Tag: Mother Nature Network

Moving trees!

The tree that houses our internet connection has died!

Our local arborist from Liberty Tree Enterprises is on the property tomorrow, Wednesday, to fell a dead tree. It is the tree that has our Outreach Internet wireless antenna attached to it very close to its top.

Outreach are standing by to re-install the antenna in another tree close by but it’s reasonable to plan for being off-line for a couple of days.

Thus, the following article that recently appeared on Mother Nature Network seems a most appropriate item to share with you all.

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How to tell if a tree is dead or dying.

by NOEL KIRKPATRICK, May 19, 2018.

A sick tree can infect the other trees in your yard. (Photo: Jannarong/Shutterstock)

A dying tree in a forest is nature simply running its course and eventually giving back to its ecosystem. A dying tree in a well-landscaped yard, however, can pose problems for other trees and everything else around it.

If you have trees near your home, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on their health and to take action if you think a tree is dying or dead.

But first it’s important to be sure your tree is actually sick. This may seem like common sense, but some trees will exhibit signs of illness as part of their usual seasonal cycles. Kevin Zobrist, a Washington State University extension forestry educator, explains that some trees, like the western red cedar, will temporarily appear sick “due to normal seasonal dieback.” So the first step to identifying if a tree is dying is to identify the tree to make sure it’s not just behaving like it’s supposed to.

It’s also important to remember that not all causes of tree sickness are insect-related. Ailments can be the result of improper planting, diseases and weather-related events, like severe storms, winds and drought.

5 signs your tree may be dying

Strong winds can cause trees to lean out of their original shape. (Photo: kenkistler/Shutterstock)

1. Too much leaning or an otherwise odd shape. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), trees leaning 15 degrees away from their original vertical position aren’t doing so well. Trees that were originally straight that are leaning like this are likely the victims of strong winds or root damage. The InterNACHI says that large trees that are leaning due to wind “seldom recover.”

2. Cracks in the tree. These are deep splits in the bark of the tree that can be difficult to identify. Some trees are supposed to have cracks. But deep cracks and gashes can lead to serious issues and “indicate the tree is presently failing,” per the InterNACHI.

Trees aren’t big fans of cankers, either. (Photo: Ngukiaw/Shutterstock)

3. Trees can get cankers, too. Cankers are deeply unpleasant things for both humans and trees. In the case of our arboreal friends, cankers are areas of dead bark, the result of a bacterial or fungal infection, according to the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), a trade group for tree professionals. These infections get inside the tree through an open wound, and the stress of the infection causes the bark to become sunken or fall off the tree. A tree is more likely to break apart near a canker.

4. Wood shows signs of decay. Decay is often hard to spot because it often starts on the inside of the tree, according to TCIA. There are still signs of decay that you can see, however. Mushroom-like spores on the visible roots, stems or branches are clear signs of decay, and cavities where wood is missing also indicate that the tree isn’t healthy.

5. The tree has deadwood. This is exactly what it sounds like: It’s wood that’s dead. When a tree starts dropping branches or limbs, it’s a sign it’s trying to conserve resources by making itself smaller. In addition to being dry and easy to break, deadwood can also be identified by the color of the wood. If it’s bright green, the tree is still healthy. If it’s dull green, it’s dying, and if it’s brown, it’s deadwood. Be sure to test other branches from around the tree as it is possible that only that section of the tree is dying.

Arborists can help

Arborists can help you with many of your tree-related needs, including tree removal. (Photo: Evgeniy Zhukov/Shutterstock)

If you don’t feel comfortable making the call regarding your tree’s health, consult the professionals. Agricultural extensions organized through universities can help you determine the state of your tree, and let you know if trees in your county or state are experiencing problems. If you’re not sure how to contact your extension, the National Pesticide Information Center maintains a list of extensions in each state and U.S. territory.

You can also reach out to an arborist, also referred to as a tree surgeon. These individuals can help you determine the health of your tree and if a removal is necessary. If it is, many arborists can help you with that as well. The International Society of Arboriculture has an easy-to-use tool to help you locate ISA-certified arborists in your area.

