All the love without all the …. Senior dogs already know how to cuddle—they also already know where NOT to go to the bathroom and what NOT to chew on.
Walks over workouts… Senior dogs don’t have nearly as much energy to burn as puppies or even adult dogs, but they will help you get your steps in each day.
Built-in experience… Unlike puppies, many senior dogs already know basic commands and basic courtesies of living in a house with people.
Plays well with all others… Life experience and lower energy levels make older dogs great companions for all ages. They have the patience to take on toddlers and the temperament to soothe seniors.
Unconditional love and unending gratitude… It’s easy to spoil a puppy, but senior dogs don’t take their second chances for granted. They know they’ve been saved and are forever grateful.
If you have a senior dog in your home, remember that older dogs love dinner time as much as any hungry puppy, but they need fewer calories and less fat to match their lower metabolism and reduced activity levels. Be sure to look for a senior dog food that is formulated to meet their needs. As dogs get older they may lose some of their sense of smell, so the enticing aroma of wet dog food for senior dogsmay also be a good choice to help them empty their bowl.
Last week, I posted the top photo above on my Instagram, with the following caption: “Every morning when Essley wakes up, I ask her to tell me one thing for which she’s grateful. She’s like her mama (we don’t enjoy mornings), and I’ve found that starting my day with gratitude (even if I have to force it) genuinely helps me feel less anxious and more happy through out my day – and it seems to help her as well. This morning, her response was ‘my family’ (gold star answer, kid) and ’763 pieces of chocolate’ (clearly my child). Have a grateful day, friends.”
I received over 30 messages after posting that, from both parents and non-parents, thanking me for the idea and stating that they were going to do the same with both their kids and themselves. My response to every message was that while I certainly didn’t come up with the idea of practicing morning gratitude, I was thrilled to see that our silly little morning ritual could possibly help others who have anxiety (like me) or who just wanted to start their days in a positive way. And it got me thinking about other ways my kids and I could practice gratitude together. So Essley and I sat down and came up with a “gratitude to do list”, which I am sharing below.
1. Every morning upon waking, say out loud at least one thing in your life for which you feel thankful.
2. Keep a special journal or sketchbook, and throughout your day, write down or draw pictures of things that you appreciate.
3. Give every family member a hug and tell them how grateful you are to have them in your life.
4. Make a thank you card for a friend and tell them you appreciate their friendship.
5. Say thank you out loud every time you eat a meal.
6. Smile a LOT. (Essley says this one is the most important of all.)
7. Take videos of your little ones telling friends and relatives why they are thankful for them, and then email or text them the videos.
8. Make a giving list. For holidays or birthdays, make lists of the items or experiences you want to give others. (Sort of a reverse wish list.)
9. Everyday, tell each person in your family one thing about them you love and appreciate. (This can be anything from something profound to Essley’s favorite, “I like your outfit mommy!”)
10. Before bed, say out loud one great thing that happened that day for which your are thankful.
Consciously feeling grateful for things in your life is such a simple concept, but it’s been life changing for me in many ways. (Sounds super cheesy I know, but it’s the truth.) And it makes sense – research shows that practicing gratitude causes us to enjoy our lives more and feel happier in general. Even the act of putting this list together made me feel thankful and happy, and I know it did the same for Essley. If you have little ones, try some of these and let me know what you think. And if you have ways you practice daily gratitude with your children (or yourself!) I’d love to hear!
When I was pregnant with Essley, I vowed that my children would have extremely limited screen time, never use an iPad, and only watch Sesame Street. As with most of the things on which I considered myself an expert before actually having kids, this didn’t work out. My kids’ screen time is limited, but yes, they do have iPad time, and yes, they watch many shows and movies (some of which are not on my top 10 list, let’s just put it that way).
That said, my kids love books. Love. And when I’m feeling like a crappy parent (which happens a lot, because that’s how parents feel), I remind myself that my little ones not only ask me to read to them, they spend a lot of time pretending to read books themselves. (Emmett, who is 2, makes up stories as he “reads,” and Essley, who is 4, does the same but also recognizes some sight words which is really fun to watch.) Every night when they go to bed, they each get to choose 2 books to read, and we all read them together. It is one of my favorite parts of each day.
