Tag: Mother Nature Network

One-way streets.

Life is not a rehearsal.

Jean and I can’t imagine being the age that we are and living on our own. Yet, realistically, the time will come when either Jean or me will be the surviving spouse. Not something that we want to think about. But when it does come to that point, it would be a million times worse if being left alone meant losing one’s partner and being utterly alone; as in no animals around the house. For both Jean and me having a dog or two in our lives at that stage will make it easier to cope.

No better highlighted than a recent article over on Mother Nature Network. That article is republished for you good people.

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Senior dogs and veterans are better together

One Last Treat pairs them up with beautiful results.

Mary Jo DiLonardo

March 20, 2017
Greg Brabaw and Pops enjoy a sunny moment together. (Photo: Mike Walzak/One Last Treat)

A longtime Marine in Vietnam, Detroit veteran Greg Brabaw was living at home with no family and few friends when someone reached out to the One Last Treat organization on his behalf. They thought Brabaw might be a good candidate for the group’s program pairing vets with senior dogs looking for homes. Soon, the grizzled Brabaw met Pops, a little Chihuahua.

“Greg was really all alone. When we brought him Pops, he basically opened up to us and told us how much Pops allowed him to think about something other than his own suffering” says Joel Rockey, the founder of One Last Treat. “They are pretty much best friends now.”

The nonprofit, which got started in the summer of 2016, hunts for senior dogs looking to live out the rest of their lives with love and attention. A special program under the group’s umbrella, called Vet Friend Till the End, finds the dogs homes with veterans and then pays all the pets’ health bills.

Rockey came up with the idea not long after spending five years in the Navy in Iraq and Afghanistan and returning home. He wanted to focus his energy on something he felt passionate about, and he happened upon an old pug in a snowstorm. The dog was blind, deaf and injured, but Rockey took him home and named him Lurch.

“He only lived for three more months, but we gave him a pretty awesome three more months,” Rockey says. “I felt really compelled to gear my energy towards animals and how to make their lives better. I liked being there in their last moments, so I called my vet buddies and they were down with the idea.”

Homes instead of treats

Veteran Dave Kidder recently adopted his new pal, Peggy Sue. (Photo: One Last Treat)

Originally, the team planned to bring treats to senior dogs that were about to be euthanized in animal shelters. But shelters didn’t want to call attention to the last hours of those dogs, so they had to formulate a new game plan.

Now they find senior dogs and get them first into foster homes, and then into adoptive homes. In the nine or so months the group has existed, they’ve found homes for about 25 dogs. Many are adopted by everyday people; some are adopted by veterans. If a veteran adopts a dog from their organization or another rescue, they’ll pay the veterinarian bills for the rest of the dog’s life. The majority of dogs have come from the Detroit area, but the group has pulled dogs out of shelters when they’ve been in California and have veteran/dog “teams” coming on board in Ohio, Missouri and California.

“We try to pull animals that will be good companion animals … relaxed and laid-back and not too much going on healthwise,” Rockey says. “Maybe they’re starting to go downhill a little bit but not knocking on the door.” That way the dogs might be with their adopters for at least a few years, he says.

There are currently working with seven dog/veteran teams. Supporters often donate to a specific team to help pay their bills.

Rockey’s own rescue dog, Bandit, is more than 16 years old. (Photo: One Last Treat)

Rockey says the benefits to the dogs is obvious; they get homes instead of being overlooked. But the benefit to the veterans is unmeasurable.

“The biggest thing is self importance. As a vet myself, I think veterans, when they get out of the military, aren’t asked to do anything anymore,” Rockey says. “They start losing self importance. Everyone is thanking them, but they’re not being asked to do anything. When they’re taking care of a senior animal, they’re needed and it creates a new sense of value in their life.”

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Do drop into the website for that organisation One Last Treat and sign up for their newsletter. It strikes me as a great cause.

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

fred-jpg-838x0_q80
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.

What a Moon!

This is a night to be outside! (And that includes you, Susan L.)

