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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Just Another Honour Killing

It is a case of honour killing. The couple were not beheaded, but were killed with the knives and had severe signs of torture on their heads."
Muhammad Pervaiz, Satrah, Punjab police chief
According to the FIR, the couple
According to the FIR, the couple's family tied them up in public and beheaded them in a village near Sialkot.—File photo
"Their legs and arms were tied while their mouths were gagged with pieces of cloth. The father of the girl announced loudly that he was going to slit the throat of [his] daughter and her husband."
"He said they should learn what would happen to them [children urged to witness the murders] if they married someone of their own choice."
Muhammad Ijaz, neighbour
It was first reported that Sajjad Ahmed, 31 and his bride Muafia Bibi 17, had been beheaded in a grisly 'honour killing' that took place in Satrah, Punjab province in Pakistan. Neighbours have since denied the beheading; they were, they claim, stabbed to death in the presence of family and neighbours, including children whom the young woman's father who led the killing, insisted it would be instructive to the children to watch.

The young couple had their throats slit and onlookers watched as they then bled to death. This is Pakistan, after all, where honour killings are common enough that human rights groups claim 900 were reported in 2013, though it is generally believed that the number is grossly under-reported.

 A Pakistani woman Nargas Bibi shows family pictures of her son Sajjad Ahmed and his wife Muafia Bibi, who were killed by Bibi’s parents, at her house in Hussain Abad village near Sialkot, Pakistan, Sunday, June 29, 2014. AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary

Residents of this town explained that relatives of the young woman had convinced the couple they supported the marriage, inviting them to the town. Once there, they were drugged.They hadn't long to live, after that. It was a particularly gruesome honour killing. Hundreds of which go virtually unnoticed every year, considered by authorities as representative of domestic accidents or suicides.

They were slaughtered to restore family honour. The young woman evidently married without the consent of her father. For that cardinal cultural social sin she paid dearly. Police are said to have arrested five people who were involved in the atrocity, which is to say 'honour' killing.

In an earlier well publicized case of a couple who had married without her father's consent and who had been bludgeoned to death by her relatives outside a courthouse on a busy Lahore street, Pakistan's prime minister demanded that police chiefs explain why they had done nothing to intervene.

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Beam It Up!

"We were able to show that you could exert sufficient force on an object around one centimetre in size to hold or move it, by directing twin beams of energy from the ultrasound array towards the back of the object."
Christine Demore, Dundee University Institute for Medical Science and Technology
Schematic of the tractor beam experiment

This is not quite the 'tractor beam' of "Star Trek", "Star Wars" and their ilk, capable of capturing and drawing in hostile space craft in an extraterrestrial drama of unknown encounters. This is legitimate science. Of course, science fiction notoriously and frequently in due time, often heralded the marvels that inventive scientists would eventually produce, in a kind of replication of theoretical devices being brought to reality bearing an accurate resemblance to a science fiction writer's imaginative world of wonders.

Lasers have been around for quite a while, now, used for a myriad of purposes over the last fifty years or so. But current technology linked with the advancement of laser technology has enabled scientists to create a number of variations on a theme. One of the more recent developments being the use of an ultrasound beam to influence/pull small, hollow, triangular objects toward the source of the beam.

 A team led by the University of St. Andrews has turned a laser into a tractor beam that wo...

This accomplishment has been the the brainchild brought to fruition of Scottish scientists and physicists at Dundee University in collaboration with researchers at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and the Illinois Wesleyan University. It is, needless to say, in its infant stage of development. As such it is capable of moving minuscule objects, definitely not spacecraft.

It is capable, however, of drawing forward objects a million times larger than previous tractor beam designs specializing in pulling or sorting particles. It works with a billion times more physical force. And its practical uses will include medical applications, including the treatment of cancer. The technology can enable a capsule to be moved carefully toward the site of a tumour, then strategically released.

Researchers have demonstrated a tractor beam using a Bessel beam (not pictured) is theoret...
Bessel Beam/Tractor Beam

NASA has been working with tractor beams for a few years. Its Office of the Chief Technologist back in 2011 received a fairly large grant for the study and development of three methods of using lasers for the collection of particles; to trap then deposit them where needed for analytical purposes.

So the tractor beam of science fiction has now become a tractor beam of scientific usefulness, a usefulness that will grow as the technology advances. For the time being, however, while useful, the tractor beams are capable of manipulating small particles only.

As for the future? Who knows.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dream CatchersA file photo of Malaysian highlands. The way the Senoi people of the Malaysian highlands view dreams has been of great interest to many dreamers worldwide for decades. (Shutterstock*)A file photo of Malaysian highlands. The way the Senoi people of the Malaysian highlands view dreams has been of great interest to many dreamers worldwide for decades. (Shutterstock)

Sometimes when we dream we are frightfully vulnerable to what we suspect will be a dreadful encounter with an unknown force that means to do us ill, a malicious something that threatens our well-being. Sometimes, when we dream we seem to be aware that what we are experiencing is happening in a dream, and sometimes we can will ourselves to awaken, to rescue ourselves from what we dread and anticipate will be happening in the next frames of that dream.

Are those dreams? Or are they nightmares?

