Category Archives: Communications

Goodbye, Puppy Boy

Finn in grass

Next week our latest service dog trainee Finnegan will be returned for his final phase of intensive instructions. We will be finishing up the socialization of another dog for about five months. This puppy was raised with a very different regimen than Spice, our guide dog for the blind trainee. Spice, the yellow Lab, was strong and steady, with muscles like a gladiator. She’s been navigating for her new owner over a year now, and they are both doing extremely well. Having Spice made it possible for Jeremy to go to college, to fulfill his ambition of becoming a music professor.

Finn big smile

Finnegan is strong too, but he’s a bundle of potential energy, like a coiled spring. He’s highly reactive, curious about any kind of novel stimulus, and whip-smart. Finn was originally considered to become a mobility assistance dog for a wounded veteran, but he didn’t grow big enough for that job. Now he’s going to be trained to be a therapeutic companion for a young autistic boy.

soft curly

I can see how much better an alternative this will be for the dog and the boy. Finnegan has an expressive face and a wide array of verbalizations. It can help model correct behavioral responses for an autistic child. Though this pup is cheerful by default, you can tell right away if he isn’t. For the most part, the only thing that gives him the blues is not getting a new challenge every day. Autism provides new challenges. Finnegan is hypoallergenic, and his soft, curly coat makes petting him more inviting for a hypersensitive child. Having him will be a social advantage for the boy, because others want to approach if you have a cute dog.  It can also make walking easier.

Finn loves to solve puzzles to get food, play with any toy that makes noise, and he will retrieve anything you care to throw. It took him a few months to understand our old lady cat is NOT a toy that makes noise, and that she’s not interested in playing tag, even though she will greet him nose-to-nose. He has taken that lesson (go gently with little beings) and applied it to infants and toddlers, with hardly any encouragement from us. He accepts kisses, hugs and petting from small children very well, and doesn’t jump on them.

Gentle Leader

Ever since we took him to Seattle and gave him a successful big city experience, Finn has been more confident, calmer and easier to work with. His biggest challenge is a tendency to pull ahead if he gets excited, but using a “gentle leader”, which fits over his nose, prevents this behavior. If you put a kibble inside your hand, he stays glued to your hip, matching your speed even without a leash. He relieves easily on grass, gravel or dirt using the command “hurry”. In the year we’ve been raising him, he never once had an accident inside the house. Don’t you wish your child was that easy to toilet train?

Lab and WheatonLongshot Mutt StrutMary at Table

Last week’s big activity was a visit to the local Rotary Club’s “Mutt Strut”. It’s an annual fundraiser to support their charitable projects, with products, lectures and assorted activities available for dogs and owners. There are many breeds I have no direct experience with, and I want to keep learning. They offered a long walk and informal contests including “cutest dog”, “most obedient” and “most unusual trick”.

Dogs greetingFinn watching

The Rotarians provided water in buckets, and policed the area keeping the encounters positive and well controlled. Though dozens of dogs were present, I heard very little in the way of distressed or confrontational barking. Finnegan was there to practice self-control, and he enjoyed observing the contests. We made sure he had as many experiences with small children as possible.

Hairy and AlanGrand Marshall Hairy Putter, and his dad, Alan Ahtow.

(http://hairysreviews.com/)

I’ve become attuned to a different balance in the four years since we moved from El Lay, vortex of cinematic fabulosity, to this picturesque Victorian seaport of 9,000. Where we used to live, animals (aside from humans) were perceived as lesser beings, as property, or as a food source. But deer roam the streets and yards here, eagles swoop above the trees, and songbirds, squirrels and rabbits share our grounds. In this town, there is less of a hard boundary between domesticated animals, wild animals, and people. And residents are advocating to make more places pet-friendly. It comes from a motivation to live harmoniously in nature, instead of competing and trying to control it.

Seeing the different dogs and owners made me remember why we raise these dogs. It’s part of our “fix what you can” philosophy. I can’t solve the wars of the world, or make politics more civil. I can’t control humankind wasting Earth’s bounty, or find a vaccine for Ebola. But I can take good radiographs, making it easier for the doctors to diagnose and treat. And Mary and I can help train the right kind of dog to assist others in need.  Our next pup in training will be a little Havanese, like this one.

Javanese

8 Comments

Filed under animal communication, Communications, Ethics and Morality, photos

The Miraculous Power of the Beatles

(This clip will probably disappear when Apple discovers it.)

I was working as a children’s photographer at a Sears store. It was unfulfilling work. I had a pal I met in high school whose name was Terra. She was very pretty, was one of the prom queens, and had been in “swim timers”. She was also interested in service work. In high school I took photos of all the clubs. That’s how Terra and I became friends. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Communications, Emotions, Ethics and Morality

Part-Time Einstein

SciMethd

You’ve probably noticed there’s more than one way to think. When I train dogs or encounter wildlife, I try to think like the other animal. It improves communication. When I’m taking X-rays at the Urgent Care sometimes I am thinking like a psychotherapist, sometimes like a nurse, and to improve empathy I try to think like the patient and focus on their difficulties. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Communications, Thinking about thinking

I Am 60 Today

In the 1950s:

We had a 19” Black & White TV.  I watched this and laughed.

