Tag: Oliver

From Wolf to Dog.

A very interesting article in Scientific American magazine!

A single page article in this month’s Scientific American magazine is fascinating. The sub-heading is: “An amicable disposition also governed the course of evolution for an animal that turned into a favorite pet.

A little later on in the article one reads:

When our research group began its work almost 20 years ago, we discovered that dogs also have extraordinary intelligence: they can read our gestures better that any other species, even bonobos and chimpanzees. Wolves, in contrast, are mysterious and unpredictable. Their home is the wilderness, and that wilderness is shrinking.

The article was written by Prof. Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods and is part of a much longer piece on Homo sapiens.

In fact tomorrow I shall republish a post I wrote in 2015 about the origins of the dog!

Sheena getting to know Oliver.

Sheena is here to stay!

“The easiest introduction ever!”

Those were Jeannie’s words not mine. When you consider the number of dogs that Jean has introduced into her pack, especially down in Mexico, that is quite a statement!

Very soon after Renate coming round to our place at 10 am yesterday morning Sheena came into the house. I tried to take a few photographs in those early moments. They are not the best I have taken!

Sheena within minutes goes to her bed.

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Little Pedi watching Sheena!

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Sheena getting to know Oliver.

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Now we have yet to go a full day (as this is being written on Friday for publication at midnight PDT tonight). But Jean and I have a good feeling about Sheena.

Picture Parade Three Hundred and Thirty-Nine

Just a few from me!

All taken either from here at home or from a short ride away in the car.

A walk above the creek! 10th May, 2020.

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Rain here at home. 17th May, 2020

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Water iris in our pond. 17th May, 2020

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Mount Sexton behind cloud. Taken here at home. 19th May, 2020.

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Oliver. Taken at home, 17th May, 2020.

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A local scene. 19th May, 2020 taken at 09:00.

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Mount Sexton at 5am on the 27th May. Taken from the deck here at home.

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Taken on the 27th May at 09:30, again from our rear deck. The cirrus clouds were fascinating.

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A new leaf. Taken from home at 09:30 on the 27th May.

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I looked up and saw this bird right by me. 27th May, 2020. We think it is a Junco.

Hope you enjoyed them.

No particular theme just a bit of fun!

Yoga time!

A Chihuahua follows his owner perfectly!

This is a dear YouTube that is just over a minute and a half long. It was sent to me by Bob.

It shows a chihuahua copying a human perfectly. I don’t think the video is a fake.

It reminds me of our Oliver who is the best of our six dogs when it comes to observing us and copying certain actions. Mind you, Oliver is not the only one of our six dogs to copy us but he is the best.

As the person who posted the video wrote: “Here is the dog doing yoga with his owner Nic. Such a special connection that he’s able to perfectly repeat his moves.” That’s Nic Bello.

Enjoy!

Our incredible dogs!

Serendipity hard at work!

Why that sub-heading?

Simply because yesterday Anita from Anitashope blog left the following comment:

This article popped up after I responded to todays post but I also have to respond to this one as I need to tell you about Mimi. Mimi is my coon hound black lab mix and she will NOT make eye contact with you when a treat is involved. She will come sit by you and look off in the distance like “I am not looking at you”, then she will cut her eyes sideways just to make sure the treat is still there. Its hilarious.

The post where her comment was left was one that I published back on March 13th, 2017. It included the most beautiful photograph of Oliver’s eyes. I had forgotten that picture.

So for that reason alone, it is being republished today.

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The love and admiration for this beautiful animal goes on and on!

It seems as though it is almost on a weekly basis that new and incredible facts about our dear, dear dogs come to the surface.

So what prompted this from me today!

Only a wonderful article that was originally published in New Scientist but then was carried by The Smithsonian. I am hoping that by fully linking this post to both the New Scientist article and the essay in The Smithsonian I am at liberty to republish it for all you good people.

