Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Day at Historic Jamestown, Virginia

by Donna L. Watkins

We celebrate birthdays as a big event since we are so glad for the birth of each other and those we love. Generally Randal does not want to go anywhere. He likes to be around the house for his birthday, but this year was different. He decided we would visit Historic Jamestowne which is part of a national park between Williamsburg and Yorktown, Virginia.

Remember the names Captain John Smith and Pocahontas?  Jamestown was actually the first settlement in America, even though it seems the Pilgrims got more attention on a later arrival in Massachusetts.

We had never been there so it would be a great photo opportunity for me also. It was an unbelievably gorgeous day! Deep blue skies and Fall colors. I hope you'll enjoy the photo tour almost as much as we enjoyed being there. View Historic Jamestowne Photo Album.

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Nelson County Blue Ridge Outing

Autumn in Virginia is a great time to stock up on apples. Our favorite place to go is Nelson County which has mountains surrounding it and Blue Ridge views. So, we headed for Drumheller Orchard's Apple Festival with a lunch to have along the way.

While at the festival we wandered out from the crowds and enjoyed an area that had bunches of Common Buckeye Butterflies. The video below is two of them dancing around the asters. I think they had romance on their minds.

View photo albums of Nelson County:
American Chestnut Restoration Project
Beautiful Crabtree Falls
Festival at Oak Ridge Estate

View Blue Ridge Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway photo album.

Butterfly Dancers - Common Buckeye - Drumheller's Apple Harvest Festival - Lovingston, VA  10-17-10
© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Two Dancing Common Buckeye Butterflies - Drumheller's Orchard, Lovingston, VA
Click to view video.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Surrender and Trust

by Donna L. Watkins

One of the verses I focus on in this season of life is Psalm 115:9:
"I will trust in the Lord, for He is my help and my shield."

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Purple Salvia

The reason it is so special to me is because of Paul's instructions in Ephesians 6:11 about standing against the devil's schemes. He also says in verse 13:

"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

He goes on to mention each item of armor we are to dress with for battle. I remember a woman in a previous church we attended that would get up each day and speak those verses and she mentally processed through the procedure of putting on her armor with her hands active in following the directions of her spoken Word.

It always seemed so heavy to me just to think about all that armor ... kinda like David when Saul wanted him to wear his armor to fight Goliath. I felt like God had a better way and I just wasn't seeing the real application.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  (Ephesians 6:12).

I often think of physical things when God is speaking in spiritual terms. One day while I was doing my morning rebounding, which I always do with my Scripture cards, I read the verse I began with above: "I will trust in the Lord, for He is my help and my shield." And a light bulb went on.

HE is my shield if I trust in Him. I don't need to fight spiritual battles in my own strength. James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

So there it was again ... God's message to me to surrender and trust. It's been His message to me since May this year. God surely sees how much information we are bombarded with every day, so he gently keeps nudging us with His guidance and growth focus as we walk with Him to be discipled.

Jesus said His yoke was easy and burden light. I never mentally matched that up with all the fighting we're supposed to be doing, especially taking thoughts captive all day long (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Surrender and Trust! How many times have you heard the words to "resist the devil and he will flee from you?" How many times has the sentence before that one been read first? "Submit yourselves unto God." We're so used to "doing it ourselves" in a world that geared to self everything. There's so much self-help stuff out there, yet God is waiting for us to acknowledge that we can't do much of anything without Him. His strength, power, might, wisdom and understanding can be ours if we lean into Him.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Ducklings Following The Mother
We Should Be So Attentive to Follow The Father
So, although I'd read Psalm 115:9 many times before on my Scripture cards ... I now had revelation of how I could 'armor up' without the weight of it all. "I will trust in the Lord, for He is my help and my shield" and Ephesians 6:16 says the shield of faith will quench all the flaming darts of the Wicked one.

To trust you must choose a faith walk and deny the Enemy's attempts to twist your mind and tempt you to sin. Remember he tried to get Jesus to show His own power in the wilderness temptations. Christ used God's Word to overcome the devil and so can you!  We make choices all day long.  If we've allowed ourselves to become weak and make wrong choices, we have to repent and ask Jesus to help you through it.  He's good at helping to set up new life within us, and His strength can be ours.  Is it time for some change in your choices?