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I hope that the above article has been informative and that you will understand why there may be a pause from this end.

So I will close the post by including another photograph taken on Monday afternoon of our tree that confirms that it has come to the end of its natural life and that if not felled could be a danger to the house.

See you soon (fingers crossed!)

All dressed up!

And I am not referring to that wedding!

But on behalf of Jean and me and all you wonderful followers, we would like to wish Prince Harry and Megan Markle many congratulations on their marriage this day in Windsor and a long happy and healthy life together.

No, I was referring to shelter pups all dressed up, as read recently on Mother Nature News.

(And please read my closing remarks about a change in the frequency of my blog posts!)

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These shelter pup moms are all dressed up, waiting for that special visitor

Puppies are quick to get adopted, but the moms are often left behind.

by CHRISTIAN COTRONEOMay 11, 2018.

Duchess, left, and Buttercup, haven’t let losing their families dampen their spirits. (Photo: Christie Lynn/Best Friends Animal Society)

Every mother has her day. And if that old saying holds true, so too does every dog. But it seems a couple of dogs at a shelter in Atlanta have waited a long time for their day to come.

So long, in fact, that both dogs — Duchess and Buttercup — became mothers before finding a family to adopt them.
Although for Buttercup, that distinction was tragically fleeting.

Buttercup has bounced back from the heartbreak of losing her babies. (Photo: Christie Lynn/Best Friends Animal Society)

She was already pregnant when she arrived at Fulton County Animal Services. But in her weak condition, none of her puppies survived.

And Duchess? She experienced a different kind of heartbreak, having arrived at a shelter with five healthy and rambunctious babies in tow. One by one, they were adopted by families — leaving just mom behind.

When it comes to finding a family, puppies are typically the first out the shelter door, even though there are so many reasons why older dogs often make the most meaningful impact on a family.

Duchess nursed her puppies — until they were big and strong enough to be adopted. (Photo: Christie Lynn/Best Friends Animal Society)

The thing is, as we’ve seen time and time again, a shelter dog’s heart isn’t easily shattered.

In fact, both Buttercup and Duchess aren’t exactly sulking at the Atlanta chapter of Best Friends Animal Society. In the hands of their heart-healing keepers, they’ve blossomed in every way.

Buttercup is available for adoption at the Best Friends shelter in Atlanta. (Photo: Christie Lynn/Best Friends Animal Society)

Duchess still likes to prance around on her daily walks, and, as the shelter notes in a press release, “demonstrate her good manners with both people and other dogs.”

Buttercup, the release adds, has “healed and made lots of human and canine friends alike.”

But shelter staff know all too well that shelter life can wear a dog down. This weekend, Best Friends is hoping that some families, in the spirit of that special day, will give these mothers the best gift of all — a home where they can truly spread their roots.

Think you can help?

If you happen to be in Atlanta, you can pay these moms a visit at the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center any day between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m., or email atladoptions@bestfriends.org.

Duchess’ manners appear to extend to the dinner table. (Photo: Christie Lynn/Best Friends Animal Society)

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If only there wasn’t a single dog in need of adoption in the world!

Postscript!

Dear people,

I’m struggling to stay on top of stuff in and around the house. So, please forgive me if there are days when a post doesn’t appear!

Thank you!

Taking our dogs out and about.

Another great article from Mary Jo of MNN

On Monday I published an article written by Wendy Lipscomb about summer heat for dogs, especially for long-haired dogs. It was well-received!

That article implied that our dogs frequently go out with us more often than not.

Summer brings in many outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, running and going for a picnic or maybe going out just for a walk. There is nothing wrong with taking your dog out with you if you know how to regulate your pet’s body temperature.

But Mary Jo of Mother Nature Network published an article just a few days ago that offers another perspective. Here it is!

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Please don’t take your dog everywhere

Not all dogs are happy at public events.

by MARY JO DILONARDO, May 11, 2018.

