Tag: Brandy

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Forty-One

Just one very domestic, doggie scene!

Some days Jean takes an afternoon nap.

One day this last week, it was last Wednesday, Brandy decided to join Jean.

Although I tried ever so quietly to steal into the bedroom without making a noise, Brandy did notice! Of course!

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Then last Thursday afternoon I took a couple more  when Brandy was sleeping on the tiled floor of our dining-room adjacent to the kitchen.

The first one is more or less a crop of the full image while the second one is greatly edited including applying some ‘sharpening’. (I use Picasa.)

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Plus a couple more from earlier times!

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Then the final one showing Brandy the day he was ‘rescued’ and brought home.

Brandy’s first look at his new home from the back of the car in the garage. April 10th, 2016

What a wonderful animal he is!

Shit Happens!

A very inspirational essay from George Monbiot.

It is said that there are only two certainties in life: Death and Taxes.

I think that is one short: The Unexpected. As in Death, Taxes and The Unexpected!

As evidence of The Unexpected, one could put falling off one’s bike or being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Or the many other ‘hiccups’ that are an attribute of the real world that we humans live in. Put in the words of the street: Shit Happens!

Now read this very inspirational essay from George Monbiot. Republished here with Mr. Monbiot’s very kind permission.

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Unprostrated

16th March 2018

I have prostate cancer, but I’m happy. Here’s how.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 14th March 2018

It came, as these things often do, like a gunshot on a quiet street: shocking and disorienting. In early December, my urine turned brown. The following day I felt feverish and found it hard to pee. I soon realised I had a urinary tract infection. It was unpleasant, but seemed to be no big deal. Now I know that it might have saved my life.

The doctor told me this infection was unusual in a man of my age, and hinted at an underlying condition. So I had a blood test, which revealed that my prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels were off the scale. An MRI scan and a mortifying biopsy confirmed my suspicions. Prostate cancer: all the smart young men have it this season.

On Monday, I go into surgery. The prostate gland is buried deep in the body, so removing it is a major operation: there are six entry points and it takes four hours. The procedure will hack at the roots of my manhood. Because of the damage that will be caused to the surrounding nerves, there’s a high risk of permanent erectile dysfunction. Because the urethra needs to be cut and reattached to the bladder, I will almost certainly suffer urinary incontinence for a few months, and possibly permanently. Because the removal of part of the urethra retracts the penis, it appears to shrink, at least until it can be stretched back into shape.

I was offered a choice: radical surgery or brachytherapy. This means implanting radioactive seeds in the parts of the prostrate affected by cancer. Brachytherapy has fewer side effects, and recovery is much faster. But there’s a catch. If it fails to eliminate the cancer, there’s nothing more that can be done. This treatment sticks the prostate gland to the bowel and bladder, making surgery extremely difficult. Once you’ve had one dose of radiation, they won’t give you another. I was told that the chances of brachytherapy working in my case were between 70 and 80%. The odds were worse, in other words, than playing Russian roulette (which, with one bullet in a six-chambered revolver, gives you 83%). Though I have a tendency to embrace risk, this was not an attractive option.

It would be easy to curse my luck and start to ask “why me?”. I have never smoked and hardly drink; I have a ridiculously healthy diet and follow a severe fitness regime. I’m 20 or 30 years younger than most of the men I see in the waiting rooms. In other words, I would have had a lower risk of prostate cancer only if I had been female. And yet … I am happy. In fact, I’m happier than I was before my diagnosis. How can this be?

The reason is that I’ve sought to apply the three principles which, I believe, sit at the heart of a good life. The first is the most important: imagine how much worse it could be, rather than how much better.

When you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, your condition is ranked on the Gleason Score, which measures its level of aggression. Mine is graded at 7 out of 10. But this doesn’t tell me where I stand in general. I needed another index to assess the severity of my condition, so I invented one: the Shitstorm Scale. How does my situation compare to those of people I know, who contend with other medical problems or family tragedies? How does it compare to what might have been, had the cancer had not been caught while it is still – apparently – confined to the prostate gland? How does it compare to innumerable other disasters that could have befallen me?

When I completed the exercise, I realised that this bad luck, far from being a cause of woe, is a reminder of how lucky I am. I have the love of my family and friends. I have the support of those with whom I work. I have the NHS. My Shitstorm Score is a mere 2 out of 10.

