Category: tourism

Mera, a peak dog!

This is an astounding story of bonding.

This is an amazing story. Utterly amazing! Taken from Mother Nature Network.

ooOOoo

This stray tagged along with mountain climbers and set an elevation record for dogs

Mera, a street dog, climbed 23,389 feet to the top of Baruntse in Nepal.

By MARY JO DILONARDO

March 6, 2019

Mera seemed to have little trouble in the snow and ice. (Photo: Don Wargowsky)

When Seattle-based mountain guide Don Wargowsky was leading an expedition to Mera Peak and Baruntse in Nepal’s Himalayas last November, he picked up an extra member on his team. A stray dog noticed the climbers somewhere around 17,500 feet and decided to stick around with the group.

The climbers had just summited Mera Peak, and when they were coming down around Mera La pass, they saw the pup going up.

“What struck me was to get to that pass, there were a few hundred feet of fixed rope which means the terrain was so difficult that most climbers need rope to help themselves up,” Wargowsky tells MNN. “To see a dog up there just running by all these climbers in their $2,000 down suits and crampons was very unusual. When she came up to me, I gave her a bit of beef jerky and she didn’t leave for 3 1/2 weeks.”

The team dubbed their newest four-legged member “Mera” and she tagged along on the way back down the mountain. Wargowsky realized he had seen her in the town of Kare a few days earlier, but she had made no effort then to get close. He thinks that’s because street dogs aren’t treated very well in Nepal due to the fear of rabies.

“Dogs are shooed away pretty aggressively,” he says. “So, she was naturally pretty shy.”

A new climbing partner

Climbing is hard work. (Photo: Don Wargowsky)

But once Mera decided to join the expedition, she gradually lowered her guard. The first night, Wargowsky tried to encourage her to sleep in his tent, but she wouldn’t come inside. The next morning, he found her curled up outside the flaps covered in a layer of snow. After that, he was able to coax her inside. He gave her one of his sleeping pads and a coat to keep her warm.

Wargowsky was in a difficult position with his uninvited guest. The elements were unforgiving, and he was worried about the dog who had no protection for her paws or her body in conditions that likely reached minus 20 or minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit at times. But he had no luck getting her to leave … and where would she go?

“Obviously my responsibility was to the group, but I was super happy to have her with us. I didn’t encourage her to come along, but I wasn’t going to have her starve, so I would feed her,” he says. “I really tried to persuade her to stay at camp as we got into steeper and more dangerous terrain. Where we were was a more remote part of Nepal. If we didn’t feed her, she was going to starve.”

Mera stuck with the expedition the entire time, never venturing far from Wargowsky’s side. Or technically, his knee.

“She would walk with her nose almost in the back of my knee when we would walk,” he says. “But she wanted to be up front. If I would drop back to hang out with a slower client, she would go up and walk with whoever was up front. She didn’t get out of sight pretty much the entire time we were there.”

‘No clue what her motivation was’

Mera celebrates with her fellow climbers. (Photo: Don Wargowsky)

There was only one time when Mera was gone for several days.

While Wargowsky was working on training with some members of the expedition, showing them how to climb the ice with rope, Mera followed the team’s sherpas instead. They were working to set up ropes to “camp one” at around 20,000 feet. She scrambled up the steep terrain but seemed afraid to go back down and wouldn’t return with them to base camp.

“She ended up spending two nights alone on a glacier at 20,000 feet. I really thought she was going to freeze to death,” Wargowsky says. The sherpas went up to continue working and she was there. But instead of going back down right away, she followed them to 22,000 feet as they continued working before going back to base camp.

The next day when the entire team went to make the climb, Wargowsky tried to keep her at base camp because he didn’t want her to make the steep climb again. He tied her up but she got out of her rope and quickly caught up with them. Wargowsky couldn’t leave his human clients to take her back, so Mera was allowed to stay with the group.

“I have no clue what her motivation was,” he says. “We were feeding her at base camp, so it wasn’t the food. It’s not like there was anything up there for her, but it was amazing to see.”

Tackling the ice and snow

Mera often trotted ahead of the climbers, waiting for them to catch up. The temperatures didn’t seem to faze her. (Photo: Don Wargowsky)

Early on, Mera started to slide and Wargowsky was able to catch her and save her from what could’ve been a dangerous fall. When the team moved to camp two at around 21,000 feet, they were sidelined there for four days because of bad weather. Mera stayed with Wargowsky, who shared his tent and his food with the pup.

“I split all my meals with her 50/50 so we both lost weight,” he says. He guesses the scruffy brown-and-tan stray weighed probably 45 pounds to start with but lost maybe five or 10 pounds during the trip. Wargowsky says Mera looked like a combination of a Tibetan mastiff and a Nepali sheepdog.

Wargowsky was impressed with how well Mera navigated the snow and ice and handled the cold.

“She did very very well like 98 percent of the time. There were certain slopes very early in the morning or late at night when the snow was very crusty and icy when it was very slippery and you could see her kind of struggle with it,” he says. “Her paws got beat up and it was hard to see her paws bleeding a little. But everything healed up that evening and it was all superficial.”

He says it was also hard to believe she didn’t go snow-blind. The humans were all wearing expensive glacier goggles while she trotted along with no protection.

The highest a dog has ever climbed

In one particularly harrowing descent, Mera was clipped to a rope to keep her safe. (Photo: Don Wargowsky)

There was only one part of the descent where she was assisted by a rope. Somehow, she had climbed the vertical 15-foot-tall section without incident but when it was time to go back down, she didn’t want to do it. The humans were rappelling, so to coax the dog down safely, they tied a rope harness to her so she could half-run, half tumble. You can see it in the photo above, but Wargowsky points out that the truly harrowing part of the mountain isn’t even visible in the shot.

