Dealing with painful losses

The other side of the life-saving bond coin!

Yesterday, I shared an article about what flowed from the bond between ex-shelter dogs and special needs children. It underlined what so many dog lovers instinctively understand: The magic that flows from the relationship of a dog to a person, disadvantaged or otherwise.

However, or perhaps better said inevitably, the obverse face of that life-saving bond practically guarantees that the loss of that bond results in huge stress and emotional turmoil for the dog.

In other words helping our beloved dog cope with the loss of a family member is something else that we can be helped with by others.

That leads me neatly on to a comment left by ‘Small Talk’ to my Putting A Smile On Your Dog’s Face post last week.

Very good article…check out this article I wrote about dog depression… cheers!

I liked the article and asked for permission to share it with you here. That permission was promptly given.


Helping Your Dog Adjust To Loss or Separation

by Jennifer Hinders
Whether it’s a death in the family, a child leaving home, or a divorce, your dog will notice that one of his “pack” members is missing. Learn to help him deal with his grief.

Grief has many forms, and can arise from many situations besides the death of a loved one. A relationship breakup, a child leaving home, even a prolonged business trip or hospital stay are all examples of family changes that can cause feelings of loss and grief in those remaining at home. That grief can be felt even more keenly by your dog, who doesn’t understand where the missing person is and when or even if s/he will be back.

My own dog became extremely sad when my husband left for an extended trip. Every time I sat down, he jumped in my lap (no small task since he weighs 50 pounds), lay his head on my arm and sighed pathetically. He poked around the house with his head drooping like a deflated balloon.

I asked veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman about my dog’s behavior. “Dogs can get into a funk or lose interest in life because of separation,” he told me, adding that even short absences can cause changes in behavior. “For instance, if a man goes out to play a game of golf for five hours, the dog will feel temporary loss, but will be relieved when the owner returns.

“With long term separation or loss, dogs suffer bereavement and get depressed, not unlike humans,” Dr. Dodman adds. “Dogs have a difficult time adjusting to an owner or family member being removed from the household. This is especially the case if the person is someone to whom the dog is close — for example, a dog sleeps in someone’s room and then suddenly that person is out of the picture. The dog can’t understand why that person has disappeared.” 

Symptoms of bereavement or loss

Here are some common symptoms that indicate your dog is grieving over a separation or loss:

  • He seems down and depressed.
  • He has lost interest in things he formerly liked to do.
  • He’s listless, not playing with toys.
  • His appetite changes – typically, a grieving dog eats less and may lose weight.
  • He shows signs of anxiety.
  • His energy seems low when he’s out for walks.

In extreme cases, bereavement can cause compulsive behaviors like incessant licking.

How to cheer him up

Many separations and losses in life are inevitable, which means you have to help your dog adjust to the absence of the missing family member. If you’re also grieving, it might be easy to overlook your dog’s feelings; but one of the best ways to help both of you is to try and find ways to make life happy and interesting again.

  1. Act in an upbeat way around your dog; sympathy will actually make his depression worse because he’ll pick up on your own emotions. Dog behaviorist Bill Campbell calls this the “Jolly Routine”: when you act happy or jolly, it helps lift the dog’s mood. An old proverb states that “a cheerful heart is good medicine”. Being upbeat, fun and positive is good medicine for your dog (and for you).
  2. Give your dog lots of attention — treats, new toys, extra walks or play sessions. Throw a ball. Let him play with other dogs. Consider getting him a new friend in the form of a puppy, if circumstances allow. When you go back to work after the loss or separation, don’t leave your dog at home alone. If your workplace allows, take him with you, or have him stay with a friend or family member he knows well.

The good news is that your dog’s grief will ease over time. He may feel low for a few weeks, but it’s generally temporary. As his owner, being aware of his suffering and taking the necessary actions to help him through it will speed his (and your) recovery and adjustment. 

Losing a dog buddy is also hard on him

Dogs don’t just grieve when people in their lives die or go away. It’s also common for a dog to grieve over the loss of another dog he was closely bonded with. Dogs in the same household may play together, sleep together, operate as a pack, so the loss of one has a deep impact on the other.

Here’s one dramatic example involving two dogs in the same home. The older dog became terminally ill and needed to be put to sleep. The owner arranged for his healthy dog to go for a long run while the other was euthanized. Back home, the owner buried the older dog in the garden, covering the grave completely so it was basically indistinguishable from the surrounding area.

