Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The World's Greatest Democracy

The cousins, two girls of the ages of 14 and 15, had no facilities in their homes where they or any other family members could perform the most ordinary of human functions; voiding their bladders, emptying their bowels, something most people are accustomed to performing in privacy, in their own home bathrooms equipped with toilets to carry the waste away. But they, like around fifty percent of people living in India, have no such facilities.

They must evacuate their bodily-waste products in public, and they do, for they have little other choice. People go out from their homes and take themselves into empty fields or railway tracks or any other relatively close outdoor space, and they perform their daily evacuation. And it is there, where they are most vulnerable, that girls and women are violated. Not just any girls and woman, but mostly those of the 'untouchable' class.

The Hindu caste system holds that there are the privileged, of high caste, and the untouchables, the low caste people who are considered little better than slaves at the disposal of the high castes. And so, their human rights are largely non-existent. They are preyed upon in this most vulgar and unjust of social-religious-cultural systems that victimizes them, even though in India this is now against the law. It is also against the law to force girl children into marriage, but it is also customary.

The two cousins will never have to worry now about being forced into marriage with an elderly cousin or a wealthy old widower. They were abducted in full sight of other villagers similarly occupied in a field close to their home in Badaun in Utter Pradesh state. When the father of one of the girls went to the local police station, he was turned away. When he went to the home of one of the men whom he knew had abducted the girls, he was refused his demand for their release.

Villagers collect near tree where the girls were found in Badaun
BBC News

All this with imperious impunity, with the serenity of entitlement. The girls were raped, they were strangled, they were hanged from branches of a tree for the entire community to see that this could happen to any one of them, for they were lowly Dalit. In India, many upper caste men believe implicitly it is their right to have "first choice" of any Dalit girl.

Demonstration against rape in India (13 September 2013)
BBC News

"Rape is loss of our reputation, livelihood, honour and the end of our future" said one woman whose 14-year-old daughter with three of her friends were seized by five relations and neighbours of their feudal landlord. The girls had been drugged and raped throughout the night before they were finally released to their families. This, a family with five children who farm rice and barley fields with no income to show for it, to service a generational debt they could never pay off to a high-caste family.

The murdered cousins were seen being led away by local high-caste farmers, by their uncle. When the uncle attempted to intervene, he was warned off, with a gun. One of the girls' father said the police had "refused to look for my girl". Had his pleas been answered by a search -- since they knew very well where the girls were taken, having confronted one of the abductors who admitted the girls were with him, but refused to release them -- the girls' lives would have been saved.

"If my daughter doesn't get married and suffers her entire life, wouldn't it have been better for her that she had been killed by those beasts?" said the mother of the young girl who had been raped along with her three friends. It is impossible to imagine the lifelong trauma suffered by these children. The mother feared as well, with the tarnishing of the family honour, that her older daughter too would now be unmarriageable.

The entire family was forced to flee their village after death threats from the upper caste Hindus who had banned them from sending their children to school, from visiting the local temple, or from buying food from the shops. They migrated, along with 80 others from their village to Delhi, where they live in unspeakable privation, on the streets.

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Understanding Dog Aggression – Avoid Creating Aggression


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Understanding Dog Aggression – Avoid Creating Aggression

Understanding Dog Aggression – Avoid Creating Aggression

The most common types of aggressive-reactive behaviour in dogs result from the dog being…
A – Insecure, nervous, tense, fear based reactivity;
B – Bullying, dominating reactivity.
When these psychological conditions noted above are not addressed and resolved a dog may become:
  • Fearful reactive-aggressive, or;
  • Defensive reactive-aggressive, or;
  • Offensive reactive-aggressive.
Some typical signs of these behaviors are:
  • Fearful reactive-aggressive – backing away, trembling, low growl, whale eyes.
  • Defensive reactive-aggressive – barking, bared teeth, growling,  fearful body posture (lowered head, tucked tail, ears back, whale eye) and may back away.
  • Offensive reactive-aggressive – barking, bared teeth, growling,  offensive body posture (direct eye contact, erect ears, high tail) while moving or charging forward.
This behaviour may be directed at animate objects such as dogs or other non-human animals, at humans and at inanimate objects as well.
As an example most aggression in dogs occurs due to lack of leadership in the dog’s life that in turn creates stress, insecurity and the need to be reactive.
In the absence of proper direction a dog may become anxious, insecure and fearful.
If dogs were pre-wired to be aggressive rather than social there would be very few dogs left standing. A dog in its natural state is a social being, a pack animal with the potential inherent to get along with others.  There are very few dogs born with ‘bad wiring’. When a dog goes bad it is almost always a human who is responsible for the bad behaviour.
When puppies are young they learn their social skills from the adult dogs in their dog family. Now, as long as the adult dogs’ natural social state has not been negatively disrupted by human influence the adult dogs will teach their young how to get along without being aggressive. If you are thinking – yeah but what about the ‘Alpha’ – dominate dog…you need to read this
Things go wrong when we humans
A- Separate the dog from its early socialization process by removing the puppy from its parents and then;
B- We fail to take up the leadership role to coach and mentor the dog in the acquisition and maintenance of social skills – providing rules and boundaries.
In this day and age of technology and our fast paced-life we have lost an awareness of all of the ways in which we communicate. We have lost patience. We attempt to direct our dogs – we assume we know what we are doing – but most often people do not. A dog learns aggressive-reactive behaviour because a human enables the behaviour in a dog. Either by failing to provide leadership or by actively abusing the dog. Usually when a human enables the aggression it has happened by accident – completely unintentionally.
Here are some typical ways that dogs develop aggressive reactive behaviour…
A- Dogs that lack proper coaching and mentoring can become insecure, anxious and fearful. When a dog is insecure he/she will either be overly submissive or overly defensive. We see these same behaviours in people as well. If you are insecure, anxious or fearful you are either going to recede into the background or overcompensate by being a bully – it is the same for dog. If your dog is nervous around humans or other dogs and you are nervous too – you tell your dog it is right to be worried. You enable the behaviour. If your dog has been attacked in the past by another dog and you are unable to let the past go, you enable your dog’s nervousness and aggression towards the other dog.
B- Dogs who receive the wrong type of affection at the wrong time can become aggressive-reactive. When you reward a dog for being in an excited state the dog learns that being excited is considered to be normal. When a little dog is insecure and starts to react (snarl, growl, snap, bark) at a bigger dog – if you pick the little dog up, you have just confirmed that the little dog has something to be reactive about.  You have not taught the dog how to properly cope with the situation. Your dog does not have the opportunity to be social or truly normal.
C- Dogs who are allowed to take-over their humans, their homes, their toys, the furniture etc. without any rules that they can understand – these dogs can become aggressive. The rule – they own and the human fears to intercede. The human has inadvertently taught the dog to be a bully.
D - A dog has been abused by humans - this can make the dog insecure and fearful – the dog will seek to protect itself. To stop this behaviour you must help the dog gain confidence, you must show the dog that there are other ways to navigate through life – just as you would do for a person.
So, aggression is normally induced by humanity. No dog wants to be bad. All dogs want to have the opportunity to receive fair instruction, coaching and mentoring to help them be social happy members of society – the same thing that a child wants. Children don’t want to be bad – but when they lack the proper guidance they have little choice.
When we do not take the opportunity to correct the dog in a respectful, grounded logical way without anger, fear or other emotions we create psychological damage in the dog. We miss an opportunity to change future outcomes – we make one more mistake in the dogs’ life – we set the dog up for future failure…just as we would be doing with a human.
The great thing about dogs is that they are easier to psychologically rehabilitate than humans are. Why, because dogs do not hold grudges. Because dogs live in the moment it is easier to change a dog’s ‘bad habits’ than it is a human’s. Humans carry grudges, dogs do not. Dogs are very forgiving and will, given the opportunity treat each day, each experience as a new beginning. It is only with difficulty that we are able to convince, permit and allow ourselves to do the same.
Patience, will, determination, persistence, respect and a little understanding of dog and human psychology are key. Coach and mentor the dog, train its human.
A dog is willing to give so much to their human – but what is the human willing to give to the dog?
To enable the best in your dog you must think beyond yourself,your momentary needs your emotions. I believe you must broaden your understanding of affection, leadership and partnership. You must understand how dogs communicate and how you can unintentionally communicate the wrong thing. You must understand how dogs assign respect. You must understand what leadership really is and is not. And you should understand that there are many ways to share affection with your dog. Only when your have truly understood these concepts will you be in a position to enable the best in your dog.
If you learn to look at every element of your relationship in a more dynamic and holistic fashion you can learn to combine what you want with what your dog requires.
To have a happy, well balanced canine companion the human needs to make sure that they fulfill the needs of their dog. This is where it so often all goes wrong. Many of us, with the best of intentions, do not realize (that just because we love our dog and ensure we provide it with lots of affection the best of food, treats, a comfy place to sleep, etc.) that we have not met our dog’s needs in a way that will best benefit the dog.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Global Health Alert