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Dogs Use Deception to Get Treats, Study Shows

When a human partner withheld tasty snacks, the dogs got sneaky

Would these eyes deceive you? New study says yes. (johan63/iStock)

By Brigit Katz     smithsonian.com
March 10, 2017
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that dogs, in addition to looking adorable in sweaters, possess fairly sophisticated cognitive abilities. They recognize emotion, for example, and respond negatively to antisocial behavior between humans. Man’s best friend can also get pretty tricksy when it comes to scoring snacks. As Brian Owens reports for New Scientist, a recent study found that dogs are capable of using deceptive tactics to get their favorite treats.

The study, published in the journal Animal Cognition, was led by Marianne Heberlein of the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Experimental Studies at the University of Zürich. Heberlein told Owens that the idea for the study was born when she observed her pet pooches engaging in deceptive behavior; one sometimes pretends to see something interesting outside, prompting the other to give up his sleeping spot.

To find out if dogs engage in similar shenanigans with humans, Heberlein and a team of researchers paired 27 dogs with two different partners, Stanley Coren explains in Psychology Today. One of these partners would repeatedly go to the bowl of a given dog, fish out a treat, and give it to the pup. The other would show the treat to the dog, and then put it in her pocket. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the dogs began to show a preference for the more generous partners, and would approach them spontaneously.

Once one partner had been established as co-operative, the other as competitive, the dogs were taught to lead their partners to one of two boxes, both containing food, with the command “Show me the food.” And the same pattern was repeated: when the dogs led the co-operative partner to a treat, they got to eat it. The competitive partner withheld the treat.

Researchers then showed the dogs three covered boxes. One contained a sausage, the second contained a less-yummy dry biscuit, and the third was empty. Once again, the process of treat giving and withholding was repeated, but this time with a twist: when the dog was reunited with its owner, the owner asked it to choose one of the boxes. If there was a treat inside the box, the dog was allowed to eat it. But “if the dog chose the box which had been opened before,” Coren explains, “the owner just showed the empty box to the dog.”

Over the course of a two-day testing period, the dogs were repeatedly presented with this conundrum. They had been trained to lead both partners to boxes containing food, but they knew that the competitive partner would not let them eat the snacks. They also knew that if any snacks remained inside the boxes once they were reunited with their owners, they would get a chance to eat them. So the dogs got a little devious.

Researchers observed the pooches leading the co-operative partner to the box containing the sausage more often than expected by chance. They led the competitive partner to the sausage less often than expected by chance. And here’s where things get really interesting: the dogs took the competitive partner to the empty box more frequently than the co-operative partner, suggesting that they were working through their options and engaging in deliberate deception to maximize their chances of getting both treats.

“It is as though the dog is thinking, ‘Why should I tell that selfish person where the best treat [is] if it means that I will never get it?’,” writes Coren.

“These results show that dogs distinguished between the co-operative and the competitive partner,” the authors of the study write, “and indicate the flexibility of dogs to adjust their behaviour and that they are able to use tactical deception.”

Rest assured, dog lovers: your pooches may be sneaky, but they still love you more than cats.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/dogs-use-deception-get-treats-study-shows-180962492/#5r1vc6gkyLQoIQaL.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

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The article from Brigit opened up with a picture of a pair of eyes; a pair of dog’s eyes.

I don’t know about you but some dogs have eyes that reach out and seem to illuminate one’s soul.

Our Oliver has just that set of eyes. I will close today’s post with a photograph of Oliver’s eyes that was taken yesterday afternoon.

Talk about the power of non-verbal communication!

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I will never, ever get tired of looking at the face of such a gorgeous, loving dog as our dearest Oliver. Never; Ever!

The eyes of our dogs!

Science confirms what we instinctively understand!

That the way a dog looks deep into our eyes is more than emotional froth!

Follower of this blog, Anita, left a comment to yesterday’s post. This is what she wrote (my emphasis):

This has been a wonderful compilation of awesome photos. You must do it again sometime. Dogs are so wonderful and such great companions. They do have eyes that see straight through our very souls and ready to love us at the drop of a hat.