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November Wildlife Tips

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Fall Colors In Our Front Yard
These tips are in the time/weather frame of Central Virginia, but apply on a far wider range, especially the resource links below.

• Feeders get busier as the month progresses, so keep them full to feed your resident birds and all of the migrants passing through.

• Waterfowl migration peaks this month so watch the skies.

• Peak of the deer breeding season, so use caution on the roadways, especially at dawn and dusk.

• Open water may become important if there's an early freeze, so be sure to get your heated birdbath out for the birds. It's nice to provide something on the ground for the small ground critters.

• Gather up some of the dry acorns to store and provide later in the cold weather. Be sure they are dried out, sprouts are pinched off, and that they're kept in a cool place. Wildlife will go wild over them when they've exhausted the supply on the ground.

If you have extra acorns, you can help by collecting them to provide foresters with the stock they need to grow seedlings and restore forests.  Get more info and locations here.

More Resources

Enhancing Your Fall Garden Experience.
Fall Tips: Attracting Backyard Birds.
The Autumn Wildlife Garden.">Fall Planting for Winter Wildlife Foods.

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Autumn Olives - Eat 'em!

by Donna L. Watkins

If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em! The berries of this plant ripen in late October, so it's a great time to make Autumn Olive jam.

Most Autumn Olives are an invasive species that exhibit prolific fruiting and rapid growth. This is unfortunate because they displace native flora. They form large stands of tree-like bushes and inhibit habitat diversity.

© 2004 Donna L. Watkins
Autumn Olives a Year of Growth
As a nitrogen fixer, it can also alter nutrient cycle dynamics and change soil suitability for other shrub species. They are vigorous and outgrow most other plants and will even resprout after cutting or burning them out. The heavy shade produced by large stands of these bushes suppress plants that require direct sunlight.

Unknowingly we chose this bush to plant as a privacy hedge alongside our screened porch in 2003. They grew quickly and as you can see from the photo, they send up tall shoots that need to be pruned unless you want a wild look. Fortunately, the place we purchased them at didn't sell the invasive species of this plant.

And invasive it is ... so could eating them be an approach to controlling this invasive species? Maybe not, but autumn olive berries are good to eat, and really good for you! They have way more lycopene than tomatoes, and fruit leather and jam can be made from them. The health benefits are many.

To learn more about using the berries from Autumn Olives for fruit leather, check out these blog posts:
Fruit Leather
Fruit Leather Two
Fruit Leather Three

The Autumn olive, (Elaeagnus umbellata), was introduced from Asia where it is native to China, Korea, and Japan; and known at least since the first half of the 19th century. It grows as a shrub or small tree, and is in the Oleaster family. It can grow up to 20 feet. This plant was originally brought to the United States to reforest areas with severe erosion, for reclamation projects, and to attract wildlife. Now it grows from Maine south to Virginia, and west to Wisconsin and has nitrogen-fixing root nodules allowing it to grow in very poor soil where it tolerates severe drought. We had it on our property in Alabama, placed by our builder who was with the Forestry Department, so they may have been using it there back in the 80's.

Knowing how well it did there and at our screened porch without any attention, we were interested in it as a border plant for our property lines since they had begun development in an area near the rear of our property and had taken out 50 feet of a neighbor's tree.  We wanted a visual reminder of where our property began, but we now knew about the invasive quality.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins
Autumn Olives Four Years Later Than Above
As you can see from this photo in 2008 of the ones we put at our screened porch, they grow very fast and full.

The big sell was that is truly a carefree plant. The only thing needed is pruning if you don't want a wild look. Since our first bushes had been in for almost 6 years we realized they weren't producing any berries, so there is one species that does not produce fruit to spread. The species we purchased is Elaeagnus fruitlandii.  We bought 38 of these bushes from Southern States in Charlottesville to border our property behind the house, an area where they can pretty much grow wild as they like.

I might add that Southern States is our premium choice of plant materials for the reasonable prices and the quality of the stock.  Nothing ever dies and a big reason why is that they get stock from nearby nurseries so the change in climate, etc. is not such a shock to the plant.  They're obviously interested in not selling invasive species also.

They may sell only the male species of the plant since I have heard that the female is the one that produces berries. I am not certain of that, but we've had our bushes for 6 years and I've never seen one fruit on them. They do produce an abundance of flowers with such an exotic wonderful smell in the Fall, that I will sit on the porch bundled up on a cold day just to soak in the fragrance.

