Tag: Watchford Farm airfield

I love this dog so much!

Dearest Pharaoh.

As I explained yesterday, I am distracted from all things blogging right through to the end of this week-end.

So I’m republishing a post from June, 2013 that, hopefully, will be a fresh read for many of you.

ooOOoo

More on Pharaoh’s life.

First published June 4th, 2013.

What a wonderful relationship it has been.

Years ago if I was ever to own a dog, it had to be one breed and one breed only: a German Shepherd Dog.

The reason for this was that back in 1955 my father and mother looked after a German Shepherd dog called Boy. Boy belonged to a lovely couple, Maurice and Marie Davies. They were in the process of taking over a new Public House (Pub); the Jack & Jill in Coulsdon, Surrey. My father had been the architect of the Jack & Jill.

Jack & Jill, Longlands Avenue, Coulsdon, Surrey
Jack & Jill, Longlands Avenue, Coulsdon, Surrey

As publicans have a tough time taking holidays, it was agreed that the move from their old pub to the Jack & Jill represented a brilliant opportunity to have that vacation. My parents offered to look after Boy for the 6 weeks that Maurice and Marie were going to be away.

Boy was the most gentle loveable dog one could imagine and I quickly became devoted to him; I was 11 years old at the time. So when years later it seemed the right time to have a dog, there was no question about the breed. Boy’s memory lived on all those years, and, as this post reveals, still does!

Pharaoh was born June 3rd, 2003 at Jutone Kennels up at Bovey Tracy, Devon, on the edge of Dartmoor, South-West England. As the home page of the Jutone website pronounces,

The Kennel was established in 1964 and it has always been the aim to breed the best German Shepherd Dogs for type and temperament. To this end the very finest German bloodlines are used to continue a modern breeding programme.

and elsewhere on that website one learns:

Jutone was established by Tony Trant who was joined by Sandra Tucker in 1976. Sandra continues to run Jutone since Tony passed away in 2004. Both Tony and Sandra qualified as Championship Show judges and Sandra continues to judge regularly. Sandra is the Secretary and a Life Member of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Devon.

Turning to Pharaoh, here are a few more pictures over the years.

Pharaoh, nine months old.
Pharaoh, nine months old.

oooOOOooo

One year old: June 3rd 2004.
One year old: June 3rd 2004.

The next picture of Pharaoh requires a little background information.

For many years I was a private pilot and in later days had the pleasure, the huge pleasure, of flying a Piper Super Cub, a group-owned aircraft based at Watchford Farm in South Devon. The aircraft, a Piper PA-18-135 Super Cub, was originally supplied to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and was permitted by the British CAA to carry her original military markings including her Dutch military registration, R-151, although there was a British registration, G-BIYR, ‘underneath’ the Dutch R-151. (I wrote more fully about the history of the aircraft on Learning from Dogs back in August 2009.)

Piper Cub R151
Piper Cub R151

Anyway, every time I went to the airfield with Pharaoh he always tried to climb into the cockpit. So one day I decided to see if he would sit in the rear seat and be strapped in. Absolutely no problem with that!

Come on Dad, let's get this thing off the ground!
Come on Dad, let’s get this thing off the ground!

My idea had been to fly a gentle circuit in the aircraft. First I did some taxying around the large grass airfield that is Watchford to see how Pharaoh reacted. He was perfectly behaved.

Then I thought long and hard about taking Pharaoh for a flight. In the Cub there is no autopilot so if Pharaoh struggled or worse it would have been almost impossible to fly the aircraft and cope with Pharaoh. So, in the end, I abandoned taking him for a flight. The chances are that it would have been fine. But if something had gone wrong, the outcome just didn’t bear thinking about.

So we ended up motoring for 30 minutes all around the airfield which, as the next picture shows, met with doggie approval. The date was July 2006.

That was fun!
That was fun!

What a dear dog he has been over all the years and, thankfully, still is!

As if to reinforce the fabulous dog he still is, yesterday it was almost as though he knew he had to show how youthful he still was.

Because, when I took his group of dogs out around 7.30am armed with my camera, Pharaoh was brimming over with energy.

First up was a swim in the pond.

Ah, an early birthday dip! Bliss!
Ah, an early birthday dip! Bliss!

Then in a way he has not done before, Pharaoh wanted to play ‘King of my Island’, which is in the middle of the pond.

Halt! Who goes there!
Halt! Who goes there!

ooo

This is my island! So there!
This is my island! So there!