I posted the picture you see above on Instagram recently, and I got a lot of DMs asking about the book Essley is reading, along with some questions about our other favorites. So I decided to put together this list of the dozen books that are currently on our most read list in this house. One of these days I’ll put together a complete list of books we often read here. (I kept all of my books from childhood for my kids, so those combined with all of the books they’ve accumulated since Essley was born = hundreds.) But for now, here you go. While these are probably more for Essley’s age level than Emmett’s, both kids adore all of them.
Many of these were favorites of mine when I was Essley’s age as well. (I remember reading Blueberries for Sal and Madeline on repeat.) There are also several new ones that she discovered at school last year that we purchased after hearing about how much she loved them. If you have preschool (or even early grade school) aged kids, I highly recommend any of these. And if you have gems that I missed, please let me know! We are always looking for new books.
Man originated in Africa. The whole lineage of apes from which we and all the other human species descended was in Africa, a sister lineage to the apes that gave us the chimpanzee and the bonobo.
But man’s first domestic animal was not of Africa at all. The large pack-hunting wolf roamed the great expanses of Eurasia, and it was only when certain Eurasian hunters began to incorporate wolves into their societies that we began the process of domestication.
For nearly two million years, human ancestors and the ancestors of the wild dog lived throughout Africa. There was never an attempt to bring these dogs to heel, and there was never attempt to reach out to that species.
The question remains of why African wild dogs were never domesticated, and part of the answer lies in their nervous nature. I am reminded of Martin Clunes’s A Man and His Dogs. Clunes ended his two part documentary with a visit to Tony Fitzjohn’s African wild dog project, and at one point, Clunes is asked to pick up a tranquilized African wild dog, while making certain that the jaws are positioned well away from his body. These dogs react and react quickly.
These dogs live as quite persecuted mesopredators in an intact African ecosystem that includes lions and spotted hyenas. Yes, this animal that kills large game with a greater success rate than any other African predator is totally the underdog in a land so dominated by the great maned cat and the spotted bone-crusher.
Their lives must be spent hunting down quarry and then bolting down meat as fast as they can before the big predators show up to steal it.
The current thinking is the first African wild dog ancestor to appear in Africa was Lycaon sekowei. This species lived in Africa from 1.9 to 1 million years ago, which is roughly the same time frame in which the first human ancestors began to consume meat readily. It was very likely that a major source of meat consumed by these ancestors came from scavenging. Homo habilis has been des cribed as a very serious scavenger, as was Homo erectus.
Both Homo habilis and erectus were contemporaries of Lycaon sekowei, and one really thinks about it, these early humans would have been very interested in the comings and goings of the great predators. Of all the predators to drive off kills, it is obvious that a pack of wild dogs would be easier to drive off than just about any other predators that were evident in Africa at the time.
So for at least 1.9 million years, African wild dogs evolved knowing that humans of any sort were bad news. They may have inherited an instinct towards antipathy toward humans, and thus, there never was any chance for us to develop relationships such as those that have been observed with wolves and hunter-gatherer people.
I think this played a a much bigger role in reason why man never tried to domesticate African wild dogs. One should also keep in mind that wolves in Eurasia were also mesopredators in that ecosystem. Darcy Morey and Rujana Jeger point out that Pleistocene wolves functioned as mesopredators in which their numbers were likely limited by cave lions, archaic spotted hyenas, and various forms of machariodont. They were probably under as much competition from these predators as the ancestral African wild dogs were under from the guild of super predators on their continent.
What was different, though, is the ancestral wolves never evolved in an enviroment which scavenging from various human species was a constant threat, so they could develop behaviors towards humans that were not always characterized by extreme caution and fear.
We were just novel enough for wolves to consider us something other than nasty scavengers, and thus, we could have the ability to develop a hunting symbiosis as is described in Mark Derr’s book and also Pierotti and Fogg’s.
