There’s a little 7-year-old girl in Wisconsin who is dealing with a rare and inoperable brain tumor. To help deal with the pain of her disease, Emma Mertens is asking people to send her letters and photos from their dogs.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family cover medical expenses and in the comments, people from all over the country and in many parts of the world have shared notes and photos from their four-legged friends. They have sent hugs, kisses and tail wags. They’ve written about their favorite hobbies, movies and treats. Most of all, they’ve told Emma she is in their thoughts and she is loved.
Emma has diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive, hard-to-treat tumor found at the base of the brain. So far, she’s had two surgeries and radiation therapy.
According to her GoFundMe page:
Last weekend she was having a normal weekend playing with friends, playing in the snow, and wrestling with her brothers. On Sunday though, she got a headache and started having flu like symptoms. By Wednesday, she was rushed into surgery to reduce swelling on the brain. She has had a second surgery now and is preparing for 6 weeks of daily radiation therapy. She is a fighter and she and her family along with everyone on Team Emma are here to fight for her.
While she fights, dogs everywhere are showing their support.
Tania Calverley sent a photo of her two snow-covered pups with the note: “Burley and Babette send lots of love and doggie kisses from cold Ottawa, Ontario Canada.”
Megan Janofski wrote from Michigan. “Hi Emma! Our names are Daisy and Tymber and we live in Michigan. We love cuddling and playing fetch. Our owner told us you aren’t feeling good. We are sending all our love to you! We think you’re pretty incredible for going through this. Stay strong and brave. Love, Daisy and Tymber.”
Maria Emilia sent greeting from her two dogs in Virginia Beach. “Hi sweet and beautiful Emma! My two Aussie pup pups want to send you tons of hugs and kisses – little Shelby and big brother Nikki boy say that you are AWESOME!”
Ursula Bedeaux’s dog Lola sent the message: “Hi Emma, our mom told us about you and how brave you are. She also told us that you love dogs, so Harriett, Maggie, and I (Lola), thought we would send you some hugs and kisses from Minnesota!!! ❤️❤️❤️”
The first guest post from Holli Why dogs are so good for us was during a period where I had quite a few guest authors and I ended up losing track. Thus I didn’t attribute the guest post to Holli. Something that I can correct in today’s post.
What is a spirit animal? How to tell if yours is a dog!
By Holli, February 2nd, 2019.
Many cultures believe there are spirit animals that guide and protect us during this physical journey we are on as humans. It is also said that we embody their characteristics and vice versa. The Shamen call it a power animal.
When a dog chooses to act as your spirit guide you will always have trust, courage, loyalty, protection, familiarity, a best friend and unconditional love.Just don’t abuse them or treat them badly…they may bite.
Here are the signs pointing to the dog as your spirit animal. Does it sound like you?
You feel like your dog saved you. Your dog came at a time where you were calling out for aid.
You give unconditional love
You may be a protector that will go above and beyond to take care of the people you care about
You like to help those in need and seem to sense what they need
You are easy to devote and also forgive
You are happy hanging back and letting others you care about take the spotlight
You are perceptive and can sense negative energy people
You have an infectious energy that people like to be around, and you bring it out in others
You may feel like you get burnt out because you put forth a lot of energy; therefore needing to be lazy for a while
Did a dog come into your life at just the right time? Do you always have dogs around?
Human spiritual connection with dogs is nothing new and not many people can argue with that because you can feel and see it! Through the years the dog has evolved to be so much closer with the human. They are therapy dogs, dogs in schools, service dogs, dogs are becoming more popular to have at work, there are police dogs, the list goes on.
They sleep in our beds, follow us around the house and come for car rides with us. The closer they get to us, the more human like they become.
In reply to my question about sending me a short bio, this is what Holli sent:
My name is Holli Burch, and I live in Wisconsin. I have had dogs all my life and love everything about them.
Currently I have 4 labs, a yellow, black, chocolate and most recently a silver!
I started a dog blog because of my passion for dogs and wanting to be my own boss! Along with my dogs I have 4 children, horses, goats and 2 cats!
My typical dream day would include taking my kids to school, blogging and walking my dogs bare feet on the beach!
I was supposed to be on a break. I fostered eight puppies back to back last year with the last one leaving right after Christmas. No doe-eyed dog was going to tug on my heartstrings.
But then I heard about a hoarding and neglect case where some 30 doodles were found living outdoors, perched on piles of hard clay and mounds of feces. A local rescue, Releash Atlanta, waded into the mess and scooped up seven of these dogs, putting out a plea for fosters to help. I kept looking at the face of a mama dog curled up with her newborn pup.
