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Experience: my mother couldn’t speak to me

I had never felt so lonely; I had no idea what she was thinking or feeling

My mother, Nathalie, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis just after my first birthday. She knew there was something wrong a few years earlier, as she had started experiencing constant problems with her vision and pins and needles in her legs. Instead of seeking treatment or getting a diagnosis, she chose to have another child;according to my family, she was desperate to have a daughter after having two sons. But after giving birth to me in 1989, her health started to deteriorate.

Overwhelmed by the pressures that came with being a mother to three children, having to care for other people when her body was failing her, she decided to leave home when I was five years old.

I still saw her at least once or twice a week and I remember that for my seventh birthday, despite her illness, she threw me a birthday party in her council flat in the north of Paris. The day ended up being a bit dramatic, not because of her MS, but because a friend had somehow stepped in my cake and then walked all over her white carpet.

As she progressively lost the ability to move her arms and legs, she needed full-time care, so she moved in with her aunt who became her full-time carer. She gradually lost her voice over several months until her ability to communicate verbally ended completely. I was a young child, so cant remember exactly when, but it was as if one day she just lost her ability to speak.

I would read and watch the television with her, and sometimes she would make gurgling sounds when something made her laugh. We would spend hours in silence together and to show her my love, I would stroke her arm and place my hand on hers, as she lay in bed. But eventually there was no conversation; it was just me sitting on a chair by her bedside, speaking at her. As I sat there, I had never felt so lonely; I had no idea what she was thinking or feeling.

Every time I left her, I felt guilty because I was healthy. I could walk and talk and had control over my body but my mum had no control at all. From about the age of 10, I wanted to make sure my mother was kept up to date with my life, so I would make books that were filled with pictures of my school friends and photographs of my favourite bands with written descriptions of their music, which I would read to her.

While she couldnt use her voice, for a while she used her eyes to communicate with us. She would blink once for yes and twice for no when it came to food. But by the time I was 13, that stopped. Although she could no longer use her eyes to communicate, every time I walked into the room, I could tell she was happy to see me. It was as if the white in her eyes became brighter.

Sometimes we could get her in a wheelchair or sit her in an upright position with support. When the illness hit her the hardest, she would be inbed for days, unable to move an inch, causing bed sores which often led to her being hospitalised.

I remember the day she died. It was a cold and snowy night in February 2012, and my brother called me with the news. I felt as if someone had punched me in the face. But she was no longer in pain, and to me she had really died when she stopped speaking.

Six years on, I try to remember the sound of her voice and her laugh, but I cant hear either. I think that in the trauma of seeing her suffering, my mind has erased the way she sounded from my memory. I have some tape recordings of her voice, but I cant bring myself to listen to them yet.I know I will when Im ready and the time is right.

The silence that was imposed on my mother by multiple sclerosis forced me to be silent about her. I rarely told anyone about her and to this day, not many friends know what she was going through. She lived a life where she couldnt say a word or even raise her hand; it must have taken so much strength to carry on.

Now, I no longer want to be silent about her and the illness that she faced. I want to acknowledge my mothers immense resilience and courage.

As told to Tobi Oredein

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‘Fixer Upper’ star Chip Gaines shares close-up photo of 3-week-old son Crew: ‘My heart is full’

Like any proud father, “Fixer Upper” star Chip Gaines is more than happy to gush about his children, most recently his newborn son Crew.

Gaines shared a close-up picture of Crew on Instagram Friday. In the adorable photo, Crew is seen napping in his dad’s arms.

“My heart is full…” Gaines captioned the photo, which has accumulated 545,000 likes as of Friday evening. Thousands of people commented on the picture, congratulating Gaines and his wife, Joanna, on the arrival of the “precious” infant.

“So amazing so much love in such a small package!” one Instagram user commented.

My heart is full..

A post shared by Chip Gaines (@chipgaines) on


“What a handsome little guy Chip & Joanna,” another said.

“Congratulations! He’s a sweetheart!” one user added.

Some people couldn’t help but compare him to his other family members — mainly the Gaines’ oldest son, Drake, 13.

“You can already see the resemblance to Drake!” one social media user exclaimed.

“He looks like your oldest son!” another echoed.

