Tag: recreation

A re-run of a very popular post.

Back on the 2nd October, 2010 Chris Snuggs wrote a post for Learning from Dogs.  It has consistently been the most popular and most frequently-read post ever since.  Just seemed nice to republish it today. Thanks Chris.

Cats and Dogs

Peek into a dog’s diary …

8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing
9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm- Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm – Milkbones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Peek into a cat’s diary …

Day 983 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. All though I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am. Bastards.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow — but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released – and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe, for now……….

Just chilling out …

Cats in Physics

1 – Law of Cat Inertia: A cat at rest will tend to remain at rest, unless acted upon by some outside force – such as the opening of cat food, or a nearby scurrying mouse.

2 – Law of Cat Motion: A cat will move in a straight line, unless there is a really good reason to change direction.

3 – Law of Cat Magnetism: All blue blazers and black sweaters attract cat hair in direct proportion to the darkness of the fabric.

4 – Law of Cat Thermodynamics: Heat flows from a warmer to a cooler body, except in the case of a cat, in which case all heat flows to the cat.

5 – Law of Cat Stretching: A cat will stretch to a distance proportional to the length of the nap just taken.

6 – Law of Cat Sleeping: All cats must sleep with people whenever possible, in a position as uncomfortable for the people involved as is possible for the cat.

7 – Law of Cat Elongation: A cat can make her body long enough to reach just about any counter top that has anything remotely interesting on it.

8 – Law of Cat Acceleration: A cat will accelerate at a constant rate, until he gets good and ready to stop.

9 – Law of Dinner Table Attendance: Cats must attend all meals when anything good is served.

10 – Law of Rug Configuration: No rug may remain in its naturally flat state for very long.

11 – Law of Obedience Resistance: A cat’s resistance varies in proportion to a human’s desire for her to do something.

12 – First Law of Energy Conservation: Cats know that energy can neither be created nor destroyed and will, therefore, use as little energy as possible.

13 – Second Law of Energy Conservation: Cats also know that energy can only be stored by a lot of napping.

14 – Law of Refrigerator Observation: If a cat watches a refrigerator long enough, someone will come along and take out something good to eat.

15 – Law of Electric Blanket Attraction: Turn on an electric blanket and a cat will jump into bed at the speed of light.

16 – Law of Random Comfort Seeking: A cat will always seek, and usually take over, the most comfortable spot in any given room.

17 – Law of Bag / Box Occupancy: All bags and boxes in a given room must contain a cat within the earliest possible nanosecond.

18 – Law of Cat Embarrassment: A cat’s irritation rises in direct proportion to her embarrassment times the amount of human laughter.

19 – Law of Milk Consumption: A cat will drink his weight in milk, squared, just to show you he can.

20 – Law of Furniture Replacement: A cat’s desire to scratch furniture is directly proportional to the cost of the furniture.

21 – Law of Cat Landing: A cat will always land in the softest place possible.

22 – Law of Fluid Displacement: A cat immersed in milk will displace her own volume, minus the amount of milk consumed.

23 – Law of Cat Disinterest: A cat’s interest level will vary in inverse proportion to the amount of effort a human expends in trying to interest him.

24 – Law of Pill Rejection: Any pill given to a cat has the potential energy to reach escape velocity.

25 – Law of Cat Composition: A cat is composed of Matter + Anti-Matter + It Doesn’t Matter.

26 – Law of cat reading: Cats pretend to be really short sighted and evince the need to read a newspaper by lying on it while you are attempting to read it.

27 – Law of cat antipathy: Any cat will immediately sense a person who doesn’t like cats and go and sit on their lap.

28 – Law of cat confinement: A cat will always have its kittens in the warmest possible place, usually in your bed while you are sleeping.

29 – Law of Sleeping: A cat sleeps every day for 24 hours minus the time it takes to wheedle food out of you and eat it ..

By Chris Snuggs

Travel ideas for the New Year?

Inconclusive travel plans for 2014 

The following was sent to me by long-term friend, Bob Derham, who has contributed other wonderful items to Learning from Dogs.  It had, in turn, been sent to Bob by a good friend of his. Well worth sharing.


