Category: Spirituality

Buddhism and Humanism

Reflections on a very interesting meeting of our local Freethinkers group.

Last Saturday was the regular monthly meeting of our local Rogue Valley Freethinkers and Humanists. Many know that Jean and I are secular humanists and go as often as we can to these meetings in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Saturday’s meeting was all about Buddhism or more accurately as Jerry Reed, the group’s administrator, put it in a recent email:

For Saturday, Aug 5: Brenda will be our presenter/discussion leader. She will introduce us to Secular Buddhism, including comments on basic principles of Buddhism, and how traditional and secular Buddhism compare with each other, as well as on overlapping philosophical views of Buddhism and Humanism.

This video link provides a discussion between a humanist, Scott Lohman, and a secular Buddhist, Ted Meissner, which may help to familiarize you with Brenda’s topic prior to our meeting. It is about 29 minutes long, all interesting, but if you are cramped for time, especially the segment from about 10:30 to 16:30 which discusses basic Buddhist principles that might also relate to humanism, and another segment from about 19:30 to 27:00 on advice to a beginner who might want to try meditation, and how Star Trek borrowed from Buddhism, and also about the similarity of ethical focus of Buddhism and Humanism.

What I would hope is that if any of you are interested in this subject, then do watch the interview with Ted Meisser conducted by Scott Lohman .
Here it is.

Here follow links to the organisations represented by Scott and Ted Meissner. For Scott the Humanists of Minnesota, and for Ted the Secular Buddhist Association.

If you do watch the video you will undoubtedly pick up on the science now discovering that meditation does change the brain … for the better!

More on that tomorrow!

Annie’s Second Chance.

My very great pleasure to publish today’s guest post.

Regulars of this place know that I am always open to any one of you sending in a guest post. Indeed, any involvement that comes to mind is welcome.

A couple of days ago in came an email from Kristin. She blogs about her shared life with very large dogs. Kristin’s email was an offer of a guest post for you dear readers. Of course, I said ‘yes’.

In reply to me asking for some background information, Kristin responded with the following:

I don’t really have a preference about what to say about me. Basically, as my kids get older and more independent I keep bringing in another dog!

Newfoundlands are my breed of choice, I love their sweet dispositions, the way they look, the bonds they form and the way they love to work.  I’ve learned a lot about rescue as well as ethical breeding practices since I adopted Annie and my greatest wish is to see all puppy mills shut down. I started writing Annie’s story, which led to the blog, and at some point would love to work with someone to make it better and figure out how to make it a fundraising tool for rescue organizations.

I’m not a trained writer, I just write from the heart. I write about anything that happens to be going on with me and the dogs which covers a lot of subjects. I just try to keep the focus on the dogs and my relationship with them.

Forget about Kristin not being “a trained writer” and just immerse yourself in this beautiful guest post.

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Oh happy day!

August 1, 2017

Annie and I had a big day today.  A day that changes everything! It was time for her rabies shot so our big date was a trip to the vet.  Annie and I have made many of these trips over the last year-and-a-half, but this time was very different.

When Annie was surrendered to rescue, the only document that came with her was her 2014 rabies certificate.  By the time she came home with us a year later, the rabies tag was long gone and the certificate we received was in pretty rough shape but the story it told was clear to me.

It’s a copy of a fax and is crooked and faded. On multiple occasions I’ve had to pull it out of her file when asked to show proof of vaccination.  Each time I pull it out, the anger bubbles up because it is a reminder in black and white of her life before us.

The owner’s name and address belongs to the man that operated the kennel/puppy mill.  It’s easy for me to say that even though I’ve never met him, I hate him.  Her name is listed as Anne, but “Paris” is written next to it. Why does she have two names? I don’t know.  Her age is listed as 7, although she had just had a birthday and was actually 8. Her weight is listed as 00. Record keeping was obviously not a priority with these dogs.  There are other notes that are hard to read, but are the vaccinations that she received after she was rescued. At the top are the words Annie Paris, blaze and orange collar.  The final glaring bit of information is the list of vaccinations done which only includes 2 things, the one she received that day and another rabies shot she received May 23, 2008!