When the healthy dog was brought back from his outing, he ran around the house looking for his buddy, then begged to go outside. He immediately went to his friend’s grave and lay on it for three days.


A few words of reflection from me following Jennifer Hinders useful article.

Death is inevitable. For both our beloved pets and, for that pet, their beloved humans. As they say about death and taxes!

But for that pet the loss of their beloved human can come about for other reasons apart from death.

Yet in the midst of say a divorce, or a loved young person leaving home to make their own life, it must be all too easy for people to lose the focus on what that means for the family pet, especially the family dog.

Stay connected good people!

Bonding that saves lives!

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

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

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

So why this switch from dogs to disadvantaged young people?

Read on:


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

By: Vera Lawlor June 9, 2017

About Vera Follow Vera at @vtlawlor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The view from across the pond!

The power of unanticipated outcomes.

I am referring to the result of the British election that was held last Thursday.

Now I am well aware that many readers will not have the same relationship with the outcomes of British elections as your faithful scribe. But I am also aware that we live in a very connected world. I am also acutely aware that for many, many years I was a devoted listener to the 15-minute weekly radio broadcast on the BBC by Alistair Cooke Letter from America.

So for me, and many others I don’t doubt, the views of America as to what goes on across the pond are just as fascinating today as they have always been.

But in the absence of dear Mr. Cooke (20 November 1908 – 30 March 2004) passing on his experienced assessment on what the outcomes of British elections mean for America then I turn to a recent item on The Conversation site and republished here within the terms of that site.


How populism explains May’s stunning UK election upset: Experts react

June 9, 2017 6.04am EDT

Editor’s note: U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s election gamble failed badly as her Conservatives lost 12 seats, leaving them with 318, shy of a majority. It was a stunning loss for a party earlier projected to gain dozens of seats. Without a majority, the Conservatives will have to rely on another party to govern – known as a hung Parliament. If they’re unable to forge a coalition, rival Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – whose party gained 31 seats – would be able to give it a go. We asked two experts to offer their insights on what Americans should make of the election and its results.

May had a bad night and may face a struggle over her party’s leadership

Tories’ growing populism begets a power struggle

Charles Hankla, George State University

The results of this election show how similar, and yet how different, British politics are from what is happening in America.

As in the United States, there has been an explosion of populism in Britain, most recently evidenced by the Brexit referendum. This new political force is translating into less liberal policies from the major parties.

In continental Europe, the new populism is mostly embodied by the resurgent far right. But in Britain, as in America, it is being filtered through the existing two-party system – though the U.K.‘s smaller parties do complicate the electoral map.

To accommodate the political winds, May and her Conservatives decided to shift their electoral strategy away from Margaret Thatcher’s pro-market economic approach toward a greater focus on immigration, security and economic nationalism.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, for his part, deserted the more centrist “New Labour” ideas of Tony Blair in favor of a more robust form of social democracy.

The American left, like its British counterpart, has also become increasingly skeptical of unbridled markets. But among Republicans, a traditional hostility to “big government” makes pro-worker redistributive policies, some of which the Tories have adopted to win votes, hard to stomach. For this reason, populism on the American right has mostly taken the form of protectionist and anti-immigrant policies, as embodied by Donald Trump.

Yesterday’s results were devastating for May and indicate that the Conservatives were ultimately unable to balance their new populist message with their traditional support for neo-liberal policies.

Corbyn, for his part, will use this unexpected victory (of sorts) to solidify his hold over the Labour Party and to move it further to the left.

It remains to be seen whether the election will result in a minority or a coalition government, or whether the parties will be well and truly deadlocked. Whatever happens, the British electorate, like its cousin across the pond, has shown itself to be highly polarized.

Still, at a minimum, Britain’s parliamentary structure, along with the ability of the Labour leadership to co-opt disillusioned voters, seems to have spared Britain the fate of America – the takeover of government by a populist insurgent.

Corbyn and his Labour Party had reasons to smile on election night. AP Photo/Frank Augstein

For US companies, it’s business as usual

Terrence Guay, Pennsylvania State University

So now that we know the results, what are the implications for U.S. business interests in the U.K., America’s seventh-biggest trading partner?

May took a calculated political risk and lost. While the market reaction has been severe, with the pound plunging, it’s nothing new to companies, which take calculated risks like that every day – some pay off and some do not.

So first of all, U.S. corporate executives will need to take a deep breath. Assuming a combination of other parties do not cobble together at least 322 seats – despite winning seven seats, Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein will not send MPs to London – the Conservatives will dominate a coalition government and have considerable sway over policy.