It has been receiving quite a lot of publicity in recent days. I’m speaking of the “Supermoon”.

Or in the opening words of a recent Smithsonian Magazine article:

The Biggest Supermoon in 68 Years Will Leave You “Moonstruck”

It hasn’t been this close since 1948 and won’t be again for the next 18 years

(Adrian Scottow via Flickr)
(Adrian Scottow via Flickr)

In terms of when this is happening then I will draw on Mother Nature Network:

According to NASA, the full moon that rises on Nov. 13 will be the closest one to Earth since 1948. If viewing conditions are clear, the moon will not only appear 30 percent brighter, but also 14 percent larger. While the nighttime viewing is supposed to be spectacular, the true closest approach of the supermoon will take place on the morning of Nov. 14 at 8:52 a.m. EST.

Just how special is this super supermoon? Humanity won’t get another show like this one until Nov. 25, 2034.

Or as the EarthSky blogsite puts it:

The moon turns precisely full on November 14, 2016 at 1352 UTC. This full moon instant will happen in the morning hours before sunrise November 14 in western North America and on many Pacific islands, east of the International Date Line.

For those of us on Pacific time that equates to 0852 PST.

So the balance of today’s post will comprise the republication, with permission, of a recent essay on The Conversation blogsite.

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Supermoons are big and bright, but not as rare as the hype would suggest.

November 8, 2016

By

Senior Lecturer and Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Programs in Astronomy & Astrophysics, Pennsylvania State University.

As an observational astronomer who teaches students about the behavior of the moon, I’m thankful for anything that inspires people to go out and look at the sky. For me it’s second nature to pay attention to the moon; when my son was born, I would take him out at night to observe with me, and one of his very first words was “moon.”

But I have mixed feelings about what’s being billed as the upcoming “super-supermoon.” Many astronomers do not like using the term because reports overhype the factors that make certain full moons unusual. Most of what you’ve likely read has probably misled you about what you can expect to see on Nov. 14 and just how rare this event is. Beautiful, yes. Worth looking up for, definitely. Once in a lifetime… that’s a bit overblown.

he moon’s phases as it revolves around the Earth. Orion 8, CC BY-SA
The moon’s phases as it revolves around the Earth. Orion 8, CC BY-SA

The moon’s cyclical phases

Just about everyone is familiar with the moon’s changing appearance as it goes through its phases from crescent, to half-illuminated (first quarter), to gibbous, to full, and then back through gibbous, to half-illuminated (third quarter), to crescent, to new.

This pattern occurs because the moon orbits the Earth. When the moon is between the Earth and sun, it’s a new moon, and you don’t see it that day. When the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun we get a full moon as the sun’s light illuminates almost its entire face. The complete sequence of phases takes about the same amount of time as it does for the moon to orbit the Earth once – just about a month.

As the moon makes its monthly trip around our planet, it travels on an elliptical, not circular, path. Every object in the solar system orbits like this, including the Earth around the sun; over the course of the year, the Earth is sometimes closer to the sun and sometimes more distant. Same for the moon – sometimes it’s closer to us and sometimes farther away.

The changes are proportionally not large; at “perigee” (the closest it gets to the Earth) the moon’s approximately 10 percent closer to the Earth than at “apogee” (most distant point on its orbit). Over the year, the moon’s distance from Earth varies from around 222,000 to 253,000 miles.

 The moon’s orbit is elliptical and changes over time. Rfassbind
The moon’s orbit is elliptical and changes over time. Rfassbind

The time it takes the moon to go from perigee to perigee (about 27.3 days) is shorter than the time it takes to go through a complete set of phases (about 29.5 days). Because these timescales are different, the phase at which perigee occurs varies. Sometimes perigee occurs when the moon is full, but it is just as likely for perigee to occur when the moon is in the first quarter phase, or any other. Whichever phase the moon is in when it’s at perigee will be the one that looks largest to us here on Earth for that month.

wo full moons as seen from Earth: at perigee on the left, at apogee on the right. Catalin Paduraru
Two full moons as seen from Earth: at perigee on the left, at apogee on the right. Catalin Paduraru

At perigee, the moon can appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than an apogee full moon. But this is complicated by the fact that our eyes play tricks on us and convince us the moon looks larger when it is near the horizon than when it is higher in the sky. Every full moon will look big and bright whether it happens at perigee or apogee.

