Tag: Mother Nature Network

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!

Love and caring.

“It is a time for kindness, love, community and human spirit to connect with nature.”

This sentence was written by Colette who blogs over at Stargazing Futures. Colette offered that thought in a response to a post last week in this place.

The reason I used it as the sub-heading for today’s share is that it is perfect.

Read this from Mother Nature News and you will understand.

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Watch an excavator gently rescue a deer

Russell McLendon   September 5, 2017

When two young black-tailed deer wandered onto a construction site in 2016, they probably didn’t realize how dangerously muddy the ground had become. They both got stuck in the mud, a predicament that could have easily been fatal — if an observant worker at the site hadn’t noticed them and swung into action.

“I wouldn’t have seen them if they hadn’t moved and caught my eye!” wrote Bill Davis, a native of Tacoma, Washington, who was checking on the property for his employer.

When he realized the two yearling deer were stuck, he “orchestrated a rescue operation with his cellphone,” his son-in-law told GrindTV, by contacting a skilled excavator operator who might be able to pluck the helpless deer out of the mud.

Using an uncannily light touch for such a powerful piece of machinery, the operator managed to rescue both deer from the mud. Davis posted one of the rescues in the video above; the actual scooping up of the deer starts at about the 2:30 point.

Of course, it might have been even better for these deer if the property was still forest, not a muddy construction site, and it’s worth noting that habitat loss is one of the main problems facing wildlife around the world. But that was a moot point by the time these deer got stuck, and since Davis couldn’t return their lost patch of habitat, he did the next best thing by making sure they survived this ordeal.

Plus, as Earth Touch News points out, these deer were thought to be yearlings at the time, so they may have already been old enough to rebound afterward.

Davis wasn’t taking any chances, though. “Didn’t sleep much last night [after the rescue],” he wrote on Facebook. “[A]ll I could think about was those little guys getting stuck again, and not finding mama! I’m out there looking to make sure the babies didn’t come back to the mud! No sign of them.”

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“It is a time for kindness, love, community and human spirit to connect with nature.”

Exactly!

Water, water, everywhere!

It’s beyond imagination as to what it must be like in Houston just now!

By writing that sub-heading I am, of course, revealing the fact that Jeannie and I are living a long way from Texas.

But that doesn’t stop our hearts going out to the poor animals who are in the middle of this disaster. Maybe also that doesn’t stop many from extending a helping hand. Here’s how that might be achieved. In that I am republishing an article that appeared on Mother Nature Network on Tuesday.

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How to help pets after a disaster

After Hurricane Harvey’s rain and flooding, many animals are expected to be without homes.
Mary Jo DiLonardo, August 29, 2017.

Naomi Coto carries Simba as they evacuate from their Houston home after flooding from Hurricane Harvey. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

After Hurricane Harvey battered Texas and Louisiana, residents are rushing to recover yet facing catastrophic rain, flooding and evacuations. While many residents headed for safety with their pets in tow, plenty of animals either escaped or were left behind. Animal rescue and shelter administrators say it’s still too early to estimate how many animals are struggling to find their way home.

Shelters in nearby areas unaffected by the storm took in animals from evacuated facilities. The Humane Society of North Texas, for example, made room for 22 animals from a shelter in Corpus Christi that had to shut down.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a disaster response team on the ground offering search and rescue, sheltering and relocation services for animals displaced by the storm.

The ASPCA reports, “Emergency response agencies are receiving a high number of requests for animal-related rescue, and are conducting responsible assessments to determine where resources can be utilized most effectively. The ASPCA stands ready to assist where our resources can have the most impact in saving lives and helping to reunite pets with their families. Residents who need assistance with recovering a pet from their home or emergency sheltering for their pets are encouraged to contact their local emergency management agency.”

With so much of the storm’s impact in the Houston area, the Houston SPCA has become a central hub for animal-related needs. Because the storm is still pounding, the SPCA is unsure how strong its impact will be on the area pet population, but the group is fielding offers from individuals and rescue groups willing to donate or transport and foster displaced animals. While needs are still being assessed, one way to help is through direct donations.