(Names and addresses have been edited)

These are all broad strokes that paint a picture of neglect. After 6 years, what compelled him to seek out a vet to administer a 3 year rabies vaccination? Who knows, but what really bothers me concerns the veterinarian. There is no way he could have examined her and thought that she or any of the other dogs from that kennel were receiving proper care. The conditions they were forced to live in were unsanitary and disgusting. Knowing Annie as I do, they would have had to drag her to him, with her trembling and cowering.

So now, here’s the good news. Annie came to us with a broken spirit on the mend thanks to her rescuers and now she is a completely different dog. She’s happy and loving, she has a spring in her step and a twinkle in her eye. She regularly approaches me and nudges my hand for a scratch behind the ear. She walks on leash beautifully and loves our neighborhood patrols. She comes running when she hears the scoop in the dog food or the word “treat”. She doesn’t hide in her crate anymore but instead sprawls out all over the house, moving around, finding a comfy spot on the cool tile or under my feet or on the rug in the next room. She’s quick to come when I’m having training time with Winn and she will do her two tricks, sit and down, with precision so she can also get treats. She joins me in the kitchen when I’m cooking, confident that she will get a nibble now and then. At the end of every day, we climb the stairs together, I give her her eye drops and then she collapses on her Big Barker bed and lets out a sigh of contentment.

So this time going to the vet was different. Yes, she trembled as we were waiting, it took a lot of gentle coaxing to get her into the room and she wasn’t overly enthused about the attention she was getting but we both eagerly left with a treasure in my hands. I now have a proper certificate with both of our names in print. It is signed by a Dr. who lovingly cares for her and is genuinely invested in her well-being. The final reminder of her previous life can go in the trash. We belong to each other, and we have no reason to ever look back again!

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I’m not going to take anything away from Kristin’s most beautiful story. All I will do is to repeat her last sentence: “We belong to each other, and we have no reason to ever look back again!

That is perfect! Thank you, Kristin and Annie!

Looking ahead!

The joys of installing new flooring!

In a number of the rooms here at home we still have down on the floor the carpeting that was in the house when we moved in 5 years ago. As you might imagine that carpet, being slept on daily by cats and dogs, is also home to a range of uninvited ‘guests’. That song title comes to mind: “The hills are alive ….”.

A while ago we replaced the carpet in our main living-room with oak flooring and now we are replacing just about all the rest of the carpet in our house with laminate boarding that is a very good match with the oak flooring.

One of the rooms that is affected is my office and although the installers will only be working for the three days of the 16th to the 18th August, the rooms will need to be emptied out of all furniture a few days before the 16th.

Ergo, I expect to be ‘off air’ for about a week. Probably from Sunday, 13th August through to Sunday, 20th August.

During those days I won’t be able to respond to your replies to posts. But I will put up posts for each of those days well ahead of the 13th.

What I will post is something that Suzann emailed Jean the other day. It’s the wonderful story of a Belgian Shepherd dog befriending an owl. This is what was included in Suzann’s email:

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For years, photographer Tanja Brandt has made it her mission to capture magnificent photos of animals and wildlife. Recently, the German artist found a new challenge when she photographed the unique bond between two unlikely friends: Ingo, a Belgian shepherd, and Poldi (Napoleon), a one-year-old owlet.

The owlet and canine have a special “protector-protected” relationship and that their affection towards each other couldn’t be any more evident. Ingo lovingly guards Poldi, who apparently “doesn’t know how to live free.”
The owlet, hatched two days after his six brothers and sisters, therefore, has always been very vulnerable due to his small size. Comparatively, Ingo was raised by a family of strong, and oftentimes ruthless, police dogs.

“They respect each other and they can read each other,” says the photographer.

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There are many photographs of Ingo and Poldi and they will make up the posts for you all for that week of the 14th August.

This is the dog!

Precious!

Yesterday, Julie, Richard’s wife back in England, sent me a photograph of what some unknown dog lover has put on one of the walls of their home.

