Tag: Mary Jo DiLonardo

Sweet Senior Solutions!

Where did it all go?

I am, of course, referring to the years of one’s life. From the minutia that we are already over half-way through the month of March to the rather broader acceptance that this coming November will see me turn seventy-three!

The trick to surviving these senior years is to focus on living in the present moment as much as one can and not worrying about the world around us or where on earth it is all heading to!

Yes, this living in the present lark is so much easier to write than it is to practice. If only we had the same knack of living in the present that our dogs do. Take, for example, dear old Pharaoh. Now well into his thirteenth year (he will be fourteen in June) he really struggles to move around with his very weak rear hips. He frequently poops himself and just as frequently has to be assisted by me or Jean to get him onto his feet. But is there ever a complaint from the old man? No! Never!

Every evening when we are all ready to go to bed and the dogs are let out for their night-time ‘pee’, Pharaoh always comes up to Jean and nuzzles her and enjoys having his head fondly stroked by Jean. What a stoic, wonderful dog he is.

So after yesterday’s post about dear old Roman up in Seattle how serendipitous it was to read yesterday the following item over on the Mother Nature Network site.

It is republished here.

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9 sweet reminders why you should adopt a senior pet

Mary Jo DiLonardo   March 13, 2017

Older rescue dogs have a leg up on younger dogs when it comes to napping skills. (Photo: ShawshankRedemption/imgur)

When you decide to bring a new pet into your home, it can be tempting to pick up a puppy or kitten. They’re all cuteness and goofiness and you know that hopefully they’ll be with you for a healthy, long life. But there’s a special place in animal lover’s heaven — or at least boatloads of good karma — for people who adopt older pets. They don’t know the animal’s history and know their time with them is limited, but they open their hearts and homes just the same.

Here’s a look at some of these sweet senior adoptions that will make your heart melt.

Reddit user ShawshankRedemption got the sweet rescue dog above, who apparently really knows how to nap. “The pound had guessed her at 14 when they picked her off the street and the vet doesn’t bother to guess. Medical costs have been ok, it was just a lot at first since she was sick and malnourished from being neglected,” he writes. “I have to say it’s all been worth it.”

Polly was given up to a shelter by her owner, who offered to pay to have her euthanized. (Photo: rocknroll_heart/Reddit)

Reddit user rocknroll_heart adopted Polly, a special needs senior dog that was about to be euthanized. She’s deaf and had to have dental surgery because of major issues with her teeth.

“I’ll be honest — I was a little worried about adopting a senior dog because I knew I’d be devastated if I only had a limited time with her,” she writes. ” However, I’ve made it my mission to make sure her limited time here would be the best time a dog could ever have because she hasn’t had the best of care up until now. Now I’d like to only adopt senior dogs because I see how happy she is now, and I’m sure there are many out there who need that level of care as well.”

Steve Greig hangs out with his dogs, while posing for the RescueMen charity calendar. (Photo: wolfgang2242/Instagram)

Steve Greig’s house in Colorado is kind of a sanctuary for mostly senior dogs and the occasional pig and rabbit. He’s been featured on a RescueMen charity calendar and is constantly opening his home to older pets in need of a place to stay.

“I get asked a lot about how I managed to cope with the inevitable heartbreak that comes with senior dog adoption. I think that the heartbreak is offset by the increased appreciation I have for life specifically because I have a house full of seniors,” Greig writes on his popular Instagram account.

“When you are young or when your pets are young its easy to take them (and everything else) for granted. The end is so far away that you don’t even think about it and it’s easy to overlook the intricate beauty of the daily dance … Having senior pets helps to change that pattern and slow everything down. I watch them so closely. I help them with things that younger pets can do for themselves and so I get to celebrate the ordinary; days when everyone eats all their food, the nights we are able to go for a walk, the times they don’t need any medicine, or the times when the medicine they do need cures them. Those little things make me stop and feel that everything is right in the world at that moment. It makes me look around and take stock of all the love in my life, and smile about the love that has been there before.”

Pepper’s new owner doesn’t know how he lost his left ear. (Photo: CallMeAl_/Reddit)

Senior cat Pepper was given up for adoption when his owner moved to a place that doesn’t allow cats. Reddit user CallMeAl_ says the kitty was obviously well loved and well cared for. She believes his owner was elderly and had to move to a senior facility.

“That broke my heart imagining someone crying while dropping off this sweet sweet cat,” she writes.

Rocky lounges after a walk. (Photo: trebleKat/Reddit)

Reddit users termisique and trebleKat adopted Rocky, an 11-year-old German shepherd and harrier hound mix dog that no one else would rescue. Their cat is still adjusting to the new roommate, but Rocky is certainly getting comfortable in his new home.

“He is missing most of his teeth and has hip dysplasia, but is sweet and well trained. Our plan is to spoil him and keep him happy for the rest of his days.”

Molly says Otitis is very empathetic and can tell when she’s having a bad day. (Photo: Adventures of Otitis/Facebook)

When Molly Lichtenwalner met Otitis, the senior white cat had been surrendered by his family who couldn’t afford to pay for the surgery to have his ears removed. Now earless, he’s no longer suffering from painful cysts, but he certainly has an unusual appearance.