Always be in tune to your dog’s body language when you take him to a public event. (Photo: Arina P Habich/Shutterstock)

Whether it’s a farmers market or a summer art festival, when the weather warms up, people head outside. And when they go outdoors, many people take their dogs. But while plenty of pups are happy to browse the produce stands and mingle with hundreds of strange people and their pets, there are many who are stressed by the adventure.

Some owners just assume that if they’re having fun, their dogs are happy, too. But not all dogs love the noises and smells, people and activity that come with going to outdoor events or restaurants. They get nervous and maybe even cranky when faced with scary or new situations.

Chicago trainer Greg Raub suggests asking yourself a few questions before snapping on the leash and taking your pup with you:
  • Will my dog be comfortable at the event or would he be happier at home?
  • Can I be sure my dog won’t react aggressively if a stranger rushes up to him?
  • Can I make sure my dog won’t get into something like dropped food or trash?
  • Even though my dog is harmless, could he scare little kids because of his size or looks?
  • Will it get too hot for my dog if I can’t find a spot in the shade?

Tips for a good outing

If you decide to take your dog to a public event, it’s key to set him up for success, says Maryland trainer Juliana Willems.

First up, she says, don’t use a retractable leash.

“There is hardly any control with these leashes, and in high activity environments you need all the control you can get,” she writes on her blog. “For the sake of all other dogs and owners at the event, I encourage you to stick to 4′ or 6′ standard leashes.”

Then, make sure to stuff your pockets with treats.

“I understand that shoving a bunch of treats in your dog’s mouth won’t solve real problems, but it can sure help manage some when you’re out in a distracting environment,” she says. “Oftentimes when there is an overwhelming amount of stimuli, your dog will only pay attention to you if you’ve got something they want: yummy food. In new environments it is essential to be able to capture your dog’s focus. Treats will help enormously for this, especially if they are high value.”

Pick and choose

Some dogs might be very stressed at an outdoor cafe, while other might enjoy watching the people go by. (Photo: Budimir Jevtic/Shutterstock)

Just be smart about when your pet tags along, suggests veterinarian Patty Khuly, V.M.D.

“Over time, I’ve learned that your life has to be 100 percent dog-friendly if your dog is going to tag along 100 percent of the time. And precious few of our lives are that accommodating,” she writes in Vetstreet.

For example, Khuly says that she only takes one of her four dogs to outdoor restaurants because her other three don’t have the right dispositions.

“There’s no point in taking your dog to a restaurant if he doesn’t have the temperament for it, won’t enjoy it or if it will cause a lot of disruption. But smaller, well-behaved and socialized dogs may be just fine.”

Look for signs of stress

Wherever you go with your pup, it’s key that you always pay attention to him. That’s not only so his leash doesn’t get tangled in a stroller, but it’s primarily so you can sense his mood.

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of stress so you know when it’s time to take off. Here are some of the most common things to look for, according to veterinarian Lynn Buzhardt, D.V.M. of VCA Hospitals.

  • Yawning
  • Nose or lip licking
  • Pacing or shaking
  • Whining, barking or howling
  • Pulled or pinned-back ears
  • Tail lowered or tucked
  • Cowering
  • Panting
  • Diarrhea
  • Avoidance or displacement (focusing on something else like sniffing the ground or turning away)
  • Hiding or escape behaviors (hiding behind you, digging, running away)

If you notice any of these stress signs, take your dog home or at least give him a break from all the activity.

“Dogs are extremely sensitive and can go from being fine to absolutely not fine in a matter of minutes. It is essential that you stay in tune to how your dog is reacting to other dogs or people, and the minute things start getting hairy, you skedaddle,” says Willems. “Your dog might not necessarily need to leave all together, but a time out away from all the hubbub can really help a dog’s mentality.”

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Must close by including the following:

Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.

We are on the verge of a thunderstorm arriving so please forgive me for signing off without delay.

Do animals have broken hearts?

Just too beautiful for words!

Not that the sub-heading is going to stop me republishing a most beautiful article that appeared on Mother Nature Network on May, 3rd.

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Heartbroken goose misses his bulldog pal

Neighbors join search to reunite these unlikely animal friends.
by MARY JO DILONARDO, May 3, 2018.