“He looks like Drake for sure,” one person agreed.


However, at least one person argued he looks more like his dad.

“Your twin!! Congrats and enjoy,” one Instagram user wrote.

The famous HGTV stars announced the birth of their fifth child — joining siblings Emmie Kay, 8; Duke, 9; Ella, 11; and Drake, 13 —  on June 23.

Gaines took to Twitter to celebrate the happy news, writing, “And then there were 5.. The Gaines crew is now 1 stronger! 10 beautiful toes and 10 beautiful fingers all accounted for, and big momma is doing great! #blessedBeyondBelief”

The parents admitted it was going to be difficult adjusting to a newborn schedule.

“I have forgotten almost everything, so it feels brand new,” Joanna told People in May. “I tell Chip that I feel 25, and in my mind there’s something about it that gives me an extra kick in my step.”

Jennifer Earl is an SEO editor for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @jenearlyspeakin.

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Early rush hour as England expects

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Pubs, bars, gardens and parks are getting ready to host huge World Cup parties

Rush hour is expected to hit earlier than usual today as England fans race to get home in time for the World Cup semi-final.

The RAC predicted that roads would be extra busy at 17:00 BST, and that they would be “dead” by kick-off.

Meanwhile, train firms Southern and Great Northern expect afternoon services to be extremely busy.

England will play Croatia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium at 19:00. It is their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years.

The AA predicts that millions of people will be going home early this evening and, by 19:00, roads will be “much quieter than on Christmas Day”.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “Historically, the biggest TV events and quietest roads in the UK were during the World Cup final in 1966 followed by the funeral of Diana, Apollo 13, royal weddings and Muhammad Ali’s ‘Rumble in the Jungle’. This game will join the list.

“Rail commuters may also take earlier trains, perhaps worried about delays or staff shortages due to the match.”

Highways England said traffic dropped by about a third when England played Colombia earlier in the tournament.

People will either travel home earlier on Wednesday to make it home in time for kick-off – or choose not to travel at all by working from home or watching the match at or near work.

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Media captionWorld Cup 2018: How England v Sweden interrupted a nation

Rail operators Southern, Great Northern and Thameslink urged people to allow plenty of time to travel.

Virgin Trains has lifted ticket restrictions on its West Coast Mainline trains leaving London Euston station so people with off-peak or advance tickets can catch any train.

On Wednesday morning, some commuters said the roads were already busy – “almost like everyone is getting in early so they can leave early,” said one woman in Torbay, Devon, on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the union for shopworkers, Usdaw, has urged employers to be “as flexible as possible” with staff wanting to support England and watch tonight’s game.

“World Cup success is such a big matter for England fans, it would a real shame if any were to miss it coming home,” the union said.

About 1,000 workers at BMW Mini in Oxford will finish three hours early today, with the firm’s press officer Steve Wrelton saying it “felt like the right thing to do”.

And Rolls-Royce in Goodwood will suspend all production early to give its employees a chance to watch the game.

And the Asian Catering Federation, which represents the Asian takeaway and restaurant industry, urged any fans wanting a curry to “order your takeaway early”.

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Media captionHow Gareth Southgate inspired some waistcoat imitators

The British Beer and Pub Association predicts that the number of pints bought will soar by 10 million during tonight’s semi-final, and it could bring a boost to the economy of up to £30m.

Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said it was “fantastic news” for the “great British pub”.

Many people – including staff at Nunnery Wood High School in Worcester – are embracing so-called “waistcoat Wednesday” in honour of manager Gareth Southgate.

Others noticed the difference on their morning commute.

British Airways gave free waistcoats to some passengers travelling from London Heathrow to Moscow, along with boarding passes showing a traveller named “football” and the destination “home”.

Anticipation is reaching fever pitch, with the possibility that England could reach their first World Cup final since 1966 if they defeat Croatia.

Nearly 20 million television viewers watched England beat Sweden in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

The winners of tonight’s game will face France in the final at 16:00 on Sunday.

Hundreds of England supporters have been arranging last-minute trips to Russia after the side booked their semi-final place with a 2-0 win over Sweden on Saturday.

England catches World Cup fever

Image copyright Getty Images

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Breastfeeding: it’s bad for business! | First Dog on the Moon

Why would the USA oppose a resolution to promote breastfeeding?