“When I came across Otitis, I knew he was the perfect cat for me,” Lichtenwalner told the Dodo. “He was an older, special needs cat that I knew needed the home and love that I absolutely knew I could give him. I found out later that many people asked about him, but no one ever put in an application for him — I was the first.”

Lichtenwalner is writing a children’s book based on Otitis about discovering how your disability can make you special. You can follow the kitty’s exploits on Facebook and Instagram.

Reddit user sicwriter adopted this sweet older corgi/collie mix. (Photo: sicwriter/imgur)

Reddit user sicwriter posted adorable images of this older corgi/collie mix, who he adopted. “Rescued my new best friend a month ago — a reminder that older dogs need homes too!”

Can you tell where Midnight ends and the blanket begins? (Photo: Kaalb/Reddit)

Midnight has feline herpes and extra toes, but her illness and polydactyl tendencies didn’t stop Reddit user Kaalb from adopting the beautiful senior kitty.

“She’s a cuddle bug and adorable!” she writes.

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This is what life is all about!

(P.S. Don’t forget to keep looking for a loving home for Senior Roman.)

 

So! How cool is this!

The world of music as heard by our dogs!

Many people beyond Jean and me must be aware that whatever is showing on the television has a very soothing effect upon dogs. As in our dogs are quickly fast asleep in the evenings when we sit down after our evening meal.

But some research is pointing the finger more at what our dogs hear than what they see. (Oh, does anyone know the factual answer to the question of whether dogs can even make out images on a television screen?)
Mary Jo DiLonardo, a frequent writer over on the Mother Nature Network, recently wrote about the calming influence over dogs of certain types of music.

It’s a great read and I’m very happy to share it with you.

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Stressed dogs prefer reggae and soft rock

Study of shelter dogs finds music lowers cortisol levels, heart rate.

Mary Jo DiLonardo    January 27, 2017

dog-wearning-blue-headphones-jpg-653x0_q80_crop-smart
Is she jamming to Bob Marley, by any chance? (Photo: Luna Vandoorne/Shutterstock)

When you crank the music, do you ever think about your dog’s musical tastes? If your pup needs to chill, you may want to put on some Bob Marley or John Denver.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow worked in conjunction with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to see how various types of music affected the stress levels of kenneled dogs. Shelter dogs listened to a wide range of music from Spotify playlists. The genres varied from day to day, with the furry residents listening to classical, reggae, soft rock, pop and Motown in a series of experiments.

While each genre was playing, the researchers measured the dogs’ stress levels by monitoring their heart rate variability and cortisol levels. They also kept track of whether the dogs were lying down or barking while the music was on.

The researchers found that regardless of what type of music was playing, the dogs were generally “less stressed” with music vs. without. They spent significantly more time lying down (versus standing) when any type of music was playing. They also seemed to show a slight preference for reggae and soft rock, with Motown coming in last, but not by much.

Musical tastes may vary

The responses to the genres was mixed, co-author Neil Evans, a professor of integrative physiology, told the Washington Post.

“What we tended to see was that different dogs responded differently,” Evans said. “There’s possibly a personal preference from some dogs for different types of music, just like in humans.”

The results make a good argument for playing music in shelters, where dogs can be frightened by unfamiliar surroundings. Evans points out that stress can cause dogs to bark, cower and behave in ways that makes it hard for them to be adopted. It’s worth noting that in the tests, playing music of any kind didn’t make barking dogs stop barking; however, when the music stopped, quiet dogs were more likely to start barking.

“We want the dogs to have as good an experience as they can in a shelter,” said Evans, who pointed out that people looking to adopt “want a dog who is looking very relaxed and interacts with them.”

Two of the Scottish SPCA’s facilities now play music for their residents, and the research has convinced them to expand the program. The research has been published in the journal Physiology & Behavior.

“Having shown that variety is key to avoid habituation, the Scottish SPCA will be investing in sound systems for all their kennels,” the charity said on its website. “In the future, every center will be able to offer our four-footed friends a canine-approved playlist with the view to extending this research to other species in the charity’s care.”

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Really great work on behalf of our wonderful dogs.

Who knows! The findings from this research may filter down to that species of creature that tends to share their world with dogs: homo sapiens!

Yes, I’m a coward!

I just can’t publish the Dogs vs. Wives list!

It is, after all, the season of goodwill.

But there was more to my decision about not publishing the list; I didn’t want hundreds of you telling me to go and put this blog where the sun doesn’t shine!

Let me explain.

Bob Derham, a long-term friend for many years back in the ‘old country’, four days ago sent me an email that contained: Sixteen Logical Reasons Why Some Men Have Dogs And Not Wives:

Here’s an example:

derham
3. Dogs like it if you leave lots 
Of things on the floor.

You get the drift of the theme!

My email reply read: Will have to think very carefully as to how this one is presented. Probably blame you!! 😉

I thought carefully and decided not to publish!

I preferred to republish this recent article from Mother Nature Network.

