her. But she really loves being scratched behind her ears. By realizing this, you can swap out the hugs for ear scratches and your dog will recognize that you’re someone far more enjoyable to be around because she won’t have to suffer through the things she dislikes and will readily receive the things she does want.

But this goes beyond the right kinds of affection. By recognizing that your dog loves playing a certain game, or a certain type of toy, you can use these preferences to your advantage in training. Maybe your dog is more food-motivated than toy-motivated, or prefers a game of chase above all other things.

The best reward is the one your dog wants the most and will work the hardest to receive. So figuring out what your dog likes and dislikes is also part of getting the most out of your training sessions.

Train your dog every day

Dogs like to learn, so make training sessions a part of each day. (Photo: Jne Valokuvaus/Shutterstock)

One of the best ways you can improve your connection with your canine companion is to work on training every day using positive reinforcement. Exercising your dog’s brain to learn something new and providing rewards for successes is a great way to increase trust and joyful experiences between you and your dog.

Training happens every day whether you’re aware of it or not — every walk, every interaction with other dogs or people, every interaction with you is essentially a form of training, of shaping your dog’s perception of the world and behaviors, good or bad. So make a conscious effort to get the most out of these moments. You can work on a new trick or even practice old behaviors to freshen up on them. When you go on walks together, make them interactive, asking your dog to sit at every corner, to change direction with you randomly, to change the side he walks on, to change his pace to match yours as you slow down and speed up.

However you choose to work on it, be sure that some form of active training with positive reinforcement happens each day. You’ll notice a distinct difference in how much attention your dog pays you, and how much more fluidly you interact.

Set up your dog for success.

Success comes down to trust. (Photo: Aleksey Boyko/Shutterstock)

Having effective training sessions and a dog that trusts you lies in large part in setting your dog up to be successful when you ask him to do something. For example, asking your dog to do a difficult trick and withholding rewards until he gets it right only increases the amount of frustration you both feel and decreases the amount of fun your dog has in trying to do what you ask. Instead, break a trick down into small, accomplishable pieces that your dog can build on, and reward your dog for each successfully completed step.

Setting your dog up for success goes well beyond training and into every day life. Think about how your dog might view or react to a situation, and if it will be positive or negative. Take steps to reduce the possibility of negative consequences. For instance, don’t leave the food bin unattended with the lid off and expect your dog not to dive in face first the second you leave the room. Or on a social level, don’t push your dog to interact with another dog or person who he’s clearly uncomfortable with, which could lead to a fight or a bite and a loss of trust in you to protect them. (And along those lines, read up on the 15 things humans do wrong at dog parks, which is all about trust.)

Know your dog’s preferences and limits well enough to determine what situations he can and can’t handle. Then modify the situation the dog is in to be one that he’ll handle with flying colors. Making the effort to help your dog have successful interactions with you and others will increase your dog’s confidence as well as his trust in you as a strong and safe leader.

Be the source of all life’s necessities and goodies

The one time you know you have your dogs’ attention is when you have their favorite treat in hand. (Photo: Cryptographer/Shutterstock)

If you want your dog to hang on your every word, then you want to be the sole source of all life’s wonderful things, including food and toys. If you are free-feeding your dog, put away the food bowl. If toys are scattered around the floor or in a place a dog can get to easily, hide them in the closet. These things are rewards that are earned, and your dog is going to be much more attentive if you are a walking goodies dispenser.

When it comes to food, have your dog work for snacks and meals just as he works for treats. For meal times, prepare your dog’s food but have him wait a few minutes, or ask him to do a few tricks before giving the OK for him to dive in. This creates a connection in your dog’s mind that working with you earns access to that delicious food. For play time, pull out toys for special play sessions, reserving tug-o-war, fetch, hide-and-seek and other games for when the two of you play together, or as a reward during or after training sessions.

When you are the provider of all life’s good things, your dog will look to you — and listen to you — much more readily. This will help so much with getting and keeping your dog’s attention when you need it.

Spend one-on-one time every day

Your dog wants her own special time with you every day. (Photo: Holly Michele/Shutterstock)

Speaking of special play sessions, make sure you spend time focused on just your dog every day. This doesn’t include walks when you’re distracted on your phone, or in the yard when you’re gardening and your dog is wandering around smelling things. One-on-one time is 30 minutes or more of time spent playing brain games, grooming, going on an interactive walk, even talking with your dog.