What break? The frightened mom and her itty-bitty baby are now decompressing in my basement until their permanent foster takes over next week. They’re learning that people aren’t terrible, and mama has found that chicken tastes great.
There’s something about cases like these that hit animal lovers — heck, most people — with a sickening blow. We can’t wrap our heads around the idea of animals, especially pets, living in such deplorable conditions.
The 5 freedoms of animal welfare
Look at the lives of most of the pets you know. They eat quality food, go to the vet regularly, stay cool in summer and warm in winter and want for very little.
These life basics seem like common sense to most of us, but more than 50 years ago the U.K. government wanted to put them in writing. In 1965, the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (which later became the Farm Animal Welfare Council) defined the specific conditions that must be met for animals being cared for by humans. They called them the “Five Freedoms,” which cover an animal’s physical and mental state. The freedoms were later updated but the gist is basically the same.
These conditions of humane treatment have been adopted by veterinarians and animal-welfare groups including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
The Five Freedoms are:
Freedom from hunger and thirst, by ready access to water and a diet to maintain health and vigor
Freedom from discomfort, by providing an appropriate environment
Freedom from pain, injury and disease, by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
Freedom to express normal behavior, by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and appropriate company of the animal’s own kind
Freedom from fear and distress, by ensuring conditions and treatment, which avoid mental suffering
Taking things for granted
These freedoms seem so incredibly basic and that’s likely why when an animal neglect case makes headlines, we’re all so horrified.
This happened in early January, when hundreds of German shepherds were found living in unimaginably squalid conditions from a suspected puppy mill in two locations in Montgomery and Candler counties in Georgia. Led by New York’s Guardians of Rescue, dozens of rescue groups immediately stepped up to help, rescuing more than 300 of the mostly purebred dogs. They found that in addition to being housed in filthy, crowded pens, some of the dogs had sores and had been living like that for at least five years.
“We know that a lot lost their lives fighting simply because they fought for dominance. It was a recipe for disaster every single day,” Mike Lawson, an investigator for Guardians, tells MNN. “They didn’t get out, they didn’t go for walks and they had to share the same soil covered with their own feces and urine. There was no protection from the cold and no shelter from the sun on a hot day. Obviously we are grateful they are no longer there.”
People from around the country and even in other parts of the world followed the drama on Facebook as all the dogs were removed from the property. Many people donated to the various rescue groups and offered to help foster or otherwise give support to these hundreds of dogs.
While Guardians also is involved with typical, everyday rescues, the group is often called in for these complicated cases.
“When people feel there’s no more hope, that’s when we jump into action,” says Lawson, who’s a retired FBI agent, like many of the group’s investigators.
“There’s the sheer number of animals and generally it’s the same typical M.O. in all these hoarding cases: It’s cramped areas, the hygiene is at an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10, and generally the health of the animals is not taken into consideration,” Lawson says. “Regardless of how it started, nobody should be keeping so many dogs on any property.”
People step up
Rescues and animal shelters save animals every day. They always need donations, fosters and other kinds of support. But when these unimaginable neglect stories surface, they know they can count on people to help.
“We see an outpouring of support from the community for a few reasons,” says Kristin Sarkar, founder of Releash Atlanta. “The first is, usually it’s a big undertaking that requires a lot of donations, whether financial or just items needed to begin the process of transferring the dogs to safety and it’s something everyone can help with, such as donating blankets, crates or leashes and collars.”
Sarkar posted the heart-wrenching video above of the doodle dogs being rescued with photos of the petrified pups as they were taken from their filthy pens. Immediately, people started asking how they could help.
“There’s also a visual that makes it hard to ignore. We can tell a story all we want, but when you actually see the story, it has a much greater effect. We’ve passed 100 car accidents, yet we will still slow down to look at the next one,” she says. “Lastly, a lot of times with cases like this, for the most part, people are good, and they want to help, and what better time to want to help than when the need is so great? Such is the case with these recent hoarding situations.”
I’ve learned this kindness firsthand.
My scared little foster dog was covered with mats and not trusting enough to really be handled yet. I asked a trainer friend of mine for advice and she called her assistant trainer who is also a groomer. He immediately came over on his day off and spent time calmly talking to this frightened pup as he trimmed off these horrible clumps of nastiness. People are amazing.
I fostered one other hoarding dog, Pax. He was petrified when he arrived and had heartworms, so he had a long road to recovery. People donated toys, treats and medical care while he was with me and were very kindly invested in his background and rescue, as well as his transformation. It took five months for him to come around and realize that people can be good.