One of our dogs here at home, Oliver, has those eyes. When he stares into my own eyes it feels as though at some mystical level Oliver and I are connected.

Young Oliver and those eyes! (Taken 1st March, 2018.)

So imagine my surprise when reading yesterday the lead essay in The Smithsonian about the evolution of the domesticated dog and me coming across this:

The relationship has become so close that even our brains are in sync. Witness a study showing that dogs hijack the human brain’s maternal bonding system. When humans and dogs gaze lovingly into one another’s eyes, each of their brains secretes oxytocin, a hormone linked to maternal bonding and trust.

In other words, science confirms what I experience as being real!! (Undoubtedly shared by many of you!)

I have pleasure in republishing the full article.

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How Accurate Is Alpha’s Theory of Dog Domestication?

The ‘boy and his dog’ tale is a piece of prehistoric fiction, but scientists are uncovering the true origins of our incredible relationship with dogs.

smithsonian.com

Long ago, before your four-legged best friend learned to fetch tennis balls or watch football from the couch, his ancestors were purely wild animals in competition—sometimes violent—with our own. So how did this relationship change? How did dogs go from being our bitter rivals to our snuggly, fluffy pooch pals?

The new drama Alpha answers that question with a Hollywood “tail” of the very first human/dog partnership.

Europe is a cold and dangerous place 20,000 years ago when the film’s hero, a young hunter named Keda, is injured and left for dead. Fighting to survive, he forgoes killing an injured wolf and instead befriends the animal, forging an unlikely partnership that—according to the film—launches our long and intimate bond with dogs.

Just how many nuggets of fact might be sprinkled throughout this prehistoric fiction?

We’ll never know the gritty details of how humans and dogs first began to come together. But beyond the theater the true story is slowly taking shape, as scientists explore the real origins of our oldest domestic relationship and learn how both species have changed along canines’ evolutionary journey from wolves to dogs.

When and where were dogs domesticated?

Pugs and poodles may not look the part, but if you trace their lineages far enough back in time all dogs are descended from wolves. Gray wolves and dogs diverged from an extinct wolf species some 15,000 to 40,000 years ago. There’s general scientific agreement on that point, and also with evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare’s characterization of what happened next. ’The domestication of dogs was one of the most extraordinary events in human history,” Hare says.

But controversies abound concerning where a long-feared animal first became our closest domestic partner. Genetic studies have pinpointed everywhere from southern China to Mongolia to Europe.

Scientists cannot agree on the timing, either. Last summer, research reported in Nature Communications pushed likely dates for domestication further back into the past, suggesting that dogs were domesticated just once at least 20,000 but likely closer to 40,000 years ago. Evolutionary ecologist Krishna R. Veeramah, of Stony Brook University, and colleagues sampled DNA from two Neolithic German dog fossils, 7,000 and 4,700 years old respectively. Tracing genetic mutation rates in these genomes yielded the new date estimates.

“We found that our ancient dogs from the same time period were very similar to modern European dogs, including the majority of breed dogs people keep as pets,” explained Dr. Veeramah in a release accompanying the study. This suggests, he adds, “that there was likely only a single domestication event for the dogs observed in the fossil record from the Stone Age and that we also see and live with today.”

End of story? Not even close.

In fact, at least one study has suggested that dogs could have been domesticated more than once. Researchers analyzed mitochondrial DNA sequences from remains of 59 European dogs (aged 3,000 to 14,000 years), and the full genome of a 4,800-year-old dog that was buried beneath the prehistoric mound monument at Newgrange, Ireland.

Comparing these genomes with many wolves and modern dog breeds suggested that dogs were domesticated in Asia, at least 14,000 years ago, and their lineages split some 14,000 to 6,400 years ago into East Asian and Western Eurasian dogs .

But because dog fossils apparently older than these dates have been found in Europe, the authors theorize that wolves may have been domesticated twice, though the European branch didn’t survive to contribute much to today’s dogs. Greger Larson, director of the Wellcome Trust Palaeogenomics & Bio-Archaeology Research Network at Oxford University, suggests that the presence of older fossils in both Europe and Asia, and the lack of dogs older than 8,000 years in between those regions, supports such a scenario.

