Just a few weeks ago new neighbours moved in to the property that adjoins us to the South.
They are Mike and Hannah Mills and they have three children; Hunter, Scarlet and Clover. Hunter is the eldest and he will be 9 on May 27th. When we went across to meet them I very quickly learnt that Hunter is a budding writer. Just as quickly I offered to publish a story from him in this place.
He used the following picture as a writing prompt.
Here is his story!
A Big Dog
By: Hunter Mills, May 2020.
It was a cloudy morning.
A man was walking on the street and all of a sudden a big, big, big, big dog appeared out of the clouds.
The man was so cold, but he had to run! He ran fast, so he had to stop and rest and he stopped to rest, and hid. He got a little breath but the dog had a super good nose so he sniffed out the man and he had to run away again.
The dog was so fast it caught up to the man and it only licked him! The dog licked him again and the man ran away to a nearby building.
The man thought the dog was mean, but it was just trying to snuggle the man.
He went to the dog store and bought some dog treats and a big, big, big, big leash for the dog. He bought a new house so the dog could fit in the house.
So the next time a big, big, big, big dog starts to run after you, you should see if he wants to eat you or snuggle you.
If he lays down next to you, keep him. If not, run for your life!!
I have not changed a single word of Hunter’s story. All I have done is to alter the formatting so that it is easier on the eye.
This is Hunter with his two dogs Soldier and Hank.
Hunter is already a good writer and it’s a delightful work of fiction.
Hopefully, this is the first of many that I may have the privilege of publishing!
May I ask a favour? That is that if you ‘Like’ this post you also say so in a comment. For I am sure Hunter will be along to see what you all thought of his creative juices! Thank you.
Way back in 1978 I started a company called Dataview. It was based in Colchester, Essex and I sold Commodore Computers; the ‘PET”, standing for Personal Electronic Transactor.
Now I was a word-processing salesman for IBM previously and didn’t know a thing about computers. I operated out of a small shop at first in Church Street and people came into the shop and played around with my demonstration models. Unbelievably I sold some!
Later I got involved with a software program known as Wordcraft. The first comprehensive word processing program for the PET. Indeed, I had the exclusive world distribution rights to Wordcraft. One thing lead to another and soon I was operating from much larger premises down at Portreeves House at East Bay, still in Colchester.
I appointed a Head of Marketing, Amit Roy, and the company grew and grew. I focused on appointing distributors across the world, and that included Dan Gomez in southern California, and he became a close friend being my best man when Jeannie and I were married in 2010.
Anyway, back to the story of Dataview. Eventually I sold out and escaped the country (and taxes) by moving to a yacht in the Greek side of Cyprus before April 15th. I went to Larnaca Marina. That was in 1986.
On Sunday, through a link from a mutual friend, I called Amit, the first time we had spoken since 1986. We had the most delightful of telephone conversations.
Amit was born in Burma, he is now 79, and lost his wife some 13 years ago. The counsellor who saw Amit after the death of his very dear wife said that he had to be strong and to take up something he could become passionate about. Amit joined the Colchester Photographic Society and took up studying again, in photography, and became a very good photographer.
With Amit’s permission I share some of his photographs with you.
These are just a few but they are superb; absolutely marvellous.
That is the most welcome of connections – thanks to Roger Davis for suggesting it!
Dry Skin Dogs: Three Steps You Can Easily Do Right Now At Home
I am delighted that Roger Brooks’ submission of guest posts is becoming a regular feature.
Here is his latest.
Dry Skin Dogs: Three Steps You Can Easily Do Right Now At Home
By Roger Brooks,
4th May, 2020
An itchy dog with dry, flaky skin is worrisome for you and your dog alike. There could be several potential causes for your dog’s skin-related ailment – ranging from seasonal allergies to more severe disorders. In the latter case, you are highly recommended to rush to a vet and get some over-the-counter medication, as such conditions may soon become an incurable medical disorder. The seasonal allergies, cracked skin, redness, dandruff, or scaling may be treated at home by adopting few dietary changes or incorporating dog supplements for dry skin in its regular diet.