Several people stopped after spotting the unlikely pair along a busy highway. (Photo: Amanda Georgewill)

Sadie and Sal are the unlikeliest of friends. Sadie is a brindle bulldog who lives in Harnett County, North Carolina. Sal — who also goes by Gary — is a goose, and Sadie’s biggest fan and protector.
According to neighbors who posted online, Sal initially kept four ducks and a chicken in line, but his fowl brigade eventually disappeared, likely because of foxes that roam the area.

So Sal set his sights on Sadie and the pair became inseparable. Although Sadie has an owner, the two wandered around the area together, pretty much adopted by the neighbors who liked to feed the friendly pup when she stopped by.

“That goose,” neighbor Wanda Holder told the News & Observer, “takes his long, long neck and rubs on that dog.”

One day in late April, the pair wandered a little farther away from home than usual. They strolled along Highway 27, and the sight of the unlikely adventurers caused people to pull over and try to help.

“We stopped to help the Canadian goose keep the bulldog out of the road … and the goose got (angry),” wrote David Zapata in a Facebook post. “Started chasing everyone around and trying to bite anybody that got near the dog. You can’t make this (stuff) up.”

According to witnesses, a woman slipped a collar and leash on Sadie and managed to get the bulldog into her car. The goose chased the car for a while, honking angrily, and then he gave up.

“It sorta broke my heart to see the two separated, it really did,” Zapata wrote. “You could tell they were pals.”

Sadie and Sal stroll a little too far from home. (Photo: David Zapata/Facebook)

Searching for Sadie

Sal found his way back home, but no one knows what happened to Sadie.

Amanda Georgewill happened to be driving by before Sadie was scooped up. She posted the image of the dog and goose on several North Carolina lost dog pages, hoping the woman who took Sadie would realize the pup had a home.

“I pulled over to help and snapped the picture first just in case,” Georgewill tells MNN. “I just want those two to be reunited.”

The photo has sparked hundreds of shares and dozens of comments as people have likened the unusual pair to the stars of a Disney movie or the perfect characters for a children’s book.

But they’ve mostly pleaded for the woman who picked up Sadie to return her.

Online, there are plenty of theories about what happened to the neighborhood’s favorite bulldog. Did the woman take the dog because she thought it was in danger, being mistreated, or did she just want to keep it for herself?

Neighbors say Sal has been moping. He goes to the main highway where Sadie disappeared and squawks for a few minutes before returning home. One neighbor posted that within the last few months, the dog and goose had also accepted a kitten into their pack, so Sal is taking care of his feline friend while he waits for his pup to return.

“I thought it was really cool how the goose and dog paired up as friends to travel around,” Zapata tells MNN. “Definitely a rarity.”

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Both in our human world and in the world of animals friendship, especially across different species of animal, is so, so beautiful!

Please join me and Jean in hoping that Sadie returns to be with Sal.

More on that clean air!

A republication of a post from August 25th, 2012.
(It seemed a natural follow-on to Kelli’s guest post of yesterday.)
Just about the most fundamental requirement in life!

I subscribe to the Mother Nature Network website and recently in their ’round robin’ was this item, A Breath of Fresh Air.  It’s all about the role of plants inside the home for improving the quality of the air we breathe.  Thought, dear reader, that you would enjoy this.

15 houseplants for improving indoor air quality

Photo: ivama/Flickr

A breath of fresh air

In the late ’80s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied houseplants as a way to purify the air in space facilities. They found several plants that filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Lucky for us the plants can also help clean indoor air on Earth, which is typically far more polluted than outdoor air. Other studies have since been published in the Journal of American Society of Horticultural Science furtherproving the science.  Want to see the best flowers? Just click through the buttons above to see all 15 plants. (Text: Julie Knapp)<

The image above is just one of 17, each with details of how they contribute to cleaner, less toxic, air. So don’t delay, click here and read all about them yourself.  Here’s an example of the presentation from picture number 16.

Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)

Shade and weekly watering are all the peace lily needs to survive and produce blooms. It topped NASA’s list for removing all three of most common VOCs — formaldehyde, benzeneand trichloroethylene. It can also combat toluene and xylene.

