Category: Writing

Time marches on!

So we are now at the last day of July!

In many ways this has been a strange month in a somewhat strange year! No, more than that! We are at last seeing climate change come to the fore in terms of topics. Yves Smith, who produces Naked Capitalism (and it’s a great blog) had an item on climate change recently. Here’s an extract:

Yves here. As many of you know, I am considerably frustrated with Green New Deal advocates, because I see them as selling hopium. They act as if we can preserve modern lifestyles as long as we throw money, some elbow grease, and a lot of new development (using current dirty infrastructure to build it) at it. We’re already nearing the point where very bad outcomes, like widespread famines and mass migrations due to flooding, are baked in. And even that take charitably assumes that a rump of what we consider to be civilization survives.

There were many replies from a variety of people; I loved this one from Tom Stone:

A rational response to this crisis is not politically or societally feasible.

And the crisis is here, now.

The changes are not linear, a concept many of the people I talk to about climate change have difficulty accepting.

Large parts of the SF Bay Area are going to be heavily impacted (It’s my stomping ground, so I’m familiar with it) by salt water intrusion, levee failure, lack of water to to changing precipitation patterns in the Sierra’s…

A lot of Bay Area Housing is built on fill or in low lying areas, those homes will start to be abandoned within a decade if current trends continue.

Add the devastation from the inevitable Earthquake on the Hayward Fault which our local and State Governments are totally incapable of dealing with and it is going to be a godawful mess.

I looked at the Disaster planning for a quake on the Hayward Fault some years ago and all of the assumptions are for a “Best Case” scenario.

The quake won’t come in October during a drought and a high wind event, it won’t come at the wrong time of day, it won’t come in the spring during a high water period when Levee’s are stressed…

The Bay areas disaster response center was built in the 1950’s to withstand a nuclear attack, it is underground and was built smack dab in the middle of the Hayward Fault.

Have I mentioned that 20 years after 9/11 the various emergency responders do not have a commonality in their communications gear?

The more people that read this and other article the better.

Plus I am going to include my reply:

Your piece, Yves, that you published from Rolf was excellent and so was Tom Stone’s comment above. The scale of the issue is immense but at least climate change has now become a mainstream topic, and rightly so. National Geographic magazine published a special edition in May, 2020 to commemorate the anniversary of the fiftieth Earth Day. I think it was 1962 when Rachel Carson published Silent Spring. So we can’t complain that this isn’t a new issue. But whether or not we make it to the one hundred anniversary of that first Earth Day depends on the myriad of actions that we, as in all of us, including especially our leaders and politicians, make NOW! Let me spell it out. NOW means within the next 5 years at the latest. I am 76 and a passionate advocate of a change in mass behaviors. For I have a single grandson, Morten, living with his parents back in England who is 10. I fear for his future and for the future of all of his age.

Anyway, to get back to the article about dogs that I wanted to share with you. It is from Treehugger.

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This 13-Year-Old Dog Has a Home Again

It’s heartbreaking when senior pets lose their families.

By Mary Jo DiLonardo

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Published July 29th, 2021

Magdalen in her new yard. Mary Jo DiLonardo

This weekend, my husband and I were the last step in a transport to get a dog to her new home. 

Typically, when we have a new dog in the backseat, it’s a raucous foster puppy (or two) in a crate. There’s usually barking and tumbling and playing until the motion of the car lulls them to sleep.

But this passenger was a much different story.

Magdalen is a 13-year-old border collie. Her owner gave her up temporarily when he was sick, but when he fully recuperated a few months later, he said he didn’t want her back. He had her since she was a puppy but now had no place for her.

The family who had given her a temporary home had children and other dogs and was unable to give her a permanent home. When Speak St. Louis, the rescue I work with, was contacted about the border collie, they offered to take her in. 

She went to the groomer for her very matted coat and to the vet for a basic health check.

The spa visit made her look (and no doubt, feel) much better. But the vet didn’t have great news. She had to have surgery for mammary masses and her mouth was swollen with all sorts of dental issues. One surgery later and she had six masses removed. Two teeth fell out during cleaning and 11 more had to be extracted.

Fortunately, the growths were benign and she slowly began to recover. 

Stressed and Resigned

Magdalen barely moved on the ride to her new home. Mary Jo DiLonardo

On the trip home, the sweet senior looked so resigned in our backseat. The last kind transporter gently lifted her from her car and placed her in ours, where she barely moved as she re-settled herself.

She had just spent several weeks in the care of a wonderful foster parent where she recuperated from her surgery and from being left by her family. 

I’m sure at this point she was just shut down and stressed and quietly rolling with whatever happened to her. She took the pieces of kibble we offered but her tail didn’t wag because it was tucked mostly between her legs.

It was heartbreaking to know that not so long ago she was someone’s pet and she was discarded.

It’s understandable that her owner needed some temporary help when he was sick and overwhelmed. But I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t have wanted her back now. I think of my own dog and dogs we’ve lost to old age in the past. They’re family and they stay that way forever.

