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Monday, 22 February 2021

Green Dog

This is Green Dog, a plaster model made my niece over thirty years ago when she was six or seven. Why is it green? Because her father, my brother, helped paint it. Like me, he had protanopia. He would have thought it was brown. He died when my niece was eight.

Protanopics have difficulty distinguishing browns from greens because we do not detect all of the red component of brown. For the same reason, orange is sometimes seen as yellow or light green because the red component of orange is weak. Red poppies fail to shine out from fields of green, and red fuchia flowers look nearly the same as the leaves. Purple and mauve look blue. Our ginger and white cat is delightfully camouflaged against the lawn, especially if there are snow patches. I’d be completely stuffed if there was a tiger in the garden.

Green Dog looks quite normal to me. I only know it is green rather than brown because someone told me, and because I ran samples of the head colour through Name That Colour (https://chir.ag/projects/name-that-color/#55642B) which identifies it as a mixture of browny-gray-greens with fancy names like “Woodland”, “Kelp” and “Verdigris”. 

On the bottom my niece wrote “To Grandpa from C---”, with four hearts and five kisses. My dad kept it for his last fifteen years, after which my daughter had it as a reminder of her grandpa. It has been neglected and ignored since long before she went to university.

Recently, it was my niece’s birthday. She has reached an age at which she has been of this world for longer than her father was. We packaged up Green Dog and posted it off to her with a note explaining that he (?) had been feeling lonely and rejected and thought he would be better looked after back in Sussex where he was born, in a house with three lively children – three grandchildren my brother never knew. 

My niece had no memory of it. She had to decipher her own writing on the bottom to work out what it is. It is now in her display cabinet. There is a three in four chance that one or both of her sons will see is as a normal brown dog too.


62 comments:

  1. Not a condition I have heard of unless it comes under the heading colour blind. I'm surprised she can't remember it. So you generously posted it to her, no doubt expensive, or were you decluttering.

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    1. It does, but there are various kinds. It's all to do with the distribution of the different colour detecting cone cells in the retina. Protanopia means red is weak. Deuteranopia means green is weak. Tritanopia is blue weak, causing difficulty in distinguishing blues from yellows.

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    2. Wasn't expensive to post - it's about 5 inches high and very light - Royal Mail class it as a small package - under £4 first class.

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    3. That really is fascinating. I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of colorblindness!

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  2. Even though your niece did not remember the dog, I am sure he is happy to return to his origins. What a kind idea, to send it back to her!
    When I still worked at business fairs / trade shows regularly, I sometimes met men who freely admitted to not seeing colours properly, and having no idea how to match them. One of my business partners (an Englishman, by the way) told me his wife packed his suitcase for business trips, pinning bits of paper with numbers on them to each item so that he would know to wear jacket #3 only with trousers, shirt and tie #3.
    He was always exceptionally well dressed, so his wife must have really had a good eye for colour and style. If for some reason she would have wanted to get back to him, she could have easily made him look rather odd with mis-matched outfits and he would only have known if someone had told him.

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    1. Talk about micro-management! One place I worked they used to try to kid me I was wearing an olive and crimson striped suit.

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    2. Meike's comment really amused me. I knew someone who was colour blind and he really could have done with a wife like that. I often wonder.

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    3. It's the stuff of a comedy sketch - like one of Ronnie Barker's characters.

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  3. F had a young friend who used to get in trouble after bonfire night for not picking up all the spent (red) firecrackers off the lawn. We didn't realize it also affects the red component of other colours. We cats don't see so well in green. You humans can apparently distinguish more shades of green than any other animals - which might explain all those names you have for them.

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    1. So cats have deuteranopia. Presumably, brown therefore looks more red to them. It won't work in quite the same way as when red is weak because green is at the centre of the visible specrum rather than at one end like red, so I guess the colur-mixing implications will be different. Cats will understand this much better than I do.

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  4. That is such a lovely story and also very interesting. I have never heard of protanopia but I have heard men are more likely to be colour blind. I have only just realised in the last few years I see colours differently to everyone else in my family in those "what colour is this dress" things online. I always dismissed it as looking in different browsers but it can't be as we have all looked on the same one but I still see it differently.

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    1. Men are more likely to have it because it is X-linked recessive, therefore XX girls with the gene are only unaffected carriers but XY boys are affected. As I see it (!) there are two aspects - one is the colours that are detected physically and the other is the psychological experience of those colours. I don't think we can ever know how other people experience colour.