This means a “hard Brexit,” as outlined by May in January, and as seen in the European Union’s tough negotiating guidelines, is unlikely to change. But this is what most U.S. companies have been planning for anyway since last June’s Brexit vote. Many companies, particularly banks and financial institutions, are already planning to move some of their U.K. operations to other EU countries to take advantage of the single market rules.

This process will continue no matter who’s in power, since only the low-polling Liberal Democrat and Green parties promised a Brexit revote.

Second, a weakened Conservative Party will need more foreign friends, and that includes U.S. companies. Since Brexit, some foreign businesses have threatened to downsize or close their U.K. operations as leverage for obtaining government subsidies. Expect more companies to use this strategy with a weaker U.K. government.

As I argue in my recent book, the business environment of Europe is much more than the U.K. market, and U.S. companies have become increasingly aware of this since Brexit.

In other words, it’s business as usual, and that means the continued segmenting of companies’ U.K. and EU strategies, regardless of who is governing in London.


Expect things to continue to be interesting for some time. Or as more eloquently put by Tariq Ramadan “Times have changed; so must the lenses through which we see the political future.”

Back to Alistair Cooke. There are many of his broadcasts available on the BBC Radio website and on YouTube.

I’m closing with just a small part of Charlie Rose interviewing Alistair Cooke in May, 1996.

Uploaded on Sep 25, 2011

Tuesday, May 7, 1996
Charlie Rose: An interview with Alistair Cooke
Alistair Cooke celebrates the 50 year anniversary of his BBC broadcast, “Letter from America”, a 15-minute talk about life in America for British listeners.

Recorded some twenty-one years ago. Somethings don’t seem to change!

Easy does it!

Staying relaxed is so much better for us …..

…… and our dogs!

After almost twenty-four hours of very unreliable internet service from our provider, Outreach Internet, it was a relief to be back on line, albeit with some uncertainty as to whether we will stay ‘connected’.

So it was a treat when I was pondering on what to share with you good people to see an item published two days ago by Care 2 about the power of relaxation. Not just for us two-legged creatures but for our dogs as well.

It’s a great article.


8 Natural Relaxation Techniques for Your Dog

By: Zoe Blarowski June 7, 2017

About Zoe

If your dog is acting out and having behavior problems, your first response might be to blame them and consider punishment. But poor behavior can often be a sign your pooch is feeling stressed or anxious about something.

Check with your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes first. Otherwise, your pet’s stress could be for many reasons, such as a change in your schedule, a move or noise pollution from a busy street nearby.

You might not be able to determine exactly what’s bothering them, but including more relaxation techniques throughout your day will go a long way towards helping your puppy relieve tension and get back on track.

1. Music

Classical music is shown to help calm canine moods. A study by the Scottish SPCA and the University of Glasgow played a variety of classical music to dogs in the SPCA’s kennels for one week. The music lowered the dogs’ heart rates and reduced stress-related behavior like standing and barking.

The researchers continued their investigation and found that dogs responded even better to reggae and soft rock. The Scottish SPCA now plans to install sound systems throughout their kennels to play Bob Marley and Jon Bon Jovi to their furry residents.

In addition, the musician Alianna Boone found that playing harp music to dogs at a Florida veterinary clinic lowered their anxiety.

2. Pheromones

You can buy various products that contain what are known as dog-appeasing pheromones. These are synthetic versions of the hormone nursing mothers make to calm their puppies. Dog-appeasing pheromones have been shown to calm dogs in many stressful situations, such as kenneling, veterinary visits, car travel, human separation and the introduction of puppies into a home.

3. Laughter

Many dog owners feel their animal friends can laugh when they’re having fun. But science has been slow to agree. Researchers put this to the test at a Spokane kennel, where they played recordings of what’s been identified as dog laughter to the other dogs.

Staff at the kennel were surprised how dramatically the dogs quieted and calmed down when listening to the laughter. Many workers have since learned how to imitate a dog’s laugh themselves. They find it really helps to settle anxious or agitated animals.

Curious what doggie laughter sounds like? Check out this video:

4. Exercise

Keeping your dog active is not only important for their health, it’s also known to prevent bad behavior that can result from boredom. Aim for 30-180 minutes of daily exercise. The Bark has a good breakdown of how much exercise is recommended for your particular dog’s breed. Also take your dog’s age, health and general temperament into account when planning their activities.