How to help animals in any emergency

Two pups rest after being rescued in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. (Photo: Austin Pets Alive!)

After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, an estimated 15,000 pets were rescued by the New Orleans SPCA, as volunteers scooped cats and dogs off rooftops, out of the water and from flooded streets, reports CNN. However, a whopping 90,000 area pets were never accounted for with some sources saying an estimated 600,000 dogs and cats were displaced or died as a result of the storm.

As animal lovers all over the country saw images of abandoned pets, they wanted to help. People sent money and rescue groups transported unclaimed pets to shelters and new homes. Those are some of the things you can do to help when disaster strikes.

Donate money. Teams from the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States head to areas after disasters to help with transport, rescue and other needs. Donate to them directly, or go online to find shelters directly impacted by the event.

Contact local shelters to see what they need. Some might want local volunteers or item donations, while others may prefer monetary aid. Rescue groups outside the area can contact individual shelters or other local rescue groups to see if there are pets ready to be taken to new homes. Early on, there will likely be temporary shelters set up in hopes that some animals may be claimed by their owners, so rescue groups might not be needed right away.

Be willing to foster. After large disasters, shelters brace for a high volume of new animals. Some shelters might be looking for short-term fosters to care for the animals that were already in their care before the storm hit or to take care of owned pets while the families recover from damage and get back on their feet.
How to protect your pet:

Looking ahead, there are things you can to do be prepared with your pet before disaster strikes, says the ASPCA:

  • Microchip your pets. Collars and tags can get lost, but it’s easier for rescue workers to help pets reunite with their owners if they are chipped and the information is updated.
  • Have a go-bag for your pet. Have it packed with leashes, medical info, food, water and anything else your pet needs and keep it by the door.
  • Download the ASPCA’s free mobile app for your smartphone. It stores your pet’s records and offers tips on what to do if you get separated from your pet.
  • If you have to evacuate, take your pet with you. Some emergency shelters allow pets. In 2006, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which authorized FEMA to rescue, care, shelter and take care of people with pets and service animals. About 44 percent of the people who didn’t evacuate during Katrina stayed because they didn’t want to leave their pets behind, according to a report by the Fritz Institute.

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I’m going to close today’s post by referring to another recent item published by Mother Nature Network. More precisely by first presenting a photograph that was in that MNN item.

Photo taken by Tiele Dockens last Saturday.

Now read the text that accompanied that photograph.

Dog carrying bag of food turns out to be the hero Texas needed
In times like these, even ordinary creatures do extraordinary things.

In troubled times, we all look to heroes to step up and lead us from a dark place to one of hope. And in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which battered and then flooded much of southeast Texas over the weekend, we didn’t have to wait long. Countless everyday Texans have risked their own lives to haul people and pets out of the affected areas.

But Otis may be the unlikeliest hero of all.

After all, he wasn’t exactly leaping into the breach when Tiele Dockens snapped this picture over the weekend. Nor was the golden retriever hauling anyone out of danger.

Instead, Otis was carrying cargo that was precious mostly to him: a big bag of dog food. And he was just trying to get it home.

But there was something about that picture — a humble family pet clinging tightly to his one precious possession, despite the chaos all around.
A new survival icon emerges

Since Dockens posted the image on Facebook — a photo snapped while she was taking stock of the flood-wracked city of Sinton — the post has been shared more than 35,000 times.

“We are a population of about 6,000,” Dockens told the Weather Channel. “We were out today clearing tree limbs from streets. Families are already starting to clean up. Our town is still out of water and power. I was driving around checking on family and friends’ properties that decided to evacuate.”

Then she spotted Otis.

“With his dog food of course,” Dockens added.

It turned out, the man taking care of Otis, who belonged to his grandson, had been looking for the furry refugee who had slipped out of a screened-in back porch on Friday night.

“I kept yelling his name and yelling his name and he wasn’t around,” Segovia told the Houston Chronicle.

Amid devastating floods, with countless family pets already missing, the situation could have taken a dark turn. But not long after he was photographed high-tailing it down a city street, Otis found his way back home.