Travel plans for 2014?

I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots.  Apparently, you can’t go alone.  You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

I’ve also never been in Cognito.  I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have, however, been in Sane.  They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there.  I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I’m not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt.  That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.

I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older.

One of my favourite places to be is in Suspense!  It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart!  At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!

And, sometimes I think I am in Vincible but life shows me I am not.

People keep telling me I’m in Denial but I’m positive I’ve never been there before!

I may have been in Continent, but I don’t remember what country I was in. It’s an age thing. They tell me it is very wet and damp there.

I have been in Deep s*** many times; the older I get, the easier it is to get there. 

 “Life is short. Smile while you still have your teeth.”


Priceless.  Thank you Bob (and Andrew).

Happy Birthday to my lovely wife!

Picture parade eleven

Much from the Gomez family.

These are a few from a collection sent to me by Cynthia Gomez. (Captions from yours truly)

Left hand not knowing right hand comes to mind.
Left hand not knowing right hand comes to mind.


It's a fair question!
It’s a fair question!


Ouch, a bit close to home!!
Ouch, a bit close to home!!


Next two photographs from a weblink that Dan Gomez sent me.

Shelf clouds over Timisoara


A world of green.
A world of green.


Now a few from yours truly, all taken from here at home.

Autumn hues.
Autumn hues.


Dhalia enjoying the Fall scents.
Dhalia enjoying the Fall scents.


Misty October morning.
Misty October morning.

The final item is a YouTube video that Dan Gomez pointed out to me.  Enthralled is an understatement!  Do Watch It In Fullscreen!

Oh, don’t watch it if you don’t have a head for heights!!

NOTE: When running this video at this end, it has been starting with the volume muted.  The volume setting is bottom left so check before the video gets under way for you.

In praise of Pit Bull dogs.

A guest post by Noella Schink.

Not so long ago, this email was received by me:

Possible Guest Post?


My name is Noella and I am a writer and dog enthusiast from Portland, Maine. I am reaching out to you in hopes of contributing to Learning from Dogs as a guest blogger. I have an original, unpublished piece about Top Five Reasons to Pet a Pitbull Today, that I think would fit nicely with the current offering of blog topics you post. I would also be open to writing you a new piece,  if there’s a specific topic you’d like covered.

Please let me know if you’d be interested in having a look at my piece and hopefully fitting it into your editorial calendar.

I hope to hear back from you soon!



Now to be honest, this type of writing offer is not that rare but almost without exception is connected to some form of commercial organisation seeking to advance their profile. My responses are ‘not interested’!  Initially, that was my first impression of this email from Noella.   But in reply to my query along that vein, Noella sent me this:


You’re right, there will be revenue earned from dog friendly businesses that want to get involved and have ads featured on Harry’s Picks. As you can see, presently we have one dog bakery featured. The idea is to keep the website running and give back to the canine community. We are not affiliated with any brand or company.

Thank you,


Thus on that basis I was happy to go ahead with the guest post.  Influenced in great part by the gorgeous temperament of our Casey, a Pit Bull that we adopted February, 2012 when we were still living in Payson, Arizona.  Casey, as he was named, had been living in the Humane Centre for nearly a year with no-one taking a liking to him, and his days as a rescue dog were running out.

Jean loved Casey from first sight and in due course brought him home.  He quickly settled into the most wonderful, caring and gregarious dog one could imagine.  He continues to be a happy, warm dog with all of us here in Oregon.

Casey doing what dogs do so well – picking up a scent.
Casey doing what dogs do so well – picking up scents of his new home. (28th February, 2012)

So with all that, let me turn to Noella’s guest post.


Top 5 Reasons To Love a Pittie

Sweet Addie.

This is Addie. She is my best friend. She is a Pit Bull mix and the sweetest dog I have ever known. I really didn’t know much about Pit Bulls when I adopted her. I hadn’t been spoiled by tales of their viciousness and I had not yet been brought into the fold by a devotee. So I had to learn fast!

Everything I know about Pit Bulls now has been through her or inspired by her.

