Therapy Dogs Are Not Just For Humans – Cheetahs Need Them Too!

Dog is man’s best friend for many legitimate reasons. They are eyes for the blind and companions for the suffering. We have turned to dogs for comfort in the face of hard times and now, cheetahs at the Richmond Zoo need them too.

Kumbali is a cheetah cub at the Metro Richmond Zoo, and as a newborn, the cub was losing weight because its mother wasn’t producing enough milk to feed her litter. Once Kumbali was cared for and brought back to health, his family rejected him, but the anxious cat, very social by nature, still needed a friend. That’s where Kago, a companion dog, came in.

Dogs–and Labrador Retrievers in particular–are calming by nature, but also extremely confident. Kumbali takes behavioral cues from Kago, and while Kago is the dominant protector, Kumbali is not intimidated and will not cause his friend any harm.

This symbiotic relationship would never happen in the wild; however, we believe the positive outcomes outweigh any negative. As the two grow up together, they create a bond that becomes almost inseparable, sibling-like.

Kumbali and Kago’s story screams “Real Life Fox And The Hound” and I’m all for it!

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Trash Photography Project Sends An Important Message

I was in the fourth grade when my class was asked to participate in a recycled art project. Sifting through our bins that afternoon was easy. Majority of what we had tossed were things that were still fairly useful–bottles, various containers, and the like. I had built a house of mostly plastic. It was fitting, seeing as households are dumpsites in themselves. Just to show the public how much we waste in a few years time, French artist Antoine Repessé collected his recyclables for four years and produced stunning trash-inspired photographs.

Antoine Repessé stopped throwing away recyclable waste like plastic bottles, toilet paper tubes or newspapers back in 2011, storing it in his apartment, instead.

Over the four-year period of his project, Antoine collected 1,600 milk bottles, 4,800 toilet rolls, and 800 kg of newspapers, among other things, which he later used as props for a powerful photo series on modern consumerism, called #365 Unpacked.

Repessé’s reasons for embarking on such an ambitious project were hardly personal. He needed to educate viewers.

“I was interested into seeing how an object can lose its singularity when it becomes a part of something massive. We’re often told about the amount of waste we produce, but I think a picture can be more powerful and impactful than a ton of words,”

Many large companies have taken on the responsibility of minimizing waste through various methods. However, it’s households that have yet to participate.

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Need A Therapist? The Internet Is At Your Service

The most exhausted word of advice to those who have been newly diagnosed with some form of depression is, “Go see a therapist.” While therapy is most often successful in treating mental illnesses, it is not always affordable nor accessible. But don’t worry, the Internet has a solution.

Research, including a meta-analysis of studies involving internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, suggests that digital therapies augmented by coaches who are available by text or phone can be as effective as evidence-based traditional therapy in treating some people with depression.

Once again, your trusty iPhone can save the day, as studies by the U.K. National Health Service has found that the recovery rates of ‘online’ patients have had the edge on those who undergo therapy in-person.

However, with apps like Koko, where online communities can respond to people’s calls for help, how can we be sure that these spaces are safe and reliable? The American Psychological Association suggests “stepped care.”

Stepped care might start with a brief in-person assessment of a patient who shows signs of depression, so that therapists can identify any behavioral or health concerns.

“Then, depending on severity, we would provide each patient with a self-help book or access to web-based education. If that didn’t work, perhaps we’d move to a computer-assisted intervention, and then move toward in-person treatment,”

I am a therapy-goer myself, but also a tenacious skeptic. Would I try online therapy? Perhaps. But the statistics will have to throw me a bone!

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Could Drones Be Life Savers?

In times of emergency, we rely solely on human action, men or women driving ambulances through winding traffic in the hopes of tending to their patients before it’s too late. Constantly developing technology has allowed such emergency procedures to improve, and now drones are being used to transport defibrillators to people stricken by cardiac arrest.

Researchers tested the idea and found drones arrived at the scene of 18 cardiac arrests within about 5 minutes of launch. That was almost 17 minutes faster on average than ambulances – a big deal for a condition where minutes mean life or death.

The versatile drone, used primarily in capturing live videos, surveying dangerous areas, and monitoring wildlife, is now expanding its areas of expertise.

Drones are increasingly being tested or used in a variety of settings, including to deliver retail goods to consumers in remote areas, search for lost hikers and help police monitor traffic or crowds. Using them to speed medical care seemed like a logical next step.

The researchers used a small heart defibrillator weighing less than two pounds, featuring an electronic voice that gives instructions on how to use the device.

Drones are among a myriad of new machines with a great potential for saving lives. Preliminary testing of drone defibrillators is currently taking place in the Northwestern University in Chicago.

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When Superstars Give Back: Charity Benefit Concerts

When tragedy strikes, most everyone is eager to help. Experienced philanthropists and those with expertise in rebuilding communities are equipped to handle such situations. But what about those part of the world’s entertainment industries? Celebrities such as Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres, and George Clooney have been known to endorse a number of charities–but it seems music superstars want in on the goodwill too. Here are some of the biggest benefit concerts held throughout the years.