"This is yet another disease that we thought was gone away, and it's back."
"If you are travelling with a child who is not vaccinated with polio, and you go to a region where this stuff is spreading, that child is at risk. I think that is the most important message."
"Often we find the unvaccinated communities tend to congregate together."
Dr. Kumanan Wilson, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Administration of the polio inoculation, including by Salk himself, in 1957 at the University of Pittsburgh where he and his team had developed the vaccine

Poliomyelitis has re-surged, thanks in great part to military conflicts, from Sudan to Pakistan. Where a double threat exists; in a theatre of conflict it becomes exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for humanitarian aid workers to travel for the purpose of inoculating vulnerable children. Perhaps even more pernicious is the fact that Islamist fanatics view that anything that emanates from Western medical or scientific knowledge has an ulterior motive, and is to be rejected.

The hill tribes of Pakistan with their fundamentalist Islamist culture impose upon the countless people living in their tribal areas the requirement to refuse having their children inoculated against polio, leaving them vulnerable to the predations of the disease. Volunteer health care workers who travel to the areas under military guard, are threatened. Some, along with their guards, are slaughtered by the Pakistani Taliban.

Islamabad, Pakistan -- An official in the Ministry of NHSRC who requested anonymity said it will be mandatory from June 1 for people of all ages to receive polio drops and produce a certificate before travelling out of the country. PHOTO: ONLINE 

The World Health Organization felt it was almost time to celebrate the eradication of the polio threat. Instead, now they view the tragedy of a renewed viral transmission which has spread to Syria, Iraq, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Israel and Somalia in a scant six months' time, threatening to reverse a decades-long effort at total eradication.

The Bedouin city of Rahat, southern Israel, where polio was detected in May 2013 in samples from sewage water. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)
The Bedouin city of Rahat, southern Israel, where polio was detected in May 2013 in samples from sewage water. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

It is present and thriving in Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria, and from there readily exported to other countries. People living in first world countries deciding to return briefly to their countries of origin who haven't bothered having their children vaccinated because it seemed to them there was no need to do so, are exposing them in their travels, to life-threatening disease transmission.

The WHO has declared polio now represents a full-blown "public health emergency of international concern". That unusual designation represents the second time only that the UN agency has declared such a health threat to children. In 2009, the H1N1 flu pandemic merited the first such alarm. The Public Health Agency of Canada advises people travelling to affected regions and countries to ensure they have been vaccinated.

The number of cases of polio had seen a record low of 223 globally by 2012, due to a concentrated effort by the World Health Organization and its national health partners to eradicate the disease. That number, however, doubled in incidence last year, and the cases are now proliferating, during what the WHO says generally represents polio's "low season" of incidence.

Left unchecked the disease "could result in failure to eradicate globally one of the world's most serious, vaccine-preventable diseases", concerning Dr. Bruce Aylward, a Canadian who is the WHO's assistant director general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration. WHO director general Margaret Chan has urged Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria to declare public health emergencies, and to ensure that travellers are vaccinated and have the documentation to prove it.

Poliomyelitis can damage nerves and cause partial and sometimes fatal paralysis. It was a frightening scourge in developed countries of the world sixty years ago. While immunization can prevent infection, there is no cure for polio. Once infected, people can carry the virus, seemingly dormant, with no obvious symptoms, but with the capacity of unknowingly infecting hundreds of others they come in contact with.

DIMAS ARDIAN / GETTY IMAGES  A child receives a polio immunization in a Jakarta clinic. Indonesia this week launched a quick vaccination program, targeting some 6.4 million children for immunization over a two-day period in the hope of stemming a polio outbreak 
A well-known humanitarian eradication campaign supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International had succeeded in reducing the incidence of polio to three countries of the world -- Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria -- and then began its spread, in the last half-year.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Unabashed, Unmitigated Gall

"You were diagnosed with prominent traits of narcissistic personality disorder and some psychopathic traits."
"It was noted that narcissistic injury could again trigger dangerous actions."
"You have displayed a negative attitude toward the criminal justice system and have blamed the store, the court system and the media for your troubles."
"You have refused participation in school, psychology, intake assessment and some programming (considered imperative to address your risk factors)."
Parole Board of Canada

Tatyana Granada is angry, and she is offended and she is furious over the manner in which justice has erred in handling her case. She had originally been arrested, charged with tampering with food products after a Calgary grocery had barred her from entry to their store, because of her shoplifting habit. She had been sentenced to three years in prison. That people in Calgary had been terrified of the potential of coming across pins and sharp objects she had inserted in food items was not the issue, as far as she is concerned.

What is of great meaning is that her human rights have been tampered with. She has appealed for early release from prison. The Parole Board in reviewing her case, concluded that she is at low risk to re-offend, with the caveat that the risk is low just as long as she is not offended by the actions of others, causing her to strike out in reaction, as she did in endangering the health and safety of others through her malicious pins-insertion in food.

