Why do coyote females have larger litters in heavily hunted areas?

coyote pupps.jpg

I have a lot of quibbles with Dan Flores’s book, Coyote America. Among them is a contention that coyotes howl because it allows them to “take a census.”  If no other coyotes howl back, the females wind up releasing more ova and having larger litters. This description, which Flores calls an “autogenic trait,” cannot be found anywhere in the coyote literature. His account is not described in the book, but it is mentioned in his interview with National Geographic and on The Joe Rogan Experience.

I have no idea where Flores got this idea, but it’s not really what happens. The literature on why coyotes have larger litters in areas where they have been heavily hunted says that the larger litter sizes are associated with better access to food resources. The best-known paper on this issue comes from Eric Gese, a researcher with the USDA, who studied coyote population dynamics in an area of Colorado.

Gese contends that what happens with coyotes in pressured areas is that the surviving females are healthier, simply because they have access to more food resources. This greater health causes them to release more ova during the estrus cycle, and this increase in ova results in greater litter sizes.

It is not because the coyotes are taking census and can somehow magically figure out that they should produce more young.  It is simply that the coyote females’ own bodies respond to greater food resources by becoming more fertile.

What has possibly evolved in coyotes is that they have a tendency to become significantly more fertile when the females are at their most healthy. This is a great trait for a mesopredator to have.

After all, coyotes evolved in North America with dire wolves and a host of large cats breathing down their necks. Natural selection favored those that could reproduce quickly if populations were dropped dramatically.

But it’s not because of some “autogenic trait.” It is simply how coyote populations expand as mesopredators with increased or decreased access to prey.

So yeah, my take on Coyote America is that it is mostly a science fiction book. Not only does he mess up the exact genetic difference between a wolf and a coyote, which is not equivalent to the genetic difference between a human and an orangutan (as he claims),  he also messes up that coyotes really do hunt down and kill cats and eat them. They are not just killing a competitor. They are using cats as a food resource.

This was a book I was so looking forward to reading. It got good press, but the actual science in it was so lacking.

 

Natural History

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GIVEAWAY: Win GROOM Bathing Tablets + a GROOM Pet Shower Head!

This giveaway is sponsored by and fulfilled by GROOM Bathing Tablets. Winter weather is in full swing now–and we all know what that means: itchy skin and soggy paws. Just like our skin dries…



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DogTipper

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7 Ways to Help Victims of Australia’s Wildfires

10 Ways to Help Victims of Australia's Wildfires
Powerful, stunning illustration by Melina Illustrates.

Australia hold a special place in my heart. I have been incredibly fortunate to have traveled to 14 different countries over the years, and I can genuinely say each one has touched me on some level. But in 2010, after spending a few weeks in Sydney, Brisbane, Byron Bay, Cairns, and Palm Cove on a trip to Australia I took with the band for whom my husband works, I’d found my place. From snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef to riding high over the canopy of the rain forest to hanging out at a koala rescue sanctuary to visiting a tea tree oil plantation to chilling at one of the best music festivals I’ve ever attended, our visit to Australia was hands down the best trip of my life. Whenever someone asks where I’d choose to live if it could be anywhere in the world, Byron Bay is my immediate answer. I love Australia. So, so much.

But even if I’d never had the chance to step foot there, it would be impossible not to feel heartache for the victims of the devastating fires going on. I haven’t been able stop thinking about it (and there have been several episodes of me bursting into tears because I’ve felt so helpless). I know most of you can relate. I felt like it would be wrong to post anything else on here until I addressed what was happening and did some research on ways to help. Here are 7 ways I’ve found that we can all do something to make a difference.

1. The Australian Red Cross is accepting donations to its Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund. This fund has helped send volunteers and staff communities affected by the fires, and has also helped give support to displaced people, along with emergency grants to help people with immediate needs.

2. WIRES (New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.), which is Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization, is accepting emergency donations to increase its capacity to help animals affected by the bushfires.

3. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is also accepting donations toward their relief efforts in New South Wales. When the bushfires clear, the WWF will work to restore homes and care for injured wildlife.

4. The Australian organization GIVIT matches donated goods with items that specifically requested by victims of the fires. Learn more and give right here.

5. Save the Children is accepting donations to build special spaces where kids affected by the bushfires can play and discuss their experiences in a supportive environment while their parents work on rebuilding and recovering from their losses.

6. NSW Rural Fire Service is accepting donations to emergency efforts and nonemergency community work.

7. The nonprofit Koalas in Care Inc. normally helps approximately 65 koalas every year, but is taking in many more koalas as a result of the bushfires. Donate here.