“Our ancient DNA evidence, combined with the archaeological record of early dogs, suggests that we need to reconsider the number of times dogs were domesticated independently. Maybe the reason there hasn’t yet been a consensus about where dogs were domesticated is because everyone has been a little bit right,′ Larson said in a statement accompanying the study.

The many interbreedings of dogs and wolves also muddy the genetic waters, of course. Such events happen to the present day—even when the dogs in question are supposed to be stopping the wolves from eating livestock.

How did dogs become man’s best friend?

Perhaps more intriguing than exactly when or where dogs became domesticated is the question of how. Was it really the result of a solitary hunter befriending an injured wolf? That theory hasn’t enjoyed much scientific support.

One similar theory argues that early humans somehow captured wolf pups, kept them as pets, and gradually domesticated them. This could have happened around the same time as the rise of agriculture, about 10,000 years ago. The oldest fossils generally agreed to be domestic dogs date to about 14,000 years, but several disputed fossils more than twice that age may also be dogs or at least their no longer entirely wolf ancestors.

Since more recent genetic studies suggest that the date of domestication occurred far earlier, a different theory has gained the support of many scientists. “Survival of the friendliest” suggests that wolves largely domesticated themselves among hunter-gatherer people.

“That the first domesticated animal was a large carnivore, who would have been a competitor for food—anyone who has spent time with wild wolves would see how unlikely it was that we somehow tamed them in a way that led to domestication,” says Brian Hare, director of the Duke University Canine Cognition Center.

But, Hare notes, the physical changes that appeared in dogs over time, including splotchy coats, curly tails, and floppy ears, follow a pattern of a process known as self-domestication. It’s what happens when the friendliest animals of a species somehow gain an advantage. Friendliness somehow drives these physical changes, which can begin to appear as visible byproducts of this selection in only a few generations.

“Evidence for this comes from another process of domestication, one involving the famous case of domesticated foxes in Russia. This experiment bred foxes who were comfortable getting close to humans, but researchers learned that these comfortable foxes were also good at picking up on human social cues,” explains Laurie Santos, director of the Canine Cognition Center at Yale University. The selection of social foxes also had the unintended consequence of making them look increasingly adorable—like dogs.

Hare adds that most wolves would have been fearful and aggressive towards humans—because that’s the way most wolves behave. But some would have been friendlier, which may have given them access to human hunter-gatherer foodstuffs..

“These wolves would have had an advantage over other wolves, and the strong selection pressure on friendliness had a whole lot of byproducts, like the physical differences we see in dogs,” he says. “This is self-domestication. We did not domesticate dogs. Dogs domesticated themselves.”

A study last year provided some possible genetic support for this theory. Evolutionary biologist Bridgette von Holdt, of Princeton University, and colleagues suggest that hypersocial behavior may have linked our two species and zero in on a few genes that may drive that behavior.

“Generally speaking, dogs display a higher level of motivation than wolves to seek out prolonged interactions with humans. This is the behavior I’m interested in,” she says.

Von Holdt’s research shows that the social dogs she tested have disruption to a genomic region that remains intact in more aloof wolves. Interestingly, in humans genetic variation in the same stretch of DNA causes Williams-Beuren syndrome, a condition characterized by exceptionally trusting and friendly behaviors. Mice also become more social if changes occur to these genes, previous studies have discovered.

The results suggest that random variations to these genes, with others yet unknown, may have played a role in causing some dogs to first cozy up with humans.

“We were able to identify one of the many molecular features that likely shape behavior,” she adds.

How have dogs changed since becoming our best friends?

Though the origins of the dog/human partnership remain unknown, it’s becoming increasingly clear that each species has changed during our long years together. The physical differences between a basset hound and wolf are obvious, but dogs have also changed in ways that are more than skin (or fur) deep.