First Dog on … breastfeeding!

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In honor of Father’s Day, 11 unforgettable books about being a dad

Image: Mashable Composite

In pop culture, fathers are too frequently portrayed as the bumbling parent who ruins things that moms then have to come fix. But being a dad is far more complicated (and beautiful, and terrifying, and everything else).

For anyone tired of overly simplistic representations of dads, we have good news: Literature is really great at painting more dynamic portraits of fatherhood.

Some books are rueful meditations on father/son relationships, while others are hilarious dives into parenting misadventures. Still others demonstrate how meaningful a found family can be. But no matter what tone and types of characters are featured, books are here to show us there’s no one way to be a dad. In fact, there are infinite ways.

Here are 11 books that showcase the weird, wonderful, unforgettable phenomenon we know as fatherhood.

Image: Penguin Press


Dads give the best presents, but Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard really takes the cake with his book Autumn. It’s a collection of brief meditations that attempt to capture what makes the world beautiful, all written for Knausgaard’s unborn daughter, his fourth child. “You will experience things for yourself and live a life of your own, so of course it is primarily for my own sake that I am doing this: showing you the world, little one, makes my life worth living,” Knausgaard writes in the book’s intro. You know that phrase, “I wish I could give you the world”? That’s exactly what Knausgaard is trying to do for his daughter, and no, we’re not crying, YOU’RE crying.

Image: Harper Collins

Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces

It’s not the big moments, but rather the small things of everyday life that carry the most weight. In his book Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces, Michael Chabon tries to capture those glimpses that make fatherhood so extraordinary. The book opens with Chabon’s famous GQ essay about watching his son fully embrace himself at Paris Fashion Week, and expands from there with 6 other essays about fatherhood. There is no other way to say this: Michael Chabon is just a fucking phenomenal writer. Whether you’re a dad yourself or reflecting on your relationship with your own father, Chabon’s writing about parenting will tug at your heartstrings. (Bonus: If you want another gorgeous meditation on fatherhood, be sure to read Chabon’s “The Recipe for Life,” an essay about his own dad, published in The New Yorker.)

An American Marriage

Much has been said about Tayari Jones’ critically acclaimed An American Marriage, and for good reason — the book does emotional gymnastics as readers dive into the complex relationship between Celestial and Roy, a newly married couple separated after Roy is wrongly incarcerated. But in addition to dealing with amorous love, the book also carries a very important theme of fatherhood. Roy is raised by a stepdad, but (*spoiler alert*) he unexpectedly meets his biological father in prison in the middle of the novel. As Roy meditates on his life and what he’s learned from each of those men, An American Marriage explores what it means to be a dad in America today.


It’s turtles all the way down when it comes to portraying parenthood in Paul Harding’s novel Tinkers. The book opens with one father on his death bed, thinking about his relationship with his father. Then, as the narrative progresses, Harding flashes back to the dad’s relationship with his dad. The result is a novel that, in just under 200 pages, captures generations of father/son dynamics and the complex ways we conform and rebel against our dads. Connecting it all is some incredible prose about family and growing up.

Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First-Century Parenthood

Here’s the secret that nobody tells you about parenthood: Sometimes it can be a complete shitshow. It’s that truth that Drew Magary hopes to document in his parenthood memoir, Someone Could Get Hurt. The book is a collection of tales from Magary’s experiences as a dad, ranging from “getting drunk while trick-or-treating and telling dirty jokes to make bath time go smoothly to committing petty vandalism to bond with a 5-year-old.” Mashable’s Marcus Gilmer says Someone Could Get Hurt is a “raw, honest, sometimes crude and hilarious account of parenthood with a heart at its center.”

To Kill a Mockingbird

Has there been a more iconic dad to grace the pages of a book than Atticus Finch, the unforgettable father in To Kill a Mockingbird? Atticus is wise in his own right, but it’s his willingness to let Scout and Jem explore, fail, and learn from their mistakes that takes him to the next level. That’s not to say he’s an absent father. Just the opposite: Atticus always has his eye on his kids and their learning, and he delivers key lessons about kindness, empathy, and justice throughout the novel. It’s this compassion and wisdom that makes Atticus such an iconic literary dad. (The elephant in the room is Go Set a Watchman, where Atticus is old, mean, and racist. But that’s an early draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, so I don’t count it as Harper Lee canon.)