The tragedy of our times is that, rather than apply the most useful of English proverbs – “cheer up, it could be worse” – we are constantly induced to imagine how much better things could be. The rich lists and power lists with which the newspapers are filled, our wall-to-wall celebrity culture, the invidious billions spent on marketing and advertising, create an infrastructure of comparison that ensures we see ourselves as deprived of what others possess. It is a formula for misery.

The second principle is this: change what you can change, accept what you can’t. This is not a formula for passivity. I’ve spent my working life trying to alter outcomes that might have seemed immovable to other people. The theme of my latest book is that political failure is, at heart, a failure of imagination. But sometimes we simply have to accept an obstacle as insuperable. Fatalism in these circumstances is protective. I accept that my lap is in the lap of the gods.

So I will not rage against the morbidity this surgery might cause. I won’t find myself following Groucho Marx who, at the age of 81, magnificently lamented, “I’m going to Iowa to collect an award. Then I’m appearing at Carnegie Hall, it’s sold out. Then I’m sailing to France to pick up an honour from the French government. I’d give it all up for one erection.” And today there’s viagra.

The third principle is this: do not let fear rule your life. Fear hems us in, stops us from thinking clearly and prevents us from either challenging oppression or engaging calmly with the impersonal fates. When I was told that this operation has an 80% chance of success, my first thought was “that’s roughly the same as one of my kayaking trips. And about twice as good as the chance of emerging from those investigations in West Papua and the Amazon”.

There are, I believe, three steps to overcoming fear: name it, normalise it, socialise it. For too long, cancer has been locked in the drawer labelled Things We Don’t Talk About. When we call it the Big C, it becomes, as the term suggests, not smaller, but larger in our minds. He Who Must Not Be Named is diminished by being identified, and diminished further when he becomes a topic of daily conversation.

The super-volunteer Jeanne Chattoe, whom I interviewed recently for another column, reminded me that, just 25 years ago, breast cancer was a taboo subject. Thanks to the amazing advocacy of its victims, this is almost impossible to imagine today. Now we need to do the same for other cancers. Let there be no more terrible secrets.

So I have sought to discuss my prostate cancer as I would discuss any other issue. I make no apologies for subjecting you to the grisly details: the more familiar they become, the less horrifying. In doing so, I socialise my condition. Last month, I discussed the remarkable evidence suggesting that a caring community enhances recovery and reduces mortality. In talking about my cancer with family and friends, I feel the love that I know will get me through this. The old strategy of suffering in silence could not have been more misguided.

I had intended to use this column to urge men to get themselves tested. But since my diagnosis, we’ve discovered two things. The first is that prostate cancer has overtaken breast cancer to become the third biggest cancer killer in the UK. The second is that the standard assessment (the PSA blood test) is of limited use. As prostate cancer in its early stages is likely to produce no symptoms, it’s hard to see what men can do to protect themselves. That urinary tract infection was a remarkably lucky break.

Instead, I urge you to support the efforts led by Prostate Cancer UK to develop a better test. Breast cancer has attracted twice as much money and research as prostate cancer, not because (as the Daily Mail suggests) men are the victims of injustice, but because women’s advocacy has been so effective. Campaigns such as Men United and the Movember Foundation have sought to bridge this gap, but there’s a long way to go. Prostate cancer is discriminatory: for reasons unknown, black men are twice as likely to suffer it as white men. Finding better tests and treatments is a matter of both urgency and equity.

I will ride this out. I will own this disease but I won’t be defined by it: I will not be prostrated by my prostate. I will be gone for a few weeks but when I return, I do solemnly swear I will still be the argumentative old git with whom you are familiar.

http://www.monbiot.com

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It appears to be a unique aspect of the human mind. I am referring to our ability to worry about the future, to struggle to break away from ‘habitual’ responses to unanticipated crap coming along, to see the glass as half full as opposed to half empty, and so on, and so on.

Oh, to be like our dear, sweet, wise dogs.

Just let the world roll by!

Surfacing to a new world!

Slowly returning to normal!

As many of you read, last Friday I was discharged from the PeaceHealth Sacred Medical Center in Eugene, Oregon and returned home around 4pm.

It was quite a week as these photos demonstrate. (The background to the event is here and here.)

How I looked still in ICU on Boxing Day. Photo taken by neighbour Dordie who came up with Jeannie to visit me!
General view of a very happy chap!
Photo taken on last Wednesday after I had been transferred to the Department of Neurology.

So!!