In the end, when the team — along with their canine mascot — had come down from their completed 23,389-foot climb of Baruntse, Mera was hailed as a bit of a hero. Word had spread about her alleged feat and Wargowsky had to show off photos from his phone to prove she had been with them.

“She was the first dog to ever have climbed that mountain,” he says. “We can’t find anything that says a dog has ever been that high. I believe that is the highest that a dog has ever climbed ever at any point in the world.”

“I am not aware of a dog actually summiting an expedition peak in Nepal,” Billi Bierling of the Himalayan Database, an organization that documents climbing expeditions in Nepal, told Outside. “I just hope that she won’t get into trouble for having climbed Baruntse without a permit.” Bierling told Outside that there have been a few reported cases of dogs at Everest Base Camp (17,600 feet) and some who’ve trailed teams through the Khumbu Icefall up to Camp II (21,300 feet) on Mount Everest, but Mera’s adventure is perhaps the highest-recorded elevation by a dog anywhere in the world.

‘This dog wants to climb mountains’

Wargowsky shares his food with his climbing buddy. (Photo: Don Wargowsky)

After all that climbing and bonding, Wargowsky was tempted to bring his new friend home with him to the U.S.

“I really would’ve loved to adopt her. But I live in a 700-square-foot unit in Seattle and this dog wants to climb mountains. I gave it a lot of consideration. I didn’t care what it cost. Despite how much I loved this dog, I thought it would’ve been a very selfish thing to do to bring her to such a small space.”

But he didn’t want to leave what he calls “this hero of a dog” out on the streets. Fortunately, the expedition’s base camp manager was also smitten with the adventurous dog. Because dogs can’t fly, NirKaji Tamang paid someone $100 to walk three days to pick her up until they could get her on a bus and get her to his home in Kathmandu.

After what she had accomplished on Baruntse, Tamang changed the athletic dog’s name to Baru. He took her to the vet to make sure she was healthy. Her injuries quickly healed, and she gained weight.

Wargowsky, who told his remarkable Mera story online, was thrilled recently to receive photos of her. He will be back in Nepal several times this year for expeditions, and he plans on visiting his canine climbing partner.

“With what we had available, I don’t know what more I could’ve done to prevent her from climbing. She was definitely there of her own free will,” he says. “I truly loved that dog.”

ooOOoo

This is such a wonderful account of a stray dog coming into contact with a group of such loving people. Plus, the photographs are wonderful especially the fourth one; just following the Tackling the Ice and Snow sub-heading. I could look at that photograph for ever!

Dogs are the most amazing creatures ever!

The NYC Subway

A very unlikely venue for some dog art.

In my travels around for items about dogs I came across this one.  It’s not your usual item. For it features dog art at the 23rd Street station on the IND Sixth Avenue Line in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood.

ooOOoo

This NYC subway station has gone to the dogs

With more than a little help from William Wegman’s Weimaraners
By MATT HICKMAN
December 24, 2018.

William Wegman’s iconic Weimaraner portraits have been rendered into stunning mosaic art in a somewhat unlikely Manhattan venue. (Photo: Patrick J. Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Flickr)

Dogs aren’t that unusual of a sight in the bowels of the New York City subway system.

There are service dogs and law enforcement dogs; dogs being transported in tote bags, baskets, backpacks and baby carriages; dogs swaddled beneath heavy winter jackets; very small dogs that come scurrying from the darkest corners of the platform towards … oh wait.
What you don’t see beneath the streets of New York are dogs depicted in public art. This has all changed with the unveiling of “Stationary Figures,” a collection of 11 glass mosaic pooch portraits now on permanent display at the 23rd Street station on the IND Sixth Avenue Line in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

No doubt a number of straphangers passing through 23rd Street station, which services the F and M trains and was closed for several months earlier this year while undergoing a major revamping, will find that the pooches in question look familiar — maybe a bit like the average New York commuter: stoic, alert, borderline restless. But it’s mostly because the mosaics, fabricated in stunning detail by Mayer of Munich, are based on images created by none other than Mr. Weimaraner himself, William Wegman.

That’s one nattily attired Weimaraner. (Photo: Patrick J. Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Flickr)

Although Wegman’s subjects have varied over his lauded career as a photographer, painter and video artist, he’s best known for whimsical compositions that depict his beloved pet Weimaraners in humanlike poses (and sometimes donning wigs and costumes). It all began in the 1970s with Wegman’s first true four-legged muse, the leggy and camera-loving Man Ray. It wasn’t until the mid-1980s, however, that Wegman’s second Weimaraner, Fay Ray, achieved true art world stardom. Fay’s descendants — they include Battina, Crooky, Chundo, Chip, Bobbin, Candy and Penny — have all also modeled for their human.

Wegman’s pet Weimaraners — a German hunting breed dating back to the early 19th century — have the distinction of appearing in the permanent collections of numerous top art museums and being a regular feature on “Sesame Street.” That’s no small feat for an extended family of very good boys and girls.

The dogs depicted in “Stationary Figures” are Flo and her brother, Topper — Wegman’s ninth and 10th Weimaraners, respectively. As the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which commissioned the portraits as part of its MTA Arts & Design program, explains: “The portraits highlight Wegman’s deadpan humor by juxtaposing Flo and Topper in poses that suggest the way customers group themselves with waiting for a train at the platform. In some portraits, they’re dressed in human clothes and others they’re in their natural state.”

The floppy-eared Grey Ghosts of 23rd Street. (Photo: Patrick J. Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Flickr)

In addition to showcasing the work of a world-renowned artist (and local Chelsea resident) in an unexpected venue, “Stationary Figures” is meant to bring joy to — and lower the blood pressure of — harried commuters passing through 23rd Street station, which ranks amongst the 50th busiest in the Big Apple. After all, who wouldn’t crack a smile when chancing across a mosaic portrait of a handsome pooch, especially when said handsome pooch is gussied up in a bright red rain slicker and matching cap?