This is a great time to practice reading your dog’s body language, to gauge his energy level to see if he needs extra exercise, and to build on all you’ve done to help grow and solidify the connection and trust you have with your dog. Plus, it’s simply quiet, stress-free time for you to enjoy with the company of your four-legged friend.

Dogs are a social species just like humans, and time spent focused on each other will increase the connection you share, which benefits both of you.

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This is a really great article. As it says about Jaymi: “Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

The content is fabulous and everyone, including us, should read it carefully. That last sentence says it all: “Dogs are a social species just like humans, and time spent focused on each other will increase the connection you share, which benefits both of you.

Please, if you come across dogs being treated in a less than loving manner, report the human!

Another dog (and cat) food recall!

This is one that affects both cats and dogs!

Please make a note and share the details if you can.

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Icelandic Plus Dog and Cat Treats Recall

March 23, 2020 — IcelandicPlus LLC of Ft. Washington, PA, is recalling its Capelin Dog and Cat Treats because some of the fish have exceeded FDA guidelines for fish larger than 5 inches… which has the potential to cause botulism poisoning.

What’s Recalled?

The affected products are sold in a clear plastic package or tube… and marked Icelandic+ Capelin WHOLE FISH, PURE FISH TREATS FOR DOGS, or PURE FISH TREATS FOR CATS.

UPC codes include 8 5485400775 9; 8 5485400711 7; and 8 5485400757 5.

Related products are packaged in a 2.5 ounce tube or a 1.5 or 2.5 ounce bag (lot numbers 02/2020 to 02/2022).

What Caused the Recall?

The FDA has determined that salt-cured, dried, or fermented un-eviscerated fish larger than 5 inches have been linked to outbreaks of botulism poisoning in humans between 1981 and 1987 and again in 1991.

Since some IcelandicPlus Capelins are larger than 5 inches there is a possible health risk.

To date, no illnesses of dogs, cats, or persons are reported in connection with the treats. Nor have there been any positive test results for Clostridium botulinum from any IcelandicPlus Capelin.

However, because of the potential risk, the company has decided to announce this product recall.

About Botulism Poisoning

Clostridium botulinum toxin can cause severe clinical signs including death in both animals consuming the pet treat and humans handling the pet treat or coming in contact with contact areas that have been exposed to the product.

Common symptoms may include dizziness, blurred or double vision, trouble with speaking or swallowing, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, abdominal distension, and constipation.

Consider that several of the listed symptoms, such as double vision, cannot be easily assessed in animals or conveyed by an animal.
Pets or persons experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

Where Was the Product Sold?

The affected product was shipped to distributors for sale to consumers by independent pet specialty stores throughout all U.S. states.

Message from the Company

IcelandicPlus is family owned and run by pet parents who take the safety and wellbeing of its consumers and clients with the utmost importance, as such we are conducting this voluntarily recall to further protect our customers.
Additionally, we are changing our Capelin supplier to ensure that the fish in our product are consistently less than 5 inches, or if larger, they will be completely eviscerated.

What to Do?

Distributors, retailers and consumers who have purchased IcelandicPlus Capelin can return it to the location where it was purchased for a refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 857-246-9559, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm ET.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to the FDA’s “Report a Pet Food Complaint” page.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Lifesaving Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog and cat food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

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This is the page from where I republished this recall.

Hopefully, tomorrow I can return to Tom and Chica’s fabulous walk!

Stay safe wherever you are!

Mindfulness and health

What is it about mindfulness that delivers?

I have posted before about the role of mindfulness and do so again.

Simply because this article published by Mother Nature Network is both comprehensive and detailed.

In a world which seems crazier by the day it is good to remind ourselves how beneficial is mindfulness.

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Why is mindfulness beneficial for your health?

Practicing focus and acceptance can help with stress and more.

Rachel Pomerance Berl
March 16, 2020

By paying attention and listening to your body and feelings, you can get a sense of peace and calm. (Photo: andblank/Shutterstock)

Focus on your breath. Listen to your body. Notice your emotions, but don’t judge them.

These are a few of the cues routinely used to induce mindfulness, a meditative state of self-awareness and detached acceptance that promises practitioners a sense of peace and presence of mind.
By putting equanimity within arm’s reach, if even for a moment, mindfulness programs are quickly gaining steam throughout the country. And it’s perhaps no surprise. At a time when America’s huddled masses seem more wound up, stressed out and distracted than ever before, the call to calm down is a compelling one.

