Overweight Dogs



The photo here has nothing to do with what follows. I just wanted to put something here to break up the text.

When my wife Tamara and I discuss breeds of dogs that appeal to us, one dog that I have said I am not so keen on are Labradors. There is nothing wrong with them, I want to make that clear. I don’t have the right to say there is anything wrong with them. But they don’t appeal to me, and the reason is that often they are – at least to my eyes – fat.

There is nothing wrong with a fat dog. Well perhaps there is if it affects the dog’s health but that’s a different story. But from my point of view there is nothing ‘wrong’ with a fat dog, they just don’t appeal to me.

I love watching spaniels run. Their bodies are so full of movement. Nothing rigid, nothing tied down – they move like fluid energy unbounded.

Which is not to say I am fixated on spaniels. I like all kinds of dogs. I have to say though that I was a ‘small dog ignoramus’ until my wife got me to actually look at them. She is a very observant person. She notices colours and articles of clothing, and just notices things that pass me by.

She pointed out the immense variety in the way small dogs walk. Some walk like they are just so happy to be there that they would burst if life got any better.

Some walk on tiptoes like they are the bee’s knees. Or like they are just not going to sully themselves getting any nearer to the ground.

Some are very intense, very purposeful. I mentioned that to a man with a dog as I was passing. He smiled and agreed and said that one day he hoped his dog would find out what he was being so intense about.

So, back to Labradors. My wife makes fun of me when we see a Labrador. She says: ‘Look, there’s an overweight dog.’

But, and this is a big but – today I was looking at a recent issue of The Week and noticed an article entitled ‘Why are so many Labradors fat?’

I started reading it and then noticed that my wife had marked the margin for me to read the article. So, to complete a pun, we were on the same page about it…

The article was a reference to a study by Conor O’Donovan and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge, who found that Labradors having the highest rate of canine obesity and that 23 per cent of the dogs carried at least one copy of a mutant form of a gene called POMC, which encodes proteins that help switch off hunger after a meal.

And the gene mutation was much higher in Labradors used by blind people – accounted for because the desire for a food reward makes the animals easier to train.

So there is science behind the impression I had that Labradors are overweight.

Who knew?

Sharp Lens, Dull Mind


Click the photo to see a larger version.

We have just moved, and now we are unpacking and I am consolidating things in boxes. And I came across a tiny compact camera that I knew I had but hadn’t looked at for a while. I took out the card and stuck it in the computer.

It’s got photos taken on that camera and on other cameras. And they go back to 2007.

I just processed one and the EXIF data says I shot it on 16th November, 2007 with a Nikon D40 with a lens with a focal length of 55mm.

So that must have been the 18-55mm kit lens I got with the camera. I sold the lens and kept the body and used it with a little 35mm lens. And the reason I did that in part was that I was convinced that the kit lens was not very sharp and was going to hamper my photography.

So now I put this photo through Photoshop and I wonder what I was thinking. It’s sharp enough and the colours are pleasant. I know colour is mostly a function of the sensor in the camera body, but a poor lens will rob colour and micro-contrast out of a subject.

And I am still doing it – chasing sharper lenses. Crazy.

The ‘dull mind’ in the title of this piece is a play on my lack of clarity in seeing that the lens was perfectly adequate, and a nod to the clarity of mind with which the woman in the photo is concerned.

The woman in the photo was part of a Falun Gong group. They had a stand and leaflets and were talking about how they are persecuted in China.

Look them up in Wikipedia – it describes Falun Gong (Dharma Wheel Practice) as a Chinese spiritual practise that the Chinese Authorities cracked down on, deeming it a heretical organisation that threatened social stability.

I shot this in England somewhere. I can’t recall where but I think that is a ‘Pret a Manger’ cafe sign in the background – so I probably shot it in Leeds.

The first time I saw a Falun Gong group was about fifteen years ago. They were protesting – gathered on the grassed area outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C.


Peace For The New Year


JenT and Cardinal Guzman, both WordPress.com bloggers, published posts on the topic of 2016 in review.

It got me wondering what had stuck a chord with my readers in 2016. In fact, nothing did the way one photo got a lot of attention a couple of years ago. It is this photo of a auto-rickshaw driver in Delhi. I think someone in Delhi who recognised the driver must have come across the photo and then his friends and everyone in Delhi looked for it.


Back to the photo at the top of this article. I saw it in the folder on my hard drive today and want to make it the motto for the coming year. And the motto is – Peace.