Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Finn. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Finn. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Stranger, a TV Series

I would like to review a British television series called The Stranger and I can easily do it in one sentence.   Go and watch it right now!

Harlan Coben's The Stranger a Netflix series
The Stranger (British TV Series) - image adapted by Lou16
from a photo on Pixabay.com
Want more than my bossy sentence?   Well I must admit the trailer for this series looked good and certainly peaked mine and my husband's interest, but the series itself totally outshone our expectations.  It is based on a book by American author Harlan Coben and after watching it I am definitely going to start reading some of his books.

The series has a British cast that if you watch many British shows you'll probably be very familiar with.   There were lots of actors that I recognise from different shows that they've popped up on.   The main star of the show is Richard Armitage who as an actor first came to my attention in the British spy series Spooks, although he has a number of other credits to his name.

Another star is actress Siobhan Finneran who has appeared in several British television shows over the years, but I particularly liked her portayal of  a police detective in The Moorside (available through Amazon Prime).   In this show she, again, plays a detective.

I would also like to mention two other stars of the show - Shaun Dooley and Jennifer Saunders.   I will be honest and say that I felt both of these actors were not (in my opinion) on their best game, but the story was strong enough that they didn't need to be better.   As a fan of Shaun Dooley since I watched Married, Single, Other years ago (a great British drama series) I was a little disappointed in his acting.   I've also loved Jennifer Saunders since her French and Saunders days, but I didn't feel that her acting was to the standard of the rest of the cast.

An actor that was amazing was Paul Kaye, I absolutely hated his character, he played it perfectly

This series is what I call bingeworthy.   We started watching it on a Sunday night and were only going to watch one episode - 3 episodes later we had to turn it off as we had work the next day.   The following night we had things on and decided to just watch one episode before bed...we watched two and it was very hard to get up the following morning.

Luckily the third night we had nothing on and the series only has 8 episodes so we managed to finish it!   I recommend watching it when you have 8 hours to spare because you may not want to stop.

The main story line is very interesting as it's about a stranger approaching someone with details of a secret.   What keeps it enthralling is not just wondering about the stranger, but all the intricate little threads that the writers have kept running through it.   The book was adapted by screenwritter Danny Brocklehurst and he has done an amazing job.

The suspense was kept up with all these surprising things happening - as an example at the end of one of the episodes someone walks into their workplace and is greeted by their workmates.   That doesn't sound very cliffhangerish now does it?   However it made my husband and I both sit up as we hadn't anticipated that happening!

The ending of every episode has you wanting more and that is exactly why I loved it.

I did see that Danny Brocklehurst and Harlan Coben co- wrote another Netflix series called Safe so I am definitely going to put that one on the must watch list!

One of the great things about winter is definitely cold nights watching some great shows/movies with my hubby.





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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Doctor Dogs – A Book Review

How Our Best Friends are Becoming Our Best Medicine


We are familiar with seeing eye dogs, service dogs, military working dogs, dogs trained to assist Law Enforcement, and dogs who work in search and rescue.  

Now, more and more as time goes by, scientific studies are finding that dogs can be trained to help people with chronic medical conditions, both physical & mental, and to detect diseases such as Cancer and Parkinson's.

Doctor Dogs, written by Maria Goodavage, relates many of these studies, along with a number of stories of individual canines and the people they are helping.  The emotional element in this book is as powerful as the science.  The book jacket states:


You don't have to be a dog lover to care deeply about what we are learning from these dogs – and if you're not a dog lover, you will be by the end of this book!


Doctor Dogs



Doctor Dogs by Maria Goodavage

Published in 2019, Doctor Dogs relates a globe-trotting journey made by journalist and author Maria Goodavage who visited top research centers around the United States, throughout Europe and England and as far away as Japan.  Through her excellent story-telling we meet many fantastic dogs, learn of their training in various areas and discover how they are impacting (and actually saving, in many cases) the lives of people whose well-being depends on these highly skilled personal MDs (medical dogs).


A Collection of (Trained) Canines in Doctor Dogs


From Angus to Zen......