As Mark Byrnes points out for CityLab, this isn’t the first time Wegman’s dogs have brightened up an American subway station. In 2005, two Weimaraners, both outfitted in NASA spacesuits, became permanent fixtures as circular murals above exits at L’Enfant Plaza Metro station in Washington, D.C.

Very good dogs, very poor service

It goes without saying that New York City subway stations, while teeming with various forms of microbial life, have never exactly been known as hotbeds of contemporary art and design.

That, however, began to change with the long-anticipated January 2017 opening of the first phase of the Second Avenue subway line, which features eye-catching new works by Chuck Close, Vik Muniz, Sarah Sze and Jean Shin spread out across four different stations on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Gov. Andrew Cuomo heralded the Second Avenue line’s secondary function as subterranean contemporary gallery (price tag: $4.5 million) as the “the largest permanent public art installation in New York history.”

A very good boy in plaId. (Photo: Patrick J. Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Flickr)

And this is all fine and good — great in fact. The more public art in the subways, the better — especially when it involves local artists of international renown, dapper-looking dogs and an ample dose of wit. Flo and Topper are the best thing to hit the 23rd Station since, well, forever.

Critics, however, have been left wondering as to when significant, tangible improvements to the MTA’s declining service will finally be instituted. And this is especially true with new fare hikes on the horizon.

As is the case with the 23rd Street station, which also received new benches, lighting, tile work, countdown clocks and digital screens as part of its extensive overhaul, what does it matter if the platforms and other public areas look fantastic but the trains aren’t running efficiently? (Byrnes points out that accessibility, or a lack thereof, also remains a major issue at 23rd Street station.)

Next stop Herald Square. (Photo: Patrick J. Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Flickr)

The MTA needs to do more than outfit stations with delightful distractions to keep straphangers — who mainly just want to get from point A to point B in a minimal amount of time with minimal headache — happy. While mosaics, murals and the like do act as a sort of soothing balm and improve the user experience, public art is ultimately best enjoyed while also not on the verges of tears because three completely packed F trains have gone by and you’re running 30 minutes late.

As for Wegman, described by the New York Post as a “frequent subway commuter,” he doesn’t offer any specific thoughts as to how the MTA can also improve its service.

“I really like what they’re doing as far as making it look better,” he tells the Post. “But how to make them run better, that’s out of my area.”

ooOOoo

Now I can’t really comment any more as the odds of me being on the New York Subway are slim to none. Plus, it’s many years since I travelled on the British Underground.

But that doesn’t stop me from applauding this. Both the authorities for permitting it to happen and especially to William Wegman for such beautiful and outstanding work.

Support the Orcas

If you can, please support this PDX event coming up on the 5th.

In my post that was my letter to Mr. Neptune, Colette left a reply that was a ‘heads up’ to an event being held in Portland, Oregon on October 5th. Ergo, this coming Friday.

Now the odds are that very few of you dear readers will be within reach of that event.

But that doesn’t stop me from promoting the event so that the details may be shared as far and wide as possible.

ooOOoo

PDX ACTIVIST

activism and resistance events in Portland

Save Our Orcas

Holladay Park Portland, OR

NE 11th Street & Hollady Street

Description

Join us October 5th for a peaceful Demonstration to help endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. There are only 74 left after the loss of 2 baby Orcas this Summer. You may have seen the dead newborn Orca carried “Save our Orcas”. Meet promptly at Holladay Park at 3:00pm.

ooOOoo

Here’s a news item taken from CBS News.

Then for those that would like more background on the Orca whale, let me republish the opening paragraphs of an item from Wikipedia.

The killer whale or orca (Orcinus orca) is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. Killer whales have a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in particular types of prey. Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals such as seals and dolphins. They have been known to attack baleen whale calves, and even adult whales. Killer whales are apex predators, as no animal preys on them. A cosmopolitan species, they can be found in each of the world’s oceans in a variety of marine environments, from Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas, absent only from the Baltic and Black seas, and some areas of the Arctic Ocean.

Killer whales are highly social; some populations are composed of matrilineal family groups (pods) which are the most stable of any animal species. Their sophisticated hunting techniques and vocal behaviours, which are often specific to a particular group and passed across generations, have been described as manifestations of animal culture.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature assesses the orca’s conservation status as data deficient because of the likelihood that two or more killer whale types are separate species. Some local populations are considered threatened or endangered due to prey depletion, habitat loss, pollution (by PCBs), capture for marine mammal parks, and conflicts with human fisheries. In late 2005, the southern resident killer whales, which swim in British Columbia and Washington statewaters, were placed on the U.S. Endangered Species list.

Wild killer whales are not considered a threat to humans,[6] but there have been cases of captive orcas killing or injuring their handlers at marine theme parks. Killer whales feature strongly in the mythologies of indigenous cultures, with their reputation ranging from being the souls of humans to merciless killers.

Orcas leaping. Picture from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) website.

A Letter to Mr. Cosmos, Page One

The last in this recent series on me examining my navel!

Dear Mr. Cosmos,

Clearly, I have no idea how many letters you receive from us funny inhabitants on Planet Earth. Can’t imagine you get floods of them but then neither can I imagine that this is the first one you have ever received.

Why can I not imagine this is to be your first? Simply, because us funny folk on this incredible planet of yours have been around for quite a while. I mean that over in that country we folk call Israel there has been found evidence of “control of fire by humans nearly 790,000 years ago.

Whoops!

Just realised that me saying “quite a while” and writing of “790,000 years ago” will be utterly meaningless, in terms of scale, to how you describe your past. Just as it is utterly meaningless for me to contemplate that in cosmological terms the ‘Big Bang”, generally recognised as the start of your Universe, was, give or take, some 13.8 billion years ago.

I wish I could really get an idea of what a million years feels like, let alone a billion years. Ah well!