Then a while later, when back on dry land, so to speak, it was time to dry off in the morning sunshine.

Actually, this isn't a bad life!
Actually, this isn’t a bad life!

Long may he have an enjoyable and comfortable life.

ooOOoo

Long may we all have enjoyable and comfortable lives!

My tribute to Pharaoh

Pharaoh has been my dearest companion every day for these last 12 years.

I’m choosing today to recognise what Pharaoh has meant to me since I took him in my arms, both literally and emotionally, in August, 2003.

Pharaoh, nine months old.
Pharaoh, nine months old.

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The story of a great dog!

Pharaoh, as of yesterday afternoon!
Pharaoh, as of 25th March, 2013.

The biggest, single reward of having Pharaoh as my friend goes back quite a few years.  Back to when I was living in Devon, South-West England, and to the time when Jon Lavin and I used to spend hours talking together.  Pharaoh was always contentedly asleep in the same room as Jon and me.

It was Jon who introduced me to Dr. David Hawkins and his Map of Consciousness. It was also Jon, who one day when looking down at the sleeping Pharaoh, pointed out that Dr. Hawkins offered evidence that dogs are creatures of integrity with a ‘score’ on that Map of between 205 and 210. (Background is here.)

So this blog, Learning from Dogs, and me writing a book of the same name flow from that awareness of what dogs mean to us humans and what Pharaoh specifically means to me.  No, more than that!  As a result of that mix of Jon, Dr. David Hawkins, experiencing unconditional love from an animal living with me day-in, day-out, came a journey into myself.  From that journey came the self-awareness that allowed me truly to like who I was, to be openly loved by this dog of mine, and be able to love openly in return.  As is said: “You cannot love another until you love yourself.

Trying to pick out a single example of the bond that Pharaoh and I have had is practically impossible.  I have to rely on photographs to remind me of the thousands of times that a simple look or touch between Pharaoh and me ‘speaks’ to me in ways that words fail. Here’s an extract from my celebration of Pharaoh’s tenth birthday in June, 2013. It perfectly illustrates the friendship bond between us.

oooo

For many years I was a private pilot and in later days had the pleasure, the huge pleasure, of flying a Piper Super Cub, a group-owned aircraft based at Watchford Farm in South Devon.  The aircraft, a Piper PA-18-135 Super Cub, was originally supplied to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and was permitted by the British CAA to carry her original military markings including her Dutch military registration, R-151, although there was a British registration, G-BIYR, ‘underneath’ the Dutch R-151.  (I wrote more fully about the history of the aircraft on Learning from Dogs back in August 2009.)

Piper Cub R151
Piper Cub R151

Anyway, every time I went to the airfield with Pharaoh he always tried to climb into the cockpit.  So one day, I decided to see if he would sit in the rear seat and be strapped in.  Pharaoh had absolutely no problem with that!

Come on Dad, let's get this thing off the ground!
Come on Dad, let’s get this thing off the ground!

My idea had been to fly a gentle circuit in the aircraft.  First, I did some taxying around the large grass airfield that is Watchford to see how Pharaoh reacted.  He was perfectly behaved.

But then I thought long and hard about taking Pharaoh for a flight.  In the Cub there is no autopilot so if Pharaoh struggled it would have been almost impossible to fly the aircraft and cope with Pharaoh.  So, in the end, I abandoned the idea of taking him for a flight.  The chances are that it would have been fine.  But if something had gone wrong, the outcome just didn’t bear thinking about.

So we ended up motoring for 30 minutes all around the airfield which, as the next picture shows, met with doggie approval.  The date was July 2006.

That was fun!
That was fun!

oooo

Moving on again.  This time to another flying experience.  To the day when Pharaoh and I flew out of London bound for Los Angeles and a new life with Jeannie and all her dogs (16 at that time) down in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico.  The date: September 15th, 2008.  Just ten months after I had met Jean in Mexico and realised that this was the woman that I was destined to love! (Now you will understand why earlier on I described the Jon Lavin, Dr. Hawkins, Pharaoh mix as the biggest, single reward of having Pharaoh as my friend!)

There followed wonderful happy days for me and Pharaoh.  It was gorgeous to see how Pharaoh became so much more a dog, if that makes sense, from having his own mini-pack around him.  Those happy days taking us all forwards to Payson, AZ, where Jean and I were married, and then on to Merlin, Oregon arriving here in October, 2012.

