Looking After Your Territory
By the time Alexander the Great died in in 323 BC, he had conquered a large territory stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Himalayas. Starting off as the King of Macedonia in northern ancient Greece in 336 BC he waged continuous war all the way up to India. His empire was one of the largest in the ancient world. He founded more than 20 cities that were named after him including the most famous, Alexandria in Egypt, which was for 1,000 years the capital and still is the second largest city in modern times. Because of his accomplishments at such a young age, Alexander has become a legendary hero. He helped spread Greek culture throughout his empire and some of his military tactics are still studied today. Unfortunately he did not complete his work. When he died at the age of 33 he was just about to invade Arabia and in fact shortly after his death the empire crumbled.
Many animals such as dogs and cats face this problem of how to maintain their territorial integrity every single day. An inability to clearly demarcate boundaries almost inevitably leads to a fight. A dogfight or worse still a catfight is a terrible thing. Fighting over an abstract yet real concept of territory means that it is not clear exactly what the fight is about. Just that somehow ‘you are in my space’. Such animals avoid the danger of fights by marking out their territory by spraying. They do this by scent marking, using urine deposited at strategic and prominent points within their territory. The protein in their urine has a distinct odour, which potential aggressors -having a keen sense of smell -are able to detect.
In the bush life is simple. However in urban areas life is tough. You can imagine a dog not confined to a small home having a tough time maintaining his territory. Remember that for the dog, ‘territory’ consists not just of the bushes and houses around but includes car tyres that might have travelled far, returning with scent markers of dogs from other parts of the city or even country. All these have to be checked, sprayed and marked daily. Luckily for the dog, the scent in its urine is packaged in such a way that it remains stable for long. That is why you do not find a dog, thirsty, walking around carrying a water bottle, as it goes about its work.
Humans, however, do carry water bottles about and most, apart from a few uncouth men, do not engage in spraying. This may appear strange considering that unlike in dogs there is no overt sign of water loss. The people who carry water bottles do so in a conscious attempt to replace body fluid loss. Everyday the average adult can loses up to three and a half litres of water. About half a litre (500ml) is lost through normal breathing; another half litre through perspiration; and one and half litres through urine and bowel excretion. Moderate to vigorous exercise can lead to the loss of a further two litres or more. As we lose this water going about our daily routines, we get thirsty,( that sensation of dryness in the mouth and throat related to a need or desire to drink.) Unfortunately the thirst mechanism can be a slow reaction and therefore not be a reliable indicator that a person is well hydrated. This is especially so of people who consume large amounts of coffee and other drinks where the caffeine acts as a diuretic. Other symptoms of dehydration such as mild headache, irritability are then found.
In hot weather it is easy to identify the source of discomfort. You will probably be sweaty, hot and dusty and are able to tell that you are dehydrated. However in this cooler weather that we are beginning to experience, it can be a challenge to realise that the headache we have is due to dehydration. We have to remember that the water we lose is not just water alone. the entire mechanism is a means by which the body gets rid of toxins. So it has to happen. When we first apply anti-perspirant then bundle up warmly, t-shirt, shirt, sweater, scarf, raincoat and ugly boots we interfere with our internal water balancing mechanisms. Then because it is ‘cold’, we drink less fluids especially plain water. Instead we opt for beverages that in themselves contain diuretics.(tea is a mild diuretic)
The solution is therefore not to sit around ‘marking your little territory’ but to make sure that even in this changing weather you maintain an exercise schedule so that you ‘sweat out’ the toxins in your body and consciously keep healthy taking in fresh water.