Let me stay with this notion of stuff being meaningless.

My dear, long-time friend Dan Gomez sent me a link to an item that had been published on the Science Alert website. It was about how the NASA Hubble space telescope had recently embarked on a new mission. Or in the words of that article:

Hubble Just Revealed Thousands of Hidden Galaxies in This Jaw-Dropping Photo

By Michelle Starr, September 13th, 2018

Hubble has embarked on a new observation mission: to study the farthest reaches of the Universe, using some of the most massive objects in the Universe – galaxy clusters.

And this newly released picture shows how.

At the centre is Abell 370, a cluster of a few hundred galaxies located around 4 billion light-years from Earth. And arrayed around it, never seen before, are thousands of galaxies, out even farther in the depths of space.

The reason we can see them now is because of Abell 370. All those hundreds of galaxies, clustered so close together, and the associated dark matter, create an immense field of gravity.

When the light behind that field passes through it, the gravitational force is so strong that it bends the path of the light. This creates a magnifying effect called gravitational lensing, allowing us to see objects we usually can’t.

Abell 370 is the first of these clusters.

Here is one of those photographs,

(NASA, ESA, A. Koekemoer, M. Jauzac, C. Steinhardt, and the BUFFALO team)

And an explanation of what we are looking at:

In the image, you can see the galaxies in Abell 370. The brightest yellowish white ones are huge, containing hundreds of billions of stars. The bluer ones are smaller, spiral galaxies, like the Milky Way, with younger populations of stars. And the dimmer, yellower galaxies are older, with ageing star populations.

The galaxies behind Abell 370 appear as smeared lines of light. The most spectacular, to the lower left of the centre, is nicknamed the Dragon (possibly for its resemblance to a Chinese dragon), with its head to the left. It’s made up of five images of the same spiral galaxy, magnified and stretched by the gravitational lens.

Mr. Cosmos, you know a little earlier I was remarking about how it is impossible to comprehend the age of the Universe. Well, dear Sir, it’s just as impossible to comprehend your distances.

Take Abell 370 out there some 4 billion light years from Planet Earth! I really wanted to have a go at understanding that distance.

First, I looked up the distance in miles that is represented by one light-year. Answer: one light year is a tad under six trillion miles.

Just one, let alone some 4 billion of them!

Next, I looked up the distance of our very familiar Big Dipper constellation. You must have heard of it? This one!

The Big Dipper. Image Credit & Copyright: Jerry Lodriguss

Turns out that even this very familiar sight in our night sky ranges from 78 to 123 light years away. Average that as 100 light years and, bingo, you are looking at this familiar cluster of stars that is 590 trillion miles away!

So, dear Mr. Cosmos, that puts your Abell 370 constellation about a distance that is 10 million times more distant than our Big Dipper!

I wrote above that “I really wanted to understand that distance.” In reference to how far that Abell 370 constellation truly was.  My conclusion is that I will never, ever understand that distance.

Anyone able to help?

Tomorrow, Mr. Cosmos, the closing page two of my letter to you.

 

Saturday Smile

Another great news item about our wonderful wildlife.

This update about the Tiger population in Nepal was read on Mother Nature Network yesterday. Coming so soon after the positive news about the wolf population once again I wanted to share it with you!

ooOOoo

Tiger population rebounds, nearly doubling in Nepal

By Mary Jo Dilonardo, September 26th, 2018.

Photo: Amy Fitzmaurice/Living with Tigers

The number of wild tigers in Nepal has nearly doubled over the past nine years as a result of conservation efforts. A survey carried out earlier this year found 235 tigers in Nepal, up from just 121 in 2009.

To count the tigers, conservationists and wildlife experts used more than 4,000 cameras, traveling a 2,700-kilometer (1,700-mile) route across Nepal’s southern plains where most of the big cats are found.

“This is a result of concentrated unified efforts by the government along with the local community and other stakeholders to protect the tiger’s habitat and fight against poaching,” Man Bahadur Khadka, director general of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, told AFP.

Nepal and a dozen other countries signed the 2010 Tiger Conservation Plan, pledging to double their tiger populations by 2022. Since then, the tiger population — which has been decimated by deforestation, loss of habitat and poaching — has begun to show positive changes. The World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum announced in 2016 that the wild tiger population had grown for the first time in more than 100 years, according to AFP.

Co-existing in harmony

A tiger comes in for a close-up, thanks to a camera trap in Bardia National Park in Nepal. (Photo: Amy Fitzmaurice/Living with Tigers)

Although this news is obviously heartening, there’s a challenge that comes hand in hand with the growth: making sure people and tigers co-exist safely. A team of conservation scientists from the Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom is working with groups such as Green Governance Nepal to reduce conflict between tigers and residents.

The Living with Tigers project uses methods such as predator-proof livestock pens and changes in livestock management practices to help lessen the risk of tiger attacks on livestock and people.

“It is wonderful news for the entire conservation community around the globe and it demonstrates that ambitious conservation goals can be achieved when governments, conservation partners and local communities work together,” said Kiran Timalsina, chairperson of Green Governance Nepal.

“It also highlights the need for more concentrated efforts particularly focusing on human-tiger conflict mitigation to bring about conditions where tigers and the local communities with whom they share the landscape could coexist.”

ooOOoo

Don’t know about you but I feel I can handle a great deal of bad stuff about these present times so long as news items such as this come along on a regular basis!

Let’s not forget our animals!

Hurricane Florence is no picnic.

Here’s the latest headline regarding this significant hurricane taken from the BBC News website at 14:30 yesterday afternoon.

US East Coast residents are running out of time to flee before Hurricane Florence hits the region as soon as Thursday evening, officials warn.
The storm was downgraded to category three with maximum sustained winds of 120mph (195km/h), but officials say it is still “extremely dangerous”.
Up to 1.7 million people have been ordered to evacuate across South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

All our thoughts are especially extended for the thousands of cats and dogs, and many other species I don’t doubt.

