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There Is One Animal That Is Familiar To All Of Us, Whoever We Are, Wherever We Live Even If We Ve Never Had Direct Contact With One, We Will Have Seen One, Or At The Very Least, Heard One For Those Of Us Who Live In The Western World It Is Than Likely That One Sleeps In Our House, Possibly Even On Our Bed I M Talking Of Course, Of The Dog Yet, This Animal, Which Lives Alongside Five Hundred Million Of Us All Over The World As An Invaluable Partner And A Trusted Confidant Presents Us With One Great Unsolved Mystery How Did This Relationship The Most Complex And Enduring Of Any Between Human And Animal Start In The First Place Kate Humble Is A Life Long Animal Lover Now Living On An Idyllic Farm In Wales, She Has Achieved Her Dream Of Surrounding Herself With As Many Varieties As Possible But, As With Many Brits, The Dog Has Always Held A Special Place In Her Heart Here, She Uses Her Journey With Her Sheepdog Puppy Teg To Frame Her Examination Of This Very Special Relationship Written With Warmth And Love, And Packed Full Of Stories About Rescue Dogs, Guide Dogs, Service Dogs And Medical Dogs, This Is A Must Read For Anyone With A Four Legged Friend


10 thoughts on “Friend for Life

  1. says:

    Friend For Life The Extraordinary Partnership Between Humans and Dogs is a very engaging book Written by the popular TV presenter Kate Humble, it straddles autobiography and her investigation into the origins of dogs as we know them, establishing how they may have adapted their behaviour throughout history, living alongside humans Kate Humble s passion for Nature, wildlife and the countryside comes through in abundance when she is on screen As she has said There s nothing like getting outside and having a bit of dirt under your nails to make you feel alive She has carved a little niche for herself in the public s perception of all things natural her dynamic personality ensuring the popularity of programmes such as Springwatch and Lambing Live , which she refers to simply as three weeks of joy , Choose The Right Puppy and Animal Park Here we discover another of her talents.In 2013 Kate Humble established her credentials as a writer in the book Humble By Nature , in which she shared her personal story of moving from the bright lights of the city to a rural environment After twenty years of living in a London town house, Kate and her husband Ludo had decided it was time for a change They left city life behind them in 2007, and moved to a farm in Wales Three years later, they heard that a nearby farm was to be sold, but not as a going concern To Kate s mind, this was yet another case of another farm being lost, and the loss of another potentially good farmer left with no job Humble By Nature , described how she contacted the council with an alternative plan, and how, against all the odds, it succeeded Her plans to keep a working farm, and to run a rural skills and animal husbandry school next to it, worked, and the Humble by Nature rural skills education centre on a working farm near Monmouth in the Wye Valley, thrives to this day.As a writer Kate Humble has the skills to combine a factual book with anecdotal elements, and those who enjoy animal stories would especially enjoy the episodes about Bertie and Lawrence the donkeys, Myfanwy and Blackberry the pigs, Biscuit and Honey the goats, and Badger and Bella the dogs The human interest focuses on the tenant farmers, Tim and Sarah, and all the locals Friend for Life The Extraordinary Partnership Between Humans and Dogs also includes such anecdotal material, but is a little different, as she is attempting of an investigation There is one animal that is familiar to all of us, whoever we are, wherever we live Even if we ve never had direct contact with one, we will have seen one, or at the very least, heard one For those of us who live in the western world it is than likely that one sleeps in our house, possibly even on our bed I m talking of course, of the dog Yet, this animal, which lives alongside five hundred million of us all over the world as an invaluable partner and a trusted confidant presents us with one great unsolved mystery how did this relationship the most complex and enduring of any between human and animal start in the first place Kate Humble knows how to approach the subject to ensure the most appeal, by making sure that she includes plenty of her personal experiences to help the reading flow Her home life revolves around her animals not just three dogs, but also goats, a field of native breed sheep, poultry, three sows and their litters of baby piglets I was immediately drawn in by her memories of the television programme One Man and His Dog , feeling on the same wavelength as her from the start I had thought I was alone in being gripped by this remarkable demonstration every week, except for my own border collie, who, wherever he was, came running and was riveted to the screen from the very first shepherd s whistle On reflection though, I should have realised that there must be many like me, dotted around, or the series would never have run for so long.It was watching these programmes every week, and admiring the very special relationship which had been forged between both shepherd and dog, working together in partnership, which sparked a lifelong yearning in Kate Humble s heart I became fascinated with the partnership human beings have with dogs and developed a dream of one day having a working dog and trying to make that partnership work myself And when she fell in love with a ginger and white Welsh sheepdog puppy, she vowed that she would do whatever it took to learn how to train Teg to become a fully fledged working sheepdog.We read a brief history of Kate Humble s life, and learn a little of what makes her tick She is extremely energetic, committed to seeing an idea through when she has made her decision, and an inveterate traveller After I left school I was desperate to travel I saved the money by working at a hospital during the day and in the evenings I worked at a pub It took me six months to earn 1,000 She describes this as the worst job she has ever had, but it enabled her to start living the life she wanted Kate Humble is not an academic, and conscientiously tells us this early on, before the main thrust of her book What she does do, is try to get to the core of the discoveries and latest research, by visiting the places where it takes place, and talking to those concerned It is an unusual approach, and one which she does very well.She began her investigation by visiting the Wolf Science Centre near Vienna, in Austria The comparisons between wolves and dogs behaviour in the Clever Dogs Lab makes for interesting reading Research at the Wolf Science Centre has demonstrated that one of the main differences between dogs and wolves even those raised in an identical way is that domestication has made dogs biddable to humans Wolves are smarter and will learn , but only if it suits the wolf Put a piece of meat on a table and tell a dog no firmly and it will probably resist A wolf won t The Kate Humble learned, the she was determined to go and watch Siberian huskies at work The chapter To the Ends of the Earth describes the raw conditions humans and huskies have to contend with, and the great bond they forge.In between reading about Kate Humble s treks across the world in search of edification, we have chapters dealing with her attempts to teach Teg how to be a working sheepdog It turned out to be much harder than she expected, and she