There is a primitive tribe -- perhaps not so primitive in their philosophy, and one we could learn from -- living in Malaysia, an aboriginal population called the Senoi whom anthropologists have visited over a period of a century, to become familiar with the strange but seemingly beneficial culture of dream management that they have successfully manipulated, training their minds to be aware that they are capable of steering their dreams in a direction that will be useful to them.
"Neurosis and psychosis as we know them are reported to be nonexistent among the Senoi. ... Western therapists find this statement hard to believe, yet it is documented by researchers who spent considerable time directly observing the Senoi. The Senoi show remarkable emotional maturity."
Patricia Garfield, psychologist (1970s)
A fast disappearing way of life.
A fast disappearing way of life.
"There may be some benefit to sharing dreams, just as there may be benefit to sharing any intimate thoughts in a supporting group."William Domhoff, author of The Mystique of Dreams
Researchers and writers visiting Malaysia to research its isolated aboriginal population in the 1930s and 1970s brought back knowledge they had gleaned of the Senoi dream system which they believed represented the culture's key to peace and clarity of vision. Most reports that were published as a result of parsing the social interplay and reliance on dream manipulation to forge calm and serenity agree that dream management provided a means to confront daytime problems.

Most were agreed that the Senoi represented emotionally mature, reserved people, ascribing their self-control and propensity to swiftly solve pending conflicts, to their culture of dream control. Patricia Garfield, a psychologist who spent time with them found the Senoi to represent a society free of mental illness and violence. In 1934 Kilton Stewart lived among the Senoi for several months and he reported that the Senoi solve many of their daytime problems by first addressing them in dreams.

Both Stewart and Garfield wrote that each morning the Senoi speak to their children about the dreams the children had experienced the night before, for the purpose of training their children in the manner in which the Senoi handle dreaming. Children are taught to be friendly to others in their dreams, including the befriending of perceived hostile forces. Alternately to convince those with whom they do make friends to help them defeat those hostile to them.

Dreams could also provide pleasant sensations such as flying through the air, along with other pleasures that might be involved with lucid dreaming (lucid dreaming occurs when the dreamer is aware of being within a dream). In dreams gifts could be exchanged. Paintings, woodcarvings, bits of music could be given and exchanged, to make the dreams more pleasant, and ensure that friends were made in the process.

How events taking place in a dream can transform into reality was made manifest to the researchers convinced they had correctly interpreted what the Senoi were doing, in training themselves to be optimistic and positive, with the same attributes overlapping into real life. But then, the very idea of a real life experience and a dream experience seemed to be part of the social culture that held the view that the body is possessed of more than one soul.

The main soul lives inside the forehead, the other in the pupil of the eye. The soul that resides in the eye is capable of leaving the body during a trance or sleeping hours. It is this soul that takes part in the dream scenarios. If an individual experienced a dream where a conflict occurred with another community member, the dreamer might tell that person what had happened and offer reparation if he had caused offence; the dream event shaping the real-life event.

As a kind of knock-off transferal of the dreamwork of the Malaysian aboriginals to the present time and Western culture, some therapists in the 1990s thought to aid their patients who had recurring nightmares by persuading them to imagine different, more palatable endings to the dreams that haunted them. Their patients could reinforce those happy endings by imagining them continually during their waking hours.

At the present time, the Senoi appear to deny having or ever imagining a culture with a dream system, as written of by Stewart and Garfield. Anthropologists seem to be in general agreement that the Senoi have become cautious about speaking of their cultural heritage to outsiders; they have chosen not to reveal their ancient cultural-social heritage of dream management leading to social harmony.

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Ottawa Dog Training And Dog Health Adviser
Home / dog behaviour / Hyper Active Dog, Anxious Dog – Heightened Sensitivity
Hyper Active Dog, Anxious Dog – Heightened Sensitivity