Continue reading

40 Comments

Filed under Communications, humor, Metaphysics, Thinking about thinking

Mandela

Invisible Mikey:

SORRY FOLKS! I’m too busy in re-certification classes to write, but I can still read at study breaks. I found this simple statement breathtaking.

Originally posted on Donal:

A few days ago, Eric L Wattree, a regular on dagblog, posted about why he thought Barack Obama will be remembered as a great president. In the comments there ensued a discussion of who were the greatest presidents, whether Obama, Clinton, Reagan, or Carter will be remembered as great or ordinary, and what determines greatness in office.

With the death of Nelson Mandela, I couldn’t help wondering what an American president would have had to endure and accomplish to be considered in the same breath with Mandela.

Suppose Frederick Douglass, after escaping torture by the slavebreaker at Mt Misery, didn’t safely escape to the North in 1838. Suppose he had non-violently protested against the slavery condoned by the US government, then later organized attacks on US government targets. Suppose instead of being executed he had been imprisoned for almost three decades. Suppose he had led the antislavery movement from within…

View original 58 more words

2 Comments

Filed under Communications, Emotions, Ethics and Morality

The Best of Mikey (so far)

Since I’m nearing 300 posts, it’s time for another retrospective.  These articles were among those most viewed, but more importantly, I thought they were good even when re-read. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Communications, humor, Literature, Metaphysics, Thinking about thinking

Deja Vu All Over Again?

There’s a book (and later film) by Dalton Trumbo, one of the “Hollywood 10”, a screenwriter blacklisted in the 1950s.  It’s called “Johnny Got His Gun”.  In that story, a wounded soldier is only able to tap messages in Morse Code using the back of his head on his hospital bed frame.  His face and limbs were removed in an explosion.  Those caring for him assume he’s been de-cerebrated and has no original thought to contribute.  I feel a bit like that. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Communications, Ethics and Morality

Rethinking the N-Word

If you don’t think there’s a right time and place and purpose for every word, you and I have a serious disagreement. Continue reading

26 Comments

Filed under Communications, Emotions

Hot Button Home Run

The last (and only previous) time I referred to TIME, the magazine, was in a review of their article on the possible non-existence of hell, which they teased on the cover and then didn’t really address.  This time I think TIME hit one out of the park.  They chose a concept as “Person of the Year” – The PROTESTER. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Communications, Thinking about thinking

The Leavening

An extraordinary, miraculous effect occurs as one calendar year begins preparing an exit and the next one prepares for birth.  There’s a lightening of mood. Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Communications, Metaphysics, symbolism

This Is Possible

It’s time for a re-statement of why I write here.  It isn’t just for me.  I have this strange vision of a place where almost everyone is welcome.  I’m committed to RADICAL INCLUSIVITY. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Communications, Thinking about thinking

Small Town Free Press

For a couple of years before we moved from Los Angeles County (pop. gazillions) to Port Townsend, WA (pop. 9k), I read the weekly newspaper online as a way to familiarize myself with Washington’s issues and interests. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Communications, Literature, Technology

Building and Letting Go

Our guide-dog-puppy-in-training is 14 weeks old now.  She’s bright, energetic and confident.  Much of her happy demeanor is reinforced by success in performing routines.  The biggest challenge for her has been learning to restrain herself when she encounters new people Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under Communications, Emotions, photos

Understanding the U.S. Occupation

As often happens during a revolutionary movement, icons will be mis-quoted and appropriated and remolded for other purposes. Continue reading

34 Comments

Filed under Communications, Emotions, Ethics and Morality, symbolism

Awards, Schmords (Pt. 2)

My 7 Links

I.K. Brunel (1857), and his set of impressive links

This self-congratulatory award nomination was more fun than the usual “tell me secrets and nominate others” routine, because it requires you to mull things over a little in order to make choices based on their criteria. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Communications, Literature

Awards, Schmords (Pt. 1)

Everything is new to a puppy.

It’s time to clear out some backblog, er, blacklung, a-HEM, backlog on the blog.  I got nominated for two “awards” last week. Continue reading

28 Comments

Filed under Communications

Wooden Boats II (9/11/11)

Here are some more glimpses from our 35th annual Wooden Boat Festival. Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under Communications, Emotions, photos, Travel

Room at the Top

Have any of you wondered what it would take for your blog to be one of the most popular out of thousands who write here?  When I got up today and peeked at this list, I felt like I had fallen down a rabbit hole. Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under Communications

The Post LESS Challenge

As I surf around WordPress and other blogging communities, all I see is encouragement about posting MORE.  How many times must I re-assert that more is not better?  Continue reading

53 Comments

Filed under Communications, Self-Esteem, Thinking about thinking

Animal, Vestigial, Musical

Dondo and Cell Microtower

We talk within contexts, in groups, in culture, varying with the situation or occasion.  I’m trying to collapse the different levels, and unite modernity with tribal spirit.  At the most basic level, we pass messages as animals.  We smile or show other facial reactions within each other’s sight.  It’s more elementary than language. Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Communications, Music