Broadway for Orlando:

“In the case of charitable endeavors, you want to know that it’s doing good,”

Concert for Bangladesh:

The… concerts raised close to $250,000 US, but the subsequent album and video recordings of the show eventually boosted the donation to approximately $12 million US.

And most recently, One Love Manchester:

One Love Manchester Emergency Fund, created by Manchester City Council and the British Red Cross to support victims and their families, “help alleviate suffering and ensure [they] do not face short-term financial difficulties.”

However, not all charity concerts see success to its end. The Concert for Bangladesh encountered issues with the Internal Revenue Service after failing to properly communicate with UNICEF while the Hope For Haiti funds (which pledged over $9 billion) were ultimately mishandled and lost.

While I am no expert in the politics of major charitable foundations, smaller-scale fundraisers should turn to goal-setting to monitor where exactly donations go.

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Difficult Conversations You Need To Have With Your Significant Other

How many kids to have, whether or not to share a bank account, and where to host a dream wedding don’t make first-date conversations. In fact, you may end up with a runaway date and dinner bill all to yourself. But somewhere along the road, they become increasingly relevant, especially when long-term partnership is in the books.

Whether you have been together for a year or five, these are the conversations you definitely need to have with your significant other.

Once a relationship has been defined (or DTR’d, for millennial readers), it is crucial to lay down your expectations of one another. Are you a private person? And if so, how much of your relationship are you willing to openly share on social media? While it is not uncommon to experience the occasional bout of insecurity, do you expect your partner to provide you with updates throughout the day? Whatever the case, it is important to express your expectations, within reasonable limits.

The popular saying, “opposites attract” is the case for some couples. However, it isn’t always fun and games when your notions and ideas clash. Beliefs are a vital area of discussion, especially if you hail from two polarizing backgrounds. If you are a devout animal rights activist, can you stomach a partner who loves steak and frites? Appreciating the politics of another is something that is naturally realized between two people–but couples exist on a different level of intimacy, which is not always as simple as it seems.

It remains inevitable for a couple to engage in the periodic argument. Perhaps he had forgotten to do the groceries or she forgot to let the dog out to do his business. Regardless, a means of communication must be established. Are you the type who is confrontational? Do you need time to gather your thoughts before discussing the issue at hand? Your partner must eventually familiarize themselves with your habits–how you get a point across. Addressing how your partner thinks he or she can best handle a difficult situation may not be the most comfortable discussion (in fact, we know it isn’t). Instead, recall a particular argument you may have had and analyze how your significant other handled the situation.

Meeting a serious partner’s family is always a formidable moment. While it may be intimidating, it is also exciting and something that should be discussed beforehand. Talking about your family relationships is a topic that shouldn’t be avoided. Your mother may prefer quiet brunches on Sundays while his or hers may be boisterous and all about nightlife. Find common ground–an activity both parties can appreciate. Know how to approach your partner’s relatives. Maybe they are soft-spoken. Maybe they are loud. Nevertheless, it isn’t about being impressive. It’s about demonstrating your best qualities and showing nothing but respect.

Talks about the future may be fun and casual, but this will not always be the case. Together with your partner, enumerate your goals as a couple. What do you foresee when the honeymoon phase comes to an end? Do you plan to live in the city or perhaps somewhere more remote? Agree to compromise when you can’t completely see eye-to-eye.

 

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Printing Paper Is Saving Trees

Have you ever attended a paper-free lecture class where subject readings were circulated online to ‘protect the environment’? My university career consisted of printing on both sides, because saving more paper meant saving more trees. If you are anything like I was in university, HP thinks you may be wasting your efforts, as there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between printing and saving trees.

“Printing by itself is actually a very environmentally friendly technology,” [said Enrique Lores, president of the company’s printing business]

“We have done a lot of work to understand where the paper comes from. It is coming from trees that were planted to become paper. It’s not coming from the forest in the Amazon.”

Have your notions of where paper comes from now been shattered? Mine certainly have. Printing more paper equals planting more trees. It’s far from deforestation. In fact, it’s referred to as sustainable forestry.

To meet the voluntary [Forest Stewardship Council] criteria, forest managers have to demonstrate that their land is ecologically intact and complies with conservation laws.

In addition to supporting sustainable forests, HP is also stepping up its efforts to recycle ink cartridges, including a new project to buy plastic from discarded bottles in Haiti.

However, while sustainable forestry has its benefits, not everyone is a fan. The Rainforest Foundation in the United Kingdom is advocating stricter government regulation on the use of forests.

Are you going on a printing spree?

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How Slowing Down Can Help You Focus

In an era where most of our desires are fulfilled almost instantaneously, it is often hard for us to take a moment to reflect. We strive to achieve our goals at the bat of an eyelash. What we often forget is that slowing down allows us to be more conscious and mindful of our environment.