It is important that I take it very gently and that means, inevitably, that my blogging is going to be very ad-hoc. Possibly for a few weeks!

The next important step is returning to the hospital this coming Wednesday to have the staples removed and a further cognitive check.

But I shall be OK and thank you all for your interest and concern in my escapade!

All of the dogs, especially Brandy and Cleo, are watching over me! (Over and beyond being loved beyond measure by Jeannie!)

Brandy – as pure as it gets!
Cleo living, and sleeping, in the present moment.

A Very Happy New Year to you all!

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Twenty-One

More from Tanja Brandt (but not entirely!)

As with last week first seen here.

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More from Tanja in a week’s time. (I presume you spotted the interloper!! Brandy having a love-in with Jean one evening a week ago just before the bedside lights were turned out.)

Book Two!

November is book-writing month for me.

Thus, good people, I shall be distracted for much of the month because despite the fact that book number two is a non-fiction book, as was my first, I am still using National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) as my motivational tool to achieve 50,000 words before the 1st December. Ergo, November’s focus is on writing an average of 1,666 words a day, not blogging.

Last time, with my book Learning from Dogs, I did share much of what I was writing each day both in 2014 and 2015. This time I will not.

However, I would like to share the draft Introduction to this second book that I wrote yesterday.

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Introduction

It was a beautiful late-October evening. Not a breath of wind stirred the branches of the tall pines that soared up into the night sky around our house. Even a half-moon high in that sky out to the South didn’t diminish the mystery and magic of the stars that seemed to go on forever. It never ceased to fascinate me how wonderful it was to lose one’s mind in a dark night sky and ponder on the fact that in that instant, in that moment of my life, I was seeing the light from a star that had been travelling for hundreds or thousands of years.

Thus it was this evening around 9:30pm when I had gone outside with all our dogs for their nightly leg-stretch before bedtime. Our six most beautiful dogs: Ruby; Cleo; Sweeny; Pedy; Oliver; and Brandy. There I was utterly oblivious to the sniffing and rustling in the piles of newly fallen Autumn leaves that were everywhere because so quickly once outside the house I had looked up above my head to that night sky and become lost.

But to be returned to this very sweet present moment when ever so gently I felt Brandy’s soft shoulder touch my lower left thigh and then lean into me in what was so characteristic of him.

I lent forward and placed the side of my face alongside Brandy’s warm, furry face and became as lost as I was in that starry sky. Now, however, it was as real and tangible a loss, if one could describe it as such, as that night sky above was as unreal and mysterious. For it was me being lost in the love that Brandy was sending me, in his breathing, in his posture, in his closeness to me, in his whole demeanour and in my own deep emotional loving reply to Brandy.

Then it clicked. A philosophical click that was as bright and clear as that fabulous half-moon.

This is how I would introduce my book. The book that I had committed to write in the month of November. The book that I was going to start writing the next day but hitherto hadn’t a clue as to how I was going to set the scene.

For my next book was an exploration into the relationships that dogs and humans form with each other.

Brandy’s story since he had been part of my life, and the life of my sweet, dear Jean, was a story of just how incredible, glorious and special the love between a human and a dog can be. How the weeks and months since that fateful day on the 9th April, 2016 when we first met Brandy had given me the inspiration to go as far as I could in describing and understanding what having a dog in one’s life truly meant.
Welcome to The Dog And I.

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So hope all you good people will understand if my blogging activity is varied and replies to responses likewise a bit ‘up and down’. It is likely I will be re-posting quite frequently items that have previously been shown on Learning from Dogs.

Starting Out on The Meditation Journey

If meditation really works then we want to engage in it.

Those who watched the video that was the central component of yesterday’s post will not have missed the references by Ted Meissner that scientific, double-blind evidence shows that meditation offers benefits for us humans.

Both Jean and I are especially interested in learning more and, hopefully, finding an appropriate meditation group in our nearest town, Grants Pass.

We would also welcome feedback and advice from any of you good people who have trod this path before.

For example, when one conducts a quick internet search into the different forms of meditation there are dozens of websites that are returned in the search findings. Almost choosing one website at random, the Visual Meditation website declares there are 7 Types of Meditation.  As in:

  • Transcendental Meditation (TM)
  • Heart Rhythm Meditation (HRM)
  • Kundalini
  • Guided Visualization
  • Qi Gong
  • Zazen
  • Mindfulness

To my uneducated eye, not one of those types seems to accord with the type supported by the American Meditation Society:

OUR MISSION

  • To provide instruction in meditation as taught by the founder of AMS, Gururaj Ananda Yogi.
  • To preserve and share the universal teachings of Gururaj with integrity and wisdom.
  • To provide a place where those who wish to unfold the inner self may do so in the company of other like-minded people.