At issue is not only relief from stress but also the innumerable ailments related to it. And like yoga, mindfulness programs are proving to be powerful antidotes. From depression and anxiety to weight control and pain management, there’s a mindfulness treatment out there for what ails you. Fortune 100 companies are using mindfulness as part of leadership training, and the military is incorporating such techniques to reduce stress before deployment and to help ease post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It’s cultivating a general skill that can be applicable in lots of different circumstances,” says Vermont-based psychotherapist Arnie Kozak, who’s been using mindfulness in his clinical practice for nearly 20 years. “I think the place where it pays the biggest benefit is helping people to reduce reactivity,” he says. As Kozak explains, mindfulness won’t change someone’s condition, but it can change someone’s response to it and, in doing so, alleviate suffering.

How and why mindfulness works

Calming environments can help you accept and observe the chaos without judging it, part of the mindfulness approach. (Photo: Tejvan Pettinger [CC by 2.0]/Flickr)
In dealing with a difficulty — say, a crisis at work or a chronic disease — people often get mired in the narrative they create about the situation, perhaps chastising themselves about their feelings or behavior, envisioning catastrophic consequences or rehashing the incident ad nauseam. Mindfulness, however, teaches a healthy skepticism about the stories we tell ourselves, say Kozak, who likes to repeat a mantra: “Don’t believe everything you think.”

Fundamental to the practice is acceptance, rather than avoidance of a stressful situation. In a sense, it’s the opposite of the “Calgon, take-me-away” approach of yesteryear (commercials for the bath products featured a harried Mom pleading with Calgon to “take me away” from the cacophony of domestic life). Mindfulness, alternatively, would ask you to accept and observe the chaos, without liking or disliking what’s happening around you.

If that sounds challenging, it is — but the rewards can be profound. And they don’t require some sort of monastic discipline.

After an eight-week course of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness, participants changed their brain structure, according to a study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital. Brain scans of the subjects, who meditated an average of 27 minutes a day, found a thickening of regions associated with learning, memory, self-awareness and compassion and a thinning of the region connected to stress and anxiety.

According to Psychologist Lindsay Sauers, there are two parts of the stress-response cycle, and though everyone knows the first part — the rush that comes when you system is flushed with adrenaline and cortisol — the second part doesn’t get as much notice, but it’s important. There must be an emotional and physical release in response or the cycle is “incomplete.”

“We often wait until the ‘breaking point,’ when addressing the impact of stress becomes an absolute necessity,” she told Dave Bellomo of NorthCentralPA.com. “The challenge is that in waiting, we often feel so guilty about the consequences of the breaking point that once the immediate distress has leveled off, we go right back to pushing aside stress until it grows to that ‘breaking point’ again. It becomes a ‘rinse and repeat’ situation. While the rinse and repeat might be tolerable if we know it’s going to happen … this all-or-nothing process has a cumulative, detrimental impact on the body.”

Bringing mindfulness mainstream

University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness is where MBSR — and much of the mindfulness movement in this country — got its start. That’s thanks to Jon Kabat-Zinn, an MIT-trained biologist who founded the center in 1979 and developed the MBSR program, helping to bring meditation mainstream.

Today, there are some 520 MBSR programs across the country and about 740 worldwide, according to the center’s executive director, Saki Santorelli. The center has seen more than 20,000 people complete its eight-week course, with many of them referred by conventional medical centers.

Mindfulness programs have also become a fixture of many integrative health care centers at universities across the country such as the dozens of members that comprise the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine.

Santorelli attributes the interest in mindfulness primarily to research and access. “From the very beginning, research has been a critical part of this process,” he says, adding that “society, in many ways, trusts science.” The growing body of literature on mindfulness fuels further interest.

Also, mindfulness work has a low bar to entry, Santorelli says. It doesn’t require renouncing one’s faith. It doesn’t necessarily cost anything. And it enables people to take an active role in their own healing.

He argues that the optimal approach for health care incorporates both the Western discipline, in which practitioners do something “to” or “for” a patient, with the self-care inherent in mindfulness.

While the former is critical if a patient requires surgery, the latter can bring about a sustained approach to well-being, Santorelli says. How so? He explains that through mindfulness, observation gives way to self-awareness — the point at which it becomes possible to change habits and behaviors.

That’s especially important, he adds, since so many of today’s maladies are related to lifestyle — from obesity to smoking.