Here are the top 5 things I love about Addie and Pit Bulls:

5) They are incredibly strong and athletic. They come in pretty small packages but they are dynamos. Addie can jump five feet straight up in the air from standing still. It’s awe inspiring to watch.

4) You will always be missed! They fuss when you come home. I’m sure lots of dogs do this, but I’ve noticed it in a lot of pitties. They whine and wiggle and snort in the most adorable way. They love people and are always ecstatic to see you. I’m lucky to get a raised eyebrow from my hound dog.

3) They love to play. Pitties are a very determined breed. They will play until you are completely worn out and they will be fully engaged and inquisitive the entire time.

2) THEY LOVE PEOPLE. In my experience Pit Bulls are the most affectionate breed. They are snuggle monsters and will use their gigantic noggins to nose their way into your personal space whether you are seeking their attention or not.

1) THEY NEED THE LOVE. Sadly Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes makeup 30%-40% of shelter intakes nationwide and that number goes up in urban areas (interesting article on the subject here). Pit Bulls are misunderstood and often times fall into the hands of the wrong people. They need good owners that have the love and patience to provide them solid training and safe homes.

Noella Schink, writes from Portland, Maine, where she lives and plays with her 3-year-old pit bull mix, Addie, 8-year old shih-tzu, Brutus, and 2-year old hound, Lula. For great tips and reviews about dog friendly businesses around the country, she recommends Harry’s Picks, a new online community for dog lovers.


I Am Leader

A short story from author Wendy Scott.

Back in July, I published a post reviewing Traveling Light, the novel by Andrea Thalasinos.  At the end of that post, I made the following offer.

Now here’s an offer.

Wiley has offered a free copy of Andrea’s book as a ‘give-away’ from Learning from Dogs.  Here’s the plan.

Would you like to write a story about any aspect of the relationship that dogs can have with humans?

Any length, truth or fiction; it doesn’t matter.  Email your story to me to be received by the end of Wednesday, 31st July 2013, Pacific Daylight Time …… [and] I will publish every one received.

Just one story was received, from Wendy, and the promised free copy of Andrea’s book has been mailed to her.

So here is that short story.


I Am Leader

The water was angry today. I watched as it tore the tall trees from their roots, thundering, roaring, snapping them, toppling them.

I watched as the angry water shredded the shore. I watched as its fury snatched my pup, my baby, sweeping her away like a dying twig torn from the mother tree.

I am hunter. I am leader.

But now I am nothing.

I ran after my pup, tried to grab her by the nape, take her back. But I failed. I saw her paddle in the froth, scramble atop a long gnarled broken bole that was once a tree. My pup shook, her ears flattened, her tail tucked. She cried. I watched the cold, angry froth take her.

My mind sang with the cry of my little grey pup that I could not save, the little one who would never learn about the hunter, the leader.

I picked my way, shivering, along a path — it used to be our way to good hunting, to the forest edge where the deer grazed as near as yesterday. Now…

My left shoulder ached where the water nearly took me, hurled a branch at me in frustration. I fell and dragged myself away from the collapsing shore, to higher ground. The rain poured and sleeted to drench the shambles left by water that continued to roar and foam. Mud slid through my feet, gusts took my breath.

It was very cold. My ears twitched, hearing nothing beyond the roar of the fury. Water is very noisy when it is angry. The others, my sisters, my mate, I could not scent them, hear them, see them.

The day retreated. I blinked to see better, my eyes wide, but they saw nothing that I could recognise. My nose and ears twitched and twisted — nothing. I could hear my little grey one, my pup; she shivered and cried in my mind, but my eyes and ears, my nose … she was gone.

I stumbled over broken branches, a drowned fox, mice flushed from their holes, a broken-necked bird, bushes overturned and torn apart, walls of fallen trees. Daylight was lost in a twilight.

Now, I scented a 2-legged. I stilled. Crackling. Smoke, deep and hard to breath. Rabbit, burnt. These were the smells I knew of the 2-leggeds. One was near.