Fr. Dan Tantimonaco with the newly weds!
Fr. Dan Tantimonaco with the newly weds!

oooo

Pharaoh 'married' to his dearest friends. December, 2013.
Pharaoh ‘married’ to his dearest friends in Oregon. December, 2013.

oooo

Perfect closeness. Pharaoh and Cleo with Hazel in the middle.  Taken yesterday.
Smelling the flowers! Pharaoh and Cleo with Hazel in the middle.

I could go on!  Hopefully, you get a sense, a very strong sense, of the magical journey that both Pharaoh and I have experienced since I first clasped him in my arms back in September, 2003.

Both Pharaoh and I are in the Autumn of our lives; he has just turned 12, I am now 70, and we both creak a little. But so what! Pharaoh has been my greatest inspiration of the power of unconditional love; of the need to smell the flowers in this short life of ours.

One very great animal! (March 25th, 2014)
One very great animal! (March 25th, 2014)

Thank you, my dear, dear friend!

Can’t close today’s tribute without adding one last photograph of this great dog; a photograph of Pharaoh greeting Cleo, back in 2012.

First meeting between Pharaoh and Cleo; April 7th, 2012.
First meeting between Pharaoh and Cleo; April 7th, 2012.

Nor can I close without including a quotation from the author, Suzanne Clothier:

“There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through its turnings or walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive. Our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.

Writing in his essay, “The Once Again Prince,” animal lover and gifted writer Irving Townsend summed it up:

We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan. It is a fragile circle. But it goes round and round without end.”

Nostalgic times.

Flying the Piper Super Cub

Last Saturday, I posted an item that included a great video about the Air-Cam sports aircraft.  I succumbed to a bout of nostalgia in that I dipped into both my old gliding and flying log-books.  As I wrote:

 My last (powered) flight was in a Piper Super Cub, registration R-151, a flight of 1 hr 40 mins from Kemble returning to Watchford Farm, where the Cub was based.

I ‘warned’ readers that today’s post would offer some more about that wonderful aircraft; Piper Super Cub R-151.

ooOOoo

Approaching home in South Devon, England
Approaching home airfield in South Devon, England

Piper Super Cub, L-21B, R-151

A/C Construction No. 18-3841, Frame No. 18-3843

Original Engine, Lycoming 135 Type 0-290-D2, 54/2441

R-151 was one of a batch of 298 L-21’s delivered in 1954. There were 584 L-21B’s produced by Piper for military use, the ‘L’ standing for Liaison. The L-21B’s were PA-18-135’s with civil Lycoming 0-290-D2 engines, glasswork as most L-21A’s and L-18’s and a gross weight of 1760 lbs.

This aircraft was delivered to Koninklijke Luchtmacht, Dutch Air Force, on the 1st July, 1954 and registered R-151. After various homes, R-151 transferred to the Dutch civil register as PH-GER, on the 1st April 1976 with 4,458 hours. Shortly thereafter the aircraft was registered to Vliegclub Hoogeveen, Certificate Number 2380.  Amazingly, the club is still in existence as their website shows.

On the 27th March, 1981 the aircraft was delivered to the UK with a total time of 5,043 hours and in September, 1981 became G-BIYR. In April, 1983 G-BIYR was the first of type to be given a Public Transport CofA (Certificate of Airworthiness) and was used for training at Tollerton; Nottingham. G-BIYR reverted to a Private CofA in January, 1984 when purchased by Mike and Barbara Fairclough from Devon at 5,120 hours.

In 1992, the aircraft was re-engined with a Lycoming 150HP, 0320-A2B No. L49809-27A (zero hours). Finally on the 2nd June, 1995 the aircraft was repainted in original Dutch insignia and given CAA (UK Civil Aviation Authority) permission to use the original call-sign, Romeo 151.

The aircraft is based in South Devon, England and owned by the five members of the Delta Foxtrot Flying Group.

More pictures.

Flying in the French Alps, Mt Blanc in sight
Flying in the French Alps, Mt Blanc in sight

oooo

9,300 ft up in the French Alps
9,300 ft up in the French Alps

oooo

This last photograph was taken shortly after Pharaoh decided to jump into the passenger’s seat.  The year was 2006 when Pharaoh was 3 years old.  As much as I was tempted, I resisted the urge of taxying him around the airfield!

P1000357.s
Rather like the view from here, Dad!