They concluded further that they would turn down her application for early prison release in February of 2014, following her 2012 conviction on four counts each of mischief and trespassing. She had been convicted by a provincial court judge of those charges in 2012, when she was found guilty of inserting pins, needles and nails in produce items at the Calgary Oakridge Co-op store in 2010.

Quite apart from the shopping public's panic at the discovery of those objects in their food, their subsequent avoidance of shopping at the Oakridge Co-op cost at least $600,000 in lost business and extensive investigation of the incidents, where employees left because of the stress they felt, and many had their hours of work cut back. Despite which, the psychiatrist assessing the woman made note that she "harboured resentment toward the justice system", feeling no guilt for her actions.

He also reported the scorn that Ms. Granada expressed for her husband, who committed suicide in 2011, before she was tried, found guilty and taken to prison in 2012. "You commented that the incident was no big tragedy, adding that your husband caused you trouble by leaving no insurance", wrote the Parole Board.

Her parents had moved temporarily from Latvia to take care of the couple's two children, while their mother remained incarcerated. But she is now at large, freed on statutory release, mandated by law for offenders having served two-thirds of their sentence. Tatyana Granada is now suing the Co-op, which no doubt hoped that their ordeal had passed and the future would look brighter for them.

She is suing them for $8-million, claiming them to have been responsible for the shame and loss of family honour incurred to her husband, leading to his suicide. Not her behaviour, but that of the grocery store in publicly naming, shaming, blaming and holding her to account in a criminal court of law for her descent into malicious pay-back for being banned from the store, endangering the lives of innocent consumers.

The company, she alleges, is fully responsible for the emotional distress she suffered when they defamed her. They are also responsible for her inability to secure employment.

Woman convicted of grocery store food tampering denied parole
The Parole Board of Canada has refused to grant Tatyana Granada’s (left) application for early release from prison, where she is serving a three-year sentence following her conviction for four counts each of mischief and trespassing. Photograph by: Daryl Slade , Calgary Herald

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Explosives-Detecting Pachyderms

 Explosives-Detecting Pachyderms

"They were picking up the scent from 100 metres away."
"The army wanted to know what it is about an elephant's trunk that's more advanced than a dog's snout. Can they apply it to a machine and get the machine to be more effective for their soldiers?"
Rory Hensman, Zimbabwean farmer "the Elephant Whisperer"
"We don't know how they do this. Ultimately, we are hoping to learn through nature how to better protect the soldier from threats."
Stephen Lee, chief scientist, Army Research Office, United States Army

After it was brought to the attention of scientists that elephants returning to Angola after the civil war that had rent the country were observed to be avoiding minefields, the theory was born that elephants were able to sniff out the presence of explosive mines. It was a theory that appealed to a Zimbabwean farmer notable for his talent for understanding elephants. Rory Hensman, who died a year ago, was called "the Elephant Whisperer."

He had spent two decades of his life training elephants, paying especial attention to those elephants considered to be "problems", whose fate, had he not intervened, would have been to be culled from their herds. Mr. Hensman adopted his first two elephants in 1988 and was amazed at how swiftly they responded to their environment. He taught them to herd cattle, to track down lost calves, and to check out the conditions of the fences on his Zimbabwe farm.

And he noted their astonishing sense of smell. He witnessed, on one occasion, an elephant tracking a robber across a field of paprika, crossing over a river, and then passing through a village. Which inspired him further to train his elephants to track poachers, and to unearth the whereabouts of purloined rhinoceros horn. The Hensman farm fell into the hands of the government of Robert Mugabe when white farmers were being hounded from the land they had farmed for generations.

Man and lady standing near the African elephant
Photo: "Elephant Whispers" - Lindie and Rory Hensman

The family fled to South Africa, taking their elephants with them, to establish a wildlife preserve about 130 kilometres north of Pretoria. The Elephant Whisperer and his 32-year-old son hid strips of paper upon which explosives had been scented, then they trained the elephants to stop, lift their front feet and salute with their trunks whenever they smelled the explosives. This initiative brought them to the attention of the U.S. Army.

Who dispatched a team of American army scientists to the reserve. Inspecting data that had been put together reflecting the experience of the past two years, the scientists came to the conclusion that the military, using Mr. Hensman's training protocol, would themselves be enabled to develop improved bomb detectors. Elephants are capable of locating the presence of explosives at a distance, unlike sniffer dogs.
Loving the friendly African elephant
Lindie Hensman

In 2003, Rory Hensman and his wife Lindie, who had originally come from Angola, set up a new venture, in collaboration with two others, which they named Elephants for Africa Forever, or EFAF. It is basically a tourism company, advertising its expert training and handling of elephants, promising clients an up-close and personal adventure with "elephant interactions".
Lowveld Elephant with trunk up in the air

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ending: Happy and Sad

"The typical hospital abduction may involve a stranger."
"The abductors are usually females who really want a baby of their own. They are often overweight, compulsive, impersonators, married or cohabiting, and live in the community where the abduction takes place."
RCMP National Missing Children Services
On this occasion, an untypical suspect, it would appear....
  Photo of suspect in kidnapping of infant from Trois-Rivières hospital on Monday.  Photograph by: SQ, The Gazette

A young married couple celebrates the birth of their first child, a little girl they name Victoria, who came in at a healthy six pounds. Like all proud parents of newborns they could hardly wait to begin life as a family of three. In her hospital room, mother Melissa McMahon was informed by a bustling woman in nurses' uniform that she needed to weigh the baby, as she wrapped the little girl in a blanket and trotted off.

When the new mother casually mentioned to a hospital staff member what had occurred, she realized that "my baby had been stolen". The woman dressed in red scrubs was no nurse, had no authorization other than her own will to abduct a child and spirit it away. The mother ran toward the entrance to the hospital, discovering that the kidnapper who had taken her child had vanished. Witnesses, however, described a red Toyota Yaris hatchback, a Baby on Board sticker on the back window.

"Help us please, after one day our daughter has been stolen", the parents placed on a Facebook post. Friends were implored to spread the news as "fast as possible."

Baby abducted from hospital in Trois-Rivières found safe
Simon Boisclair posted this family photograph to Facebook taken with baby Victoria and mother Mélissa McMahon at home. The caption said, "Here is baby Victoria, in her home and SAFE."   Photograph by: Facebook
A Monday night Tweet by the Surete du Quebec read: "Woman is 5', 4", 130 lbs. driving a red Yaris. If seen, dial 911."

Four people engaged themselves in the unfolding drama. Sisters Melizanne and Charel Bergeron along with their friends Marc-Andre Cote and Charlene Plante forged an evening adventure for themselves. They would commit to going out to look for the woman and her car, planning to drive around Trois-Rivieres, a city of 126,000 residents, in hopes of somehow coming across the suspect driving a fire-engine red car, according to police alerts.