So it seemed especially timely and appropriate to republish a recent item that appeared on Mother Nature News.

ooOOoo

Helping pets in Hurricane Florence’s path

How rescue groups and shelters are staying ahead of the big storm.

Mary Jo DiLonardo
MARY JO DILONARDO
September 11, 2018
Button is one of dozens of animals rescued by the Greenville Humane Society from shelters along the South Carolina coast. (Photo: Greenville Humane Society)

When people are in the path of a massive storm, they prepare their homes as best they can and get out of its way. For pets and strays, the situation is more complicated.

As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolina coast, many in the animal community are already helping get these animals out of harm’s way. Shelters and rescue groups hundreds of miles away are taking in animals from shelters that are directly in the storm’s path. Fosters and adopters are stepping up to take local animals so there’s room for more dogs and cats affected by the hurricane. Others are sending donations.

As of early Tuesday, the Greenville Humane Society in South Carolina had already accepted 40 dogs and cats from coastal Carolina shelters and they are expecting another transport of 20 to 30 more by the end of the day, Julia Brunelle, social media and marketing manager for the humane society, tells MNN.

“We don’t know, in the coming weeks, how many more we’ll be taking in; it depends on the path of storm,” she says. “We expect a heavy influx at the end of the weekend and early next week.”

All three of the humane society’s buildings are at capacity with about 15 overflow animals housed in wire crates. They’ve lowered adoption rates, hoping to encourage people to take home current residents to free up room for animals that will be displaced by the storm.

“A lot of people are always waiting for the right time to adopt,” Brunelle says. “Now is the right time for the animals and when it is the most needed and when you’re going to do the most good.”

A van filled with animals arrives in Greenville from coastal Carolina shelters. (Photo: Greenville Humane Society)

At the Pender County Animal Shelter in Burgaw, North Carolina, they’re hoping to empty the shelter to make room for animals in need. As a result, all adoptions are free.

“After Hurricane Matthew in 2016, we took in over 100 animals at this shelter. We only have 100 kennels total, so being empty pre-storm helps us have space for the post-event response because we cannot turn animals away,” shelter manager Jewell Horton tells MNN. “If we hit capacity we have to euthanize for space, which we do not want to do!”

The shelter has already had calls for more than 50 dogs and cats that they are trying to help get out of the hurricane’s path; they’ve also taken in three miniature horses already. Shelter workers are picking up a pony and goats that were flooded out during Hurricane Matthew, knowing they won’t make it through this storm either.

Making Long-term plans

The Atlanta Humane Society took in 35 dogs and cats from Carolina shelters. (Photo: Atlanta Humane Society)

So far, some animals have traveled as far away as Atlanta. The Atlanta Humane Society has already picked up 35 dogs and cats that were in shelters in the path of Hurricane Florence. A week ago, they took in 35 animals that were in the path of Tropical Storm Gordon. If past storm history is any indication, they’ll likely take in many more.

Teams from Best Friends Animal Society are also on the ground, working to move animals from shelters in harm’s way to less-crowded facilities that are out of the hurricane’s expected reach. The group is also looking at the long-term picture, realizing what rescue efforts will be needed long after the storm is passed, says Kenny Lamberti, Best Friends Southeastern regional director.

“We learned a lot post (Hurricane) Irma and Harvey and even as far back as Katrina,” Lamberti tells MNN. “A lot of people and a lot of animals get stuck. We’re creating temporary shelter situations, hoping we don’t need them, but you never know.”

These shelters will house dogs and cats for an extended period of time until they hopefully can be reunited with their families.

How you can help!

A Best Friends team transports animals during Hurricane Harvey. (Photo: Erica Danger/Best Friends Animal Society)

If you want to assist animals displaced by the storm, there are plenty of things you can do. Rescue groups and shelters suggest monetary donations, first and foremost. That way they can buy what they need and don’t have to worry about storage, especially if shelters are damaged by the storm. Many shelters and rescue groups also have online wish lists.

There is at least one Facebook group where people can post what they need or the specific ways they are able to help, with offers of transport, fostering, supplies or anything else that might come up once the storm hits.

If your local shelter is making room for hurricane-displaced animals, you may want to consider adopting or fostering so they can make space in their kennels for more animals in need.

Pender County’s Horton points out that all sorts of help is needed, from adoptions to donations.

“We need animals out,” she says. “Donations will be hugely needed for post event care, especially for caring for the animals after the storm.”

ooOOoo

I know that all of you will side with Jeannie and me when we say that our hearts go out to these animals.

If any of you come across rescue groups and shelters who are seeking donations then do let me know. For I will publish the details here on Learning from Dogs.

Local history

The Grave Creek Covered Bridge

Jeannie and I decided to take a few hours away from the house and go and do some local exploring.

Just 10 miles North of us, indeed the next exit (71) from Highway I-5, is the famous Grave Creek Covered Bridge.

We parked up and soaked it all in.

While there was an information board next to the bridge it was very easy to find the details online on the Southern Oregon travel site.

The Grave Creek Covered Bridge is one of the few covered bridges that remain in southern Oregon. From Vancouver B.C. to the Mexican border, it is the only one visible from the I-5 freeway. Be sure to visit the Applegate Trail Interpretive Center while in Sunny Valley. It provides a first hand look into the local area, history, fabulous displays, theatre & more.

In the fall of 1846, the first emigrant train from Fort Hall, Idaho, to travel the southern route to the Willamette Valley camped on the north side of this creek, then Woodpile Creek. Martha Leland Crowley, 16 years old died of typhoid fever during this encampment and was buried 150 feet north of the creek on the east side or a white oak tree that was later removed for the present roadway, Thus the name “Grave Creek”.