So what’s a supermoon?

The first time I heard the phrase “supermoon” was in 2011, and someone had to explain the suddenly in vogue term to me. People were using it to describe the full moon that happened to occur within an hour of perigee in March of that year. The moon’s perigee distance also varies a bit, and March 2011 was the moon’s closest perigee of that year.

 A 2013 supermoon as seen from Ireland. John Finn, CC BY-NC-ND
A 2013 supermoon as seen from Ireland. John Finn, CC BY-NC-ND

This was a somewhat rare event – a full moon occurring not just at perigee, but at the closest perigee of the year. But many people got the impression that this was an exceedingly unusual event, and rushed to see and capture images of this supposedly ultra-rare moon. Depending on how closely you require the full moon to occur to perigee in order to call it a supermoon, though, these events happen at least roughly once a year, and often more frequently.

Which brings us to this month’s much ballyhooed “super-supermoon.” News stories are hyping the upcoming full moon as a once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity. It’s true that the Nov. 14 full moon is the closest since 1948, and the next time the full moon will be closer is in 2034.

But this month’s full moon is only 0.02 percent closer – a mere 41 miles! – than the March 2011 supermoon. These tiny distances make no noticeable difference in the moon’s appearance.

 Get out there and enjoy this supermoon! AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Get out there and enjoy this supermoon! AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Please do go out and observe the November full moon. If you are good with photography, try to document that the moon does appear larger than the other months this year. Just be aware you’ll have other virtually equivalent opportunities to do so pretty much every year for the rest of your life. So don’t worry if you miss it. You can catch the supermoon next time around.

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Fingers crossed our local weather will enable Jean and me to view this moon and I will try and photograph it.

If any readers also get to see this moon do let us know your thoughts and feelings.

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!

Affairs of the heart.

Those four-legged affairs, that is!

In my recent post where I updated you on our longer-term findings of using hemp oil, I included a couple of recent photographs of Pharaoh. As in:

A shot taken of Pharaoh walking past me.
A shot taken of Pharaoh walking past me.

and

Cleo watching Pharaoh come away from the house.
Cleo watching Pharaoh come away from the house.

Blogger RoughSeasInTheMed commented, in part,

How lovely for Pharaoh. It’s a good age for a GSD.

But as delighted as we are with how Pharaoh is combating his weakening rear hips there is no disguising the fact that the day of his death is getting closer all the time. (Not just for Pharaoh, but for all of us!)

So I cherish each day with Pharaoh as, indeed, I do with all our dogs. Both Jean and I have love affairs with our dogs that almost defy description and it’s a not an infrequent reflection between Jeannie and me that as they come to the end of their days each and every death is going to be extremely painful. Jean still mourns the loss of her dogs from many years back.

So on to this beautiful post that was recently published over on Mother Nature Network.

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7 reasons you will never forget your dog

For many, the loss of a dog is harder than any other. Here’s why.

Jenn Savedge October 25, 2016
he passing of a pet leaves a hole in your heart — and your life. (Photo: mythja/Shutterstock)
The passing of a pet leaves a hole in your heart — and your life. (Photo: mythja/Shutterstock)

It’s been three years, but it was only a few weeks ago that I was able to pull my old dog’s bed out of storage and look at it without crying. Otis wasn’t just my dog; he was my friend, my workout partner, my first baby and my stalwart protector. In our 14 years together, Otis was there for me through the birth of both of my daughters, five moves, one tarantula infestation and countless bad haircuts, which he endured without skipping a beat.

