Category: Spirituality

Relationships.

Everything comes down to our relationships.

It is not the first time that I have written on the theme of the importance of relationships. However, I am inspired by a number of separate and discrete outcomes in the last couple of days that compell me to return to this most important principle of all: We are what we think about most.

The first outcome was a lovely reply left by Hariod Brawn to yesterday’s post. This is what she wrote:

My GSD had hip dysplasia too, Paul – if that’s what you’re alluding to with Pharaoh. He still was able to die a natural death though, as his rear quarters became paralysed with the dysplasia and he felt no pain. There were plenty of other problems resulting from his immobility, but I wouldn’t have traded those difficulties and the incredible communication we shared as a result of them, for anything – his last few weeks were some of the most powerful and precious of my entire life.

Then after my response, Hariod went on to say:

It was a deeply profound time for me, and I honestly wouldn’t have believed anyone had they told me what I experienced, but experience it I did. It was not the product of fanciful imagination, much as it might sound so in words. The communication between the two of us was quite incredible, and which really was empathic in nature, in the deepest sense of the word. We always had great communication and understanding, which all dog lovers do with their charges, of course, but this was another level altogether. Some might call it ‘psychic’, as if that meant something mystical and woo-like, but it just means ‘of the mind’. The question is, does the mind have the psychical power to share in understanding across physical borders? You will doubtless know of J. Allen Boone:

I will return to that mention of J. Allen Boone at the end of the post.

Then later on there was a further reply to the post from Barb of Passionate About Pets :

Thanks for re-publishing Gina’s post here, I found it interesting because Poppy, my little shih-tzu is an old dame now – she will be 17 in two months time. She has developed serious separation anxiety in the last year and if I am working in the garden, she barks for me to get back inside even though my husband is inside with her – she wants us BOTH with her. She is weak in her back legs so her walks are shorter. All these signs of old age make me so sad. Just like you and Pharoah, old age is creeping up on us all.
A special thank you to Hariod for including that video clip of J. Allen Boone’s dog Strongheart and the very special connection they had; he was so wise about Strongheart’s qualities – they never die. It really resonated with me.
Thank you for a wonderful post.

You can see why I entitled today’s post Relationships!

Then earlier on in my day I had a call with Jon Lavin, a friend from my days when I lived in Devon, South-West England. Jon and I still speak on a regular basis and yesterday I was complimenting Jon on a wonderful post he had written on his own business blog The People Workshop.

Jon’s post was about relationships in the workplace, his area of professional experience, and I was struck by how far the messages were relevant to all of us, in all areas of our lives. But just as key it was another reminder of the importance of all of us who express themselves on blogs; both as authors and as commentators. Because those expressions make, build and maintain great relationships.

Jon’s post is republished here with his full permission.

ooOOoo

Relationships in the workplace

Posted on

Poppies and sea
Poppies and sea

When you look at how much of our lives we spend at work it’s really quite attention-grabbing. I did a very rough calculation based on 40 years and 40 hours a week – and I took out holidays and weekends. It works out approximately at 4900 hours. That’s a lot of hours, especially if you do lots of overtime and weekends. All of that time, you’re probably going to be mixing with people – usually, quite a large number of people.

We are ‘relationship seeking’, says Eric Berne, originator of Transactional Analysis. So for all of that time, we’re moving in and out of relationships with other people. So here, I’m categorising any interaction with another as ‘relationship’.

Then there’s what happens when we go home, another set of relationships, and where we came from – our parents and families.

So how we are in relationship with others is very important and has a major impact on the results we get generally and particularly in the context of this article, at work.

I hear a lot of talk about ’employee engagement’ at the moment. I believe that for employees to be ‘engaged’, so actively involved in what they’re doing, thinking about it, in the ‘here and now’, they’ve got to be in relationship with their manager and probably, the team they’re part of, at least, if the job is being done properly.

I see it as the role of the manager or team leader that they have the skills and ability to develop these relationships with as many team members as possible, any exclusions being the exception. This requires a lot of self-awareness and confidence, plus the ability to build high levels of trust with a wide range of character types. I think it also requires the ability to see the world from the view point of the other person – ‘putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes’, we say. That’s quite difficult to do in my experience. However, we can donate the time to get to know the people in our team and so increase the likelihood of all of us coming from the same angle.

I think this is about the ability to value the uniqueness of others in all the different forms and approaches that manifests in, and finding ways of harnessing those skills and abilities.

These are not easy things and I am aware of the relatively few, good people managers I come across in my work but it is possible to develop these skills. You need to have the intention to want the best from ALL relationships. Also, to be prepared to use the feedback we all get, especially when things don’t go to plan in a relationship, and be continually revisiting and adjusting your approach so that you get more of what works. This way, you automatically get less of what doesn’t work.

Never under estimate the power of intention.

Stormy seas
Stormy seas

ooOOoo

I am now going to close today’s post with those words of  J. Allen Boone that Hariod had in her second reply:

To echo Jon’s closing message, let us never cease our intention of having wonderful relationships; with our dogs, with others and, not least of all, with ourselves.

Reaching out with love.

Giving back, in so many different ways, is fundamental to who we are, and to whom we must be!

I introduced yesterday’s Earth Day post with the sub-heading, “A fabulous example of how we reach out to others across the internet!” Today’s post is another fabulous example.

Not that long ago, Sue Dreamwalker, a great friend of this place, posted an article that she introduced, thus:

I just had to share this lovely post with you all from a beautiful friend. You have to explore her blog to see all the transformations she does when she gives a new lease of life to furniture. And her home.. What is even more remarkable, and I hope Lois will not mind me mentioning this is that Lois does all of this work from the confines of a wheelchair..