Dogs aren’t disposable.

Why People Give Up Senior Pets 

Senior pets often end up in shelters and with rescues when their owners die and no one in the family is able to take them in. 

Or some people give them up when they become harder to care for. Seniors can have more health problems and often people can’t afford the costs. They also aren’t as fun as their younger counterparts, and sometimes get cranky or snippy around children.

For rescues and shelters, it’s much easier to get a cute, bouncy puppy adopted than a less active senior that might come with health baggage and who might only be with the family for a few years.

A survey by PetFinder found that “less adoptable” pets like seniors or special needs animals spend nearly four times as long on the adoption site before they find a home.1

But older dogs have lots of benefits. Unlike puppies, they usually arrive housebroken. Sure, there are the occasional accidents as they figure things out, but they mostly know they are supposed to potty outside.

Senior dogs won’t chew your furniture or your fingers. They don’t bounce off the walls and wake you up in the middle of the night to go outside. They don’t need as much exercise as younger dogs but will revel in all the attention you want to give them.

Mary Jo DiLonardo

As for Magdalen, she is coming out of her shell in her new home. She was adopted by a good friend of mine who is a dog trainer. She has a soft heart for seniors and a passion for brainy border collies.

Because the pup is very driven by food, her new mom is going to try nosework with her. That’s an activity where she can sniff out treats in all sorts of hidden places. That will give her a job and a hobby—and lots of food!

Magdalen doesn’t have her tail between her legs anymore and the resident dogs are figuring out that she’s here to stay. But the key is for her to understand that this is now her forever home and no one will ever leave her again.

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Of the six dogs we have here at home three are old. But they still remain happy and carefree which is a little different to yours truly who, as much as he tries very hard not to do so, worries about the big things in life and, frankly, the biggest of them all is climate change.

Dogs and tummy rubs!

I have discovered a useful website!

I was browsing the internet yesterday and came across, quite by chance, the website PetMD. It looks like a great resource and I want to publish some of their introductory text:

About PetMD

PetMD is the online authority for all things pet health. Our goal is to provide the most accurate, reliable, up-to-date pet health information to help you navigate the everyday ups and downs of pet parenting. As a pet parent, you deserve to have access to the tools, tips, and insights you need to keep your pets healthy. With PetMD, you’ll find answers you can trust from qualified veterinarians. By working closely with veterinarians since 2008, PetMD has become the go-to resource for pet health and care.

Vet Team

PetMD collaborates with pet experts that know the most about pet health and care—veterinarians. Our network of credible veterinarians is essential in our mission to bring you the most detailed and current information. Meet some of the trusted veterinarians that we partner with to bring you the most up-to-date information. 

What I was looking for is a reason why dogs love having their tummy’s rubbed.

This was a great article and I am pretty sure that republishing it is within the rules of PetMD.

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Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?

PetMD Editorial

Updated: June 28, 2017, Published: April 07, 2017

By Chris Illuminati

Some dogs love belly rubs almost as much as playing fetch or chewing on a really good bone, yet others could go without the show of human affection. So why do dogs like belly rubs? And is it weird if some dogs don’t?

“Belly rubbing is a comforting action,” explains Dr. Peter Brown, chief medical officer of Wagly, a veterinary-based pet service provider with campuses in California and Washington. “It’s an opportunity for bonding and part of our relationship with our dogs.”  

Christine Case, an anthrozoology instructor at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida, offers another idea about the origin of belly rubs for dogs. Case, a member of the Association of Professional Humane Educators and the International Society for Anthrozoology, feels that humans have modified canine behavior over the last thousand years due to domestication.

“Rolling on their backs is a submissive behavior that dogs exhibit toward humans.” Case explains. “I think it would be difficult to determine whether dogs truly like this activity or if they have been trained to do so. The context of the situation should be evaluated.”

Michael Schaier, a certified professional dog trainer and author of “Wag That Tail: A Trainer’s Guide To A Happy Dog,” concurs with Case’s assessment, but adds that affection is one of the greatest training tools a human can use on a canine.

“A dog rolling on his back is a submissive action and puts the canine in a vulnerable position,” says Schaier, “but dogs have been bred for 10,000 years to be social animals and coexist with humans.”

Studying Back Rolling Behavior in Dogs

A dog rolling over on his back doesn’t always mean the animal is being playful, submissive, or looking for a belly rub, especially in instances when other dogs are close by. In 2015, two teams of researchers from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta and the University of South Africa set out to investigate the meaning and function of dogs rolling over during play with other dogs. The researchers wanted to know if a dog rolling over onto the back is really an act of submission that serves to stop aggression or a tactic executed for combat purposes.

The researchers examined videos showing dogs playing together and staged play sessions with a medium-sized female dog paired with 33 dogs of different breeds and sizes. Then, they sat back and observed.