  • Angus (Clostridium difficile-detection dog)
  • Baby Boo (cancer detection dog)
  • Bob (autism-assistance dog)
  • Bud (seizure-alert dog)
  • Daisy (cancer detection dog)
  • Dexter (seizure-alert dog)
  • Duke (crisis-response dog)
  • George (cancer detection dog)
  • Hank (psychiatric service dog)
  • Jedi (diabetic alert dog)
  • Leo (educational-aide dog)
  • Nina (seizure alert dog)
  • Parker (cancer detection dog)
  • Sally (malaria detection dog)
  • Zen (Parkinson's alert dog)


As you can see from the list above, dogs can be trained to help and assist in many different ways.  The training described is fascinating.  Dogs can learn to 'alert' to impending seizures (giving the patient time to find a safe place to sit or lie down), or alert to diabetic highs and lows, especially helpful in children with Type I diabetes who are too young to recognize when they are in trouble. 

There are Doctor Dogs who can detect cancers and Parkinson's Disease.  There are psychiatric service dogs who have proven to be invaluable to children with autism and people suffering from PTSD, both returning soldiers of war and civilians with trauma-induced PTSD. 

These abilities and feats dogs are being trained to do are just a few of the areas of medicine, and more, being researched at this time. 


Maria Goodavage, Author



Maria Goodavage (Source: Wikimedia)
Maria Goodavage is a veteran journalist who has written a number of best-selling books about dogs; two about military dogs, one about Secret Service dogs who protect the President of the United States, and now Doctor Dogs. 

Maria lives in San Francisco with, among others, her yellow Labrador retriever, Gus.





Summary


The dogs trained for these medical specialties are carefully matched to the individuals they will serve and are almost always of a calm nature.  Labrador Retrievers are a popular breed in this field, but just about any breed who is friendly and calm can be trained to be a good Doctor Dog

These Doctor Dogs absolutely love what they are doing. They adore and become very attached to their 'people'. 

What is their paycheck for their lifesaving work?  All they need are heartfelt praise and a tasty treat or favorite toy.  I'd say that's the easiest fee to pay any doctor. 

(c) Doctor Dogs Book Review by Wednesday Elf 3/14/2020


Quick Link:

ReviewThisReviews Contributor Diana Wenzel (RenaissanceWoman) has written several articles here about her therapy dog Finn. Click Here to meet this delightful dog doing his own service in this field of special hero dogs.







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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day – Holiday Review

Definition of UNIQUE: being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else. 

While this definition of Unique does not totally agree with the following, I thought it would be fun to celebrate the 'individual', if  not totally unique, talents of my fellow Contributors here on Review This Reviews. And while some of us have similar talents, our special styles make us each 'unique' in our field.

November 24th is known as “Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day”. Therefore, we are going to point out some of the 'unique' and special talents of the RTR Contributors to show what they are best at. Some of the fine writers here have more than one special talent, as you shall see.


Yarn Talents



Several of those in our group are good at yarn crafts.


  • Dawn Rae's specialty is crochet. She features handmade hats and neck warmers and warm slippers in her Etsy Shop DawnRaeCrochet.


Her shop also carries a line of what she calls “Jenny Hats” which came to be after making a custom hat for a friend (Jenny). These soft, slightly slouchy, chemo hats are made from a cotton blend yarn.


  • Wednesday Elf also crochets. Her Etsy shop – Coastal Crochet Crafts – specializes in plush animals for children, plus a few assorted other items. 



Baking/Cooking Talent




  • For very unique cakes and cupcakes in particular, you will find some fascinating recipes and how-to instructions from Sylvestermouse on Cooking for the Holidays.   She also includes other recipes from appetizers to main dishes to desserts, but I LOVE her special cupcakes and cake creations. 


Other RTR writers also have culinary creations to share. 


Check out ReviewThisReview:Recipes for everything from the proverbial soap.... to nuts, for your cooking enjoyment.

Gardening



We have several gardeners in our group, our most prolific being Olivia Morris

Come see the many helpful gardening tips offered on Review this Reviews:Gardening and on Olivia's website Grammie Knows How in her Gardening and Backyard section. 