And, along the way, into the hearts of millions.

Sure, images of ordinary people doing extraordinary things can be a powerful cure for despair. And right now, Texas needs all the heroes it can get.

But sometimes, we need a simple reminder from our four-legged friends that they are in this mess, too. They’re trying to get by one way or another. And if that happens to involve looting — err, retrieving — a bag of food, then this is a survivor’s tale worth cheering for.

Please, please if there is anything that you can do to help alleviate what the animals are experiencing please do so.

Thank you!

Saturday Smile

Yet another wonderful video to make your day!

(Seen on Mother Nature Network.)

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This border collie is so excited to be working at the farm


Noel Kirkpatrick August 19, 2017

The day on a farm starts so early that it’s easy to imagine that you’d get worn out pretty quickly. Unless you happen to be a border collie.

This border collie either paced itself all day, consumed an energy drink (kidding … please do not let your dog consume an energy drink) or just started its day, but the dog is so very pumped to spread some hay. The dog’s farmer companion can’t even keep up with the pup! The hay is barely on the pitchfork before the border collie has yanked it off the truck and shaken it around the ground.

This seems like an efficient way to spread hay, too. The border collie gets to expend some energy, the human just has to stand on the bed of a truck and the hay goes exactly where it needs to. After this, maybe they go and sit on the porch and admire their hard work. Or they go and herd sheep. Seeing the energy level of this dog, it’s probably sheep herding.

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Have a brilliant weekend!

One can never just look!

That is when it comes to viewing dogs in need of a good home.

The following article, recently published on the Mother Nature Network site, is a great example of not being able to just look at a rescue dog.

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Stella the rescue dog helps a family heal

They went to the shelter ‘just to look’ and came home with the pup.

Mary Jo DiLonardo   August 22, 2017.

Jeneanne Lock and her kids surround their new BFF, Stella. (Photo: Best Friends Animal Society)

When Jeneanne Lock was undergoing treatment for stage 4 breast cancer and stage 1 thyroid cancer, she was determined to do everything she could to help herself — and her family — deal with the disease. She regularly saw therapy dogs come through the center during her treatment and their owners often told her of the advantages of four-legged therapy.

“They spoke of all the benefits of having a pet through and after treatment, how it was helpful to the patient, as well as the caregivers and other family members,” Lock says. “That’s why I was considering adopting an animal.”

Plus, it helped that her two kids were begging to get a dog. So they took a trip to the Best Friends Animal Society in Salt Lake City “just to look,” Lock says. “Of course we saw Stella and fell in love with her.”

The year-old black-and-white boxer mix was soon jumping in the car and heading home with them.

“She’s been a wonderful addition to our family,” Lock says. “For me, just the emotional and mental aspect of being a cancer patient, it was almost more challenging emotional and mentally then physically. But my oncologist said most if not all cancer patients experience anxiety or depression or both. I was aware of my own mental health through my cancer battle and wanted to do things that would promote maintaining mental health, so things like going for a walk with Stella really helped improve my mood.”

The sweet, caring pup seems to know how to act with each member of the family, Lock says. Stella is calm and comforting around Lock, yet playful with 9-year-old Ruby and 6-year-old Andres.

When they first brought Stella home, Lock was getting daily radiation after eight months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy and still had several more surgeries to look forward to.

“The toll of all that, the cumulative effects, were I had a lot of fatigue and a lot of soreness in different parts of my body,” she says. “What I was doing medically to recover were things like going to physical therapy but being at home and having Stella to take walks with improved my mood and it also helped me build up energy and strength.”

But she wasn’t the only one that benefited.

“My children had some pretty traumatic experiences watching me,” Lock says. “I know Stella’s helped me, but I also know she’s helped my children.”

Lock is now cancer free, with both of her cancers in remission. She credits her rescue pet with helping her get through the experience.

“Our dog is so full of love and energy, she’s just been a great companion,” she says. “We love having Stella and we look forward to spending more years with her as part of our family.”