Practical applications

Eating slowly and thinking about every bite may help you make healthier eating choices. (Photo: KPG Ivary/Shutterstock)

As director of research at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Frederick Hecht is using mindfulness techniques to disrupt the automatic eating behavior that so often derails efforts to lose and maintain weight.

“The idea is to chew our food a little more carefully, to really savor both the texture and the taste of the food, to be aware of all the sensations you’re feeling as you eat,” with the goal of getting greater satisfaction from less food, he says. By paying close attention to how they feel before and after eating, participants may be more likely to make healthier choices.

“There’s promising data for things like mindful eating, but it’s preliminary data,” says Hecht, who is training in internal medicine and clinical epidemiology. “More research and better research is really key, and its particularly key for health professionals when we’re called on to really recommend this, and we need a stronger evidence base.”

At the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, pulmonologist Roberto Benzo is using mindfulness techniques to help patients manage conditions such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). “Health is far beyond fixing an organ, having a transplant, getting a coronary fixed — that is just a piece of the story,” Benzo says, referencing his yet-to-be-published research showing that quality of life and self-care hinge on one’s emotional state.

The many benefits of mindfulness training.

Gratitude and an appreciation of nature can help a stressed person tune into the moment. (Photo: vvvita/Shutterstock)

With that in mind, Benzos work as founding director of Mayo’s Mindful Breathing Lab is to help patients see past their disease and appreciate life.

“To embrace life, we always embrace what we like … It’s difficult to embrace that sometimes we’re sad, sometimes things are not going in the direction we want,” he says. “Mindfulness is the ability to be here and now even when one has a condition like a lung disease or a heart disease or something like that.”

Using techniques like breathing, moving and gratitude, Benzo has found that patients tune in to the moment and feel better. “They start to look at the good that is in front of them,” he says.

But getting to that stage requires switching gears.

To that end, Los Angeles-based psychologist Elisha Goldstein and author of “The Now Effect” reminds his patients to simply “STOP.” The acronym stands for: Stop, take a few breaths, observe your experience and proceed. As Goldstein puts it, the exercise “pops them out of autopilot” and into a position to ask “what really matters in life” at that moment. From that place of calm, we are better poised to make the best choice and the most of the moment.

As those moments build up, they may amount to a lifetime of living in the midst of them.

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I can do no better than to repeat the advice of Elisha Goldstein in that penultimate  paragraph.

Stop, Take a few breaths, Observe your experience, Proceed.

We most certainly need this help. All of us!

Dogs and grass!

Most, if not all, dogs eat grass – this explains why!

Of the many Mother Nature Network articles there are many that concern dogs. Such as this one.

Dogs love to eat grass especially when the grass is green and fresh. Quite often some of the dogs throw up not long after.

Here’s a post on Mother Nature Network that explores the topic.

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Why do dogs eat grass?

By Morieka Johnson    August 15, 2019.

Some dogs just like the taste of grass. (Photo: Tanja Esser/Shutterstock)

No walk around the neighborhood is complete without my dog Lulu eating grass. Even on a full stomach, she likes to hunt for the perfect blades and chew away. Left unattended, I’m sure she could mow down a small lawn. Since lawns today have any number of herbicides and pesticides, many pet parents wonder if it’s OK to let their dogs eat grass.

Here’s what the experts say about these grass-eating habits.
It’s yummy: It’s normal for dogs to chew on the green stuff because they like the taste of grass, says Dr. Jennifer Monroe of Eagles Landing Veterinary Hospital in Georgia. Some pooches even develop preferences that range from fresh leaves to drier weeds or even a particular species of grass. What they cannot discern is whether grass has been chemically treated. Use caution when walking on a neighbor’s lawn and stick with greener products in your own yard. Monroe recommends nontoxic treatment options.

“You do have to be careful if you have a dog that is a chronic grass eater,” she says. “We do have a lot of clients who bring pets in for vomiting and wonder if it’s from something the yard was treated with.”

Nutritional deficiency: Most commercial dog foods offer a balanced diet, so many experts say its unlikely that your dog isn’t getting the nutrition he needs from his dinner. Instead, dogs with certain intestinal diseases don’t necessarily digest food properly and have trouble absorbing minerals, which can lead to grazing, says Monroe. Anemia and bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract also cause dogs to eat dirt.