Have a great day!

Winter games

As seen through the eyes of an Australian shepherd dog.

Slowly perking up each day, so thought it would be good to share this short, delightful video with you all. As presented on the Mother Nature Network site.

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Australian shepherd loves to go sledding

NOEL KIRKPATRICK    January 3, 2018

When you think about dog sleds, you may think about a team of huskies pulling a sled across a snowy and icy landscape.

Perhaps you should change that image to an Australian shepherd confidently riding a sled down a hill.

Secret, a 3-year-old Aussie shepherd and the canine companion to 17-year-old human Mary, took advantage of there finally being enough snow to get some sledding in. And by “some” we mean around 50 shots down the hill, according to Mary’s Instagram caption. Secret drags her sled all the way to the top of the hill, hops on and gets her own snowy version of zoomies on as she slides down the hill. Once at the bottom, it’s right back up again, sled in mouth.

If only every day were a snow day for Secret.

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Well done, Secret. Gorgeous!

Friendship cat and dog style

It’s stories like this that put a smile on one’s face (and heart!).

Most evenings, after we have finished supper we go into the den, as we call it, and watch a few hours of television. This room has doors to the other rooms in the house and, therefore, during the day may be closed off. Reason why that is useful is that the den is home to our three cats.

Thus, after supper the dogs and the cats get to mingle together, as this photograph of Pedi and Mitts so well illustrates.

All of which is a great introduction to a post that was recently seen over on Mother Nature Network and is republished here for all you good people.

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Dog and kitten are best friends in hiking and life

The best place to see the world is from atop your BFF’s head.

MARY JO DILONARDO   December 6, 2017.

Baloo’s favorite spot to hang out is on Henry’s head. (Photo: henrythecoloradodog/Instagram)

Henry wasn’t the first dog Cynthia Bennett and her boyfriend spotted when they went looking for a canine pal a few years ago, but he’s certainly the one that won them over.

“I had my eyes set on a golden mix puppy, but when I saw the lanky Henry sitting there I had to see him,” Bennett tells MNN. “When we got into the pen with him, he immediately climbed into my lap and went belly up. It was then I knew that we were taking him home.”

 The couple brought the pup back to their home in Colorado where they hoped he would fit into their active, outdoorsy lifestyle. Fortunately, bold Henry was all in. But not long after it became clear that Henry was also extremely stressed out. Cynthia thought maybe a kitten companion might help ease Henry’s anxiety, while also offering another adventure buddy for the family.

She spent several months looking for just the right feline friend. Most, she says, just didn’t have the right personality she wanted for an adventurous cat. Then she met a Siamese kitten mix named Baloo.

“Baloo however convinced me to bring him home in under a minute. He was super playful and curious and the biggest love bug.”

Henry and Baloo hit it off immediately and are the best of friends, Bennett says.

“They do everything together, eat, sleep, hike and have become inseparable. It took only one day of them getting used to each other and then they started immediately snuggling and playing. It happened so quickly.”

Not only are the pair adventure buddies, they also have quite a following on Instagram. One of their most popular poses is Baloo comfortably perched (and sometimes sleeping) on Henry’s head.

It’s a natural fit, Bennett says.

“Baloo feels much safer with Henry around and is constantly looking up to him. So if he is on Henry, he feels even more comfortable,” she says. “They are the best of friends, especially on hikes. Baloo follows Henry and Henry just lights up when he realizes that Baloo is coming too.”

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That photograph of Henry and Baloo is so wonderful that I will close today’s post by sharing it with you again but cropped to really focus on them both.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thanks for our dogs!

And all our other loved animals!

Saw the following on the Mother Nature Network site and knew today was the day to share it with you.

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Which Thanksgiving foods are safe for pets?

You know dogs and cats will be eyeing that holiday table.

MARY JO DILONARDO November 20, 2017

It can be hard to resist those sad, pleading faces. (Photo: Chendongshan/Shutterstock)

Thanksgiving is all about being grateful, of course, but it’s also about food — lots and lots of food. Your kitchen and dining room table will be overflowing with all sorts of tasty offerings, as tempting smells fill the air from early morning until late at night.