And then Melizanne did a double-check on her smartphone at a recently-released security camera image of the kidnapper. "She was my neighbour; I moved two weeks ago so I knew it was her", Charlene Plante said. They drove to the apartment so recently vacated by her and there indeed stood a red Toyota Yaris complete with "Bebe a bord" sticker, parked outside.

They contacted police with the address and when police swiftly arrived on scene, they did so without sirens They broke in the front door of the apartment and the baby was located a few seconds afterward, within. Three hours had elapsed between the time the young mother saw a woman impersonating a nurse remove her newborn from her room, and the time she had been rescued from her abductor.

"It all happened so fast, but to have her safe and sound in my arms after only three hours of intense searching was very surreal", mother Melissa McMahon wrote on her Facebook page, thanking the four friends for their indispensable role in her baby's rescue. "The possibility of a worst-case scenario was turning loops in our heads. Unfortunately, the endings to these situations are rarely happy, particularly in cases like this", she wrote.

As for the young woman who had taken the baby, she is indeed young; 21 years of age, and believed to be suffering from mental health issues. And she is ill, unresponsive, comatose, intubated in hospital. Police have been unable, as a result, to question her. Valerie Poulin Collins was nonetheless charged Wednesday in Trois-Rivieres, even as she was incapable of appearing in court.
quebec baby
Facebook, Valerie Poulin Collins

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Testing Brain Health

"The large majority of people who take the test are going to have a normal score. Even though we hear a lot about Alzheimer's disease, not everybody gets it, not even half the people get it."
Angela Troyer, neuropsychologist, Baycrest Health Sciences, Toronto

"It's an industry now, producing tests for memory."
"When you're diagnosed with dementia, it's a devastating event. The more you can be helped through that process, the better."
Dr. Larry Chambers, medical adviser, Alzheimer's Society of Canada

And it is just that kind of help that propelled Dr. Troyer and her team to formulate and produce a new online memory test geared to evaluate peoples' responses to a set of exercises, like matching names to faces, identifying the location of hidden shapes, that kind of thing. Accessed at And when the test is taken by people who feel for whatever reason, motivated to take it, the response is just about instant, producing a score that can be used by the individual taking the test.

The new on-line memory test launched by Baycrest Health Sciences Centre in Toronto is not just another one of the many accessible dementia tests available on the Internet, many, if not most of which appear unreliable. The brain "thermometer" produced by the Baycrest Hospital feels its test is quite different, since it represents an evaluative tool created by scientists, tested in a study with 400 older people enrolled for that purpose.

Baycrest co-founded Cogniciti Inc., which it uses to market brain-health products. They have confidence in the reliability and usefulness of their test. Ohio State University had their own online quiz developed as well by a scientific group, and which appealed so popularly to the general public, its website crashed by the crush of traffic. Unlike the test, however, Ohio State's test is not accessed online.

It is a pen-and-paper test the results of which requires patients to visit a doctor to analyze the test score professionally on their behalf. The online Baycrest test produces an instant score revealing user ranks among people of the same age group as the individual taking the test, taking into account age -- between 50 and 79 -- and level of education attained.

In 2013 a University of British Columbia study assessed 16 tests at random, rating 12 of them scientifically invalid, and all of them lacking in ethics. A number which by no means comes even close to the proliferation of such tests on the Web. Julie Robillard, the post-doctoral fellow at UBC's National Core for Neuroethics who headed the Internet test research cautioned that even a test that is scientifically rigorous could be problematic in its effects.

Such tests, irrespective of outcomes can cause anxiety, can generate inappropriate demands for health care services, and fact reminds that even well-designed tests can be difficult to distinguish from the less-valid types in a huge pool of choices. "Then it becomes the job of the older adult or whoever to distinguish which is the good test. And that is a very difficult thing to do."
You keep an eye on your weight and blood pressure. Your brain health is just as important. With Cogniciti's Online Brain Health Assessment you can easily track your memory, attention, and executive function. We recommend repeating the assessment every 6 to 12 months.
Moreover, stresses Baycrest, its test should not be recognized as a diagnosis. It is meant to be viewed as a measurement of possible problems that might represent early signs of dementia onset. On the other hand, it could reflect fallout caused by anxiety, depression or lack of sleep. Anyone scoring in what is considered to a 'problem' range is urged to see a physician with the results of their test, for medical consultation.

Doctors feel that timely diagnosis can offer people the opportunity to aid their brain health by urging them to institute a better lifestyle, a more health-appropriate diet, and, should the diagnosis of approaching dementia be validated, preparation for the future to accommodate a gradually growing state of mental incapacity.
Science has shown a close link between regular exercise and brain health.  The Ontario Brain Institute released a report on exercise and Alzheimer's based on a review of major research studies.  Their conclusion is both startling and important: "In older adults without Alzheimer's disease those who were very physically active were almost 40% less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who were inactive." Walking, swimming and dancing are great alternatives if your tennis and running days are behind you. If you're not able to walk or swim there is a great video series called "Stronger Seniors". This series has been designed by Anne Pringle Burnell, a certified instructor and faculty provider with the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobics & Fitness Association of America.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Clarifying Responsibilities

"An employee using marijuana may say, 'This is different because smoking a cigarette in the building is prohibited by law. You have to accommodate me'. If an individual is saying, 'This is a medical condition ... and this is a private issue and I want privacy to deal with that'. This is a prescribed medication. What they're doing is not unlawful and if it's related to a medical condition, an employer will have a duty to accommodate."
"Reasonable accommodation may be a private and separate area where the fumes do not affect other workers and where the employee can take, what is now, lawful medication."
Carl Cunningham, employment law practice, Bennett Jones LLP

"We think this is going to be a big issue. There is an immediate reaction, because historically we don't allow employees to smoke marijuana in the workplace. But, once you get past that and think, 'this is a prescription from a doctor and it must be treated like any other prescription', all the usual accommodations come into play."
Kecia Podetz, Emond Harnden LLP, employment law specialists, Ottawa
At the present time, over 40,000 Canadians use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Health Canada anticipates that number to rise steeply to over 480,000 users within the coming ten years. Now that marijuana is considered by the courts a controlled substance to be prescribed by medical doctors, the once-taboo weed has been given official, lawful status as a medication. And with that distinction, employers must now look to the future.

Across the country, corporations are now reviewing their corporate policies to set a protocol to meet the reality of a workforce among which some workers may have been prescribed marijuana. If those large corporations don't have their own lawyers right on staff, they will gravitate to the interpretative law capability of specialists such as Carl Cunningham and Kecia Podetz for their expertise in employment law.

The new legislation enacted on April 1, while making it easier for Canadians to access medical marijuana, also mandates that the rigid 'no smoking' guidelines within places of employment will now have to be taken off that top shelf, dusted off and re-examined. Employees are stuck with a legal obligation to accommodate employees relating to illness or disability. That obligation is enshrined both in the Canadian Human Rights Act and within the Occupational, Health and Safety Act.