Writing Talent




  • In addition to writing for Review This Reviews, Beverly Owens is establishing herself as a writer of Cozy Mysteries. She currently has 7 published books in 2 series (4 in the Roni Ranier series and 3 in the Cabin 9 series, with more to come. Read about how she began as a published author and her upcoming literary achievements at Beverly Owens, Author


Find her current books on Amazon, both on Kindle and in paperback. 


Photography Talent




  • One of our favorite photography experts here, Mary Beth Granger (MbgPhoto), has studied photography for years and often shares expert advice on cameras and photo angles to help us all get the best photographs we can. Mary Beth's favorite thing to photograph is  lighthouses and she is constantly searching out new ones to feature. 


Check out her Lighthouse Enthusiast Zazzle Shop  to see some of her beautiful images. 

For lovely photos on her love of photography, traveling, and nature , see Mary Beth's Beauty in Nature Zazzle Shop. 

Sylvestermouse Cynthia is also a fine photographer who loves to photograph zoo animals in particular and many other fun activities. You can see her lovely images at Photography by Sylvestermouse.

Diana Wenzel is also a wonderful photographer on our staff, as is BarbRad


DIY Talent




  • Diana Wenzel (Renaissance Woman here on Review This Reviews) is our 'Go-To' expert on do-it-yourself projects. 


Check out her many DIY articles here on everything from turning a simple rural mailbox into a bird house (Mailboxology) to creating a beautiful Fall Pumpkin Succulent Centerpiece.

Diana also has become an expert on rescue animals, most particularly one darling disabled dog who has won her heart. She chronicles his life & times in Mr. Muffins Journey, and relates his adventures and accomplishments in many articles on Review This Reviews (including becoming a therapy dog). 


  • Tracey A. Breen (The Savvy Age) is very creative in coming up with inexpensive projects using supplies from dollar stores. These holiday-related and home décor and just-for-fun projects are perfect for parents, teachers and scout leaders. 


Tracey is also very 'savvy' about recipes, holiday ideas and Lifestyle tips & hacks to manage an active home and life at all ages. Read all about it on her website The Savvy Age


More Unique Talents




Barbara Tremblay Cipak (Brite Ideas here) is our country music expert. She explains the meanings and stories behind many well known country songs and singers on her website (Drageda) The Heart of Country Music

Barbara is also a professional in the field of home décor and has many unique and unusual Decor ideas to offer both here on Review This Reviews and on her own website Funky Home Decor


  • Another Barbara (Barbara Radisavljevic known to us as BarbRad) has many talents. She is a writer, a photographer specializing in her native California landscape, and our book expert.  


Check out her uniqueness below at: 





  • Brenda Little (Treasures By Brenda) is a collector, particularly of coffee cups/mugs and movie merchandise, especially vintage pieces.  


Brenda frequently shares her collections through her eBay store Treasures by Brenda for fellow collectors. 

In addition, Brenda gives us fascinating facts behind her collections in her two websites:





  • Heather Burns is an artist and colorist. She creates fantastic coloring pages and illustrations for you to color. 


Check out her Etsy Store at HeatherBurnsArt 

Heather is also a talented graphic designer and features her designs on many products in her Etsy Store HBStudioDesigns.


  • Louanne Cox (Lou16) has a wide variety of interests and talents. My favorites are her artistic designs she features on a wide variety of items in her Zazzle stores.

I also enjoy the stories behind her designs found on her website Lou's Designs.


  • Margaret Schindel is another multi-talented lady. When not writing professionally, she is a jewelry designer.   
She has created and sold one-of-a-kind and custom handcrafted jewelry  for many years. She shares her jewelry making techniques in many articles on HubPages


Summary


As you can see, many of the multiple talents of the Contributors to ReviewThisReviews overlap. Many of us are into some form of arts & crafts, there are several wonderful photographers and quite a few good cooks. And I would say that all of us love to read and  enjoy movies and music. 

We are a varied bunch. While perhaps not individually unique, we all have our special talents. 

So…. Find your unique talent, and share it with the world on Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day November 24. 