I can’t find the words to better what is written on that wall.

To increase the impact for you, dear reader, seeing this for the first time, it is presented with a ‘read more’ link.

In other words …..

Continue reading “This is the dog!”

Scouring the Horse.

Fascinating almost beyond words.

In the days when I lived in South Devon in England and had cause to travel, as in drive, to London one of the route options was to take the M5 motorway (Freeway in American speak) up to Bristol and then follow the M4 motorway that ran from Bristol all the way into the outskirts of London.

One of the benefits of this was that half-way, give or take, was at the Swindon exit and a further ten-minute drive took one to the delightful car-park at the White Horse at Uffington. No, it wasn’t a pub despite numerous pubs in England being called The White Horse; it was something much more special.

Yes, this is the very ancient White Horse that is introduced in Wikipedia, thus:

The Uffington White Horse is a highly stylised prehistoric hill figure, 110 m (360 ft) long, formed from deep trenches filled with crushed white chalk. The figure is situated on the upper slopes of White Horse Hill in the English civil parish of Uffington (in the county of Oxfordshire, historically Berkshire), some 8 km (5 mi) south of the town of Faringdon and a similar distance west of the town of Wantage; or 2.5 km (1.6 mi) south of Uffington. The hill forms a part of the scarp of the Berkshire Downs and overlooks the Vale of White Horse to the north. The best views of the figure are obtained from the air, or from directly across the Vale, particularly around the villages of Great Coxwell, Longcot and Fernham. The site is owned and managed by the National Trust and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The Guardian stated in 2003 that “for more than 3,000 years, the Uffington White Horse has been jealously guarded as a masterpiece of minimalist art.” It has also inspired the creation of other white horse hill figures.

So what prompted today’s post?

A recent article published online by The Smithsonian. Read and be amazed!

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Against All Odds, England’s Massive Chalk Horse Has Survived 3,000 Years

Cleaning up the Uffington Horse is the neigh-borly thing to do

The White Horse at Uffington, Oxfordshire (AP Photo)

If you stand in the valley near the village of Uffington in Oxfordshire, England, and look up at the high curve of chalk grassland above you, one thing dominates the view. Across the flank of the hill runs an enormous white, abstract stick figure horse cut from the chalk itself. It has a thin, sweeping body, stubby legs, a curiously long tail and a round eye set in a square head.

 This is the Uffington White Horse, the oldest of the English hill figures. It’s a 3,000-year-old pictogram the size of a football field and visible from 20 miles away. On this July morning black specks dot the lower slopes as small groups of people trudge slowly upwards. They’re coming to clean the horse.

It’s chalking day, a cleaning ritual that has happened here regularly for three millennia. Hammers, buckets of chalk and kneepads are handed out and everyone is allocated an area. The chalkers kneel and smash the chalk to a paste, whitening the stony pathways in the grass inch by inch. “It’s the world’s largest coloring between the lines,” says George Buce, one of the participants.

Chalking or “scouring” the horse was already an ancient custom when antiquarian Francis Wise wrote about it in 1736. “The ceremony of scouring the Horse, from time immemorial, has been solemnized by a numerous concourse of people from all the villages roundabout,” he wrote.

In the past, thousands of people would come for the scouring, holding a fair in the circle of a prehistoric fort nearby. These days it’s a quieter event. The only sounds are the wind, distant birdsong and the thumping of hammers on the chalk that can be felt through the feet.

Conservation organization the National Trust oversees the chalking, making sure the original shape of the horse is maintained. But the work is done by anyone who wants to come along. Lynda Miller is working on the eye, a circle the size of a car wheel. “The horse has always been part of our lives,” she says. “We’re really excited that we’re cleaning the eye today. When I was a little girl and I came here with my mother and father, the eye was a special spot. We used to make a wish on it.”

National Trust ranger Andy Foley hands out hammers. “It must have happened in this way since it was put on the hillside,” he says. “If people didn’t look after it the horse would be gone within 20 to 30 years; overgrown and eroded. We’re following in the footsteps of the ancients, doing exactly what they did 3,000 years ago.”