Watch their story here:

Uploaded on Jun 30, 2017

Jeneanne and her children adopted Stella from Best Friends Animal Society just as Jeneanne was completing a difficult health journey. What Stella brought to the family has been immeasurable. For more information on Best Friends and its many lifesaving programs, go to best friends.org.

Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization focused exclusively on ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. A leader in the no-kill movement, Best Friends runs the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, as well as lifesaving programs in partnership with rescue groups and shelters across the country. Since its founding in 1984, Best Friends has helped reduce the number of animals killed in American shelters from 17 million per year to about 4 million. By continuing to build effective initiatives that reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes, Best Friends and its nationwide network of members and partners are working to Save Them All®.

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Nothing needs to be added by me!

Our incredible world!

What to see in the night sky in August

You all understand that this blog, while predominantly about our special doggie friends, never hesitates to wander away from matters canine if I think it will be enjoyed by all you good people.

You will also all appreciate that August is the month where in the USA, on August 21st, there will be a total eclipse of the sun.

The reasons why I didn’t hesitate to republish a recent post that was presented on Mother Nature Network.

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What to see in the night sky in August

While the total solar eclipse is the highlight, there are other celestial fireworks to look forward to this month.

Michael d’Estries   August 1, 2017.

Michael d’Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Celestial events for August 2017 include a total solar eclipse, Perseid meteor shower and the rise of the Sturgeon Moon. (Photo: Michael Seeley/Flickr)

Welcome to August, a month defined by loud cicadas, pool parties, humidity and children fretting about an impending return to school. When it comes to celestial happenings, however, there is no larger star this month that our own moon. From a partial lunar eclipse to the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in almost a century, the moon will be the cause of most eyeballs drifting towards the heavens over the next several weeks.

Below is a small sampling of some of the night and day celestial events to look forward to this month. Wishing you all clear skies!

The rise of the full Sturgeon Moon (Aug. 7)

The full Sturgeon Moon is so-named for the fish that are easily caught in August and early September. (Photo: Paul Kline/flickr)

August’s full moon, nicknamed the Sturgeon Moon, will rise for the U.S. Eastern Seaboard on the evening of Aug. 7 at 8:05 p.m.

The Sturgeon Moon gets its name from the species of fish native to both Europe and the Americas that is easily caught this time of year. Other nicknames include the Corn Moon, Fruit Moon and Grain Moon. In countries experiencing winter, such as New Zealand, native Māori called this full moon “Here-turi-kōkā” or “the scorching effect of fire is seen on the knees of man.” This reference is to warm fires that glow during the Southern Hemisphere’s coldest month.

Partial lunar eclipse (Aug. 7 & 8)

Observers in Africa, Asia and Australia will see August’s partial lunar eclipse in its entirety. (Photo: Forrest Tanaka/flickr)

As a kind of consolation prize for missing out on this month’s total solar eclipse over North America, those living on the continents of Africa, Asia and Australia will bear witness to a partial lunar eclipse. Spectators in Europe will catch the tail end of the eclipse as the moon rises around 7:10 p.m. on Aug. 7.

This phenomenon occurs between two to four times a year when the moon passes through a portion of the Earth’s shadow. Because the shadow cast is more than 5,700 miles wide, lunar eclipses last much longer than solar eclipses. In some instances, totality can occur for as long as 1 hour and 40 minutes. As a reference, maximum totality for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse will top out a mere 2 minutes and 42 seconds. The longest, at over 7 minutes, won’t take place until the year 2186.

This month’s partial lunar eclipse is the last of the year. Next year, total lunar eclipses will take place in January and July.

Perseid meteor shower (Aug. 12)

A composite shot of last year’s Perseid meteor shower over Turkey. Notice how the path of the meteors appears to race from the constellation Perseus. (Photo: NASA)

Regarded as one of the best celestial light shows of the year, the Perseid meteor shower occurs from July 17 to Aug. 24 and peaks on the evening of Aug. 12.