travelled to several expert Welsh sheepdog handlers in her quest to learn It was brought home to her early on, that she needed to know if Teg was pure Welsh collie, or whether there was any border collie in her Welsh sheepdogs vary enormously in size, colour and shape, so that they are not as easy to categorise as other breeds usually are But the main difference between them and other collies, lies in the way they work Welsh and border collie breeds evince very different behaviours Here is a description of Welsh sheepdog, called Smasher, at work he drove the sheep towards us, constantly running in an arc behind them to keep them together He didn t crouch or crawl like a collie, but stood tall, head and tail both up, nor did he fix the sheep with that classic collie stare In fact he barely seemed to be looking at them at all He didn t push the sheep too hard but kept them moving at a steady, even pace up the field, keeping them together, but not uncomfortably tightly bunched When they got to within about ten feet of us he stopped So did the sheep He stood behind them occasionally shifting position slightly if one of the sheep showed signs of breaking rank Little by little Kate Humble managed to get the information about the ancestry of Teg, and by visiting other working Welsh sheepdogs, Teg began to pick up the rudiments Copying the way the other collies worked seemed to be the most effective way of learning, and Kate Humble too found the examples set by other dogs was invaluable She was supported by the head of the Welsh Sheepdog Society, Adelaide Jones, whom she describes as an amazing woman Eventually she was just about confident enough to enter Teg into the Welsh sheepdog trials, provided she could prove that he had no border collie in him, as this behaviour would give him conflicting instincts as to the way of working and probably such unfamiliar behaviour would also confuse the sheep When you get a little bundle, as I did, of ginger and white fluff with enormous paws and peculiar eyes and a long nose, you suddenly realise that the responsibility and the future of this dog lies solely with you If that dog doesn t turn out right, I would bear the full brunt of that responsibility And very quickly, within the first few months of Teg s life, that hit me like a ton of bricks What I learned with a dog like Teg, who s been bred to work, is that they get this immense satisfaction out of it And she s far cleverer than me I ve had to work to be her partner, rather than the other way around We don t get it right all the time but when we do, it s just the best feeling in the world Alongside the developing shepherding skills she describes between the author and her dog, Kate Humble switches her attention to military dogs, rescue dogs, and assistance dogs of various types We all know of the dogs who have been awarded medals for bravery in various wars, and the assistance dogs who work as the eyes for a blind person Kate Humble looks into assistance dogs who are trained to do far , and to alert their owners of various dangers, such as providing an early warning alert for an oncoming epileptic attack Much of this will be familiar to any dog lover, but she also explores other initiatives, such as Green Chimneys , part of a mental health children s service in New York, who provide companion dogs for children who have psychiatric problems Another is a prison service, in Polmont, Scotland The young offenders here are thought of as impossible cases, whose only option offered by society, seems to be to be locked away from the outside world But in a daring initiative, they are given the change to train a dog Kate Humble describes case after case where the experience of having another living creature dependent on them, invariably ends up turning their life around There are also chapters devoted to the remarkable work dogs can be trained to do, in tracking poachers in different countries, or detection dogs who are trained to sniff out specific drugs.The book ends with Kate Humble s personal story about whether her dog was accepted as a fully fledged Welsh sheepdog, with the requisite herding skills I will not spoil this part for you It is a very readable book, as I said, but it is flawed Some of the information about dogs and wolves ancestry is out of date, and for this, a reader would do far better to look to a recent book written by a scientist, such as John Bradshaw s In Defence of Dogs Why Dogs need our Understanding , which I have reviewed LINK HERE Some may also find the dotting around between different subjects indicates a butterfly mind, but it is interesting to see how the author approached the research part of her work as well as developing the herding skills she needed.I was pleased to have read this as a paperback version, thank you Leila as apparently Kate Humble had been told by her publisher initially that neither she, nor her Welsh sheepdog, Teg, were pretty enough to feature on the hardback edition Oddly, someone else s labrador retriever was put on the cover of the book instead Friend for Life The Extraordinary Partnership Between Humans and Dogs is dedicated to Kate Humble s husband Ludo, and her beloved dogs Bella, Badger and Teg, who star on the dedication page Other photos of many of the people mentioned, who have developed an extraordinary bond with their dog or dogs, are at the beginning of each chapter, along with a relevant quotation.Kate Humble s excitement is infectious, and her writing style is very accessible She goes to the source, and includes verbatim conversations with individuals involved with the research, and the projects she follows She says that through this journey she became and fascinated with how dogs now have a role which no other animal has in human society I personally was especially interested in the parts where dogs are beginning to be used to detect cancers As far back as 2004, the British Medical Journal published research indicating that cancer has a smell, and that dogs can be trained to find it So far the best dogs have been trained to detect one part of amyl acetate per trillion, and possibly a greater dilution, but the equipment does not exist to try it The best any human can do is one part per thousand There are electronic noses which are currently used, but they are far far slower This book is worth reading to give a taste of projects such as this, which perhaps need exposure, before perhaps investigating detailed reading We could live without them dogs but it wouldn t be so nice said Friederike Range of the Wolf Science Centre I wanted to dig a bit deeper into that and I started looking into all the ways in which dogs have actually made themselves invaluable Through that process I came to the realisation that as a species I don t think we can live without dogs now.Even if you don t like dogs or don t have a dog, they re so vital to our existence Ask Margery to speak on behalf of all those who have had guide dogs, ask the shepherd in the Wakhan Corridor or the Mongolian desert or in Wales Ask the family of Genelle Guzman, found by a dog, alive, buried under forty feet of concrete in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center Ask those who served in the front line of Afghanistan, the parents of autistic children Ask Jon Flint and the people with chronic, life threatening illnesses Ask the young men serving time at Polmont Young Offenders Institution Ask conservationists and customs officers Ask the carers of the elderly, the lonely, the vulnerable, and I suspect they might all feel differently.