I crouched and crept. Yellow-orange light bounced and throbbed through the jumble of once-forest. I remained low, but now I could hear. The 2-legged rustled. It was noisy and careless while its fire snapped. And the rabbit smell was very faint, distorted.

I could see it now, this 2-legged, seated in that foolish way 2-leggeds have, crossing one foot over the other. It rustled again and held a big stick over its fire — the stick jabbed through the rabbit. The rabbit’s fur was gone from its blackened body, abandoned near the 2-legged’s thigh.

My stomach twitched. My mouth filled with hunger. I took another step.

The 2-legged looked up and over. He saw me, then quickly looked away.

I am hunter, I am leader — you do not meet my gaze unless you want to be punished.

I crouched, readied myself to spring.

The 2-legged stood. I eased back. My back paws met the tangled once-forest left of the water’s anger and stopped me. I tensed.

But the 2-legged lifted the big stick with its rabbit, tore a haunch with its hand. It looked directly at me again — no, I am hunter, I am leader — and threw the haunch at me. The burnt meat landed close to my feet.

The 2-legged looked away and returned to its foolish, awkward sitting. It tore ragged bites from the burnt rabbit, holding the big stick between the paws of its upper limbs.

My stomach demanded food. I scented the burnt rabbit, the smell of blood faint and smoky. I did not hunt the rabbit, I am not like the vultures and scavengers … but I was hungry. I nosed it, picked it up and turned away from the 2-legged. The flesh was warm. It sated. I licked my paws, swiped my whiskers and jowls to groom.

For a moment, my mind tricked me. I heard my pup. I scented my mate, my others, we were sated, we curled together, our warm bodies close, to sleep through the long cold night.

I opened my eyes. I was alone.

Except the 2-legged. Its odour was unmistakable, deer hide, rabbit, something sweetly sour I thought must be its own scent, not the ones borrowed by the other animals it ate or draped over its body.

I studied the 2-legged. It had curled on its side. The fire beside it throbbed yellow and orange, throwing strange shadows where they should not be. When I looked away, my sight was poor. I would not look directly at the fire again.

All was silent, save the angry water behind us. We lived. Nothing else lived. The water took everything.

I dreamed of my mate, his powerful howls alerting our cousins of our hunt; the deer was warm, its blood and flesh giving us another day of life. The deer was old and slow, an easy hunt. Its time had come; we knew that, understood it, this deer and our pack.

I dreamed of my sisters, nipping at my pup, teasing her to chase them in mock hunts. I dreamed of my brothers, circling and securing our family. My pack. My life.

We slept.

The day hung low and grey. Overnight, the angry water had become a sussurrating hiss behind us.

With its strange flat feet and its big stick, the 2-legged was tossing dirt and wet leaves over the ash where the fire and the rabbit had been. The old fire flared briefly. A cool damp gust caught some of the sparks and swept them high. A bird swooped near to see, then lost interest, flapped its wings to gain height.

The smell in the air was smoke and faint rabbit scent. It was upturned earth and rot and rain.

The 2-legged’s odour wore the smoke and long-dead deer.

The 2-legged came close. It looked at me — no — I am hunter, I am leader, you do not meet my gaze. But it was stupid and foolish, this 2-legged, like a pup that had not yet learned. It neared me. I growled, prepared to attack.

Surely it could see my flattened ears, my lowered shoulders?

No, it was stupid. It walked passed me.

I watched. The 2-legged paused and turned. It swung one of its upper limbs down low, then away, a sweeping motion. Strange language. It did not lower its ears, or roll on its belly. It made noises with its mouth. The noises were terrible, low, rumbling, but they were not threatening. I watched.

It made the motion again, then turned and walked on.

I sat on my haunches.

I am leader, I am hunter. But this 2-legged did not understand. It had not learned from its pack.

We two were the only ones I scented. We were alone. The angry water had taken the others.

The 2-legged stopped, made the strange sweeping motion and noises again. I took a step in its direction.

I am hunter. I am leader.

My pup cries in my mind. My mate howls. My sisters tease, my brothers scout. But around me is silence, the scents dirty and empty, the forest destroyed, the deer gone. We two are alone.

