Too many years ago, indeed when I had my own company back in the late 70s, I came in contact with Keith Edmunds. He was a Linux expert; still is! He runs a company in the U.K., Tiger Computing, based in Monmouthshire.
My wife is deaf. She caught meningitis when she was four years old, and one of the side effects can be deafness.
But this isn’t a sob story. It’s a joyful story of a chocolate brown Labrador called Rhys. My wife’s hearing dog.
People often ask what he can do. Well, he alerts Cecilia to the doorbell ringing, the kitchen timer going off, voice commands to “fetch mum” and the smoke alarm.
Some people ask whether he responds to the phone. But the answer is no. Cecilia can’t use the phone (she’s deaf); Rhys can’t use the phone (he’s a dog – he can’t speak). Between them you’d think they’d be able to come up with some kind of plan…but nothing so far.
“He’s very clever!,” people say. But really he’s not. I have, in moments of disrespect, mentioned that if he had an IQ one point higher he’d be a tomato.
You see we mustn’t confuse “highly trained” with “clever”.
Yes, Rhys has learnt how to respond to certain triggers. “If this happens, then do that” – It’s very basic.
If the smoke alarm sounds, then find Cecilia, nudge her, lie down and get a treat.
He doesn’t do it because he’s smart enough to know that the smoke alarm means danger. No. That would be clever.
He does it simply because he’ll get a treat for doing this task. He is a Labrador after all…
Clever is the ability to devise or select an appropriate solution to a problem. Clever – at least in adults – is a combination of intelligence, knowledge and experience.
If we apply this to business, then clever might be knowledge and experience in your domain. Right now, a lot of clever people are investigating a little virus called SARS-CoV-2 (the cause of COVID-19).
But clever can also mean knowing when to pull in the experts.
I’m no expert on immunology or virology so I’m leaving the SARS-CoV-2 problem to the talented (and knowledgeable, experienced and intelligent) bio-scientists.
Rhys is leaving the intellectual challenge of pretty much everything to others.
But I am quite clever when it comes to Linux, so if you need a little help with that then be sure to let me know…
It’s all too easy to forget that a dog can’t cope with hot weather.
As in too hot. Especially in a car!
I want to republish a post that appeared on The Dodo blog site recently. It is about a dog trapped in a car when it was far too hot.
Guy Sees Puppy In Hot Car And Realizes What He Has To Do
Jason Minson, an Army veteran who runs a landscaping business, was out on a job in Norfolk, Virginia, on Tuesday when the first of several unusual things happened.
Minson was inspecting a tree in a yard when he heard a bang on the street.
When he went to check, he realized that a car driving by had bumped another car parked on the street. If that hadn’t happened, Minson probably never would have approached the parked car and discovered what was inside.
A black Labrador puppy was sprawled out on the floor of the vehicle — the noise and shudder seemed to have woken him up for a moment.
And he was incessantly panting.
“It was the kind of panting that was the last effort a dog does to try to cool himself off,” Minson told The Dodo.
Minson immediately called 911.
The police dispatched a unit to come help the dog — but they also informed Minson that breaking the window of the car to free the dog is a crime. (The law varies depending where you are.)
Minson watched the panting puppy from behind the pane of glass. He brought one bottle of water to the sliver of opened window and the dog jumped up on the seat and started drinking from it.
The dog went through the whole bottle. And then another.
“I’m usually a pretty cool, level-headed person but I was kind of fed up,” Minson said.
An animal control officer arrived and she started to try to pry the door open, but it wasn’t working. And nearly 20 minutes had passed since Minson had found the dog — and he was worried they were already out of time.
“The dog had laid back down on the floor of the car and wasn’t panting as quickly,” Minson said.
“I honestly didn’t think this pup was going to make it,” Minson wrote.
That’s when he took matters into his own hands.
“Charge me,” he can be heard saying in one of the videos he shot, “I don’t give a sh*t at this point.”
Using the baton from the animal control officer, Minson smashed the window and opened the door.
The animal control officer rushed the dog over to her van and took him to the vet for urgent care. And the owner of the dog was charged by the police. Minson received a call from the police, too — but to be a witness at the hearing about the incident.
The following day, Minson went to visit the pup at the facility where he’s recovering. Already, the dog seemed to be much stronger.
Minson, who has a Great Dane, hopes that if someone saw his dog in trouble in any way that they would do something about it.
“This is REAL talk people,” Minson wrote on Facebook after the dog was saved. “It’s hot out and if you leave an animal in your car [he’s] going to die from the heat … Take care of your fur babies.”
