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dogs in dublin

Issue 10 January 2022

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Michaelmas Daisies

the lively eMagazine shimmering substance with  sun

White Fabric

contents of  emag page

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  1. my dogs and me  by the editor

  2. lead story -  smart and know it  by Thomas Cantwell

  3. icicles won't stop us by  Steffi Baker

  4. new year resolutions drive me barking mad by Kritz

  5. where intrigue leads by Diana Darcy

  6. dog man by John O'Byrne

  7. go from ordinary  to extraordinary - outdoors with your dog and the song thrush

  8. my pick from archive  by Diana Darcy

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my dogs and me

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I like January!  The first month of a new year.  Bursting with possibilities.

New starts matter to me.  A time to let go of what was holding me back.

There is a freshness about changing direction.

It's always reassuring to know that the only time that has to be dealt with is now.

Whatever is past is gone.  Only now can I make a difference.

This year it doesn't matter to me what others think of me based on their absence of real knowledge of me and my situation.  

The key to being at ease with myself is to be absolutely honest with those around me.

'dogs in dublin eMagazine wishes all our readers a zesty New Year sprinkled with a good dollop of zaniness!

On Christmas day I took my dogs to the river in the lashing rain.  It was the afternoon.

As they had been inside most of the day and it was the time when most people would be eating their Christmas dinner not to mention the torrential rain, I decided to throw caution to the wind.

The prudent voice in my head said 'only let Karl off the lead'.  The foolish side of me decided to chance both of them.  It was Christmas after all!

I tested their response to the whistle and all was going so very well until they spotted a couple walking two dogs in the distance.  

Kirstin did as Kirstin now does.  She has moved on from obeying to ignoring my whistle.  Far too clever for her own good!  I could see neither dog, only the waving of a hand on the horizon from the man of the couple.  Bridget Jones like, I blew my whistle again.  Nothing. 

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After a while Karl returned and I immediately attached his lead.  She did not come.  I felt a complete idiot blowing my whistle time and time again for a dog who used to respond to it before she copped on to doing her own thing.

When she finally returned, I put her on the lead and did what I should have done from the start, released Karl who comes when called without her devious intervention.

All goes to show that I simply am not cut out for females!

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Karl and Kirstin celebrated their second birthday on the 19th of December.  

On the first of the month I took the bull by the horns and decided to walk them both together.  It's the day I put up the decorations so would only have had time to walk one of the dogs.

Things went very well, so much so that I have repeated the exercise several times since.  Even today, when the wind was whipping the leaves around, we got back intact.

It is such a liberation for me to be able to do this.  It means that when I need time to do other things, I can walk them both together.  Also, I love the strong sense I get of the pack being out on the town!

Of course, I will still continue to walk them separately as has been the way since they arrived when time allows.  There is something intimate about this that has helped develop the individual bond between me and each of them.  It has also allowed each dog to learn to be alone.

Image by Matthew LeJune
PIC Matthew LeJune

smart and know it

by Thomas Cantwell
Journalist

An alien from a far and distant galaxy taking a first peep at our street life may assume that dogs are the real rulers of the planet. Why? Because while dogs do a poop – who cleans up the mess? The human! So, who is the real master and who is the servant?

Your dog is smarter than you think and is switched into what makes you tick more than you imagine.

The experts are divided about just how dogs acquired their smarts. The evolutionary view favoured by most is that over the thousands of years since wolves first started to gather around the camp fires of our hunter/gatherer ancestors they gradually learned how to connect with humans. Another theory is that our furry pals get to know us simply through the amount of time they spend with us.

Image by Jérémy Stenuit
PIC Jeremy Stenuit
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Mary Robins of the American Kennel Club advises us to dump any ideas that dogs are only focussed on their next meal and chasing the cat next door. In fact more and more scientists worldwide are discovering just how clever are our canines.  There is no such thing as ‘The Dog’, she points out, because just like humans all dogs are different and that is reflected in their skills and abilities. “Some dogs might excel at gauging social situations, others might be adept at learning words, while others might have great problem-solving abilities”.

Mary quotes Dr Alexandra Horowitz of the Dog Cognition Lab at Columbia University, USA, who explains that one of the very special attributes of dogs is how well they understand humans. “They are very attentive and responsive to us which is a great social cognitive skill.”