I hope you visit and see just how generous a nature she has ..
Love and Blessings

Sue

Curious, I went across to Lois’s blog Living in Denim and to the particular post that Sue had spoken about. Without hesitation I asked if I might republish that post here and share it with you all. Lois was delighted to offer me such permission.

Read it and you will see why I asked so quickly.

ooOOoo

Giving Back: A Yard Sale Redo for a Deserving Child

dresser5You must apply the paint in the same direction, with the grain of the “wood” for the best results. It took 2-3 coats of paint to get the desired effect. When the dresser was dry I added two coats of polycrylic to seal the finish, but I’m getting ahead of myself a bit.

I was told flowers were important to this child. As I sanded the dresser down I contemplated the best way to add flowers to the piece.  At first I thought maybe I’d sketch grass using green milk paint to the lower drawer then stems up the drawer fronts to use the knobs as the center of the flowers and sketch around them different colored flowers.  This didn’t feel right to me but still I played with the idea.

Then I realized I didn’t have enough colors of paint to do this.  I briefly considered heading to the store to purchase an assortment of different colored permanent markers, but again I dismissed this.  I worked until I lost daylight on Saturday and woke with an idea.

For months now my granddaughters and I have enjoyed coloring Patricia Zapata’s Flower Nook. Patricia is a well-known blogger at A Little Hut. I’ve already removed some of the completed pages to frame for the girl’s room upstairs, now I would remove more and use them on the dresser.

flower-nookI added three designs to the drawers and one to the top of the dresser.

Top of the dresser.
Top of the dresser.

These are the designs I used on the drawer fronts.

dresser-after2The most time consuming part of this was trimming the designs to remove the excess white paper.  I laid them out and when I was happy with the placement decoupaged them on and sealed the entire drawer fronts with polycrylic.

In questioning the little girl I learned she liked gold over silver so I headed to my hardware stash and pulled out all the heavy substantial gold knobs. I toyed around with using two knobs on the left with one pull on the right, the way the drawers were to begin with. In the end I didn’t have enough gold pulls I liked and decided to use only knobs.  I used wood filler to fill in the holes from the original pulls then drilled new holes.  I kept the distance from the side of the drawer for the new knobs the same as the existing knobs on the other side and then centered them on the fronts.

dresser-after
Once I took this photo I saw that I hadn’t painted the very bottom and did go back and paint them, if you were wondering.

The top drawer I simply used a permanent marker, I have a couple in the house, and a four inch stencil to add her first initial.

By Sunday at 3pm I called to let the family know the dresser was ready to pick up.  They arrived with the little girl and a friend of hers. I wish I could show you their faces, but I can’t.  The girls didn’t miss a thing. They spotted the little girl on the middle drawer, they loved the heavy gold knobs and the white washed paint effect.

dresser-comparisonI know a little about this foster parent, I know she adopted a previous foster child and raised him as her own even though she has very little disposable income. She herself is on disability. She loves these children and has given this little child so much love that when the question arose again as to how much they owed me, I informed her the child’s expression was well worth the work and I wanted to make this a gift from me to them. Thankfully, the family accepted my gift as long as I promised to call if there is ever anything they can do for me.

Tonight I am tired and even sore. I did get a bit of work done outside after all but while I thought getting more accomplished on the house would perk me up, in reality it was the dresser that made the weekend a success for me.

ooOOoo

Reaching out in love, indeed!

Environmentalism.

A second and supporting post for today: Earth Day 2016.

Eight days ago I received an email from Jordan Jaeger that included a link to a video that was just perfect for this Earth Day.

I so much wanted it to be shared with you today but at the same time I didn’t want to create a shadow over the lovely guest post from Mike Shannon that I published at midnight. Yet, at the same time, it so beautifully complemented Mike’s infographic.

Thus my solution was to offer you both Mike’s guest post and Jordan’s video this same day. You will love the video!

Published on Apr 6, 2016

This video was created as a Senior Civics class project. Enjoy!
Special thanks to the talented artists that made the music used in the video. -“Something Good Can Work” by The Two Door Cinema Club, and “Back to the Earth” by Jason Mraz.
Professional Hand Modeling By: Nicole & Ruby Mahr

In praise of the ‘mutt’.

Welcome to Territorio de Zaguates, or “Land of the Strays”.

When it comes to loving stray dogs I thought that the friends of John Zande and his wife were showing the rest of the world how to do it. For it is my understanding that Sandra and her partner down in Brazil are providing a home for around 300 ex-rescue dogs.

Then I came across this recent item over on Mother Nature News about 700 rescued ‘mutts’ living in a doggie paradise.

Here’s the full article:

ooOOoo

700 rescued mutts live the life at Costa Rica’s ‘Land of the Strays’

Catie Leary

April 13, 2016.
Dogs frolic in a lush green field at the Territorio de Zaguates dog sanctuary in Costa Rica. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
Dogs frolic in a lush green field at the Territorio de Zaguates dog sanctuary in Costa Rica. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Welcome to Territorio de Zaguates, or “Land of the Strays,” an amazing, privately funded, volunteer-run animal sanctuary in Costa Rica where no mutt is turned away.

Located less than an hour outside the bustling capital city of San José, this doggie safe haven is home to hundreds of abandoned canines that have been given a second chance at life.

This is no ordinary animal sanctuary, though. After all, when you live in a place as beautiful as Costa Rica, you take advantage of what the landscape provides. That’s why volunteers lead the ragtag pack of rescued mutts on scenic hikes through the gorgeous mountains nearly every day. It’s a sight to behold.

 A volunteer at Territorio de Zaguates leads a pack of dogs up a hill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
A volunteer at Territorio de Zaguates leads a pack of dogs up a hill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Aside from the free-range mountain hikes with breathtaking scenery, Territorio de Zaguates functions just like any other animal rescue or sanctuary.