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

Hannah Tinti’s The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is a novel about the lengths we’d go to in order to protect our family. The book follows Loo and her father, the titular Samuel Hawley, as they settle into a provincial New England town. Not all is as it seems, however. Though Hawley is quiet, he has a dark past as a smuggler, and his decision to move is an attempt to escape ghosts of his former life of crime that are coming to haunt him. The novel tracks Samuel Hawley’s past (the 12 lives alluded to in the novel) alongside Hawley’s efforts to give Loo a normal childhood. Sure, he may not be a traditional dad, but one thing is sure: He loves his daughter more than anything.

The Goldfinch

Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is a quietly divisive novel. After a literally explosive beginning, the novel follows Theo, a boy who accidentally steals a painting from the Met, as he grows up. The second half of the book turns into a fast-paced art heist novel, in stark contrast to the coming-of-age story we begin with. One of the most unforgettable sections in the book, though, is about Theo’s time in the West Village with gay antiques collector Hobie. Hobie takes in Theo, who’s been orphaned after the bombing at the Met, as his own son. Though Hobie is dealing with his own grief, he becomes a kind and generous father figure for Theo. It’s this portrait of fatherhood and found family that gives The Goldfinch its grounding and its heart.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

You may be surprised to find Harry Potter on this list, especially considering how the novels deconstruct the myth of James Potter in the later books. But for anyone who says Harry Potter is not a series about fatherhood, I’ve got two words for you: Sirius Black. Despite having perhaps one of the most tragic character arcs of the series, Harry’s godfather Sirius remains a beacon of light shining from the HP Universe. He’s playful, he’s moody, he can transform into a dog, and, more than anything, he loves Harry. And though Sirius is the most notable father figure for Harry, with characters like Dumbledore, Hagrid, Mr. Weasley, and more, the Harry Potter series is filled with models of fatherhood in all forms.


A Wrinkle in Time

A lot of weird stuff happens in A Wrinkle in Time. Like, waaaaay more weird stuff than you remember. As the Wallace children (and Calvin) journey to rescue Meg’s dad, they meet darkness incarnate, an evil brain, and a giant, faceless creature named “Aunt Beast.” But at the core of the Wallace’s journey through space and time is Meg’s steadfast love and devotion to her father, who is willing to risk it all to protect his children. Even when he’s not at home, the mere memory of Mr. Wallace gives Meg courage, which is why he’s one of literature’s best dads.

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Jesymn Ward’s National Book Award-winning novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, is a coming-of-age story filled with ghosts. The book follows Jojo and his mom Leonie as they journey to pick up Jojo’s father from prison. As the novel dives into the way we all must confront our pasts, Sing, Unburied, Sing provides a raw look at a vulnerable family trying to stay together despite the challenges they face. Included is Jojo’s grandfather, Pop, a stoic figure who serves as a foundation for the family — but also has his own story to tell.

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Playing pool with this trusty augmented reality projector should be the only way it’s done from now on

A family may be responsible for a pricey statue their child knocked it over at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas.

According to Sarah Goodman, the child’s mother, the incident occurred last month at a wedding reception, local outlet KSHB reports

A security cam captured the whole thing, and shows the kid hug the statue before walking away. The child later returns to the statue, and appears to hang onto it. The statue falls over, and the young boy goes along with it. 

The statue was not barricaded in any way.

“We heard a bunch of commotion and I thought, ‘Whose yelling at my son?’” Goodman said. “This glass mosaic torso is laying on the ground and someone is following me around demanding my personal information.”

Eventually the family received a letter from an insurance company saying they were responsible for the statue because they neglected to monitor their children. 

“My children are well supervised but all people get distracted,” Goodman told KSHB. 

In her defense Goodman brings up a good point — why was this super expensive statue that could easily be toppled just sitting there without even a rope around it?

“It’s in the main walkway. Not a separate room. No plexiglass. Not protected. Not held down,” she said. “There was no border around it. There wasn’t even a sign around it that said, ‘Do not touch.’”