A spokesperson with Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care spoke to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act; that a person with a prescription for medical marijuana cannot be prevented from smoking their prescribed marijuana in a public space or their normal work environment. Federal Courts ruled that marijuana must be more readily accessible to patients. In their view, marijuana is considered medicine, not an illicit drug.

So employers are expected to accommodate workers up to the point of "undue hardship" in accord with the Occupational, Health and Safety Act. Not by infringing on the rights of co-workers, but by setting aside private smoking rooms, so that those employees who require the use of marijuana for their health, may do so discreetly. And the onus falls on the employer to ensure that any arrangements made for this purpose, work to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Citing additional cost is not considered a valid reason to evade employer responsibility. "Simply declaring that the cost is too high or that there is unreasonable risk to health and safety does not constitute undue hardship", a clarifying primer placed on Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's webpage warns.

"There is still a lot of confusion around it. In terms of breaking stigma, this is really good stuff. It's bringing a lot of those stigmas to light", stated Jamie Shaw, president of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries.

BELGRADE, SERBIA - CIRCA JULY 2009: Travelers sits in smoking area cafe at Nikola Tesla airport circa July 2009 in Belgrade - stock photo

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Investment: Outside The Box

"I would have had to give up school just to be able to provide for my son, and if I wanted to stay in school, maybe I would have had to have given him to someone else."
Chantal McLaren, Sweet Dreams, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
L-R: Social Services Minister June Draude, Mayor Don Atchison and Chantal McLaren cut the ribbon to the new supported living home for at-risk single mothers called “Sweet Dreams” at 600 Queen Street in Saskatoon on May 12, 2014.
L-R: Social Services Minister June Draude, Mayor Don Atchison and Chantal McLaren cut the ribbon to the new supported living home for at-risk single mothers called “Sweet Dreams” at 600 Queen Street in Saskatoon on May 12, 2014. Photographed by: Michelle Berg, The StarPhoenix

"I know that when you raise taxes, you're affecting low-income taxpayers as well. We need to make sure we keep as much money as possible in the pockets of individuals and let them [decide] how they would like to spend their money."
June Draude, Minister of social services, Saskatchewan

"It's in vogue at present for governments who don't really want to invest in social services. There's no real need to pay 20% [in interest] to some bank or some financier to fund social programs."
"What's happened is these financiers have inserted themselves in the social contract and they're acting as middlemen. They don't take on any particular risk, but they're paid the middleman markup."
David McDonald, senior economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Ottawa

"Governments are not always best placed to solve the most pressing or persistent social and economic problems. There are Canadians who possess innovative solutions to these problems and there are others who are willing to fund 'social entrepreneurs' in meeting these challenges."
Eric Morrissette, Employment and Social Development Canada
Sweet Dreams group home -- Eagle Feather News

While Mr. McDonald, as a policy think-tank economist sneers at the lack of risk taken by private financiers of public programs benefiting society, the truth is somewhere in between. Such investors are risking their money, since there is no assurance the enterprise they are funding in the hopes that a social benefit will accrue from inspiring and encouraging people to do the best for themselves despite despairing circumstances, will meet success, and they do so for the best of all possible reasons.

A new kind of public-private partnership that was pioneered in 2010 in the United Kingdom, to turn around the high rate of recidivism at the Peterborough prison, was so successful that it is being used as a template by other governments in other countries. A group that organized itself and is now called Social Finance U.K. formulated a plan that had one group of people paying for interventions reflecting best practices.

It worked very well, resulting in a significant decrease in recidivism by prisoners released to society, having been given a hand up through a joint program. In Canada, the federal Office of Literacy and Essential skills is plotting a pilot program testing elements of the Social Impact Bond model, as it is called, hoping to impact on labour market outcomes; low literacy rates equal low employment opportunities; turning it around is essential to the well-being of workers and government alike.

Saskatchewan represents the first province to try out the new funding model for important socially-innovative programs within Canada. The EGADZ Youth centre, which operates the group home designed to support single moms and their children, keeping them together and giving the mothers the opportunity to find their niche through continued education and well-paid employment, lauds the introduction of the Social Impact Bond, freeing up centres such as theirs from trying to secure funding on an ongoing basis.
A tour of the new supported living home for at-risk single mothers called “Sweet Dreams” at 600 Queen Street in Saskatoon on May 12, 2014.
A tour of the new supported living home for at-risk single mothers called “Sweet Dreams” at 600 Queen Street in Saskatoon on May 12, 2014.
Photographed by: Michelle Berg, The StarPhoenix

The private investors' presence has done that, while adding a layer of accountability leading to higher motivation to succeed. Rather than hoping for government funding, grants and charitable donations to launch needed social programs, the new funding model in support of community development projects attracts funding by private investors; people, banks or corporations. Their significant amount of cash investment over a three-to-five-year term does have a catch.

They will be paid their investment back in full, plus interest at an excellent rate if the program happens to be successful. Should the project lack in succeeding to reach its goal, there will be no pay-back, no interest, their investment will not be reimbursed.  Regina-based Conexus Credit Union invested $500,000 in the Sweet Dreams home operated by EGADZ Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre.

A Saskatoon couple matched that amount. Five years hence, by 2019, Sweet Dreams hopes to have 22 children and their mothers leave the home, remaining an intact family unit for at least six months. A portion of their investment will be returned to investors if 17 to 21 children are not placed in foster care, along with 5% interest, a realized profit of $25,000. Should fewer than 17 children remain with their mothers, there will be no reimbursement whatever.

The object is for government to save the expenditure of foster care for these children. The goal is to keep families intact and healthy, a benefit to the families, to their communities, and in the end, to the investors both through satisfaction of having invested wisely, and having achieved a profit in the process. In the United States, the Obama administration's 2014 budget gave support for "pay-for-success" programs offering states and municipalities the opportunity to open their own SIBs.

The skeptics, like Mr. McDonald, envision the taxpayer "almost certainly" paying more later, and that other social programs stand to be "cannibalized" to enable the three or five year targets of those tied to Social Impact Bonds to be realized. "One of the major misconceptions is that somehow governments are not meeting historic obligations to fund these social services. That's not the case at all", noted Bill Pinakiewicz, vice-president at the Nonprofit Finance fund, a U.S. consultancy based in New York City.

Some of the first programs that get cut or defunded when governments find themselves under fiscal pressure are those planned to meet a long-term, preventive goal; like that of Sweet Dreams, there to aid single mothers become contributing members of society, capable of raising their children and imbuing them with foundational social values.

Massachusetts recently revealed its intention to use a Social Impact Bond model to cope with youth crime. That quite specific $18-million bond has been backed by Goldman Sachs, The Kresge Foundation and others. It will become the largest Social Impact Bond in U.S. public service history, to date.