Image by Darinka Kievskaya
PIC Darinka Kievskaya

We humans are too much steeped in the ‘dumb animal’ concept. It feeds our egos to feel we are the smartest entities on the planet. We will grudgingly concede that generally dogs have the intelligence of a two-year-old infant. ‘Not so’ say the experts, they’re far smarter than that - more like a five-year-old. Victoria Williams writing in the first edition of a new British dog magazine, What Your Dog is Trying to Tell You, reveals how Chaser, a border collie, raised by psychologists in South Carolina, knew the names of more than 1,000 items. This is serious canine Mensa standard given that the average dog can learn 125 words including signals, according to researcher Dr Stanley Coren.

If your dog is a bit of a rogue that can also be a sign he’s very bright. They are often on their best behaviour when they know they’re being watched but turn your back they can get up to a bit of devilment. Because they know how to deceive it means they’ve a basic grasp of what Victoria Williams terms ‘a theory of mind’, the ability to understand the mental state of their owners – their expectations, demands and moods.

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PIC Jamie Street

Our canine buddies have more than the edge on us when it comes to smell. Just how much of an edge is explained by Dr Horowitz in her book Being a Dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell. Explosives-detection dogs smell as little as a picogram – a trillionth of a gram – of TNT. What is it like to have that ability?  Well, take the average cinnamon roll which contains about a gram of cinnamon.  Coming into your kitchen if that is parked on your table you’ll definitely get a sniff of it. But what your dog picks up will be the smell of one trillion cinnamon rolls.  Yep, mind-boggling.

Finally, here’s a real earful – a Beatles track for dogs only.  The song A Day in The Life contains an extra high-pitched whistle sound that only canines can hear. Paul McCartney put it there as a token of the fun, joy and affection he shared with his Shetland sheepdog.

What respect!

So why not give your own dog a bit of extra respect by acknowledging – maybe grudgingly - that in so many ways he has more smarts than you!!!

icicles won't stop us

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by Steffi Baker
Image by Big Dodzy
PIC  Big Dodzy

It’s New Year resolution time again!  I shudder when I recall my endless list of failures.  The bucks fizz that bubbles up in me at the start of a new year spills over all too rapidly.  A week into January and I’m back to the old habits I resolved to change.  So what can I do about it now?

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PIC Lory

This year Bella, my Bichon Frise, and I are going to dine out together twice a week.  It’s easy to find a place to eat outside these days.  Frankly, I’m still shocked out of my socks to live in a time when people have to be vaccinated to enter a restaurant!  Thankfully with a dog it’s not one of my concerns though.  In an attempt to be more social at a time when social interaction feels taboo, Bella and I will eat out twice a week.

Our plan to succeed is simple except that it depends on other factors, primarily the weather.  On a cold January late-afternoon it is all too easy to stay at home.  Of course, appropriate clothing is the answer.  I already have a new warm fur lined dog jacket for Bella in crimson.  Now I must go through my wardrobe with the sole purpose of retrieving my warmest gear to have at the ready.  Style, even in cold weather, matters to me.  The outfit must look good as well as protect me sufficiently from the elements to enjoy my food.  But what about the rain?

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Flexibility required here.  Well, if the now seemimgly panic orientated weather people forecast rain, then all Bella and I can do is postpone our outing to the following day when with a bit of luck it will be dry.  On top of this deterent there is also the issue of light.  Early in the year it gets dark well before five in the evening.  That means we have to dine earlier than I would like.  Not an issue for Bella.  She will munch a bonio regardless.  Maybe for me I could dispense with lunch, have a more substantial breakfast so to be ravenous for dinner at four.  However, that will leave me peckish at bedtime.  Don’t want to get back into an old habit long discarded of hot chocolate and biscuits last thing at night!

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PIC Izzy Park

At the coalface, the challenging period is right at the start.  By Easter the temperatures will be more conducive to dining outdoors.  Daylight will be longer so we will be able to eat later, so the threat of nocturnal hot chocolate diminishes accordingly.  Bella and I must set up our stall now.  This year we know why we are making our new year resolution.  We have worked out what we need to do.  In short, Bella and I have a plan to succeed.  Now, all that’s left is to venture out in the cold, late-afternoon, twice this week.  Security is in the knowledge that as the year unfolds, it will get easier and easier to keep our new year resolution!

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new year resolutions
drive me barking mad

by Kritz
 
Ghost written
by Thomas Cantwell
Journalist

Hi folks. I’m the friendly and zany face of 'dogs in dublin' as all our regular readers know. I like to pop up here and there to show that when we canines and you humans properly connect it can be a happy, crazy and joyful experience.