Read on to find our three at-home and easy to follow steps to provide natural and instant relief to your dry skin dog!
1. Chamomile Oil and Green Tea Bath
Owing to their age-old healing properties, chamomile oil, and green tea provide immediate relief to the itchy patches on your dog’s skin.
All you are to do is fill a big plastic tub or sink with 10 liters of lukewarm water and put 5-6 caddies of green tea into it. Let them sit well and dissolve their juices into water. It will take 4-5 minutes. Squeeze the tea bags well and take them out of water. Then add a teaspoon of chamomile oil. After mixing it gently with warm water, let your dog lay in and enjoy its soothing hot bath for about 10 minutes.
Alternatively, for relatively small-sized patches, you may choose to prepare this liquid in a glass by one or two green tea bags in warm water. Or preferably boil the tea bags in water for about one minute. Let it cool. Now, you may choose to rinse or spray this water on to your dog’s skin or dip a sponge into this balmy water and apply this water on to any visible redness, rashes on your dog’s skin. You will notice that your dog feels instantly relieved after it.
2. Adding Supplements to Diet
Multiple pieces of research back the fact that whatever your dog eats directly affects its skin. It means dry skin symbolizes that something essential is missing in the diet. Therefore, it is always useful to add coconut and fish oils like omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s homemade diet. You will find that by feeding your dog with these oils in moderate quantity cures dry skin more quickly as compared to massaging with the same oils.
You might be thinking that the dog food you bought from the market already has omega-3 fatty acids in it. But let me tell you that those processed foods carry a few of these acids in them, which is not enough to resolve the skin issue of your pooch. The reason for this low amount of omega-3 acids in the commercial diet is that they are quite expensive, and the commercial sellers add omega-6 fatty acids instead, which do not cure dry skin. Therefore, it is always wise to add fresh salmon or sardines to your dog’s regular diet. But remember, use them in moderation as excess may lead to diarrhea.
While most of the skin-related issues of your dog will be solved by adding Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, a few hardcore allergies might require vitamin E, yogurt, or coconut oil, as all of them combat well against skin issues. Yogurt being a natural moisturizer keeps your dog’s skin moist. An additional benefit of adding a little yogurt in your dog’s diet is that it keeps its stomach safe from bacteria and doesn’t cause digestion issues.
Coconut oil and vitamin E possess a high level of antioxidants. Since science says, free radicals cause much of the damage to your dog’s skin. The right amount of coconut oil and vitamin E helps release free radicals and keep your dog’s coat smooth and moist.
3. Set-up a Humidifier
This can also help a great deal in curing your canines’ dry skin and keeping them moist and fresh.
What happens in the chilly cold is that you start keeping your dog mostly indoors to keep it warm. Unfortunately, this makes an entirely feasible condition for your dog’s dry skin as the centrally heated system of your home interior sucks all the moisture away, leaving a sterile environment that makes your dog more vulnerable to skin ailments. This is why outdoor dogs are less prone to skin issues.
Statistics, however, prove there is no significant relation between winter and dried dog skin. Therefore, the fact is established that irrespective of weather and dog breed, skin issues persist in millions of dogs because they are naturally more sensitive.
Setting a humidifier for your dog throughout the year can lessen its trouble with skin by keeping the environment moist and fresh.
In all, let’s not forget that a humidifier alone can do no good to your dog’s dried skin, it should be combined with a nutritious homemade diet, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, yogurt and other oils as that is fundamental to get fresh and dandruff free skin of your dog.
John writes with an authority that comes from knowing his topic.
How many others found this post to be of help or of great value.
In the last twenty-four hours I was in communication with a person in Essex, England about dog training (and hopefully there will be a guest post from him) and it caused me to think of Angela Stockdale.
I then did a search on my blog for posts where I had mentioned Angela and came across quite a few in the early days of blogging. Then I thought it would be nice to republish one of them; Four Years Old.
So here it is again.
How time flies!
Four years ago this day, the first post was published on Learning from Dogs. Here it is again:
Parenting lessons from Dogs!