One of the investors in the Saskatoon Sweet Dreams project sees her involvement as an "intriguing" opportunity to help an organization she and her husband have supported in the past, to make a lasting difference in society. "I sometimes think we just give money to organizations and nobody reports back results. Now you've got some skin in the game."

She appreciates the opportunity to see a return on her investment as the women and their children in whom she and her husband are investing, will take their own opportunity to blossom into contributing members of society. Contributing on either side of the spectrum appears to create a winning situation for all concerned.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

"Drive Safe, Dad"

"The passion for racing grew over the years we were together before the boys."
"When we first started dating we went to the track every race. We had our favourite spot in the stands. I'm going to go to the stands and I'm going to paint that spot his favourite colour, blue."
"We've been either spectators, passionate fans, involved at the track somehow, for it's got to be over 20 years."
"It's like anybody that has a passion for anything -- for music, for art, for painting, for photography. It's a passion."
"It's a passion for feeling that power pushing you through the corners. It's the family atmosphere. You might be rivals out on the track but you're not rivals in the pit."
"Everybody knows everybody. I have heard (Thursday) from everybody -- from oval racing to vintage drag racing to drifting clubs. Everybody knew Wes and the boys." 
"[On the night of the accident] I was standing there, watching that race. I lost sight of the car, by the time I saw it again, he was already gone."
 Debra O'Toole, former wife of Wesley Wallin
Wesley Wallin, victim in Capital Speedway crash
Wesley Wallin, 57, died after a crash at Capital City Speedway on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. (Facebook)

"We watched the videos last night. Everything we can tell is that in between Corner 1 and 2 he had a heart attack."
"They say that he was actually picking up speed as he was coming across the grass."
"[Racing gets in the blood], like being addicted to crack. It's a combination of the people, the speed, the noise and the chance to work on cars."
 Todd Gow, president, Capital City Speedway Ottawa
Racer dies at Capital City Speedway

The couple has two sons, Jaime, 22, and Casey, 18. The boys, like their mother are race enthusiasts, and like their father, they are also racers. Wesley Wallin's birthday is in July, and his son Casey's birthday is within knocking distance, also in July. Debra O'Toole, former wife of her son's father, was planning something special to celebrate those birthdays: "...he and I for the last week had been planning the most amazing birthday party for the two of them, involving racing".

No one in the family will be feeling much like celebrating anything, come July. Wesley Wallin, 57, suffered a heart attack, driving in the last race of the evening on Wednesday night, at the Ashton racetrack. It was in fact, the opening race-date of the season. Todd Gow estimated that the speed of Mr. Wallin's vehicle clocked in at 55 to 65 kilometres an  hour, so it wasn't the impact of the vehicle hitting a concrete wall on the far side of the infield that killed him.

Witness accounts and video validate that Wesley Wallin collapsed at the wheel, before his vehicle went off the track. Leaving the track, the car crossed the infield, and hit a concrete wall on the far side. Police closed the race course to investigate the incident. At the scene, Mr. Wallin was administered two shocks with a defibrillator while en route to hospital. There was no pulse, and no discernible breathing.

Debra O'Toole said of her former husband, who was also her business partner, that he'd had double-bypass heart surgery about seven years ago. His health had been good since that time. "Our 22-year-old son's last words to his dad were, 'Drive safe, Dad'," she said.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Eve's Laser Clinic

"It turned into a real business and it helped me a lot, but now when all of this is happening, I am deteriorating. I am just going to go on disability; that is the easiest thing. I will go on welfare, because I can't work."
"They came under the guise of being clients and pretended they wanted Botox and they stopped me and said 'That's illegal'. I said 'Why is it illegal?' Why didn't they do something then? I admitted to everything, I never lied about anything."
Eve Stewart, Nepean cosmetician
Eve Stewart says she will likely seek disability benefits after she was ordered to stop performing medical procedures like Botox and facelifts.
 Photo By Ian Clarke/CBC

This woman has been endowed with more than her share of self-confidence. How else to explain that a person with no previous experience in medicine, in surgical procedures, would proceed to applying herself to serving clients wanting face lifts, Botox treatments, even surgery. These and more were this woman's accomplishments. How to explain how this woman would apply herself to all of these services with such a degree of confidence? The drugs she administered as well as the Botox enabling her to give those treatments can only be accessed through prescription.

Ms. Stewart claimed that a physician whom she refuses to name, helped her to obtain the drugs which she alone administered at her home-based clinic in performing cosmetic treatments. "After recovering from a serious head injury" seven years earlier, she had decided to open her clinic "just for fun". No physician was ever present at her clinic to supervise the procedures that Ms. Stewart engaged with. Now, after being ordered by a court to cease and desist, she remains puzzled at the fact that municipal health officials made no move to stop her initially from injecting the Botox treatments now seen as illegal.

The court, following investigations by three levels of government into this woman's home-based business, ordered her to cease and desist. The investigations conducted by Health Canada, Ottawa Public Health and the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons all outlined that she was practising medicine illegally. Ottawa Public Health, in fact, dropped by her clinic on several occasions to train her how to properly sterilize equipment. Little wonder she was confused; why train her to properly sterilize equipment she was not authorized by law to use?

They ended up providing her with a certificate attesting that she met best practices for sterility. And that certificate was hung with pride on the wall of her clinic. Obviously, in the process, bolstering her confidence. Now, however, Ms. Stewart is banned from communicating a diagnosis, performing surgery and administering a substance by inhalation. She is banned as well from administering any substance by injection lacking permission from the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

She may no longer resort to "treating or advising a person with respect to his or health in circumstances in which it is reasonably foreseeable that serious bodily harm may result from the treatment or advice or from an omission from them". The College of Physicians and Surgeons representing the regulatory body for the Ontario medical profession was awarded costs of $1,100 to be paid by Ms. Stewart.

The college had filed an affidavit in Superior Court containing client allegations that they had received invasive medical treatments at Eve's Laser Clinic. Treatment that included the freezing, cutting and stitching of a client's nose. One client attested she was given three beers, then injected with Botox and fillers whose result was to leave her with permanent, disfiguring facial bumps. Another, receiving a mini-facelift, had her face frozen and was given herbal pills to reduce bruising.

"People who have the money to spend $15,000 or $20,000 on a procedure are not going to come here; they don't want to come here and I don't want them to come here. I get the people who can't afford that kind of money, who want to have the difference and they get the difference. And it's nice", she explained -- a year ago when her operation of an illegal clinic was first made public -- of the facelifts she offers clients for roughly one-fifth the $14,000 a cosmetic surgeon would normally charge.

That someone who had no real idea of what she was doing would have the nerve to do just that in service to her 'clients', "just for fun", and then be puzzled that she was being taken to court for performing medical-surgical procedures without training and a license to do so, is only surpassed in absurdity by the number of people who attended Eve's Laser Clinic since its opening seven years ago, who entrusted themselves to the ministrations of someone unfit to perform these procedures.