Whatever you do, make sure it’s something you and your dog both enjoy. Active play is a great time to bond with your puppy. Try throwing a ball or stick, have them run next to your bicycle, take them for a swim or go for a relaxing walk.

5. Mental Challenge

This is another great way to prevent boredom and acting out. Get creative with ways to engage your dog in thoughtful play. Take them to new places. Introduce them to new people and other pets. Get them a new toy, or simply keep your current toys on a rotation so your pooch doesn’t get bored with the same ones day after day.

You can also have lots of fun with food. Try hiding treats around your yard or home. Or buy a puzzle toy that has spaces to hide food inside. Another option is to enroll your dog in a training class. Professional dog trainers will give you plenty of ideas for tricks and different games you can teach your pet.

6. Massage

A large body of research has proven the benefits of massage for people, including pain and stress reduction, improving circulation, promoting flexibility and eliminating toxins. Very limited research has been done for animals, but it’s logical they would have similar benefits.

Giving your dog a massage is also an excellent way to spend some intimate time together and show them you care. To get started, Modern Dog Magazine has a helpful overview of how to massage your dog.

7. Lavender Essential Oil

Studies have shown that lavender essential oil can lower a dog’s heart rate and trigger a calming response in their nervous system. It’s also been found to help calm dogs with a history of travel anxiety before a car ride.

The best way to expose your dog to lavender oil is to drop some on their mat, blanket or other sleeping surface. Do not apply oil directly on their fur because it can be toxic if ingested.

8. Grooming

A nice brushing in the evening can be just the thing to help your pooch wind down for the day. It’s also a good chance for you to do a quick inspection for ticks, fleas or skin conditions that might be bothering them.

But for some dogs, grooming will only cause more anxiety and stress. If this is the case for your puppy, maybe try some extra snuggling, petting or other attention they enjoy.


Strikes me that if there is ever another life, I might vote to come back as a dog!

P.S. When I was reading this post out to Jeannie yesterday evening, as I do with all posts, when that short video was played quite a few of the dogs, there were five in the same room, got very excited by the ‘laughing’!

Returning to animal communication skills.

As in how a primate chooses to communicate with humans.

In recent times there have been a couple of posts in this place about the science of communication between dogs and humans.

What about other animals?

What about a gorilla?

If you drop across to the YouTube site and search for Koko the Talking Gorilla you will be astounded by how many videos are to be seen.

Try this one:

A very moving account from Robin Williams.

If we then want more background information on this remarkable animal, Wikipedia is there to oblige (in part):

Hanabiko “Koko” (born July 4, 1971) is a female western lowland gorilla who is known for having learned a large number of hand signs from a modified version of American Sign Language (ASL).

Her instructor and caregiver, animal psychologist Francine “Penny” Patterson, reports that Koko is able to understand more than 1,000 signs of what Patterson calls “Gorilla Sign Language” (GSL).[2] In contrast to other experiments attempting to teach sign language to non-human primates, Patterson simultaneously exposed Koko to spoken English from an early age. Reports state that Koko understands approximately 2,000 words of spoken English, in addition to the signs.[3] Koko’s life and learning process has been described by Patterson and some of her collaborators in a number of books, peer reviewed articles, and on a website.

Then, naturally, Koko has her own website, The Gorilla Foundation, where one can watch more videos, enjoy photographs and even drop in to Koko’s very one blog site!

Time for another video from YouTube.

Published on Oct 13, 2015

Koko got her birthday wish this July 4th — not only did one kitten come to visit, but a whole litter. Koko fell in love with one, and the other fell in love with her. Koko has adopted these two kittens into her family, and it has energized her world.
Not only have Koko’s maternal and play instincts kicked in, but she is signing more to her caregivers and generating new content everyday that can be used by The Gorilla Foundation to create empathy for great apes. This can have significant benefits to both endangered free-living great apes and those in captive environments, by encouraging the development of 2-way communication with their caregivers (which Koko has had since she was a baby).
The Gorilla Foundation is now working on a multimedia sequel to the classic book, “Koko’s Kitten,” which has already reached millions of children worldwide, and has the power to motivate millions more to learn how to make the world a better place for all of its conscious inhabitants.
You can support The Gorilla Foundation mission of Conservation through Communication by visiting

Thank you!

Will close with this photograph seen ‘on the web’.

Graduate student Penny Paterson with a young Koko on her back not long after they met in 1971 in San Francisco. (The Daily Mail newspaper 2nd June, 2016.)