Hyper Active Dog, Anxious Dog – Heightened Sensitivity

My highly sensitive very dear, sweet Boxer x Pit Bull boy Robbie -
who wasn’t so sweet when he arrived in my pack,
he was a badly misunderstood dog and an abused dog
All dogs are intelligent, sensitive beings, but some dogs have an even more acute sensitivity and intelligence – these dogs are what I call ‘Heightened Sensitivity’ Dogs (HSD) also termed ‘Hyper Sensitive’ Dogs (HSD).
Highly sensitive tends to be a term that has less negative connotations – at least in North America. Due to the increasingly high volume of children and dogs (in North America) diagnosed as ADHD (attention deficit, hyper-active disorder) the term ‘hyper sensitive’ tends to have a more negative connotation than the term ‘highly sensitive’.
It is my very firm belief – proven by the work that I do with such dogs – that dogs that are being diagnosed (by allopathic veterinarians) as ADHD are in fact not ADHD – they are instead HSD.
Heightened sensitivity dogs, like all dogs, need structure, adequate physical and mental exercise – no more or less so than any other dog. The HS dog does require that their human communicate with true clarity and they require a diet that supports optimal health as do all dogs. They do not require chemical-based medications such as Reconcile (Prozac for dogs).
Heightened sensitivity can be found in many species, including people. Such people are called HSP – highly sensitive people. 
Heightened sensitivity (HS) in both dogs and people can be an amazing gift and an asset that benefits the HS individual and others with whom they come into contact with. 
Heightened sensitivity can also led to problems when it is not recognized, understood and positively levereged.
I am an HSP and some of the dogs in my own pack are HSD. The attributes that come with HSP have allowed me to understand and work with people and their dogs to an extent that would not be possible if I were not HSP.  Had I not taken control of this ability, hypersensitivity could become a detriment rather than an asset – as over sensitivity can lead to flooding of  senses and result in anxiety. Just as a dog can become flooded by over-stimulation, resulting in a state of anxiety and distress.
HS dogs are amazing as they have the ability to learn and connect with people in a capacity that can exceed the capacity of other dogs. These type of dogs in particular offer a great gift to the human that is willing to learn from the dog…
As Edward Hoagland said
“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.” 
I work with many dogs that exhibit over-threshold behaviours yet when the dog is given the opportunity to be effectively, respectfully communicated with and directed in a truly logical and patient manner the dog will usually choose to accept the direction provided. Positive leveraging. 
The basis for my work with people and their dogs is teaching people to see what is really occurring and not what they assume is occurring, to teach them how to take positive control by communicating effectively, to teach them how to create a supportive structure for themselves and their dog(s). Real understanding, real control from a place of self-awareness, self-discipline, self-restraint and good communication – deliberately positive creators and communicators. 
As John Lubbock said “What we see mainly depends on what we look for”.
My experience working and living with dogs has shown me time and time again that dogs do exactly what their human tells them to do…the problem is that the human may have a very low level of self-awareness. So for example if you communicate to another human or a dog from a state of frustration, ire or anger what you get back usually reflects your own state.  When a human is emotional and reactive and they create emotion and reactivity in others. Pure logic – and dogs love logic even more than humans do becasue dogs are better communicators than most humans today. 
I cross-post so many beautiful dogs that are no different than my dear Boxer cross ‘Robbie’. Sensitive, intelligent dogs that end-up in high-kill ‘shelters’ because the dog’s people did not understand how to effectively communicate. So many wonderful souls lost to a death they did not deserve. 
So is Your Dog an HSD?
  • Is not a disorder;
  • Is not a disadvantage when recognized, and;
  • In fact it can be a valuable gift and advantage – which simply presents another layer of intelligence…for example:
  •  An HSP or HSD can quickly read the mood of another person (human/canine); can pick up the scent of illness, sense the onset of a seizure before it occurs, be extra attentive, etc.
Some signs that your dog (or you!) are hypersensitive are:
  •  Heightened levels of awareness/sensitivity to:
  • Physical stimuli, i.e. sound, sight, touch, smell ;
  • Emotional Stimuli, i.e. emotions of others;
  • Easily over-whelmed – ‘flooded’ by too much stimuli.
  • A person or dog that is hyper sensitive is more likely than a non HSP or HSD to suffer from:
  • Allergies, asthma, skin conditions such as eczema.   
Dogs that are HS may show acute signs of hyper-active behaviour if good leadership is lacking in the dog’s life.  
An HSD does not require more physical exercise than a non-HS dog;  
  • In-fact over stimulation with non-structured exercise will create more hyperactivity as the dog is not presented with the opportunity to reconnect with its natural inclination to relax and go into a calm and restful state.
The remedy is to provide:
  • The dog with the structure it needs to be a fulfilled well-adjusted being;
  • An equal balance between appropriate quantity of physical and psychological exercise;
An example of the positive attributes of HSP/HSD
I am an HSP…
  • I see my hypersensitivity as a great gift is it allows me to work with dogs and their humans in a manner that others cannot;
  • I can sense things that a non-HSP would not be able to sense;
  • I can alert to a person’s thoughts and read them as a dog does;
  • I can read/sense a dog more as another dog would;
  • I can from personal experience understand how a dog get’s flooded by stimuli;
  • I can sense and work intuitively to shift my methods in the most subtle of ways to better suit the individual dog.
If you want to see an example of: 
  • A hypersensitive dog;
  • The extreme damage that can be done to the dog in the absence of intelligent leadership, and;
  • The impact of giving that dog proper leadership; 
HS dogs offer the human the opportunity to learn and grow into a better human being. I learn from dogs everyday – each dog is an individual and each dog has something new to share with you…but that can only happen if you open your senses and expand your awareness.
Dogs are one of the few animals that have a simialr muscular facial structure to humans, dogs do smile and express many emotions in their facial expressions – dogs use all of there senses to communicate…when a human only uses their voice backed-up with unrestrained emotion your dog will listen to you and do exactly what you are telling them to do – be emotional and reactive. 
The last word of this article goes to George Bernard Shaw…
 “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fending Off Second Strokes

"These are often tragic strokes that can impair memory, language and other cognitive functions and result in permanent disability."
"We want to do the utmost to improve stroke prevention and one way to do that is by early detection and treatment of atrial fibrillation."
"We regularly see patients with warning strokes of transient ischemic attacks -- mini strokes -- for which there is no obvious cause found."
"[In 'cryptogentic' strokes] patients undergo all the standard diagnostic tests and they all come back 'normal'. The underlying cause of the stroke remains a mystery."
Dr. David Gladstone, director, Regional Stroke Prevention Clinic, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto
photo of Dr. David Gladstone
Dr. David Gladstone led the EMBRACE trial (photo by Doug Nicholson/Media Source)

The world's largest heart monitoring study of stroke patients, undertaken by Canadian researchers and led by Dr. Gladstone, an associate professor in the department of medicine at University of Toronto, has led to a discovery of a novel way to detect abnormal and erratic heart rhythms in stroke survivors. Those abnormalities increase risk for a second and potentially lethal brain attack.

The findings are expected to alter standards of care for the thousands of Canadians who suffer unexplained strokes annually.

The study took in 15 medical centre practices and patient out come statistics and concluded with a new strategy to use a continuous, 30-day heart monitoring protocol, one which found five times as many cases of atrial fibrillation than did the standard 24-hour test. The results were published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Atrial fibrillation
In atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat or heart rhythm) occurs because the electrical signal controlling the heartbeat becomes confused, and the atria quiver rapidly and unevenly, changing the constant rhythm of the heart.

The atria and ventricles no longer work in a coordinated way to contract and pump blood, the heart may not pump blood efficiently, and the heart rhythm becomes abnormal. In AF, the heart beats about 100 to 175 times per minute.
Atrial fibrillation, also termed AF, is a condition where the heart quivers, beating chaotically. The result of which can be blood pooling in the upper left chamber of the heart, a venue where clots may form, then travel through the circulation system into the brain. Those suffering from AF have a three- to-five-times higher stroke risk than people without the condition.

