Saturday, August 20, 2016

Setter Resilience

 I signed up for a free September webinar (at least I think it's free) on the topic of resilience in dogs offered by the ASPCA with Patricia McConnell. I love her posts and blogs and they always keep me thinking...According to the invitation to the webinar 
"A hot topic in psychology right now is resilience—the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy or even significant sources of stress. 
We know that there are ways to increase a person’s resilience, but what about the dogs we work with who are stressed or traumatized, who have lost their families or homes, or been victims of abuse or neglect? What can we learn from human psychology and ongoing work treating traumatized dogs to help dogs in our care recover from their past and become more resilient?"
 Sherlock has been with us four months to the day...he's begun to hold his pee and go outside, although some days we regress, and my futon has been christened twice now...particularly on a day when I am tired and neglect to fold it up and out of the way immediately I get up. The barking too is less strident, less hysterical, and while not entirely gone, it's just within bearable limits. I close the door to the hall so he can't go barrelling down it at night to investigate intruders that go bump in the night...and that seems to make it easier for him to come back to me and settle down again more quickly. 
 Back to the topic of resilience, but I do think Sherlock has had very little exposure to all kinds of outside situations: he knew about kong toys and being hit during training, but very litle else.  I think it's safe exposure to new things that builds resilience, and I think safe is the key word. So today I took him along to the local Japanese bon festival dancing...the drumbeats, the people milling around, the kids, the smells of delicious grilled food, all so new and confusing. We sat down on the edge of it all with a view of the square stage with the grannies dancing above and the children in their gaudy festival kimonos dancing round, and Nobunaga and Claire even lay down to relax and watch the world go by, Claire behind me as she's not much of a socialite, and Nobunaga sprawled belly-up in front, inviting the kids to come and say hello. Sherlock jumped with the drumbeats, and the clapping, the patting of round summer fans, the wild teenagers thundering by on their motorbikes, but with all of us sitting down and lounging around and me constantly reassuring him with pats and fondling his ears, he took it all in his stride, and even settled down to sit at one point. YES! Building resilience and healing, confidence and knowledge, all an integral part of a happy rescue.
Photos by Lelantos

Monday, August 15, 2016


A huge shout out to CACI Gundogrescue for bringing this beautiful setter into our lives having rescued her from the pound. Right now she's in the garden getting fat snacking on cicadas after our hour-long morning walkies and a great breakfast of kibble, tofu, chopped beansprouts, grated carrot and salmon oil. She crunches up the cicadas with such relish, it makes me want to go out and buy spicy Don Tacos corn snacks. 
Five happy years...let's hope there are five more to come...Claire is our way of contributing something positive after the Tohoku disaster, since we decided to adopt her after seeing all the footage of abandoned animals needing help after 3/11. She's from Ibaragi, although she was actually abandoned just before the earthquake. I am reminded by her presence in a good way that things are not finished up north, however blessed we may be in this neck of the woods.
Photos by Lelantos

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Setter Ballet

 As Sherlock grows and expands in every way he seems such a changed setter, and when I have the luck to walk behind him and see him pirouette and leap with his long slim legs and supple body, so graceful and unassuming, like a natural Sergei Polunin...defying gravity, flirting with the air spirits, dancing to an aeolian harp, I feel elated and blessed, witnessing the miracle of his being.
This healing has been such a frustrating, hyper and trying process, the past three months have been so intense, ready to jump for peewees, respond to barking, soothe nerves morning, evening and night...I'm exhausted. The good news is, the peewees in the garden is finally working, the fur shedding seems to have somewhat abated, the barking is somewhat under control, and everyone's settling in to the feel of each other slowly but surely. 
Photos by Lelantos

Monday, August 8, 2016


Yokohama and Kyoto...hope to go there some time again this year...
Photos by Lelantos

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Huntress

 Inbetween morning walkies and lazing in the air-conditioned room, Claire is a cicada huntress in the garden...fewer and fewer each year as the city crows lurk early morning to catch them on their first flight...meanwhile Mummy is chasing the perfect moment to express her beloved kimonos. Thank you photographer Tuyoshi Kiuchi and Gumyoji Kurumayagofukuten for setting up this photo-shoot, and check out his entrancing blog of Japanese beauty, Yawarakai Ashiato (Treading Lightly).

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dogged Cynicism

 I lost interest in Pokemon Go when I realized stores have to pay to lure Pokemon to their vicinity in the hopes of gaining new customers...all about the money. No wonder there are hardly any Pokemon in Hokkaido here in Japan. Likewise, sadly, what began as the idea of free education for all in global moocs is also turning into a business racket as Udemy, Coursera, Edx all have fewer and fewer courses available free. 
Which leaves me with Open University to explore for my summer study...not quite so sexy, but one of those sexy Twittered Coursera courses had me downloading and reading piles of free stuff from Open University anyway. Since I have enjoyed successfully completed two free doggie courses in Coursera on Animal Behavior and Welfare and Dog Emotion and Cognition , I began by searching for dog in the Open University search. 
 And found a highly rewarding wee read by Carolyn Price, Senior Lecturer in their Philosophy Dept., on the meaning of cynicism, explaining that it 
 "...derives from an ancient Greek word meaning 'dog-like’ or ‘doggy’... a philosophical movement that began in Ancient Greece. The movement started with two men – Antisthenes and Diogenes of Sinope....philosophers who called themselves dogs.
Why dogs? One reason has to do with their rejection of conventional values.  For the Cynics, the conventional markers of a successful life – wealth, privilege and power – were to be despised, rather than admired.  A successful life, they held, is a virtuous life, lived in accordance with nature; to live this kind of life requires only the most basic necessities. ... When someone asked him where he was from, he replied ‘I am a citizen of the world’....For Diogenes, being truly human means living like a dog.
...Cynics were like dogs in another way too: they barked at people. That is, they said exactly what they thought, without fear or favour. ...
...the Cynics left an important legacy. Their emphasis on simplicity, self-sufficiency and living in accordance with nature were taken up by later philosophers, especially the Stoics. Many of their concerns -- free speech, personal liberty, cosmopolitanism -- are still pressing issues today.  And, of course, the Cynics have given a word to the English language, one that reflects their growling impatience with the rest of humanity, but not their dogged pursuit of virtue. "
Sweet, thank you Open University. A stream of clear knowledge, free at the source...
Photos by Lelantos