It’s no wonder his death left a giant black lab-sized hole in my heart. Anyone who has ever lost a longtime pet knows this feeling, and many also understand completely that the loss of a pet can be as hard as the loss of a close friend or family member. Here’s why you’ll never forget a loyal dog:

1. You may be closer to your dog than you are to some members of your family.

A 1988 study published in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling asked dog owners to create a family diagram placing all their family members and pets in a circle whose proximity to them represented the strength and closeness of their relationships. Not surprisingly, the participants tended to put their dogs as close as or even closer than family members. In 38 percent of the cases, the dog was closest of all.

2. You dog’s world revolves around you and your happiness.

If there’s one thing that your dog loves even more than chew toys, cheeseburgers and chasing squirrels, it’s you. His world literally revolves around you, and he will do anything at all to make you happy. There’s no other being in the world that will give you as much nonjudgmental love as a dog will.

3. Your pet is your stress reliever.

A study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that contact with pets can help to reduce stress by lowering levels of stress hormones, calming the heart rate, and even elevating feelings of happiness. Losing a pet is like losing a friend, counselor and yoga-instructor all in one.

All it takes is a quick scratch to make your dog’s day. (Photo: Wisut/Shutterstock)

4. Pets appreciate your every effort, no matter how small.

At the end of the average day, I will have cooked, cleaned, run errands, worked, shuffled kids from school to after-school activities and home again, paid bills, worked some more, rotated laundry, and organized a playdate , a fundraiser or a closet all without anyone in my household even noticing. Yet my two current dogs (Henry and Honey) are seemingly overjoyed by any effort I make — no matter how small — to keep them fed or happy. It’s easy to feel like a superhero when you see the love in your dog’s eyes reflected back at you.

5. Your dog understands you.

Honey, my energetic running partner, knows well before I reach for my shoes whether or not it’s time to get ready for a run. Henry knows when it’s time to play and when it’s time to dog pile on the sofa for popcorn and a movie. And it’s not just your mood that dogs understand. New research shows that your dog probably understands much of what you say — and even the tone of voice you use to say it.

6. Dogs are loyal to the bitter end.

For all of the good days we had, my boy and I had our struggles, too. Yet Otis never judged me for the days that I forgot to feed him (or myself,) or when I walked around the house like a zombie while caring for a new baby. He didn’t object to squeezing into the middle console of a two-seater truck when we moved across the country. He forgave me for all of those missed walks and harsh words when I struggled to juggle the demanding tasks of caring for a growing family.

Yet, when I needed him, he was there, without fail. It was Otis who sat by my side as I rocked a colicky baby through countless sleepless nights. When the Twin Towers crumbled to the ground, I wept silently into his collar. When a close friend lost her son to cancer, Otis walked with me around and around the block as I struggled to understand the meaning of life.

7. Even if your dog is no longer with you, he wants to comfort you.

Your dog would never want you to be sad — even if your sadness is caused by his loss.

Animation student Shai Getzoff captured this sentiment perfectly in his short film “6 Feet.”

“I based this story on my beloved dog who passed away last April,” Getzoff commented in the film notes. “She spent 15 and a half wonderful years with me and my family. After she passed away, it took a while getting used to life without her. It felt like she was always around, when in reality she wasn’t really there any more. This, for me, is a way to say goodbye.”

Grab a tissue and give it a watch.

6 FEET from Shai Getzoff on Vimeo.

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Let me leave you with this photograph of Pharaoh, an image that will stay with me until my last breath.

Pharaoh – just being a dog!

The power of a good massage.

This was a day when a massage would have been perfect treatment!

On Wednesday afternoon Jean and I hooked a big flatbed trailer, borrowed from a neighbour, to our pickup truck and went into town to collect a new sectional settee that we had recently purchased at a furniture sale.

Yesterday, Michael who comes in to help us on a regular basis turned up at 8:30 and we all set to. First up was to dismantle an old sectional in our den that had seen much better days and then carry that out to the front.

Next we moved a settee from our living-room to the den.