Sean Reilly, a spokesperson for the City of Overland Park claims the sculpture was never meant to be touched, and said there’s a “societal responsibility that you may not interact with it if it’s not designed for interaction.” 

“It was a piece that was loaned to us that we are responsible for. That’s public money,” Reilly said. “We are responsible to protect the public investment.”

One may argue that the “societal responsibility” to keep a child safe from a statue that could easily topple over is more important than protecting a piece of art.

Goodman said she’s attempting to see if her homeowner’s insurance will cover the cost of the statue, adding that the 132,000 price tag is “completely astronomical.”

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Mum loses son over Bob the Builder car

Image caption Judge ruled there was “a potential risk of the boy falling if the woman lost control of him” as he sat in the toy car

A nurse has had her one-year-old son taken from her after a social worker said the way she let him sit in a Bob the Builder toy car was “inappropriate” for his age.

The social worker told a private family court hearing in Reading she had concerns about the woman’s “basic parenting skills”.

She said the woman had also not fed her son or changed his nappy appropriately.

Judge Eleanor Owens ruled the boy should live with relatives.

She added the child would be able to stay in touch with his mother, who she described as having an “extremely low range” of intellectual ability.

‘Potential risk’

The social worker described how she had watched the woman “spend about an hour holding the boy who was sitting in the Bob the Builder car”.

She said the mother “maintained limited eye contact and communication” and that the toy car was “inappropriate” for his age because there was “a potential risk of the boy falling if the woman lost control of him”.

Judge Owens said all professionals involved were concerned about the woman’s “lack of insight” and “ability to meet the needs of the boy”.

She said the social worker had “highlighted” some of those concerns.

“These include…not feeding the boy in an appropriate position, not changing his nappy appropriately, and placing his nappy changing mat very close to a metal table leg when he was moving around on the mat,” the judge explained in her ruling.

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I didnt understand male privilege until I became a stay-at-home dad.

When my wife returned to work after parental leave, I took my first trip to the grocery with two kids.

Little did I know I would return home feeling like a hero.

On a Monday morning, I pushed the green cart with flame decals through the second set of sliding doors and toward the deli. My 3-year-old son was strapped in the seat and my 3-month-old son was wrapped against my chest.

As a stay-a-home father strolling through the grocery, I felt conflicting emotions — love for caring for my sons and frustration with being an unemployed 37-year-old man.

At the deli, I exchanged pleasantries with a young woman behind the counter and ordered a pound of sliced turkey breast. I was immediately surrounded by a group of female employees. They leaned close to admire my infant son as he raised his bald head from the green cloth wrap.

“I never could get mine to like the wrap,” one said.

“I bet y’all have so much fun together,” another said.

“You are the best dad ever,” another said.

I swelled with pride. Maybe theyre right! Maybe I am the best dad ever.

I soaked in the praise before tossing my sliced turkey into the cart and heading toward the produce.

As I strolled, more comments came from fellow shoppers, and I absorbed them, giving little thought to the reason why I merited heightened attention.

“Nice baby wearing,” a young woman said.

“That is one way to keep ’em warm,” an elderly woman said.

“Man, you are taking this dad thing to the next level,” a bag boy at checkout said.

The series of verbal high-fives inflated my ego and, after receiving the receipt from the cashier, I smiled and pushed our flaming green cart through the sliding doors like a rock star walking offstage.

I had no clue I was benefiting from male privilege.

I enjoy the attention I receive as a stay-at-home dad; it’s nice to have impressed eyes turned on me.

My rationale for basking in the compliments is that I spend most of my time wading through dirty diapers, spit-up, and spilled Cheerios. I deserve some praise, right?

I thought so, until one Sunday morning I sipped coffee and read an article (a rare kids-free moment in the kitchen) about faux male feminists. The article included comments from Tal Peretz, a sociology professor at Auburn University, who described a concept called “the pedestal effect.”

As I read, my male privilege became uncomfortably visible. The pedestal effect refers to when men receive undeserved praise, attention, and rewards for performing work traditionally done by women, like carrying a baby in a wrap.

At the grocery store, I willingly stepped on the pedestal and used my privilege to gain attention for basic child care.

And as I reflected on Peretz’s words, other pedestal moments flashed in my mind. This realization was not something I could ignore.