The shower, sometimes creating as many as 60 to 200 shooting stars per hour, is produced as Earth passes through debris left over from the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle. This 16-mile-wide periodic comet, which completes an orbit around the sun every 133 years, has been described as “the single most dangerous object known to humanity.” This is because every instance of its return to the inner solar system brings it ever closer to the Earth-moon system. Though astronomers believe the comet bears no threat for at least the next 2,000 years, future impacts cannot be ruled out.

If the comet were to hit Earth, scientists believe Swift-Tuttle would be at least 27 times more powerful than the asteroid or comet that wiped out the dinosaurs. For now, you can take in the beauty of the debris from this harbinger of doom by looking north towards the constellation Perseus. Because the moon will be three-quarters full, you’ll need to search out a nice dark sky to escape any light pollution from urban environments.

Total solar eclipse (Aug. 21)

A total solar eclipse as captured over the Southern Hemisphere in November 2012. (Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

By far the biggest celestial event in ages, Aug. 21 marks the first time since June 1918 that a total solar eclipse will race from coast to coast across the United States. Cities and towns along the 72-mile-wide path of totality are preparing for an influx of visitors, with millions of Americans expected to drive to view the rare phenomenon. Those outside totality will still experience a show, with partial solar eclipses happening over much of North America. Regardless, everyone will want to invest in a pair of special solar eclipse glasses to avoid ruining your eyesight.

Total solar eclipses occur when the new moon moves between the Earth and the sun and casts its shadow on the planet. This shadow is comprised of two concentric cones –– the larger penumbra, which from Earth only shows the sun partially blocked, and the much smaller umbra, which blocks the sun completely. It is within this latter cone that totality will occur, giving spectators on the ground what’s considered by many to be a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.

The Great American Eclipse will actually first start out in the Pacific (at this point, it will actually, unbelievably rise while completely eclipsed!), making landfall on the Oregon community of Lincoln Beach at 10:16:01 a.m. (PDT). From there, the moon’s shadow will continue to race across the U.S. The point of greatest eclipse, where the axis of the moon’s shadow passes nearest to the center of Earth, will take place in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and last 2 minutes and 40.1 seconds. In celebration of the event, the town has temporarily renamed itself “Eclipseville,” and expects anywhere from 55,000 to 150,000 tourists to visit in advance of Aug. 21.

The next total solar eclipse over the U.S. will take place on April 8, 2024.

New moon (Aug. 21)

August’s new moon will not only create a show during the day, but also leave the heavens to glow unimpeded by night. (Photo: Coconino National Forest/flickr)

Fresh after wowing the U.S. during the day with its solar theatrics, August’s new moon will give way to dark skies for the next several nights. This is the perfect opportunity to grab a blanket and head outside into the still-warm summer evenings to enjoy the heavens in all their glory. With some remnants of the Perseids still visible, it will also offer a chance to catch some of the faintest shooting stars.

Look for Earth’s shadow (All year)

The Earth’s shadow and ‘Belt of Venus’ as captured above Mauna Kea, Hawaii. (Photo: Jay El Eskay/flickr)

Ever wonder what causes the beautiful bands of color in the eastern sky at sunset or the western sky at sunrise? The dark blue band stretching 180 degrees along the horizon is actually the Earth’s shadow emanating some 870,000 miles into space. The golden-red portion, nicknamed the “Belt of Venus,” is Earth’s upper-atmosphere illuminated by the setting or rising sun.

Now that you know about this phenomenon, choose a night or morning sometime to try and pick it out. You’ll need a western or eastern horizon that’s fairly unobstructed to get a clear view of our planet’s huge curved shadow.

Looking ahead to September

On Sept. 15, the Cassini spacecraft will end its 20-year mission to Saturn with a dramatic death dive into the ringed planet. (Photo: NASA)

As fall beckons, the biggest event next month will be the dramatic death dive of the Cassini spacecraft into Saturn. Taking place on Sept. 15, Cassini will make discoveries about Saturn right up until its fiery conclusion, with unprecedented photos and data captured and transmitted during its final moments.

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It is going to be quite a month!

Oh, and for those of you that want to know the timings of the eclipse over North America there is a useful reference site here, from which I republish the following table.