(c) Wednesday Elf  (11/23/2019)

*All  images compliments of Pixabay and collages made with Canva.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Review of The Only Clue: A Gorilla Novel by Pamela Beason

Review of The Only Clue: A Gorilla Novel by Pamela Beason: Mother Gorilla with Baby
 Image by Curtis Yancey from Pixabay 

The Open House


It was obvious to Grace McKenna that Neema, the mother gorilla, was worried and getting closer to a melt-down. She and her baby Kanoni weren't used to so many humans around.They weren't used to hearing blaring music, seeing and smelling popcorn carts, and having reporters and cameramen constantly in their faces. They really hated the smell of the portable toilets that had been brought into the area surrounding their compound for the day.

Gumu, the huge father gorilla, was the most upset of all. He had retreated to his "nest" --  a bunch of tangled blankets at the top of his two-story enclosure. Although Gumu was twice Neema's size, he was much more afraid of strangers than she was. When he was a baby back in Africa, he had watched helplessly while poachers shot the rest of his family and cut up them into pieces.

Neema, Gumu and Kanoni trusted very few humans. Grace McKenna and her staff and volunteers were about the only humans the gorillas would let get near them. Grace was studying the ability of the gorillas to learn language. Neema knew about 500 words of sign language. She could use her sign language vocabulary intelligently with humans and with her gorilla family.

The local college was funding Grace's studies, and the board had insisted on this Open House as a prerequisite for continuing their funding. Grace had a splitting headache, there were rude children teasing the gorillas, and Grace just wanted the whole event to be over.

She was glad when her boyfriend Detective Matt Finn and his helper finally ushered all the visitors out. They had volunteered to handle security for the event. Matt invited Grace to relax at his place for the night. The staff had a party on their trailer on the compound.

Back in the Gorilla Enclosures

Image by m k from Pixabay 


After the humans were gone, Neema ate some strawberries and wanted to play. She went in search of Gumu, but he wasn't in his nest. So she took Kanoni back to her own nest in the barn to see if Gumu was there. But he wasn't anywhere. Instead all she found was a big wet spot on the floor.

"Creeping closer to the big dark wet, holding Kanoni tight, she looked at the spot out of the corner of her eye. Red wet. She leaned close. Meat smell. She touched her fingers to the red and tasted the wet. Meat wet. Red meat smell. Bad, hurt, she signed."
Where was Gumu? She wondered if Gumu was meat and was never coming back. She turned to the back of the barn and saw the wall was open a crack. It had never been open before. She pushed the wall away, grabbed Kanoni, and went outside to search for Gumu.

The Next Morning


When Grace went to feed the gorillas the next morning, all was quiet in the barn. She called them to breakfast, but no gorillas came. They were gone. Someone had removed the padlock from the outside of the door. Matt began to look for evidence, since the animals could not have escaped by themselves. Then Jon Zyrnek, the staff member who got along best with Gumu, discovered the huge puddle of blood and called them all over.

Matt immediately wanted to put out an all points bulletin, but Grace nixed it. Many of their neighbors in their town of Evansburg opposed having the gorillas in their neighborhood in the first place. They had gotten out once before and they were almost closed down then. Word of the escape getting out would endanger their funding, as well.

Grace finally talked Matt into investigating the the disappearance by himself and the staff promised to keep quiet. They canceled all the volunteer shifts, saying that Jon had the flu and they'd all been exposed. They couldn't chance passing it to the gorillas.  They also made up a story about a valuable missing dog that had been at the open house. They needed to report some case involving an animal to get the blood they had found tested at the lab. Jon and Grace continued to search outside, calling and naming the gorillas' favorite foods, but no gorillas responded.

The Undercurrents


Matt doesn't like Jon because he and the volunteer staff are all part of the Animal Rights Union that has been freeing lab and other animals they believe are mistreated. They've all been arrested and Jon had served time. They had begun their volunteer work with the gorillas as a community service sentence. But they enjoyed the work so much they kept at it.

Matt is sure Jon and the others are involved somehow. The gorillas are very valuable, especially since they can sign and paint. The sale of their paintings has helped fund the work. Jon's father recently got out of prison. Matt also considers him a suspect. 