Resulting strokes are more devastating and deadly than strokes emanating from other causes. People who suffer an AF-related stroke are 70% to 80 percent more likely to die or become disabled. While some of these events can result in "instantaneous dementia", according to researchers, where permanent disability results from disruption of cognitive functioning.

AF is considered a silent killer; whose symptoms are difficult to detect. And unless people experience recognizable symptoms like flutterings of the heart, skipped heartbeats, or shortness of breath, the condition can be easily missed. Standard treatment for "cryptogenic" strokes is generally the prescription of low-dose Aspirin in hopes of preventing a second stroke from occurring.

"But if the person has AF that might not be strong enough", stated Dr. Gladstone, in which case more effective anti-clotting drugs can be prescribed to lessen the risk of a second stroke occurring, by 50% or even greater. The study involved 572 patients aged 55 and older without a history of AF. All patients were given the conventional protocol of 24-hour monitoring where AF wasn't revealed to be present.

Following that, patients were selected for two randomized groups. One group received an additional 24 hours of the standard monitoring which uses a small device that clips on a belt with wires taped to the torso, while the second group received prolonged monitoring with the use of an electrode belt worn around the chest. Patients were requested to wear the monitor for 30 consecutive days.

The result was that AF was detected in 16 percent of the patients in the 30-day group as opposed to three percent detected in the 24-hour group. This has led to an obvious conclusion, that twice as many patients as formerly could be prescribed stronger medications to deal with their detected greater potential to suffer a second, dangerous stroke.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

When In Doubt Sit It Out

"We are all aware that there is no such thing as a minor concussion. A head injury is a head injury."
"[Parents need a reasonable guideline on what to look for and] the path for return to play."
"Everyone wants to do right by their child, but they don't want to be overly cautious."
Michael Barton, Ottawa
Michael Barton's son, Sam, took part in a study that has led to the world's first guidelines for kids with concussions.    Chris Mikula / Ottawa Citizen
"It was fascinating to see how recommendations have changed over time. Years ago children were told to rest after concussion, which means something entirely different today with the onset of technology -- now, rest also includes a break from screen time."
"Think of your brain as a battery. If normal is being full, after a concussion it is down at 50 percent strength. The brain needs time to get fully charged."
Dr. Roger Zemek, scientist at CHEO, and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation

Hundreds of children in the Ottawa area suffer from concussions annually, some 900 of whom show up at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario emergency room alone in the space of a year. Concussions are more common an occurrence in children and youths than they are in adults. One in 70 children taken to the emergency room has suffered a concussion. An estimated ten to twenty percent of hockey players between the ages of 9 and 17 suffer at least one head injury a year.

Sixty percent of children coming in to CHEO with concussions are boys. It's estimated that fully one hundred thousand children experience concussions each year in Canada. And now, the first comprehensive guideline for pediatric concussions has been published, meant to help doctors, nurses, parents, teachers, coaches and community workers become familiar with the signs of concussion presenting in children and youth. Instructions relating to how to react when a concussion is identified and proper treatment is also included, including how to judge when a child may return to school and sports.

The guidelines include assessment tools listing signs and symptoms of concussion; everything related from loss of consciousness to fatigue, headache, sensitivity to light, and concentration difficulties. The lists are printable, and accessed at, and Red flags calling for urgent medical assessment include vomiting, seizure and severe or increasing headache.

Dr. Zemek cautions that one of the key pieces of advice is to take children away from play once a concussion is suspected to have occurred. "If in doubt, sit them out." This is a critical piece of advice, since a second concussion following on the first before the brain has recovered can result in "devastating consequences". Second impact syndrome, as it is termed, led to the death of an Ottawa high school rugby player after a game in May 2013.

Evidence continues to mount about long-term damage resulting from sports-related head injuries. Dr. Zemek and his team surveyed countless health providers, reviewed four thousand papers focusing on the latest evidence relating to children's concussions, which led them to their guidelines. Which reflect the most up-to-date science reflecting the fact that concussions don't just occur in hockey rinks or sport fields, but can occur in a backyard, a playground, recreation centres, and at schoolyards.

Many doctors are improving their abilities to recognize and accurately diagnose signs of concussion, but only a small number realize that children require a "thinking rest" along with a physical rest to recover, which means eliminating or severely limiting computer time until symptoms improve. That includes stopping or limiting homework until concussion symptoms are completely eliminated. Dr. Zemek points out that a patient can experience a brief loss of consciousness with symptoms resolved in a few weeks.

Alternately, there may be no loss of consciousness, yet it might take a longer period of time for symptoms to be resolved and recuperation takes that much longer. A wide range of symptoms exist, including irritability, sadness and fatigue which can signal that the brain has not yet healed. Once symptoms have dissipated entirely the child or adolescent should return gradually to school, sports and other activities.

Should symptoms return, physical and mental rest must be resumed. Where parents were once concerned over concussions resulting from sport activities or accidents in a playground, there was much less awareness of lingering and perhaps dangerous damage that might result. Most doctors simply advised parents years ago, to have the child rest, and during the night wake the child up every few hours to ensure they responded normally.