I can’t think of a more dramatic way of telling you about the perils of dogs in cars in hot weather!
“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” William Butler Yeats
Day Six: A Character-Building Experience
Today’s Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?
Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us).
Today, write a post focusing on one — or more — of the people that have recently entered your life, and tell us how your narratives intersected. It can be your new partner, your newborn child, or the friendly barista whose real story you’d love to learn (or imagine), or any other person you’ve met for the first time in the past year.
Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.
“In displaying the psychology of your characters, minute particulars are essential. God save us from vague generalisations!” – Anton Chekhov, Letter to Alexander Chekhov; May 10, 1886
Describing people — whether real or fictional — in a way that channels their true essence is an invaluable skill for any writer. Through the careful accumulation of details, great authors morph their words into vivid, flesh-and-bones creations in our minds. How can you go about shaping your portrait of a person? Some ideas to explore:
Don’t just list their features. Tell us something about how their physical appearance shapes the way they act and engage with others. For example, see how the author of this moving photo essay, which documents the final weeks of a woman dying of cancer, captures the kernel of the woman’s spirit with a short, masterful statement: “Her eyes told stories that her voice didn’t have the power to articulate and she had a kindness that immediately made me feel like we had been friends for years.”
Give us a glimpse of what makes this person unique. We all have our own quirks, mannerisms, and individual gestures, both physical and linguistic.
“Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us.”
That is so true. But so many of my stories have also been linked to the dogs around me. So for today’s Writing 101 theme instead of writing about a person, I shall write about a dog. Specifically, young Oliver who entered our lives at 11:10 PDT on June 16th, 2014.
It was the eyes that got me! Right from the first moment that he and I looked at each other.
Those yellow-green eyes just had a power of attraction that was beyond my rational understanding. As if those eyes carried some haunting echo of that ancient time, millennia ago, when a young wolf looked upon the face of early man and each registered a mutual attraction.
Dear Oliver was born on the 28th February, 2014 and rapidly became a lively puppy: too lively for the couple who had taken him on. They lived close to us and Jean and I were called early in June that same year and asked if we might consider being his new parents. We went around on the morning of the 16th June to assess this young dog, especially from the angle of how well he would get on with our other dogs, before making our minds up for sure.
Within minutes, however, we knew without any doubt that under the skin of this lively, bouncy young dog there was a heart of gold and he came home with us that same morning.
Young Oliver had every reason to be a lively, bouncy young dog. For he was the offspring of Chocolate Labrador and Border Collie parents! One can’t get much more of a lively mix than that! So those early days with Oliver in the house turned out to be fun!
Those early days also showed that Oliver’s heart of gold extended from people to other dogs. Within minutes of arriving home he was fearlessly loving up to Pharaoh. That meant that Pharaoh and all the other dogs were going to love him back in return.
So quickly young Oliver became a wonderful member of the family with not one of the other eight dogs taking even a hint of umbrage at this new puppy in their midst. Oliver’s character is gloriously open and honest, as matched in his face.
Over the weeks as we got to know Oliver better and better he has shown that he has the most beautiful disposition.
Now as I write this some ten months after we welcomed Oliver I find it impossible to imagine life without him. Or more accurately written that it would be impossible to imagine life without those eyes!
Many months ago, I was contacted by a Peter Bloch offering to write a guest post on the subject of the healing power of dogs. Peter had read a post that I had published in July last year which prompted the email dialogue between us.
Not going to say much more at this stage except that today I am republishing that post from last July. On Monday, I will introduce Peter and his guest post. Then on Tuesday, I will speak of my own experiences both as entrepreneurial mentor and as a ‘customer’ of a wonderful psychotherapist back in Devon during 2007.
So, as promised, here is that guest post from Peter.
My dog Fergus is a philosopher, and the nature of health and happiness is his area of special expertise. When he learned about Paul’s blog he became very excited because he has always been convinced that dogs have so much to teach humans about life. As much as anything to have a little peace from his continual philosophical musings, I agreed to set out his theories here for the benefit of everyone who loves dogs.
Fergus would like it to be known that when he is free to pursue the activities to which his particular breed is most naturally attracted then, as a dog, he feels happy, energised, purposeful and fulfilled in every way. Fergus has also observed that when he is able to participate as a co-operating member of his ‘pack’, he feels safe and secure, is clear about how to proceed with his life, and at night he sleeps like a dog.
But Fergus says that when these conditions do not apply, he can be quite remarkably miserable. As a Greyhound, he loves to run very fast, and he is not at all interested in things like retrieving balls, or wallowing in water.