More on Pharaoh’s life.

What a wonderful relationship it has been.

Years ago if I was ever to own a dog, it had to be one breed and one breed only: a German Shepherd Dog.

The reason for this was that back in 1955 my father and mother looked after a German Shepherd dog called Boy.  Boy belonged to a lovely couple, Maurice and Marie Davies.  They were in the process of taking over a new Public House (Pub); the Jack & Jill in Coulsdon, Surrey.  My father had been the architect of the Jack & Jill.

Jack & Jill, Longlands Avenue, Coulsdon, Surrey
Jack & Jill, Longlands Avenue, Coulsdon, Surrey

As publicans have a tough time taking holidays, it was agreed that the move from their old pub to the Jack & Jill represented a brilliant opportunity to have that vacation.  My parents offered to look after Boy for the 6 weeks that Maurice and Marie were going to be away.

Boy was the most gentle loveable dog one could imagine and I quickly became devoted to him; I was 11 years old at the time.  So when years later it seemed the right time to have a dog, there was no question about the breed.  Boy’s memory lived on all those years, and, as this post reveals, still does!

Pharaoh was born June 3rd, 2003 at Jutone Kennels up at Bovey Tracy, Devon, on the edge of Dartmoor.  As the home page of the Jutone website pronounces,

The Kennel was established in 1964 and it has always been the aim to breed the best German Shepherd Dogs for type and temperament. To this end the very finest German bloodlines are used to continue a modern breeding programme.

and elsewhere on that website one learns:

Jutone was established by Tony Trant who was joined by Sandra Tucker in 1976. Sandra continues to run Jutone since Tony passed away in 2004. Both Tony and Sandra qualified as Championship Show judges and Sandra continues to judge regularly. Sandra is the Secretary and a Life Member of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Devon.

93ac7d454b15519effff8014ffffffd3
Tony Trant

Turning to Pharaoh, here are a few more pictures over the years.

Pharaoh, nine months old.
Pharaoh, nine months old.

oooOOOooo

One year old: June 3rd 2004.
One year old: June 3rd 2004.

The next picture of Pharaoh requires a little background information.

For many years I was a private pilot and in later days had the pleasure, the huge pleasure, of flying a Piper Super Cub, a group-owned aircraft based at Watchford Farm in South Devon.  The aircraft, a Piper PA-18-135 Super Cub, was originally supplied to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and was permitted by the British CAA to carry her original military markings including her Dutch military registration, R-151, although there was a British registration, G-BIYR, ‘underneath’ the Dutch R-151.  (I wrote more fully about the history of the aircraft on Learning from Dogs back in August 2009.)

Piper Cub R151
Piper Cub R151

Anyway, every time I went to the airfield with Pharaoh he always tried to climb into the cockpit.  So one day, I decided to see if he would sit in the rear seat and be strapped in.  Absolutely no problem with that!

Come on Dad, let's get this thing off the ground!
Come on Dad, let’s get this thing off the ground!

My idea had been to fly a gentle circuit in the aircraft.  First I did some taxying around the large grass airfield that is Watchford to see how Pharaoh reacted.  He was perfectly behaved.

Then I thought long and hard about taking Pharaoh for a flight.  In the Cub there is no autopilot so if Pharaoh struggled or worse it would have been almost impossible to fly the aircraft and cope with Pharaoh.  So, in the end, I abandoned taking him for a flight.  The chances are that it would have been fine.  But if something had gone wrong, the outcome just didn’t bear thinking about.

So we ended up motoring for 30 minutes all around the airfield which, as the next picture shows, met with doggie approval.  The date was July 2006.

That was fun!
That was fun!

What a dear dog he has been over all the years and, thankfully, still is!

As if to reinforce the fabulous dog he still is, yesterday it was almost as though he knew he had to show how youthful he still was.

Because, when I took his group of dogs out around 7.30am armed with my camera, Pharaoh was brimming over with energy.

First up was a swim in the pond.

Ah, an early birthday dip! Bliss!
Ah, an early birthday dip! Bliss!

Then in a way he has not done before, Pharaoh wanted to play ‘King of my Island’, which is in the middle of the pond.

Halt! Who goes there!
Halt! Who goes there!

ooo

This is my island! So there!
This is my island! So there!

Then a while later, when back on dry land, so to speak, it was time to dry off in the morning sunshine.

Actually, this isn't a bad life!
Actually, this isn’t a bad life!