Much too late to make me realise the inadequacies of my own parenting skills, I learnt an important lesson when training my GSD (who is called Pharaoh, by the way). That is that putting more emphasis into praise and reward for getting it right ‘trains’ the dog much quicker than telling it off. The classic example is scolding a dog for running off when it should be lots of hugs and praise for returning home. The scolding simply teaches the dog that returning home isn’t pleasant whereas praise reinforces that home is the place to be. Like so many things in life, very obvious once understood!
Absolutely certain that it works with youngsters just the same way.
Despite being a very dominant dog, Pharaoh showed his teaching ability when working with other dogs. In the UK there is an amazing woman, Angela Stockdale, who has proved that dogs (and horses) learn most effectively when being taught by other dogs (and horses). Pharaoh was revealed to be a Beta Dog, (i.e. second in status below the Alpha Dog) and, therefore, was able to use his natural pack instinct to teach puppy dogs their social skills and to break up squabbles within a pack.
When you think about it, don’t kids learn much more (often to our chagrin!) from other kids than they do from their parents. Still focusing on giving more praise than punishment seems like a much more effective strategy.
As was read somewhere, Catch them in the act of doing Right!
By Paul Handover.
As it happens, it feels a little like ‘what goes around, comes around’. Why do I say that?
Because just last Saturday, I sent off a selection of pictures and videos to Angela Stockdale. Stay with me for a while as to the reason why.
Angela trades under the name of The Dog Partnership and, frankly, what she doesn’t know about the behaviour of dogs isn’t worth bothering about!
Just take a peek at the page on her website under the heading of Teaching Dogs. Here’s a little of what Angela writes:
I consider myself so lucky for dogs alone to have been my teachers. I learnt from watching how my own dogs responded to another dog’s body language and vice versa their language. Watching, learning and working with Teaching Dogs was the only way I knew.
I was and always will be in awe of a Teaching Dog’s dogs ability to consciously adapt their body language in accordance to how the other dog was feeling. The result being, they could relax nervous dogs but at the same time maintain control of a problem situation. Remember, dogs talk dog far better than we do.
It came as quite a shock to me when I learnt about other approaches. It seemed foreign for people to have so much input in resolving what were described as ‘ behavioural’ issues. For me, working with these dogs was far more than resolving a behavioural issue. It was about improving the quality of lives of dogs who were not coping with everyday life. If they found dogs or people worrying, sometimes this was shown in displays of aggression. It is important to understand, these dogs were not aggressive, they simply displayed aggressive behaviour.
Now, I would like to introduce you to the world of Teaching Dogs and how these special dogs change the lives of less fortunate dogs, who never had the opportunity to really understand how to communicate with their own species.
Back to why those photographs and videos had been sent to Angela. A couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed an evening meal with friends of friends, so to speak. This other couple owned a beautiful-looking male German Shepherd dog: Duke. Duke was 4-years-old. Our hostess remarked that he was very boisterous and had nipped a couple of strangers who had called at the house. She added that he seemed difficult to control. Duke had been there for about a month and he was a rescue so they had little or no knowledge of past behaviour.
Well, I’m no expect with dogs, that’s Jean’s domain. But there was something about Duke that captivated me. Something in the way he looked at me, his eyes linking so directly with mine, allowing me to see a dog that offered an honest openness.
More or less on impulse I stood up, held my right arm up at 45 degrees, looked Duke in the face and said, “Duke! Sit!”
Duke held my gaze and sat back on his haunches.
I moved my arm in a complete circle, around to the right, and said, “Duke! Lie down!” Duke lay down.
H’mm, I thought. Fascinating. This dog has been professionally trained at some point in the past, using the same ‘command’ system of voice and arm signalling as I had learnt with Pharaoh way back in 2003/2004.
The food was now on the table. I grabbed a small piece of meat off my plate and returned to Duke who had, of course, resumed his pottering around the room. “Duke! Here boy!” Duke came over to me. “Duke! Lie down!” Duke did so. I placed the piece of meat on the wooden floor about three feet in front of him. Duke’s eyes were riveted on the meat. “Duke!” Duke’s eyes reluctantly engaged with mine. “Duke! Stay!” I repeated the Stay command a couple more times as I backed away about 6 or 8 feet.