Eclipse Start & End: Local Time for US States

The eclipse will begin over the Pacific Ocean at 15:46 UTC, which corresponds to 8:46 am Pacific Time. It will reach the coast of Oregon at Lincoln City, just west of Salem, at 9:04 am local time. The eclipse will reach its maximum point here at 10:17 am.

From here, the Moon’s central shadow will move inland. The following table shows when the Moon will begin to move in front of the Sun and the moment it completely covers the Sun, as seen from some locations along the central path of the eclipse. All times are local.

Location Partial Eclipse Begins Sun Completely Obscured
Salem, OR 09:05 am PDT 10:18 am PDT
Idaho Falls, ID 10:15 am MDT 11:33 am MDT
Casper, WY 10:22 am MDT 11:43 am MDT
Lincoln, NE 11:37 am CDT 1:03 pm CDT
Sabetha, KS 11:38 am CDT 1:05 pm CDT
Jefferson City, MO 11:46 am CDT 1:14 pm CDT
Carbondale, IL 11:52 am CDT 1:21 pm CDT
Hopkinsville, KY 11:56 am CDT 1:25 pm CDT
Nashville, TN 11:58 am CDT 1:28 pm CDT
Talulah Falls, GA 1:07 pm EDT 2:37 pm EDT
Columbia, SC 1:13 pm EDT 2:43 pm EDT
Charleston, SC 1:16 pm EDT 2:47 pm EDT

Please note that this list includes only a small selection of locations where the total eclipse will be visible. You can look up more locations in our Eclipse Database or via the Eclipse Map.

Enjoy your nights out there! And let your dogs howl their hearts out!

Getting old? Get a dog!

Yet another wonderful reason to grow old with a dog or two!

Despite the fact that we rarely take our dogs for a walk, in the full meaning of the word, they still receive much exercise. For the straightforward reason that we are fortunate to have sufficient room around the house for the dogs to take themselves for a walk.

So when I first read a recent essay on Mother Nature Network about the benefits of people walking their dogs as they age my first reaction was not to read it too carefully! Thankfully, the article supported the benefits of having dogs as we age whether or not they are taken for walks. Read it for yourself.

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Dogs are the key to staying active as we age

People who walk their dogs tend to get more exercise, especially in winter, study finds.

Mary Jo DiLonardo    July 24, 2017

What a nose!

Two items that recently caught my eye.

The power of a dog’s nose is incredible and it is something that has been written about in this place on more than one occasion.

But two recent news items reminded me once again of the way we humans can be helped by our wonderful canine partners.

The first was a report that appeared on the Care2 website about how dogs are being used to search for victims in the burnt out ruins following that terrible Grenfell Tower fire. That report opened, thus:

By: Laura Goldman June 24, 2017
About Laura Follow Laura at @lauragoldman

Wearing heat-proof booties to protect their feet, specially trained dogs have been dispatched in London’s Grenfell Tower to help locate victims and determine the cause of last week’s devastating fire that killed at least 79 people.

Because they’re smaller and weigh less than humans, urban search-and-rescue dogs with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) are able to access the more challenging areas of the charred 24-story building, especially the upper floors that sustained the most damage.

It then went on to include a photograph from the London Fire Brigade.

We’ve used specialist search dogs at #GrenfellTower. They’re lighter than humans and can cover a large area quickly.

The next item, apart from also being about the dog’s nose, couldn’t have been more different. It appeared on the Mother Nature Network site and is republished in full.

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Border collies join the search for Amelia Earhart

4 dogs skilled in finding long-buried bones are headed to the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro.

Michael d’Estries    June 21, 2017.

Amelia Earhart standing under nose of her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The high-tech search to find the remains of pilot Amelia Earhart and close the book on one of the aviation world’s greatest mysteries is going to the dogs.

According to National Geographic, four border collies — Berkeley, Piper, Marcy and Kayle — will embark on a voyage later this month to the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro (previously called Gardner Island) in the western Pacific Ocean. The remote triangular coral atoll, less than five miles long and two miles wide, is widely speculated as the location where Earhart and her co-pilot, Fred Noonan, performed an emergency landing during their ill-fated 1937 world flight.