The researchers concluded that while dogs may roll when playing, the move might also be used to gain an advantage in fighting. Of rollovers observed, none of the dogs rolled over in a submissive response to aggressive behavior by another dog. Researchers noted that dogs rolling on their backs in front of other dogs used their position to block playful bites and launch attacks on the aggressor.

Should You Rub Your Dog’s Belly?

If pets are comfortable with belly rubs, pet owners should feel free to pet away. But Brown warns that a dog who suddenly doesn’t enjoy a good tummy scratching might be conveying a different message. “If your dog normally likes belly rubs, and then stops, that can be a sign of a sore belly or possibly an issue where their back is causing pain.”

There are, however, some dogs who can survive without the constant stomach rubbing.

“Past experience could affect the dog’s like or dislike for the activity,” Case remarks. “If a dog does not like to have its belly rubbed, it does not mean there is anything wrong—perhaps it’s just [the dog’s] preference. It’s up to the individual animal”

But most experts agree that when dogs ask for belly rubs or petting of any kind, it shows how comfortable they feel as part of the family.

“The greatest reward you can give your dog,” adds Schaier, “is the touch of your hand.” 

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Those last two paragraphs say it all and it comes down to touch. Even a brief touch of the hand on the head of your dog is bliss. For both the human and the dog but especially for the dog.

Capturing the moment of my daughter hugging her best friend, Oreo, in the woods. Photo from Unsplash.

Case made!

A video on how to make your dog happier!

I am a bit stuck for time so forgive me for just posting this video.

The information that came with this video is posted first:

Are you worried your dog is looking a little down? Or do you just want to do everything you can to make your dog the happiest in the world? Any responsible owner will want their dog to be as happy as can be, so this AnimalWised videos brings you 10 essential tips on how to make your DOG HAPPIER. A happy dog will not only need their basic care needs met, but they will require a considerate and thoughtful human companion to go beyond the basics. We need to pay attention to what it is they are trying to communicate to us through their behavior and body language. We also need to ensure the way we behave towards the dog is making them happy and we do all we can to strengthen our bond together. It is also imperative to know that a healthy dog is a happy dog.

On AnimalWised you’ll discover a high quality channel that’s exclusively devoted to the Animal Kingdom. You’ll find all sorts of content: from training, diet or beauty and everything that can be useful for you as a pet owner or animal lover. Want to become AnimalWised? Take a look and have fun with us!

In fairness it does look like a decent video and website.

Hopefully a longer post tomorrow!

Resilience Thinking – a review

A book to make one think anew.

Let me make myself absolutely clear about this book, indeed I can do no better than to publish part of an email that I sent to the authors last Saturday:

To say that I was inspired by what you wrote is an understatement. More accurately it has changed my whole understanding of this planet, of the natural order of things, of the politics of the Western world, of vast numbers of us humans, and how precarious is our world just now. It has opened my eyes radically, and I thought before that I was fairly in touch with things.

Resilience is a simple idea but in its application has proved to be anything such. On page 2 the authors set out as they saw it The Drivers of Unsustainable Development. Here’s how that section develops:

Our world is facing a broad range of serious and growing resource issues. Human-induced soil degradation has been getting worse since the 1950s. About 85 percent of agriculture land contains areas degraded by erosion, rising salt, soil compaction, and various other factors. It has been estimated (Wood et al. 2000) that soil degradation has already reduced global agricultural productivity by around 15 percent in the last fifty years. In the last three hundred years, topsoil has been lost at a rate of 200 million tons per year; in the last fifty years it has more than doubled to 760 million tons per year.

As we move deeper into the twenty-first century we cannot afford to lose more of our resource base. The global population is now expanding by about 75 million people each year. Population growth rates are declining, but the world’s population will still be expanding by almost 60 million per year in 2030. The United Nations projections put the global population at nearly 8 billion in 2025. In addition, if current water consumption patterns continue unabated, half the world’s population will live in water-stressed river basins by 2025.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2004 Annual Hunger Report estimates that over 850 million people suffer from chronic hunger. Hunger kills 5 million children every year.

It goes on ….!

Now I want to quote from the end of the book, from their section on Resilience Thinking.

In our opening chapter we observed that there were many pathways into resilience thinking and suggested readers not worry too much if the finer details of a resilience framework are a bit obscure. We emphasized that what is of much more importance is an appreciation of the broader themes that underpin such a framework. Those broader themes revolve around humans existing within linked social and ecological systems. These are complex adaptive systems, and attempts to control or optimize parts of such systems without consideration of the responses that this creates in the broader system are fraught with risk. Much of this book has been spent on attempting to explore the consequences of such an approach.

In the broadest sense, optimizing and controlling components of a system in isolation of the broader system results in a decline in resilience, a reduction in options, and the shrinkage of the space in which we can safely operate. Resilience thinking moves us the other way.