While entertaining your guests and seeing to your culinary responsibilities, don’t forget to keep a watchful eye on your pets. It will be hard for them to resist the food from your feast, but some items can cause problems for our furry friends.

Here are some Thanksgiving foods that are hazards and others that are OK in moderation.

1. Turkey: Unless you’re serving a vegetarian meal, the centerpiece of the holiday meal is a turkey, and how could you let your four-legged buddy miss out? Just do so in moderation and watch what you serve, cautions the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If you offer your pet a small bite, make sure that it’s well-cooked and has no bones. Raw or undercooked turkey can contain salmonella bacteria, which can make your pet sick. Never give your pet turkey bones.

2. Stuffing: Stuffing can be packed with ingredients like onions, garlic, raisins and grapes that can make your dog or cat sick. Anything with onions, garlic, chives, leeks or scallions should be off-limits to your pet. Onions and garlic can damage red blood cells and cause gastroenteritis. Cats and certain breeds of dogs (like the Akita and Shiba Inu) appear to be more sensitive, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure.

3. Mashed potatoes: If you get to the potatoes before they’re smothered in butter, milk and salt, you’re in luck. It’s OK to offer your pet a small dollop of plain cooked spuds.

Turkey and plain sweet potatoes are OK for your dog, but only in small portions (and be sure to remove the bones from the turkey!) (Photo: Eric Isselee/Shutterstock)

4. Sweet potatoes: These orange tubers are a healthy alternative to white potatoes, as long as you get them to your pet before they’re smothered in marshmallows, butter or brown sugar. A small, plain cooked bite is OK.

5. Gravy: Skip this rich addition to your pet’s meal. If you want to liven up a doggy or kitty dinner, add a dash of low-sodium chicken broth instead.

6. Green beans: These tasty green veggies are a healthy treat year-round. They’re full of vitamins and low in calories. Just be sure to avoid any extra toppings like melted butter, garlic or fried onions.

7. Carrots: These veggies are good for your pet, served cooked or raw. They’re high in fiber and vitamins and low in calories. Plus crunching on raw carrots can be good for a dog’s teeth. Just make sure you don’t feed them to your pet if the carrots are swimming in a sugary glaze.

8. Cranberry sauce: Check what’s in your classic holiday concoction. Some recipes are high in sugar or have alcohol, neither of which is good for pets. Other recipes include grapes, raisins or currants, points out the American Kennel Club, which are toxic to animals. Feeding a small bite of plain cranberry sauce is probably OK, but your pet may not even like it. Some critters turn up their nose at the tart taste.

9. Pumpkin pie: Most pet owners know plain, canned pumpkin is a good thing to help with irregular digestion, but that doesn’t mean pumpkin pie has the same benefits. This tasty holiday mainstay has lots of sugar and spices that aren’t necessary or beneficial for your pet. Plus, the whipped cream or topping may be too rich for dogs and hard to digest for lactose-intolerant cats, says Vetstreet. If you want your BFF to get a taste of the season, offer a scoop of plain, canned pumpkin instead.

When there’s so much going on in the kitchen, counter surfers can have a field day. (Photo: Kachalkina Veronika/Shutterstock)

Some tips:

Watch where you put things. You probably have a lot more going on in the kitchen than usual. Don’t leave garbage bags unattended or food within reach, tempting counter surfers.

Beware of bread dough. If you’re making homemade bread, keep it out of your pet’s reach. When a dog or cat eats raw yeast bread dough, the unbaked dough expands in a warm, moist stomach, as the sugars are converted to carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. The result is bloat and alcohol poisoning, which can be a life-threatening emergency.

Keep an eye on alcohol. Don’t leave out cups of spiked beverages for your pet to lap up, but also remember that there’s alcohol in some other items like fruitcake. Just a small amount of alcohol (by human standards) can be toxic for pets.

Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.

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Well done, Mary Jo, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and to all you dear readers.