When James H. Twogood laid out his land claim in the fall of 1851 and filed it on May 1st 1852, he named it the Grave Creek Ranch in memory of that unfortunate incident.

McDonough Harkness, his partner, was the first postmaster of Josephine County in the newly named town of Leland on March 28,1855. Harkness was killed by the Indians in April 1856 while riding dispatch for the Army during the second Indian War of southern Oregon which started in October of 1855.

The bridge was built in 1920 and is 105 feet long.

Unsurprisingly, the creek had very little water in it.

 

But that didn’t diminish in the slightest the magic of this place out in the vast Oregon countryside.

WikiPedia has a nice entry explaining the rationale behind building a covered bridge.

A covered bridge is a timber-truss bridge with a roof and siding which, in most covered bridges, create an almost complete enclosure. The purpose of the covering is to protect the wooden structural members from the weather. Uncovered wooden bridges typically have a lifespan of only 10 to 15 years because of the effects of rain and sun. The brief moment of relative privacy while crossing the bridges earned them the name “Kissing Bridges”.

Back to dogs tomorrow!

 

The burning of our forests!

But it is not a total wall-to-wall disaster.

The latest news is that our Klondike Fire is now burning an area larger than 100,000 acres. Or to use the words from the incident webpage(my emphasis):

The Taylor Creek and Klondike Fires were split into zones on Saturday, Aug. 18. The fires are now referred to as “Taylor Creek Fire” and “Klondike Fire East,” managed by the Northwest Incident Management Team 12 out of Lake Selmac, and “Klondike Fire West” managed by California Interagency Incident Management Team 4 out of Gold Beach. A transfer of command of the Klondike West Zone will occur at 6:00 AM Friday when the Southern Area Red Team who arrived on Wednesday will take over.

As of the morning of Aug. 30, the Taylor Creek Fire is estimated 52,839 acres and is 95 percent contained. The Klondike Fire is estimated at 100,996 acres and is 40 percent contained. There are 1,214 personnel working on the Klondike Fire and 126 personnel assigned to the Taylor Creek Fire.

Courtesy Jeffersen Public Radio

Then just over a week ago, The Conversation blogsite published a reminder that I wanted to share  with you today, under the permissions offered by The Conversation site.

ooOOoo

Many native animals and birds thrive in burned forests, research shows

By

Associate Research Professor of Biology, Pennsylvania State University

August 22nd, 2018

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is blaming this summer’s large-scale wildfires on environmentalists, who he contends oppose “active management” in forests.

But the idea that wildfires should be suppressed by logging the forest is far too simplistic. Most scientists agree that large hot wildfires produce many benefits for North American forests. Notably, they create essential habitat for many native species.

Fifteen years of research on Spotted Owls – a species that has played an oversized role in shaping U.S. forest management policies and practices for the past several decades – directly contradicts the argument that logging is needed to protect wildlife from fires. Wildlife biologists, including me, have shown in a string of peer-reviewed studies, that wildfires have little to no effect on Spotted Owls’ occupancy, reproduction or foraging, and even provide benefits to the owls.

Nonetheless, despite this steadily accumulating evidence, the U.S. Forest Service advocates logging in old-growth forest reserves and Spotted Owl critical habitat in the name of protecting Spotted Owls from forest fires. Zinke’s recent statements are just the latest and broadest iteration of the false viewpoint that logging benefits wildlife and their forest habitats.

Protecting Spotted Owl habitat

Spotted Owls are birds of prey that range from the Pacific Northwest to central Mexico. Because they nest in large old-growth trees and are sensitive to logging, in the 1980s they became symbols of the exceptional biodiversity found in old-growth forests.

The Northern Spotted Owl in the Pacific Northwest was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. At that point, about 90 percent of U.S. old-growth forest had already been lost to logging. Every year in the 1980s the U.S. Forest Service sold about 7 to 12 billion board feet of public lands timber.

Figure 1. National forest timber sales (1905–2017). FY 1905-2017 National Summary Cut and Sold Data USDA Forest Service

Listing the owl drew attention to the dramatic decline of old-growth forest ecosystems due to 50 years of unsustainable logging practices. In response the U.S. Forest Service adopted new regulations that included fewer clearcuts, less cutting of trees over 30 inches in diameter and fewer cuts that opened up too much of the forest canopy. These policies, along with vast depletion of old-growth forests, reduced logging on Forest Service lands to about 2 billion board feet per year.

During the 1990s, national forest management policy for the Northern Spotted Owl included creating old-growth reserves and designating critical habitat where logging was restricted – mostly within half a mile of a Spotted Owl nest. In spite of these protections, populations of Northern Spotted Owls, as well as California and Mexican Spotted Owls, continued to decline on forest lands outside national parks. This was most likely due to ongoing logging outside of their protected nesting areas in the owls’ much larger year-round home ranges.

Fire and owls

Over the years the Forest Service shifted away from treating Spotted Owls as symbols of old-

Historical range (burgundy) of the Northern Spotted Owl, which also extended north into British Columbia. One hundred fifty years of logging, agriculture and urbanization have reduced the amount of old growth forest (potential Spotted Owl habitat) in this zone by 85-90 percent. NASA Earth Observatory

growth forest biodiversity, and instead started to cite them as an excuse for more logging. The idea that forest fires were a threat to Spotted Owls was first proposed in 1992 by agency biologists and contract researchers. In a status assessment of the California Spotted Owl, these scientists speculated that fires might be as damaging as clearcuts to the owls.

This perspective gained popularity within the Forest Service over the next 10 years and led to increased logging on public lands that degraded old-growth habitat for Spotted Owls.

Academic scientists, including some with Forest Service funding, published peer-reviewed studies of Spotted Owls and fire in 2002, 2009, 2011 and 2012. All four studies showed either no effects from fire or positive benefits from fire for Spotted Owls. Subsequent research on Spotted Owls in fire-affected forests has showed repeatedly that the owls can persist and thrive in burned landscapes.