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13 of the world’s most gentle dog breeds

By: Mary Jo DiLonardo on Dec. 21, 2016.

collie-retriever-wearing-flowers-jpg-638x0_q80_crop-smartSweet-natured personalities

Some dog breeds are spastic, while others are incredibly calm. Some breeds have reputations for playfulness, while more athletic types work on farms bossing around sheep or find their calling doing police work.

But there are plenty of dog breeds that are just generally sweet and loving and gentle. Kids can crawl all over them, take toys out of their mouth or even mess with them at mealtime, and these sweet pups don’t care.

Here’s a look at some of the most gentle dog breeds around.

golden-retriever-jpg-638x0_q80_crop-smartGolden retriever

Picture Parade One Hundred and Seventy-Four

Today’s picture parade also comes with words.

Originally seen on Mother Nature Network where it was published by Mary Jo Dilonardo back on November 8th.

Take a moment of Zen with these dogs

Chilled-out canines experience a moment of utter calmness

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Fred the Basset hound appears to have more Zen moments than most dogs. (Photo: ‘Zen Dogs’ by Alex Cearns/HarperOne)

Australian animal photographer Alex Cearns remembers the first Zen dog image she ever captured, a Shar-Pei named Suzi.

“During her photo session, I caught a shot of her with her eyes closed, and a big smile on her face. I called the image ‘Zen Dog,’ and when her owners saw it, they immediately fell in love with the vibe of the image and with Suzi’s relaxed and happy pose,” Cearns says.

“With such positive feedback, I became keen to capture the emotion and moment of being a Zen dog for other dogs who visited my studio.”

Cearns tries to take at least one Zen-like image for every dog photo session she conducts at her Houndstooth Studio, even if the process takes time. She has compiled 80 of these images of meditative canines in her new book “Zen Dogs.”

Bailey is an Australian shepherd. (Photo: 'Zen Dogs' by Alex Cearns/HarperOne)
Bailey is an Australian shepherd. (Photo: ‘Zen Dogs’ by Alex Cearns/HarperOne)

To get her canine subjects to relax, Cearns makes sure they are authentically calm and happy. Her studio is small, quiet and without many distractions.

“During my photo sessions, I realized that some types of dogs are more likely to close their eyes than others,” Cearns says. “Dogs who were fairly laid back, or who liked to lie about were easier to photograph in a Zen state, whereas dogs overly fixated on toys or treats wouldn’t close their eyes for a second, should the toy or treat disappear. They kept their eyes firmly on the prize.”

Lexie the Weimaraner looks stately. (Photo: 'Zen Dogs' by Alex Cearns/HarperOne)
Lexie the Weimaraner looks stately. (Photo: ‘Zen Dogs’ by Alex Cearns/HarperOne)

Although it might look like the dogs are zoned out or even sleeping, that’s not the case; Cearns has skillfully caught a restful moment with her camera.

“The images capture a split second blink of my dog subjects, freezing the moment in time,” she says. “Sitting only a foot away, I’m able to watch each dog subject carefully to pick up on their blinking pattern, and take a series of images just before I predict their blink.”

Barney is a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. (Photo: 'Zen Dogs' by Alex Cearns /HarperOne)
Barney is a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. (Photo: ‘Zen Dogs’ by Alex Cearns /HarperOne)

The book “Zen Dogs” includes photos of a wide range of breeds, interspersed with Zen-inspired quotes by Gandhi, Buddha, St. Francis of Assisi and others with thoughtful, meditative words to share. There’s this one, for example, from “Unknown”:

If you’re always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in?

Muska is a relaxed Hungarian vizsla. (Photo: 'Zen Dogs' by Alex Cearns/HarperOne)
Muska is a relaxed Hungarian vizsla. (Photo: ‘Zen Dogs’ by Alex Cearns/HarperOne)

“As soon as a dog visits my studio, I aim to genuinely make friends with them and ensure they are comfortable and feel secure,” says Cearns. “I try to find out what they love most — a certain type of treat, or a particular toy — and then use that knowledge to win them over.”

Kono is a miniature poodle in a moment of Zen. (Photo: 'Zen Dogs' by Alex Cearns /HarperOne)
Kono is a miniature poodle in a moment of Zen. (Photo: ‘Zen Dogs’ by Alex Cearns /HarperOne)

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Don’t know about you but I have been incredibly stressed out these last few weeks. So that saying: If you’re always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in? really speaks to me.

Big hugs to you all.

Lessons from our older dogs.

“Not even old age knows how to love death.”
So wrote Sophocles.
Encyclopedia Britannica offers us this:
Sophocles, (born c. 496 bc, Colonus, near Athens [Greece]—died 406, Athens) with Aeschylus and Euripides, one of classical Athens’ three great tragic playwrights. The best known of his 123 dramas is Oedipus the King.
The reason for me selecting this start to today’s post is simply that I wanted to bring into focus the stark reality that death is one of the very few unavoidable certainties for every living creature (with perhaps tax being the other one for us humans!).
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Older dogs can teach us a thing or two about unconditional love

Photos reveal special bond between senior pups and their people.