Some dogs eat grass because they need to throw up. (Photo: smerikal [CC by-SA 2.0]/Flickr)
They are trying to induce vomiting: When dogs are eating something that doesn’t agree with them, they often have an upset stomach and eat grass to induce vomiting. If eating grass causes your dog to vomit twice a week or more, call your veterinarian because there could be another underlying health issue. She also recommends a visit if there is any doubt that your dog may be ill; better safe than sorry.

Some dogs nibble the lawn and are fine, while others are always eating grass and vomiting. It may just be the grass tickling their throat and stomach lining that causes them to vomit, says PetMD, or it could be something more serious. That’s why it’s key for dog owners to make sure their pets aren’t sick. Keep track of how often your dog vomits and let your vet know.

Instinct: One theory is that this unusual dog behavior is just instinct. Dogs in the wild are natural omnivores who eat meat and plants, so domesticated dogs naturally gravitate towards plant material too, says Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. Another theory is that wild dogs would eat plant material in the stomach of their prey, so they developed a taste for it.

Behavioral issues: Dogs can develop obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) regarding the grass. (I suspect that my Lulu falls into this category. She’s pretty determined during those lawn-gobbling excursions.) In the majority of cases, Monroe says this is no reason for concern. To correct the behavior, she recommends reducing your dog’s grazing time.

Basket muzzles restrict grass guzzling, too. In severe cases, she recommends consulting a certified veterinary behaviorist for advice. Otherwise, let them stop to smell — and chomp — the greenery.

“If not they are not vomiting and not destructive, I say let them enjoy it,” Monroe says.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information since it was first published in October 2013.

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All very straightforward it seems.

But I suspect there may be just a few who found this post revealing.

Wow! What a stupendous sight!

Mars!

I’m not going to do anything other than launch straight into this post. Taken from EarthSky.

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Curiosity rover on Mars snags highest-resolution panorama yet

What on earth are we going to do?

A very powerful essay from George Monbiot.

Today and tomorrow I am posting essays that have nothing to do with dogs! Today, I am sharing George’s gloom about the future, tomorrow I am sharing our human capacity for incredible ingenuity and technology.

Because I sense we are a species of two extremes; the very mad and the very clever!

I don’t have an answer but I can share these two essays.

Today, I give you George Monbiot’s essay Suing For Survival.

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Suing For Survival

Our legal action against the government aims to shut down fossil fuels

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 4th March 2020

Our survival is not an afterthought. The defence of the living planet cannot be tacked retrospectively onto business as usual. Yet this is how almost all governments operate. They slap the word “sustainable” on damaging projects they have already approved, then insist this means they’ve gone green. If we are to survive and prosper, everything must change. Every decision should begin with the question of what the planet can withstand.

This means that any discussion about new infrastructure should begin with ecological constraints. The figures are stark. A paper published in Nature last year showed that existing energy infrastructure, if it is allowed to run to the end of its natural life, will produce around 660 gigatonnes of CO2. Yet, to stand a reasonable chance of preventing more than 1.5°C of global heating, we can afford to release, in total, no more than 580 gigatonnes. In other words, far from building new fossil power plants, the survival of a habitable planet means retiring the damaging projects that have already been built. Electricity plants burning coal and gas and oil will not secure our prosperity. They will destroy it.

But everywhere special interests dominate. Construction projects are driven, above all, by the lobbying of the construction industry, consultancies and financiers. Gigantic and destructive schemes, such as the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, are invented by lobbyists for the purpose of generating contracts. Political support is drummed up, the project achieves its own momentum, then, belatedly, a feeble attempt is made to demonstrate that it can somehow become compatible with environmental promises. This is what destroys civilisations: a mismatch between the greed of economic elites and the needs of society.

But last week, something momentous happened. The decision to build a scheme with vast financial backing and terrible environmental impacts was struck down by the Court of Appeal. The judges decided that government policy, on which planning permission for a third runway at Heathrow was based, had failed to take account of the UK’s climate commitments, and was therefore unlawful. This is – or should be – the end of business as usual.

The Heathrow decision stands as a massive and crucial precedent. Now we must use it to insist that governments everywhere put our survival first, and the demands of corporate lobbyists last. To this end, with the Good Law Project and Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, I’m pursuing a similar claim. In this case, we are challenging the UK government’s policy for approving new energy projects.