The 2-legged’s head bobs up and down. I take another step.

We walk on, stepping carefully over the tangled mess that was once our home, our feet slipping in mud, scratched in dying brambles, struggling in the unfamiliar path before us. 2-legged uses the big stick as if it were a third leg.

It is learning. I am patient.

I am hunter. I am leader.


Don’t know about you but I found that story by Wendy more than compelling. Found it hauntingly beautiful.  A ancient account of the first meeting between man and wolf.

Therefore, can’t close without again reproducing this short extract and images of the grey wolf posted on the 20th May Musings on love.


While we were looking at the animals, along the pathway came a couple of the volunteer staff walking a Grey Wolf (Canis Lupus).

An afternoon walk for Tundra.
An afternoon walk for Tundra.

I was utterly captivated by this beautiful animal.  Her story was that she was born in captivity and owned by an individual who soon decided he didn’t want her!  Not long thereafter Tundra, as she became named, was brought to the Sarvey Wildlife Center in Washington and thence to Wildlife Images when she was just 8 weeks old.

Tundra turned to look at me. I stood perfectly still and quiet.  Tundra seemed to want to come closer.  As one would with a strange dog, I got down on my knees and turned my eyes away from Tundra’s.  I sensed she was coming towards me so quickly held up my camera and took the picture below.

Wolf greets man.
Wolf greets man.

I kept my gaze averted as I felt the warm breath of this magnificent animal inches from my face.  Then the magic of love across the species!  Tundra licked my face!  The tears came to my eyes and were licked away.  I stroked her and became lost in thought.

Was this an echo of how thousands and thousands of years ago, a wolf and an early man came together out of trust and love and started the journey of the longest animal-human relationship, by far?


Musings on love.

Dedicated to MaryAnne G.

A week ago I started the first of what became four day’s writings about passing the 400ppm CO2 level in the planet’s atmosphere.  As I said in the penultimate post, “In nearly four years of writing for Learning from Dogs, I can’t recall devoting three days of posts to a single subject.

Later that week, I had a wonderful telephone conversation with MaryAnne back in Payson. MaryAnne and husband Ed were among a group of people who did so much to ease our transition into our new home in Arizona.  As part of the process of obtaining my fiancee visa, I was to and fro between Payson and London which meant having to leave Jeannie alone for a number of weeks at a time. So for Jean having to get used to a change of country as well as home and for me wondering if I would ever get the magic piece of paper allowing me and Jean to be married and settle down, having so many loving friends around us was invaluable.

In last week’s telephone conversation MaryAnne spoke so easily about love that I promised her that I would dedicate a post on Learning from Dogs to her.

In fact, rather than one post, I’m setting myself the challenge of writing about love for the entire week, i.e. Monday to Friday.  I will readily admit that over and beyond today’s post, I don’t have more than the vaguest inkling of how the week will pan out.  You have been warned!

But how much better that ‘devoting three days to a single subject‘ should be about love rather than climate change.


Love across the species.

A week ago, we had friend Richard and his partner Julie from England staying with us.  Richard and I go back 40 years and have been wonderful buddies all that time.  Last Monday, I took Richard and Julie across to Wildlife Images just a few miles from the house here in Merlin, Oregon.  As their website explains,

Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center was founded as a non-profit corporation in 1981 by renowned wildlife rehabilitator J. David Siddon. The facility was created in order to provide for the care and treatment of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife.

and a little later,

The organization’s clinic, animal sanctuary, and education center are located on 24 acres of land adjacent to the wild and scenic section of Oregon’s famous Rogue River. Animals treated at Wildlife Images have included everything from baby squirrels and badgers to American bald eagles.

Wildlife Images release rate of intakes is near 50 percent each year – far above the national average of 33 percent. Animals with permanently disabling injuries that make them unable to live in the wild are integrated into one of Wildlife Images educational programs, either as educational ambassadors, or as permanent residents of the facility.

While we were looking at the animals, along the pathway came a couple of the volunteer staff walking a Grey Wolf (Canis Lupus).

An afternoon walk for Tundra.
An afternoon walk for Tundra.