Mary Jo DiLonardo

October 31, 2016
Clementine the pug was the inspiration for Sobel's book. (Photo: Jane Sobel Klonsky)
Clementine the pug was the inspiration for Sobel’s book. (Photo: Jane Sobel Klonsky)

Creative inspiration hit, of all places, in the insurance office. Photographer Jane Sobel Klonsky was sitting in her broker’s office in her small town of Manchester, Vermont, when she was transfixed by the bond between a woman and her older dog.

“This big old bulldog was sitting in a bed next to (my broker) and she had her hand on Clementine’s side and a lightbulb went off. I thought I want to document these really intense relationships we have with our dogs,” Klonsky says. “There was so much poignancy in the relationship she had with an older dog, so much kindness and love. They just lived in the moment and taught us to be better people, and I thought this is what I wanted to do.”

Clementine (pictured above) became the first subject for Klonsky’s book “Unconditional: Older Dogs, Deeper Love,” in which she captures the special relationship between senior dogs and their people.

“Clementine has a wonderful, quirky personality that has always made me certain that she communicates with me,” her owner, Phil Arbolino, writes. “The tilt of her head, the look in her eyes, her enthusiasm when I come home, and her joy when we play with her toys have been the greatest evidence that her love for us is real and unconditional. And we have unconditional love for her in return.”

 Walt loves the company of others, but really only has eyes for Judy. (Photo: Jane Sobel Klonsky)
Walt loves the company of others, but really only has eyes for Judy. (Photo: Jane Sobel Klonsky)

Klonsky started photographing friends’ dogs in Vermont and then progressed to friends of friends’ dogs. Eventually she branched out and began taking images of dogs all over the country. Like Walt, who lives in Texas.

When Judy Coates was 80, her son and his family gave her a Great Dane puppy as a combination Mother’s Day and birthday present.

“Life with Walt is so amazing because of his size and his gentleness,” Coates writes. “His love is so real — so uncomplicated. I am blessed to know this marvelous animal. Walt brings joy to my life, and to a lot of others who snicker when they see this little, gray-haired lady driving around town with his huge head hanging out the rear window.”

Ozzie, an Australian kelpie-shepherd mix, enjoys the water. (Photo: Jane Sobel Klonsky)
Ozzie, an Australian kelpie-shepherd mix, enjoys the water. (Photo: Jane Sobel Klonsky)

When Klonsky began her project, she had only planned to include photographs. “I always believed the image would tell the whole story,” she says. But her husband suggested she have her human subjects share stories about their canine relationships.

“I started asking people to write about their special bonds and what made their dogs so special to them. Everyone willingly said they would love to do it. I think sometimes it was hard for them to put their feelings into words.”

Seline Skoug writes about her Australian kelpie-shepherd mix, Ozzie (pictured above): “Ozzie and I may be free souls, but we always return home to where our hearts are. Never have I had a dog who understands me as well as he does. Never has he wavered in being there for my family and me.”

The secret story is in the eyes

Lucy and Savvy are two spaniel BFFs. (Photo: Jane Sobel Klonsky)
Lucy and Savvy are two spaniel BFFs. (Photo: Jane Sobel Klonsky)

Senior dogs communicate a whole lifetime of living just in their eyes, says Klonsky. “Most of these senior dogs just look at you and look into your soul. They have this intense love that they want to give.”

A well-lived life means a bit of a carpe diem attitude, which Klonsky says the dogs seem willing to share with their human families. “I see it all in their eyes. They say it doesn’t matter what happened yesterday. Let’s live for today. They’re wiser and calmer, and they can share that with us.”

Shelby the corgi hangs out in the car with her owner, Robert. (Photo: Jane Sobel Klonsky)

Sometimes they live life on their own terms.

“Shelby came into our lives like a tempest and took on the demeanor of a precocious kid,” writes Robert Gutbier. “Food and rides in the truck are her top priorities, with Debbie and I being third on the list. Always watching her human charges from a polite distance, Shelby gives love and affection as needed — but always on her terms. Such is a Corgi.”

Jennifer Lalli goes fishing with her dog, Barbarella. (Photo: Jane Sobel Klonsky)
Jennifer Lalli goes fishing with her dog, Barbarella. (Photo: Jane Sobel Klonsky)

Many of the dogs photographed in the book are now gone. For example, Jennifer Lalli writes of her pit bull, Barbarella: “I didn’t think I could live without her. We were a team. We faced everything together. Side by side, we were strong, intelligent, and beautiful. Now my once-in-a-lifetime dog is gone.”

Although some people might think of the project as melancholy, Klonsky says she doesn’t.

“I never thought of it as sad. I think of it as a celebration of relationships. I look at it as very beautiful.”

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“A celebration of relationships.”

Exactly!

More calming.

For dogs and for us humans!

Coincidentally, thinking of yesterday’s post, The Power of a Good Massage, there in my email ‘in-box’ was an item from Mary Jo Dilonardo  of the Mother Nature Network. It’s a perfect follow-on.

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‘Real life’ room lets shelter dogs de-stress (and hang on the couch)

Adopters and pets can check each other out in a home-like setting.