But this time of year, I do get a bit barking mad (so to speak, of course) because while you make all those new year resolutions you seldom give your canine buddies a look-in. That’s a pity because we are the best and most loyal pals you’ll ever have. So, what about a couple of resolutions thrown our way that would really strengthen the bond and do us a big favour? The sort of stuff every dog in the country is trying to tell you - but you just don’t listen. So let me hit you with a few home truths.

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IMAGE by Open Clipart-Vectors, Pixabay

Sure, a good owner is a joy for any dog. But between you and me some of us just don’t understand how humans came to run the planet. To be honest for so many of them the wattage between the ears is kind of on the low side. They simply can’t grasp what we’re telling them.

So, your first resolution – try to understand what we’re saying. That should not be a big ask. Dogs all over speak in the same way – using our tails, ears, bodies and our bark. Far more sophisticated than any of the thousands of languages you lot use. Take our bark, for example, we don’t do it just to annoy people. There’s a bark when we’re lonely, one for when we’re in pain and a howler of a one when we’re guarding your homes from intruders. And that’s just three barks from a pretty wide repertoire – so get to know them.

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Get tuned in to when we are under the weather, off our food or whatever. Sort it out before things gets worse. Anything that prevents a wretched trip to the vet has to be a major mercy for both dog and owner.

Don’t go ballistic when you come home and find your new puppy has chewed your favourite (and usually expensive) pair of shoes to a pulp. He’s just learning the ropes and is trying to tell you something. Maybe he’s hungry, lonely or just plain bored. He won’t be your future buddy if you rant and roar and that won’t do your blood pressure any good. Anyway, how stupid of you to leave good shoes hanging around in the first place!

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Walking the dog! We canines hate that line. It sounds like an awful chore. Every dog I know would like their owners to seriously up their game in this area. Look, we’re your loyal pals and treat us like that. A walk is a time for spending great buddy time together. But to be dragged out by some member of the family who would much prefer to be watching Man United getting beaten (again) on Sky Sports is a rotten experience for any canine. We have feelings – in case you didn’t know.

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IMAGE by Please Don't Sell My Artwork, Pixabay

And while I’m on the subject of walks – please leave your earphones (smart phones or whatever) at home. How can you connect with anything around you – not alone your furry pal – when you seem to be in some weird zone of your own. It’s like walking with one of those zombies from the 'Walking Dead'!

If you want to put a bit of colour into your walk why not pop into 'dogs in dublin' archives and see how your canine pal can bring you on a street history tour or how he can teach you about garden bird life as you both stroll along.

Here’s another resolution. If you’re told that feeders will take the pain out of your dog’s meal time – well, don’t even think about it. A total no-no from our point of view. It’s an important regular bonding time between us and you so don’t take it away.

 

Let me put it this way. Say a very attractive member of your opposite sex invites you out for a romantic meal. Then you arrive at the table (with warm expectations) only to find a huge feeder in the middle of the table and a note saying “Sorry I couldn’t make it but I’ve programmed the feeder for eight sharp. Enjoy!” You see my point.

Finally, hard as it may be for humans to accept, we dogs are smart and clever and we get to know more about our owners than they know themselves. My final resolution for you all is to try and return the compliment and the bond between us will be even stronger.

Resolutions - we don’t need to make them but seemingly you do!!

where intrigue  leads

by Diana Darcy

It’s New Year’s Eve.  I’ve just cracked open a bottle of Prosecco.  I pour a glass to have with my dinner.  Just George and me.  Enough of family dinners for us this Christmas. 

PIC  Rachel Alexis
Image by Rachel Alexis

My chocolate Labrador looks up at me from under the ultra-modern glass dining table in my single story artisan dwelling.  George has a Yaker’s chew in his mouth.  He always has something in his mouth!  I’m indulging in a large Tesco finest tomato and cheese pizza.  The side salad I’ve put together for myself looks inviting too.  I like the visual of fresh rocket leaves, diced stilton blue with a few black olives and tomatoes thrown in.  I’m listening to the reassuring sound of George chewing noisily underneath as I glance at the verse on a greeting card I received in the post this morning.

‘Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things.  Believe in yourself.  Do what you love.  And most importantly, be kind to others, even if you don’t like them.’ Stacy London
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PIC  elCarito

The last line instantly brings to mind George Wilson.  The opening line of the new novel in ‘dogs in dublin’ certainly aroused my curiosity.