The doodles and the German shepherds have a long road ahead of them. Thanks to rescues, fosters and the people who are donating for their care, they will now have access to the Five Freedoms. They’ll be free from hunger and pain, discomfort and fear, and will be in a safe, loving environment.
It will take a lot of work, but the good news is that eventually there will be happy endings.
“So many people have to invest time, energy, love and money into these dogs to fix them,” Lawson says. “These dogs have never been inside a home. They have never taken a car ride. Never been on a leash. Never have had a collar. To put these dogs into wonderful homes, everybody who has taken these dogs will have to put a lot into them. I’m sure, before you know it, you will start seeing some wonderful before-and-after photos of these dogs placed in homes.”
Words fail me when it comes to the appalling cruelty as described above.
So thank goodness for those wonderful people who truly understand what it means for a dog to be loved and cared for.
OK, not in the sense of weather because the worse is yet to come I’m sure. But in terms of the movement of the Planet Earth in its orbit around the Sun. And that’s what matters!
This is a really ancient moment as the following article published in The Conversation explains in much more detail.
What winter solstice rituals tell us about indigenous people
By Rosalyn R. LaPier Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, The University of Montana
December 13th, 2018.
On the day of winter solstice, many Native American communities will hold religious ceremonies or community events.
The winter solstice is the day of the year when the Northern Hemisphere has the fewest hours of sunlight and the Southern Hemisphere has the most. For indigenous peoples, it has been a time to honor their ancient sun deity. They passed their knowledge down to successive generations through complex stories and ritual practices.
As a scholar of the environmental and Native American religion, I believe, there is much to learn from ancient religious practices.
One such place was at Cahokia, near the Mississippi River in what is now Illinois across from St. Louis.
In Cahokia, indigenous people built numerous temple pyramids or mounds, similar to the structures built by the Aztecs in Mexico, over a thousand years ago. Among their constructions, what most stands out is an intriguing structure made up of wooden posts arranged in a circle, known today as “Woodhenge.”
To understand the purpose of Woodhenge, scientists watched the sun rise from this structure on winter solstice. What they found was telling: The sun aligned with both Woodhenge and the top of a temple mound – a temple built on top of a pyramid with a flat top – in the distance. They also found that the sun aligns with a different temple mound on summer solstice.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the people of Cahokia venerated the sun as a deity. Scholars believe that ancient indigenous societies observed the solar system carefully and wove that knowledge into their architecture.
Scientists have speculated that the Cahokia held rituals to honor the sun as a giver of life and for the new agricultural year.
Zuni Pueblo is a contemporary example of indigenous people with an agricultural society in western New Mexico. They grow corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and more. Each year they hold annual harvest festivals and numerous religious ceremonies, including at the winter solstice.
At the time of the winter solstice they hold a multiday celebration, known as the Shalako festival. The days for the celebration are selected by the religious leaders. The Zuni are intensely private, and most events are not for public viewing.
But what is shared with the public is near the end of the ceremony, when six Zuni men dress up and embody the spirit of giant bird deities. These men carry the Zuni prayers for rain “to all the corners of the earth.” The Zuni deities are believed to provide “blessings” and “balance” for the coming seasons and agricultural year.
As religion scholar Tisa Wenger writes, “The Zuni believe their ceremonies are necessary not just for the well-being of the tribe but for “the entire world.”
Not all indigenous peoples ritualized the winter solstice with a ceremony. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t find other ways to celebrate.
The Blackfeet tribe in Montana, where I am a member, historically kept a calendar of astronomical events. They marked the time of the winter solstice and the “return” of the sun or “Naatosi” on its annual journey. They also faced their tipis – or portable conical tents – east toward the rising sun.
They rarely held large religious gatherings in the winter. Instead the Blackfeet viewed the time of the winter solstice as a time for games and community dances. As a child, my grandmother enjoyed attending community dances at the time of the winter solstice. She remembered that each community held their own gatherings, with unique drumming, singing and dance styles.
Later, in my own research, I learned that the Blackfeet moved their dances and ceremonies during the early reservation years from times on their religious calendar to times acceptable to the U.S. government. The dances held at the time of the solstice were moved to Christmas Day or to New Year’s Eve.
The solstice. Divad, from Wikimedia Commons
Today, my family still spends the darkest days of winter playing card games and attending the local community dances, much like my grandmother did.