The science of love.

Yes, really!

Here’s a photograph of Pharaoh taken on the 3rd December, 2005. Taken in my home in Harberton, Devon, some two years before I met Jeannie.

It’s not the world’s best photograph but I start today’s post with it simply because there is a look in Pharaoh’s eyes that spells out love to me in capital letters. Always has since the day I took that photograph.

Here’s an enlargement of the photo offering a closer look at Pharaoh’s expression in those eyes.

Right from the very first moment that I held Pharaoh I sensed the start of a loving bond. Did I choose to love Pharaoh? Well, of course I did! Was it a conscious decision? I don’t think so!

All of which is my introduction to a fascinating essay about the science of love that recently appeared on the Care2 site.



Can You Choose to Love? Science Suggests You Can

By: Zoe Blarowski June 2, 2017

About Zoe

Love may often feel spontaneous and sometimes even out of control. But is it, really? Research is starting to show that you can change the intensity of love you feel towards others. Similar to emotions like fear or sadness, love can be influenced simply by how you think about a situation.

Is love under your control?

One study looked at altering love feelings in people who were either in a romantic relationship or had recently broken up from one. Each participant started by viewing pictures of their current lover or their ex-partner to bring up their current feelings towards them.

Then, researchers asked them to think about positive aspects of their partner, relationship or possible future scenarios. Their feelings towards their current or previous partners were assessed again.

The second part of the study asked participants to think of negative things about their partner, such as what’s wrong with them or their relationship.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that participants reported having greater love feelings after thinking positive thoughts. Whereas, they reported decreased lovingness after the negative thoughts. It was the same for everyone, whether they were in a relationship or had recently broken up.

Researchers felt this shows great potential for people to take more control of their emotional world, which could in turn benefit their lives and relationships.

Interestingly, thoughts also appeared to affect everyone’s overall mood and feelings about life in general. The positive thoughts improved people’s mood and disposition, whereas the negative thoughts brought everyone down.

This may highlight the importance of how positive and negative thoughts in general can affect our mental health.

How can you put this to use?

You can likely think of times in your own life when it would be helpful to either decrease or increase your love for another person.

Have you ever had an unwanted crush on someone? For instance, obsessing over a celebrity you’ll likely never meet can cause more frustration than joy in your life. Or maybe you’ve fallen for someone who’s not available, either physically or emotionally.

These are times when it’s in your best interest to end your attachment to the person and move on.

In addition, research has shown that thinking negatively about an ex-partner or your previous relationship helps you get over a break-up. The reverse is also true – if you think positively about an ex, it’s more difficult to heal and move on.

Keep this in mind if you’re going through a break-up, or need to reduce your feelings towards someone for another reason.

Try asking yourself questions like these:

  • What annoys me about this person?
  • Did we ever have a fight?
  • Why were we a bad match for each other?
  • What didn’t work in our relationship?
  • What could go wrong if we stayed together?

Reframing your thoughts is also a much healthier way to try to get over someone than taking self-destructive action to distract yourself, such as drinking too much.

On the other hand, the world always needs a lot more love to go around. Increasing your love towards others is often one of the best things you can do to help yourself and everyone in your life.

Unfortunately, the top reason married couples give for getting a divorce is growing apart and falling out of love. It’s true the intensity of love feelings usually fluctuates throughout a long-term relationship, but a decrease in feelings doesn’t have to mean the end.

If you’re starting to question whether or not you should stay in a long-standing relationship, take a closer look at your situation before making a final decision. Do you still respect and care for your partner? Do you still have lots in common? Is it possible you’re just in a temporary slump?

Questions like these may help to re-frame how you feel about your relationship:

  • What are some of your partner’s best qualities?
  • Why did you get together in the first place?
  • Are there things you’d like to do with your partner in the future?
  • What makes you a good match for each other?
  • Do you enjoy spending time with your partner?

Romantic partners who view each other in a positive light have been shown to actually have happier relationships. This is likely true for all relationships. Choosing more positive thoughts can go a long way towards creating greater harmony with all your loved ones.

Sharing your thoughts and telling others why you love them is even better.


As my dearest Jeannie will confirm, I have never been the most comfortable person in terms of verbalising my love for her, despite Jean being the dream loving partnership of my life. Jean, on the other hand, expresses her love for me many times each day.

Maybe this essay offers an insight into the different ways we love?

For Jean also tells the dogs individually many times each day that she loves them. I feel the same but don’t say it anything like as often.