If you believe in gender equality, it is not hard to understand why it is problematic to place one gender on a pedestal for doing the bare minimum, while another bears the bulk of the child care. Not only is it unfair, but it’s also not in the best interests of families and can place stress on them when parenting roles are unbalanced.

For men who value gender equality and healthy families, assisting in lowering the pedestal is imperative.

After reading Peretz’s comments, I wrestled with how to respond and, hopefully, how to help other dads become more aware of this privilege. I reached out to him to discuss the pedestal effect, and he offered practical ways to counter male privilege.

He reminded me of the complexity of privilege and how it operates on different levels — individual, interpersonal, institutional and structural.

We cannot dismantle institutions and structures by ourselves, but we can start with naming our privilege and giving credit to women wherever it is due.

Naming our privilege through raising awareness is a good place to begin, because men have been socialized to interact with women in particular ways, and it can be difficult for us to see how we are perpetuating gender inequality.

Peretz recommends using resources such as privilege checklists to identify your advantages. These resources can help us move unconscious thoughts and behaviors into the light of awareness. Ideally, this work will lead to interpersonal change.

Men can make the effort to closely listen to women to understand how they perceive male privilege. And, most importantly, we need to believe women.

Maybe you remain skeptical that a pedestal effect exists for fathers. Ask a mother whether she believes fathers benefit from undeserved praise. Her answer might surprise you. Men get attention and praise for doing work women do every day.

Raising awareness and listening are important steps, but I also wanted to know how to best respond when given undeserved attention.

Peretz recommends reacting “with humility and a sense of humor,” while bringing attention and awareness back to the work women have been doing for a long time.

For example, at the deli, I could have redirected the conversation. I could’ve used one of these playful responses suggested by Peretz: “Yeah, I’m really glad that my wife did all the heavy lifting of pregnancy and childbirth so I’d get to enjoy this little monster,” or “I really appreciate that, but it’s nothing my mom didn’t have to do for me!”

I want to do a better job of stepping off the pedestal and challenging sexist beliefs about parenting.

I want to better align myself with the women who have been doing this work for generations and assist them in creating more balanced roles within families. And I want to share the most important lesson I’ve learned while reflecting on this issue, which is that not only should I do this work because it is the right thing to do, but also because I need it.

Men need to be liberated from the rigid forms of masculinity that create a pedestal in the first place. Only when we step off them can we hope to be free.

This story originally appeared in the On Parenting section of The Washington Post and is reprinted here with permission.

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First pets around the world: Puppies, bunnies — or beetles

(CNN)The man had desperation in his eyes while his three children held an ailing puppy in their arms. At that moment, Sean Owens knew that he had to help.

Owens, a veterinarian and professor of clinical pathology in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, was doing volunteer work in the Baja region of Mexico in 2014 when the man came to him in hopes Owens could treat his children’s sick puppy.

Parenting Without Borders considers how parenting trends and methods differ — or don’t — around the world.

“His family had a special bond with this animal, especially their kids. The father looked at me, and the look he gave — without us speaking Spanish together — basically said, ‘I love my children; my child loves this dog; what can you do?’ ” Owens said.
    “I realized that the puppy had parvovirus, which tends to be fatal if you don’t have a thousand dollars or more to treat the animal in a hospital,” he said. “So we started an IV. I gave the dog antibiotics, and I gave it fluids. I sent it home with them, and I came back for three days in a row, and we treated it. The puppy lived.”
    A few years later, during another trip to Mexico, Owens saw that father again.
    “It’s a small town where we are, and he came over — still I spoke very little Spanish; he spoke very little English — and he reached out and shook my hand. He had tears in his eyes,” Owens said. “This was a hard-core farmer guy, salt of the earth guy, not the kind of guy who cries. He’s almost like an American cowboy figure, and he said, ‘gracias.’ He said ‘thank you’ in Spanish, and I thanked him as well.”
    Families, like that man’s in Mexico, can develop a special kind of bond with the animals in their lives, but the type of animals in a household can vary, depending on where the family lives.
    Of course, state by state and country by country, there are also rules and regulations governing the types of animals families can integrate into their homes, both for the family’s and animal’s safety and well-being and for the local environment if the animal somehow enters the wild.
    Here is a sampling of the animals that some children around the world grow up with.

