I was browsing the photographic forum Ugly Hedgehog the other day and saying thank you to some people who had said kind things about a few photographs I had shared. One person who had left a comment put in his signature block that he came from Adelaide, Australia. Part of my thank you was to inquire how things were in Adelaide.
Well blow me down when that person, Ron, came back to me and we then transferred to email and shared our backgrounds.
This is what Ron said in his first email:
You have had an interesting life over the years…
Love the Shepherd, we had one after we first got married..
Broke my heart so badly when he went I could never have another one.
I still think about him after all the years.
I retired at 55 years of age as I was with the government; I was a mechanical engineer with CSIRO designing new welding technologies along with many other projects over the years.
Sadly not the way I wanted to retire as my spinal injuries made it impossible to do the things I wanted to.
One of my biggest disappointments was having to give up my archery.
I’ve been doing photography for many and it has been a god send as it’s something I can still do.
We moved into a Lifestyle Village ( semi retirement) six and a half years ago as I was unable to look after the old house any more so I thought I’d let someone else worry about that..LOL
We try to get over to Sydney and Melbourne every year for a week or so but this year we missed out due to you know what.
Well, off to the shops now,
And when I asked about the spinal injury, Ron added:
Hopefully you had no damage from your storm…
My spine, mostly my cervical spine, was damaged about 50 years ago in car stupidity.
I refuse to call it an accident.
I was sitting at a red light and a guy ran into my rear doing about 80-90 kilometers an hour without touching his brakes.
He was actually looking out of his side window!!
Over the years, and several operations and ongoing treatments, the pain got worse.
I’m now in pain all day every day.
At least the plates and screws keep things together.
Lorraine (wife) is my carer and when I get really bad, she gives me an injection of morphine mixed with some other “stuff”.
They discovered some years ago that my body doesn’t absorb oral meds very well.
My neurosurgeon then put me onto morphine.
Usually have one jab every two to three weeks.
At least I get one or two days of relief.
The rest of the time I just grin and bare it…LOL
I joined the Hog in 2012, November I think.
Sadly, my good friend, also a Hog, died earlier this year.
He lived in north NSW in a small coastal town called Maclean.
Say Hi to Jeannie for us.
This is a photograph of Lorraine.
And this is a photograph of Harry.
And let me treat you with a few more photographs, some from “very old scanned film shots so not the best.”
But that’s a sharp reminder of the consequences of not paying attention to the road in front of you. All those years ago!
Dogs bring people together from all over the world!
5-month-old Angus the Golden Retriever loves his local beach on Port Phillip Bay in Seaford, Melbourne. After seeing crabs run through the shallows he chases straight for them, frantically trying to catch what he spotted. Awesome!
I will never, ever tire of the wonderful connections made by this blog!
Connections brought about by the almost universal love for dogs! But not to the exclusion of cats. For we still have three cats, all ex-rescues from our days in Mexico, and it is a cat story that Anne presents for you all today.
It went back to an email that came in to me earlier this February:
My name is Annie and I blog at catobsessed.com. Since I am a new-ish blogger (well, my cat site is new but I’ve been writing elsewhere for years), I’m hoping to make connections with more established pet bloggers to help get my name out there.
I love your site Learning From Dogs – although I’m obviously more of a cat person, our family has a mini schnauzer back in Canada. I miss her! Your website vision is very thought-provoking, I hadn’t really considered how much we learn from our pets before. I was wondering if you’d consider accepting a guest post from me?
I was trying to think of a topic that would bridge our two websites and I had an idea – something about pets and human relationships? I met my husband through his cat, to be honest! The fact that he was an animal lover was one of the main reasons I accepted a date with him. The schnauzer in Canada was a gift to his parents too, so I knew he was a keeper!
I haven’t got a strict post outline in mind but I’m excited to ponder more on the topic of cats, dogs and human relationships. Since my husband was a pet owner, I could explain the type of personality traits I inferred from that. We also have the fact that I’m a huuuuge cat person and he is a dog guy so we had to compromise (if having two cats is a compromise LOL)
What do you think? If this doesn’t suit, I could come up with something else 🙂
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Well, how could one resist such a charming request. Not me!
So it is with great pleasure that I present Anne’s guest post.
Why Pet Owners Make Good Life Partners.
by Anne Cooper, February 22nd., 2017. First of all, I want to thank Paul for inviting me to share my thoughts on his wonderful blog. Reading through his past posts got me thinking on the topic of pet ownership and human relationships. You see, I met my husband through his cat. It sounds funny I know but let me explain.
Back in 2013, I had just ended a serious long-term relationship. It ended for many reasons but one thing which made me particularly sad is that the guy didn’t want any pets. Animals are one of my top three passions in life. My former partner would get annoyed when I’d bring strays inside for a quick bite to eat and a bowl of water. It didn’t happen that often but what filled me with joy was just an annoyance for him.
So when I was back on the dating market, settling down with an animal lover was a top priority. Sure, I could live without pets, but I’d rather not. They really improve my quality of life, cheer me up when I’m feeling down, and allow me to be part of the lovely pet blogging community online.