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  5. What an interesting story, and it's so good that it has gone 'home'.
    57 years ago when I joined the WRAF I was told I could not be an aircraft controller as was 'colourblind', not that it was or has ever been a prob. as far as I know.

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    1. Train driver, pilot, ship's officer, electrician - all barred to me. Never been a problem really - just an irritation sometimes - I'm always getting into trouble for putting the brown towel in the kitchen and the green one in the toilet - or is it the other way round?

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  6. I wonder if that is the condition that my younger brother suffers from. As children we were each given our own coloured breakfast bowls, mine was yellow, his was blue. I can't remember which colour my sister had. My brother always picked the wrong one and at the time we couldn't understand why he always got it wrong.

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    1. Could be. Easy to check these days. Look at colour filters in the Windows 10 settings.

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  7. That's intriguing. To not be able to recognise complimentary colours must be something you did not have to get used to I suppose. How do you view the autumn colours in the woods?

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    1. If the sun is bright I get some idea. But I couldn't really understand what everyone was raving about during an autumn visit to Westonbirt Aboretum some years ago.

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    2. People flock to Westonbirt and pay a fortune to get in during the Autumn! You must have felt very ripped-off.

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  8. What a lovely gift but how very sad that your brother died so young. Sorry for your loss Tasker.

    P.S. I doubt that you will see any tigers in your garden as West Yorkshire is not the preferred habitat of any tiger species that I am aware of. Being a Hull City supporter I am of course very knowledgeable about tigers.

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    1. Ah! So that's the reason I don't see the point of Hull City.

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    2. The point of Hull City is to try to win every game that they play.

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    3. Well, then, perhaps they should think about how not to concede goals in the twelfth minute of added time.

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  9. My brother had it too Tasker.
    Sad about your brother's early death. My brother was luckier in that respect = living to sixty six and dying on the golf course, just as he would have wished.

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    1. It's interesting your brother had it. Do you know which side of your family it came from and has it cropped up in your son or granchildren? We've got quite a good idea of how it has passed down through our family.

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  10. So very sad to lose a sibling so young, and that he never met his grandchildren. My Hubs has color blindness as well. As a surprise one year during the fall, I bought glasses that were supposed to help him see red especially, and green. I drove him to a property that was bordered by at least 30 burning bushes, all fiery red in their glory. Sadly, the glasses did not help him. Upon further reading of the insert that came with them, he was one of the 30% of people the glasses could not help. I was devastated for him. In his gentle wisdom he said, "Honey, it's ok! I don't miss what I've never had!"

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    1. I've never tried those glasses, but check out colour filters in the Windows 10 settings. It might give further insight into why the glasses didn't work. There is a game called Bouncing Balls on the NovelGames web site which I can do quite well with a colour filter switched on.

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    2. There are color filters in Windows? :) Lordy. Shows you what I DON'T know! Thank you! And thank you for the game recommendation!

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  11. Interesting story which I think is more about your brother dyihg than anything else, not that that matters, it just seems like it ois a way you can talk about it. I cannot imagine not being able to see the beauty of a field of poppies. Thanks for sharing the story.

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    1. My brother's death is a subtext that will run through our family for many decades yet. As regards colours, there may be compensations in that I probably see a much wider range of greens than people with more typical colour vision. I see a greater difference between some shades of green than between most reds and greens, almost as if they are different colours.

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  12. I'm glad Green Dog is back home again living in the Display Cabinet!

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    1. He likes being looked at but would like to be played with more.

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  13. Somehow it seems the Green Dog carries the story of your family in a myriad of ways. The love, the caring and the losses--generation to generation. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. That's a great story. And she didn't remember it at all, strange considering the adults invested it with significance.
    Color blindness is odd. There was a young man in my knitting group who worked happily with some pretty ugly yarns from stash that nobody liked. Turned out they all looked shades of grey to him. They were mixed pink and brown and green, unpleasant mixture in yarn. He used to ask us to choose specific colors so he could make things for other people. It seems like a real loss not to have the emotional response to color, as if it were a language you can't pick up. I think he tried those glasses, very expensive, and didn't get much help from them.

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    1. As commented above the two aspects are (i) the physical perception of colour and (ii) the psychological interpretation, which means you still react emotionally to colours you do perceive. Strangely, my wife says I'm pretty good at judging which colours go well together.

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  15. Picasso had a Rose Period and a Blue Period.
    A Ukrainian-Estonian woman said she would not have gone out with me if I had had brown eyes. She favoured only men with blue or green eyes.
    I favour any gal who wears a summer frock and can dance the Polka.
    Haggerty

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    1. I wouldn't go out with you either, Hameldy.

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    2. We live on the brink of an immense paradigm shift, Tasker.
      Will the Polka usher in a new civilization?
      *Polka Dance Lessons: Simply Slavic.* YouTube.

      There isn't a brown-eyed Slavic gal I would not have dated as a young man.
      I remember trying to get near the brown-eyed Bulgarian girls, at a folk festival in the Odenwald, Germany. Their Communist Party minder came at me like a Rottweiler.
      A sales assistant at my local Waterstones is Bulgarian. I thought her a dark-eyed Italian.
      Haggerty

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  16. How lovely. I have a similar dog in my cabinet painted by Granddaughter. I can identify the colours and it will be a treasured possession for many years.

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    1. Hope she painted it more realistically than the one here. Funny how things can acquire more value than they are physically worth. My niece also made a plaster Mrs Goggins from the Postman Pat stories. We "lost" that when emptying my dad's house.

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  17. That is interesting - how you can follow a gene like that through generations. It was nice of you to send the dog back to its original owner and return that memory to her.

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    1. The people who worked out the mechanisms of inheritance - Mendel and his peas and so on - had real imaginative genius. I don't know how they ever worked out the idea of X-linked recessive inheritance, which is what this is.

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  18. Dear Tasker,

    Well, hopefully, you have not had to dodge too many tigers in your garden. That is, at least something to be grateful for and we do not suggest that you move into wild life game reserve any time soon.

    It has always intrigued us this question of colour. How can one know what another is seeing.Is the 'red' the one person sees the 'red' that another calls that particular colour. A mystery of life.

    But, what a lovely idea to send the dog back to its maker for her children now to enjoy or, at least, to enjoy the story about how it came into being and why it should be painted the colour it is. However, we suspect that the precious canine is now firmly locked into a cabinet for its own safety!

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    1. Possibly to keep it safe from the tigers that are my great nephews and niece.

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  19. Interesting. I've never heard of protanopia, at least not by that name -- but I've heard of color blindness, of which I suppose this is a form? It does make one wonder about the subjectivity of our perceptions -- how your green is not the same as my green. Love the dog!

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    1. Yes my green is physically different in that it fires off a different combination of cells, but could psychologically be almost the same. Is your sensation of what an apple feels like the same as mine? What if we have different sized hands?

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  20. I found that was a very interesting, informative and quite emotional post. Oddly I have never wondered how my younger son feels all these years later about the loss of his slightly older brother in 2006.

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    1. These things are thought about more than they are talked about. I know my dad was devastated when my brother died.

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  21. That is a wonderful thing you did for your niece! It was very thoughtful of you and even if she did not remember it I'm sure it means a lot to her. I was not familiar with the word protanopia but of course I understand being color blind. That must be difficult for you particularly in certain circumstances. Thank you for sharing this story.

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    1. Having different colour vision is not really a problem, although I suspect I've worn strange colour combinations on occasions.

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  22. Both thoughtful and kind to return the little fellow to its originator. There will be stories from her about their grandfather.

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  23. That's a lovely story if sad in many ways. What a wonderful idea to return the little dog to your niece. I think it's mainly as we get older that we appreciate the things that hold memories for us.
    Interesting about the colour difficulty. My husband rarely seem to see colours the same, especially green or brown. Apparently It's me that's usually wrong...I don't think so!

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    1. You should photograph the item in question and run it through Name That Colour - then you can argue about what is meant by "Kelp".

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  24. I had a plaster casting kit when I was small. Rubber moulds, bags of plaster, alum to make the plaster stronger, etc. I can't remember casting a dog (green or otherwise), in fact I can't remember what I made at all. Too long ago.

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    1. My niece made lots of Postman Pat characters. It might have been bought as a PP moulding kit, but I don't think there is a dog like that in the programme.

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  25. You even had me in a cold sweat there.

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    1. Does this refer to the next post? I didn't think the dog story was scary.

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  26. Sad about your brother, obviously, but I have mixed feeling about the return of the dog, especially to someone who doesn't even remember it. After living with you so long, maybe the dog would've preferred to stay with you. Funny how we react to inanimate objects isn't it? Here is one such a tale should you be interested. https://kidr168.blogspot.com/2018/06/a-tale-of-george-and-dragon-and-bear.html

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    1. A well-written and entertaining story. Actually, our first thought was to put the dog in the dustbin. We're getting to the stage where if we don't start to sort things out, someone else will have to do it, and they won't thank us for that.

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    2. Well, in that case, rather a new owner than the bin - anytime. (Ta for the kind words.)

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