“First thing we do when a new dog gets here is spay/neuter, vaccinate and get rid of parasites,” the organization explains on its Facebook page. “Then we assess if the dog requires any other type of special treatment [and] put them in quarantine if necessary.”

Once this initial processing is completed, the new dog is released into the general population, where it can either be adopted by a loving human or spend the rest of its days frolicking in what is essentially a doggy paradise.

There are all kinds of mutts living at Territorio de Zaguates. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
There are all kinds of mutts living at Territorio de Zaguates. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

What makes Territorio de Zaguates even more special is the creative approach to finding the dogs forever homes.

To encourage adoption, every doggie resident at the sanctuary is not only given a name, but also a customized “breed” name based on the dog’s phenotypic traits. These one-of-a-kind breed monikers include memorable titles like “Alaskan collie fluffy terrier” and the “chubby-tailed German doberschnauzer.”

The resounding message behind this strategy is that when you adopt a mutt, you’re adopting a unique breed. Learn more about this clever campaign in the video below:

 

Caso: Territorio de Zaguates from GARNIER BBDO on Vimeo.

As any animal rescuer will know, maintaining such an massive sanctuary requires an enormous amount of time, money and labor. But thanks to a host of charitable donors and an eager base of volunteers, the sanctuary is a great success.

“We have a very small staff but still we manage to do everything from daily picking up the poo and disposing of it properly, to feeding and medicating the dogs, and everything in between,” a spokesperson for the organization writes.

Continue below for just a glimpse of what life is like for these adorable pups at Territorio de Zaguates:

Mattresses are provided for the dogs to lounge on throughout the day. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
Mattresses are provided for the dogs to lounge on throughout the day. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Mattresses provide natural lounge spots for the dogs throughout the day.

A pack of rescued dogs take a leisurely walk in the woods with a few of the sanctuary's hard-working volunteers. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
A pack of rescued dogs take a leisurely walk in the woods with a few of the sanctuary’s hard-working volunteers. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

The pack takes a leisurely hike in the woods with a few of the sanctuary’s hard-working volunteers and some prospective dog adopters

Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Lunch time at Territorio de Zaguates means serious business, which is why kibble donations are so important!

Cushy bed donations are also very important for the sanctuary. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
Cushy bed donations are also very important for the sanctuary. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

In addition to food, comfy dog beds are also a much welcomed donation item for the sanctuary!

A volunteer leads the pack downhill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
A volunteer leads the pack downhill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

A sanctuary volunteer leads the pack downhill during a scenic hike through the mountains.

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

In case you were wondering where all those yummy kibble donations went … behold the trough

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

A few of the sanctuary’s senior residents rest on the steps of the facility. Even if the pups aren’t adopted out, they’ll always be guaranteed a luxurious forever home at the sanctuary.

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Concrete drainage pipes makes excellent (and sturdy!) makeshift dog houses

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Rescued dogs hang out in the shade of the sanctuary’s many trees

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

A nice refreshing dip … in some drinking water

(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

After a long, fun-filled day of being a dog, there’s nothing like cuddling up with a friend and snoozing before dinner time

ooOOoo

Well it certainly puts our ten dogs in the shade!

In doing a trawl through YouTube I came across this video that I will use to close off today’s post. Chances are that, as with me, you won’t understand the voice-over but it won’t diminish your pleasure at looking at these dogs.

Published on Jul 3, 2014

“Territorio de Zaguates” ubicado en las hermosas montañas de Costa Rica, es un albergue de animales donde se le da casa, comida, atención veterinaria, ejercicio, esparcimiento y cariño a 700 perros callejeros víctimas del maltrato, el abuso, el abandono y la negligencia humana.
–ENGLISH– “Territorio de Zaguates” is a No-kill-shelter in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica that provides home, food, vet care, exercise, recreation and affection to over 700 stray dogs, victims of neglect, abandonment and abuse.

Actually, let me close off today’s post with these two sets of words from the story above:

Once this initial processing is completed, the new dog is released into the general population, where it can either be adopted by a loving human or spend the rest of its days frolicking in what is essentially a doggy paradise.

“essentially a doggy paradise.”

The resounding message behind this strategy is that when you adopt a mutt, you’re adopting a unique breed.

That is so true! Each and every dog, especially an ex-rescue dog, is a unique breed.

The essence of our relationship with dogs.

Woman Rescues Burned Puppy and He Grows Up to Save Her Life

This wonderful story was recently published on the Care2 site and is republished here to share with you all and to underline the importance of always trying to find your next pet from a rescue shelter.

ooOOoo

Woman Rescues Burned Puppy and He Grows Up to Save Her Life

2997475.largeBy: Laura S. April 6, 2016

About Laura

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on January 7, 2013. We are republishing it for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Anyone who has ever saved an animal will tell you that its the kind of experience that shakes up your DNA. You won’t regrow hair on a balding head or suddenly run a four-minute-mile, but there is a pulse of positive energy that churns through the human body much like a twister. In some cases, fragments of that emotional explosion are powerful enough to be credited with modern medical miracles. And for one Texas woman, the experience was profound enough to help wake her from a coma.

My Name is Danielle…

“My name is Danielle and it’s been over a year since something terrible happened to me. I am ready now to share my story,” explained the letter we received recently from veterinary technician Danielle Torgerson of Killeen, Texas. ”Four years ago somebody brought a puppy to the clinic. I was not assigned to that room but I was in the second room when I felt something pull me into the hallway. It was strange, but I glanced into the other exam room and saw a puppy on the table. He looked at me with so much pain and despair. A man had brought him in for a ‘sting’ but I knew instantly that was not the case. The puppy was horribly burned on the head like somebody had poured gasoline over him and set him on fire. He was there to be euthanized.”