One recent study shows how by bonding with us and learning to work together with humans, dogs may have actually become worse at working together as a species. Their pack lifestyle and mentality appear to be reduced and is far less prevalent even in wild dogs than it is in wolves.

But, Yale’s Laurie Santos says, dogs may have compensated in other interesting ways. They’ve learned to use humans to solve problems.

“Several researchers have presented dogs and wolves with an impossible problem (e.g., a puzzle box that can’t be opened or a pulling tool that stops working) and have asked how these different species react,” Santos explains. “Researchers have found that wolves try lots of different trial and error tactics to solve the problem— they get at it physically. But at the first sign of trouble, dogs do something different. They look back to their human companion for help. This work hints that dogs may have lost some of their physical problem-solving abilities in favor of more social strategies, ones that rely on the unique sort of cooperation domesticated dogs have with humans. This also matches the work showing that dogs are especially good at using human social cues.”

The relationship has become so close that even our brains are in sync. Witness a study showing that dogs hijack the human brain’s maternal bonding system. When humans and dogs gaze lovingly into one another’s eyes, each of their brains secretes oxytocin, a hormone linked to maternal bonding and trust. Other mammal relationships, including those between mom and child, or between mates, feature oxytocin bonding, but the human/dog example is the only case in which it has been observed at work between two different species.

The intimacy of this relationship means that, by studying dogs, we may also learn much about human cognition.

“Overall, the story of dog cognitive evolution seems to be one about cognitive capacities shaped for a close cooperative relationship with humans,” Santos says. “Because dogs were shaped to pick up on human cues, our lab uses dogs as a comparison group to test what’s unique about human social learning.” For example, a recent Yale study found that while dogs and children react to the same social cues, dogs were actually better at determining which actions were strictly necessary to solve a problem, like retrieving food from a container, and ignoring extraneous “bad advice.” Human kids tended to mimic all of their elders’ actions, suggesting that their learning had a different goal than their canine companions’.

We may never know the exact story of how the first dogs and humans joined forces, but dogs have undoubtedly helped us in countless ways over the years. Still, only now may we be realizing that by studying them, they can help us to better understand ourselves.

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-wolves-really-became-dogs-180970014/#UzuFaQFSdpuBPHmO.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

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I can do no better than to repeat those last two sentences of the essay by Brian Handwerk:

We may never know the exact story of how the first dogs and humans joined forces, but dogs have undoubtedly helped us in countless ways over the years. Still, only now may we be realizing that by studying them, they can help us to better understand ourselves.

For, boy of boy, do we humans need help when it comes to better understanding ourselves!

The loving rescue: so far, so good!

Staying with the beautiful story of a stray dog rescued from a beach in Greece to home in the United Kingdom

The footnote will explain why there is a pause in the story.

The fourth part of the story is a republication, with permission, of this.

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Day Four: Saturday 24th June

by Charlotte Hargreaves

Day Four…I’m calling it this when in reality, it’s actually Day Seven. We needed a few days to adjust back into life in the UK, recover from the early morning flight followed by subsequent early get-ups (tomorrow will be my first full day of doing absolutely nothing and I CANNOT wait) and also, to spread the news of Luna throughout both of our families. Writing this one feels different, it’s the first blog about Luna…but without Luna.

Although we know she is having the time of her life right now; regular walks, a paddling pool to splash in, being pampered and pedicured, spending time with an abundance of four-legged friends and overrun with all kinds of toys, we can’t help but miss her, a dog we have known for one week. It’s funny how quickly you can fall in love.

We also can’t help but feeling like a pair of anxious parents who have sent their only child off to their first day of school. This little lady was now whole-heartedly ours, our responsibility, our family member, our precious girl. I found myself texting Olga in the same way I might a teacher, ‘Is she settling in? Has she made friends? Has she eaten all of her dinner? It’s ridiculous, and yet we can’t help but laugh at ourselves. The reality is she’s most likely sunbathing, with a full belly and waggy tail, and harbouring no bother in the world for our wellbeing, thoughts such as ‘Did they get home okay? Did the plane take off on time? Are they well rested?’, never occurring or simply overtaken by ‘When’s dinner?’ Olga did however tend to the needs of the soppy Brits, and on Thursday, we received a lovely message to say that she had settled in well. Yay! This was followed by an email from Ally on Friday with the below picture, stating ‘this was Luna minutes after you left’.