The important thing is to NOT plant any invasive species. Our country is spending millions of dollars trying to control these since they are doing a lot of damage for many reasons. Check out the government site for invasive species.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Invited to Buddy Day - Rescued Bald Eagle

Our Name Tags
We've been involved with The Wildlife Center of Virginia pretty much from the time we moved here to Virginia in 2000. They rehabilitate wildlife and we looked for a place like this when we moved since we choose to live in woodlands and there's always a chance for injured wildlife, so we were happy to not only discover a place only 45 minutes away, but to find out they are an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine.

Each year the Center treats about 2500 wild animals, ranging from hummingbirds to black bears (more than 55,000 animals representing 200 species to date). The clinic has 24/7 staff to receive animals and treats them free of charge. Of course, donations are gratefully accepted, and for us, gratefully given, to be sure they are always there for wildlife. We sell pet foods at our Healthy Pet Corner website and this is one of the organizations we donate to, since we give 10% of our gross pet food sale profits to places that benefit animals, wild and domesticated.

Because of that we were privileged to be invited to "Buddy Day" which was an event to learn more about this rescued bald eagle and more about eagles in general. It was simply a wonderful and amazing day!  They provided a great lunch and even had door prizes.  It was like being gathered with many kindred souls since we were all Buddy fans.

Photo of Event Brochure - Buddy in the
Nest at Norfolk Botanical Garden
The only awful part of the day was the fact that I had left my camera at home, something that was simply unthinkable!  But if we'd turned around to get it, we would've been late.  So ... I told myself it would be an experiential day, rather than having my face behind the camera.

This particular bald eagle hatched in front of thousands of EagleCam viewers all over the world on April 27, 2008 in a nest at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, VA. He was removed from the nest when a growth was observed on his beak, which proved to be avian pox. He was admitted to The Wildlife Center on May 22, 2008 as patient #08-0887.

His story became a rather long one as various problems were encountered along the way, resulting in him having to be designated as an education animal, or an Ambassador for The Wildlife Center, as they call them, on April 27, 2010. Read more about Buddy's story.

The program featured Ed Clark, the President and Co-Founder of the Center, which had a humorous bent to it simply because of his personality. We learned a lot more about the beginnings of the Center which began in a small barn. More about The Wildlife Center.

We also heard from Dr. Dave McRuer, Director of Veterinary Services, who gave a review of Buddy's case history, including a medical update and the latest information on Buddy's treatment regimen, which has been reduced to a bare minimum now.

Before lunch, Claire Thain, Environment Educator, gave us a detailed progression of the methods and ways the Center uses to train education animals. It is totally done with a positive approach with rewards, never forced training with any negative actions. A major part of the plan is to keep the animals stress free (not exhibiting stress behaviors like pacing back and forth), so they are always changing what's in each animal's personal environment to challenge them to be very alert and attentive.

© 2010 James R. Deal - Buddy with Kong
Photo From Buddy Day Brochure
Suzy Doell, Wildlife Rehabilitator, spoke on the training process that was specific to Buddy who learned a lot quickly. He had a lot going for him since he was so young and used to people and being handled at a young age. As with each animal, they had to watch Buddy's behaviors as clues to what the next step was. When he didn't want to "step up" any more (get on the trainer's glove) for a reward of food, this was when they needed him to show them what to do next.

Amazingly, he got hold of a Kong and wanted to play catch, so they were back on track again. The training is going along on schedule with hopes of a six-month period being enough to complete it.

After lunch, Dr. McRuer gave a presentation of plans to build a permanent enclosure for Buddy. One that would also be used by other raptors in final stages of preparation for release. It would also provide a way for him to fly and be able to catch live mice.

This is their current fund-raising focus, so if you want to contribute, you can donate here. If that's not possible, perhaps you can purchase your pet food at Healthy Pet Corner, knowing we will be supporting Buddy and other animals around the world. The places we support are listed on our links page. You will notice the ones related to animals.

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Out of the Pit

From Seeds of the Kingdom

As Peter said in yesterday’s Seed, we all take great delight in watching the rescue of the Chilean miners and are amazed at the miracle of lives saved.