Thus, when browsing through dating profiles, one really caught my attention. Not only did he sound like he had a lot in common with me – he actually owned a cat! She was a kitten at the time. A lovely white fluff-ball. I arranged to meet him immediately.
The rest is history. We were married in November 2015 and have now expanded our feline family to two. We’re hoping to add a dog to the mix soon. What I want to talk about here is why I was so eager to set up that first date, and the qualities I inferred from the fact that my future husband owned a cat.
Pet owners are responsible
Unless you own a pet yourself, it’s hard to understand the amount of commitment involved. You can’t just take a weekend away to visit friends anymore. You need to arrange a sitter for the cat, and if you can’t, you’re staying put. You also need to research practical things like pet insurance, safe toys and snacks … the list is almost endless.
They have a nurturing instinct
Taking in an animal – especially a helpless kitten – is an act of kindness. Cats don’t always give much affection back to their owners so I knew that my hubby was a generous and giving soul.
Don’t get me wrong, dogs are amazing too, but there are lots of great reasons to own a dog. They help you get fit by making you walk with them outdoors. They protect you and shower you with love on a daily basis. Cats on the other hand are happy to take your affection but some won’t even sit on your lap! I think it’s safe to say that most cat owners don’t mind giving without receiving.
They don’t mind cleaning up a mess
As much as I love our little Saus, she was a nightmare in her first year. She had a hard time using the litter tray and used to pee all over our house. Shedding fur is an ongoing issue too. Don’t even get me started on fleas and worms! Instead of letting it get out of control, my husband armed himself with a super-powered vacuum cleaner and a cupboard full of pet-friendly solutions and sprays to keep everything spotless. Pet owners aren’t scared of a little mess – I knew I could depend on him to help out around the house.
They don’t let other people’s opinions get to them
I don’t know about where you’re from, but in Ireland where my husband and I met, there’s a massive stigma against cat owners. As a cat lover myself, I was branded with the “crazy cat lady” stereotype. I was openly jeered in work. In the early days of dating my hubby, I turned on the car radio to hear a talk show saying that single men who own cats are basically weirdos. I couldn’t believe it! It makes me so angry, but sadly it’s the pervasive opinion in my home country.
The fact that my husband owned a cat and proudly shared her photos on social media showed me that he was confident and self-assured. Owning and loving a pet is nothing to be ashamed of, and anyone who thinks so can take a hike.
In her early days, Saus loved using her claws and teeth. I was her favorite victim! I don’t think she was being malicious – rather she didn’t know how to play safely. Instead of getting angry with her, my husband was patient. We needed to keep her claws short to prevent damage but using the clipper on her was a battle! We had to wrap her up in a towel to stop her attacking us.
So that’s my take on what makes pet owners so special. What do others think?
Annie Cooper blogs at catobsessed.com. She lives in Australia with her husband and two very fluffy felines. Apart from cats, Anne loves traveling, DIYing and all things cute.
Wasn’t that a great guest post! Sincerely hope we will be hearing more from the “crazy cat lady”.
P.S. The following photograph was taken here at home last night.
Araña is one of the remaining three cats from the original seven ex-Mexican rescue cats that came with us back in 2010 when we moved from San Carlos, Mx. to Payson in Arizona.
Whatever one’s view is about the significance of CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere, this blog is about integrity. As the byline states, “Dogs are integrous animals. We have much to learn from them.” Regular readers (and thank you for being one) know that this blog ranges far and wide in pursuit of stories, essays and examples of integrity, all the more better when they involve a dog!
All dog owners know that one of the prime things we can learn from our dogs is the ability to remain in the present. No, more than that! To value and cherish the present. Dogs manage this in an effortless manner, in a way that humans can only dream of achieving.
This came to me as a result of a recent post on Damn the Matrix, Mike Stasse’s fascinating blog. The post was about what we humans regret at the end of our days, which I will come to in a moment.
Mike had taken the theme from a recent book by Australian author Bronnie Ware. Her website is here from where one learns:
Bronnie Ware is an inspiring and creative soul from Australia.
Through her work Bronnie weaves delightful tales of real life observations and experience. Using gentleness, honesty, and humour, Bronnie celebrates both the strength and vulnerability of human nature. Her message is a positive and inspiring one.
Bronnie is the author of the full-length memoir, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying– A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, released worldwide, with translations in 27 languages. She also runs an online personal growth and songwriting course, has released two albums of original songs, and writes a well-loved blog called Inspiration and Chai.
Every challenge brings its own gifts. Sometimes though it is not always easy to see those gifts at first. Suffering and wounds can blind us. We have all been there. It is at times like these that Inspiration and Chai is needed. Inspiration to soothe the heart. Chai to soothe the body.
Even during happier cruising chapters, being inspired is still a beautiful thing. It keeps us going. It reminds us of what we already know.
Inspiration and Chai is an ongoing journey. The aim of this site is to share inspirational stories and motivational thoughts and for it to reach more and more people in need, seekers on their path. It is a positive environment to revisit whenever you feel it calling. It is also somewhere for me to share my love of story telling and to share memories of life.