It is our hope that readers who are persuaded of this basic premise will be encouraged to explore the inevitable consequences of such thinking. Even if you are not completely clear on the basins of attractions, thresholds, and adaptive cycles, if the concepts of ecological resilience and dynamic social-ecological systems have any resonance then you are in a better position to appreciate what is happening to the world around you.

The phrase complex adaptive system was new to me but intuitively I got what the authors meant. As they state on page 35: The three requirements for a complex adaptive system are:

  • That it has components that are independent and interacting,
  • There is some selection process at work on those components (and on the results of local interactions),
  • Variation and novelty are constantly being added to the system (through components changing over time or new ones coming in),

This was my eye-opener. It was now obvious that many processes, especially in nature, that I had hitherto regarded as constant were changing albeit usually on a timescale of many decades sometimes centuries.

And the other conclusion that was inescapable was that we humans were largely responsible for those changes because we couldn’t see the longterm consequences of what we were doing.

As I remarked in a previous post :

David writes that firstly carbon dioxide is not like other pollutants, for example like air particulants.  Then later goes on to say:

The second difference is that climate change is irreversible.

As Joe Romm notes in a recent post, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera slipped up in his latest column and referred to technology that would “help reverse climate change.” I don’t know whether that reflects Nocera’s ignorance or just a slip of the pen, but I do think it captures the way many people subconsciously think about climate change. If we heat the planet up too much, we’ll just fix it! We’ll turn the temperature back down. We’ll get around to it once the market has delivered economically ideal solutions.

But as this 2009 paper in Nature (among many others) makes clear, it doesn’t work that way:

This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop. Following cessation of emissions, removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases radiative forcing, but is largely compensated by slower loss of heat to the ocean, so that atmospheric temperatures do not drop significantly for at least 1,000 years. [my emphasis]

My last piece in this review is to republish a graph that is shown on the NASA Global Climate Change website:

For all our sakes, dogs and humans and many other species, let us all please change our behaviours! Soon!

Back to the book: It is a remarkable book!

I will close with quoting one of the praises shown on the back cover. This one by Thomas Homer-Dixon, professor of political science, University of Toronto, and director of the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Resilience Thinking is an essential guidebook to a powerful new way of understanding our world – and of living resiliently with it – developed in recent decades by an international team of ecologists. With five clear and compelling case studies drawn from regions as diverse as Florida, Sweden, and Australia, this book shows how all highly adaptive systems – from ecologies to economics – go through regular cycles of growth, reorganization, and renewal and how our failures to understand the basic principles of resilience have often led to disaster. Resilience Thinking gives us the conceptual tools to help us cope with the bewildering surprises and challenges of our new century.

Please, if you can, think about reading it.

Donate to fund dogs in the Serengeti

This plea came in from Mr. Pedantry!

This came in yesterday and I thought for some time that I wouldn’t be able to publish it quickly owing to me getting my knickers in a twist.

But all was resolved and therefore I am delighted to republish it.

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Donate to fund the dogs saving elephants

Ever heard of dogs saving elephants?

In the Serengeti, a small, specially trained team of rescue dogs sniff out poachers and sound the alarm. Just 4 dogs have helped arrest hundreds of poachers, saving countless elephants being murdered for their ivory.

Almost a quarter of the elephants in the park now live in the tiny area they protect — but poaching is on the rise everywhere else and there are thousands more elephants that still need protection.

That’s why the team behind this amazing project are asking for your help to train up more of these sniffer dogs — and save double the number of elephants.

With 96 of these gentle giants killed each day, every moment counts.

Can you chip in to help?

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Whatever you can spare please contribute to the donation request.

The page to go to is here!

Here is a YouTube video to watch.

Socialising one’s darling dog!

It is easy for us to consider this a minor issue!

We are so used to having so many dogs and with more than one in a household socialising becomes simple; assuming they all get on with one another.

But many kind people have a single dog and, especially, when someone goes for a new dog then socialising becomes very important.

The Dodo recently had an article about this and it is shared with you all.

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How Can I Socialize My Dog?

Set her up for success 🏆

By DANIELLE ESPOSITO

Published on the 26th April, 2021

Did you just adopt a new dog and now you’re super excited to introduce her to all the awesome people and animals in your life?

While you might want to bring her everywhere you go right away, it’s also important to take the right steps in order to set her up for success — especially when it comes to dog training and socialization skills.

To understand how to socialize your dog, The Dodo reached out Juliana Willems, head trainer at JW Dog Training in Washington, D.C., for some insight.

What does it mean to socialize a dog?

Socialization is the process of helping a dog enjoy and feel comfortable with people, other animals, places, novel objects and environments.

It means bringing your dog out into the world and introducing her to various kinds of people and situations — which helps to make sure she learns how to be a happy, friendly pup (with manners!), and can reduce fear in unknown situations.

It also helps to give your dog the skills she needs to learn about boundaries — meaning she’s not running around and bulldozing other dogs who clearly just want to sleep whenever she’s around them.

What’s the best age to socialize a dog?