Mary Jo DiLonardo

October 19, 2016
jake-dog-in-toledo-area-humane-real-life-room-jpg-653x0_q80_crop-smart
Long-time resident Jake takes a break in Toledo Area Humane Society’s Real Life Room. (Photo: Toledo Area Humane Society/Facebook)

Being at an animal shelter is anything but a normal experience. Dogs and cats are often stressed from all the noises, smells and just the strange environment. And for potential adopters, it’s tough to figure out a pet’s personality when the dog is panting, pacing and generally anxious.

One Ohio animal shelter came up with a calming solution. The Toledo Area Humane Society created what they call a Real Life Room. The out-of-the-way place has a home-like setting, filled with a comfortable recliner, a fluffy rug, a dog bed, a big box of toys and even a TV. The goal is to make dogs and owners feel like they’re at home, away from all the strangeness of the shelter.

Behind the closed door, the pet can relax — and the family can get a sense of what the dog or cat is really like.

Sometimes the shelter also uses the room to give stressed-out shelter dogs a place to unwind for a while. Some long-time residents that seem particularly unhappy with their shelter stay have had their spirits lifted by visiting the room, according to the shelter.

“Every dog reacts differently to the kennels: Some dogs really don’t mind the noise and energy of that environment. However, for dogs that were surrendered to the shelter, that can be a shocking contrast to the comforts they previously experienced at their homes,” a representative for the shelter told People.

“For these dogs, the RLR (Real Life Room) provides an environment they are used to. Dogs that are stressed from the kennels because of the noise, high volume of people, and other dogs, the RLR allows them to have some quiet time where they can relax and destress, just be a dog.”

The Austin Animal Center in Texas likes the idea so much, it’s including a real life room as part of the shelter’s new expansion project.

“It’s hard to get to know a dog when you’re just taking them for a walk or taking them out to a play yard,” Austin Animal Center Kasey Spain tells MNN. “With these rooms, you can go there with a cat or dog and see if they cuddle on the couch, if they’re playful, if they jump on the furniture … everything that potential adopters want to know.”

When pets aren’t as stressed, their real personalities shine through, Spain says, and that often translates to the real goal: more adoptions.

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Kasey Spain is so correct in saying that when a pet animal isn’t stressed their real personality shows through. Remember this photo from last Thursday!

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My case rests!

However, I can’t close today’s post without appealing to anyone thinking of taking on a dog to opt for a dog from your local animal rescue shelter. Ex-rescue dogs repay that trust shown to them in spades!

Saturday Smile

The power of our interconnected world!

When Jean and I moved to Oregon back in 2012 we lost two dogs; Chester and Paloma. Frankly, it was very much the fault of ‘yours truly’ for I was far too complacent about assuming that all the dogs would very quickly know this place was their new home.

We never saw Chester again and even today, some four years later, if his name comes up in conversation I can see the pain appear on Jean’s face.

Amazingly, we found Paloma after four days!

Mother Nature Network recently had an article about a dog who disappeared but, thanks to the power of the Internet, some two years later it became clear that the dog was still alive.

Here is that article for all you good people.

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Senior dog missing for 2 years spotted online

Original owners thrilled to know he’s alive and well in a happy place.

Mary Jo DiLonardo

September 26, 2016
Captain Ron's original owners say his favorite song as a younger dog was 'Scarborough Fair' by Simon and Garfunkel. (Photo: Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary/Facebook)
Captain Ron’s original owners say his favorite song as a younger dog was ‘Scarborough Fair’ by Simon and Garfunkel. (Photo: Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary/Facebook)

Captain Ron is a favorite at the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. He was taken in by the rescue group about two years ago when he was picked up as an older stray with health issues. They knew the aging dog likely wouldn’t be adopted at a traditional shelter and probably wouldn’t make it out after the three-day hold period. So Captain Ron became a permanent resident at the home-based sanctuary where older dogs go to live out their senior years.

Captain Ron’s photo is often shared on the group’s Facebook page, where the sweet-faced pooch caught the eye of some very special people: his former owners.

Captain Ron, with a major photobomb by Lacy :)
Captain Ron, with a major photobomb by Lacy 🙂

They reached out and contacted the shelter, so happy to see that their four-legged best friend was happy and in a wonderful place.

Lil' Liza Jane and Big Captain Ron
Lil’ Liza Jane and Big Captain Ron

It turns out that Captain Ron’s original name was Oscar. He lived on a farm with cows and sheep and is a Grand Pyrenees/Rottweiler mix. He lost his eye from a fungal infection called blastomycosis and was just getting over an illness when he disappeared from the farm. The owners have since moved out of state and agreed that the best place for 13-year-old Captain Ron is with his new canine family where he is settled and happy. At the sanctuary, Captain Ron shares his days and nights with about 50 other dogs.

Captain Ron’s family was thrilled to share photos of the pup in his younger days.

Young Captain Ron
Young Captain Ron
little Captain Ron
little Captain Ron
Captain Ron as an adolescent
Captain Ron as an adolescent

Although fans of the sanctuary’s Facebook page are divided over whether the owners should have tried to bring the dog back or let him stay where he’s been the past two years, most are glad that they got to see Captain Ron/Oscar happy and healthy, long after they had given up hope he was lost for good.