‘George Wilson is intrigued by people who are not generally liked.’

‘Maybe it’s got something to do with the name ‘George’’ I jest to the dog now looking up at me through the glass.  ‘I love you George’ I continue and ‘George Wilson sounds pretty good to me too.  A man like him around my own age in the real world would probably have me tempted!’  George picks up his chew again and resumes masticating.

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PIC Narges Pms

This year my new year’s resolution is to be kind to others, even if I don’t like them.  I’ve grown concerned about the absence of kindness around me.  I certainly didn’t like the way one of my in-laws made a big deal of my chocolate Labrador under the table on Christmas day.  ‘It’s so unhygienic!!’  she cooed.  Thankfully my parents supported me.  Still it left a bad taste in my mouth although I tried my level best to cover it up for the optics.

Perhaps I should take a leaf out of Alex K Delph’s ‘Perception’ and like the character George Wilson, open myself to people who are not generally liked.  I’d like to think I make up my own mind about the people I meet but undoubtedly like the rest, I’m influenced subliminally by the agreed general opinion without much personal reflection.  Let’s see where George Wilson’s intrigue takes me this year!

dog man

by John O'Byrne
Published Writer
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One of my favourite authors is the American humorist/artist James Grover Thurber (1894-1961), who created some thirty volumes of fiction, cartoons and essays.  His most famous work is "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty". A founding member of the New Yorker magazine staff, he was someone who spent a considerable  time owning, admiring, drawing and writing about dogs.

 

Mr Thurber, as he liked editors and acquaintances to refer to him, refused to be called a dog lover; he contended that this should mean only a dog who is in love with another dog. The term he preferred for himself was Dog Man, even though it might conjure up in some minds a variation of the centaur motif, a man-faced dog travelling on all fours. Some think his dogs were man proxies, and there's no doubt he had a misanthropic streak.

 

Dogs appear in many of his cartoons as a stoic presence among maladjusted humans. His most celebrated cartoon, though, is not about a dog. The drawing has a husband and wife in bed with a live seal behind them, hanging on top of the headboard. The wife is admonishing her husband: "All right, have it your way - you heard a seal bark!". I don't think that would work quite as well with a canine.

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PIC 4emotions Werbeagentur

Mr Thurber liked to relate an episode concerning Medve, his first black poodle. A happy and obliging animal, Medve liked to retrieve apples and was even willing to throw them herself, instead of waiting for her master to set the ball - sorry, apple - rolling. But she had her dislikes, dog shows being one.

 

At one of the last shows in which she was entered, she was so reluctant to take her place on the stage assigned to her class that Mr Thurber mounted the platform himself, on all fours, to show what was wanted.

 

Now, the Thurber cartoon version of this episode could have the author coming Third in the Champion class.  Alas, the truth is more prosaic. Mrs Thurber managed to get her husband off the stage and Medve on. 

 

Image by Hans Ole Benonisen
PIC Hansole Benonisen

He drew many dogs, one being a spaniel named Thurber. On the statistical evidence in "Thurber's Dogs" (pub. 1926)* he was obviously a poodle man, and owned  no less than twenty- five of them, out of a canine collection of around fifty- five. Now, readers, here's a canine challenge, channel your inner James Thurber, consider what your own dog might be thinking Thurber-wise; draw on his excellent cartoons, many of which can be found by searching on Google.

 

*Thurber's Dogs: a collection of the master's dogs, written and drawn, real and imaginary, living and long ago. Penguin paperback, 1958.

Image by Tuomas Härkönen
PIC Tuomas Harkonen
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PIC  Eric Dempsey

If you hear a repeated clatter while walking with your dog when passing gardens or in woodland, especially after heavy rain, it could indeed be the song thrush preparing dinner.  The bird has developed a singular way of feeding on snails. Lifts the shell by the bill, swings its head, bangs the shell repeatedly against a stone or other hard surface. Once smashed, it’s dinner time!

go from ordinary to
extraordinary

outdoors with your dog and the  song thrush

It would seem that song thrushes often have a favourite stone that they use repeatedly for this purpose. If you and your dog come across a large stone surrounded by fragments of snail shell, then you’re probably in the song thrushes kitchen!’

As well as snails, the song thrush tucks into earthworms, insects, berries and fruit, with a particular fondness for apples.