But Danielle’s conscience began to wrestle down the injustice of extinguishing this young life before it had known the simple joys that every dog should know. She wondered if he might be able to have a bed of his own. Could there be walks through the park in the cool evening air? Was it possible that this puppy might wake up each morning beside a person whose first words were his name?

“I asked the vet if something could be done,” Danielle recalls. “He said that treatment could be carried out, but only with lots of money.”

The Rescue Begins

And that was all Danielle needed to hear. She wasn’t wealthy, but she was determined and if there was a chance at recovery, she’d already made up her mind to take it. So Danielle had the man who brought in the puppy sign over custody to her. She then contacted Dr. Elaine Caplin in Austin and the puppy was brought in for a surgical consulation to see what could be done.

“He was not able to eat or drink because part of his mouth was melted,” Danielle recalls.
“He was not able to eat or drink because part of his mouth was melted,” Danielle recalls.

Skingraft surgery was undertaken to reconstruct the mouth and soon the puppy’s condition improved dramatically and he began to function on his own.

Danielle named the puppy D’Artagnan (who served Louis XIV as captain of the Musketeers of the Guard) or Mister D for short and introduced him to other dogs and cats who welcomed him.

Mister D began to grow into a large dog and earned a reputation for his generous nature. “He allows all the cats to sleep with him and we have actually seen him share food with other dogs. He picks out pieces of food and gives it to them.”

All grown up.
All grown up.
But in the street, Mister D is sometimes regarded as a beast.“He looks like a werewolf with his skin grafts and people are kind of scared,” Danielle explains. “But he truly is my loving angel and I know that saving him is what helped save me.”You see, last year, Danielle was in a terrible motorcycle accident when she tried to avoid a collision with a car. Within seconds, she was on the ground bleeding with a broken skull and awaiting a lifelight helicopter to a trauma center where doctors would find no brain function.Photo00811For 12 days, Danielle lay motionless in her pale blue hospital gown while her mother, who flew in from Germany, went back and forth between the hospital and Danielle’s home to take care of not only her dying daughter, but of the animals who meant the world to her.

At night, Danielle’s ex-husband would help look after the pets so that her mother could spend more time with Danielle, and try to get some rest, but everyone feared the worst.

But in the silence of the mind, a louder voice came from Danielle’s soul.

“I had to get back to Mister D and my other ‘kids’ because they needed me and I needed them,” Danielle says of her sense that she carried that desperate need to be reunited with her pets, despite the lack of medical evidence that she was processing those emotions during her coma.

I Had to Wake Up for My Animals

“After 12 days, a miracle happened,” Danielle says tearfully. “I woke up. The doctors and nurses have told me that the first words that I uttered were ‘Mister D.’”

For several weeks, Danielle remained in rehabilitation while she learned to walk and to fully speak again. It seemed so painfully long for her to be away from the ones she loved and that motivated her to work harder each day.

“When I finally got home, Mister D was so happy,” Danielle said. “He checked on me all the time. When he felt that I was hurting, he would put his paw very carefully on my head and sigh. I truly know that if it was not for Mister D, I would not be here. He has become my musketeer, my protector and has given me the security and protection that I never had from people.”

together-todayNow fully recovered, Danielle’s greatest hope is that her story will inspire others to rescue animals. She asks people to consider rescuing, rather than buying pets and explains that “the bond between you is one that can never be broken.”

ooOOoo

Please help share this message of the bond and love that is possible between us and our pets and to always consider taking on rescues.

Rogue Valley Humane Society!

Well done the team!

Yesterday morning Jean and I travelled the short distance into Grants Pass to visit Margaret and the rest of the team at Rogue Valley Humane Society, RVHS. As their website proclaims: Helping Our Community, Four Paws at a Time.

Here’s why we went to meet the team.

If you drop across to my page where I offer my book for sale you will read that:

Please do find your way to supporting our pets in need. For 50% of the net proceeds from the sale of my book are being donated to our local Rogue Valley Humane Society. Every cent makes a positive difference!

Well many of you, dear people, have made a positive difference, as the following pictures illustrate.

Yours truly passing a cheque to the value of $750 to Margaret Varner, Director of Facility Operations.
Yours truly passing a cheque to the value of $750 to Margaret Varner, Director of Facility Operations at RVHS.

oooo

Explaining what had just been donated to Autzen in the office of RVHS.
Explaining to Authentic the dog in the office of RVHS what has just been donated.
Being thanked in only a way that dogs can properly thank someone!
Being thanked in the only way that dogs can properly thank someone!

oooo

Gorgeous shot of Jeannie and Autzen.
Gorgeous shot of Jeannie and Authentic.

So a tremendous vote of thanks to everyone that has purchased my book for this is what your generosity delivers!

Going to write a little more about the Humane Society tomorrow.

Yet more on Pit Bulls

Let’s embrace those who seek out and love our lost dogs!

Just going to include today two videos from the Hope for Paws charity both of them about rescuing and restoring love to Pit Bulls.

Pit Bull rescue on the beach

Mountain rescue of an abandoned injured Pit Bull

I can’t close this post without thinking of the amazing quality of forgiveness that our dogs demonstrate. It would be a rare person who suffered this pain and rejection and wasn’t scarred for the rest of their days.

So much we must learn from our dogs!

That giving spirit.

Will you help my son support Parkinson’s UK?

Back on the 24th of February I published a post under the title of Personal Journeys. It opened thus:

Life is a one-way track.

Those of you who follow this place on a regular basis know that last Friday I published a post under the title of Friday Fondess. You will also know that later that same day I left this comment to that post:

Sue, and everyone else, we returned from seeing Dr. Lee, the neurologist, a little under two hours ago. Dr. Lee’s prognosis is that Jean is showing the very early signs of Parkinson’s disease, and Jean is comfortable with me mentioning this.