“There is something very special about this landscape that attracts people,” says archaeologist David Miles. In the 1990s, he led an excavation of the site that established the prehistoric date for the horse. Before the excavation, it was thought that the design was only scratched into the chalk surface, and therefore un-datable, but Miles’ team discovered the figure was actually cut into the hill up to a meter deep. That meant it was possible to use a technique called optical stimulated luminescence to date layers of quartz in the trench.

Emily Cleaver
Emily Cleaver

Up on the hill it’s not possible to view the whole horse at once; the curve of the slope gets in the way, the sheer scale of it confuses the eye. It is only from the valley below that the whole picture can be taken in. From this long distance, the horse is a tiny white figure prancing timelessly across the brow of the hill. But to the people who live near and tend the horse, it’s a monumental reminder of Britain’s ancient past.

“It was older than I’d been expecting,” Miles remembers. “We already knew it must be ancient, because it’s mentioned in the 12th-century manuscript The Wonders of Britain, so it was obviously old then. And the abstract shape of the horse is very similar to horses on ancient British coins just over 2,000 years old. But our dating showed it was even older than that. It came out as the beginning of the Iron Age, perhaps even the end of the Bronze Age, nearly 3,000 years ago.”

The trenches would have been dug out using antler picks and wooden spades: tough, labor-intensive work. How the builders planned and executed such a large figure when the full effect can only be taken in from several miles away is still a mystery.

Nobody knows for certain why the horse was made. “It’s a beautiful shape, very elegant,” says Miles. “It looks like it’s bounding across the hillside. If you look at it from below, the sun rises from behind it and crosses over it. In Celtic art, horses are often shown pulling the chariot of the sun, so that may be what they were thinking of here.”

From the start the horse would have required regular upkeep to stay visible. It might seem strange that the horse’s creators chose such an unstable form for their monument, but archaeologists believe this could have been intentional. A chalk hill figure requires a social group to maintain it, and it could be that today’s cleaning is an echo of an early ritual gathering that was part of the horse’s original function.

The Berkshire Downs where the horse lies are scattered with prehistoric remains. The Ridgeway, Britain’s oldest road, runs nearby. This is the heart of rural England and the horse is one of the country’s most recognizable landmarks, an identity badge stamped into the landscape. During World War II, it was covered over with turf and hedge trimmings so Luftwaffe bombers couldn’t use it for navigation. (Oxford is about a 30-minute drive and London about an hour-and-a-half.)

For locals, it’s part of the backdrop of daily life. Residents in the village reportedly arrange their rooms so that they sit facing the horse. Offerings, flowers, coins and candles are left on the site.

The people who come to the chalking have a variety of motivations. Martha Buckley is chalking the horse’s neck. ” I’m a neo-Pagan and I feel it connects me to the land. It’s of great spiritual significance,” she says. Lucy Bartholomew has brought her children. “It’s good to be able to explain to them why it’s here.” For Geoff Weaver, it’s the imperative to preserve history. “If we don’t do it, it would disappear, and the world would be a sorrier place,” he says.

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There are more fascinating photographs to view in that Smithsonian article.

Speaking of Berkshire, as in the Berkshire Downs, the only way to close today’s post is with a link to a dog walk on Greenham Common in Berkshire. That includes the following photograph.

Have a great weekend all of you!

 

Never give up!

Sharing and caring in abundance!

Please forgive the shortness of the introduction. It’s just that Jean and I were out all day and I didn’t sit down to present today’s post for all you good people until 4pm.

Frankly, this is such a wonderful account of caring for dogs that any intro from me would be superfluous!

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From Rags to Kisses: Abused Dogs Find Happy Homes in Colorado

By: Laura Burge July 1, 2017

About Laura Follow Laura at @literarylaura

In December 2014, Animal House Rescue and Grooming in Fort Collins, Colorado, found a very special delivery on its doorstep. Three dogs arrived from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, an Oglala Lakota Native American reservation.