    Crickets in China and rabbits on the rise

    “Having goldfish are very common around the world, or koi, freshwater fish. People have, to a certain extent, birds and reptiles and beetles are popular in Japan as sort of a trendy animal,” Owens said.
    In particular, stag beetle collections fuel a large and lucrative market in Japan, involving more than 700 species from all over the world, with more than 15 million specimens imported a year, according to a study published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation in 2012.

      ‘Miracle workers’? Meet the therapy animals of Portland

    In certain regions of Australia, wallabies may become part of a family if the animal needs care as a victim of a road accident or dog attack, or as an orphan of such events. Often, a permit is required to care for such injured or rescued wildlife.
    One study published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science in 2016 found that the agile wallaby, or Macropus agilis, was suitable to be kept as a pet.
    The study analyzed behavioral needs, welfare, human relationship risks and overall “pet suitability” among 90 wild mammal species selected based on data from vet visits, petting zoos, animal shelters and rescue centers in the Netherlands.
    Of those species, the following were judged suitable to be kept as a pet: Sika deer, agile wallaby, tammar wallaby, llama and Asian palm civet, the study found.
    “In China, people have crickets. Wherever you go, in restaurants and places like that, people will have these little cricket cages, and they’re seen as good luck,” he said. “But they’re not traditional pets, and all the kids that have been exposed to contemporary and popular media all want dogs and cats like we do.”
    Globally, ownership of pet rabbits appears to be on the rise — something that emerged in the late 20th century when rabbits began to be more commonly kept as indoor companions.
    In the United Kingdom, 24% of households own pet dogs, 17% own cats, 8% indoor fish, 2% rabbits, 2% guinea pigs, 1.5% reptiles, 1% domestic fowl and 1% hamsters, according to 2017 data from the UK Pet Food Manufacturers Association.
    An estimated 800,000 domestic rabbits are kept as companions in 2% of the world’s homes, making them the third — without including fish — most common pet companion animal after dogs and cats, according to a study published last year in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.
    In the United States, 36.5% of households own dogs, 30.4% own cats, 3.1% own birds and 1.5% horses, according to the latest pet ownership data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, published in 2012.
    According to those data, in 2011, about six out of 10 pet owners, or 63.2%, considered their pets to be family members.
    “I’ve seen parents come in with their kids, when I was in practice, and I’d watch the children play on the exam room floor with their dog or cat. They would tell me the dog or cat’s name. I would hear a story about them, and those were magical exam visits, because you’d see a child light up,” Owens said.

    Furry friends as status symbols

    In other parts of the world — including many Central American, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, European and African nations — cats and dogs are not as common in children’s homes as they are roaming the streets. Therefore, owning a pet is more of a luxury.
    In Istanbul, for instance, estimates for the numbers of street dogs range from 70,000 to 150,000. Meanwhile, in India, there are 25 million stray dogs.

      Reuniting soldiers with stray dogs

    Sometimes, street dogs can pass diseases, which has become a global public health concern. An estimated 59,000 people die from rabies around the world each year, with about 90% of these deaths occurring among children living in rural areas in Africa and Asia, according to the World Health Organization. It published new guidelines last month on rabies prevention, control and elimination with the help of immunizations.
    “The US culture and the way in which we grow up with dogs and cats and traditional pets is very, very different than the rest of the world,” Owens said, adding that when dogs do become part of a family, oftentimes, it can be for protection.
    A former veterinary resident from Uganda whom Owens taught at the UC Davis teaching hospital told Owens how the concept of a “good dog” differs dramatically in the United States compared with in his home country.
    “He said in Uganda, a good dog is a mean dog that’s on your property, doesn’t bite you but bites other people who try to steal your stuff,” Owens said. “Here, a good dog is a dog who doesn’t bite anybody.”
    Overall, in many countries, “resources are scarce, and it’s a challenge to provide the level of care that the people need and the animals need,” Owens said. For some families who can afford pets for their children, having a dog or cat can be something of a status symbol.
    “You can look at countries like China, where the veterinary market there is exploding because the middle class now has enough resources to be able to purchase pets,” he said. “If you have a dog, it suggests that you not only have enough money to take care of yourself, but now you have enough money to take care of something that sort of is an extravagance.”