According to Willems, the best age to socialize your dog is when she’s a puppy — because there’s a critical socialization window in a dog’s life between 3 and 16 weeks.

“This is the age where puppies are like sponges, soaking up information and using the experiences during this time to determine how they feel about the world later in life,” Willems said. 

Experiences — or a lack of experiences — during this critical socialization window can have a direct impact on a dog’s behavior as an adult.

So what happens if you adopt an older dog outside of the socialization window?

Unless you adopt a puppy who’s 4 months old or younger, Willems said that the dog you’re bringing home is well outside the critical socialization period.

“What this means is you won’t be able to undo what did or didn’t happen during that window when they were a puppy,” Willems said. “That being said, a goal with newly adopted rescue dogs is always to introduce them to new people, animals, places and activities in a positive way.”

Of course, there’s a good chance your pup was already socialized, especially if she was living happily with a foster family before she went up for adoption. But no matter what stage she’s in socially, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of what to look out for.

As with puppies, being exposed to people, animals and places isn’t enough if you’re hoping to get your pup to truly love and be comfortable with these experiences. You should be paying attention to how she’s reacting to these situations as well.

According to Willems, simple exposure without looking at if your dog is having fun, feeling comfortable and enjoying herself leaves the door open for a negative experience.

That means it’s important you don’t overwhelm your dog by going to too many new places — or meeting too many new people — when she first comes home.

How to socialize your dog

According to Willems, the best way to socialize a new rescue dog is to go at her pace, use treats and always pay attention to body language.

“When you let your new rescue dog approach situations at their pace — allowing them to approach or retreat when they need to — you’re giving them choice in the interaction and you’re decreasing the chances that your dog will feel overwhelmed and scared,” Willems said. 

And make sure you have some of your dog’s favorite treats ready to go during the process!

If you give your dog high-value treats when she meets new people or new animals or goes somewhere new, you’re increasing the chances that she ends up really liking those experiences. Why? Because she’s learning that new people, animals or places equal tasty treats!

While you’re keeping her happy with yummy treats, make sure you’re also paying attention to how she might be feeling in this new situation — and always give her the opportunity to take a breather if she needs one.

She should always have the option to leave a new situation if she’s uncomfortable — especially when it comes to meeting new people and dogs.

How can you tell if your dog’s uncomfortable?

According to Willems, your best bet is to look at your pup’s body language — and it’s helpful to be able to understand what certain signals mean.

Obvious ones include:

  • A tucked tail
  • Trying to move away
  • Avoiding interactions
  • Growling or barking

More subtle stress signals include: 

  • Lip licking
  • Yawning
  • Ears back
  • Stiffening

If your dog exhibits stress signals like these, it’s important you advocate for her and move her out of the situation.

What should you do if your dog’s uncomfortable?

If you find yourself in a situation that’s making your dog uncomfortable, you’ll want to get her some relief by moving away — and you can also try adding something your dog loves to the equation. 

“The most effective tool here is high-value treats — something squishy and stinky that your dog really enjoys,” Willems suggested. 

Keep in mind, though, that you won’t want to give your pup a high-value treat or toy around a dog she isn’t comfortable with, to avoid sparking any possessive aggression.

Take your time — and socialize her slowly

It’s definitely worth it to put in the work with your new dog to help her get comfortable with her new life — but make sure to resist the urge to take her to tons of new places or introduce her to a bunch of new people or animals right away.

Aggressive behaviors are rooted in fear, so all the more reason to be very intentional, patient and positive in your socialization practice to help your dog learn their world with you is not a scary place!” Willems said.

Your new dog has been through so many changes — so let her decompress and get acclimated to her new home, routine and family.

All those couch snuggles will be worth it.

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I don’t know about you but I found this article very useful and very informative. Now many books have been written on the subject and the odd blogpost or twenty.

But I hope that some readers found it informative. It would be lovely to hear from you if you are one of those people.

Dogs are not disposable!

It’s even a difficult title to write for today’s story.

There are some despicable people for whom having a dog is not a loving companion nor a humane business interest. I can’t define them and, frankly, they are not even worth the mental effort required to think of a term.

That makes it all the more important to share this article with you.

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Dogs Are Not Disposable

Some people dump pets that are too old, not ‘perfect,’ or to go on vacation.

By Mary Jo DiLonardo

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Published June 11th, 2021.

Blind puppy Gertie weighs just over 2 pounds. Mary Jo DiLonardo

This may seem like a no-brainer, but with all the news from overwhelmed shelters and rescues this summer, it’s probably worth saying out loud.

Dogs are not disposable.

Disreputable breeders toss out puppies that aren’t “perfect.” Some people give up the family pet when they go on vacation so they don’t have to pay for boarding. Others give up an older puppy whose cute behaviors are now obnoxious or a senior dog who may have other health issues.