One of the poorest communities in the country, the reservation has an overabundance of unwanted pets facing the risk of disease, starvation, exposure to the elements and, unfortunately, violence.

After a five-hour drive, DeeDee, Prince and Maizy made the first step to finding new and happy lives.

DeeDee was originally discovered living in the trash dump on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where she made her home upon an old discarded sofa atop a pile of tires. A local rescuer, aware of her plight, spent a week slowly gaining DeeDee’s trust with food.

Once the understandably nervous dog allowed the rescuer to get close enough to her, she found herself on a leash and then in a car. Little did DeeDee know she was on her long way home.

DeeDee spent some time in foster care in South Dakota, recovering from mange and learning to trust again before she was transferred to Animal House to give her a better chance of finding her future family. It didn’t take long for them to find each other, with DeeDee’s charming and playful nature quickly winning over their hearts.

Prince, a 2-year-old shepherd mix, had been found covered in matted fur and burrs. He showed up at Animal House having been shaved, but full of affection.

When Prince arrived, they noticed that there was a problem with his back leg and quickly got him in for x-rays. The cause became quickly apparent, and horrible: Prince had been shot on the reservation. The bullet had travelled through his rear hip and shattered his femoral head.

Not knowing how long he had been suffering through the pain of his injury, the staff at Animal House was anxious for Prince to find relief as quickly as possible. He was sent to CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for a femoral head osteotomy, a surgery that alleviated his pain and allowed him to keep his rear leg.

Thankfully, his lovable nature showed through. Prince was able to recover in comfort and bask in newfound love, as he went to his new home shortly after surgery.

Maizy was a beautiful 8-month-old Husky mix puppy with eyes that melted hearts. Whatever happened to Maizy on the reservation, something that will remain a mystery, she came to Animal House in a lot of pain.

Maizy had several neurological symptoms and pain in her neck. After x-rays, the shelter soon found that the puppy had a fractured cervical vertebra, which was causing compression on her spinal cord. This could have been catastrophic for Maizy, but she’s a fighter.

Maizy’s foster family dedicated their time to bringing her to CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for regular bandaging and casting to keep her spine in place. Her beautiful face and wonderful personality through all of this ended up winning the heart of an Animal House volunteer. Having made a full recovery and a lifelong connection, Maizy now lives happily in her loving forever home.

Adoption Highlight: Special Needs Dogs

These adorable special needs dogs are still waiting to find their way to new homes.

Banjo is a 6-year-old pit bull terrier mix who had a rough start to life, facing his many challenges with a great attitude. He arrived at Animal House with skin issues related to allergies, worn down teeth and scarring on his body, as well as kidney disease. Banjo gives the best hugs and thinks he is a lap dog, so he would make an excellent snuggle buddy.

Bella is a 2-year-old shih tzu mix who arrived at Animal House after her former sanctuary had to close its doors. Bella has a love for life and gets along well with other dogs and cats. She does struggle in some areas, though, specifically with constipation and some house-training. Bella is looking for a patient and kind forever home willing to help her live comfortably with her condition.

Ghost is a 2-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix who is sensitive, intelligent, and inquisitive. He is nervous about new people and environments and needs a home that can build his confidence so that he can be happy and comfortable in a variety of situations. Ghost just wants some good old-fashioned love and patience!

You can find out more about these adoptable dogs here.

Photo credits: Animal House Rescue and Grooming, Colorado

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Whatever the state of the world, as long as there are organisations and people who will love and care for animals in need then I will be at peace.

The day after.

Trying to cope.

This is a very personal, possibly rather mixed-up, set of reflections of how the day after Pharaoh died felt for me. Some of you may prefer not to read this or view the photos.

I sat down to write this, late morning Tuesday, as it was becoming too hot to stay outside. I felt inspired to be 100% honest about my feelings and the photographs are, in essence, copies of the pictures that are in my head.

I woke early yesterday, a little after 4am, and started listening to BBC Radio Four using ear-phones plugged into my tablet while Jeannie slept on.