As I watched the footage of the miners being brought to the surface I considered their journey to freedom. It certainly wasn’t a pleasant one! Locked into a capsule the width of a bicycle wheel, they were transported through fifteen to twenty minutes of utter darkness and solitude with no certainty of reaching the surface. Each man before entering the capsule had to make a choice to do so. Yet, it is such a simple choice! Why on earth would you not choose to be rescued from darkness and fear to a place of light and freedom? Surely an uncomfortable transition is well worth it!

This Scripture reminds us that God longs to rescue us out of our slimy pits; pits of fear, rebellion, self-pity, controlling behaviour and more! Yet for some of us we refuse to be rescued. Maybe this is because we feel it will cost us too much or it is a fearful thing to do. Maybe we think we should be able to dig out of the pit alone and want to be independent of God in certain areas of our lives. The reasons for refusal can be many, yet it is this refusal that prevents us from finding freedom.

As we remember the amazing events of “Camp Hope” we should all remember that there is hope for each and every one of us until the end of time. For God will never stop wanting to rescue us. However, hope becomes reality through action, so let us actually start to make the journeys we need to make in our own lives and allow God to rescue us, no matter how uncomfortable that journey may be.

Father God, we thank you for safe rescue of the miners in Chile and pray that you will bring healing to each one as they come to terms with what they have endured. Help us not to refuse the rescuing you wish to fulfil in our lives. We want to be rescued from our pits and are willing to make the journey with you, safe in the knowledge of your unfailing love. Amen.

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." -- Psalm 40:2 , NIV

Author Bio
Lindsey Hanekom has, over the years, worked at all our UK centres! In 2003 Lindsey and her husband, Johann, joined the Blairmore team where she worked as the Centre Administrator as well as ministering and teaching on retreats and courses. She is currently a full-time mum to her baby son, Kyle and enjoys country sports in her spare time.

Copyright Info
Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.

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Recycling Electronics Free & Easy

There's a program called Reconnect that matches up zip codes to places that you can drop your electronics off for recycling for free. Goodwill Industries is participating in the program, so for most of us, it's real easy to drop off your "dead" electronics.

When these items are placed in landfills, they contain hazardous materials that we don't want in the ground and water supplies, so it's a really good deed to make sure they get recycled.

Reconnect accepts any brand of used computer equipment in any condition. They also accept just about anything that can be connected to a computer. More info about Reconnect and zip code search in case you want to check out some other area of the country.

I contacted Goodwill to find out if the Lake Monticello location at Turkeysag Gate was one of the places that accepted computers and they said it was. So that makes it VERY EASY! More info on Goodwill.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Line of Green Home Cleaning Products

Make Your Home Cleaner and Greener with These New Products 

Safe Products for KidsMaybe you live in a city that will have a meeting about these new products?

Bring your friends and family and join us at Clean Home, Green Home—a FREE educational meeting where you’ll learn why green, cleaning products are so important to health. 
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Each meeting will include free samples, drawings for great prizes, exclusive product discounts and more!   Read more about the products on our website.
Earth-Smart Safe Products
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You will receive a sample if you attend the meeting, but you can also get $25 worth of free products by becoming a Nature's Sunshine Member.  There are no membership fees, and no required or minimum orders.  No automatic charges ... no gimmicks!

Simply attend one of the meetings and get the free sample.  If you want a $25 product certificate, become a member with this information placed in the sponsor area of the application.  

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Being 60, Life Is An Adventure #17-20

by Donna L. Watkins

How exciting it has been to face each day looking for something new.  Before I began this focus on 60 new adventures for my 60th year on earth, I would not have believed how much difference it makes to look for good things every day.  Your brain seems to have an easier time tuning out the bad stuff.  I sometimes feel like I'm being transfused with Pollyanna genes.

That's me in the lower left corner
#17 of 60 - I get involved in our community in various ways and one of them is to write letters to the editor at times, but this new experience was being front page news.

I rarely wrote an editor prior to moving here, but there have been some things I've been passionate about like saving the community from having a deer kill because they are eating garden plants.  That doesn't make sense to me, so I've written and been involved with that issue a lot for the past 8 years.  Since the deer are still alive, I consider myself on the winning side, along with many others who work hard to keep that from happening.