Back to the plot! For this post is about the science.

The following video seemed worthy of sharing with you.

I watched the first 10 minutes before deciding it should be shared. By the time this post is published Jean and I will have watched it to the end. [20:45 yesterday evening. Jean and I have just finished watching the Bob Roth video below. It was both fascinating and very helpful!!]

The Aspen Institute

Published on Jun 26, 2016

Published studies have documented the many physical and mental health benefits of meditation, including decreased pain, better immune function, less anxiety and depression, a heightened sense of well-being, and greater happiness and emotional self-control. Google Scholar turns up almost 700,000 research documents on meditation, among them imaging studies that show increased activity in brain regions associated with attention, a higher volume of grey matter, and lessened amygdala response to emotional stimuli. What actually happens in the brain when we meditate? Why is meditation so nourishing to the mind, body and spirit?

Perri Peltz, Interviewer
Bob Roth

But a search of the YouTube website using the search term “meditation science” brought up many other links to shorter videos.

I selected the following (2:23 mins) because it is presented by Ferris Jabr who is an Associate Editor with Scientific American magazine.

Bottom line to my way of thinking is that this is something worth committing to once we know much more about engaging in meditation.

Your experiences most welcomed.

(And, of course, when it comes to chilling out for hours regularly each day then there’s another thing we can learn from our beloved dogs! No better demonstrated than by Brandy yesterday morning in the following photograph!)

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Six

Forgive the indulgence today.

In last week’s Picture Parade it was mentioned that at some point I would share some of the sights of home.

Well today, all the photographs were taken here at home (that being Merlin, Southern Oregon). The motivation behind these photographs was learning the operation of a new camera that I recently treated myself with. That is turning out to be quite a task; the user manual is 510 pages long!

But in no particular order, here are a few pictures.

Brandy staying cool on the kitchen floor!

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Looking out to the East from the deck adjoining the house.

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Photo taken at 06:10 on the morning of the 25th July. That is Mount Sexton on the horizon and the view is towards the North-East, again taken from our deck. (I was playing with the exposure control on the camera.)

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Looking from the end of the deck towards the South down to where our stables are. Photo taken at 06:20 on the 28th shortly after I had put out feed for the deer that come most mornings.

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Taken at 06:10 on the 25th. This shows ‘Doris’ (the second) who has been sleeping under the trees overnight.

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Zoomed in a little closer to Doris and she looked up at me exactly when I took the photograph!

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Morning sky. Unusual to have cloudy skies at this time of the year. 06:20 on the 26th July.

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Our beautiful, gorgeous stag. He has been a regular visitor for the last two years. Taken at 06:10 on the 25th.

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Morning sky, with exposure adjustment, taken at 06:00 on the 25th July.

Can’t close without publicly thanking the wonderful photographic forum Ugly Hedgehog. With over 75,000 users it really is a superb place for all those interested in photography. The forum was invaluable in helping me decide what camera to purchase and, just as importantly, where to purchase it from.

Have a great week, everyone!

Yet another smile!

This “good news” theme is rather fun!

p1160817Overnight we had more snow, possibly something approaching 4 inches.

p1160820Now the challenge is seeing at what point we can drive out from the property to the main road. But leave that to worry about tomorrow.

It’s well-known that dogs love snow and are very curious about it. As Brandy is demonstrating below.

p1160822Plus the snowy conditions offer me a good introduction to an item recently published on the Care2 site.

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Daily Cute: Rescued Pit Bulls Enjoy a Snow Day

These pit bull pals are overjoyed to play in the snow!

See you all tomorrow!

Can’t resist adding …

…. that when it’s wet and miserable …

p1160526and the dogs don’t want to go out to play …

p1160527… not even go out on the rear deck …

p1160520…. curling up on the settee keeping Dad company seems like the only sensible course of action!

(These photographs were taken just ten minutes ago, Brandy to my right and Cleo to my left – the rain gauge now reading 0.27 in at 11:00 PDT. With the 1 in mark being passed at 15:45 PDT!)

Do dogs hold grudges?