It should also be noted that African wild dogs do not have flexible societies. In wolf societies, there are wolves that manage to reproduce without forming a pair bond, simply because when prey is abundant, it is possible for wolves other than the main breeding female to whelp and rear puppies. These females have no established mates, and they breed with male wolves that have left their natal packs and live on the edges of the territories of established packs. In the early years of the Yellowstone reintroduction, many packs let these females raise their pups that were sired by the wanderers, and one famous wolf (302M) wound up doing this most of his life, siring many, many puppies. I think that what humans did in their initial relationships with wolves was to allow more wolves to reproduce in this fashion, which opens up the door for more selective breeding than one would get from wolves that are more pair-bonded.
In African wild dogs, one female has the pups. If another female has puppies, hers are confiscated by the main breeding female and usually starve to death.
The wolf had the right social flexibility and the right natural history for humans form relationships with them, which the African wild dog was lacking.
Last year on Essley’s first day of preschool, I shared a fun “interview” (right here) I put together with questions to ask little ones on their first and last days of school each year. The post received a lot of traffic and was pinned quite a bit on Pinterest, so I shared her responses again on her last day. And now that a new school year has begun, I decided to share once again. (Emmett started preschool for the first time this year too, but he’s still too young to answer the questions. I’m looking forward to giving him the interview at the end of this year though!)
Some of Essley’s responses on this year’s first day were the same as last year’s last day, and some changed quite a bit. It’s endearing and bittersweet to see her growth just through her answers to the questions. I hope to continue to do this for years to come.
1. What is your name? Essley. 2. What grade are you in? Pre-K. 3. How old are you? 4-1/2. 4. What is your favorite color? Pink. 5. What is your favorite thing to do at school? Play with my friends. And learn how to not be bad. (No comment on that one.) 6. What is your favorite activity outside of school? Tap, ballet, gymnastics, soccer, theatre, and swimming lessons. (She answered this question by saying NOT swimming lessons on the last day of last year, so this is a big change!) 7. What do you want to be when you grow up? A dance teacher and an artist. 8. What is your favorite food? Strawberries. 9. How old is your mommy? Old. 10. What is her job? She works a lot on blog posts. 11. What is mommy’s favorite food? Indian food and a lot of smoothies. 12. How old is your daddy? Old. I think 20. 13. What is his job? Stage Manager. 14. What is daddy’s favorite food? Kabobs. He likes cheeseburgers. 15. What do mommy and daddy like to do? Work. (Yikes.) 16. If you have brothers or sisters, what are their names? Emmett. Sometimes I call him Crispy. 17. How old is your brother(s) (and/or sisters)? 2 1/2. 18. What is your brother(s) (and/or sisters) favorite food? Mac and cheese. Also olives. 19. What is your favorite toy? Rosie (doll) and Owly (her favorite owl toy since she was a baby). 20. Where do you live? Somewhere by Chicago. 21. What is your favorite thing to do? Play with my mommy. (Awww. Me too baby girl.) 22. What is your favorite place you’ve ever been? The candy store. 23. Who is your best friend? Mommy and ….. (an endless lists of friends; too many to type.) 24. What is your favorite animal? Tiger. 25. If you could have anything you wished for, what would it be? A bunny for a pet.
And just because I can’t leave out my favorite little dude (even though he didn’t do the interview questions), here is Emmett’s first day pic. (Unlike his sis, who ran in the classroom and never looked back at his age, there were some tears from this guy. But I think he’s doing to do great).
If any of you use these question to interview your preschoolers or grade schoolers, I’d love to hear some of their replies! Oh, and we purchased the chalkboard signs we used for our photos from this awesome Etsy shop.
Don’t get the wrong idea guys; I will be wearing my cut-offs and sundresses until the bitter end (and likely well past the time it’s considered seasonally appropriate). But fall and cool temps are coming whether I like it or not, and if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
The looks you see above are some favorites I’ve come across lately. They’re all different styles and not necessarily cohesive but I love how they’re casual yet still put together. And I like that a lot of them feature items that could be considered transitional pieces too.
Have you started wearing any fall clothes yet? What’s your favorite type of clothing to wear in autumn?