During the past year we've been faced with a huge water rate increase which is beyond imagination.  When asked if I would write my thoughts on it, I did.  When asked if I could send a photo of myself, little did I know that the water increase was going to be the front page story of the next issue of our rural county's weekly newspaper.

Randal walks with friends in the morning and as they returned, one of them took the paper out of their box and he saw my photo.  How funny!  I'm a front page star and neither of us knew it.  Fame for a moment ... but that's as long as any fame lasts when you consider an eternity of time.  At least it qualified for a new adventure for this year of being 60.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins -  Orange Sulphur Butterfly
#18 of 60 - On September 17th I followed a butterfly around the yard thinking it was going to be a Sulphur butterfly I'd already photographed in prior years, but that's part of the adventure ... you don't know if it will be a new experience or not. I don't know many butterflies well enough to ID them in flight.

The exercise paid off since it turned out to be a Sleepy Orange Sulphur Butterfly (Eurema nicippe).

Since we don't have any of the host plants on our property or nearby that I know of, I was quite surprised and excited that we had a visit.

I was intrigued by the name, so I did a little research on Wiki. It mentioned that some people think the Sleepy Orange got its name from the black spot that looks like a closed eye. Others say that the Sleepy Orange is a misnomer because, when disturbed, it has a very rapid flight. I could certainly attest to that point since I was challenged to keep up with it.

Another interesting thing I read is that the color of the underside of the wings varies depending on the season. Summer forms are bright yellow with brick red markings, while the winter forms are browner and more heavily marked. Obviously mine is the browner version.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Hackberry Emperor Butterfly on Side of House
#19 of 60 - The very next day I saw another butterfly that I thought I recognized as a fritillary that I'd photographed many times.  Again there was something that said, "Go after it."  That wasn't very difficult since it was fluttering around on the deck.

I got a few clear shots of it and when I looked closely at it on my computer I realized it was definitely a new butterfly.  It was a Hackberry Emperor Butterfly.

Again, the rotting apples that we'd tossed on the ground from a local orchard was on the list of its favorite foods.  They eat sap, dung, rotting fruit and carrion.

As you can see these are not nectar drinking butterflies.  Not all butterflies drink from flowers, so it's important to provide a variety of foods.  I'm also challenged to expand our list of host plants so butterflies have more places to lay their eggs.  Each butterfly has specific species of plants that the caterpillar must eat to grow up into an adult butterfly.  As you might guess, many native plants are becoming more and more difficult for butterflies to find so that they can reproduce.  The Monarch only lays eggs on species of milkweed so some butterflies are very limited.

This butterfly normally rests upside down on tree trunks, so I now understand why I couldn't get him to pose in a more favorable position.  There is such beauty in butterflies.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Arrowhead Micrathena Spider
#20 of 60 - I am fascinated with the varieties of bugs and this Arrowhead Micrathena Spider is certainly a work of art.   It's like Somebody sculpted his back, gave him brilliant colors and a funny little face.  I wish my photo would do it justice. I used to be petrified of bugs, so I really enjoy getting close up to them these days.  It's rather silly how phobias control our minds and actions.  I'm so grateful every time I get beyond such an irrational fear ... and I've got a few more to go.  It would be nice to list one of them as being a new experience ... gone like my fear of bugs.

I always think of the Scripture, "Love covers all fear," because it was love of God's Creation that took away the fear of bugs.  I grew up as most of us do with people (generally women) screaming over a tiny moving object called a bug.

When we moved to the woods I had plenty of opportunities to scream.  One day I found a Walking Stick on the side of the house on the porch.  It was very interesting to look at and that was my first connection to God and bugs.  Thinking about His creativity and how much I loved the natural world.

Later I saw a Praying Mantis closeup and watched him move his head and then his arms to climb.  I was captivated, hardly realizing that I was looking at a bug.  It was shortly thereafter that I asked God to show me how to love ALL of His Creation and to not fear anything unless the Holy Spirit cautioned me to do so.  It's been all good since then.   But as to phobias, I'm still working on a couple.

See related article:  Phobias.  Continue on the adventure with me ...

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Bringing Hope to a Desperate World

by Tri Robinson

At times it seems the worst of culture and society seem to spread faster than the best. However, as Christians living with the hope of Christ in our hearts and a strong desire to see God’s redemptive nature restore so much brokenness, we must not dismay. We must follow God’s leading to participate with Him to bring out the beauty from the muck and the mire.