So is science showing us why the difference between Jean and me? I think so.

Yet another thing that we learn from dogs. Or more specifically that I have to learn from dogs!

Tell them every day how much I love them!

Choosing a pet-sitter.

A guest post from Sloan McKinney.


Funny how things work.

The reason I start today’s post in such a fashion is that Jean and I have been mulling over how we might consider doing some traveling once we are down to six dogs. Indeed, to that end, just last week we met Jana Stewart, a local woman who came highly recommended and who has been in the pet industry for over 30 years.

The serendipitous aspect is that quite recently I received an email from a Sloan McKinney. This is part of what she wrote:

My name is Sloan McKinney and I am freelance writer and journalist and pet enthusiast. I just wanted to say that Learning from Dogs offers great information and advice about pet care issues.

I did happen to notice that you don’t have much information about pets and sitters, which I believe your readers would love to know more about, especially with many people having to leave their pets at home for travel or work.

Since your website contains relevant issues, I was wondering if you would be interested in sharing an infographic about choosing the right sitter for your pet.

More research quickly found Sloan’s background details:

Sloan McKinney is a journalist based in Southern California. After writing about pop culture for a number of years, she has recently begun writing for a new audience. Inspired by DeAnthony, her cat, as well as her dog Max, Sloan now hopes to help other pet owners guarantee their animal companions happy and healthy lives.

I replied that I would be delighted to receive Sloan’s guest post and her accompanying infographic. Here it is:


How to Choose A Professional Pet Sitter and Why It’s Important

by Sloan McKinney. 1st June, 2017.
If you live with a four-legged friend, you sure understand how nervous and stressful it can be to leave it at home alone for a couple of days.

However, so wags the world that we sometimes have to travel, and oftentimes it is impossible to bring our pets with us. When such a situation occurs, you find yourself in an ethical dilemma. You have to choose between an expensive pet hotel or a friend who’ll be coming to your place once per day to feed your ball of fluff. While the first option is not cost-efficient, the second one might put you into uncomfortable situation when you have to ask your friend or relative to spend time on something that is your responsibility. What a hard choice to make, huh?

But the good news is that there is a great alternative in between the two options described above. This option won’t make you drain your purse, not it will make you feel shy and uncomfortable. Wonder what is it? Pet sitter is the answer. Yes, you will have to pay some money, but the price will be reasonable. No, you won’t have to put pressure on your friends or family members. And the best part is that professional pet sitters know how to make friends with virtually any pet. After all, it’s their job, right?

If you need more reasons to get convinced that pet sitters are the best solution, here is the list of benefits. To begin with, professional pet sitters guarantee regular visits and care. Apart from it, they can get on the right side of even the most demanding pet (of course, it might be still hard even for professional pet sitters to tame a squirrel or raccoon living in your attic). What’s more, they will assure an easier separation for both you and your four-legged friend.

Still not sure it’s a good idea to hire a pet sitter for your favorite ball of fluff? Then you absolutely need to see this beautiful infographic:


Don’t know about you but Jean and I found that a very useful aide-memoir.

How did you find Sloan’s guest article? I would love to have your feedback.

Picture Parade One Hundred and Ninety-Eight

In celebration of Pharaoh’s 14th birthday yesterday.

(Long-term followers of this place will have seen many of these photos before.)

Just being a dog!


Luckily the training paid off! Pharaoh was fabulous around sheep!


Pharaoh riding the back of the Piper Super Cub


Pharaoh enjoying Bummer Creek.


On board the Dart Valley Steam Railway stopped at Buckfastleigh Station.


Pharaoh, relaxing in a Devon garden.


First meeting between Pharaoh and Cleo; April 7th, 2012.


Pharaoh with little Poppy, a stray found on a Mexican building site


Hi Pedy, I’m the bossman around here. Name’s Pharaoh and you’ll be OK.


Taken on the afternoon of Pharaoh’s birthday, June 3rd 2017.


The face of a King of dogs!

Happy Birthday dear Pharaoh

Beloved Pharaoh was born this day in 2003

I’m just going to share a few photos today and then devote tomorrow’s Picture Parade to other photographs of this wonderful, noble, indomitable friend.

The first day that Pharaoh was passed across to me. Devon, June 2003.


Puppy Pharaoh settling in to his new home.


Grand old man of 14!

Happy Birthday, Pharaoh, with fondest love from Jeannie and me and so, so many others who have known you directly and via the pages of this blog!