However once he was in the care of someone who Fergus thinks we should just call ‘Sarah’. Sarah has a Labrador and thinks that all dogs really ought to be like her dog, resulting in Fergus being put under considerable pressure to enjoy activities that he could not understand.
That lead to Sarah telling Fergus’ owners that he was a difficult dog when in fact he was just a misunderstood dog. He was amazed how, in just one day, he went from sleeping ‘like a dog‘ to ‘living in the doghouse‘!
Indeed, within a week he was suffering from digestive problems and skin disorders, despite an identical diet, and was found to be engaging in several bizarre neurotic behaviours. Fortunately, when more congenial conditions were restored, Fergus returned to feeling safe and secure.
Fergus often expresses surprise that people often do not understand that the freedom to be himself, the true dog that he is, including living in unifying solidarity with his pack, is a fundamental requirement for his health; in all meanings of the word.
For instance, Fergus noticed that Sarah has a son called Henry, who really wanted to be a designer. But his mother thought that it would be better for him to be a lawyer. In fact, Sarah was so certain that in the end Henry became a lawyer. Fergus observes that Henry is always suffering from digestive problems and skin disorders and sometimes behaves a little strangely. Doctors have not been able to find out what is wrong with him, despite all sorts of diets and medicines being tried.
But here’s the rub. When Henry goes out for a walk with Fergus, Fergus always runs as fast as he can and his resulting happiness always makes Henry feel so much better.
Henry is convinced that Fergus is a healer! Who could argue with that?
Trust me, when I’m feeling a little down the dogs all know. All of them allow me to come and bury my face in their fur, or rest my face alongside their face. Perhaps one of the most powerful gifts from our dogs is their wonderful, unconditional love for us funny humans.
I have no connection with Peter other than being delighted to have this guest post from him (or was it from Fergus??). Peter offered this brief summary of his work, which I am pleased to include:
At 10:15 last night, I discovered that this Post is likely to be published with all the pictures missing. Operator error on my part.
So rather than delete it and you, dear reader, not know what had happened, I have left it as it is and will correct it by including the pictures for tomorrow, Sunday.
Dear friend Dan Gomez sent this to me on the 9th but I have split it into two parts, the concluding part will be tomorrow.
How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb?
1. Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we’ve got our whole lives ahead of us, and you’re inside worrying about a stupid burned out bulb?
2. Border Collie: Just one. And then I’ll replace any wiring that’s not up to code.
3. Dachshund: You know I can’t reach that stupid lamp!
4. Rottweiler: Make me.
5. Boxer: Who cares? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark.
6. Lab: Oh, me, me!!!!! Pleeeeeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Huh? Can I? Pleeeeeeeeeze, please, please, please!
7. German Shepherd: I’ll change it as soon as I’ve led these people from the dark, check to make sure I haven’t missed any, and make just one more perimeter patrol to see that no one has tried to take advantage of the situation
8. Jack Russell Terrier: I’ll just pop it in while I’m bouncing off the walls and furniture.
9. Old English Sheep Dog: Light bulb? I’m sorry, but I don’t see a light bulb!
10. Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.
11. Chihuahua : Yo quiero Taco Bulb. Or “We don’t need no stinking light bulb.”
12. Greyhound: It isn’t moving. Who cares?
13. Australian Cattle Dog:First, I’ll put all the light bulbs in a little circle…
14. Poodle: I’ll just blow in the Border Collie’s ear and he’ll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.
How many cats does it take to change a light bulb?
Cats do not change light bulbs. People change light bulbs. So, the real question is:
“How long will it be before I can expect some light, some dinner, and a massage?”
ALL OF WHICH PROVES, ONCE AGAIN, THAT WHILE DOGS HAVE MASTERS, CATS HAVE STAFF!
Something new for the New Year – stories about dogs!
Before I met Jean in December 2007, she had been rescuing feral dogs in the Mexican beach town of San Carlos for many, many years. Over those years, Jean must have rescued and found homes for 60 dogs or more. In the month that I met Jean, she had 12 dogs and 6 cats at her home. Ten months later, September 2008, I flew out to be permanently with Jean with my German Shepherd, Pharaoh – that’s him on the home page of Learning from Dogs – taking the total up to 13 dogs.
When we moved up to Payson, Arizona in February, 2010 we brought all 13 dogs and 6 cats with us, much to the amazement of the US Immigration officers at the US-Mexican border town of Nogales! Indeed, our particular officer left his booth excitedly to explain to his colleagues that our dogs and cats represented a border crossing record!