“Go on, Boy. Take the meat!” Duke gleefully grabbed the piece of meat. Gracious, I thought, this dog is magnificent. I wonder ……..
I took another piece of meat, “Duke! Sit!” “Duke! Stay!” I then backed off that 8 feet again, got down on my knees and placed the piece of meat just between my lips. I knew this was potential madness with a dog I had only met some 30 minutes previously, but there wasn’t an ounce of doubt in my mind. I voiced in my throat for Duke to fetch the meat. Duke came straight over and confidently and carefully removed the meat from my lips.
What a truly fabulous dog! It was a wonderful evening and once home both Jean and I were eulogising about Duke.
Then two days later, our dinner hostess rang me. “You know, I have decided we can no longer keep Duke. He is too strong a dog, I can’t control him. Is there any chance of you finding a new home for Duke?”
Without question, Jean and I would have offered Duke a new home; in a heartbeat. The only thing stopping that was me wondering if this strong-willed, male German Shepherd might be a Beta dog, as Pharaoh was. Or just might be too dominant a male dog to fit in comfortably with our dogs, especially Pharaoh who was at the stage of life where the last thing that should happen is for his happiness and contentment to be disturbed.
I hadn’t a clue as to how to answer that question. But I knew someone who would know: Angela Stockdale.
I rang her, caught up on old times and then explained the background to Duke’s situation. Angela said to repeat the exercise that I had witnessed when I took Pharaoh to her all those years ago, when I wondered if Pharaoh was an aggressive dog. My uncertainty with regard to Pharaoh followed a number of times when walking him in a public area with other dogs and he had been very threatening, both in voice and posture, towards some of those other dogs.
This is what Angela arranged. I took Pharaoh up to her place at Wheddon Cross, near Minehead in Somerset. When we arrived, Angela was standing just by a gate into a fenced paddock, maybe a half-acre in size. In the far corner were two dogs.
Angela asked me to bring Pharaoh to the gate and let him off the leash. It was clear that Pharaoh was going to be let into the paddock. I cautioned that Pharaoh could be quite a handful with other dogs and, perhaps, it would be better that I walked him into the area still on his lead. Angela said that wouldn’t be necessary. So as she held the gate open sufficient for Pharaoh to enter the paddock, I slipped the lead off him and backed away, as requested.
Pharaoh had hardly taken 2 or 3 paces when Angela called out, “Paul, there’s nothing wrong with him!”
I was astounded and stammered, “But, er, er, how can you tell so quickly?” “Because my two dogs haven’t taken any notice!”, came the reply.
Later Angela explained that in the paddock were her female Alpha dog and her male Beta dog. Ergo, the two top dogs in terms of status so far as dogs see other dogs.
In fact, Pharaoh was utterly subservient to these dogs, in a way that I had never witnessed before. Later on, as Pharaoh relaxed and started playing, Angela said that she thought that Pharaoh was a Beta dog. Mixing some of her other dogs into the group was later able to confirm that.
So back now to present times and Duke.
Thus last Saturday, as Angela recommended, we selected two of our dogs, Cleo our female German Shepherd and the most socialable of dogs, and Casey, a strong but not aggressive male (he had some PitBull in him).
Duke arrived and was allowed freely to nose around the large grassed area some way from the fenced-off horse paddock that we were using for the ‘introduction’.
Duke pottered around and then caught sight of Cleo and Casey in the paddock.
Then the meetings began!
And play didn’t seem to be too far off the agenda!
So all the photographs and videos have been sent to Angela, and we will see what the conclusion is!
As Angela put it, “Remember, dogs talk dog far better than we do.”
Yes there’s no question that dogs talk dog far better than we do!
Dogs are being enlisted in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are testing a pack of eight Labrador retrievers to find out if their sensitive snouts can detect the pandemic virus by scent, Karin Brulliard reports for the Washington Post.