Long may he have an enjoyable and comfortable life.

Welcome Doctor Barkman!

A delightful contribution from a guest author.

Dear readers, from time to time I am approached by other authors who have flattered me by asking if I would like to publish their Blog posts from time to time.  So I have been doubly flattered by having two authors contact me in the last week.

So to the first.  It is with great pleasure that I welcome Jane Brackman, Ph.D., author of the blog Doctor Barkman Speaks who will, from time to time, republish her posts on Learning from Dogs. I have no doubt that you will enjoy her scientific expertise regarding dogs

So today, please enjoy …

oooOOOooo

HOW DOGS THINK – NEW SCIENCE LOOKS INSIDE THEIR MINDS WITH MRI IMAGING

Canine illustrator Robert Dickey assigned thoughts and feeling to his Boston Terrier based on the dogs’s expressions. Here he illustrates contentment, sympathy and misery.  (Dogs from Life, Page & Co., 1920)
**
Are you gonna eat that? Are you gonna eat that?  I’ll eat it.”
Is this what dogs think?  Or do they experience more complex thoughts?  Apparently science is getting pretty close to figuring it out. If not exactly WHAT they’re thinking, then where in the brain the thoughts are coming from.  Since brains are pretty much the same across mammal species, if researchers identify which parts of the the brain light up, based on what humans have said, they can guess what the dogs’ thoughts are, too.

A couple of smart guys, Gregory Berns and Andrew Brooks of Emory University, watching a military dog assist Navy Seals as they overran the Osama Bin Laden compound, got a brilliant idea.  If you can teach dogs to jump out of helicopters, surely dogs could be trained to enjoy themselves inside an fMRI machine while scientists calculate what the dogs are thinking by scanning their brains.

The researchers, who are dog-lovers, explained, “We want to understand the dog-human relationship, from the dog’s perspective.  From the outset, we wanted to ensure the safety and comfort of the dogs.  We wanted them to be unrestrained and go into the scanner willingly.

So they recruited a professional dog trainer, Mark Spivak, and two companion dogs, a Feist Terrier named Callie and a Border Collie named McKenzie.  The team said that both dogs were trained over several months to walk into an fMRI scanner and hold completely still while researchers measured their brain activity.

In the photo below Callie wears ear protection as she 
prepares to enter the scanner.  The research team 
includes, from left, Andrew Brooks, Gregory Berns and Mark Spivak.  
(Credit: Photo by Bryan Meltz)

This is what the researchers wrote in the journal article that was published in PLOS last week:

Because of dogs’ prolonged evolution with humans, many of the canine cognitive skills are thought to represent a selection of traits that make dogs particularly sensitive to human cues. But how does the dog mind actually work? To develop a methodology to answer this question, we trained two dogs to remain motionless for the duration required to collect quality fMRI images by using positive reinforcement without sedation or physical restraints. The task was designed to determine which brain circuits differentially respond to human hand signals denoting the presence or absence of a food reward.

Eventually they hope to answer the more profound questions we all ask:  Do dogs have empathy? Do they know when we are happy or sad?  How much language do they really understand?”  (And here’s one from me- When they pee on the carpet and we don’t find it until the next day, when we scold them do they know why we are scolding them?)

Do dogs feel guilt?
You can read a brief summary of the project here:  What is Your Dog Thinking? Brain Scans Unleash Canine Secrets.

Or read the entire scholarly article here:

Berns, Gregory, Brooks, Andrew and Spivak, Mark, Functional MRI in Awake Unrestrained Dogs (April 27, 2012). 

Jane Brackman, Ph. D.

oooOOOooo

Well, I don’t know about you but I found this a most fascinating article.  All of us who live around dogs, both physically and emotionally, sense the closeness, may I use the word ‘magic’, of the relationships.

Take a look at the photograph below.  Until I left the UK in 2008, a few of us owned a lovely old Piper Super Cub.  It was a joy to fly.  I used frequently to take Pharaoh to the grass airfield, Watchford Farm, up on the Devon moors.  One day he showed such interest in the aircraft that I lifted him up to the passenger’s seat, strapped him in and taxied all over the grass airfield.  This picture shows something that is difficult to explain otherwise – Pharaoh’s real joy at sharing the adventure.  Of course, I didn’t fly with him, that would have been a step too far, but we did taxi almost up to take-off speed.  Dr. Barkman, what do you make of that?

Watchford Farm, Devon, July 2006.