    How to prepare for a family pet

    The American Academy of Pediatrics offers some precautions to take before getting a pet as a companion for your child and suggests waiting until your child is mature enough to handle and care for the animal.
    The precautions also include looking for a pet with a gentle disposition, never leaving a young child alone with an animal, teaching children not to put their faces too close to the animal, not allowing children to tease the pet by pulling its tail or taking away its toys or bone, and making sure your pet is immunized against rabies.
    The academy also notes to make sure your child doesn’t disturb the animal when it’s sleeping or eating.
    If your child has been begging for a dog, “with a grain of salt, read about different breeds. There are some animals that are better with children than others,” said Bernard Rollin, distinguished professor of philosophy, biomedical sciences and animal sciences at Colorado State University.
    He added that parents thinking about a pet for their children should consider adopting from shelters.

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    “In some ways, there’s a big debate about whether you should adopt a puppy or an older dog, and there are advantages to both. If you adopt a puppy, you’ve got to housebreak, you have to train, et cetera. On the other hand, you get to mold that dog a little bit more,” Rollins said.
    “When you adopt an adult dog, you’re getting a package you don’t necessarily know what’s inside, but you don’t have to house train and so forth, and a lot of shelters have the previous owner write up a detailed account of that dog,” he said. “The bottom line is, there are so many wonderful animals in shelters.”

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    Tesco removes some ‘best before’ dates

    Image copyright Tesco

    Tesco is removing “best before” labels from many of its fresh produce lines, which it says will help reduce waste.

    The supermarket will remove the advice from about 70 pre-packaged produce lines to avoid “perfectly edible food” being thrown away.

    The items that will lose the label include apples, potatoes, tomatoes, lemons, other citrus fruit and onions.

    “Best before” labels indicate that the quality of a product may deteriorate after the date indicated.

    In contrast “use by” dates indicate when it becomes less safe to consume the food.

    “We know some customers may be confused by the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates on food and this can lead to perfectly edible items being thrown away before they need to be discarded,” said Mark Little, Tesco’s head of food waste.

    He said fruit and vegetables were among the food most frequently thrown away by consumers, although many are ignoring “best before” dates already.

    “Many customers have told us that they assess their fruit and vegetables by the look of the product rather than the ‘best before’ date code on the packaging,” he added.

    What do food advice terms mean?

    • Use By – Cannot be sold, redistributed or consumed after this date. Applied to foods which are highly perishable – such as fresh fish, meat and poultry – and therefore constitute an immediate danger to human health
    • Best Before – Can be sold, redistributed and consumed after this date. Applied to all other kinds of food
    • Some products aren’t legally required to carry a date label
    • Only one date label is recommended for each food item

    Source: Wrap

    Tesco said removing the information on the label would encourage customers to make their own decisions about the freshness of produce.

    However, all the produce affected will be items sold in bags or boxes and so are less easy to handle. Individual items, such as loose lemons or onions, already do not carry “best before” labels.

    The supermarket said that although customers would no longer be able to differentiate between bags of produce to determine how fresh they were at purchase, there were “rigorous stock rotation procedures in place” to ensure older items did not remain on shelves.

    Consumer confusion

    Advice issued jointly last year by anti-waste campaign group Wrap, the Food Standards Agency and the Department for the Environment suggested fewer foods should be labelled with “use by” dates, including pasteurised fruit drinks and hard cheese. Greater use of “best before” dates should be encouraged, they suggested.

    But a recent survey by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes found that less than half of respondents understood what “best before” means.

    However, more than 70% had a clear understanding of “use by” labels.

    Last year, the East of England Co-op, which is separate from the national Co-operative chain, began selling dried and tinned products that were beyond their “best before” dates at knock-down prices.

    Justine Roberts, founder of parenting website Mumsnet, said: “Mumsnet users are keen not to waste food or, just as importantly, money.

    “When it comes to ‘best before’ dates, most parents on Mumsnet take very little notice. Sad-looking veg often ends up in the slow cooker, leftover portions are put in the freezer for pot-luck nights, bread gets grated for breadcrumbs.”

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