But I couldn’t get the images of Monday out of my head. Such that it seemed unreal to think that less than thirty-six hours previously Pharaoh was sleeping quietly near his bed, albeit unable to walk on his own.

Then, in what seemed like the flick of a finger, Jeannie was offering Pharaoh my dinner plate Monday evening.

For every evening, unless we had eaten a very spicy meal, Pharaoh always licked my plate clean.

A routine that had gone on for years.

I lay there in bed as 1pm arrived in England (5am PDT) and BBC Radio 4 was broadcasting The World At One. Despite the gloomy headlines still focusing on that terrible fire at the Grenfell Tower in London (not three miles from where I was born in 1944), the images of Monday kept thundering into my consciousness.

How dear friend, Jim Goodbrod, and I had driven into Allen Creek Veterinary Hospital, where Jim is a visiting DVM each week, to collect the required amount of euthanasia drug (apparently just 1 c.c. for every 10 lbs of animal weight – looking at it in the syringe it seemed such a small amount of fluid to bring an end to Pharaoh’s life.)

Then over breakfast, as in Tuesday morning, Jean said how difficult it was watching Pharaoh yesterday (Monday) when Jim and I were away getting the meds because it seemed to her that Pharaoh sensed something was happening outside the run of a normal morning.

Continuing with Monday. When Jim returned, accompanied by his wife, Janet, and knelt down to examine Pharaoh his analysis was that the time was right. Pharaoh had lost massive amounts of muscle tissue from his rear legs and hips.

It was time. Jean and I settled down sitting on the floor alongside Pharaoh’s bed. Pharaoh shifted his body and placed his wonderful, furry head across my outstretched legs. It was time.

Jim injected Pharaoh with an anesthetic. Slowly, gently Pharaoh fell fast asleep. Jim shaved a patch of fur from Pharaoh’s front, right lower leg.  Janet pinched a vein in Pharaoh’s leg and moments later, Jim injected the euthanasia drug. Jean and I continued to stroke Pharaoh’s forehead but frequently looked down to where the rise and fall of Pharaoh’s lungs was visible.

Then at 11:57 PDT Monday, June 19th., there was no more breathing. Jim took out a stethoscope and confirmed that there was no heart-beat. Jim closed Pharaoh’s eyelids while Jean and I sat quietly just holding on to Pharaoh. A few minutes later, Jean and I had wriggled out from under Pharaoh and then Jim slipped a plastic sack over the rear half of Pharaoh’s still body.

Pharaoh had died without pain and in the most gentle way imaginable.

Back to Tuesday, as in yesterday, and now Jean and I were awake and I was reading every comment and response to the post Adieu, Mon Brave.

I must tell you that the love and compassion extended by every single one of you, including the numerous emails sent to me, is the most precious, special recognition of what Pharaoh meant to me, to my Jeannie, and to you all.

Thank you! Thank you so much!

Time then for a call into England and to let Sandra Tucker know that Pharaoh had died. For Pharaoh had been born at Jutone, the GSD breeding kennels run by Sandra Tucker, and Jim, in Hennock, Devon.

Pharaoh’s legacy will live on forever. What he stood for. What he represented. What I learned from Pharaoh. What he inspired in me. That inspiration that will live with me until it’s my turn to take my last breath.

Then it was time to get up and try and stay occupied. But I didn’t warrant for seeing Pharaoh’s empty bed as I walked out of the bedroom into the living-room.

It looked so empty, so lonely.

I burst into tears.

I turned on my heels and went out to feed the horses and the wild deer. As is done every morning.

Walking back to the house, I stepped up on to the rear deck and looked up at the line where the tops of the forest trees on the hills to the East meet the morning sky. It was a clear, cloudless sky.

The sun was within seconds of rising above that skyline. I took a photograph and then the sun had risen. It was 06:24 am. Fifteen hours to the minute before the exact moment of the Summer Solstice this evening (21:24 PDT).

I don’t know what it all means other than in some mysterious, natural fashion, everything is connected.

Dear, sweet, noble Pharaoh.