On Tuesday, we delivered a “letter before action” to the Treasury solicitor. We’ve given the government 21 days to accept our case and change its policy to reflect the climate commitments agreed by Parliament. If it fails to do so, we shall issue proceedings in the High Court to have the policy declared unlawful. We’ll need money, so we’ve launched a crowdfunding appeal to finance the action.

It’s hard to see how the government could resist our case. The Heathrow judgement hung on the government’s national policy statement on airports. This, the judges found, had not been updated to take account of the Paris climate agreement. New fossil fuel plants, such as the gas burners at Drax in Yorkshire the government approved last October, are enabled by something very similar: the national policy statements on energy infrastructure. These have not been updated since they were published in 2011. As a result, they take no account of the Paris agreement, of the government’s new climate target (net zero by 2050, as opposed to an 80% cut) or of Parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency. The main policy statement says that the European Emissions Trading System “forms the cornerstone of UK action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector”. As we have left the EU, this, obviously, no longer holds. The planning act obliges the government to review its national policy statements when circumstances change. It has failed to do so. It is disregarding its own laws.

These outdated policy statements create a presumption in favour of new fossil fuel plants. Once a national policy statement has been published, there is little objectors can do to prevent damaging projects from going ahead. In approving the Drax plant, the secretary of state for business and energy at the time (Andrea Leadsom) insisted that the policy statement came first, regardless of the climate impacts. Catastrophic decisions like this will continue to be made until the statements change. They are incompatible with either the government’s new climate commitments or a habitable planet.

While we are challenging the government’s energy policies, another group – the Transport Action Network – is about to challenge its road building schemes on the same basis. It points out that the national policy statement on road networks is also outdated and incompatible with the UK’s climate commitments. The policy statement, astonishingly, insists that “any increase in carbon emissions is not a reason to refuse development consent“, unless the increase is so great that the road would prevent the government from meeting its national targets. No single road project can be disqualified on these grounds. But the cumulative effect of new road building ensures that the UK will inevitably bust its carbon targets. While carbon emissions are officially disregarded, minuscule time savings are used to justify massive and damaging projects.

Transport emissions have been rising for the past five years, partly because of road building. The government tries to justify its schemes by claiming that cars will use less fossil fuel. But because they are becoming bigger and heavier, new cars sold in the UK now produce more carbon dioxide per kilometre than older models.

The perverse and outdated national policy statement locks into place such damaging projects as the A303 works around Stonehenge, the A27 Arundel scheme, the Lower Thames crossing, the Port of Liverpool access road, the Silvertown tunnel in London and the Wensum Link road in Norfolk. A government seeking to protect the lives of current and future generations would immediately strike down the policy that supports these projects, and replace it with one that emphasised walking, cycling and public transport.

A third action has been launched by Chris Packham and the law firm Leigh Day, challenging HS2 on similar grounds. Its carbon emissions were not properly taken into account, and its environmental impacts were assessed before the government signed the Paris agreement.

Already, the Heathrow decision is resonating around the world. Now we need to drive its implications home, by suing for survival. If we can oblige governments to resist the demands of corporate lobbyists and put life before profit, humanity might just stand a chance.

http://www.monbiot.com

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Now this essay is about the situation in the U.K. but only a fool would think that it’s not relevant to the rest of the planet.

I beseech you to read it!

“Life before profit.” Now there’s a thought!

That nose! (Of the dogs.)

It is the most amazing aspect of the dog.

I have written previously about the dog’s nose and their ability to smell.

Dogs have millions of smell receptors that can detect countless smells, including the smells of changes going on inside our bodies. (Photo: RedTC/Shutterstock)

But there’s more to their nose that just the millions of smell receptors.

This article in The Smithsonian explains.

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Dogs’ Cool, Wet Noses May Be Able to Detect Heat

A new study has found that dogs can pick out objects that are warmer than ambient temperature

By Brigit Katz ,    smithsonianmag.com, March 4th, 2020

A dog’s cold nose could be used for heat seeking. (Photo by Angelika Warmuth/picture alliance via Getty Images)

If you’ve ever given a dog a boop on the snout, you may have noticed that its rhinarium—the furless patch of skin that surrounds the nostrils—is wet and cool. A new study published in Scientific Reports has found that these chilly rhinaria make dogs sensitive to radiating heat, which in turn might help them track down warm-blooded prey.

Dog noses are chock full of nerve endings—they have more than 100 million sensory receptor sites in their nasal cavities, compared to humans’ six million—making them extraordinarily keen sniffers. It thus seemed likely, according to the study authors, that dogs’ rhinaria serve some sort of sensory function.