Jean is no stranger to the death of a dog. Over her many years of rescuing dogs Jean has seen far too many deaths. I have been living with Jean since 2008. In that short time five of our dogs have died.
Of course, we have no idea of what goes through a dog’s mind in those last stages of life. Dogs appear to embrace death in an uncomplicated way but we will never know for sure.
What about humans? On Bronnie’s blogsite there is a post under the title of Regrets of the dying. Whatever age you are, read what Bonnie wrote and ponder:
REGRETS OF THE DYING
For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
I hesitated to write anything more because that last sentence should be the one that continues to resonate.
So just a reflection on how easy it is for a dog to wag its tail – dogs so easily choose happiness.
Yesterday, I published a soft little item showing some reflective pictures and rather appropriate words of attachment. Little did I know that some very powerful word forces were planning same day to really thump me around the head. Here’s what happened.
The church that Jean and I go to on a regular basis is very inspiring. Two reasons come to mind. The first is the love and friendship that the congregation offer, both to regulars and visitors alike. The second is the spiritual inspiration gifted to the priest and, boy oh boy, does that come out through his sermons. Indeed, the rest of this article was motivated by yesterday’s sermon.
Take a look at the American railway ticket above. Turn your head and look at the right-hand part. What do you read? ‘This check is not good if detached‘. Now let me quote a little from the sermon,
It is difficult to care for people in the world when we are not a caring community. It is totally absurd to speak of peace in a world when we do not have peace in our community. It is impossible to be an instrument of love in the world if we are not a community of love.
What is true in the Church is of course true in the world as a whole. We do need to learn to live together. Railway tickets used to carry the words, “Not good if detached.” That is true of life in general. Our survival and progress as people on this planet are dependent on our interrelatedness.
See the beautiful spiritual inspiration that comes from those gifted to draw such powerful word pictures. Take that last word ‘interrelatedness’. Jean and I are studying at the local college for a Master Gardener’s Certificate. For the simple reason that we have to find a way to tame our wild garden, comprised mainly of decomposed granite granules, so that we can grown our own vegetables, have some chickens, that sort of thing.
The last session was about botany. To a complete non-gardener like me it was, nonetheless, fascinating. What moved me beyond measure was the detail and complexity of all things botanical; grasses, trees, shrubs, flowering plants, you name it. It was the interconnectedness of it all. Here’s an example.
Certain orchids dupe male wasps into trying to mate with them. Here are a few extracts from a piece in the New Scientist website,
Few can resist the allure of a beautiful rose, but some wasps outdo even the most ardent flower lover. Presented with the right specimen, a male orchid dupe wasp ejaculates right on the petals.
Many insects mistake flowers for femmes, but few go as far as these wasps, says Anne Gaskett, a biologist at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, who led a study of the insects’ amorous intentions toward two species of Australian tongue orchids. “It’s just so hard [for the wasps] to resist,” she says.
Now have a quick watch of this video extract from the BBC,
OK, let me get back to that botany class. As our teacher pointed out, lose that particular species of wasp and the planet probably loses that species of orchid. Think about the interconnectedness of that, and much more in the beautiful planet all around us. It is such a marvellous, beautiful, complex and interconnected world. We need constant reminding of that fact. Which is where yesterday’s sermon hit the mark again.
Inspired by the pictures from a flight to the moon in 1968, American poet Archibald MacLeish spoke these beautiful words:
“To see the earth as it truly is, small, blue, beautiful in the eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together …“
That is a wonderful image, riders on the earth together. It speaks of our togetherness as a human race, brothers and sisters on this fragile island within the vastness of the universe. Brothers and sisters … that really need to know … that we are brothers and sisters.
We need to do all that we can to build bridges, to mend bridges, to stay together as a true community… because we are:
Not good if detached. Amen.
What a powerful sermon. What inspired power in those words. Real words.
Forgive me for holding your attention just a tad longer. This is the full Archibald MacLeish’s quotation, referred to in the sermon above.
To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold—brothers who know now they are truly brothers.
— Archibald MacLeish, American poet, ‘Riders on earth together, Brothers in eternal cold,’ front page of the New York Times, Christmas Day, 25 December 1968
This is what Frank Borman, who was on Apollo 8, had published in Newsweek, 23 December 1968,
When you’re finally up at the moon looking back on earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.
This is what Frank Borman was reported as saying in the press in early 1969,
I think the one overwhelming emotion that we had was when we saw the earth rising in the distance over the lunar landscape . . . . It makes us realize that we all do exist on one small globe. For from 230,000 miles away it really is a small planet.
The view of the Earth from the Moon fascinated me—a small disk, 240,000 miles away. It was hard to think that that little thing held so many problems, so many frustrations. Raging nationalistic interests, famines, wars, pestilence don’t show from that distance.
The power in those words. The power of the truth about our interconnectedness and the power of Not good if detached.
Let me leave you with a fragment from another Blogsite that I came across quite by chance while researching for this piece.
A blog is a voice, the inner voice, telling, in this case, what is going on, inside and out. And in me, that means it should also be about my spiritual path. My spiritual life is as important to me as breathing. Without connection with the One, what is life? What is it for?