  2. says:

    I m a real fan of the author, Kate Humble, a TV presenter here in the UK she s full of enthusiasm and humour, yet wonderfully down to earth, plus she s a great animal lover.The book is all about the history of people and dogs, and all the myriad ways in which dogs have been used by humans over the centuries Most excitingly how we use them today Butthe writing just didn t come alive for me I think part of the problem is that as a keen dog lover I was familiar with most of the careers for dogs that she mentioned I also knew most of the research she discussed Plus, while some of her lovely bouncy enthusiasm comes through in her writing, it doesn t have the charisma of her television presence I found myself trudging a bit.I think this would be a good book for someone just discovering the wider world of whoofers it has less to offer those of us already familiar with all things canine It made me realise that I personally am probably interested to read about single human dog relationships I am interested in the affection, the goo and the Awwwww than I am in factual details I think perhaps I was just the wrong reader for this book.


  3. says:

    I really enjoyed this book written by an attractive, enthusiastic, compassionate and extraordinary author Animal lovers would almost certainly find this a worthwhile read.


  4. says:

    This is a lovely read, by a journalist who seems to have a fantastic job travel around the world reporting on dogs She goes to Asia to spend a month with herders in a remote high valley, for instance But the running thread is Kate s lovely brown and white Welsh sheepdog, and whether the pair can get it together as sheep herders Living in Wales, Kate and her husband have a couple of dogs and she writes about them as well as delving into the mists of time for clues as to how our partnership began The advantage of having a wolf pack camped next door, wolves helping early humans to hunt so they could scavenge, bringing home a pup to guard the cave Domesticating foxes and wolves through careful breeding We also see how dogs helped humans through the ages, but mainly how they work today Guide dogs and other dogs for disabilities Dogs that detect cancer with their noses and blood sugar issues Dogs that run to fetch help dogs that form part of a rescue team How dogs are trained to search out contraband and arms, and increasingly, trained to find anything people need, like wild cat scat, newts or stowaways Or explosive devices With some odd facts around each chapter, even those folks who keep up to date will discover something new The pleasant writing style makes this a very easy book to read and enjoy Highly recommended.I bought this book in Dublin This is an unbiased review.