Caring for animals.

Some humans seem to care more about pets than people … but why?

This intriguing headline was the title to a recent post published by Mother Nature Network.

Coincidentally there was some useful material in the article that I could use in a chapter in the new book. But I did think the whole article should be shared with you good people.

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Some humans seem to care more about pets than people … but why?

Mary Jo DiLonardo   November 3, 2017

Unconditional love is one things pets can give us that humans can’t — but that’s only part of the story. (Photo: Soloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock)

A Facebook acquaintance of mine recently posted about walking past a pet store where volunteers were outside pleading for pet rescue donations. They pointed out how many dogs and cats were euthanized each year, which made her wonder how people could be so fervent about animals when there are so many sick babies in the world.

It’s not that those volunteers dislike babies — or grown-up humans, for that matter — but in some cases, they might simply like animals more.

You know the type, and you may even be one yourself. Some say it’s due to unconditional love. Your cat doesn’t care if you are in your pajamas all day. Your dog doesn’t talk about you behind your back. But when it comes right down to it, does anyone really value animals above humans?

The story of two shootings

A photo posted by supporters on the ‘Justice For Arfee’ Facebook page. (Photo: Justice for Arfee)

Psychology professor and author Hal Herzog looks at the “humanization of pets” in an editorial for Wired. Herzog is the author of “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard To Think Straight About Animals.”

“Newspaper editors tell me stories about animal abuse often generate more responses from upset readers than articles about violence directed toward humans. But do Americans really care more about pets than people?” Herzog asks.

He tells the story of two shootings that happened within 50 miles of each other in Idaho in 2014. One was Jeanetta Riley, a pregnant mother of two who was shot by police outside of a hospital while she incoherently waved a knife. The story didn’t make much of a blip on the news radar.

Less than 14 hours later, police in another Idaho town were called about a report of a barking dog locked in a van. An officer claimed when he approached the vehicle the dog (which he misidentified as a pit bull) lunged at him, so he pulled the trigger. Turns out “Arfee” was a Lab and people became incensed at the shooting, which made national news. There was a “Justice for Arfee” Facebook page and a rally. In the end, the shooting was ruled unjustified, and the police department issued an official apology.

“The bottom line is that, at least in some circumstances, we do value animals over people,” Herzog writes. “But the differences in public outrage over the deaths of Jeanetta Riley and Arfee illustrate a more general point. It is that our attitudes to other species are fraught with inconsistency. We share the earth with roughly 40,000 other kinds of vertebrate animals, but most of us only get bent out of shape over the treatment of a handful of species. You know the ones: the big-eye baby seals, circus elephants, chimpanzees, killer whales at Sea World, etc. And while we deeply love our pets, there is little hue and cry over the 24 horses that die on race tracks in the United States each week, let alone the horrific treatment of the nine billion broiler chickens American consume annually.”

Creating a moral dilemma

We obviously love our pets. But to what extent?

Researchers set up a moral dilemma where they asked 573 participants what they would do if they had to choose between saving a dog or a person who had darted in front of a bus. The answers varied depending on the relationship they had with the dog and with the person.

In some scenarios, the dog was the participant’s own personal dog versus a random canine. And the person was either a foreign tourist, a local stranger, distant cousin, best friend, grandparent or sibling.

The dilemma is something along the lines of, “A bus is traveling down the street. Your dog darts in front of it. At the same time, a foreign tourist steps in the path of the bus. Neither your dog nor the tourist has enough time to get out of the way and it’s clear the bus will kill whichever one it hits. You only have time to save one. Which will you save?”

The subjects were much more likely to save the pet over a foreign tourist, versus someone closer to them. People were also much more likely to save their own dog versus a random dog. And women were twice as likely as men to save a dog over a person.

The study was published in the journal Anthrozoos.

Empathy for animals versus people

Researchers hypothesized that people would feel more empathy towards babies and puppies because they were vulnerable. (Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

In another study, sociologists at Northeastern University had college students read made-up news stories in which a victim was attacked by a baseball bat “by an unknown assailant” and left unconscious with a broken leg and other injuries.