Grace is worried about whether her gorillas can survive on their own in the woods, if that's where they are. She's convinced at least one of them has been killed. When you read the book, you will also be concerned for them and wonder what happened. I couldn't stop reading.

My Review  


I recommend this book to those who are interested in the intelligence of gorillas and their ability to talk to humans. They would find the book fascinating even if there were no mystery. I read this, the second book in the Neema series, because I had enjoyed the first book so much. Now I see a third book is also available and I plan to read that one, too. I like learning more about the capabilities of gorillas. But I also like trying to solve the mystery.

I would recommend this to any animal lover who likes mysteries  It's full of not only gorillas, but also dogs and Neema's two pet cats. The human characters are believable, though Matt seems to have a stereotyped view of Jon. The animal characters are also well-developed.

I found myself looking for clues right along with the detectives. The author shows us not only what the humans are doing, but also what Neema is doing. We know just enough to hope that the story will end happily, but we still have to wonder until the very end.

You might also be interested in my review of the first book in the series: The Only Witness.






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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Bark Ranger Review

Finn Earns His Bark Ranger Badge
If you are blessed enough to have a Border Collie in your life, you already know that he needs a job and a purpose.  My Finn is no exception.  His beautiful mind needs plenty of stimulation every day.  It's my job, privilege, and pleasure to find new ways of providing Finn with daily opportunities to take his immense capabilities to the next level.

Recently, when I was planning our next outdoor adventure, I came across information about the Bark Ranger Program sponsored by the National Park Service.  Why had I never heard about this before?  It seems this program is really starting to take off in parks across the country. 

Arriving at Pecos National Historic Park
Finn and I wasted no time heading for the closest national park with a Bark Ranger Program.  That happened to be Pecos National Historical Park in New Mexico.  They launched their program earlier this summer.  Perfect!  A day trip to the Santa Fe area is always a treat.  

Pecos NHP Visitor Center
So Many Architectural Delights
Such a Welcoming Place
I Could Sit Here Every Day
When we arrived at the visitor's center, it took no time at all to launch Finn's new bark ranger career. The main purpose of the program is to ensure dogs and their humans have a safe and enjoyable time in the park.  Keeping the national parks dog-friendly takes some responsibility on the part of those of us who travel with our pets.

The BARK acronym makes it easy to remember the promises you are held to when becoming a bark ranger team.  First, you promise to bag your dog's waste and to dispose of it appropriately.  Next, you pledge to always leash your pet.  In parks such as Pecos NHP, a leash could save your dog's life.  Rattlesnake sightings are frequent.

Respecting wildlife is another part of the oath taken when you choose to be a bark ranger.  The very presence of a dog in any park changes the dynamic for wildlife.  In order for national parks to remain a refuge for wild creatures, it is critical to avoid any encounters between pets and the animals that call that park home.  

Finn's Access to Pecos NHP Included the Main Trail to the Pueblos
Pecos Mission and Pueblo
And finally, every visit to a national park should start with knowing which areas of the park are accessible to dogs.  At Pecos NHP, Finn was able to accompany me on the main trail to the mission and pueblos.  I chose to keep him leashed in his dog stroller rather than use his K9 Cart (wheelchair) due to the presence of rattlesnakes in the park.  I knew it would be the safer option.

In some parks, you can volunteer as a Bark Ranger Ambassador team.  This is something I want to pursue with Finn.  It is my aspiration for us to serve in this capacity at our closest national park (Great Sand Dunes).  First, I'd like to help get a Bark Rangers Program started locally.  I wasn't able to find any Colorado national parks with an existing program.  The only current bark rangers opportunity I found was at Eldorado Canyon State Park, which is a good distance from where we live.

Having previously worked in a national park (Padre Island National Seashore), I get excited just thinking about the powerful teaching moments that take place in park settings.  Even yesterday, shortly after becoming a Bark Ranger, Finn made an impact while engaging with visitors at Pecos NHP.  One couple in particular told me that Finn had made their day and had made them happy.  It takes a special Bark Ranger to do that and Finn has a gift for elevating the quality of a day. 