Everyone’s love and affection has meant more than you can imagine. I will write more about this next week once we have given the situation a few ‘coatings of thought’.

Jean sends her love to you all!

Thus, as heralded, I am going to write some more.

You would not be surprised to hear that the last few days have been an emotional roller-coaster, for both Jean and me. Including on Monday Jean hearing from our local doctor here in Grants Pass, OR, that a recent urine test has shown that Jean has levels of lead in her bones some three times greater than the recommended maximum. While our doctor is remaining open-minded it remains to be seen whether Jean is exhibiting symptoms of lead poisoning, whether the lead is a possible cause of the Parkinson’s disease (PD), see this paper, or whether it is a separate issue to be dealt with.

Both my son and my daughter, Alex and Maija, have been very supportive. Alex has even decided to ride in the Ride London 2016 and raise funds for the notable charity Parkinson’s UK. Parkinson’s Disease is affecting more and more people and there is a great incentive to help any charity in pushing back against this disease. As the sub-title on that Parkinson’s UK home page declares, “CHANGE ATTITUDES, FIND A CURE, JOIN US.”

Alex has started a little blog to record his preparation for his charity ride:

ooOOoo

AlexThis is my blog about training for Ride London 2016, on it I will detail what I get up to, who I’m raising money for and also cycling kit reviews as well.

So I entered the ballot for ride London this year and was unlucky, probably as I’m one of 20,000 odd middle aged men in Lycra (MAMIL) who try to get in every year, so I got my lovely rejection magazine and a cycling top as well.

I then found out that my stepmum Jean, has just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, so I thought I would enter on a charity place and raise some much needed funds for research into this disease.  Found out last week that I have been lucky to get onto a charity place and so the training begins…

Link to my fundraising page, thanks 👍

ooOOoo

Please, please if anyone would like to chip in anything at all you can trust me that it will be greatly appreciated by Alex and all those around him. Donations, both from within the UK and overseas, may be made by going here.

Thank you!

The Song Dog

The North American Coyote

When we let the dogs out last thing on Tuesday evening there was a local pack of coyotes not far from our fence line. Cleo started barking and some of the coyotes responded with their spine-chillingly beautiful howls. The sound really does transport one back thousands of years in a mystical sense.

howling-coyote-picturesI started doing some research as to whether we, as in us humans, had studied what the song of the coyote means. I came across The Natural History of the Urban Coyote website and therein was an article called Translating the Song Dog. It’s a fabulously interesting article and I do hope it’s OK to share with you.

ooOOoo

The scientific name for the coyote is Canis latrans, which translates to “barking dog,” a perfect name for this species which has been called the most vocal of North America’s mammals.

Less formally, the coyote is known as the song dog, and one listen to a group howl by a pack of coyotes makes it clear why. Rather than the simple but soul-haunting sound of a wolf’s howl, the coyote’s howl can be made up of high-pitched howls, barks, and yips that make it clear the coyote has a whole lot of lyrics in a single song. But what exactly do those lyrics say?

The coyote has a range of vocalizations depending on social context and message. In 1978, Philip N. Lehner published his research of coyote communication and what the various vocalizations mean, which has been included in Coyotes: Biology, Behavior, and Management.

“The vocal repertoire of the adult coyote contains eleven vocalizations, several of which are also given by pups. These vocalizations grade into one another such that their separation into eleven types is somewhat arbitrary based on their different sounds, behavior context, and physical characteristics.”

In other words, the coyote language is complex and depends on the social situation, the coyote’s body language in addition to the sounds, the intensity of the vocalization, and other factors. This makes sense considering that when one digs a little into hunting forums, some coyote hunters are convinced they know more than eleven calls for coyotes. Indeed, there are likely more vocalizations when one looks at subtleties.

If you have paid close attention the vocalizations of domestic dogs, especially those more talkative breeds, you’ll likely find it easy to decode coyote sounds. There is a lot of overlap in the sounds dogs, coyotes and other canid species make – from a startled huff to a whine of greeting, from an antagonistic growl to a bark of alarm. But coyotes take the language of canids to another level with their extensive list of sounds, especially the yips, howls, and of course their choral group howls.

Though Lehner notes that it’s a bit arbitrary to categorize coyote sounds, we can at least begin to understand them by breaking them down into the types of sounds they make along with their purpose. So he created the following 11 categories, which can also be considered sign-posts on a gradient of meaning and intensity.

Types of Coyote Vocalizations

1. Growl – This vocalization holds no mystery. A growl is used as a threat, specifically for something within close range.

2. Huff – This is the expulsion of air through the nose and mouth, and is also used as a high-intensity threat in close proximity. Huffs are used, for instance, when there’s bickering over carrion.

3. Woof – This vocalization is made as both a low-intensity threat and as an alarm. It’s a sound made when a coyote is startled and unsure of exactly what is happening, but knows it is not comfortable with whatever it is.

4. Bark – The bark is a long-distance threat or alert of low to medium intensity.

5. Bark-Howl – This is when the coyote gets serious about a threat. The bark-howl is used as a long-distance high-intensity threat or alarm. It starts with a bark and blends into a howl.

What is interesting about the bark and the bark-howl is that research suggests that the varying intensity and frequency of barks could contain different information. More recent research by Brian R. Mitchell has shown that coyotes likely identify individuals by their barks and bark-howls.

“By analyzing spectrograms of howls and barks,” writes Mitchell, “I was able to determine that both of these vocalizations do indeed contain individually specific information.  Because of the tremendous advantage of being able to determine individual identities, I presume that coyotes use the information in barks to identify individuals they are familiar with.”