Knowing more now, we're much more vigilant and careful to ensure that there are no lingering effects. When ten-year-old Sam Barton was playing in his school gym class one day "somebody fell on somebody", with Sam banging his head on the floor. No visible bumps or bruises. But the resulting concussion affected his ability to concentrate, affected his muscular strength, and required intervention to return him to health.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How to Crate Train Your Puppy, Dog - Tips for Success

Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

How to Crate Train Your Puppy, Dog - Tips for Success

Introduce and familiarize your puppy or dog to a crate the right way your dog will not fear or take a disliking to the crate. The crate will not be associated with anxiety and stress…
Introducing, Familiarizing Your Dog with His/Her Crate 
Encourage Your Dog to Explore the Crate On His/Her Own
When first introducing your puppy or dog to a crate, leave the crate door open and  allow your dog to explore the  outside and inside of the crate. Provided you are grounded in your own emotions - i.e. you ‘feel’ that the crate is just another item of furniture in the house, your dog will have no reason to have an adverse reaction to the crate - your dog will be supported in normalizing the existence, presence  and use of the crate. 
Your dog should use his/her nose to sniff the crate, explore both the inside and outside of the crate at his/her leisure. You can put a favorite blanket or toy in the crate to further encourage your dog’s curiosity and normalization of the crate. Don’t make a big excited fuss over the crate - high pitched voices, excited energy etc. Remember that you want your dog to associate the crate with ‘normal’, calm, grounded - relaxed. Don’t wind your dog up, instead quietly - from a place of inner warmth just enjoy watching your dog explore. 
Closing The Door For The First Time
If you feel uncertain, nervous, guilty, anticipate reactive behaviour etc. your dog can sense how you feel and your dog will not be comfortable with the closing of the crate door. Why should he/she be comfortable if you are not? If you want your dog to be in a certain state-of-being you must be in that state first. Dogs love pure logic because they are insightful communicators. Once your dog has entered the crate you can close the door - provided you think of closing the door as normal. It is up to you to lead - you can create normal  or you can create stress.
If you anticipate that your dog will panic, will be uncomfortable, and will not like the crate - you are directing your dog to panic, be uncomfortable and not trust the crate. Dogs are literal beings - not because they are simple-minded nor stupid but instead because they are very aware communicators.
Once a dog has found a crate to be a normal, comfortable place, leave the crate door open when the crate is not in active use - this way the dog may choose to use the crate as a place of rest even when you have not directed him/her to go to the crate. 

Letting Your Dog Out of His/Her Crate
To Let Your Dog Out of The Crate…
The same principles that apply to closing the crate door apply to opening the door - normalize. When you go to let your dog back out of the crate, make sure you are grounded (calm, normal) and that you are not in a hurry. If your dog is excited - just breathe to direct your dog to calm. Don’t speak, don’t obsess about your dog’s state, don’t argue or plead - just breathe and clear your thoughts. Don’t open the door until your dog is calm. Dogs understand how to pressure and dogs are persist - if you want calm you have to work for it -  direct from a place of pure logic.
When your dog is calm, place your hand on the crate door handle - but don’t open the door yet.  If your dog’s excited state is initiate or further heightened when you reach for a touch the door handle, take your hand off of the door handle. Once again help your dog calm. When your dog is calm your hand can go back to the handle.
Open the door a little - if your dog escalates to excitement gently close the door and start again. When your dog calms open the door slightly - don’t ‘guard’ the opening. If you feel the ‘need’ to guard you are inviting your dog to compete with you for the opening. Don’t create a competition.
Just because you open the door does not mean that your dog should push his/her way out through the door. Indicate to your dog to sit. Do not allow him/her to ‘bolt’ out of the crate.
Stand in the space created by the open crate door - occupy the space with a comfortable grounded stance - one leg slightly in front of the other. When your dog is calm, release the space by moving to one side of the open door and then use your hand to draw his eyes up to you and then use a hand gesture to indicate that he/she can now step out of the crate. Then cue him/her to calm once more by taking a deep breath as he/she exists the crate.

Time to clean my face and wake up!

Don’t Wind Your Dog Up
When you come home don’t create an environment of high energy, intense excitement - just be normal. Do you want your dog to jump all over you, whine and bark, be anxious when you leave and arrive? Learn how to great your dog with selfless love by greeting in silence.
Dogs With High-Level Anxiety
Determination, presence of mind and patience is required to affect change. Work on your own self-control, and self awareness first. Follow the steps above and do not allow emotion - yours or your dog’s to rule. Staying grounded takes practice - it is not reasonable to expect your dog to be grounded and calm when you are not.
Don’t Allow Your Dog to ‘Own’ His/Her Crate
It is important to teach your dog that that he/she does not own his/her crate. The crate is a ‘common’ space - a space that is not singularly owned - it is a shared space.
I have worked with dogs that were allowed to ‘own’ and guard his/her crate to the point of extreme aggressive-reactivity - should anyone (human, dog, cat) approach the crate. It takes skill and knowledge to reverse this behaviour and while I can do so, it is better to avoid creating the situation in the first place.Save yourself and your dog the distress...
Don’t use a crate as a place of ‘punishment, don’t use the crate in anger. Doing so creates many issues including aggressive reactivity.
Not For Punishment
A crate should NEVER be used as a means to ‘punish’ a dog. In-fact when working with your dog you should never seek to punish. Dogs do not require punishment. Punishment simply serves to destabilize a dog. Punishment creates insecurity, fear, the need to react defensively, to shut down - psychological damage which can also result in physical damage. A dog requires fair, logical, respectful mentoring.
Make Sure the Crate is the Right Size for your Dog
Your dog should be able to comfortably stand up and turn around in his /her crate.
Location Matters
Never place a crate in a location that:
  • Gets overly warm
  • Where there is a cold draft
  • Where the air quality is poor
  • Where lighting is harsh
Should You Cover the Crate?
Covering the crate can lead to expectations that are not met and the end result can be increased anxiety for you and your dog. Some people, trainers and behaviorists included believe that by covering the crate they will moderate or even solve a dog’s crate-anxiety. Covering the crate may simply serve to reduce air circulation and therefore reduce air quality. When I work with a client whose dog is suffering from crate-anxiety and the crate is covered, one of the first things I do is remove the cover. Then I teach the client how to resolve the root cause of the anxiety.
A Comfortable Place
The dogs in my own pack lie in their crates when they feel like it. They are allowed to lie down wherever they like in my house – including on couches. Sometimes they prefer a crate. No one dog in my pack owns a crate – they all share the spaces in the house including crates. Why do they choose the crate? The crate is a space of comfort and calm and all of the crates in my house are comfy – they are lined with dog beds and some have pillows too.
Even dogs who are capable of escaping any crate – like my dog Sarah (German Shepherd X Husky) will accept being in a crate when coached and mentored the right way. Sarah is a wily, intelligent and resourceful canine who spent the better part of her first year as a stray – wiliness meant survival. Sarah can open any type of crate door handle/lock and escape at will - however if I put her in a crate she will stay in it. My control over Sarah is not based on physical force - no amount of physical restraint can stop a determined dog from attempting to and escaping from a crate, room etc. My control over Sarah and my client’s dogs is based on self-restraint, self-awareness, self-discipline, respectful and logical communication - true leadership.
I work with dogs that have extreme separation anxiety - including cases where a dog has suffered severe injury while chewing through and escaping from for his/her crate.
Hate The Crate?
Many people think that their dog’s reason for extreme behaviour is that he/she ‘hates’ his/her crate.
Not so.
In the majority of cases it is the human that:
  • Accidentally enables an existing condition of insecurity (i.e. in the case of an adopted dog), or;
  • Creates the insecurity in the first place. Returning the situation back to normal requires that all aspects of the situation be addressed - human and canine.
Is Crating Cruel?
A crate can be a place of great cruelty...
  • A dog should not live his/her life in a crate
  • A crate, as noted further above should not be used to punish a dog, dogs should not be punished - dogs need coaching and mentoring - not punishment.
A crate can be a place of comfort, support...
  • A crate can be an amazing tool to help a dog learn to transition from a state of insecurity to a state of normal, grounded, confidence. 
  • A crate can be a place to help the healing process - after physical trauma or surgery
 A place of positive support or negativity - it all depends on the human.