Low tissue temperature seems to compromise sensory sensitivity in animals with one notable exception: crotaline snakes, also known as pit vipers, which seem to strike more accurately at warm-blooded prey when their heat-sensitive pit organs—located between each eye and nostril—are colder. Cool snakes are also more sensitive to thermal radiation. Perhaps, the researchers theorized, pooches deploy their noses for heat detection, too.

To test the theory, the researchers trained three pet dogs to choose the warmer of two panels. One, according to Gizmodo’s George Dvorsky, was heated to between 51 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the ambient temperature, similar to the body temperature of a fur-covered mammal. The other, which served as the control, had a “neutral” temperature close to that of the ambient environment. After the training, the dogs were put to the test in a double-blind experiment; neither they nor the people carrying out the trial knew from the get-go which object was warmer, since nothing visually distinguished them.

Still, all three dogs were able to home in on the warmer object, suggesting that they can detect even weak thermal radiation. “[T]he temperature of the mammalian bodies that emit [thermal radiation is not very high, unlike the Sun for instance,” first study author Anna Bálint, a biologist at Lund University in Sweden, tells Gizmodo. To pick up on the heat radiating from warm-blooded prey, dogs would need “very sensitive sensors.”

The nose seemed like the most likely candidate leading the dogs in the right direction. All other parts of a dog’s body are covered in insulating fur, with the exception of the eyes, which “are not suitable for receiving infrared radiation, because the sensitive structures are hidden behind a thick layer of tissue,” study co-author Ronald Kröger, also a Lund University biologist, tells Gizmodo. But to test their theory once again, the researchers conducted functional MRI scans of the brains of 13 pet dogs. The left somatosensory cortex in dogs’ brains—which “delivers input from the nose,” according to Virginia Morell of Science—was more responsive to objects emitting weak thermal radiation than neutral objects.

The researchers don’t know precisely how dog rhinaria convert energy into a nervous signal, and it’s not clear whether pups’ heat-detecting abilities are particularly effective if their hypothetical prey is far away. The test objects were placed around five feet from the dogs; Gary Settles, a mechanical engineer at Pennsylvania State University who was not involved in the study, tells Science that he doubts “dog rhinarium can distinguish patterns of hot and cold objects at a distance.”

But for shorter distances, at least, being able to sense the heat emanating from prey could help canines hunt even if their sight, smell or hearing is obscured. That may not matter much to domestic dogs, but their closest wild relative, the grey wolf, preys on large, warm-blooded animals. “[T]he ability to detect the radiation from warm bodies would be advantageous for such predators,” the authors note in the study. And perhaps most importantly, the study offers yet another reason as to why your dog is great: Its nose knows more than you might think.

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The more that we understand our favourite pooch, the more that we are in awe of them. Their noses are incredible. To be honest, it is very difficult to comprehend just what this primary sense of dogs means to a dog.

I will take the closing sentence of the article to close my own thoughts:

To be honest, it is very difficult to comprehend just what this primary sense of dogs means to a dog.

Indeed!

A leap into the unknown!

A slight tongue-in-cheek title to today’s post.

Because it is a leap day!

So I’m going back a long time.

I was born towards the tail end of 1944; six months before the end of WWII in Europe.

As such I was in my early twenties when NASA came to the wider attention of millions of people with their effort to put a man on the moon. It was enthralling to look up at the night sky when a moon was present and think that in time there would be a man standing on the moon’s surface.

Now that I am 75 many things have changed. But one of them has not: Staring up at the night sky and getting lost in thought. Luckily we live in a rural location without artificial light anywhere nearby and the night skies are very clear.

All of which takes me back to my days of sailing. From 1986 until 1991 I lived on a deep-water ketch, a Tradewind 33, based in Larnaca, in Cyprus. Each Spring, I would solo across to the Turkish coast, or the Greek coast, and meet up with friends, or my son and daughter, and go coastal cruising. Then in the last year I sailed for England. I well recall seeing the night sky all around me with the stars practically down the watery horizon.

But more of that some other day. Now back to the moon.

All of which is to republish this post and I do hope you will be able to read it fully.