“Another interesting aspect of coyote barks and howls,” he continues, “is that howls stably convey information for distances of at least one kilometer.  Barks, on the other hand, rapidly attenuated and did not appear suitable for transmitting information.  Barks likely serve other purposes, such as attracting information and providing information that listeners could use to estimate distance to the barking animal.”

Barks and bark-howls, then, can serve in saying, “I’m here, and here’s how I’m feeling” and allow listening coyotes to recognize if those individuals are family or strangers. Mitchell underscores that a coyote recognizing an individual by their howl isn’t about the howling coyote shouting his own name again and again; rather it is akin to how we can recognize a family member or friend by the sound of their voice no matter what they’re saying, because of their unique pitch, timbre, cadence and even accent.

6. Whine – This sound is used to express submission and is usually given by a subordinate coyote to a more dominant coyote.

7. Yelp – The yelp takes the whine up a notch and represents high-intensity submission. However, it can also be a response to being startled. As is the case with several other of these vocalizations, this categorization shows that coyote communication is more of a gradient. Lehner writes, “A yi-e-e-e often precedes or follows the yelp portion and resembles a high-frequency bark [and] appears on a sonogram like a short howl chopped into segments.”

8. Woo-oo-wow – This is the “greeting song” of coyotes, and is used during high-intensity greeting displays. The vocalization modulates in frequency and amplitude as a coyote’s motivation shifts, Lehner notes, and so can fluctuate from a whine to a growl.

9. Lone Howl – The lone howl is just what you probably already know it to be: a howl by a single coyote, which is often started with a series of barks that reseracher R. M. Mengel called “herald barks.” As mentioned above, coyotes can distinguish individuals based on their unique howl, and the purpose of the howl is to announce one’s location to others in their social group. Often, the lone howl gets an answer, and the coyotes can find each other to meet up.

10. Group Howl – A group howl is sent up when two or more coyotes come together after being apart, or it could be given as a response to the howls of distant coyotes. It is, according to Lehner, essentially two or more coyotes giving their own lone howls either successively or simultaneously, as a way of giving out location information to any listeners.

11. Group Yip-Howl – This is what coyotes are really known for. The group yip-howl is sent up when coyotes reunite, or just before they separate to go off hunting individually. As more coyotes join in, the more intense the vocalizations become, increasing in frequency and amplitude. Lehner notes that the group yip-howl includes sounds that researcher H. McCarley called screams, gargles and laughs. In other words, the many variations of coyote vocalizations show up in this chorus.

According to Lehner, the group yip-howl probably strengthens social bonds, may help to synchronize mood, and may also reaffirm social status within the pack. He also notes that the group yip-howl “may be most important in announcing territorial occupancy and preventing visual contact between groups of coyotes.”

The chorus tells any nearby coyote packs about whose turf this is, and thus keeps other coyotes away. It also reveals (or hides) how many coyotes are in the area and may help regulate coyote density through reproductive rate. Research has shown that female coyotes will produce larger litters when there is little competition, and smaller litters when there is a high density of coyotes in the habitat. This is one of the secrets to the coyote’s success at spreading across the continent in the last century.

[Note: This is also why indiscriminate killing of coyotes to decrease their density doesn’t work as a management strategy. Coyotes repopulate an area quickly and easily when competition is eliminated, with the population rebounding or even expanding in a very short time. Perhaps a more effective, cost-cutting and non-lethal strategy for reducing the number of coyotes in an area would be playing recorded group yip-howls to make resident coyotes think there is more competition for resources. This is something several researchers have expressed interest in exploring, specifically in order to reduce conflicts with ranchers. If we can discover more about what specific messages are embedded in certain howls or barks, ranchers could play specific recordings to keep coyotes away from livestock as well as minimize the number of coyotes living in an area.]

Mitchell writes, “Group yip-howls are produced by a mated and territorial pair of ‘alpha’ coyotes, with the male howling while the female intersperses her yips, barks, and short howls. ‘Beta’ coyotes (the children of the alpha pair from previous years) and current year pups may join in if they are nearby, or respond with howls of their own. And once one group of coyotes starts howling, chances are that any other alpha pairs nearby will respond in kind, with chorus after chorus of group yip-howls rippling across the miles.”

In Talking to Coyotes with the Song Dog, a pamphlet about using a coyote caller, Major L. Boddicker, Ph.D. brings up a personal experience with such a chain reaction.  After sending up what he calls a “Joy of Life Call” which is a group yip-howl, “It sounded like every coyote in the USA responded in the musical see-saw coyote chant which went on and on for 3-5 minutes. I later called a friend in Steamboat Springs, Colorado (150 miles away) to check for the time when the coyotes started to sing there. Given the time it took sound to travel and coyotes to react, I very likely started the chorus.” Whether or not the chorus traveled that far, it is indeed possible to start a chain of coyotes sending up group yip-howls.

Boddicker discusses Lehner’s list of vocalizations in his pamphlet, and brings in two more vocalizations that he or experienced coyote callers have heard. He notes that these my fall into the umbrella categories identified by Lehner, but are distinct enough to point out anyway. They are:

Whoop – This sound is used as part of more complex sounds such as the group howl or group yip-howls.

Yodel – This is when a howl tapers up and ends abruptly, rather than tapering down in a typical howl, which gives the howl a sound like the coyote is asking a question. Boddicker notes that this happens when coyotes howl for an unusual reason such as for a lost family member.

How Many Coyotes Are Howling?

“When people hear coyote howls, they often mistakenly assume that they’re hearing a large pack of animals, all raising their voices at once,” writes Mitchell. “But this is an auditory illusion called the ‘beau geste’ effect.”