Without medical training at any level, she performed invasive laser treatments, administered Botox and fillers, performed a nose job on a client, and did mini-facelifts and additional invasive surgical procedures. Peoples' vanity overtaking common sense seducing them into the fantasy that controlled procedures such as these could be had at bargain-basement prices in someone's home. One of Ms. Stewart's clients was a nurse.

Free enterprise and gullibility produce a fateful combination.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fundamentally Flawed

"What are we going to do -- take her away from her loving family? We have to bring her into care so we can force chemotherapy on her?"
"I wasn't going to be able to base this decision on whether traditional medicine works. I don't know the relative merits of it."
Andy Koster, Brant Family and Children's Services
Makayla Sault
Makayla Sault, 10, has refused to continue with chemotherapy treatments to fight leukemia. (Connie Walker/CBC)

Mr. Koster was speaking wistfully and regretfully; does society have the right and the social obligation to remove an eleven-year-old little girl from the loving embrace of her supportive, nurturing family who want the best possible outcome for their child? Even if it means leaving that child with misguided people who, though fully engaged in the future well-being of their child, are also fully integrated into their First Nations heritage and their belief in spiritual and organic-herb-medicine healing?

Sonya Sault receives a gift from the Children's Aid Society after it announced the case is closed and Makayla will stay with her family.
Sonya Sault receives a gift from the Children's Aid Society after it announced the case is closed and Makayla will stay with her family. (Two Row Times/Twitter)

Should a children's aid society, dedicated to the welfare of area children, given the legal tools by law to make such decisions -- whether to remove a child to their care when parents insist it is their right to determine their children's future outcomes even if that decision runs counter to societal norms in the understanding that the community turns to medical science to help heal dire medical conditions -- surrender to the perceived need to be sensitive to aboriginal tradition?

Makayla has undergone one round of chemotherapy at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton where she is being treated for Acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She has an unusual form of the malady named "Philadelphia chromosome-positive", present in between 3 percent and 5 percent of children with the disease. ALL has had a dismal prognosis, in comparison to those treated for the more common form of the disease for whom the long-term survival rate is now 85 percent to 90 percent.

Back in 1962, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia had a survival rate of about 5 percent. But now, and since 2009, when a team of researchers at British Columbia Children's Hospital in Vancouver added an additional ingredient to the chemotherapy protocol, a new bullet-type drug whose type is called imatinib, the prognosis has been altered. The result, thanks to intensive dosing of chemotherapy with the additional ingredient, has seen clinical trials have triumphing with a doubling of "event-free survival".

The BC Children's Hospital team this year conducted a longer-term follow-up to the study, reporting in the journal Leukemia that outcomes had significantly improved for those with Makayla's type of ALL from about 25 percent to 70 percent. Doctors at the McMaster Children's Hospital believed that Makayla's leukemia could be cured. They have expressed alarm and concern over her removal from the chemotherapy program, that she will now be placed at great risk.

Makayla had decided, after her initial and only round of chemotherapy that she preferred to be taken off the protocol. Feeling ill and with no confidence in the procedure, she and her parents decided they would all prefer that Makayla submit to traditional native medicine procedures. That its efficacy is unknown, that research has never been conducted with a view to assessing its usefulness, appears to be of little concern to her parents, the child and their many supporters from within the First Nations community.

This child from the New Credit First Nation in southern Ontario, stricken with acute lymphoblastic leukemia of an acute form is now to be treated by Ongwehowe Onongwatri: yo:, administered by a traditional healer from Six Nations, a reserve not far from where her own is located. The treatment represents "protected knowledge", passed from healer to healer through the generations and orally. To the protests arising from within the area medical community, one native official recommended that the McMaster staff receive cultural competency training.

While all concerned cannot be faulted for anything but reacting to this child's serious illness with care and concern, from the hospital to the child welfare agency, to her loving, supportive parents, it is not entirely clear whether those belligerently supporting the family's decision to go with traditional healing rather than proven medical practise are not viewing this event as yet another manner in which 'white' culture is impacting deleteriously on First Nations and therefore to be rejected.

No one questions the First Nations right to practise what they hold dear in their traditional culture; it is merely the competence of that traditional medicine that is open to question. For the Brant Children's Aid Society, this case is now closed. For the Hamilton area medical community this case represents a fearsome denial of medical science. For the family of Makayla Sault, it represents what may very well turn out to be a misplaced hope.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"A Community Hero"

"She's good at what she does and there was no reason for her to be suspended. I bought this orange vest that I'm wearing here for $20 at Mark's Work Warehouse ... besides that though I think that her presence and her love and her support of the community is essential. It goes beyond her assisting children and community members across the street: this is about bringing joy to the community and just seeing someone enjoying what they do. It is so rare. It's really inspiring."
Vanessa Dunn, Dufferin/Gordon Streets organizer of appreciation for Kathleen Byers, Toronto

"It speaks volumes about doing what's right. We don't have to follow along like good little soldiers and do the status quo. We should not be afraid to stand up and live our truth, to be ourselves."
"I'm not a person that gets down."
Kathleen Byers, the dancing crossing guard, Toronto

"I thought this is a great opportunity for me as part of the working class to come and support someone who is just trying to do their job. My main concern is that there is a bureaucracy that creates unnecessary restrictions on lower-wage workers to act in a certain way. People get fired for small things all the time and usually it's the employer who has the rights in that situation; so I would like to see that change and I think this is a great opportunity by uniting all the people in the neighbourhood and throughout Toronto."
Fashion retail employee, Yonge-Eglinton resident

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Former fitness instructor, Kathleen Byers, now 65, has been acting as a school crossing guard in her neighbourhood for the past decade. She was suspended from her post for the sin of appearing in a music video holding her official stop sign and reflective vest. She hadn't received permission from the school board that employed her. She had been given warning that she was expected to behave in a sober manner, holding up her stop sign at the appropriate time, to escort children arriving at the busy intersection en route to school.

She obviously felt that the zest and enjoyment of life communicated to the children she was responsible for added to both her experience and theirs, while committing to their safety and her responsibility for that condition. And she is obviously an individual who doesn't appreciate having her initiatives curtailed by authority, feeling she was perfectly capable of continuing to do the important task she was delegated to conduct, while indicating her exhilaration over it.

Her dancing and prancing, singing and high spirits offended authorities, and that was that. She was admonished over her intransigence, and finally suspended. Her response to that suspension after ten years of representing the best safety interests of neighbourhood schoolchildren was to finally, in exasperation, resign her post. Subsequently, her intersection at Dufferin and Gordon Streets, opposite to Grove Community School was the venue several days ago of a community appreciation event recognizing Ms. Byer's work for the community over the years.