 

 

(The U.S. Forest Service says wildfires harm wildlife habitat, but wildfires actually create rare and important habitat.)

Many wild species thrive in burned landscapes

I recently conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis that summarized all available scientific research on the effects of wildfires on Spotted Owl ecology. It found that Spotted Owls are usually not significantly affected by mixed-severity forest fire. Mixed-severity forest fire, which includes large patches with 100 percent tree mortality, is how wildfires in western forests naturally burn. The preponderance of evidence indicated that mixed-severity wildfire has more benefits than costs for Spotted Owls.

In 2017 I submitted an early version of this analysis with the same conclusions to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during the agency’s peer-review process for its Conservation Objectives Report for the California Spotted Owl. My conclusions were not included in the final report.

Decades of science have shown that forest fires – including large hot fires – are an essential part of western U.S. forest ecosystems and create highly biodiverse wildlife habitat. Many native animals thrive in the years and decades after large intense fires, including deer, bats, woodpeckers and songbirds as well as Spotted Owls. Additionally, many native species are only found in the snag forest habitat of dead and dying trees created by high-severity wildfire.

Pileated woodpeckers excavate nests within snags, bringing life to charred forests in Oregon. NASA/S. Russell, CC BY-ND

Wildfires threaten homes, but wildlife and water supplies benefit

Studies have shown that wildfires are strongly influenced by a warming climate, and that logging to reduce fuels doesn’t stop the biggest, hottest fires. In my view, federal and state agencies that manage wildfires should devote significant resources towards making structures ignition-resistant and creating defensible space around homes to protect communities, rather than promoting ecologically damaging logging.

It is also time to reform Forest Service management goals to emphasize carbon capture, biodiversity, outdoor recreation and water supply as the most important ecosystem services provided by national forest lands. These services are enhanced by wildfires, not by logging.

ooOOoo

These last two paragraphs are key lessons: 1. Logging does not stop the biggest, hottest fires, and, 2. It is time to change the goals under which our forests are managed emphasising carbon capture, biodiversity, recreation and water supplies!

I won’t hold my breath!

People!

What a complex lot we are!

(And that’s putting it kindly!)

I wasn’t planning to publish a post for today. But then a recent post from Patrice Ayme spurred me to so do.

Let me explain.

Our nearest town, Grants Pass, has the wonderful Rogue River flowing through it and alongside it there is Riverside Park. To quote:

Riverside Park in Grants Pass was set aside by our founders for the enjoyment of our citizens and guests.

People come from all over to Riverside Park to watch the majestic Rogue River as it courses its’ way through our city.

As you can see it is a popular place for ducks and geese.

Last Tuesday, we had a contractor completing some new guttering for the house. Terry, the owner of TC Gutters, ran out of the coated aluminium he was folding into the correct shape using a rather cute machine!

Terry apologised and said that he would need to run back into Grants Pass to pick up some more of the sheeting.

He returned a little later and I went over to chit-chat with him.

He was unexpectedly downcast.

Terry, is there a problem?

Paul, when I was in town, down at the bottom of 6th Street near the bridge, there was a flock of ducks crossing the road.

Terry paused for quite a while; I stood there next to him with not a clue as to what was coming.

He sighed, and continued: “Instinctively, I slowed down along with a number of other drivers. But what really upset me was the fact that a few drivers were clearly gleefully driving into the ducks and killing them!

It hurt me to hear that; very much so!

Is it too strong for me to regard those drivers who thought it great fun to drive into those ducks as being evil?

A stock photo courtesy Alamy.

What do you think?

Going Vegan!

More evidence that supports the sense, the very great sense, in going vegan!

Some three weeks ago, on June 15th to be exact, I published a post called On Veganism. Jean and I had just watched a film What The Health and what it presented in terms of eating chicken and fish convinced us to immediately go the final step, as in going from being vegetarians to vegans.

Many of you offered kind words and encouragement. Colette Bytes included a link to a blog post that she published in April, 2017. It is called Vegan Future and with her kind permission that post is republished today.

It is chock full of information and videos so do settle down and let all the information provided by Colette ‘speak’ to you! This is really worthy of an evening spent watching all the videos!

ooOOoo

Vegan Future

by Colette Bytes, April 21st 2017

Seventeen percent of human caused greenhouse gases,  come from meat and dairy production. It is actually a greater figure than all CO2 produced by global transportation!

Posted by The Daily Conversation

But is it enough, just to reduce our animal consumption, or should we look at the compelling evidence that we need a Vegan future!

Animal and Environmental Ethics

On a previous blog, I mention the documentary ‘Earthlings’ narrated by Hollywood actor, and lifelong Vegan, Joachim Phoenix. ‘Earthlings’ is the definitive Vegan film on exposing the meat and dairy industry in the US. And while other countries may not have factory farming on such a broad scale, many of the same procedures occur on a smaller scale. No member of the general public is allowed into the kill sections of slaughter houses for a very good reason. It is horrendous to watch a fear-ridden animal that wants to live, face its painful death.

This filmed reaction of a viewer watching ‘Earthlings’ is an average reaction. It is a moving experience for anyone with compassion. Posted by Raw Vegan, Fruitarian, Michael Lanfield, it is worth watching if you cannot bring yourself to actually watch the devastating, but common images of the meat, dairy and egg industry.

Switching your food intake to a plant-based Vegan diet, (eliminating all meat, dairy, egg and seafood), is the biggest change with the most impact that you can possibly make to reduce climate warming, land and water degradation, extinction rates, deforestation, pollution, human and animal suffering, and war (often over lack of food and water resources). And It is the number one thing you can do to improve your own health. It can also cut the cost of your food bill while you continue to eat a healthy diet.

There is no downside to this change if you keep your diet healthy and balanced. You can even eat processed plant-based, meat-like products if you want, but they may cost a similar amount to having meat in your diet.