Confirmed, she is now a carefree, lady of luxury. Ally also added that she would try to send some more pictures today so fingers crossed we will receive some (which I will post the second they come through).

We also learned that her veterinary appointment had been postponed after an emergency came up at the Vets and has been rescheduled to Monday. In a way, this could be seen as a blessing in disguise because it gives her a few more days to really get comfortable before they start with the prodding and poking, although based on her unconditional love of people, I imagine she’ll be the vet’s best friend in no time.

So, now that we’ve covered the latest from across the waters, what’s been happening at home? Well, my mum has already begun to accumulate items for ‘Luna’s Bag’ including pink poo bags, treats and toys, and the general feeling across both sides of our families is one of excitement. On Sunday, I posted the blog to Facebook and we were overwhelmed with such lovely messages of support. It seems that she is going to have bred a fully-fledged fan club by the time she arrives. Through the blog, we have also begun to make a whole bunch of new friends who are keen to follow Luna’s story. Our first new pals include, Tails Around the Ranch (who gave our blog its first ever like – thanks guys!) and also Paul Handover, of Learning from Dogs, whom we have received several emails of encouragement, advice and support from, along with his lovely wife Jean. We highly recommend you check both of their blogs out at https://tailsaroundtheranch.blog and https://learningfromdogs.com

Finally, I’d like to end on a high by saying that we are now officially one day past the ‘under three weeks to go’ marker until Luni arrives (Luni – a nickname we’ve already coined for her). My part-time job covers Saturdays and Sundays and I find myself looking forward to my shifts even more so now, in that each weekend, each shift signifies another passing of a marker, another week which has come and gone, and brings us that little closer to our very exciting delivery.

#HurryHomeLuna

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Footnote:

This is part of an email sent to me by Charlotte on June 26th.

All is okay – we had some slightly bad news today. Luna’s vaccinations, micropchipping and blood tests all went well however she could not be neutered due to her being in season. As a result we are left with two options-

1. She stays in Greece for another 6-8 weeks until she can be neutered.
2. She comes to the UK on the same date however we would need to arrange different travel to the ferry as she won’t be able to go in the van with the other dogs.

It’s been a tough decision, and disappointing for us both, but you cannot control nature and we must do what is right for her.

With that in mind, we are 90% sure that we are going to ask Olga to hold her in Greece for the treatment to be carried out there as planned. For several reasons,

  1. She can recover under Olga’s 24/7 supervision and then come to the UK and start a fresh, rather than one of her first experiences over here being a more negative one.
  2. We won’t have to make alternative arrangements for transport which may prove complicated and costly.
  3. She is already settled with Olga and so it involves less upset for her, as we want to make her transition as smooth as possible.
  4. Also, the cost of neutering in the UK is much higher, and therefore even with paying for the extra boarding, it will most likely work out more cost effective. Although money is no concern in regards to her, we must also remember that we are saving for a house for the three us.

So potentially, we are looking at a longer wait, although good things come to those who are patient! We did think things were running far too smoothly so there was bound to be a bump in the road. Nevertheless, she is safe, healthy and happy and we could not ask for more.

Many thanks

P.S. If there are others who like Jean thought the 6-8 weeks seemed like a long time, a relevant article over on the Australian VetWest website included the following: [my italics]

How soon after an oestrous cycle can a bitch be desexed?

When an animal is in season, there is an increased blood supply to both the uterus and the ovaries. Dogs can be desexed whilst they are in season, but generally we try to do the surgery 8 weeks after the start of their last oestrous cycle.

Rest assured that I will share the rest of Luna’s story with you just as soon as it is published over on Loving Luna.