If you love to travel with your dog, and enjoy sharing the national parks with your pet, I encourage you to join the Bark Ranger Program (you can search online to find which parks already have the program).  I'm really glad Finn and I took that trek to Pecos NHP.  It is surely the beginning of many beautiful and fulfilling connections for us.  I can't wait to see where this leads.





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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Final Journeys Book Review

Read More Reviews
As Finn and I take our therapy team training to the next level, our focus has been on preparing to bring comfort to those nearing the end of their lives.  Experiencing my mother's transition from this life while in hospice had a profound impact on me and inspired me to pursue this ministry of care.  In my current process of pursuing certification as an end-of-life doula, I am reading some deeply meaningful books that everyone could find beneficial.

We will all deal with dying and death.  Perhaps some of you reading this are caring for a loved one who is seriously ill, or maybe you have been given a terminal diagnosis.  The shock, heartbreak, and grief can be devastating, but amazingly, there are also elements of deep meaning, inspiration, and beauty in knowing how to live fully right up to our last hour on Earth.

In Final Journeys, Maggie Callanan, a compassionate hospice nurse who has guided families for over twenty-five years, provides us with the insights she has learned from those in her care.  The true teachers are those who are actually figuring out how to turn a dying experience into something peaceful and, in many cases, even celebratory.

Until recently, death hasn't been a topic of conversation that most people chose to address proactively.  I know that my own family was not very prepared to deal with the critical decisions needing to be made at the time that my mother and father were in end-of-life comas and unable to express their desires.  My siblings and I did what we had to do under the circumstances, but in many ways, the fabric of our family was torn irreparably in the process.  Things could have been handled so much better had we known then what Callanan shares in this practical guide.

As the author provides us with poignant personal stories, we gain wisdom about what to expect, how to best communicate, when to get specific types of support, and how to navigate the physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges of dying well (and helping others do the same).  Perhaps most importantly, in learning what we need to know about life's biggest transition, we are encouraged to reflect on what we most want in life and at our time of death.

I found Final Journeys to be much more than a useful guide to directing my future work in hospice service.  For me, it has been a highly reflective journey that has positively touched the parts of me still processing the losses in my own life.  It was an uplifting, and in many ways, healing read.

I only wish this book had existed when I first entered into nursing care as a young woman.  Perhaps, though, I was more ready to receive its teachings now that I have experienced significantly more love and loss over the years.  As a result of taking this journey with Maggie Callanan, I feel much better prepared to enter into new ways of bringing comfort to the living and the dying.  I also feel ready to orchestrate my own beautiful transition when the time comes.

Also Highly Recommended:  Final Gifts




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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Paws and Pals Dog Ramp Review

Finn's New Dog Ramp
As I approach the second anniversary of bringing Finn, my special needs/strengths dog, home from the animal shelter, I find myself reflecting on his extraordinary capacity for achieving things he wasn't supposed to be able to do.  Finn has grown well beyond the initial confines of his physical disability, which compels me to provide him with more and more opportunities to do as much as possible through his own initiative and power.  Yesterday, I bought Finn a portable dog ramp that will provide him with more freedom to access his world.  This review shares our first impressions and experiences with the Paws and Pals ramp.

Finn, like all of us, has his own way of approaching new challenges.  I've gotten better at understanding his learning style and anticipating Finn's insecurities (before they kick in), which helps me to be a more effective trainer.  A good starting point today was to take Finn to his favorite park for the first lesson in using a ramp.  I wanted Finn to be relaxed, and for him to associate good things with the pet ramp.

Step One - Explore the Ramp Flat on the Grass
First, to allow Finn to discover the scent, texture, and sound of being on the ramp, I laid it flat on the grass.  This was a very nonthreatening way for him to check it out.  I brought a high-value treat to reward Finn's every success (cheese works magic).  By strategically placing three cubes of cheese on the ramp, it was very easy to entice Finn to take his first steps up onto and across the ramp.  From his second crossing on, I could tell by reading Finn's body language that he was already feeling confident, and even enthusiastic, about this new game.  After the third ramp crossing, I didn't even have to offer a treat.