Humans have trained our canine friends’ finely tuned noses to sniff out other deadly diseases, including malaria, diabetes, some cancers and Parkinson’s disease, reported Ian Tucker for the Guardian in 2018. Other research has shown that viruses give off a particular smell, Cynthia Otto, director of the Working Dog Center at UPenn’s School of Veterinary Medicine, tells the Post.
If the dogs’ 300 million scent receptors can be trained to smell the novel coronavirus they could eventually be used in public places such as airports, businesses or hospitals to quickly and easily screen large numbers of people. Because this diagnosis by dog would depend on the smell given off by people infected with COVID-19 it should have no problem picking out asymptomatic carriers.
The yellow, black and chocolate labs will be trained for three weeks using a process called odor imprinting. Miss M., Poncho and six other dogs will be exposed to COVID-19 positive saliva or urine collected from hospitals and then rewarded with food when they pick out the correct samples, according to a statement from UPenn. When the dogs have the scent, they’ll be tested to see if they can pick out COVID-19 positive people.
“We don’t know that this will be the odor of the virus, per se, or the response to the virus, or a combination,” Otto, who is leading the project, tells the Post. “But the dogs don’t care what the odor is. … What they learn is that there’s something different about this sample than there is about that sample.”
Dogs are also being trained for this purpose in the United Kingdom by the charity Medical Detection Dogs in collaboration with Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, reports the BBC.
“This would help prevent the re-emergence of the disease after we have brought the present epidemic under control,” Steve Lindsay, public health entomologist at Durham University, tells the BBC.
The U.K. trial expects to start collecting COVID-19 positive samples in the coming weeks and will train its dogs shortly thereafter, per the Post. If the trial is successful the group aims to distribute six dogs to be used for screening in U.K. airports.
“Each individual dog can screen up to 250 people per hour,” James Logan, epidemiologist at Durham University and collaborator on the project, tells the Post. “We are simultaneously working on a model to scale it up so it can be deployed in other countries at ports of entry, including airports.”
Otto tells the Post that the trial could inspire an electronic sensor that could detect COVID-19 which might be able to rapidly test thousands of people. But if the dogs’ olfactory prowess can’t be replicated, then the ability to scale up could be limited by another issue: the U.S.’s shortage of detection dogs.
The list of fabulous skills that dogs have and their ability to help us humans out is practically endless.
To be more to the point, if dogs really can make a difference in determining who has got COVID-19, especially at airports, then this is a step to eventually returning to a more open and normal lifestyle.
Put another way, dogs can detect some odors in parts per trillion. What does that mean in terms we might understand? Well, in her book Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz, a dog-cognition researcher at Barnard College, writes that while we might notice if our coffee has had a teaspoon of sugar added to it, a dog could detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water, or two Olympic-sized pools worth. Another dog scientist likened their ability to catching a whiff of one rotten apple in two million barrels.
Space becomes sonified in this visualization of a cluster of galaxies imaged by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Time flows left to right, and the frequency of sound changes from bottom to top, ranging from 30 to 1,000 hertz. Objects near the bottom of the image produce lower notes, while those near the top produce higher ones. Most of the visible specks are galaxies housing countless stars. A few individual stars shine brightly in the foreground. Stars and compact galaxies create short, clear tones, while sprawling spiral galaxies emit longer notes that change pitch. The higher density of galaxies near the center of the image – the heart of this galaxy cluster, known as RXC J0142.9+4438 – results in a swell of mid-range tones halfway through the video. Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3 acquired this image on August 13, 2018.
Here’s the original Hubble image of galaxy cluster RXC J0142.9+4438, later “sonified” by Russo and Santaguida. NASA wrote: “Galaxies abound in this spectacular Hubble image; spiral arms swirl in all colors and orientations, and fuzzy ellipticals can be seen speckled across the frame as softly glowing smudges on the sky. Each visible speck of a galaxy is home to countless stars. A few stars closer to home shine brightly in the foreground, while a massive galaxy cluster nestles at the very center of the image; an immense collection of maybe thousands of galaxies, all held together by the relentless force of gravity.” Read more about this image, which is via ESA/ Hubble & NASA, RELICS.