So many of the dogs that have passed through Jean’s loving arms have stories to tell. Thus over the coming months, Jean and I will offer you, dear reader, those stories.
Here’s the first, written by ‘Dog Lady’ Jean about gorgeous, sweet Paloma who, despite her age (Paloma that is!), is alive and well here in Payson.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The old white dog padded down the dusty pavement. Sway-backed and dull-eyed, her teats, heavy with milk, grazed the ground. An anonymous creature in a cruel world. The pavement sizzled in the afternoon Mexican summer sun blistering her tired feet, but she could not hurry. She had to conserve her energy. Her pups were soon coming and finding a safe place to give birth to them was her priority. The beach that had been her home was not a good place. .. needed cool shelter. She would find it.
She was alone among a sea of human legs in this scruffy Mexican beach town. No-one noticed her plight. No-one cared. She was used to it. She had long been adept at finding dried fish, discarded tortillas, sometimes a tasty morsel thrown by a tourist sunning in front of the big hotel.
This would be her eighth litter and she was very tired. As a puppy she belonged to a family with small children. There were plenty of leftovers. But when she became pregnant they drove her to the beach, threw her out and left her to fend for herself.
Her babies were always beautiful. She had Labrador in her genes donating a coat that was pure white. Humans always took her pups; she could only ever hope their fate was always a better one than hers.
Anonymity. She had perfected the art; never make eye contact, move low to the ground, escape the stray kick with a quick sideways leap.
She remembered at the very end of the long beach there was a house with a pool. Plenty of water. Onward she padded.
The lawn surrounding the pool was moist with sprinklers and the hibiscus hedge close to the house made a safe nest. Soon she had dug into the damp earth a big enough hole to curl into; it was cool under the canopy of red flowers.
A human voiced shouted, “Carlos, get that dog out of the hedge.” Then the long hose filling that tempting pool was turned on her and a burst of water hit her in the face. She uttered a low growl. Carlos, the gardener, backed away, “Señor, the dog, she is having babies.”
The owner of the house turned abruptly and went inside. He picked up his phone, made a call to the local English lady who over the years had acquired the nickname ‘Dog Lady’. He practically shouted down the phone, “I have a dog in my hedge having pups. You had better do something about it or I shall dispose of them, and I won’t be pretty about it!”
‘Dog Lady’ was used to this. Had been many years since she took on the practically impossible task of rescuing Mexican feral dogs and she was well-known for never turning a dog away. In less than 15 minutes, she had walked to the fine house overlooking the beach and quietly looked under the hedge. As anticipated, the dog was incapable of being moved, her focus entirely now on the safe birth of her pups. With appropriate feminine wiles, the white dog’s human saviour persuaded the disgruntled owner to allow the mother dog a stay of a few days. ‘Dog Lady’ promised that she would take them away as soon as possible.
“She’s a mean and wild dog, you’ll never tame her,” came the angry response from the house owner.
‘Dog Lady’ just smiled and said nothing.
But every day she took food to the white dog then sat quietly close by on the grass reading her book. The white dog had just the one pup, which ‘Dog Lady’ called Solovino, the Spanish for ‘comes alone’. The mother dog she called Paloma, Spanish for ‘Dove’. Many white dogs in Mexico were called Paloma and maybe years earlier that was what the children named her as the name did seem to resonate with this gentle dog.
Patiently, ‘Dog Lady’ moved closer and closer until Paloma would take meat from her hand, rapidly followed by allowing her ears to be caressed. Ten days later, while Paloma was eating, ‘Dog Lady’ picked up the little Solovino and put him into her car. Paloma’s response was immediate; she frantically ran to her child, her mothering instinct so great that she leapt without hesitation into this strange vehicle. Paloma and Solovino were safe.
The house owner graciously admitted that he had been taught a lesson in empathy and how sorry he was for being so rude and cruel.
Back at ‘Dog Lady’s’ home, a quiet sanctuary for so many dogs over the past years, Paloma and Solovino were quickly settled into a cool room. Paloma soon utterly trusted her ‘Dog Lady’ human companion and became the tame and loving dog she always wanted to be. Her shining eyes embraced her new world and she even regained her figure! Solovino grew quickly and found a wonderful family home in Tucson, Arizona.
Now some 6 years after ‘Dog Lady’ rescued Paloma from under that hedge, she is a beloved part of the Handover family. Indeed, she travelled in peace in February 2009 with her twelve dog friends from her sanctuary in San Carlos, Mexico to this dog paradise in the Arizonan forest just outside Payson.