18 October

The Story Of Little Man. Dogs And Their Weltanschauung

by Jon Katz

I call him the same thing I called Gus, I call Bud “Little Man.” I am getting to understand his world view, his weltanschauung. I do not believe, and have never believed, that dogs have human emotions, even as more and more biologists and animal lovers insist on finding evidence that they are just like […]

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I call him the same thing I called Gus, I call Bud “Little Man.” I am getting to understand his world view, his weltanschauung.

I do not believe, and have never believed, that dogs have human emotions, even as more and more biologists and animal lovers insist on finding evidence that they are just like us, more than we ever imagined, smarter every year, more intuitive and spiritual.

Dogs are not like us, in my mind, they are very different from us, they have their own emotions, and that is their strength and wonder.

I do believe dogs have some recognizable emotions, theirs, not ours..

I think dogs feel hope.

You can see it in the border collie’s eyes every time they think they will get to sheep, you can see it in every Lab’s face when he or she thinks they are going get food or see a bird in the woods; you can see it in almost any dog when somebody reaches for the car keys to take a ride, or the leash to take a walk, or the box of biscuits, or when their humans pull into the driveway in the car the dog can recognize from a mile away.

I believe dogs have egos.

Ego is as central and fragile to a dog as it to a human, I think, and it can also be strengthened and developed or shattered and damage by cruelty and fear.

When Gus came to us, his ego had been battered, he expected little but trouble from me or Maria, he was looking to fail almost everywhere he turned. In foster care, Carol Johnson had begun the process of restoring Bud’s faith in himself.

She even  gave him Pecan Brittle once in awhile in the morning.

But Bud’s ego had not been shattered or crushes, his ego was simply submerged. One of the things I have learned in my Small Dog Experience is that Mother Nature gave these little dogs big egos to compensate for their small size.

And their egos are hard to crush, especially if they are treated well.

They have no idea they are small, I saw a Chihuahua go after a Bloodhound who wandered into her yard the other day, the Bloodhound trembled in fear and fled as the tiny dog roared and charged. She had no idea she was the size of a good-sized mug.

In her view of the world, she was quite large.

I’ve seen Bud do the same thing. He used to go roaring after the sheep (the donkeys too, but he learned better) seemingly unaware or uncaring that anyone of them could crush him like a bug, or that the donkey he was barking at could stomp him into the ground.)

He doesn’t do that anymore, we have trained him out of it, but it wasn’t out of fear. But I see that small dogs have large egos, one reason so many people love them.

I think we have a lot to do with the egos of all dogs. Positive reinforcement builds the egos of dogs if it is used when they are young. Loving mothers help.

People who swat puppies with newspapers when they pee in the house (many, many people do that) are crushing the egos of their dogs, who need to be shown how to succeed, not to fail.

If you wait until a puppy pees in the yard and praise him, you are not only housebreaking him, you are helping to build his ego. Dogs consciousness is almost fully formed between the ages of 12 and 16 week, that is when they find the Weltanschauuung, their view of the world, and of the universe.

If he sits and makes you happy, you are building his view of himself. He may go on to do great things with you as a dog. It is not about obedience, but something much more powerful.

For humans, and I believe, for animals like dogs who have a consciousness, the Weltanschauung is the fundamental cognitive worldview, encompassing our themes, values, emotions, ego and strength. Dog get it from genetics, from their mothers and siblings in the litter, through their experiences and interactions and socializations through 16 weeks. After that, it is hard to change.

This is why the best trained dogs tend to be those we can raise as puppies (there are certainly exceptions, especially when dogs egos are intact). The dogs we get later in life can be wonderful pets, but it is hard to change or shape their world view.

I see that Bud has a particular view of the world, of shoes, of other animals and dogs and cats, and while he is very trainable, his ego was threatened by cruelty and abuse.

I think his ego is largely intact, his Weltanschauung is forgiving, and open to learning. There will always be a strain of fear and caution in him, that is also his Weltanschauung, the world will always have some dangers for him, no amount of training can wash that a way completely, despite dog myths.

I love learning the world view of a dog, it is essential to training and communication. (I hope to talk about this next week on my new radio show “Talking About Animals,” you can call Wednesday between 1 and 3 p.m., 866 406-9286) or live stream the broadcast on WBTNAM.org.)

I’ve been researching this subject for years, it’s important to talk about, it’s the key to understanding animals and talking to them.