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 This is certainly an age where the world wide web is changing hugely the ways we live our lives. This is one very positive example of that change.

Be careful what you say!

Science is showing that dogs understand us very well!

First off, if you have a few minutes go across to this link on the BBC Radio 4 website. The programme is called: How extensive is your dog’s vocabulary? The segment is just a little over 4 minutes long and is described:

Many dog owners know that their pets can understand key words like biscuit, walkies or maybe even sausages, but can some clever pooches actually spell or tell the time? Winifred Robinson finds out more.

First broadcast on You & Yours, 31 August 2016.

Secondly, you will be nodding in agreement with Ryan O’Hara of K9 Magazine who was featured in the segment.

Thirdly, now enjoy this recent article that was published over on Mother Nature Network.

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Your dog totally gets what you’re saying

Dogs understand words and tone — much like humans do

Mary Jo DiLonardo August 30, 2016

Dogs don't just hear the tone of your voice. They also hear what you say. (Photo: Golden Pixels LLC/Shutterstock)
Dogs don’t just hear the tone of your voice. They also hear what you say. (Photo: Golden Pixels LLC/Shutterstock)

Your dog gets excited and wags his tail when you say “good boy!” and “treat!” and maybe even “Want to go for a walk?!”

But is it the words he understands or the lilt and obvious happiness he picks up in your voice?

Researchers in Hungary say that dogs understand both the meaning of the words we say, as well as the tone we use when we speak them. So even if you say, “I’m going to work!” in your most upbeat, cheery voice, there’s a good chance your dog is going to see right through you and know this isn’t good news.

“During speech processing, there is a well-known distribution of labor in the human brain,” said lead researcher Attila Andics from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest  in a statement. “It is mainly the left hemisphere’s job to process word meaning, and the right hemisphere’s job to process intonation.”

The study, published in the journal Science, found that praise activates the reward center in the brain only when both the words and the intonation are in sync.

Dogs in Hungary sit around the MRI scanner used to measure their brain activity. (Photo: Enikő Kubinyi)
Dogs in Hungary sit around the MRI scanner used to measure their brain activity. (Photo: Enikő Kubinyi)

Researchers trained 13 dogs — mostly border collies and golden retrievers — to lie quietly in a harness in a functional MRI machine while the machine recorded the dogs’ brain activity. A trainer who was familiar to the dogs spoke various words to them with either praising or neutral intonations. Sometimes she said praising words that were often heard by the dogs from their owners, such as “well done!” and “clever!” and other times she used neutral words that the dogs likely didn’t understand, which the researchers believed meant nothing to the pets.

The dogs processed the familiar words using the left hemisphere of their brains, no matter how they were spoken. And tone was analyzed in the right hemisphere. But positive words spoken in a praising tone prompted the most activity in the reward center of the brain.

So “good boy!” said in a positive tone got the best response, while “good boy” in a neutral tone got the same response as a word like “however” said in either a positive or neutral way.

“It shows that for dogs, a praise can very well work as a reward, but it works best if both the words and the intonation are praising,” Andics said. “So dogs not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two, for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant. Again, this is very similar to what human brains do.”

What this means for us is that humans aren’t so unusual when it comes to how our brains and language work together.

“Our research sheds new light on the emergence of words during language evolution,” said Andics. “What makes words uniquely human is not a special neural capacity, but our invention of using them.”

Here’s a video of the researchers explaining how the whole thing works:

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Yes, we dog owners know they understand much of what we say. Yes, we also have found out that some key words have to be spelt out (w-a-l-k is one for us!) as Ryan O’Hara mentions.

Nevertheless, this is fascinating research undertaken by the team in Hungary! Well done the team: people and dogs!

P.S. Spare a thought for all those Londoners and their dogs who, 350 years ago, this evening UK time experienced the Great Fire of London.

14483075050_a09581cf11_b
This painting shows the enormous scale of The Great Fire. Unknown artist, c.1700.

Being the best for your dog.

Should you comfort your dog when he’s afraid?

I read this article over on Mother Nature News a week ago and pondered about the validity of the evidence. My ponderings didn’t result in me coming to a firm conclusion either way.

Wondered what you thought?

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Should you comfort your dog when he’s afraid?

Experts disagree on whether it’s a good idea to reassure a scared pet.

Mary Jo DiLonardo July 6, 2016 (Mary Jo DiLonardo Mary Jo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.)

 Some dog behaviorists believe you reward fearful behavior by trying to comfort a scared pup.
Some dog behaviorists believe you reward fearful behavior by trying to comfort a scared pup. (Photo: 279photo/Shutterstock)

Dogs frightened of thunderstorms or fireworks will often look to their humans for comfort, jumping in their laps or clinging to their legs trying desperately to find relief. But the experts are divided on whether you should try to comfort them. Some think that reassuring them when they’re scared rewards the fearful behavior. Others think it’s our job as pack leaders to give them the safety they need.

How do you decide what to do if your pup suffers from noise anxiety or noise phobia? To help you decide, here’s a look at what some canine behaviorists, trainers and vets suggest.