The United Nations has already stated that we need to switch to a plant based diet if we are to survive.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53984

So what is holding you back?

Australian, James Aspey, a survivor of thyroid cancer, has become a Vegan Speaker (on ending animal cruelty) with his own Youtube channel, but he is also one of an exponentially growing number of people who have improved their own health through a plant based diet switch.

James Aspey interview posted by Plant Based News

Find out more about James Aspey on his YouTube channel, Facebook, and on his website:
http://www.jamesaspey.com.au/

Healthy Eating

AllPlants interview on Plant Based News

Lots of new Ethical, Healthy Vegan Ready Made meals like this brand are appearing now on Super market shelves. So even if you don’t ‘do cooking’ you can still find nutritious Vegan options. And Vegan restaurants, holidays and lifestyles are all available now.

And new research is beginning to show that meat and dairy are actually toxic to our body.

Meat is a neurotoxin, Posted by 8/10/10 in London

And for when you have time, do listen to this amazing and life changing Cardiologist’s 1:20:00 hrs talk…on your likelihood of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other life threatening diseases on a meat based diet…and also look at doctor Greger’s work and videos too (links below)

Robert Ostfeld, Cardiologist and Director of a US Cardiology Centre. Posted by Jeanne Schumacher, ‘Plant Power’ YouTube channel

More on Dr Ostfeld is available on The Forks over Knives (film) website https://www.forksoverknives.com/contributors/robert-ostfeld/

Elite Athletes and Hollywood Icons
You’d be surprised how many top athletes eat a vegan diet just to be at the top of their sport…Names like Serena and Venus Williams, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray, are all Vegans. Winner of the world Strongman competition is Vegan. Many top boxers eat vegan. Look at PlantBased News on YouTube for lots of informative videos on who is Vegan. And see their 100 countdown of awesome Vegan celebrities.

Top 2017 Vegans posted by PlantBased News

Making the change to Vegan

Eating junk plant-based foods is not advisable as it will lead to nutrient deficiencies…and ultimately a disease state, so you can’t survive on potato crisps, popcorn, and bread….there is a responsibility to eat a balanced fresh food diet to be healthy.

You do need to eat proteins (nuts, legumes, grains, beans, some veggies). You will need to supplement with Vitamin B12, a soil- based, active nutrient essential for our brain & nervous system which we do not get in our diet as we no longer forage and eat unwashed food like our ape ancestors. And you may need to supplement Vit D3 for bone health as we no longer spend enough time outside in the sunshine. Essential oil, Omega 3 can be obtained from flax and hemp seeds. The rest, you should be able to get from a ‘good’ Vegan diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, grains and nuts. Just 15 grams of nuts per day will give you enough protein to be healthy. Eating Kale and other dark leafy plants, beans, whole grain rice, legumes and some nuts, sweet potatoes are all sources of Calcium. The key to health is to have a full, varied selection of whole plant-based food!

Meat and Dairy Industry  Scare Tactics

The Meat and Dairy industry packers are worried that they will lose their industry and are fighting back with their political power and disinformation campaigns designed to scare us, but the smart companies will begin to think about how they can profit from exponential growth in the Vegan food industry.

Corporate Panick, posted by PlantBased News
Research

There are so many online sources to help you buy, and cook a healthy plant-based diet. Just type ‘Vegan Recipies’ into a search engine and you will find fantastic yummy recipes. You will love the variety and the taste of your new diet. And if you are not into cooking,  mainstream supermarkets are now starting to stock a growing variety of vegan ready made meals, and starting to label Vegan choices.

https://plantbasednews.org/

An all round informative website on Vegan trends, news headlines, and increasing popularity of healthy lifestyles including a plant- based diet.
Medical based RESOURCES on how to stay healthy on a Vegan diet

https://nutritionfacts.org/

Dr Michael Greger, MD, author of Best Seller, ‘How Not to Die’ and distributer of free videos and research on how plant based diets affect us. I have followed his work for years and he backs it all up with science based studies…his short videos and reports are packed with hundreds of supportive reports for a plant based diet.

https://www.drmcdougall.com/

Dr McDougal, Author of ‘A Starch Based Diet’ and follower of Nathan Pritikin, one of the forerunners promoting plant based nutrition.

http://www.theveganjunction.com/top-20-plant-based-health-professionals-to-follow/

Vegan Junction list of Plant-Based Diet health professionals
More Videos

Open Your Eyes – Toronto Pig Save posted by Bite-Size-Vegan

How not To Die – plant based diet by Dr Michael Greger
Latest documentaries to look up

Carnage (only on BBC iPlayer)

The Game Changers

Eating our way to Extinction

What the Health!

Plant Pure Nutrition

And there are so many more resources out there ! Join the growing trend to make this a better world for everyone, by making the biggest difference you can when you shop for food. Pick whole, plant-based, foods and kick the ‘animal eating’ habit to be healthy, stop animal cruelty, and save the environment and reduce global greenhouse gases. What could be a more worthy goal?

Why not check out my blog here on ‘Why do We Hurt Animals?

ooOOoo

This is so much more than just a blog post from Colette. It is a fantastic source of information, from a variety of sources, about why it makes such good sense to become a vegan.

I shall include it as a link from the home page of Learning from Dogs so it may serve as a reference long after it was republished today.

Then what about dogs eating a vegan diet? Sounds a bit strange? Maybe not! I shall be exploring that option with Halo, a company based in Florida, who claim:

Can dogs be vegan? Unlike cats, who are obligate carnivores, dogs can be fed a vegan diet as long as it’s high quality and nutritionally balanced like Halo® Garden of Vegan® dog food.

More on this next week.

In the meantime, I’m taking a day off tomorrow but please do read George Monbiot’s latest post, being republished here on Friday, 6th July.