The love of dogs

Would you give £5 to save Harrison from a slow, painful death?’
This was an advert placed by a medical research charity. But there were 2 versions.
One of the adverts showed Harrison to be a human, the other showed him to be dog.
Guess which advert got the better response?
Yes.

It made me think of this National Lampoon cover from 1973:
What a fabulous dog! But, even though this is obviously a joke, the photo is really powerful and it does elicit an emotional response.

The above mentioned research, done by Harrison’s Fund, reveals that people are more distressed about reports of pain inflicted on dogs than they are about the same reports about adult human beings. There is however an equal response for puppies, adult dogs and human babies.

I have often suspected that in many cases people care more about their dogs than about their fellow human beings, including (quite often) their spouse.
And it’s far from rare to hear someone say that they love their dog more than anyone else, including (quite often) their spouse…

We have invited dogs into our homes, and subsequently into our families. And perhaps, in many cases, many of us feel genuine love for our dogs.
(Some people even claim to love their cats, but that’s based on the mistake that a voluntary submission to the demands our arrogant feline friends constitutes love.)
It raises the question whether or not our love is reciprocated.
Do our dogs love us?
I don’t think so.

Love is very complicated. Dogs, generally, are not.
How complicated is love?
Well, I think we’ve all attended that amazing wedding where the bride and groom, deeply in love, swear eternal love for one another. Then 5 or 10 years down the line they’re in court fighting a bitter battle, and they cannot stand the sight of each other. Love is complicated, and it can change to hate. Sometimes we get cross with our dogs, irritated, but we don’t get to hate them. And they never, ever hate us. Their relationship with us is uncomplicated. Which is why I would hesitate to call it love.

The research I mentioned above reaches 2 conclusions.
One I have alluded to, namely that we see dogs (and cats, and other pets) as part of the family.
The second conclusion is that the empathy we show towards our dogs has to do with their helplessness. Which is why we respond that way to babies too.
I don’t entirely agree with that – after all, as we keep reminding everyone we know, dogs have teeth. Lots of teeth. Not entirely helpless then. But they don’t understand why someone would point a gun to their head. In most cases they don’t know what a gun can do. And they aren’t scared to die, because they don’t know that they’re going to die. It’s a state blessed ignorance. It is innocence.
Which I believe to be the crux of the matter. Like babies, dogs are innocent. And we protect the innocent, it’s a completely natural reaction. And there’s an innocence to dogs when they play, run, go crazy and even when they stubbornly refuse to do what you want them to do. You want to be cross, but then they look at you, wag their tail, and all is forgiven.

I love our dogs, I really do. And our dogs are good, they are pretty faithful (unless someone else offers them a treat), and they are probably devoted to us. It all adds up to an incredible relationship, even if my love is not properly understood, and hence not reciprocated.

Harry

This article uses some information from ‘Dogs take the lead when it comes to winning human empathy’, printed in the Times on 1 November 2017.

Carpe Diem

One of my favourite quotes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Willow to Buffy: ‘Carpe diem. You told me that once.’
Buffy, a little puzzled: ‘Fish of the day?’
Willow: ‘Not carp. Carpe. It means ‘seize the day.’

I think Buffy is closer, really. What we mean generally is that we should live for the moment, be in the moment. But we can’t. We always worry about or look forward to the future, and we always carry the past with us.

Here’s someone who lives for the moment:

And here, another couple of moments:I love the facts that dogs are so much more capable than we are in seizing the day, living for the moment. And I’m more than a little jealous..

Harry (from Cornwall)

A cat called Buckets

Some 10 years ago we were visiting a very good friend in Australia who worked there as a vet. She introduced us to a cat called Buckets, whose unflappable character really impressed us. And when Katie told us his story we were even more impressed.

On a hot day in Cowra, Australia, some children brought in a heat-stressed kitten that had been chased by some dogs. His temperature was 41.8! He was placed in a bucket of cold water to bring down his temperature, but his temperature did not fall, because he was still severely agitated. Katie decided to sedate the kitten and then lowered him into a bucket of ice water. Finally his temperature came down.

Buckets was castrated, vaccinated, wormed and treated for fleas. And he didn’t leave, he became the ‘practice cat’, and spent most of his time in the waiting room, observing and interacting with other cats, dogs, sheep and goats.

Karen and I met Buckets when some Blue Heeler Cattle Dog puppies were there too, and the video below gives you some idea of the kind of cat Buckets had become – supremely confident with the patience of a saint.

This story has an addendum, but I’ll keep that for the next blog post.

Hot dogs

We’ve had a lot of rain recently, and it hasn’t really felt like summer for much of the time. While I really miss the sunshine and the warmth, Brian the Boxer revels in this kind of weather.

The main reason why Brian doesn’t enjoy warm weather is that he is a brachycephalic, a flat-faced dog.

Some breeds, like Boxers, but also the increasingly popular Pugs, French Bulldogs and  English Bulldogs, have been bred to emphasize certain features that appeal to people, like large eyes and wrinkled foreheads (basically a worried baby look). This was achieved by shortening the muzzle bones, but the skin and soft tissue in those areas did not decrease accordingly, and this has resulted in narrower airways, hence breathing problems.

As we know dogs lose heat primarily through panting. Brian has more problems panting than Casey, our Labrador, due to the shape of his mouth and airways. So Casey cools down more efficiently.

We’ve had a few hot days this summer, which gave us the opportunity to test a ‘wet jacket’ on Brian. This jacket slowly releases water, which has a cooling effect. Brian seems fine with it, and you’ll agree that he looks good too.

Please be aware that all flat-faced dogs need extra attention and care when it is warm. We often take Brian for swims rather than walks, and although he prefers to splash rather swim, it does cool him down.

Karen & Harry

Successful run for Pancreatic Cancer Research

We successfully completed our London run. It was uncomfortably warm and neither of us was in the best of health. But most importantly, we managed to raise more than £1,600 for the PCRF (Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund). We are very grateful to all those who supported us. THANK YOU!

Maggie Blanks, founder of the PCRF, with sweaty but happy runners on either side

 

 

Running the British 10k in London for Wendy and Ken

I’m running the British 10k London again, on Sunday 9 July. This time without Lisa, who is injured. But with Marieke, my cousin.

Wendy Butler and Ken Smith both lived in our village and succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Every year I run, in their memory, to raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. Last year we raised in excess of £1,600 and we hope, with your help, to raise a similar amount this year. So please help us. 

You can donate by clicking on this link:
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/harry-kappen3

We are also collecting money at the practice, if that is more convenient.

If you want to find out more about PCRF, and the good work they do, please click this link: http://www.pcrf.org.uk/

Thank you!

Harry