18 October

The Gold Tooth

by Jon Katz

Until today, I never saw this gold tooth, or the implant it rested on, both lived in my mouth these past few years, ever since I agreed to have a dental implant when I lost a tooth.

The implant process was long, arduous, troubled and expensive, I doubt I would do it again. In fact, I have already decided I won’t to it again. Today, the gold tooth and the implant were surgically removed from my mouth in a two-hour surgical procedure in Saratoga Springs.

The implant had become infected, and the infection was damaging the bone over the roof of my mouth. The doctor said it was removed just in the nick of time, I’m on antibiotics and over-the-counter pain killers.

When the doctor asked me if I wanted the gold tooth – it is worth hundreds of dollars, I said yes, my wife might well make a necklace out of it. This was the first time I saw the tooth, and I was stunned at its shine and color, and also at the length and width of the implant, which I realized had been screwed into the bone above my teeth.

There was one doctor and three nurses and doctors for this surgery. It was once, he said,  considered a very big deal, and might even have been done in a hospital. I would never have been allowed to drive home, or get out of bed for several days.

As it was, he said, I was not to eat solid food for days, or spit for a week, or sleep or rest without my head being elevated. I was not to exercise or run or lift heavy things.

On top of removing the tooth and the implant, he grafted bone from a dead human onto my bone, to try to restore what was lost. We wouldn’t know for months if the procedure had worked. The procedure cost $875, and I was lucky to have it done.

Had I needed a root canal or additional work, it could easily have cost thousands more, and like most Americans, I have no dental insurance aside from being reimbursed for a one or two cleanings.

Insurance companies want no part of implants or root canals or extractions like the one I had this morning. The hardest part was the Novocaine needles, three shots injected through the top of the tooth and from inside the gums.

“I’m sorry,” said Dr. Kelling, the oral surgeon, and I think he was. His nurse said he went to school for eight years to do this work, and I could see this was true. He was competent, professional and caring.

During the procedure, there were pauses. I had some great talks with a nurse about farming, dogs and living in nature.

I was thinking the rest of the day how routine this kind of procedure is now. Insurance companies don’t pay for hospital stays for too long, and our idea of surgeries has changed.

I thought the doctor and his staff were terrific, I confess to feeling a little alone when I left,  gauze stuffed into my mouth to stop the bleeding, my mind reeling from the elaborate instructions on how to deal with the wound and the pain. Beyond the procedure it was clear I was no on my own.

I thought the pain and blood deserved a little more medical attention. But of course, it was not necessary. Take some Motrin, they said, nobody wanted to talk about painkillers.

I am fine. In keeping with my habit of sharing my life – you get to see my broken heart, and my troubled retina – I’ve taken a photo of my good tooth and implant, neither in my mouth any longer. I was shocked to see them both, I had no idea what they put in my mouth, mostly my eyes were closed at the time.

This kind of operation is just not a big deal any more, although it seemed like a big deal to me. I came home and Maria gave me chicken soup that she had hastily prepared. I can’t eat “hard” foods for at least a week, and my mouth is all  stitched up.

As I get older, I see more of doctors and their offices and are familiar with their ways, the computer calls reminding me appointments, the endless requests for my birthday, the questions about medications and medical history, the permission and consent slips: it’s okay to be treated, I understand the risks, I know I’m responsible for the bill if the insurance company refuses, I agree to letting my wife have my medical history, and also my primary, I understand Hippa.

They will always ask me what my A1C number is, what my blood sugar was that day, if I am allergic to medications, did I take any pills that day. I always wonder what if this was real surgery, like Open Heart Surgery. I spent days signing forms then.

The doctor could not have been nicer. Or busier. He was, after all, a man, so there was not too much chit-chat about me or my life. They leave that to women, and I am grateful for it. The longer I sat in the chair, the bigger a deal it seemed to me.

The procedure started at 10:30 and was done some time after noon. I was home by 2:15 and eating lunch. I was at my computer by 2:30 blogging, checking e-mail, research weltanschauung and dogs  for my radio show.

My wound bled for several hours, by evening I at some soft foods and two slices of thin, vegetable covered pizza, everything organic. The blood has stopped, and I have my gold tooth and the implant sitting in front of my computer, I have been staring at it.