Coyotes howl both to reunite and to keep trespassers at bay. It may be in their favor that if they howl, they sound like a bigger pack than they really are. They accomplish complicated and confusing howls by a smart strategy of using wavering howls and changing their pitch rapidly. This, combined with the howls bouncing off objects in the environment such as rocks, trees, or the far side of a valley may make it hard for a listener to know if they are hearing one coyote or several howling simultaneously.

When two or three coyotes howl together, they can sound like a pack of six or ten or more, which perhaps makes them seem much more formidable to any nearby competitors or predators.

Coyotes May Have Local Accents

We know that coyotes vary in size and build depending on their location, as the difference between western and eastern coyotes clearly demonstrates. Does their location also mean they have accents? We know that other species with complex communication such as whales have different accents, so it makes sense that coyotes may also have regional accents. And does that affect how they might interpret or respond to strangers?

Sara Waller, associate professor of philosophy at Montana State University in Bozeman, told the Bozman Gazette, “We know that dogs have ‘accents’ just as people do — we can reliably tell the difference between British dog barks and American dog barks. When we have enough recordings to really compare Eastern and Western coyotes, we may find that like dogs, and people, they have regionally based differences in the way they communicate with each other. This would show that coyote vocalizations are impacted by social and environmental factors just as human speech is.”

What Can Coyotes Teach Us About Language?

There is still so much to learn about what coyotes are saying through their complex and varied vocalizations. The more we learn about the way coyotes communicate as social predators, the more we can learn about not just their species, but our own as well.

Coyotes can sense things we humans can’t, and Waller questions, “How does that impact the way they think? They are social, communicative predators, and so are very like humans in many ways. If we could figure out what some of these vocalizations mean, it would give us insight into how our own language works, and how human minds differ from those of other social predators.”

Examples of Coyote Vocalizations

In the video below, two coyotes give barks and bark-howls as an alarm against the person recording the video:

The person who uploaded this video notes that the coyotes had been hanging around a lot and ventured a guess that is because her dog was in heat. However, the date on the video is in late May, which is about the time when coyote pups are emerging from the den and becoming active around the den site. So it is possible that these are the parents and/or helper coyote keeping a watch on the person taking a video and giving alarm, warning them away from a nearby den.

In the video below, coyotes send up a group yip-howl. Note that the howls do not begin with a bark, like the previous video. As Lehner notes, the group yip-howl starts usually with the dominant individual of the pack. That seems to happen here as the coyote in the video joins in after another coyote begins the howl:

The video below is a coyote group yip-howl, likely started with reunion of group members, and includes yips, whines and other vocalizations on the coyote-sounds spectrum as the members interact. There is so much great behavior and body language captured in this video, showing the group dynamics of submissive members with more dominant members of the pack:

Listen to more coyote vocalizations on Soundboard or The Social Predator Vocalization Project.

References:
Coyotes: Biology, Behavior and Management
Talking to Coyotes with the Song Dog
Information Content of Coyote Barks and Howls
Coyotes: Decoding Their Yips, Barks, and Howls

ooOOoo

And that beautiful photograph of the howling coyote at the start of today’s post? That came from this website that also included the following that I will use to close this post.

“when the end comes there will be coyotes and coach roaches left in the world and the coyote will eat the coach roach and that will be that!”   Some say that “Cher” will still be on tour though.

Loving relationships

A very Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you.

(And that, of course, means all you humans and your pets.)

I am sharing three very appropriate items for today.

Firstly, a recent article over on the Care2 site.

ooOOoo

Showing Love for the Animals This Valentine’s Day

1374408.largeBy: Katie Medlock February 8, 2016

About Katie Follow Katie at @offbeatherbivor

Whether you’re on board with celebrating a “traditional” Valentine’s Day this year—chocolates, cards, romance—or not, this year should be the year we also show some extra love to the animals in our lives. Whether we focus on our own companion animals or forgotten creatures out there in the world who also need compassion, this Valentine’s Day could be the start of a new tradition. Here are a few ideas to really bring the love to our furry and feathered friends this year:

1. Plan a trip to an animal sanctuary

Animal sanctuaries are wonderful places to visit solo, with your partner or with the kids. Most, if not all, states have at least one farmed animal sanctuary where pigs, cows, goats, chickens, geese, horses and many others have found a permanent home after being rescued on the way to slaughter or from their terrifying lives in the animal industries. There are few ways to connect with an animal and appreciate all they have been through in their lives that shine brighter than spending time petting a goat or cuddling a pig.

 There are also other types of sanctuaries open to the public with different types of animals to behold, such as bats, tortoises, exotic birds, wolves and wild cats. The difference between reputable and respectable animal sanctuaries and zoos is, in many cases, the dedication to the animals’ needs. Some zoos may have great conservation programs, yet any profit-driven establishment who puts animals on display in unnatural living environments and social groupings does not have the animals’ true interests at heart. Sanctuaries strive toward giving the animals the best lives they can have—public observation is not at the heart of the matter. By supporting reputable animal sanctuaries, you are showing immense love and compassion to animals.

2. Dine on a meatless meal

To have a truly animal-friendly Valentine’s Day, don’t serve any of them on your plate! By choosing to dine on a plant-based meal full of fresh vegetables, hearty legumes, sweet fruits, wholesome grains and satisfying nuts and seeds, you are showing the animals the utmost respect. Try these Valentine’s recipe ideas, ethical wine suggestions and delicious vegan chocolate truffles for the big day! And, if you are interested in reducing the amount of animal products you consume beyond V-Day, visit the Meatless Monday website to learn how to tip the scales gradually toward regular vegan meals.