  5. says:

    I always love a new animal memoir, so when I saw this for sale at my local bookstore I knew I had to read it I really enjoyed it, although I will say some parts are long winded and invariably flew off subject We get introduced to someone and then it flies off on another tangent and then back, and I got a bit lost at times This was really the only fault I found, because on the whole it was engaging and fun to read.Of course I recommend this to anyone else who enjoyed animal memoirs, but also dogs specifically A good read, four stars.


  6. says:

    Reason for reading I like Kate Humble I liked her when she presented Springwatch I liked Lambing Live, The Spice Trail, Orbit and Into The Volcano among her many other programmes I liked her book about her farm project Humble By Nature I was even taken with her when my wife, Ruth, and I stayed at the farm in 2015 I was impressed by the fact that when we went to the farm office to let them know our bathroom sink was blocked she walked over to our accommodation with me herself to check the problem, rather than send one of the other staff Standing in the bathroom of an upstairs barn conversion pointing at a blocked sink might feel slightly odd or embarrassing with some presenters writers documentary makers With her, not a bit of it She was friendly, amusing and apologetic that her sink had let us down More recently her programmes The Wonder Of Dogs, Choose The Right Puppy For You and My Welsh Sheepdog s Tale became increasingly relevant to me as Ruth and I were looking to acquire our first canine pal This book, subtitled The Extraordinary Partnership Between Humans And Dogs, was on my wish list this year along with another recent book of hers Ruth bought both of them for me for Christmas.About the book The events of the TV programme My Welsh Sheepdog s Tale are included here, acting as bookends and dividers to the rest of the material The subject matter is extraordinarily varied, encompassing how the partnership between humans and dogs developed from that of early man and wolves as well as a whole series of amazing stories about personal relationships individual people have with their dogs The latter covers everything from guide dogs to dogs hunting for IEDs with their Army handlers in Afghanistan There are chapters about young offenders working with dogs while detained at Her Majesty s pleasure and dogs that have identified illnesses in their owners In researching the book, Kate Humble travelled to a Wolf Science Centre in Austria, a conference in Copenhagen and a Young Offenders Institution near Falkirk, as well as all over Wales Her stories come from Siberia, Antarctica and Alaska, from the First and Second World Wars and recent conflicts and from the homes and farms of numerous people she met while putting to book together.Quote, unquote Dogs have evolved alongside us They ve become highly attuned to us, so much so that they can read our facial expressions and our emotions At last we are starting to realise that we can understand about our relationship with dogs and get from it by sitting back and letting them take the lead We ve realised that we can work things out effectively when we work in partnership We are better at some things and they are better at others Work together and suddenly the potential is massive.What was good Kate Humble writes as she speaks The copy flows beautifully, is natural, honest and enthralling I recognised so many parallels with my relationship with Bertie in the book and found myself laughing, crying and closing the book open mouthed at different stages The science is clear and the demarcation lines between evidence, theories and pure speculation are precise But the human heart of this book is what really gripped me The stories of occasions when people s lives have been saved as the result of the action of a dog or dogs are remarkable The idea that a well trained dog could detect the early onset of Parkinson s Disease or cancer, or tell whether a person is about to have an epileptic seizure or fall into a diabetic coma is stunning But I know from my one year with Bertie and conversations with the many and varied friends he has made, just how sensitive dogs are to people s moods and physical well being This book was a delight a wonderful way to start a year s reading.What wasn t good Would this book have brought me so much joy if I wasn t a dog owner Maybe not, I don t know Is that a problem As far as I am concerned, obviously not.


  7. says:

    The underlying narrative is of Kate Humble and her sheep dog Teg which manages to tie all of the other stories together and keep the book flowing The individual stories expound on the theme common to the book of how humankind has learned to use and often times rely on dogs A lovely read.


  8. says:

    A beautiful book covering many aspects of dogs training and working alongside people.Interlaced with training her own Welsh sheepdog Teg to work on her own sheep Her love and admiration for dogs shining through on every page


  9. says:

    Entertaining in parts but a bit monotonous in others Would have been better as n article