Although some winter solstice traditions have changed over time, they are still a reminder of indigenous peoples understanding of the intricate workings of the solar system. Or as the Zuni Pueblo’s rituals for all peoples of the earth demonstrate – of an ancient understanding of the interconnectedness of the world.
Let me pick up on the last sentence: “Or as the Zuni Pueblo’s rituals for all peoples of the earth demonstrate – of an ancient understanding of the interconnectedness of the world.”
We are all of us interconnected across the world. We have been for a very long time.
The importance of understanding this, truly understanding this, is critical to our future.
Margaret K. from down in Australia sent me the link to these photographs.
I should add the words that precede the photos.
Many people think of Finland as the land of cold weather and darkness. However, Ossi Saarinen (previously here and here), a Finnish photographer, believes that the country is much more than just that, and he shows another surprisingly enchanting side of his motherland.
Ossi brings delightful feelings through his photos of spectacular Finnish nature, especially the untouched forests covering almost three-quarters of the whole country. And within these peaceful and ancient forests, wild animals roam freely and enjoy their lives at their best.
Finnish animals appear to be very mysterious, fascinating and charming just like they’ve stepped out from fairy tales. Ossi does not skip the chances to capture the beauty of Finnish wildlife either. He believes that every encounter between the animals and humans becomes an unforgettably amazing experience (Well, let’s not talk about the encounter with a bear).
Now, let’s enjoy the fairy tale’s atmosphere in his photos
Or rather letting Deinah Storm offer a guest post.
This is a guest post. It stays with the theme of loyalty. The loyalty of dogs towards their dead masters.
8 Dogs Who Remained Loyal to Their Now-Gone Masters
By Deinah Storm, December 5th, 2108
A dog has always been a man’s best friend. Having a pet dog is always great. You have a partner to go with anywhere you want. Also, you won’t feel alone when you have a pet dog. Dogs are creatures that are filled with joy; no wonder fur parents from around the world try to give their best to show how they care for their pooch—be it to provide them the best dog food, regularly visit the vet, or keep dog house warm.
The love and affection that dogs give their owners are comparable to a mother’s love. It is unconditional and lasts a lifetime, and even beyond. Here is a list of eight dogs who remained loyal to their now-gone masters.
You may have heard of this name before already. Hachiko’s story has been all over the world. They even made movies about this loyal dog. He was originally owned by a Japanese professor at Tokyo University named Eizoburo Ueno. His students were the ones who nudged him to adopt this beautiful Akita dog. Every day that the professor goes to work, he goes to the train station to take the train. Hachiko always waited for him to return so they could go home together. After having been partners for only less than a year, Eizoburo Ueno died tragically while he was at work. So that day, Hachiko was waiting in vain for his master to return. But, he never did. Still, Hachiko waited every single day of his life for his now-gone to return to the train station. People were feeding Hachiko and giving him treats until he got old and died. A lot of people mourned over his death, and a statue was built for him.
Capitan was a dog owned by an Argentinian man named Michael Guzman. He was bought by Michael for his son Damian as a gift. They always had a special bond and loved each other. When Mr. Guzman passed away after just a year, Capitan could not be found by the Guzman family. Eventually, they were able to locate him. He was beside his master’s grave. Capitan stayed there for six long years until he passed away.
Hawkeye Hawkeye was a labrador who was owned by a Navy SEAL who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. A photo went viral during his funeral service. It was a picture of Hawkeye lying sadly in front of his master’s casket. He stayed there for the whole service. It is disheartening for dogs to lose their owners. Thankfully, the best friend of the deceased took Hawkeye and cared for him.
Ruswarp was owned by Graham Nuttall. One day, they went on a walk along the mountains in Wales. But, they did not return. So, Graham’s friends alerted the police. A search was done. But after several weeks, they could not be found. Eventually, after eleven weeks of being missing, another person found Graham beside a stream together with Ruswarp. Ruswarp never left his master’s side even after several weeks. Ruswarp was so weak and ill when they were found. A statue of Ruswarp was unveiled at a train station which he and his owner helped save.
Fido was owned by a factory worker in Italy. His name literally translates to “faithful.” He always went with his master to the bus station and waited for him to come back every single day. One tragic day, his owner was killed in the factory due to a bombing attack. Fido waited all day for his owner to return. He eventually returned home, but every single day he waited by the train station for fourteen years until he died.
Shep was owned by a shepherd. One day, his shepherd was ill and was rushed to the hospital. Shep waited outside the hospital until his owner died. He followed his owner’s casket as it was loaded onto a train to be sent home. Shep waited by the train station for five years. Every single day, he checked each person who went off the train. He stayed there until Shep tragically died in the train station when he became deaf and went to the tracks where a train hit him.