Mary Nielson provides the answer

Yesterday lunchtime was a very stressful period. Because I was speaking to various members of the family in England but especially to my sister, Eleanor, who had come over from South Africa to be with my mother, and to Rose, my cousin, who lives in Baldock, Hertfordshire, and is being so supportive.

In the middle of all of this Brandy came across to the low table where the remains of my lunchtime sandwich were still on my plate and started helping himself. I was striding around the room speaking to Eleanor and when I spotted Brandy eating my lunch I really showed my anger. I shouted “No!” and prodded him hard in the back. Brandy slunk off giving me a really foul look.

Fifteen minutes later Jean and I took the dogs outside for their regular ‘after-lunch’ leg-stretch and Brandy kept his distance from me. I went across to Brandy: “Oh, Brandy! I am so sorry for being cross with you  Please forgive me.” There was real remorse in my voice and, undoubtedly, showing on my face too.

Brandy came over to me and nestled his wonderful, beautiful head against my thighs and I curled down and rubbed his chest with my left hand. As simply and as quickly as it could ever be, Brandy had forgiven me.

A short while ago I was approached by a Mary Neilsen who asked me if I would like her to write a post for Learning from Dogs. I agreed and in hindsight I am so pleased I did.

Read her wonderful post and you will understand why!

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Is Your Dog Holding a Grudge?

Your dog throws you that look – you know the one – and walks away. You’ve been snubbed! So what is causing this emotional outburst? Maybe your canine pal is holding a grudge.

What have I done now?” you might ask yourself. Depending on the circumstances, you may not be guilty of anything. You may just be misinterpreting that look – or yes, indeed, your furry friend may be paying you back for some grievance.

No pet owner is perfect. We all make mistakes. We accidentally step on our pet’s tail; take away a favorite toy; or abandon them to a night alone in the house. These are things that can set our dog to turn their backs on us to teach us a lesson – if only for a little while. But is it true? Do dogs really hold grudges?

The Experts Say No

If you live with guilt every time your furry friend gives you a sideways look, you are reading too much into it, say the experts. They don’t hold grudges and they don’t act in petty ways or seek revenge. [Ed: The dogs that is not the ‘experts’! Sorry; couldn’t resist!] Their emotional lives are not as complicated as humans. Dogs are more simple creatures. They live in the moment.

According to famed canine expert Cesar Millan, dogs don’t hold long-term grudges simply because they can’t. They don’t think that way. Sure, they may act miffed now, but will soon forget what’s bothering them and move past it.

People, on the other hand, tend to hold onto negative feelings and expressing that kind of anger or anxiety can make your dog react too. In other words, if you express prolonged feelings of guilt over slamming your dog’s paw in the screen door, he may react by steering clear. It is not the action that is causing him to distance himself from you for a while; it’s your reaction to the event. In other words, it is your angst causing him to act this way.

What We Can Learn From Our Dogs

There may be some who still believe dogs can (and do) hold grudges, while research shows this assumption incorrect. Even so, there is one thing most canine psychological experts agree on and it is that we can learn an important lesson from our canine counterparts: how to let go.

Humans have a really hard time letting go of our grievances. In a recent Gallop poll, more than two thirds of participants acknowledged the importance of forgiveness, yet less than half actually were able to forgive those who hurt them. That equals a lot of grudge holding going on.

While our dogs move past every infraction, humans tend to hold on, dwelling on our hurts and allowing them to rule our lives. This can cause relational issues; depression, or worse. But, when we take after our dogs and let go of those negative feelings we can experience such benefits as:

  • Happier Lives
  • Healthier relationships
  • Less anxiety and stress
  • Lower blood pressure & Heart rate
  • Stronger immune system

[Ed: read the Mayo Clinic article here about forgiveness that Mary referred to above.]

Take a look at your dog. He seems happy enough. Wouldn’t you like to be able to experience the kind of true joy and relaxation he does? The trick to that kind of contentment is learning how to let go of those grudges and live in the moment.

Yes, people are going to hurt us. That is simply life. But those hurts do not have to cause you chronic pain. Take a cue from your dog. Allow yourself to feel the pain in the moment, and then move on. You will discover that life is a lot more enjoyable that way.

About the Author

img-1102 Mary Nielsen is a passionate dog lover, blogger and part-time music teacher. She founded MySweetPuppy.net to share her ups and downs of being a pet parent to a bunch of adorable mutts. When she is not playing with them or teaching, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen.

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Please join with me in thanking Mary for such a delightful guest post and hoping that we will be reading more from her.