Need Additional Assistance?
If you require additional support and guidance I would be pleased to assist you via my In-Person or On-Line Services…
Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services:
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services:
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice is available via this service
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans are available via this service

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Her Unending Nightmare

The best-laid plans of those anxious to escape a nightmare are all too often dreams more difficult to realize than reality instructs us to expect. Meriam Ibrahim of Sudan aroused the outraged conscience of the world in a roar of condemnation for Sudanese justice when her plight became known. She was a 27-year-old Sudanese woman, raised by her mother, a Christian, to worship Christianity. In Sudan as elsewhere in the Muslim world, Christians are under deadly attack.

In Sudan, apostasy, turning away from Islam, is considered a capital offence. Muslims are not free to disown Islam, and all the more so if they turn in their defiance to another religion. In Meriam Ibrahim's instance, this was never an issue in reality, for she had never been a Muslim, had not been raised in Islamic tradition, and had lived all her life as a Christian. Which didn't stop the authorities from persecuting her, incited by her distant Muslim relatives.

Meriam Ibrahim stood accused by her father's family of abandoning Islam for Christianity. Even her half-brother called for the death penalty for her. She had married a Sudanese Christian who has dual Sudanese-American citizenship. She was herself Christian. When her father abandoned her mother when Meriam Ibrahim was a young child, her Ethiopian-Christian mother raised Meriam in the belief of Christianity, and that was the only religion she had ever known.

She is a physician by profession, and she has a two-year-old son with her husband. She was arrested while very pregnant with her second child, and charged with apostasy as well as "adultery", because a court in the capital Khartoum did not recognize her Christian marriage to American citizen Daniel Wani. She was to be hanged for refusing to "return" to Islam. A few weeks after she was sentenced and imprisoned with her infant son, she gave birth to a little girl.

Authorities had mandated that during the birth of her daughter Maya, Meriam Ibrahim's legs must remain shackled. Under these mercilessly tortuous conditions, international outrage fueled condemnation of the Sudanese government and its justice system. The justice who had passed judgement on this woman ruled her execution would be held off for two years, until baby Maya was weaned; this is what passes for compassion in a Sharia court of law.

Meriam Ibrahim steadfastly refused to recant her Christianity. "She is not going to renounce her religion, though. She told me that", her husband said. Her husband lives in Manchester, New Hampshire and had been trying to move heaven and earth to enable his wife and their then-only child to move to the United States, before her imprisonment. And then, suddenly she was released from prison on Monday.

The family planned to leave Sudan as swiftly as possible. Two senators from New Hampshire had introduced legislation to grant Meriam Ibrahim and her children permanent legal status in the United States. With her release, she was moved to an undisclosed safe house. A day later, at Khartoum airport as the family of two adults and two children attempted to fly out of the country, the mother of the two children was re-arrested.

Meriam Ibrahim holding her baby daughter Maya, with her legal team and, far left, husband Daniel Wani and son Martin Meriam Ibrahim holding her baby daughter Maya, with her legal team and, left, husband Daniel Wani and son Martin -- Photo, The Telegraph

No reason for their detention was given, according to their lawyer, Elshareef Ali Mohammed, with them at the time, seeing them off, as they attempted to leave the country through South Sudan and then on to America. Reports began circulating that she was accused of travelling with false paperwork, the very documents provided by South Sudan with U.S. assistance.