Last up was to unpack all three units that comprised the new sectional. Oh, nearly forgot! Then the old sectional from the den was loaded on to the trailer and taken to the tip!

By the end of the day this Brit, who will be 72 in a couple of weeks time, was feeling the odd aching muscle or two!

All of which is my introduction to this:

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Watching animals get massages is the most relaxing thing ever — for people

Humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy a soothing rubdown.

Starre Vartan

October 15, 2016
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Most animals can benefit from massage, but whether it’s theraputic or not, they sure enjoy it, just like we do. (Photo: Serjey Saraschenko/Shutterstock)

I get massages whenever I’m able, and it’s my answer to the fun party question: “What would you do with a million dollars?” Well, first I’d pay off my grad school loans, but second on the list would definitely be weekly massage. Every time I get one, I end up walking on air; for me it’s like doing a yoga class without the effort.

But watching massage can be relaxing too — not watching people (that’s icky), but animals. I’m not the only one: My Facebook feed is littered with people posting and reposting cute furry animals both wild and domesticated getting backs kneaded and shoulders rubbed. My favorites are below, so if you need a moment of chill, check out a couple of these and relax.

This corgi’s face massage is a joy to watch, and it’s funny too — check out his reclining position which is more guy-napping-on-a-pool-float than canine.

This sweet gray kitten getting an ever-so-gentle facial massage in the sunshine starts out asleep and seems to get more relaxed as you watch. Is that even possible?

Guinea pigs are known for being snuggly creatures, but also nervous ones. Watching this one slowly relax does the same thing for me.

If you get sucked into this video like I did, you’ll be rewarded with a soft-as-marshmallow white bunny, which follows the gray bunny. Spoiler alert: Both get lots of love.

The relaxation and happiness of this pregnant cow getting a solid rubdown is crystal clear even though the video quality is low.

Aside from dogs, horses are probably the domesticated animal that gets the most serious massage attention, since many of them are performers and athletes, either in the dressage ring or on a racecourse. So there are lots of instructional videos about horse massage, but I think Jess, a trained horse massage therapist, shows it best.

There are a lot of animals that give themselves massages, especially otters. This one is clearly an expert — after a solid minute of scalp massage, she has a nap!

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Well I have to say that receiving a massage directly would have been a tad better than watching these animals get their massages, but it was way, way better than nothing!

Let’s hear if for these kittens.

What an amazing rescue!

As many of you know, I subscribe to the Mother Nature Network service and frequently share items from MNN here.

Today is no exception:

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Newborn kittens rescued from dry-cleaning machine in London

Animal rescuers dismantled the dryer to find the crying kittens.

Jenn Savedge
October 4, 2016

ginger-kittens-jpg-653x0_q80_crop-smart
These four kittens were rescued and reunited with their mother. (Photo: Celia Hammond/Facebook)

The owner of a dry-cleaning shop got a surprise recently when he heard crying and mewing from the back of one of his machines. Fortunately, this on-the-ball dry-cleaner called an animal rescue squad who rescued the four small kittens and reunited them with their mother.

According to the BBC , the dry cleaning shop where the kittens were found is located in Forest Gate, a residential suburb of London. The shop owner called animal rescuers from the Celia Hammond Animal Trust, a local animal rescue center, to help identify the source of the sounds.

Rescuers dismantled the tumble dryer where the noises were coming from and found four small ginger kittens inside. They also located the kittens’ mother when they noticed a distressed cat pacing outside the shop.

The shop owner told rescuers that a nearby resident had moved and left the pregnant cat behind. That poor distressed mama clearly needed a warm, dry place to give birth and she found it inside the dry-cleaning tumble machine.

One of the animal rescuers noted on their Facebook page that the kittens were in bad shape when they were found, “[w]hen we picked them up they were filthy, covered in grease and dirt and had been breathing carbon tetrachloride fumes since they were born in the back of the machine.”

Thankfully, the kittens and their mother are now being well cared for in a foster home.

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One might ponder about the kittens having a clean start to their young lives! (Sorry!)