I put all the bloody gauze and took some Nyquill for my burgeoning cold. Blessedly, I didn’t cough or sneeze once during the procedure.

I thought there would be a lot of pain, and there is. Motrin is good for an  hour or so, then fades. I won’t take any more, it will be better in the morning.

The tooth would make a good necklace, and I am still shocked by the implant, it was screwed into my mouth for a couple of years and felt fine to me. I’ll be on  anti-biotics for six days. Hopefully, that will knock out any infection.

I’ll get the stitches out in two weeks.

I think if they don’t make it a big deal, I don’t either, and that is a good thing.  At least they were nice, and that is not always the case.

And I am  mesmerized by my gold tooth. Talk about mojo. Maybe it can be a necklace for me one day.

18 October

New Work Table: Maria Is A Happy Artist Today

by Jon Katz
Maria Is A Happy Artist

Maria is a very happy artist today. She finally got herself a custom-made work table to replace the rickety old thing she was using (second hand junk.)

She asked our carpenter/handyman Ray Telford to make one for her and she gave him the details and measurements.

This is a very  big deal for her, much like my getting a new computer to write. She’s never had the worktable she needed and wanted – Maria doesn’t think she deserves anything special – but she was as excited and pleased as I’ve seen her.

This is big news on our farm, and yesterday, her blog re-design went up live.  And she put up a Vulva Board On Pinterest. She feels very strongly about  Vulvas and is not quitting or backing down.

Moving forward. An important week for her and her work. Ray did a great job building the table for her in one night (the top is covered in canvas) and charged $108 dollars.

Ray is a treasure and a great find. He is also a very nice man. His friends call him “Pumpkin.” He said I could call him Pumpkin, too.

The cheapest possible appropriate work tables we were looking at online cost $249.

I admire Maria’s energy and enthusiasm, both are very genuine. I know what this worktable will mean to her, and her art will greatly benefit from it.

18 October

Gift For The Mansion Staff: Unsung Heroes

by Jon Katz

I’ve been thinking for awhile about something to buy for the Mansion staff, they are unsung heroes to me, I see them working so hard and lovingly every day, they do not make much money, or get the praise they deserve.

This work is a calling, it is not for everybody, but it can be richly rewarding and emotionally challenging and physically different. These are the men and women (mostly women) who take care of our mothers, and sometimes, our fathers.

They do the hard and difficult work nobody else wants to do, and the rest of our world doesn’t like to talk about and think about. They deal with grief, dementia, loss and death almost every day.

They are truly unsung heroes. So I got these promo from a pen company that makes classy pens and will engrave them any way the customer wants. So I bought 50 of them and had them engraved: “Unsung Heroes Of The Mansion: Thank You.”

They are always desperate for pens, so this might be useful as well as fun for them I hope so. I hope it reminds them that they are appreciated. If the world could see them  work almost every day as I do, they would be paid what they are worth.

At the suggestion of a reader, I’d love to get each member of the staff a gift card of some kind for Christmas. I’ll be in touch about that.

18 October

Bud And Fate: Learning To Trust The World

by Jon Katz

Fate has accepted Bud, as a pack member and a playmate. For much of the day, the two chase each other around the yard, wrestle, chew on one another and sit together in the sun.

It is a lovely thing to see, something Fate also needs, and is especially good for Bud, who is beginning to trust the world. It gives both of them exercise and stimulation, and I balance the playing with being quiet and resting.

Both are important. Dogs must be given the chance to do nothing, to find the peaceful parts of themselves.

It was a pleasure to see the two of them through the kitchen window playing and wrestling with one another.

It was a good feeling inside of me.

18 October

First Frost In The Blue Birdbath

by Jon Katz

I know the moment I set foot out of the house this morning that we had just experience the first winter frost of 2018-19. The water in the birdbath was  frozen solid, capturing some beautiful fall leaves in a gorgeous kind of natural ballet.

In a few days, the animals will be eating hay, not grass, and all of the flowers will be gone. The season of color and light is passing, a new and darker but also beautiful time.

We can no feel winter creeping up, November is always a dark and grey  month here, even with climate change, our winters are real. We are ready. Hay in the barn, wood in the woodshed, barn repaired and dry, roof repaired, wood stoves cleaned.

Tonight, we’ll take the top off the birdbath, put it aside for the winter. I will miss it, and the color and light, but I accept the creative challenge of the winter pasture.

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