Don’t reward fearful behavior

When our pets are afraid, it’s natural for most people to treat them the way we would treat young children, by trying to comfort them, says Stanley Coren, Ph.D., author of several books including “How to Speak Dog.”

“With dogs, however, this is exactly the wrong thing to do,” Coren says in Psychology Today. “Petting a dog when he’s acting in a fearful manner actually serves as a reward for the behavior; it’s almost as if we’re telling the dog that being afraid in this situation is the right thing to do.”

Coren says comforting a dog that way actually makes the pet more likely to be afraid the next time.

Many canine behaviorists and vets advise not acknowledging your dog’s fear in any way.

“Do not attempt to reassure your dog when she is afraid,” advises The Humane Society of the United States. “This may only reinforce her fearful behavior. If you pet, soothe, or give treats to her when she’s behaving fearfully, she may interpret this as a reward for her fearful behavior. Instead, try to behave normally, as if you don’t notice her fearfulness.”

That doesn’t mean ignore your dog when he’s anxious because of thunderstorms, fireworks or for any other reason.

Dr. Daniel S. Mills, a veterinarian at the University of Lincoln in England and an expert on canine noise aversion, tells the New York Times that owners should “acknowledge the dog but not fuss over it. Then show that the environment is safe and not compatible with threat, by playing around and seeing if the dog wants to join you. But don’t force it. Let it make a choice.”

Give your dog the comfort he needs

If a dog comes to you for comfort, do you give it to him or ignore him? (Photo: Annette Shaff/Shutterstock)
If a dog comes to you for comfort, do you give it to him or ignore him? (Photo: Annette Shaff/Shutterstock)

It can be absolutely heartbreaking to watch a petrified pet who starts trembling and panting when loud noises start. For pet owners who can’t stand the idea of not trying to help, other experts say it’s totally fine to soothe them. After all, dogs look for safety with their packs and we are their packs.

“You can’t reinforce anxiety by comforting a dog,” Dr. Melissa Bain, an associate professor of clinical animal behavior at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, tells the New York Times. “You won’t make the fear worse. Do what you need to do to help your dog.”

Dog trainer and author Victoria Stilwell, star of the TV series, “It’s Me or the Dog,” agrees it’s important that the owner be there to reassure the dog if the dog comes looking for comfort.

“Far from reinforcing fearful behavior, an owner’s comforting arm and presence can help a phobic dog to cope as long as the owner remains calm at all times,” Stillwell says.

Ignoring your dog when it’s scared is outdated advice, according to a patient handout from the Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

“Ignoring a fearful, panicky dog deprives him of whatever comfort and psychological support you can give him. It also leaves him without any information about what he should be doing instead,” according to UPenn. “If there is an activity your dog can’t get enough of, that is something to do during storms. This can include playing fetch, chase games, even cuddling and petting, or holding the dog firmly next to you if that comforts him.”

Do what your dog needs

If your dog finds comfort in hiding, you may just want to leave her alone. (Photo: NARUCHA KLINUDOM/Shutterstock)
If your dog finds comfort in hiding, you may just want to leave her alone. (Photo: NARUCHA KLINUDOM/Shutterstock)

With experts divided on what’s to do, it’s probably best to just listen to your dog. If he’s scared and has found a place to hide, that’s likely the comfort he needs and you can let him try to work it out. But if he comes looking for you to reassurance, you may just want to give it to him.

“If a dog seeks you out as a comfort force, I wouldn’t turn the dog away,” Atlanta-based internationally certified dog behavior consultant Lisa Matthews tells MNN. “If they went to distance themselves and find a corner or safe space, I wouldn’t go seek them out and say, ‘Oh my gosh, let me hold you!’ I would let them self soothe.”

Matthews says that although she understands the thinking that the behavior might be reinforced that way, she points out there’s no real science to back up either way of thinking.

“The jury is out on whether the dog would be reinforced by offering that condolence,” she says. “We have to realize an animal is in distress. Why in the world would you turn your back to an animal in distress?”

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One gathers from the ‘experts’ that there isn’t an overriding conclusion, “With experts divided on what’s to do …” then goes on to recommend that one should listen to your dog.

Whether it is your dog (s) or fellow humans listening carefully is an art. An art that pays off handsomely. Or in the words of that old saying (author unknown):

Always listen with the intent to understand;

Rather than with the intent to respond!

Then remind yourself how carefully our dogs listen to us at times.

So much to learn from these beautiful animals!

That itchy, scratchy season.

I was referring to our dear pets but of course all pet owners know that we humans are not proof against fleas and ticks!

Again, another long, hot day working outside left me rather short of enthusiasm for an hour or two of creative writing. Indeed, it was past 4pm when I turned on my PC and wondered what to offer you, dear people.

But in my blog folder I found the perfect answer. A recent article over on Mother Nature Network.

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7 natural flea remedies for cats and dogs

Mary Jo DiLonardo, June 6, 2016

Calm that itch with some non-chemical treatments to get rid of fleas. (Photo: Tanhu/Shutterstock)
Calm that itch with some non-chemical treatments to get rid of fleas. (Photo: Tanhu/Shutterstock)

It’s that itchy, scratchy season for pets when fleas rear their ugly, annoying microscopic heads. Of course there are lots of chemical treatments and collars that can wipe out the annoying pests. But if those chemicals aren’t safe for you or your children to touch, do you really want them on your furry friends?