Having mastered the low-risk, no fear element of ramp exploration, I decided Finn was ready to take it to the next level.  I found a broad tree stump with a height a few inches above ground level.  Because I thought the surface of the plastic ramp might be a little slippery when elevated, and because Finn is very sensitive about his footing, I covered the ramp with some inexpensive rubberized shelf liner.  The new ramps come with sheets of grip tape, but the gently used model I bought did not have that option.  My solution worked perfectly.  Finn climbed the gentle slope with no hesitation.

Nonslip Liner on Ramp
Since Finn appeared to be having fun with our lesson, was having complete success, and didn't appear mentally or physically fatigued, we forged on.  Had that not been the case, I would have spread these ramp lessons over several sessions on different days.

Next, I used a park bench to elevate one end of the ramp about 14 inches off the ground.  We were now approaching the level Finn would need to master to use the ramp for getting into a low vehicle, or for getting up on furniture.  One great thing about this dog ramp is that it can be used indoors or outdoors.

Park Bench Height Ramp Elevation
I lured Finn up the elevated ramp by leading him with a piece of cheese.  It was important to keep him on a short leash and to walk alongside him on this first climb up a steeper angle.  I didn't want Finn to be tempted to jump off the side of the ramp.  We took it slow and he had no problems making it up onto the bench.  At that point, I felt Finn had done enough for day one.  As always, Finn accomplished even more than I had planned for him, and he laid to rest any concerns I had about whether or not a dog with only partial use of his rear legs could balance on, and ascend, a fairly narrow elevated ramp (it's thirteen and a half inches wide between the rims).

Finn will mostly use his Paws and Pals ramp inside the house.  My vehicle is not really conducive to having Finn load himself, although I won't rule it out until I let him give it a try.  He's sure to surprise me.  A car, van, or hatchback vehicle would be more ideal for the use of this ramp (nothing requiring too steep an incline).  I mainly want Finn to be able to get up and down off the bed for starters.  From there, we'll work on graduating to ever greater challenges worthy of Finn's capabilities.

Light, Compact, Easy to Carry and Store
Given such fast success with the ramp, especially for a cautious dog, Finn and I are giving it a Four Paws Up rating.  I really like all of the main features:

  • Folds up compact for storage (15.5" wide x 10" long x 16.5" high).
  • Lightweight (just eight pounds).
  • Made of a durable, easy to clean plastic.
  • Easy to carry with the attached handle.
  • Simple to use (no assembly required).
  • Long enough for typical uses without being too bulky to handle (60" when fully extended).
  • Strength rated for up to a 110-lb. dog.
  • Multiple applications for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Good value and quality for the price (least expensive ramp I found).
Who could benefit from a pet ramp?  Senior dogs, puppies, injured dogs, disabled dogs, small dogs, convalescing pets, and any weak dog or cat.  It is also a major help to those who care for animals (especially those who are physically unable to carry or load a large, heavy dog).  Even totally healthy animals enjoy using ramps.  It's good, stimulating exercise for a pet to try new ways of balancing and climbing.  

We'll keep you posted and continue to add photos as Finn becomes the master of his domain.  I'm sure he will continue to push the boundaries and to constantly redefine what it means to be a special strengths dog who just happens to have been born with legs that work differently.  Finn acts as though he has no limitations.  I feel it is my responsibility to give him as much rein as possible and to not do for Finn the things he can do for himself.  We're learning together how to be the best versions of ourselves in ways that elevate one another.



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Thursday, July 4, 2019

Olloclip Phone Lens Kit Review

Ramshorn Snail Shell - Olloclip Macro Lens
Up until this year, I had not done any photography with my cell phone cameras.  When my laptop died a while back, I had to rely on an older iPhone to take the photos for my online blogs, reviews, and social media posts.  That necessitated the discovery and use of a few key photo apps and, just recently, the use of clip-on smartphone lenses.  In the ongoing process of learning as much as possible about iPhone photography, I came across several references to the Olloclip macro, wide angle, and fisheye lens kit.  Today, I am reviewing my initial impression of these lenses (which are available for many different brands and models of phones).