The participants were all given the same news story, but the victim in each case was either a 1-year-old baby, a 30-year-old adult, a puppy or a 6-year-old dog. They were asked to rate their feelings of empathy toward the victim after reading the story.

The researchers hypothesized that the victims’ vulnerability — determined by their age, not species —would be the key factor in triggering the most concern in the participants.

The baby elicited the most empathy, with the puppy and adult dog not far behind. The adult person came in last.

“Contrary to popular thinking, we are not necessarily more disturbed by animal rather than human suffering,” said study co-author Jack Levin, professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University, in a statement.

“Our results indicate a much more complex situation with respect to the age and species of victims, with age being the more important component. The fact that adult human crime victims receive less empathy than do child, puppy, and full-grown dog victims suggests that adult dogs are regarded as dependent and vulnerable not unlike their younger canine counterparts and kids.”

The research was first presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in 2013 and has recently been published in the journal Society & Animals.

Although the study focused on cats, Levin says he thinks the findings would be similar for cats versus people.

“Dogs and cats are family pets,” he said. “These are animals to which many individuals attribute human characteristics.”


Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.


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So all you wonderful followers of this place – what do you think of some humans seeming to care more for animals?

Darling Izzy

A wonderful sequel to yesterday’s post.

Needs no introduction from me except to say that this wonderful account of Izzy’s loyalty was first seen on the Mother Nature Network site.

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Dog stranded by wildfire waits for her family at burned-down home

Christian Cotroneo
October 13, 2017.

As the scene unfolded when family members checked the house, it wasn’t clear what they would find … and then they saw Izzy. (Photo: Jack Weaver)

When the Weaver family woke up to flames outside their Santa Rosa home — a region ravaged this week by deadly wildfires — there wasn’t much time.

They had to get out.

But sometime during that panicked retreat from the house on Wikiup Bridge Way, the family dog, Izzy, bolted away.

Trying to find her amid the chaos of fire proved too dangerous.

And so this family, like countless others in California’s wine country, left more than just their home behind. When they drove through sheer walls of flame and across an uncertain wooden bridge to get to safety — they left their hearts back on Wikiup Bridge Way.

It turned out, it was the one thing they couldn’t leave behind.

A day and a half later, while the area was still smoldering and roads were still closed, Jack Weaver and Patrick Widen made the nearly-three-mile trek back to the house.

“It was incredibly important,” Weaver, who grew up in that house, tells MNN. “My mother was a wreck for having gone through that. Nobody wanted us to go back because they were worried we would get injured.”

‘I can see …’

In a video of their return, posted on Facebook and shared below, you can hear the men laboring to catch their breath amid blackened trees and still-crackling ruins.

“Izzy!” Weaver is heard calling into the smoky veil. Over and over again.

They push farther and farther ahead. “Izzy!”

“Almost to the house,” Weaver says in the video. “I can see … the gate. The gate’s still standing.”

The Weaver family home was gone. (Photo: Jack Weaver)

A moment later, he adds, “I don’t see the house at all. F$#k.”

It had burned to the ground.

But someone was still standing.

“Izzy’s here!” Weaver calls, his voice choked with emotion. “Izzy!”

“Oh my God! Come here, baby!”

The giant dog bounces into view, her tail whirring like a helicopter.

Izzy had stood faithfully by the burnt-down family home. (Photo: Jack Weaver)

“When she same running around — you can probably hear it in my voice — we were shocked and ecstatic,” Weaver says later. “I wish I could have filmed longer, the happy reunion, but I was so happy I dropped my phone.”

Since the family posted the video, it’s been shared more than 4,000 times. Maybe it’s a testament to the need for all of us to find a happy ending amid heartache.

In any case, Izzy is where she belongs now — in the arms of her family — a testament to faith under fire.

“She didn’t have a burn on her,” Weaver says. “It definitely lifted my family’s spirits.”

Izzy is back where she belongs. (Photo: Beckyjean Widen)

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YouTube also carried a video:

Well done, Izzy, and Jean and I send you fondest hugs!