She was released again on bail conditions; the unnamed individual who provided the surety for her bail would be charged with the same offences as Meriam Ibrahim, should she once again attempt to leave the country of her birth and her judicial agony before the 'case' was fully resolved.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Public Accountability

"If I was going to have surgery I would be keen to know the key outcome rates for the hospital and surgeon I would be going to."
"I think it's almost inevitable that we're going to be reporting this more and more."
 Andreas Laupacis, physician, health-policy analyst

"It drives a culture where you act with the patient's best interest first and foremost, which hasn't always happened in British medicine. It's made people, everybody, focus on tidying up on every little thing, making sure you go the extra mile on everything."
"At first, people didn't like it, people felt it wasn't right, being under that kind of scrutiny. [Now] it's kind of tolerated, if not widely embraced."
Ben Bridgewater, University of Manchester surgeon
Dr. Teodor Grantcharov, a surgeon with Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, with a mock patient in an operating room. “In surgery, once you graduate, you can do whatever you want, and nobody monitors you,” he said.
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press/Files    Dr. Teodor Grantcharov, a surgeon with Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, with a mock patient in an operating room. 
When thoughtful and concerned people decide to shop for something in particular, many of them do some diligent research. To determine the best product available at the very least cost; quality for a reasonable financial expenditure. Armed with that knowledge, they set out to acquire the object, be it a refrigerator, a car, a house. These purchases are important to our quality of life. They are regarded as necessary, and their acquisition complements the kind of lifestyle we imagine for ourselves.

That being so, why is the far more vital, certainly incomparably more important life-issue of finding a competent, experienced surgeon, through a research tool available, for example, on line, to ascertain the surgical success rate of that surgeon's professional accomplishments not available? If the surgical specialist has to his credit, as an example, successful outcomes for the patients he/she undertakes to operate on, as opposed to others whose outcomes are more on the iffy side, who wouldn't want to make that selection, forearmed?

In Canada, at the present time, even on those occasions when a medical regulator imposes on a surgeon's license restrictions reflecting complaints and poor outcomes, that information is not accessible to the public; the public being those people who might find themselves wondering about the level of expertise and operating success of a surgeon they may have been referred to by their family doctor or a specialist in internal medicine.

It would be immensely helpful if basic performance statistics for surgeons' success rates were publicly available. Recently in Canada a federal agency began providing a list of basic statistics in performance reflecting success of individual hospitals; rates of patients re-admitted following heart surgery, or complications following joint replacement. If this can be done with hospitals, to alert patients, and in the process encourage hospitals to mount better practises, why not with doctors?

It's being done in the United Kingdom, where hospitals now expect surgeons to report on their vital statistics, how patients fare after operations. A program exists making publicly accessible success rates for thousands of surgeons available for anyone to examine, and in the process compare one surgeon's success rate against another's, as an aid to helping them determine who they would prefer to operate on them in what could very well be a life-and-death situation.

It's been almost a decade since Britain has pioneered this public service. And since that time, they've seen their overall mortality rates drop significantly. Some doctors are suspicious about the process, claiming that to protect themselves, unintended consequences could surface where surgeons deliberately avoid taking on the most difficult patients with a seeming guarantee of a questionable surgical outcome.

"If you came in with a really high-risk condition, I'd hate to think a surgeon would run for the hills because they didn't want to take a thump to their numbers", explained Dr. Dave Ross of Edmonton, president of the Canadian Society of Cardiac Surgeons. Doctors are people like any other in any other professions, some with excellent skills, others just getting by; their competency levels nothing to write home about.

Interestingly, a University of Michigan study published last year  highlighted the performances of bariatric (weight-loss) surgeons whose surgeries were videotaped and then screened and rated by colleagues. Those with the least expertise had higher rates of complications and patient deaths, was the general consensus. Other similar studies over the years have confirmed that patients whose doctors have performed a specific procedure frequently tend to suffer fewer complications. Experience matters.

"In surgery, once you graduate, you can do whatever you want, and nobody monitors you", commented Teodor Grantcharov, who operates out of Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital. His interest in patient safety spurred him to develop an operating-room "black box" recording system. And there is the instance where patients who were suing an Ontario obstetrician-gynaecologist for serious complications they suffered under his care, had no knowledge that the College of Physicians and Surgeons had previously red-flagged him resulting from earlier complaints.

In the 1990s, New York State took the initiative to pioneer public reporting of individual surgeons' performance by publishing mortality rates for cardiologists specializing in artery-unclogging angioplasties. A spate of heart-surgery deaths of babies at the Bristol Royal Infirmary in Britain led to an inquiry, and then a British newspaper obtained and published the numbers of such deaths in 2005. They've been routinely posted on the Internet through the specialists' society by cardiac surgeons themselves since then.

Canada has started to publish some hospital-level data. The Canadian Institute for Health Information began making a range of statistics publicly available in 2012, including the rate of C-sections, the uptake speed of hip fracture surgery and the percentage of patients returning to hospital following treatment of a variety of conditions, and rates of medical error. That list is set to be expanded soon with the addition of statistics for hospital-acquired sepsis and outcomes in nursing homes.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Why Dogs Eat Poop, Stool Eating - Coprophagia in Dogs

 If you have ever seen your dog eat poop you may have a) been disgusted and, b) wondered why your dog decided to consume such a seemingly unappealing substance.

There are many reasons why a dog may decide to eat his/her own poop, another dog’s poop or the poop of another animal species. The reasons way a dog consumes poop varies per individual canine - here are some typical factors to consider when looking to understand why your dog may eat poop…

Some Typical Root Causes of Coprophagia
  • Behaviour
    • A mother dog cleaning up after her very young pups’ stools - a behaviour evolved to protect the young from predators
    • Acquired habit
    • Anxiety and stress
    • Greedy eaters
    • Punishment for eliminating (pooping) in the ‘wrong’ place
    • Transferable behaviour - learning by example
  • Breed pre-disposition
    • Some breeds have a pre-disposition to poop eating - i.e. Border Collies , Shelties
  • Environmental Factors
    • Enzyme deficiency
    • Inappropriate
    • i.e. dry dog food
    • Insufficient diet - scarcity of food
    • i.e. dogs that have suffered deprivation - stray dog, puppy mill dog, neglected dog, etc.
  • Medical Issues
    • Gastrointestinal parasites
    • Mal-absorption of nutrients
    • Neutered males are more likely to ‘indulge’
    • Pancreatic Insufficiency
    • Pancreas is not producing enough digestive enzymes
 why do dogs eat poop
Some dogs enjoy eating the poop of herbivores such as cows, deer, horses and rabbits. Rabbit poop is particularly rich in nutrients - vitamin B and digestive enzymes.