Neighbourhood parents and children gathered together a few days ago at the intersection where Kathleen Byers had conducted her important work, to acknowledge what her presence and helping hand meant to them all. Many of those among the hundred or so who turned out came dressed in colourful costumes. They all good-naturedly, and in a celebratory mood congregated to conduct themselves in a manner quite like how Ms. Byers had done, which had earned her the ire of school board officials.

They danced in a Conga line to a portable speaker playing the tunes "Dancing Queen", "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and other such classics of their genre. Kathleen Byers, along with one of her six daughters, was also present, joining in the celebration of her ten-year-tenure as crossing guard dedicated to light-heartedness. Now that she is without her long-held job, she has four hours a day in the school week to consider, and she plans to spend them cooking, and enjoying long perambulations in her neighbourhood.

Photographs: Colin McConnell, Toronto Star

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8 Plant Based Oils That Are Good For Your Dog and Cat

Karen is a dog behaviourist specializing in canine behaviour modification, holistic diet, nutrition and wellness. Karen also lives with her own pack of rescued dogs.
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To maintain health of body and mind dogs and cats require fat in their daily diet. Whether you are feeding your dog a processed commercial food; a raw commercial food; or a homemade food - it is important to supplement with at least one good-source animal fat and one good-source plant based fat (oil). Appropriate good-quality plant-based oils support the immune system, provide protection from inflammatory diseases and ailments, support heart health, optimal joint, bone and brain function, coat, skin and more. The following eight plant based oils are excellent sources of essential fatty acids (EFAs). For maximum benefit choose one to three of these oils to add to the daily diet. When purchasing any of these oils make sure you buy cold-pressed, unrefined, virgin oil. Go organic if you can afford to do so.
Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is an excellent source of Omega-6 fatty acids - it is also anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, antioxidant and anti-viral. Coconut aids digestion - of particular importance if your dog is on a processed dry food diet; supports the health of bones, the immune system and metabolism; supports the maintenance of skin and fur health and is a natural treatment for skin conditions. Coconut oil also supports the maintenance of good oral health and can be used to treat oral health issues. Coconut oil also supports optimal brain function, helps to stave off dementia and contributes to overall longevity of life. If you are introducing coconut oil to your pet's diet start with ¼ of the daily recommended dosage and build-up slowly. Add directly to the food in your dog's or cat's food bowl at meal time. Daily dosage is ½ tsp/.5ml for every 10 pounds of body weight. My dogs and cats all enjoy and benefit from having coconut oil in their daily diet.
Good source fats are an essential corner stone of a dog's and cat's diet, do you know how to select healthy oils for your companion animal?
Flax Seed Oil

Flax Seed Oil

Flax seed oil is a good source of essential Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, is rich in manganese, magnesium and vitamin B1 (thiamine) and tryptophan. Flax oil offers excellent anti-inflammatory benefits that help protect and maintain optimal functioning of the cardiovascular system and the brain. The anti-inflammatory properties of flax seed oil aid in the fight against a multitude of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, asthma, bone disease, cancer, dementia, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic and endocrine syndrome (obesity). Heating destroys this oil's antioxidant value so if you heat your dog's or cat's food add the flax oil after removing the food from heat. Typical daily dosage is 1 tsp/1ml for every 10 lbs of body weight. Make sure you purchase cold-pressed, unrefined flax oil that has been kept refrigerated.
Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp Seed Oil

If you are a vegan and do not want to give your dog or cat fish-based oil, hemp oil is a perfect solution. For those of you that may be concerned when you see the word 'hemp' - hemp seed oil does not contain THC. Hemp seed oil offers a close-to-perfect balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6 essential fatty acids and, unlike other plant-based oils - hemp seed oil contains vitamin D. If your dog or cat does not spend much time out side, hemp oil is an excellent choice for your pet. Hemp Seed oil is also very high in vitamin E, chlorophyll (hence the oil's green colour) and is highly digestible. Heating destroys this oil's antioxidant value so if you heat your dog's or cat's food add the hemp seed oil after removing food from heat. Typical daily dosage is 1 tsp/1ml for every 10 lbs of body weight. Purchase cold pressed, unrefined hemp seed oil that has been kept refrigerated.
Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a very good choice for your dog's and cat's daily Omega-6 EFA intake. Oleocanthal - the phytonutrient in olive oil has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil is also an excellent source of anti-oxidants - in particular vitamin E. Olive oil helps the body stave off inflammatory disease (asthma, bone health, cancer, diabetes, dementia, heart disease, metabolic and endocrine syndrome - obesity, etc.). Typical daily dosage is 1 tsp/1ml for every 10 lbs of body weight. My dogs and cats all enjoy and benefit from having olive oil in their daily diet.
Pumpkin Seed Oil

Pumpkin Seed Oil

Pumpkin seed oil is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic that also offers support for heart health, mobility health and urinary tract health. If you are looking to boost your dog's or cat's intake of beta carotene and /or lutein, pumpkin seed oil is a great choice for Omega-6 EFAs. Typical daily dosage is 1 tsp/1ml for every 10 lbs of body weight. My dogs' and cats' daily diet includes finely ground raw pumpkin seeds.
Sesame Seed Oil, Tahini and Sesame Butter

Sesame Seed Oil, Tahini and Sesame Butter

Sesame seed oil has a high resistance to rancidity and a taste that most dogs love - as my own dogs can attest. Sesame seeds are a rich source of multiple nutrients - omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, vitamin B1 and zinc. This great tasting oil supports bone health, cancer prevention, heart health, respiratory health and more. Typical daily dosage is 1 tsp/1ml for every 10 lbs of body weight.
Sunflower Seed Oil

Sunflower Seed Oil

Sunflower oil is a very good source of vitamin E. Vitamin E plays a critical role in neutralizing health destroying free-radicals and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Sunflower oil is also high in magnesium - important for those that suffer from asthma and for calming stress. In addition, magnesium assists with bone health, maintenance of normal energy levels and is necessary for regulating the use of calcium in the body. Also, as a good source of selenium, pumpkin oil provides detox and anti-carcinogenic support. Sunflower oil is an Omega-6 EFA. Typical daily dosage is 1 tsp/1ml for every 10 lbs of body weight.
Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet almond oil provides a rich source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and E - making this Omega-6 EFA an excellent choice for digestive health, heart health, prevention of bad cholesterol (LDL), immune system health and promotion of calm energy. Sweet almond oil also contains sulphur - a mosquito repelling compound. Typical daily ingested dosage is 1 tsp/1ml for every 10 lbs of body weight. You can use sweet almond oil in combination with the following as a natural mosquito repellent for your dog or cat. Combine 1 cup of water, 2 cups of organic apple cider vinegar, 2 tbs of sweet almond oil, 2 tbs of fresh lemon juice (do not use lemon oil!). Mix together, pour into a spray bottle, shake and spritz (don't drench your animal), and avoid spraying the eyes. Re-apply every few hours or after your animal gets wet.

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