Bonding that saves lives!

Again and again the power of our relationship with dogs is breathtakingly beautiful.

If I carried on writing about dogs and sharing articles with you for a thousand years, I still don’t think I would become immune to the joy and wonder of what dogs mean to us. (Luckily for your sake you won’t have to follow this blog for quite those many years!)

Turning to us, the measure of a compassionate and caring society is how it looks after those who, through circumstance and bad luck, are disadvantaged. While there are many in such a situation who are the wrong side of twenty-one there’s something especially important, critically so, in reaching out to help our youngsters.

So why this switch from dogs to disadvantaged young people?

Read on:

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Shelter Dogs and Special Needs Kids: A Match Made in Heaven

By: Vera Lawlor June 9, 2017

About Vera Follow Vera at @vtlawlor

Brook, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, was sitting in a high-kill shelter in Arizona with just two days to live when she was rescued by Janice Wolfe, founder and CEO of Merlin’s KIDS. The nonprofit organization rescues, rehabilitates and trains shelter dogs to work as service dogs for children with autism and special needs, as well as to assist disabled veterans. After extensive training Brook returned Wolfe’s kindness by transforming the life of Julie, 21, who is developmentally delayed due to a premature birth.

Wolfe describes Brook as a “rock star,” a calm sweet dog with the perfect temperament for working as an emotional support service dog. Julie’s mom, Ellen, couldn’t agree more.

“Brook has given Julie a greater sense of confidence,” Ellen said. “They are always together and Brook definitely knows that it’s her responsibility to take care of Julie.”

Before being paired with Brook, Julie was afraid to go outside the house on her own. Now she and Brook take walks down the block or sit together in the yard. Julie has become more outgoing and enjoys speaking or singing in front of people.

“Brook has become an emotional support for all of us,” Ellen said. “I can’t believe that they almost put her to sleep. She is the love of our lives!”

Julie takes a selfie with Brook as he smothers her with kisses.

Another Merlin’s KIDS graduate, Willow, was rescued from a beach in Aruba where she ran with a feral pack. She was so scared that nobody could touch her. With patience and love her foster family won her love and trust. Now after completing the training program, the 40-pound sweet-natured cunucu dog is ready to join three other Merlin’s Kids service dogs in the Animal Adaptive Therapy program at the Calais School for special needs children in New Jersey. Willow is a cortisol detection dog trained to detect stress signals in students and to alert the counseling team so that they can intervene before a problem escalates. She will also work with students to learn the social, emotional and behavioral skills they need to succeed in life.

Willow and Brook are just two of the 1,300 dogs that have been rescued, rehabilitated and trained as service dogs by Wolfe, a canine behavior rehabilitation specialist and author of “SHH HAPPENS! Dog Behavior 101.” In addition to Rhodesian Ridgebacks, the nonprofit organization has rescued and rehabilitated Labrador mixes, pointer mixes and coonhound mixes to work as service dogs. The goal of the organization is to ensure that service dogs are available to families in need regardless of financial circumstances. To fulfill this mission it depends on financial donations and sponsorships.

Wolfe said that Merlin’s KIDS service dogs are highly trained and highly specialized. They can do anything from keeping a special needs child from wandering away to opening doors or picking up pencils for children with disabilities to alerting before the onset of a seizure. It’s important, the trainer said, to make sure that the dogs are physically capable of doing the jobs being asked of them and that they have the right temperament.

“I’m very careful when placing dogs with autistic children because these kids can have such erratic behavior and the dogs have to be able to handle that,” Wolfe said. “Service dogs who will be tethered to a child have to be really chill and calm”

When it comes to autistic children Wolfe’s dogs are trained to serve the individual child. For example, dogs are trained to help children who are overstimulated by interrupting behavior patterns, and they can prevent children from opening a door and running out into the street. Some children need deep pressure to fall asleep so Wolfe and her team train service dogs to lay across their laps at night.

“We have a lot of autistic kids who had never slept in their own beds until they got a service dog,” Wolfe said. In addition to donations and sponsors, Merlin’s Kids is always in need of volunteers and foster families.