While concrete evidence of the pair surviving as castaways on Nikumaroro has never been found, there have been some intriguing clues. These include a piece of scrap metal that likely came from Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E, a sextant box, and fragmented remains of U.S. beauty and skin care products that may date back to the 1930s.

The most intriguing find, however, happened in 1940 with the discovery of 13 bones under a tree on the island’s southeast corner. The remains were shipped to Fiji and subsequently misplaced, but measurements recorded before their loss and examined later by forensic anthropologists indicate that they may have belonged to “a tall white female of northern European ancestry.” With these findings were recently thrown into doubt, the only true way to know if the remains belong to Earhart or Noonan is to find the remaining bones.

The right nose for the job

The four dogs headed to Nikumaroro, officially known as Human Remains Detection Dogs, are part of the latest expedition organized by TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery). Trained at the Institute for Canine Forensics (ICF), these specialized dogs are capable of sniffing out bones centuries old and buried as much as 9 feet deep.

“No other technology is more sophisticated than the dogs,” Fred Hiebert, archaeologist in residence at the National Geographic Society, which is sponsoring the canines, said in a statement. “They have a higher rate of success identifying things than ground-penetrating radar.”

According to the ICF, detection dogs are never trained to smell out live humans, focusing instead on old cases, small scent sources and residual scent. They also excel at locating remains without disturbing the burial site.

You can view one of the ICF dogs in action, seeking out the remains of ancient Native American burial sites, in the video below.

“This kind of searching requires the dog to be slow and methodical and keep its nose just above the surface of the ground, any fast moves and the dog can miss the grave,” the group explains. “It takes many years of slow and patient training to develop the skills needed to do this work.”

Once remains are detected, the dogs generally do little more than lie down on top of the potential burial site. Should Berkeley, Piper, Marcy and Kayle detect anything, TIGHAR’s archeologists will perform a careful excavation to uncover the source.

In addition to using canines, the team from TIGHAR will also take time over the eight-day expedition to survey sites on Nikumaroro using metal detectors and even an advanced underwater drone. Their greatest hope, however, lies with the highly advanced noses of the very good boys and girls sniffing out an 80-year-old mystery.

“If the dogs don’t find anything, we’ll have to think about what that means,” Hiebert added. “But if the dogs are successful, it will be the discovery of a lifetime.”

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What a sense of smell!

Thank goodness.

A hot Saturday Smile

The forecast for Josephine County is a high of 105° F today (40° C)

So nothing too energetic!

Well not for us humans. But we can watch puppies play. (As seen on Mother Nature Network.)

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9 dog moms playing with their feisty puppies

by Mary Jo DiLonardo

There are few things sweeter than watching puppies snuggle with their mother, nestling into her soft fur as they contently drift off to sleep. But sometimes even mom is tired of being all sunshine and roses and wants to play. And that’s when things get even more adorable.

Although it’s fun, while playing, mothers are also teaching their puppies manners. If they bite too hard, she’ll growl, yelp or walk away. Then they learn how to behave, so everyone can have fun next time.

Here are nine canine moms (and one dad) having fun with their kids. Like Lucky, above, a corgi who is trying to teach her babies the intricacies of a good game of tug.

In a game of tag at the park, this dog mom can’t be beat, no matter how hard her pups try.

And then there are these 10 golden retriever puppies who swarm mom hoping for a meal. When she disappears they decide to have some fun with dad.

This beagles spins and barks as she’s playfully attacked by her feisty offspring.

These Westie puppies get down and wrestle with their mom.

These Jack Russell pups are no match for a mom with these kinds of amazing acrobatic skills.

It’s sleepy time until mom shows up, then everybody jumps up to play. (OK, technically, they get up for lunch.)

Somewhere in all this hair are Maltese puppies playing with their mother. One puppy gets a little sidetracked.

Mom just wants a little roll in the grass, but when she does, it’s a puppy pile-on.

Have a wonderful cool weekend!