Our journey of discovering how we were going to address all these world crises began through the examination of the declining environment. Through a number of conversations and events, I came to realize that our church – and the body of Christ as a whole – had failed to bring Christ into the conversation regarding stewardship of the environment.

We remained content with dispensational theology that concluded God was going to destroy the earth and create a new one—so why bother to be a leading caretaker of it? But as people challenged me, I began to be convicted about that idea and started pursuing more deeply what God’s Word said about His creation. What I found was that we were failing in our role to be good stewards of the earth.

Where our mission teams work in Zambia, it wasn’t just that the people needed clean water, but they needed to be educated about how to keep their water clean. It wasn’t just that the soil was bad, it was that people didn’t understand how their topsoil was being eroded as they clear cut forests to survive, furthering the poverty cycle.

In surveying all of our ministries and matching them up with different areas of crises in the world, seven distinct categories became apparent to us that not only needed to be addressed on a global scale but were already being addressed through our local church. Read the entire article.

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Dog's Bad Behavior Could Be Health Issue

by Doctor Sarah

Have you ever found freshly dug holes in your backyard? Or bits of your favorite chair strewn across your den? Are you the proud parent of a canine that greets your guests by repeatedly jumping on them? Does your furry friend beg at the table, bark incessantly or strategically deposit her poo next to the dining room table? Simply put, if your dog could star in a film entitled “Dogs Gone Wild”, then you share a common complaint among dog lovers worldwide: frustrating behavioral problems.

There is one thing that unites all behavioral problems - they are undesirable to the pet parent. Behavioral problems are the most common complaint received by veterinarians at annual exam time. Whatever the complaint - whether it’s barking, chewing, digging, chasing, biting or aggression - many dogs exhibit problem behaviors. If you’re wondering what could cause these ongoing stresses in your relationship with your canine, you’re not alone.

There are many possible reasons why a dog exhibits bad manners. The easiest and most common explanation is a lack of proper training. Much to the chagrin of some new pet parents, dogs are not born fully trained – it’s up to us to teach them the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Other contributing factors of bad behavior are loneliness and boredom, which is especially common in young dogs of active breeds. Destructive behaviors like hole digging and fence chewing are often physical expressions of cries for attention.

You might be surprised to learn that medical conditions can be at the root of bad behavior. For example, aggressive outbursts might be the result of a serious and painful hip, a broken toe nail or even an infected ear. If your dog has ever snapped at you while you were petting her back or neck, a bulging disc or a pinched nerve might be the culprit. These conditions are extremely painful, and dogs are predisposed to bite when experiencing this level of pain. In fact, aggression and biting are common indicators that your dog is in pain.

In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah discusses common medical causes of unacceptable behaviors, what you can do about it, and the kind of training veterinarians recommend. Watch the video.

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Life With a SmartPhone

Think of the smartphone as a pocket-size game of chance. “Like a slot machine, whenever you pull a lever, you don’t know whether you’re going to get rewarded,” says Patricia Wallace, author of The Psychology of the Internet.

In other words, when you hear the iPhone ding, you wonder: Pictures of your brand-new grandchild? A text from the office? Or yet another ad for cheap [drugs]? Only one way to know—scroll and look. Sometimes you’re rewarded. More likely, you’re disappointed. Increasingly, there’s the risk that you’re overindulging.

If you love your smartphone, you’re far from alone. Half of all boomers sleep with their cellphone within arm’s length.

This smartphone explosion was sparked in part by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when people became fearful of not being aware of what was going on or unable to connect with loved ones. But usage surged with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, which turned handhelds from simple communication devices into entertainment centers. In 2007, according to Pew, 11 percent of Americans said they had used a phone to access the Internet. That grew to 25 percent in 2009, and to 38 percent in May of this year.

Texting is especially popular across the generations. “I love my BlackBerry,” says Maryellen Nugent-Lee, 55, of New York. “It keeps me entertained and connected. I can check all my e-mails, text and get back to people immediately. It makes me a better me.”

But many psychologists chafe at such explanations. Chief among their many concerns: Do smartphones rob us of real relationships? Have they eliminated our ability to experience the reality of the moment? Have we forgotten the pleasure of being idle? And are the new phones the ultimate mask for our insecurities? Read the entire article.

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