That little mouse you see at the top of the page is one of two special needs puppies I’m fostering right now. She’s actually a 2.1-pound puppy that we were told is an Aussiedoodle. I still think she might be an exotic guinea pig.

Gertie was dropped off by a breeder at a vet’s office to be euthanized because she was blind. The vet contacted a rescue instead.

I also have a deaf puppy that was given up by a breeder. Many other fosters are also doubling up because the need is so great right now. Probably the biggest reason is that it’s the summer and people are traveling for the first time again in more than a year. That means it’s hard to find adopters and it’s hard to find fosters. Everyone wants out of the house.

I’ve seen messages and social media posts from rescuer and shelter workers who say they feel helpless because the requests for help right now are so crushing.

“My rescue cannot keep up trying to save them,” one wrote.

“I’m sickened at the number of rescue and surrender requests we are getting and I am completely heartbroken,” wrote another.

“We need a lifeline,” said another rescuer.

There are some news stories that claim many pandemic puppies are being returned, but the numbers don’t back that up. Instead, it’s just a crush of other reasons, many involving summer travel.

I think the hardest thing for most loving pet owners to fathom is the idea that some people would drop off their dog at a shelter on their way out of town. There’s just anecdotal evidence and no statistics about how often it happens, but it’s cited very often from disheartened rescuers and shelter workers. 

The people who surrender their pets say they don’t want to pay for boarding and they’ll just get a new one when they return. Shelter workers say it’s heart-wrenching to hold a dog while they watch their person drive away. Some will stare out the door for hours, thinking for sure their family will return.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise us anymore which is really sad,” says Jen Schwarz, one of the directors of Speak! St. Louis, the special needs rescue I foster for. The rescuers hear the story often from shelter and humane society workers.

“They don’t want to pay for boarding or can’t find anybody to take their dog,” says Schwarz. “It’s basically being selfish.”

And people might think they’re doing their dog a favor by taking it to a shelter, hoping they’ll get adopted by someone else. But typically, if shelters have to euthanize for space, they’ll turn to owner-surrendered pets before strays because they know no one is looking for them.

“That’s the sad reality,” Schwarz says.

The other thing that happens often is people asking to have the family pet put to sleep because they’re too much hassle.

“That happens a lot. The kids are gone, they want to travel, the dog’s too much, and they have it euthanized,” Schwarz says. “That’s worse than dumping it at the shelter.”

Rescuers are saving as many as they can and that’s why I have one puppy sleeping behind me in my office and one napping in a playpen in the living room. Soon everyone will head outside for a game of tag where I’ll make sure everyone gets a chance to win.

And the only thing disposable here is an awful lot of very tiny puppy poo.

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When Jen Schwarz says: “That happens a lot. The kids are gone, they want to travel, the dog’s too much, and they have it euthanized,” I wonder what a lot is numerically. Anyone know?

The stories from the shelter workers breaks hearts here as well. Dogs are so intuitive; so smart. It is no surprise that they will stare for hours trying to work out what has happened.

Another loving dog story!

It just goes on and on!

Here’s another article by Lily Feinn about a rescue dog. Once again it was on The Dodo and once again I am republishing it.

I make no apologies for doing this as we can’t have too many stories of loving dogs in our lives. So without further ado here it is.

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Abandoned Dog Has The Best Reaction To Finding A Loving Family

He slept right in between us the first night we got him, and from then on, we knew in our hearts he was our dog.

By Lily Feinn

Published on the 1st July, 2021.

Mikayla Sengle and her boyfriend, Anthony Noto, weren’t planning on adopting a dog. But when Wylie suddenly came into their lives, it seemed meant to be.

Last month, Noto was on his way home from work when he passed by a dog park near an apartment complex. In the back of the park, a white and brown pittie sat all alone, looking confused. 

As Noto approached the dog, he noticed that he wasn’t wearing a collar and looked a bit banged up. 

“He looked lost, but at the same time, he seemed like he was on a mission to find something,” Noto told The Dodo. “When I walked over towards where my work truck was, he came up [to me] all innocent with his head down, seeing if I’d accept him.”

“Maybe I was what he was looking for,” he added.

Noto slipped a loose rope around the pup’s neck and walked him around the area trying to find his owner. But when no one recognized the dog, Noto put him in his truck and drove him home.

The pup didn’t seem to want to upset his new friends and was determined to show Sengle and Noto that he had the best manners.

“With people, he would wait for them to give the OK to lick and pay attention to people,” Sengle told The Dodo. “He seemed extremely relieved and happy. He got a bath and some treats as soon as he came home.”

“He instantly would look at my boyfriend for permission for everything,” Sengle added. “When he got home and ran in the yard, he was thrilled. It seemed like he never experienced the opportunity to be free and fun.”

The first night, Wylie slept in bed between his rescuers, as if to make sure they wouldn’t leave him. And he’d never been more comfortable and happy in his life.

Sengle posted on social media searching for the dog’s family, but when she finally received a response, it broke her heart.