Bottom line: Musicians and scientists turned a Hubble Space Telescope image – of galaxy cluster RXC J0142.9+4438 – into music.
That is so lovely.
It’s only just over half a minute long but is still precious!
Animals, especially dogs, can have a profoundly positive effect on us humans.
We had to go to the local tip yesterday morning and there were a couple of other cars in the ‘recycling’ area that had dogs. Both the drivers of those other cars were allowing their dogs to look out through an open window and, in the course of dumping our stuff in the various piles, I approached the dogs and allowed them to sniff my outstretched arm. What struck me later was how natural that was, with the drivers being so friendly towards their dogs and me, let’s face it, practically a stranger. They were only brief exchanges but they were happy exchanges and that’s the point!
Emma is not really a private guest writer; putting all her material on her website Pawstruck.com.
But the value in what she writes totally justifies in my mind what is being said.
What do you think?
The Many Ways Owning a Dog Can Change Your Life
True-blue dog owners can attest to the fact that life is never the same without their pet pooch. There’s something innately contagious about a dog’s spirit that nurses and nurtures the human soul.
According to a Finnish study, merely looking at your dog releases a flood of oxytocin in your brain. Also called the love hormone, these neurotransmitters lessen anxiety and promote well-being.
For most dog parents, simply receiving their dog’s unconditional love is enough of a reason to keep pumping love, effort, and money into caring for their pet. Still, there are so many more arguments for why having a dog is an experience everyone should try once in their lives.
Dogs Are Mood Boosters
The jolly temperament, silly mannerisms, and unsinkable enthusiasm of a dog at whatever time of day make them the funniest companions. Simply petting your dog or spending a few minutes of fetch each day releases serotonin and dopamine in the human brain. These neurotransmitters are responsible for keeping you in a good mood.
Constant interaction with your pet is also found to manage the symptoms of depression, according to a 2018 study. In many instances, dogs can provide the kind of genuinely reliable relationship that can rarely be found between humans. This feeling of dependability, it turns out, is vital for humans’ mental wellness.
Dogs Keep You Fit
Being a dog parent is a full-time job. That means ensuring they eat well and exercise right. Even if you own a “lazy” breed, all dogs still need to be exercised at least 30 minutes every day to keep fit.
As a responsible owner, you are obliged to attend to these needs and, in the process, also benefit from the task. A lot of people, despite the clear benefits of exercise, refuse to move for lack of motivation. Dog parents don’t get to choose, and sometimes, that’s a good thing.
Make a routine out of your dog’s walking schedule. This way, your body can get used to the new pace and help turn the practice into a habit.
This, coupled with the mood-boosting benefits of a dog’s presence all contribute to a reduced risk of developing heart problems, which are the leading cause of death among older adults in the US.
Dogs Help You Socialize
One of the biggest contributors and symptoms of depression is social isolation. Living alone can exacerbate the situation and cause you to distance yourself even more from family members and your tightest circle of friends.
Whereas if you have a dog, the responsibility of going out for dog supplies, routine vet visits, and daily walks obliges you to interact with people. For natural introverts, the forced socialization may be hard at first. But it will also help you hone your social skills and find new friends aside from keeping the blues at bay.
Dogs Help You Be Kinder to Yourself and to Those Around You
When someone else’s life depends on you, you learn to be more conscious of your decisions. You encourage yourself to take care of your health because no one else will tend to their needs. You learn to be decisive with your choices, from selecting the perfect dog treats to opting for brands with cruelty-free practices.
You cannot pour from an empty cup, as they say, and once you experience your pup’s absolute love, you will realize that the only way to give love back is to love yourself first.
I asked Emma, as I do with all my guest bloggers at first, to send me a short bio.
This is what she wrote:
Emma Nolan is a blogger, writer, and dog parent to a dachshund and three adorable black Labradoodles. She likes strolling outdoors with her lovable fur babies when not writing about them. She writes about everything pooch at Pawstruck.