Here are some more natural flea remedies to try instead.

Natural flea collars

If you don’t want to hang a chemical flea collar around your pet’s neck, you can make a natural version, suggests Reader’s Digest. Just buy an inexpensive nylon or cotton pet collar. Then pour one of the following mixtures over the flat collar and let it dry. Refresh the collar weekly.

For cats:

1 teaspoon unflavored vodka and 1 drop geranium essential oil

Or

1 teaspoon unflavored vodka and 1 drop cedarwood essential oil

For dogs:

1 teaspoon unflavored vodka, 1 drop rosemary essential oil, 1 drop thyme essential oil and garlic oil from 1 small capsule

Or

1 teaspoon unflavored vodka, 1 drop eucalyptus essential oil, 1 drop cedarwood essential oil and 1 drop lemongrass essential oil

Nematodes

Nematodes are microscopic worm-like parasites. There are many different kinds and some can be beneficial because they feed on pests, such as fleas. You can buy nematodes at garden stores. Just mix them with water and spray them around your yard, reports SF Gate. Nematodes need moisture on a regular basis, so you should water your lawn every couple of days to make sure the beneficial parasites survive.

Will they work? It may depend on the soil in your yard. According to the University of Florida Extension, not enough studies have been conducted on nematode effectiveness as a method of flea control when applied to lawns. In addition, soil composition seems to affect how well they work.

Apple cider vinegar

Adding apple cider vinegar to your pet's drinking water may help deter fleas. (Photo: Eduard Darchinyan/Shutterstock)
Adding apple cider vinegar to your pet’s drinking water may help deter fleas. (Photo: Eduard Darchinyan/Shutterstock)

Health food proponents have long touted the benefits of apple cider vinegar. Fans say it also has flea prevention benefits for pets — when applied topically and given orally.

DogsNaturally suggests mixing up a solution of half raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and half water and spritzing your pet’s coat. The same should work for cats, but you may find that your feline friend is less tolerant of being sprayed. In that case, Kitty Cat Chronicles recommends repeatedly dipping a flea comb in the vinegar and water solution and combing your kitty’s fur.

To get the pests from the inside out, try adding 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to your pet’s drinking water. You may find that your pet is too picky to drink the doctored concoction, but the vinegar-laced mix may also help repel fleas. You may want to check with your vet before you spike Fluffy’s H2O, and keep an eye out for any unusual reactions.

“You have to apply common sense,” Sue Ann Lesser, D.V.M., told The Whole Dog Journal. “Most dogs are notoriously over-alkaline, and cider vinegar will help them. If a dog’s system is overly acidic, you’ll see clinical signs, such as obvious symptoms of illness. I know quite a few dogs that take cider vinegar … and I don’t know of any that have had bad results.”

Brewer’s yeast

It sounds basic, but it’s true. “Healthy pets get fewer fleas, and good nutrition makes for healthy pets,” says syndicated columnist Dr. Michael Fox, D.V.M.

One supplement that seems to have the additional benefit of warding off fleas is brewer’s yeast. Anecdotal evidence finds that the popular nutritional supplement helps deter the pesky pest from dogs and cats.

Fox suggests 1/2 teaspoon of brewer’s yeast at mealtime for a cat or small dog, and 1 teaspoon per 30 pounds of body weight for larger dogs.

Rosemary flea dip

A soothing dip made from fresh rosemary may help rid your pet of pesky fleas. (Photo: Dream79/Shutterstock)
A soothing dip made from fresh rosemary may help rid your pet of pesky fleas. (Photo: Dream79/Shutterstock)

Chemical flea dips can be very caustic. But Care2 suggests a mild version featuring fresh rosemary. Start by steeping two cups of fresh rosemary in boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid, throw away the remaining leaves, and add up to a gallon of warm water (depending on the size of your pup). Wait until the brew cools, but is still warm enough to be comfortable. Pour it over your dog until he’s soaked and let it dry naturally.

Lemon spray repellent

For another flea-repellent spray, try a fresh lemon. Another natural remedy from Care2 advises cutting a lemon into quarters, covering with boiling water, and letting it steep overnight. In the morning, spray the mixture on your pet. Be careful of his eyes, but try to target the spray behind his ears, around the base of his tail, and under his legs.

If your pet won’t tolerate spray, PetMD suggests rubbing the juice from a freshly squeezed lemon or orange on your dog or cat’s fur. Make sure you use fresh citrus and not citrus essential oil, which can be dangerous to your pet.

Eucalyptus

The Old Farmer’s Almanac recommends placing a few open jars of eucalyptus leaves and stems around your house, especially in rooms where your pet spends a lot of time. The eucalyptus may deter fleas from hanging around.

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Well after seven hours sweating profusely outside if I don’t go and jump in a shower right now I will be the centre of attraction for all sorts of insects biting or otherwise.

See you tomorrow!