Bobby was owned by a police officer. When the officer died, Bobby never left his grave for fourteen years. When Bobby died, he was buried near his master. He had a gravestone which read “Greyfriars Bobby — died 14th January 1872 — aged 16 years — Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.” He had a statue made for him across the place where they are buried.
Waghya was owned by the King of the Maratha Empire. Traditionally, when a king dies, his remains are cremated. So, when the king died, Waghya never left his side until he was about to be incinerated. When the funeral pyre was lit, Waghya leaped into his death.
Dogs are forever loyal and loving
Dogs bring love and happiness to the world. They are there forever for humans. They will love you for all of eternity. So, love your dogs and care for them. They will never let you down.
It would be wrong of me to close without thanking Deinah. It’s a great guest post.
Finally, Deinah’s bio:
Deinah Storm is a pet lover from the US that’s had cats and dogs all her life. When she’s not walking the dogs with her family, she spends time writing informational and interesting blogs about pets to share with pet lover communities.
Lidl USA is voluntarily recalling specific lots of Orlando brand Grain Free Chicken & Chickpea Superfood Recipe Dog Food because the products may contain elevated levels of Vitamin D.
The recalled Orlando brand products include the following lot numbers manufactured between March 3, 2018 and May 15, 2018:
TI1 3 Mar 2019
TB2 21 Mar 2019
TB3 21 Mar 2019
TA2 19 Apr 2019
TB1 15 May 2019
TB2 15 May 2019
Elevated Vitamin D Levels
Dogs consuming elevated levels of Vitamin D could exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, and weight loss.
Customers with dogs who have consumed this product and are exhibiting these symptoms should contact their veterinarian as soon as possible.
No other products sold by Lidl are impacted by the recall.
This is a voluntary recall and is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
What to Do?
Customers who have purchased this product with the affected lot codes should stop feeding it to their dogs and discard the product immediately or return it to their nearest Lidl store for a full refund.
Customers who have questions about this recall should call the Lidl US Customer Care Hotline at 844-747-5435, 8 AM to 9 PM Eastern time, 7 days a week.
I know I’m biased, but I think my dog is brilliant. I’ve been bringing home animals all my life — from parakeets to ducks, cats to horses. But of all my feathered and furry pets, it’s no contest: Dogs are by far the brainiest. They are quick learners and great communicators with an incredible ability to solve problems.
But a new paper in the journal Learning & Behavior finds dog intelligence is “not exceptional.”
Although animal smarts have long been the subject of scientific research, recently there’s been a lot of focus on canine cognition. And that’s what triggered Stephen Lea, professor emeritus at the University of Exeter, to take a closer look. He was editor of the journal Animal Behavior, where he saw so many papers dealing with the mental abilities of dogs.
“Through the process of working as an editor [and] seeing all this research, I definitely got a sense that we as a collective had gotten a bit overexcited about dog intelligence,” Lea told Popular Science.
History of studying dog smarts
Dogs and their brains have been studied for centuries (remember Pavlov and his bell?), but then were pushed aside for more popular studies with primates and other species. It wasn’t until the 1990s when dogs came back into focus. Lea wondered whether humans were giving dogs too much credit.
Lea and his coauthor, Britta Osthaus of Canterbury Christ Church University, studied more than 300 papers on the intelligence of dogs and other animals. They looked at research that covered three groups: carnivorans (another name for carnivores), social hunters and domesticated animals. Dogs fall into all three groups.
They discovered that when it comes to brainpower, dogs don’t particularly excel in any of the groups. There were species in each that were on par with or better than dogs in cognition comparisons. Raccoons, for example, seem to solve puzzles more easily, and hyenas seem to follow the cues of their pack more handily.
“Taking all three groups (domestic animals, social hunters and carnivorans) into account, dog cognition does not look exceptional,” said Osthaus in a statement. “We are doing dogs no favor by expecting too much of them. Dogs are dogs, and we need to take their needs and true abilities into account when considering how we treat them.”
Dogs do, however, stand out from their smart counterparts because they perform well in all three categories.
“Every species has unique intelligence,” Lea told Popular Science. “Their intelligence is what you would expect of an animal that is … recently descended from social hunters … that are carnivores and that have [also] been domesticated …There’s no other animal that fits all three of those criteria.”
Sounds pretty brilliant to me.
It seems to me that science it taking far to narrow a look at our dogs.
For if one expands the range of qualities then one can include: