Dogstar Thursday – vol 21

Cute with floppy ears!

This week’s dog is a well-known breed that we see everywhere.  They are cute, loyal and loving: the Cocker Spaniel.  Cocker Spaniels are dogs belonging to two breeds of the spaniel dog type: the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel, both of which are commonly called simply Cocker Spaniel in their countries of origin. In the early 20th century, Cocker Spaniels also included small hunting Spaniels.

Cocker Spaniels were originally bred as hunting dogs in the United Kingdom, with the term cocker deriving from their use to hunt the Eurasian woodcock. When the breed was brought to the United States, it was bred to a different standard, which enabled it to specialize in hunting the American woodcock. Further physical changes were bred into the cocker in the United States during the early part of the 20th century.

Spaniels were first mentioned in the 14th century by Gaston III of Foix-Béarn in his work the Livre de Chasse. The “cocking” or “cocker spaniel” was a type of field or land spaniel in the 19th century. Prior to 1901, Cocker Spaniels were only separated from Field Spaniels and Springer Spaniels by weight. Two dogs are considered to be the foundation sires of both modern breeds, the English variety are descended from Ch. Obo, while the American breed descends from Obo’s son, Ch. Obo II. In the United States, the English Cocker was recognized as separate from the native breed in 1946; in the UK, the American type was recognized as a separate breed in 1970. In addition, there is a second strain of English Cocker Spaniel, a working strain which is not bred to a standard but to working ability. Both breeds share similar coat colors and health issues with a few exceptions.

Ears Flying!


There are two modern breeds of cocker spaniel, the English Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel. They were bred as gun dogs; to use their sense of smell to cover low areas near the handler in order to flush birds into the air to be shot, and to use their eyes and nose to locate the bird once downed, and then to retrieve the bird with a soft mouth. The major differences between the English and American varieties is that the American is smaller with a shorter back, a domed head and a shorter muzzle, while the English variety is taller with a narrower head and chest.

Cocker spaniel coats come in a variety of colors including black, liver, red and golden in solids. There are also black and tan, and sometimes liver and tan, as well as a variety of color mixtures of those solid colors including roans, roan and tans, tricolors and those solid colors with additional white markings.

Rare colours can appear unexpectedly in certain lines, for instance while an all-white cocker is usually bred by selective breeding of very light golden strains, they can still appear very uncommonly to parents who are dark colored. A noted occurrence of this happened in 1943, when a grandson of My Own Brucie, Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1940 and 1941, was born all-white.

In its native United States, the American Cocker Spaniel was ranked the 23rd most popular breed according to registration statistics of the AKC in 2009, a decrease in popularity since 1999 when it was ranked 13th. For twenty five years the American Cocker Spaniel was the most popular dog in America. It was ranked number one first in 1936 prior to the English Cocker Spaniel being recognized as a separate breed, and held onto the spot until 1952 when Beagles became the most popular dog. It regained the spot in 1983 and held on at number one until 1990. In the UK, the American Cocker Spaniel is far less popular than its English cousin with 322 registrations compared to the English Cocker’s 22,211 in 2009.


While their origins are unknown, “spaynels” are mentioned in 14th century writings. It is commonly assumed that they originated in Spain, and Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York in his 15th century work The Master of Game introduces them as “Another kind of hound there is that be called hounds for the hawk and spaniels, for their kind cometh from Spain, notwithstanding that there are many in other countries.” The Master of Game was mostly an English translation of an earlier 14th century Old French work by Gaston III of Foix-Béarn entitled Livre de Chasse.

In 1801, Sydenham Edwards wrote in Cynographia Britannica that the “Land Spaniel” is divided into two types: the hawking, springing/springer and the cocking/cocker spaniel. The term cocker came from the dog’s use in hunting woodcocks. During the 19th century a “cocker spaniel” was a type of small Field Spaniel; at the time, this term referred to a number of different spaniel hunting breeds, including the Norfolk Spaniel, Sussex Spaniel, and Clumber Spaniel. While there were no Sussex Cockers or Clumber Cockers, there were dogs known as Welsh Cockers and Devonshire Cockers. The Welsh or Devonshire were considered cockers until 1903 when they were recognized by The Kennel Club as the Welsh Springer Spaniel.

Prior to the 1870s, the only requirement for a dog to be classed as a Cocker Spaniel was that it needed to weigh less than 25 pounds (11 kg), although breeders separated the cocker from the King Charles Spaniel which remains a smaller breed of spaniel. This maximum weight limit remained on the Cocker Spaniel until 1900, with larger dogs being classed as Springer Spaniels. The colors of the Devonshire and Welsh Cockers were described by John Henry Walsh under the pseudonym Stonehenge in his book The Dog in Health and Disease as being a deeper shade of liver than that of the Sussex Spaniel. Following the formation of The Kennel Club in the UK in 1873, efforts were made by breeders to record the pedigrees of cockers and springers. In 1892, English Cocker Spaniels and English Springer Spaniels were recognized as separate breeds by The Kennel Club.

There are two dogs which are thought to be the foundation sires of both modern breeds of cocker spaniels. Ch. Obo is considered by breed enthusiasts to be the father of the modern English Cocker Spaniel, while his son, Ch. Obo II, is considered to be the progenitor of the American Cocker Spaniel. Obo was born in 1879, at which point registration as a cocker was still only by size and not by ancestry. He was the son of a Sussex Spaniel and a Field Spaniel. Although Obo was an English dog, Obo II was born on American shores – his mother was shipped to the United States while pregnant. During his lifetime, it was claimed in advertisements that Obo II was the sire or grandsire of nearly every prize winning cocker in America.

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 1D Mk III using an EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens and EF 1.4x extender.  Exposure settings were at 1/500 second, f/6.3 and 320 ISO.

Three Line Tales – Fire walk

Through the darkness of future past…

Welcome to episode 25 of Three Line Tales.

three line tales week 25 photo prompt
photo by Dan Carlson – you’ll find a bigger version here 


Love, Equality,
Humanity’s racing time.
Fire walk with me, now!


Thank you to Sonya of Only 100 Words for coming up with Three Line Tales.

You’ll find full guidelines on the TLT page –

  • Write three lines inspired by the photo prompt (& give them a title if possible).
  • Link back to this post.
  • Tag your post with 3LineTales (so everyone can find you in the Reader).
  • Read and comment on other TLT participants’ lines.
  • NEW: If you want your post to be included in the round-up, you have until Sunday evening to publish it.
  • Have fun.

Happy three-lining!

Wednesday Wonderment – ep 26

Water, water, everywhere!

Episode 26…this means we’re hitting 6 months of Wonderment! Thanks to all of you wonderful readers, whose interest and comments have kept me on track with this, the longest running feature of my blog.

Today’s post is rather special, as there is one thing that growing up in the Netherlands teaches you at an early age: the power of water!  When you live in a country, where water is at every turn, you know that you have to be aware and mindful of what water can do.  The power of water can never be ignored in the Netherlands, as a significant portion of the country is below sea level, and storms in the North Sea can drive up the water level, thus testing dikes to their breaking point, as last happened in 1953.

Hence, my appreciation and wonderment for the Power of Water…

The Power of Water

Delta Works (Deltawerken)

The estuaries of the rivers Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt have been subject to flooding over the centuries. After building the Afsluitdijk, the Dutch started studying the damming of the Rhine-Meuse Delta. Plans were developed to shorten the coastline and turn the delta into a group of freshwater lakes. By shortening the coastline, fewer dikes would have to be reinforced.

Due to indecision and the Second World War, little action was taken. In 1950 two small estuary mouths, the Brielse Gat near Brielle and the Botlek near Vlaardingen were dammed. After the North Sea flood of 1953, a Delta Works Commission was installed to research the causes and develop measures to prevent such disasters in future. They revised some of the old plans and came up with the “Deltaplan”.

The plan consisted of blocking the estuary mouths of the Oosterschelde, the Haringvliet and the Grevelingen. This reduced the length of the dikes exposed to the sea by 700 kilometres (430 mi). The mouths of the Nieuwe Waterweg and the Westerschelde were to remain open because of the important shipping routes to the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. The dikes along these waterways were to be heightened and strengthened. The works would be combined with road and waterway infrastructure to stimulate the economy of the province of Zeeland and improve the connection between the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Delta law and conceptual framework

An important part of this project was fundamental research to help solve the flooding problem. Instead of analysing past floods and building protection sufficient to deal with those, the Delta Works commission pioneered a conceptual framework to use as norm for investment in flood defences.

The framework is called the ‘Delta norm’; it includes the following principles:

  • Major areas to be protected from flooding are identified. These are called “dike ring areas” because they are protected by a ring of primary sea defences.
  • The cost of flooding is assessed using a statistical model involving damage to property, lost production, and a given amount per human life lost.
  • For the purpose of this model, a human life is valued at €2.2 million (2008 data).
  • The chances of a significant flood within the given area are calculated. This is done using data from a purpose-built flood simulation lab, as well as empirical statistical data regarding water wave properties and distribution. Storm behaviour and spring tide distribution are also taken into account.

The most important “dike ring area” is the South Holland coast region. It is home to four million people, most of whom live below normal sea level. The loss of human life in a catastrophic flood here can be very large because there is typically little warning time with North Sea storms. Comprehensive evacuation is not a realistic option for the Holland coastal region.

The commission initially set the acceptable risk for complete failure of every “dike ring” in the country at 1 in 125,000 years. But, it found that the cost of building to this level of protection could not be supported. It set “acceptable” risks by region as follows:

  • North and South Holland (excluding Wieringermeer): 1 per 10,000 years
  • Other areas at risk from sea flooding: 1 per 4,000 years
  • Transition areas between high land and low land: 1 per 2,000 years

River flooding causes less damage than salt water flooding, which causes long-term damage to agricultural lands. Areas at risk from river flooding were assigned a higher acceptable risk. River flooding also has a longer warning time, producing a lower estimated death toll per event.

  • South Holland at risk from river flooding: 1 per 1,250 years
  • Other areas at risk from river flooding: 1 per 250 years.

These acceptable risks were enshrined in the Delta Law. This required the government to keep risks of catastrophic flooding within these limits and to upgrade defences should new insights into risks require this. The limits have also been incorporated into the new Water Law, effective from 22 December 2009.

The Delta Project (of which the Delta Works are a part) has been designed with these guidelines in mind. All other primary defences have been upgraded to meet the norm.

New data elevating the risk assessment on expected sea level rise due to global warming has identified ten ‘weak points.’ These are currently being upgraded to meet the future demands. This work is expected to be completed in 2015. An upgrade to river flooding defences is underway, which is expected to be finished in 2017.

The Delta Works can be visited across the province of Zeeland, and, if you find yourself on the island of Schouwen-Duiveland, be sure to visit the Watersnood museum (Flood disaster museum) in Ouwekerk.

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk III using an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens.  Exposure settings were at 1/10 second at f/16 and 100 ISO.

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Orange!

Not your everyday color!

As we’re heading beyond the first 3 months with this 14th Tuesday Photo Challenge, I’m breaking the pattern from last week and shifting to our second color of the series: Orange!

Of course, I am a little partial to this color, as I am from the Netherlands.  The Dutch royal family is of the house of Orange-Nassau with the first notable Prince being William I of Orange (aka William the Silent), who led the rebellion against the Spanish known as the Eighty Years war (1568-1648); as he was a threat to Spain’s sovereignty he was assassinated in 1584 in Delft.  Of course, that didn’t stop the rebellious lowlanders!

Enough history, as it’s time for your challenge!  Find some great examples of the color orange and photograph them; sounds easy, doesn’t it?  Orange is an interesting color, as it falls between red and yellow in the spectrum and the specific tone of the color orange can range from fiery to drab depending on its exact place in the spectrum.  The pumpkins in this image fall somewhere in the middle, which my eyes tend to like quite a bit.

Pumpkins Everywhere!

See, if you can find some orange tones that really suit your taste and speak to you and share them with your fellow challengers and your readership!

For those who’d like to participate in this weekly challenge, the rules are the following:

  • Write a post with an image for this week’s topic
  • Please tag your post with fpj-photo-challenge (if you’re not sure about how tags work, please check out this WordPress article about tagging posts)
  • Create a pingback link to this post, so that I can create a post showing all of the submissions over the week
  • Have fun creating something new (or sharing something old)!!

This week should be full of bright images with lots orange variety!

Technical Details

This image was captured with an iPhone 5S using the standard Camera app.

Daily Prompt – Frail

Colorful, yet…

Upon seeing today’s Daily Prompt – Frail, the first thought that came to mind was the frailty of delicate flowers, as they show their beauty to us for an all-too-short amount of time during the year.

Then I came across an image that I captured about a year ago at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts.  Even though the construction of the flower is definitely frail, there is something else at work here: for our amusement, these beautiful, but rather plain flora had been spray-painted in a variety of colors.  Yes, the color is much more interesting than the light tan look, but does this something about our human frailty that we have to modify Nature to suit it to our standards and preferences?

Human Frailty?

Among all the beauty of this botanic garden, this stood out to me as an example of too much intervention.

What do you think?

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk III using an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens.  Exposure settings were at f/10 using a shutter speed of 1/160 second and 320 ISO.

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Round Up 13

Patterns were everywhere!

We’re wrapping up the first 3 months of the Tuesday Photo Challenge with a fantastic turn out for the theme of Patterns.  Throwing out the challenge for all of you to let your brains do the thing that they do best, which is to use patterns to kep us going in our daily lives.

There were some fantastic patterns that were uncovered by these great participants.  So let your brains do their work and find another pattern in this image…and then go check out the list of amazing posts and let them know what you think!!


The following were this week’s participants in the challenge with links to their posts:

  • The first entry was from MyFavouriite, a new blogger who found a really cool pattern in curry leaves.
  • Marisa, The Girl That Dreams Awake, showed off a fantastic pattern in the bark of a mystery tree; do you know what tree this is?
  • Kim  provided a another great post on his blog Do You See What I See?; patterns of all kinds pop up in the great photos that he shares with us.
  • Miriam of the Out an’ About blog, showed patterns of all varieties in the images that she posted!
  • Debbie, whose blog is Forgiving Journal, wrote a great post about how patterns affect us.
  • Another new entry came from Emily, who writes Zombie Flamingos (great title), with  the patterns in her life (love that cat!).
  • Another great new participant is Ladyleemanilla, who showed the patterns in Him Indoors’ projcet to build a model of the HMS Victory.
  • Marie, whose great blog is The New 3 Rs: Retire, Recharge, Reconnect, showed us patterns in architecture (you’ll want to see this one!).
  • Nikki’s post in her blog, A Kinder Way, went to the fence, her fence, to find some interesting patters and wrote a great post with it!
  • Steve’s post in Meandering Maverick showed some of the differences and similarities between man-made and natural patterns!

Another fantastic week with amazing posts.  I’m very much looking forward to what next week brings!

I’m pretty much set for tomorrow’s edition, which will send you off into another direction of fun!

Sunday Morning – Exhibit Prep

Printing, framing and music!

It’s two weeks to go to have everything printed and framed for the small exhibit that I will have hanging for the next couple of months at the great place where I work (Red Hat).  So, I will be spending most of the morning perfecting the last couple of images and printing them and then will frame those that I have printed already.

When I print any image, I put it into the drying book for at least 24 hours to ensure that any moisture from the ink is pulled out of the print and not trapped behind glass and possibly cause warping or other issues longer term.

As most of you are aware, the exhibit will feature the Yoga Tree, in all her beauty and phases across the years.  There is a specially requested image that will go on one of the walls…

Nubble Brooding

This image is from three years ago, and is the first that I captured of Nubble Light on Cape Neddick, Maine.  It’s a light house that has been photographed so much that I have always been hesitant to shoot it, as I wanted to create something unique.  What I noticed in the clouds and seas that day, helped formulate a vision of what I wanted.  The final edit came about six weeks later, as I needed to be in a bit of a darker mood to get the results that we see here.

I will make sure that there will be time for some music.  I’m working on some technique exercises to strengthen my playing ability and really get the basics under control.  One of the songs that I’m also working on is this tune titled ‘Killing the Blues’, a Rowland Salley composition.  Here’s a version that I found that is quite likable!

Have a wonderful day!