In our rapidly changing world, we value speed and efficiency.  However, there is something to be gained by being slow if slow can make you more present, more mindful, and more aware of other people’s perspectives.

Ever heard the phrase good things come to those who wait? Apparently, it’s true.

As a more common example today, a slow Internet connection frustrates most of us.  However, it also makes for more mindful searches and more focus and slower consumption of what they yield.

Today, there are parts of our life that emphasize the benefits of being slow, ranging from a “slow food movement” to “slow parenting” to “slow jogging” to the mindful slowing associated with a meditation.

We are always seeking ways to prevent aging–and yet we demand to accomplish things at the drop of a hat (or in this day and age, a Facebook notification). As the saying goes, think of today as a gift because, after all, it is the present.

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BMW Goes Electric: Energy Saving Buses

Ever watch a sci-fi film and gush about how flying cars would be so much more practical and environmental? While this remains a distant reality, modern-day vehicles are becoming increasingly more sustainable by the decade. Cars by Honda, Fiat, and Nissan are now transitioning into electrical energy, incorporating lithium-ion battery cells for efficiency. Now, BMW is gearing up to introduce electric buses into our daily commutes.

Electric bus upstart Proterra shifted into a higher gear… with another substantial funding round: a $55 million infusion led by Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management and the corporate venture arm of German automaker BMW.

“More than ever before, cities are looking for smart and sustainable transportation solutions that can reduce pollution efficiently and effectively,”

“Proterra is incredibly well-positioned to help accelerate the growth of sustainable cities and continue our transition to a clean energy economy.”

“To better serve our customers, we want battery buses that travel longer distances and can carry more people,”

The primary markets for electric buses are the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. The buses, as most new technologies do, come at a substantial price. Proterra also hopes to improve urban air quality and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, we can ease the backlash of climate change by using public transport and investing in more environmentally-friendly cars.

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It’s Not Okay To Judge People Who Buy Puppies From Pet Stores

I am a self-proclaimed dog enthusiast. I was born second to a beautiful German Shepherd named Greta, who was part of a six-litter family, her mother owned by our next-door neighbor. She didn’t so much take to strangers and despite her somewhat hostile demeanor, lived twelve blissful years. I have since owned two other dogs–Bruce, a lazy Beagle who went to my sister when I left for university, and Charley, a nine-year-old retriever-spitz who can no longer take on my wretched staircase.

Charley is a rescue, and granted, I get a lot of praise for taking on an ill senior dog. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a commendable thing. Special needs animals demand a hell of a lot more time and attention. I often hear that “Every dog deserves a second chance.” So why don’t pet store animals seem to have the same privilege?

Puppy mill rescues are often highly commended because dogs are mishandled, most ending up with diseases like Parvo and distemper. Many of these animals end up in Petcos across the nation, and yet potential owners are discouraged from purchasing them by animal rights groups.

Understandably, a rise in the pet store market will keep puppy mills in business. But what is the distinction between “rescuing” an animal from a mill and “rescuing” an animal from a pet store?

Perhaps the issue doesn’t lie with where an animal comes from, but rather, in responsible breeding. People often turn to pet stores due to the variety of breeds they boast. While it wouldn’t be impossible, finding a “trendier” dog (such as a Pug or French Bulldog) wouldn’t be a likely scenario at a shelter.

Puppy millers make it their business to achieve two things: quantity and diversity. More breeds, higher interest. More puppies, higher income. And in certain climates, breed does matter. Huskies, for example, who are naturally thick-maned, are not likely to thrive in tropical countries, whereas smaller breeds with shorter fur (such as the Chihuahua) would suffer in areas with harsh winters.

Breeders need to eliminate the notion of breeding smart and instead breed native. I had once been sent a collection of charts matching particular breeds to their domestic origins and–spoiler alert–Huskies hail from Russia.

Allergies, which affect 30% of adults and 40% of children, also remain to be an issue for those seeking a suitable pet. More often than not, a person with severe allergies will have very limited to no choices at a shelter–in fact, some dogs remain longtime residents at local pounds because their owner had allergies.

Like most pressing issues that circulate, the puppy mill epidemic demands awareness. We need to see an influx in pet owners who are well-educated in Pets 101.

Stop supporting notoriously bad breeders. One simple reason for their existence? Owners who refuse to pay full-price for a puppy birthed and raised with care. The whole “you get what you give” thing? Totally applicable.

Spay and neuter your pets and know when you are ready for another one. Contemplating a new addition to the family may be easy when your dog is in heat. But what happens when your single new addition turns out to be five puppies over?

Report abuse. We can’t singlehandedly shut down all the world’s puppy mills, but we can attack the problem from its source.

Free yourself from judgment. Don’t attempt to sway a person from his or her decisions. You may find yourself barking up the wrong tree, pun fully intended.

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