Other dogs enjoy raiding the cat litter box.  Cats that are feed a processed food diet tend to pass stools that are full of undigested matter - this can make the stool appealing to some canines.

I have eleven dogs in my own dog pack. They are all fed a diet consisting of primarily raw fresh and whole food. Given the opportunity - three of my dogs will indulge in dog stool coprophagia - the other eight dogs never do so. The three that 'indulge' have no medical issues...

So why do these three dogs eat poop - here is a little analysis (please note the three have asked me not to mention their names):
  • Poop eater No. 1
    • Breed - Sheltie
    • Sex - male, neutered
    • Background - puppy mill dog
  • Poop eater  No. 2
    • Breed - German Shepherd x Malamute
    • Sex - male, neutered
    • Background - homeless rescue who had to compete for food
  • Poop eater No. 3
    • Breed - Australian Shepherd
    • Sex - female, a very maternal female
    • Background - rescue who had severe anxiety issues
I also have companion rabbits, and yes rabbit poop is popular with most of my dogs as are the wild rabbit and deer droppings found on my trails. On occasion some dogs will also eat the poop of related species such as coyote, fox and wolf.

A walk on the trails can be a source of  natural 'help-yourself' treats’ for the dogs.  The foraged treats range from healthy and self medicating items, to disgusting to me ‘uh uh, don’t touch’ items and ‘don’t roll in it either' items.

Examples of acceptable items that my dogs self-select are organic (non-pesticide or herbicide treated) grass, wild strawberries, juniper berries.

And, well - you have an idea of what the unacceptable items consist of :>)

My Australian Shepherd Tasha 

Additional Assistance

If you require additional support and guidance I would be pleased to assist you via my In-Person or On-Line Services…

Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services:
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services:
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice is available via this service
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans are available via this service

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Sweeten Your Tea?

"Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with elevated cardiovascular disease mortality."
Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), February 2014

"The available evidence did not support a single quantitative sugar guideline covering all health issues."
Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition British journal

"People fed sweet white sugar diets were not shown to have any greater likelihood of any real heart disease than people fed 'healthy' brown grains and fibre."
Dr. John Sloan, clinical professor, Department of Family Practise, University of British Columbia, author of Delusion for Dinner: Unmasking the Myth of Healthy Eating

"No association between weight change and consumption of sweets or cake was seen."
"No associations were seen between long-term consumption of sugar-sweetened soda beverages and overweight or obese status."
2013 meta-analysis WHO-funded British Medical Journal
When researchers published their sugar-blaming findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association claiming that sugar is linked to the onset of heart disease, the Heart & Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Medical Association and Childhood Obesity Foundation stridently demanded that the federal government must regulate sugar additions to processed food and drink to halt the wholesale destruction of Canadian human lifeforms.

Government could have responded, by recognizing an opportunity to pose as public-health-conscious while imposing taxes on sugar-heavy products to persuade Canadians that the better course of safety is to avoid excess sugar consumption. That hasn't happened, and likely it will not. The media had a ball with it, though. It was an attention-grabber, it did make people who use copious amounts of sugar at the table -- sweetener for hot beverages, fruit, baked goods come to mind -- feel exceedingly guilty.

Sugar use as a furtive, societal-unapproved activity?

The World Health Organization responded by urging consumers to radically change their sugar-addiction habits for the good of their short- and long-term health and that of their families. The U.S. Institute of Medicine's recommendation for sugar use puts it at a maximum of 25% of daily calories derived from sugar consumption. Canada's food guide simply recommends balanced moderation. Which may mean many things to many people, sensible awareness among them.

At an informed guess Canadian consumption of added sugars (setting aside naturally occurring fructose in fruit and juices) reasonably would rate at between 11% to 13%. Moreover, a recent study out of Canada found "added sugar intakes have been stable or modestly declining ... over the past three decades." Soft drinks are singled out comprising the largest source of sugar in the American diet, emphasized the JAMA article. But in Canada soft drinks like soda and pop are less popular than in the U.S.

In Canada the top three beverages of choice are water, coffee and milk. Canadians tend to consume less than half of their sugar from soft drinks as compared to Americans. While the JAMA article followed diet diaries of thousands of Americans to conclude that people who took over 25% of their daily calories from sugar tripled their risk of dying of heart disease. However, the JAMA article's insistence of a connection between heart disease and soda seems to be contradicted by their own raw data.

The almost twelve thousand participants in the study over 18 years had been divided into distinct groups based on weekly soda consumption; ranging from less than one can of pop daily to more than one a day. Among the less-than-once-a-day groups 468 deaths occurred from heart disease, while a similar sized group of once-a-day pop consumption came out with 183 deaths. Does that make sense? If the more sugar one ingests, the more dangerous to health it becomes?

British researchers examining countless randomized controlled tests searching allegations made disfavouring sugar -- that it leads to a metabolic syndrome resulting in obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, diabetes and stroke -- came up with no impact related to sugar consumption even when patients consumed almost half their total calories in sugar. Studies searching to relate sugar and cancer, depression and dementia similarly turned up no connection.

The reality appears to be that in Canada both sugar consumption and health disease are in decline mode.

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