3. Reach out to an animal in need

Do you have a friend who could use a dogsitter for an upcoming trip? Does your local animal shelter or adoption agency need an extra hand with walking the dogs, cleaning cages and spending time with furry friends? Have you spoiled your own companion critter lately with a new toy, extra play time or some homemade treats? Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to extend our love to our own companion animals and to those around us who also need a little extra love. The rewards from reaching out to a pet in need are tenfold what we expend putting forth the effort. Use this February as an excuse to spend more time with some critters!

ooOOoo

The second was recently seen over on Mother Nature Network.
ooOOoo

9 ways dogs say ‘I love you’

Laura Moss February 10, 2016
 This dog is serious about keeping the title of 'man's best friend.' (Photo: Best Friends Animal Society)
This dog is serious about keeping the title of ‘man’s best friend.’ (Photo: Best Friends Animal Society)

Dogs have lived alongside us for thousands of years, earning the reputation as “man’s best friend” for good reason. But while some people may be quick to dismiss a dog’s devotion as simply a relationship based on need, experts say that’s just not true.

“Dogs have developed the strongest ability of all animals on Earth to form affectionate bonds with humans,” says Dr. Frank McMillan D.V.M., director of well-being studies at Best Friends Animal Society, an organization helping adopters find loving companions. “Dogs don’t just love us — they need us, but not just for food and physical care. They need us emotionally. This is why the attachment bond a dog feels for his human is one of deep devotion and is, as has been often stated, unconditional.”

But how exactly does a dog say, “I love you”? Read on to find out.

Your dog wants to be close to you.

If your dog is always in your lap, leaning against you or following you room to room, it’s clear your pooch is attached to you.

“A dog’s affection is most evident in their desire to be physically close to you. This can sometimes appear to be a clinginess, and it isn’t always easy to distinguish healthy positive clinginess from insecurity, but in both cases your dog is deeply attached to you,” McMillan says.

Your dog gazes into your eyes.

When you and your pup share a long look, your dog is “hugging you with his eyes,” according to Brian Hare, a professor at Duke University who studies canine cognition, and research shows that this “hug” has a profound effect on both man and animal.

When scientists at Japan’s Azabu University took urine samples from dogs and their owners before and after 30 minutes of interacting, they found that the pairs that spent the most time gazing into each others’ eyes showed significantly higher levels of the hormone oxytocin, the same hormonal response that bonds us to human infants. “It’s an incredible finding that suggests that dogs have hijacked the human bonding system,” Hare told Science.

Loving glances like this can say a lot. (Photo: Best Friends Animal Society)
Loving glances like this can say a lot. (Photo: Best Friends Animal Society)

Your dog excitedly greets you.

Does your pup jump up, wag his tail and barely seem able to contain his excitement when you arrive home? If so, that’s a sure sign of affection.

“This becomes even more obvious when your dog learns, like Pavlov’s dogs, that some sound signals your upcoming arrival, like the garage opener or sound of your car, and they show excitement upon hearing that sound,” McMillan says.

Your dog sleeps with you.

Dogs are pack animals that often huddle together at night for warmth and protection, so when your dog snuggles up with you, it means he considers you to be part of the family. And these canine cuddles may even help you get a better night’s sleep.

You are your dog’s safe haven.

“Much affection in animals and humans is based on how much you can be relied on as a source of comfort and support in scary situations,” McMillan says. “If your dog seeks your comfort during thunderstorms, car rides, vet visits or other frightening occurrences, then you are seeing another aspect of her attachment bond to you.”

Your dog ‘reads’ you and reacts accordingly.

A close bond with your dog may enable him to sense your mood and respond with affection. “Many dogs who sense that you are upset or not feeling well will demonstrate their affection by spending even more time by your side. They might give you licks or rest their head or paws on some part of your body,” McMillan says.

dog snuggling sick owner
A cuddly canine can make the day a little better. (Photo: Brian Goodman/Shutterstock)

Your dog yawns when you yawn.

If you’ve ever yawned after witnessing another person’s yawn, you’re aware how contagious the act can be. This contagious yawning is unique to only a few species, and man’s best friend is one of them.

Researchers have even found that not only are dogs more likely to yawn after watching familiar people yawn, but also that dogs will yawn when hearing only the sound of a loved one’s yawn. So if your canine companion yawns in response to your yawns, odds are good that his affection for you enables him to empathize with you.

Your dog focuses on you.

It’s not unusual for dogs to delight in positive attention from virtually anyone, but just because your pooch loves on everyone, doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you most. Pay attention to how your dog acts when in a room full of people. If he stays focused on you or ignores others while awaiting your return, you know you hold a special place in your dog’s heart.

Your dog forgives you.

“Part of the affectionate feelings your dog has for you shows up in their willingness to forgive you for things you do that make them feel bad, such as raising your voice, or misplacing your frustration on your dog by ignoring them,” McMillan says. “Forgiveness is your dog’s attempt to maintain the loving bond they share with you.”

However, even if your canine best friend doesn’t show affection in these ways, it certainly doesn’t mean your pooch doesn’t love you. Just as some people can care deeply without expressing their feelings, so can your pup.

“Be sure not to go through the list above and think that because your dog shows very few or even none of these things, he or she doesn’t love you. Odds are, love is very much there. After all, we’re talking about a dog here,” McMillan says.

And how can you show your dog some love? Engage in playtime, take a long walk, bake some yummy dog treats, or give your pup a homemade toy. Above all, McMillan says the best thing you can do is simply give your dog more of you because that’s what man’s best friend wants most of all.

ooOOoo

Finally, enjoy this fabulous video. (Thanks Sue Dreamwalker)

Published on Oct 20, 2014

As humans animals can be also friends. If animals live together they became often friends. Friendship between different species can be cold as unlikely animals friendship. In this you can see friendship between dogs and cats, Lion tiger and bear friends, Baby Chick and Chihuahua best friends, cat and own friendship etc.

So many loving relationships! So many lessons for us to learn from our dogs!