I was utterly captivated by this beautiful animal.  Her story was that she was born in captivity and owned by an individual who soon decided he didn’t want her!  Not long thereafter Tundra, as she became named, was brought to the Sarvey Wildlife Center in Washington and thence to Wildlife Images when she was just 8 weeks old.

Tundra turned to look at me. I stood perfectly still and quiet.  Tundra seemed to want to come closer.  As one would with a strange dog, I got down on my knees and turned my eyes away from Tundra’s.  I sensed she was coming towards me so quickly held up my camera and took the picture below.

Wolf greets man.
Wolf greets man.

I kept my gaze averted as I felt the warm breath of this magnificent animal inches from my face.  Then the magic of love across the species!  Tundra licked my face!  The tears came to my eyes and were licked away.  I stroked her and became lost in thought.

Was this an echo of how thousands and thousands of years ago, a wolf and an early man came together out of trust and love and started the journey of the longest animal-human relationship, by far?

As I write elsewhere on this blog,

Dogs are part of the Canidae, a family including wolves, coyotes and foxes, thought to have evolved 60 million years ago.  There is no hard evidence about when dogs and man came together but dogs were certainly around when man developed speech and set out from Africa, about 50,000 years ago.

Let me close the first day of these musings by coming forward all those thousands of years to the year 2012.  To the 6th April, 2012.  To the day that we brought puppy Cleo back home.  That sweet little creature of less than ten weeks of age starting her own journey of love across the species.

10-week-old little Cleo experiencing Jeannie's love for her dogs.
Little Cleo being loved from the start.

The dog’s letter.

A delightful exploration of the letter ‘r’.

This was sent in by reader Colin Reynolds.  To be honest, I cannot do better than to reproduce the entire email.


I only just subscribed to the OED owotd’ yesterday.

Yesterday’s word was a great one for me: ‘quisquilian.

Today’s made me think of you 🙂

dog’s letter

“There is only the difference of the dog’s letter between friend and [fiend].” The Westminster Review (London, UK); 1830.

Colin Reynolds
Some days the best I can do is stick a pencil in each nostril and go ‘wibble‘.

Date: Sun, 5 May 2013 01:30:00 +0100
From: oedwotd@oup.com
Subject: “dog’s letter, n.” – Word of the Day from the OED

OED Online Word of the Day

The March 2013 quarterly update is now available. New words and meanings have been added across the dictionary, including braggadocious, podium, Vulcan, and whip-smart. Find out more…

Your word for today is: dog’s letter, n.

dog’s letter, n.

[‘ A name for the letter R (from its resemblance in sound to the snarl of a dog). Now rare.’]
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈdɒɡz ˌlɛtə/,  U.S. /ˈdɔɡz ˌlɛdər/, /ˈdɑɡz ˌlɛdər/
Forms:  15 dogges letter,   16 dogs letter,   18– dog’s letter.
Etymology: < the genitive of dog n.1 + letter n.1, after classical Latin littera canīna (Persius).
  A name for the letter R (from its resemblance in sound to the snarl of a dog). Now rare.

a1552  A. Barclay tr. S. Brant Stultifera Nauis (1570) f. 69, This man malicious which troubled is with wrath, Nought els soundeth but the hoorse letter R Though all be well, yet he none aunswere hath, Sauve the dogges letter, glowming with nar nar.
1630  W. Vaughan Arraignment of Slander iii. i. 82 A blasphemous censure.which eyther may be termed a kinde of scurrility, or knauish carping,..or else a doubling of the Dogs letter R. out of their snarling nostrils.
a1637  B. Jonson Eng. Gram. i. iv, in Wks. (1640) III, R is the Dogs Letter, and hurreth in the sound; the tongue striking the inner palate, with a trembling about the teeth.
a1670  J. Hacket Scrinia Reserata (1693) i. 55 Whose pamphlet is perpetuus Rhotacismus, one snarling Dogs-letter all over.
1830 Westm. Rev. 12 356 There is only the difference of the dog’s letter between friend and [fiend].
1858  R. D. Bulwer-Lytton World & his Wife I. ii. ii. 9 In this short query the dog’s letter, the r, whirred through the air.
1943  E. Esar Comic Dict. at R, The dog’s letter-r-r.
So there you go.  Bet you didn’t know that anymore than I did!
Thanks Colin.