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NASA video reconstructs the harrowing lunar journey of Apollo 13

By Michael d’Estries, February 26, 2020

NASA’s reconstruction of the moon’s far side is based off images received by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. (Photo: NASA/Snapshot from video/YouTube)

On April 15, 1970, NASA astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise aboard Apollo 13 set a Guinness World Record for the highest absolute altitude attained by a crewed spacecraft at a distance of 248,655 miles from Earth. Nearly 50 years later, that unplanned record still stands as part of a mission beset by technical glitches and saved by engineering heroism.

“We didn’t slow down, unlike the others, when we got to the moon because we needed its gravity to get back, so we hold the altitude record,” Lowell told the Financial Times in 2011. “I never even thought about it. Records are only made to be broken.”

Gliding by the moon’s far side at an altitude of only 158 miles, the crew of Apollo 13 were, at the time, one of only a handful of humans to ever gaze upon this strange and relatively-unknown terrain of our closest neighbor. Because the moon is tidally locked, a phenomenon in which an orbiting body takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its partner, only one side ever faces the Earth.

Using imagery collected by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, NASA has recreated views observed by Apollo 13 during the crew’s harrowing 25-minute journey around the moon’s far side.

“This video showcases visualizations in 4K resolution of many of those lunar surface views, starting with earthset and sunrise, and concluding with the time Apollo 13 reestablished radio contact with Mission Control,” the agency said in a release. “Also depicted is the path of the free return trajectory around the Moon, and a continuous view of the Moon throughout that path. All views have been sped up for timing purposes — they are not shown in ‘real-time.'”

This video uses data gathered from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft to recreate some of the stunning views of the Moon that the Apollo 13 astronauts saw on their perilous journey around the farside in 1970. These visualizations, in 4K resolution, depict many different views of the lunar surface, starting with earthset and sunrise and concluding with the time Apollo 13 reestablished radio contact with Mission Control. Also depicted is the path of the free return trajectory around the Moon, and a continuous view of the Moon throughout that path. All views have been sped up for timing purposes — they are not shown in “real-time.” Credits: Data Visualization by: Ernie Wright (USRA) Video Produced & Edited by: David Ladd (USRA) Music provided by Universal Production Music: “Visions of Grandeur” – Frederick Wiedmann

According to Lowell, despite the astronauts’ extremely close proximity, the moon was not the most awe-inspiring scene outside the spacecraft window.

“The impression I got up there wasn’t what the moon looked like so close up, but what the Earth looked like,” he said.

“The lunar flights give you a correct perception of our existence. You look back at Earth from the moon and you can put your thumb up to the window and hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything you’ve ever known is behind your thumb, and that blue-and-white ball is orbiting a rather normal star, tucked away on the outer edge of a galaxy. You realize how insignificant we really all are. Everything you’ve ever known — all those arguments and wars — is right behind your thumb.”

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Did you watch the video? It’s amazing and is literally the dark side of the moon!

I will close by republishing a Wikipedia entry for Apollo 13.

Apollo 13 was the seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space program and the third meant to land on the Moon. The craft was launched from Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank in the service module (SM) failed two days into the mission. The crew instead looped around the Moon, and returned safely to Earth on April 17. The mission was commanded by Jim Lovell with Jack Swigert as command module (CM) pilot and Fred Haise as lunar module (LM) pilot. Swigert was a late replacement for Ken Mattingly, who was grounded after exposure to rubella.

Accidental ignition of damaged wire insulation inside the oxygen tank as it was being routinely stirred caused an explosion that vented the tank’s contents. Without oxygen, needed both for breathing and for generating electric power, the SM’s propulsion and life support systems could not operate. The CM’s systems had to be shut down to conserve its remaining resources for reentry, forcing the crew to transfer to the LM as a lifeboat. With the lunar landing canceled, mission controllers worked to bring the crew home alive.

Although the LM was designed to support two men on the lunar surface for two days, Mission Control in Houston improvised new procedures so it could support three men for four days. The crew experienced great hardship caused by limited power, a chilly and wet cabin and a shortage of potable water. There was a critical need to adapt the CM’s cartridges for the carbon dioxide removal system to work in the LM; the crew and mission controllers were successful in improvising a solution. The astronauts’ peril briefly renewed interest in the Apollo program; tens of millions watched the splashdown in the South Pacific Ocean by television.

An investigative review board found fault with preflight testing of the oxygen tank and the fact that Teflon was placed inside it. The board recommended changes, including minimizing the use of potentially combustible items inside the tank; this was done for Apollo 14. The story of Apollo 13 has been dramatized several times, most notably in the 1995 film Apollo 13.