“A young girl reached out to us and basically said that it was her friend’s dog and [her friend] had seen the post and said she no longer wanted him anymore because he was annoying,” Sengle said. “She even begged us not to give him back if they did reach out to us because they used to hit him and were not nice to him.”

Sengle and Noto kept Wylie for the five-day stray hold, giving the owners time to claim him. But when the week was up, there was no question that he was staying with them — forever.

Sengle and Noto thought their family was complete, but now they can’t believe that they got so lucky.

“He is a very sweet dog and a great companion,” Sengle said. “My boyfriend and him grew a bond almost instantly. He slept right in between us the first night we got him and from then on, we knew in our hearts he was our dog.”

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All photographs by Mikala Sengle.

It shows again how quickly a dog can open up the heart strings of us humans. As Single and Noto remarked above, they now can’t believe they were so lucky. It’s how we feel about our dogs. It’s how countless others feel about their many, many four-legged loved ones!

Dogs too can form perfect friendships

Dogs are such a special species!

I know this has been said before and no doubt I will say it again many times but dogs frequently bond closely with other dogs. There’s no knowing, frankly, what triggers the friendship but we humans can see it so clearly.

Take this recent article published on The Dodo about a dog and his sister.

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Dog Knows Just How To Help His Anxious Sister When She Gets Carsick

Dogs are too pure for us ❤️

By Lily Feinn

Published on the 25th June, 2021

Meet Eddy — a dog who knows exactly when his family needs a little extra help.

Ashley Karlin adopted Eddy, a black Lab, from a shelter two years ago as a companion for her senior dog, Daisy. And since that day, Eddy and Daisy have been inseparable.

“Eddy and Daisy play like siblings. They egg each other on and run around in the backyard together,” Karlin told The Dodo. “They sleep next to each other and sometimes on each other.” 

The 95-pound cuddle bug is also extremely perceptive. Eddy can sense immediately when something is off with a member of his family — and he hops into action.

Eddy uses this skill frequently when traveling with his sister. Daisy has always had car sickness and gets anxious when it’s time to go for a drive, but Eddy is a pro when it comes to soothing her.

“When she lies down in the back seat and starts to drool, Eddy lays the opposite way so he can rest his head on top of hers,” Karlin said. “If he doesn’t do this, Daisy constantly gets up, lies down, gets up, lies down on repeat until she vomits.”

“I think Eddy just has a sense of when others aren’t feeling well and he’s always there to comfort her,” Karlin added. “We’ve noticed every time they lie down together like this, she doesn’t puke and usually will fall asleep.”

Eddy also monitors his mom to make sure she’s OK and is always the first to know when there’s any change. 

“My husband and I recently found out I’m pregnant, and one of the signs that tipped us off was that Eddy constantly would put his head on my tummy,” Karlin said. “Eddy has [also] on numerous occasions woken me while sleeping to alert me that I was going hypoglycemic, even though he’s not trained to do so.”

Eddy is always there when his mom or sister needs him — and they can’t picture their lives, or car rides, without him.

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All photographs by Ashley Karlin

This is yet another example of the caring and bonding that dogs make. Make with many other dogs and many of us humans.

They are an example to all of us!

And another case of ex-rescue dogs bearing no scars!

Diet and Exercise

And of the two exercise is the most important.

Now of course the majority of people reading the title to today’s post would think of us humans. And what I am about to republish is for us. But dogs require exercise just as much as we humans. The question is whether dog’s brains are better protected with exercise?

Anyone know the answer?

Here is the post republished courtesy of The Conversation.

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The exercise pill: How exercise keeps your brain healthy and protects it against depression and anxiety.

By Arash Javanbakht, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Wayne State University, February 25th, 2021

As with many other physicians, recommending physical activity to patients was just a doctor chore for me – until a few years ago. That was because I myself was not very active. Over the years, as I picked up boxing and became more active, I got firsthand experience of positive impacts on my mind. I also started researching the effects of dance and movement therapies on trauma and anxiety in refugee children, and I learned a lot more about the neurobiology of exercise. 

I am a psychiatrist and neuroscientist researching the neurobiology of anxiety and how our interventions change the brain. I have begun to think of prescribing exercise as telling patients to take their “exercise pills.” Now knowing the importance of exercising, almost all my patients commit to some level of exercise, and I have seen how it benefits several areas of their life and livelihood. 

We all have heard details on how exercise improves musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, metabolic and other aspects of health. What you may not know is how this happens within the brain.

Brain biology and growth

Working out regularly really does change the brain biology, and it is not just “go walk and you will just feel better.” Regular exercise, especially cardio, does change the brain. Contrary to what some may think, the brain is a very plastic organ. Not only are new neuronal connections formed every day, but also new cells are generated in important areas of the brain. One key area is the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory and regulating negative emotions.