The healing power of dogs.

How dogs offer us humans health and happiness.

Many months ago, I was contacted by a Peter Bloch offering to write a guest post on the subject of the healing power of dogs.  Peter had read a post that I had published in July last year which prompted the email dialogue between us.

Not going to say much more at this stage except that today I am republishing that post from last July.  On Monday, I will introduce Peter and his guest post.  Then on Tuesday, I will speak of my own experiences both as entrepreneurial mentor and as a ‘customer’ of a wonderful psychotherapist back in Devon during 2007.  Hope that works for you.

So here’s that Learning from Dogs post.


The bond between dogs and humans

Such a beautiful and mutually-important relationship.

I didn’t plan to write more about this subject thinking that my last two posts, Woof at the Door and Prof. Pat Shipman, more than covered the theme; indeed much more.

But then a flurry of other articles conspired to pass my desk.

In no particular order there was an article on the Big Think website, Do Dogs Speak Human?  As the article opened,

What’s the Big Idea?

Perhaps the better question is, do humans speak dog? Either way, the debate over whether language is unique to humans, or a faculty also possessed by wild and domestic animals from dogs to apes to dolphins, is an interesting one. The answer depends on exactly how we define “language,” and who’s doing the talking, says David Bellos, the Booker prize-winning translator.

The article includes this three-minute video,

and concludes,

Broadly, a language is a mode of expression. “The argument that only human language is language and that animal communication systems, however sophisticated they are — and some of them are quite sophisticated — are not languages because they consist of discrete signals is a circular argument,” he argues. “It’s a self-fulfilling thing. And I think we should be a little bit more interested in the complexity and the variability of animal communication systems and less rigid about this distinction between what is a language and what is not a language.”

For now, we’re happy with this:

The June 30th edition of The Economist had an article entitled, Can dogs really show empathy towards humans? (You may have to register (free) to view this.)  That report ends, as follows,

As they report in Animal Cognition, “person-oriented behaviour” did sometimes take place when either the stranger or the owner hummed, but it was more than twice as likely to occur if someone was crying. This indicated that dogs were differentiating between odd behaviour and crying. And of the 15 dogs in the experiment that showed person-oriented responses when the stranger cried, all of them directed their attention towards the stranger rather than their owner.

These discoveries suggest that dogs do have the ability to express empathetic concern. But although the results are clear enough, Dr Custance argues that more work needs to be done to be sure that such behaviour is true empathy. It is possible, she points out, that the dogs were drawing on previous experiences in which they were rewarded for approaching distressed human companions. Dog-owners, however, are unlikely to need any more convincing.

It was then an easy follow-up to that Animal Cognition article which is available online here; here’s the abstract,

Empathy covers a range of phenomena from cognitive empathy involving metarepresentation to emotional contagion stemming from automatically triggered reflexes.

An experimental protocol first used with human infants was adapted to investigate empathy in domestic dogs. Dogs oriented toward their owner or a stranger more often when the person was pretending to cry than when they were talking or humming. Observers, unaware of experimental hypotheses and the condition under which dogs were responding, more often categorized dogs’ approaches as submissive as opposed to alert, playful or calm during the crying condition. When the stranger pretended to cry, rather than approaching their usual source of comfort, their owner, dogs sniffed, nuzzled and licked the stranger instead.

The dogs’ pattern of response was behaviorally consistent with an expression of empathic concern, but is most parsimoniously interpreted as emotional contagion coupled with a previous learning history in which they have been rewarded for approaching distressed human companions.

It doesn’t get closer than this.

If only life were this simple!

With grateful thanks to Capt. Bob who sent this to me.

Have a great Sunday, wherever you are!

A little Irish girl named Becky makes a prank phone call to have her school demolished. Becky made this call a few years ago so I’m sure her technique is even better today. Perhaps if she had offered the Top Boss a few pints in the local pub she would have pulled this off.