PIC  Michael Finn

The song thrush makes it into the top twenty of the most widespread garden birds in Ireland.  Certainly a bird that you probably encounter in the garden and spot in other gardens when walking the dog.  Interestingly, song thrushes appear in ones and twos but never in flocks. The male and female are similar in appearance with juvenile birds looking a lot like their parents.

 

Be on the lookout for the song thrush in hedgerows and gardens as you and your dog amble along.  The bird nests in trees, bushes, ivy, brambles and even conifers.

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Around the size of the blackbird, a close relation, the song thrush sports plain brown upper side and creamy white underneath boasting prominent arrow-shaped black spots running down the breast and flanks.  The dog’s prey instinct will be ignited by the song thrush bounding along the ground on pale pinkish-grey legs in search of worms.  This bird indulges in repetition of the phrases in his song which differentiates it from the music of the blackbird.  Shyness does not come into it when the song thrush expresses himself with a ‘loud, fluting, far-carrying voice.’  Even if the dog misses the chase opportunity, you both will certainly hear the music.  You can even count on the fact that the bird will repeat.

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PIC Dave Walsh

A cup-shaped nest filled with moss and grass and lined with mud is home to the song thrush.  They procreate in a long breeding season between March and August during which 2-3 broods can be raised.  A clutch of 4-6 pale blue eggs speckled with black is incubated by the female for 11-15 days.  The young birds only stay in the nest for 12-16 days before launching forth on their own.  No dilly dally here!

Domestic cats, young owls, sparrow hawks and grey squirrels

prey on the song thrush.

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PIC Neil van Dokkum
Sources

birdwatchireland.ie
Calvin Jones
irishwildlife.com
rspb.org.uk
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Image by Jeremy Bezanger

my pick from  archive...

by Diana Darcy
 
PIC Jeremy Bezanger

I enjoy a good laugh and people who know me say I have good sense of humour.  OK, maybe a bit brash and ribald at times – but that’s me.  Which is why my pick from the archives has to be that hilarious account of Roald Dahl’s encounter with a flatulent bulldog sourced by John O’Byrne in the June edition.

I laughed myself sick at how the put-upon Dahl had to share a bedroom and endure a sleepless night in the company of a woefully mannered beast who snored and grunted the whole time.

Humour aside, John O’Byrne explained that the story was an extract from a book, Letters of Note, of famous writers and celebrities from the past who had close relationships with their pooches. That resonates well with me as myself and my four-year-old Labrador George are inseparable.

‘My George is a saint compared to that beastly bulldog’, was my first reaction. Wrong thinking. Like all good relationships there have been the ups and the downs and George and I have had our moments.

Also, the poor old bulldog was missing his owner.

Slap on the wrist for me daring to indulge in a little guilty smugness. 

 from archive
June emag page

Image by Osman Rana
Image by Filippo Taioli
PIC  Filippo Taioli

a BIG thank you from
'dogs in dublin' to
Dublin based writer

John O’Byrne who shared this information with us
...his work has graced the pages of New Statesman, Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan and he has broadcast on RTE and BBC radio

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 great noise all night!

PIC Robert Vergeson

Enormous bruiser who caused a stink

An appalling encounter with a grumpy, bad mannered, flatulent bulldog whose toilet manners left so much to be desired.  This was the bad dog experience of famous children’s author Roald Dahl when he was working at the British Embassy in Washington in 1944 – 17 years before he hit the big time with his first Children’s book, James and the Giant Peach. In a letter home to his mother, he gives a vivid and entertaining account of Winston an “enormous brown (eared) bulldog” that a colleague asked him to mind while he was on leave.

“So, the first night Winston slept in my room.  He snored and grunted and made a great noise all night and I slept very little.”

Things went from bad to worse and the next evening Dahl was forced to lock him in the kitchen. “In the night he broke down the door, after relieving himself on the floor, and came rushing upstairs to the bathroom where he relieved himself hugely and decisively in the middle of my pink bathmat.”

The dog cheerfully continued to exercise his woeful manners in the presence of several royal dignitaries who the unfortunate Dahl had to entertain causing him monumental embarrassment. ‘Never get a bulldog’

No wonder he ended his letter home with the words “never get a bulldog”.

This is just a taster from his full letter which is part of a book, Letters of Note: Dog compiled by Shaun Usher. It is an endearing selection of correspondence by big names from the past – Bob Hope, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein – to name but a few - who write with warmth about the love, joys and heartaches that their pooches brought into their lives.