A molecule called brain-derived neurotrophic factor helps the brain produce neurons, or brain cells. A variety of aerobic and high-intensity interval training exercises significantly increase BDNF levels. There is evidence from animal research that these changes are at epigenetic level, which means these behaviors affect how genes are expressed, leading to changes in the neuronal connections and function.

Moderate exercise also seems to have anti-inflammatory effects, regulating the immune system and excessive inflammation. This is important, given the new insight neuroscience is gaining into the potential role of inflammation in anxiety and depression

Finally, there is evidence for the positive effects of exercise on the neurotransmitters – brain chemicals that send signals between neurons – dopamine and endorphins. Both of these are involved in positive mood and motivation.

Exercise improves clinical symptoms of anxiety and depression

Researchers also have examined the effects of exercise on measurable brain function and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exercise improves memory function, cognitive performance and academic achievement. Studies also suggest regular exercise has a moderate effect on depressive symptoms even comparable to psychotherapy. For anxiety disorders, this effect is mild to moderate in reducing anxiety symptoms. In a study that I conducted with others among refugee children, we found a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and PTSD among children who attended eight to 12 weeks of dance and movement therapies.

Exercise could even potentially desensitize people to physical symptoms of anxiety. That is because of the similarity between bodily effects of exercise, specifically high-intensity exercise, and those of anxiety, including shortness of breath, heart palpitation and chest tightness. Also, by reducing baseline heart rate, exercise might lead to signaling of a calmer internal physical environment to the brain. 

It is important to note that the majority of studies examined the effects of exercise in isolation and not in combination with other effective treatments of clinical anxiety and depression, such as psychotherapy and medication. For the same reason, I am not suggesting exercise as a replacement for necessary mental health care of depression or anxiety, but as part of it, and for prevention.

Two men using exercise bars outdoors.
Many people have created outdoor gyms during the pandemic. Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty ImagesCC BY-SA

There are other perks besides the neurobiological impacts of exercise. When going out for a walk, one gets more exposure to sunlight, fresh air and nature. One of my patients befriended a neighbor during her regular walks, leading to regular taco Tuesdays with that new friend. I have made some great friends at my boxing gym, who are not only my motivators, but also a great supporting social network. One might pick a dog as their running mate, and another might meet a new date, or enjoy the high energy at the gym. Exercise can also function as a mindfulness practice and a respite from common daily stressors, and from our electronic devices and TV. 

By increasing energy and fitness level, exercise can also improve self-image and self-esteem .

Practical ways for a busy life

So how can you find time to exercise, especially with all the additional time demands of the pandemic, and the limitations imposed by the pandemic such as limited access to the gyms?

  • Pick something you can love. Not all of us have to run on a treadmill (I actually hate it). What works for one person might not work for another. Try a diverse group of activities and see which one you will like more: running, walking, dancing, biking, kayaking, boxing, weights, swimming. You can even rotate between some or make seasonal changes to avoid boredom. It does not even have to be called an exercise. Whatever ups your heartbeat, even dancing with the TV ads or playing with the kids.
  • Use positive peer pressure to your advantage. I have created a group messaging for the boxing gym because at 5:30 p.m., after a busy day at the clinic, I might have trouble finding the motivation to go to the gym or do an online workout. It is easier when friends send a message they are going and motivate you. And even if you do not feel comfortable going to a gym during the pandemic, you can join an online workout together. 
  • Do not see it as all or none. It does not have to be a one-hour drive to and from the gym or biking trail for a one-hour workout vs. staying on the couch. I always say to my patients: “One more step is better than none, and three squats are better than no squats.” When less motivated, or in the beginning, just be nice to yourself. Do as much as possible. Three minutes of dancing with your favorite music still counts.
  • Merge it with other activities: 15 minutes of walking while on the phone with a friend, even around the house, is still being active.
  • When hesitant or low on motivation, ask yourself: “When was the last time I regretted doing it?”
  • Although it can help, exercise is not the ultimate weight loss strategy; diet is. One large brownie might be more calories than one hour of running. Don’t give up on exercise if you are not losing weight. It is still providing all the benefits we discussed.

Even if you do not feel anxious or depressed, still take the exercise pills. Use them for protecting your brain.

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This is a very good post. Arash Javanbakht is a scientist of the first order and we all should do as she advises. I’m going to close today’s post by republish the first two paragraphs of his bio that is also published by The Conversation:

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Wayne State University Arash Javanbakht, M.D., is the director of the Stress, Trauma, and Anxiety Research Clinic (STARC; https://www.starclab.org) at Wayne State University. Dr Javanbakht and her work have been featured on the National Geographic, The Atlantic, CNN, Aljazeera, NPR, Washington Post, Smithsonian, PBS, American Psychiatric Association, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and tens of other media.

Her clinical and research work is mainly focused on anxiety and trauma related disorders, and PTSD. She often helps civilians and first responders with PTSD. Her clinic utilizes pharmacotherapy (medication), psychotherapy, exercise, and lifestyle modification to help patients achieve their full capacity for a fulfilling life.