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This beautiful article was first seen on the Care2 site and, please, do drop across to that Merlin Kids website.

Who do you think you are?

Talk about extremes of topics!

Yesterday it was gliding, tomorrow it is going to be a celebration of Pharaoh’s 14th birthday and today it is about you!

Kadam Morten Clausen is a Buddhist teacher. Now I would be the first to stick up my arm and say that my understanding of Buddhism is pretty poor. But in the days many years back when I spent time exploring a number of Asian countries I found the culture surrounding Buddhism very appealing. (And I write as someone who is not a religious believer.)

Back to Morten Clausen.

The Kadampa Meditation Center in New York, where Kadam is a resident teacher, describe him as follows:

Kadam Morten Clausen is the Eastern US National Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition and Resident Teacher at the Kadampa Meditation Center New York City, and also Bodh Gaya Center in Bayside, Queens. For over 30 years he has been a close disciple of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who gave him the title “Kadam,” indicating that he is a senior lay teacher of the Kadampa Tradition.

Kadam Morten met his teacher, Geshe Kelsang, while attending university in England. He taught widely throughout the UK and helped develop many Kadampa Centers in England. Kadam Morten has been teaching in the US for more than 20 years and has established centers throughout the New York area, as well as Washington DC, Virginia, and Puerto Rico. In addition to his local teaching responsibilities, he teaches and guides retreats regularly throughout the United States and Europe.

Kadam Morten is greatly admired as a meditation teacher and is especially known for his clarity, humor and inspirational presentation of Dharma. His teachings are always practical and easy to apply to everyday life. Through his gentle and joyful approach and his peaceful example, he has helped many people find true happiness in their hearts.

So what’s this all about when I say that today’s post is about you?

Enjoy the following, recently published on the Big Think site:

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Science and Buddhism Agree: There Is No “You” There

Unconditional dog love

Couldn’t have a better story to follow yesterday’s news about Socks finding a new home.

I have lost count of the times that over the years I have featured on this blog the bond between a person and a dog. Yet that hasn’t blunted my mind or dulled my heart to hearing of new stories of this wonderful bond arriving over the ‘air waves’.

Such is the case of Ben and his dog that was featured on the Shareably site last July.

My pleasure to share this story with you.

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Doctor’s tell dog to leave owner’s hospital bed, but dog refuses and lays by his owner’s side

written by Jenny Brown on July 11th, 2016
There is the saying that a dog is a man’s best friend. It might be because a dog is by your side when you’re feeling down, is there to play catch when you feel like throwing around the frisbee, or simply there when you want some company.

As dog-lovers we are grateful for the things dogs do for us, but do we consider how dogs might be as grateful for the things we do for them? In this video, the beautiful relationship between one man, Ben, and his dog is shown from the perspective of not the man, but his dog.

The relationship between Ben and his dog begins in their earlier years. The two of them travel around the world. From camping in the deserts to hiking in the mountains, they discover their favorite places to visit and make new friends along the way.

Source YouTube/Ben Moon

As the story continues, however, Ben develops cancer. While Ben must spend his time in a hospital and away from traveling, his dog continues to stay by his side, night and day. The relationship between Ben and his dog seems that it may worsen due to Ben’s obstacle, but instead, their relationship only strengthens.

Source YouTube/Ben Moon

The story progresses years later, as Ben overcomes his battle and the bond between him and his dog continues to grow. Through the highs and lows of their relationship, Ben and his dog remain the best of friends until the very end.
This touching video is a dedication made by Ben to his dog, for all the best moments they spent together. This video also shows what is truly the essence of friendship, between a man and his best friend, his dog.

Source YouTube/Ben Moon

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

(Ed: Note that the dialogue in the following professionally shot film is the voice of the dog.)

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Friendship, as in true friendship, is very precious. That true friendship is rarely unconditional between humans. Not impossible, just rare.

For common examples of unconditional friendship, as in the unconditional love bond, we have to turn to our dogs.

What beautiful teachers they are!