When I purchased my Olloclip lens kit, I was mainly interested in the two macro lenses (magnification times 10 and 15).  I wanted to take some really up close and personal photographs (think flowers, butterflies, bees, dew drops, etc.).  Macro is also great when I need photos of the jewelry I sell online.  The wide angle lens will be used primarily for landscape photography (can't wait to try it out at the Great Sand Dunes).  It is also perfect for group shots, selfies, and videos.  The fisheye lens will be fun for the animal photography—like those cute nose shots—I do to help shelter dogs get adopted.  It is also wonderful for lighthouse photography (spiral staircases especially).

Rescue Dog Finn - Olloclip Fisheye Lens
As I have been getting into macro photography, I have found it helpful to start indoors, since it takes some patient practice to learn how close to be to the subject, how to get the focus right, how to stage the object for an interesting photo, and, perhaps most importantly of all, how to handle the lighting.  I don't have to deal with the wind indoors, either.  That is a huge plus.

Flexible Tripod, Olloclip 10X Lens, iPhone
Yesterday, I was experimenting with some shells I had found on the beach.  I used natural lighting by a window.  With macro, a tripod is essential, as is a remote shutter release (or the use of your phone's shutter timer).  I set up some black foam boards and a tiny easel covered in a sheet of black felt for my backgrounds.  With the Olloclip 10X macro lens, I was able to get incredibly close to my subject (just a few millimeters away).  Not much will be sharply in focus with ultra macro photography (but the right kind of blur is the appeal), so the trickiest part is moving the mini tripod around until you find the special effect, and point of focus, that expresses your unique point of view.  It's all about the angle.

Ramshorn Snail Shell Without Macro Lens
You can see just how small the snail shell actually is in the photo above using a regular camera lens without macro (about half an inch).  

Ramshorn Snail Shell - 10X Magnification
This is the same shell photographed with the Olloclip 10X macro lens.  I used the free Snapseed photo app for cropping and minor adjustments.  

Sundial Shell Without Macro Lens

Next, I experimented with a Sundial shell I found on Padre Island.  Two photos are provided for comparison.  The photograph above was taken with my Nikon D200 with a zoom lens.  The photo below was taken with an iPhone 5s (ancient compared to the latest iPhones) and an Olloclip 10X macro lens.

Sundial Shell - Olloclip 10X Macro Lens
Today, it was time to get outdoors and test the wide angle lens.  I'm sure most of you can relate to the frustration of not being able to get all of your subject into the photo frame.  First, I snapped a regular shot of this historic truss bridge with my iPhone (the Lobato Bridge over the Rio Grande in southern Colorado).  As you can see below, the right side of the bridge was cut off.

The Lobato Bridge - Built in 1892
The photo below was taken with the Olloclip wide angle lens.  I was able to get all of the double-span bridge in the photograph even when standing much closer to the bridge than in the first shot.  There was plenty of extra margin for cropping.

Bridge Photographed Using Olloclip Wide Angle Lens
One thing I did notice is that this wide angle shot is a bit fuzzy near the edges of the photograph.  I'm told Olloclip has a free app for making image adjustments.  I will check that out and update you.

It's not what you look at that matters,
it's what you see.  ~Thoreau
I was lying on the forest floor while pointing the Olloclip fisheye lens directly skyward when I created this photo.  This image reminds me of an eye, with the trees forming the iris.  In a forest devastated by wildfire, I was looking at the emergent green undergrowth and seeing how to embody the Phoenix.

Phoenix Rising: Self-Portrait
All of these photos are first attempts.  Once I experiment, and perhaps invest in a newer smartphone with a more advanced camera, I'm sure my photographs will evolve.  You have to start somewhere and learn by trial and error.  In this case, I don't really care if the photos aren't perfect.  For me, photography is a reflective practice.  I photograph things that move me, and I practice photography to learn how to see more clearly, to learn how to pay deep attention, and to immerse myself in beauty and wonder.  

If you enjoy pushing your creative boundaries, you really can't go wrong with Olloclip products.  They offer good quality, affordable tools for the smartphone photography enthusiast.  There are more expensive options, but for just getting started, I suspect most of us like to keep costs reasonable.  This is a good budget choice.  I feel I got my money's worth.






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