One final thing before I go… I don’t discuss politics much here, but guys, climate change is real. The end. The fires happening in Australia are just one of countless incredibly serious consequences of damage that humans have done. Please, for the future of our planet, vow in 2020 to make changes – whether big or small – in your daily life that keep the earth in mind. And most importantly, vote with the planet in mind. We’re talking about our home, which is in desperate need of repair before it’s too late.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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A Look Back At 2019 + Plans for 2020

A Stunning Midcentury Boho Style Living Room Reveal

Happy New Year! It’s my first post of the DECADE. Weird. Honestly, I feel like I could ramble on for days about how much has happened in the past ten years, and even in the past year alone. I spent part of last week in Denver and got to ring in my birthday (January 1st) AND this new decade with the friends in my life who I consider family, and there was a lot of reflection happening. In the past decade, I said goodbye to three of my closest friends who were also family, my stepdad Tom, my grandmother ‘Maggo’ (Essley’s namesake), and my ‘first born,’ Bubby dog, and went through the scariest period of my life as my baby fought and survived the most dangerous form of childhood epilepsy. I also married the love of my life, closed Mountains of the Moon (my eco-friendly clothing label of 15 years) and fell into a new career that I love and that helps support my family in ways I never imagined, bought our first home, and created the two greatest achievements of my life, Essley and Emmett. I am a completely different person but also the same, if that makes sense. I also started Bubby and Bean in the last decade (in late 2010), and it has evolved in ways I could have never imagined. Thank you all so much for sharing this journey with me.

While I don’t make New Year’s resolutions for many reasons, on January 1, 2019, I decided that I was going to be less hard on myself in general, and to learn to be content with my life and focus on gratitude rather than always trying to do MORE. We live in a culture where being busy and always having bigger goals is glamorized, and while I think evolving in positive ways is crucial, there is something to be said for just appreciating what you already have. In 2020, I plan to do more of this – both in my real life, and here on the blog and on my social media accounts. It’s very easy (especially for someone like me who tends to base my self worth on how much I achieve) to get caught up in the invisible ladder (to nowhere, let’s be honest) of the influencer world. I need more followers! I need more engagement! I need bigger partnerships! I need to get a book deal! I need prettier pictures! I need a nicer house in which to take the pictures! I need to do things to myself physically to look better for the pictures! No, no, and no. The truth is I’m happy where I am. I don’t need to get rich. I don’t need (or want) to be famous. My mediocre house on which we work very hard to improve for ourselves is plenty. My wrinkles and sagging skin and gray hairs are just freaking fine. I’m very content and grateful to get to do something I love that helps support my family. Yes, there are lots of exciting things I have to share with you guys in 2020. But I don’t need more more more. I’m good. I’m happy.

Anyway… Let’s get on to the point of this: my favorite posts of 2019. You can click on any of the images or the links below them to see the posts in full. Thank you for taking this look back with me!

8 Ways Coloring Helps Melt Away The Winter Blues

In January, I got personal and talked about my struggle with seasonal depression, and how I use things like coloring (yes coloring!) to ease anxiety.

In February, I shared our family room redesign reveal (as seen in top post).

6 Benefits of Reading to Our Children

Also in February, I talked about 6 benefits of reading to children.

A Spring Home Decor Refresh : All Under $  25!

I shared items to help give your home a spring refresh for under $ 25.

Salsa Verde and Black Bean Quesadilla Wraps

This recipe for black bean and salsa verde quesadilla wraps from April was one of the most visited food posts of 2019.

Also in April, I paid at visit to the most incredible vintage film fashion exhibit at Chicago History Museum, which focused on “the original influencers.”

In honor of Earth Day, I shared 8 household/parenting hacks that also respect the earth.

9 Stylish Hats Perfect for Summer

As usual, I had summertime on the brain in May, so I put together this round up of fun summer hats.

In June, I shared 5 tips for keeping your house clean during summer break.

These organic pineapple orange vodka refreshers were my favorite beverage during the summer of 2019.

In July, I shared 7 tips for conquering summer laundry.

10 Ways to Stay Healthy As a Family

August rolled around and I talked about 10 ways we stay healthy as a family.

Plant-Based Lunch-Kabobs, 2 Ways

These two plant-based lunch kabob recipes I shared in September were pinned on Pinterest more than any other recipe.

Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids

In October, I shared some classic kids’ Halloween costume ideas (my fave!).

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

I talked about how to help feed hungry kids through Friendsgiving celebrations and shared our pumpkin coffee cake recipe in November.

Also in November, I talked about ways to encourage kids to tell their own stories.

Cranberry Cucumber Vodka Spritzers

These festive organic cranberry cucumber vodka spritzers were a hit around here this holiday season.

In December, I shared 10 tips for a successful holiday road trip with kids.

And finally, I shared this Polar Express inspired holiday Chex Mix recipe.

If you made it this far, thank you! I appreciate all of my followers so much, but I hold a special place in my heart for those of you who still read this blog (and blogs in general!). Blogs are the mother ships of social media, and I hope they never get drowned out by the fast/quick/easy pace of Instagram or Facebook or TikTok. If you still read, please comment below. It’s wonderful to see traffic coming here in my analytics, but I want to actually converse with you all as well! I hope 2020 brings you happiness, health, and all the goodness you deserve.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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The Polar Express Hot Chocolate Chex Mix

The Polar Express Hot Chocolate Chex Mix

This post is sponsored by General Mills, but all opinions are my own.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but when I think back to the holidays of my childhood, the memories that are most vivid are those involving family traditions. Those fun, festive activities we did together each holiday season felt so magical and full of light, and I knew from the moment my kids were born that I wanted to create memorable holiday traditions for them as well. Thanks to Chex™ cereal from Walmart I was able to do just that.

A couple of years ago, we started a holiday tradition where we make Chex™ Mix (if you’re a regular reader here then you’re likely well-aware of my affinity for Chex™ Mix) and watch a holiday movie together while we snack on it. This year, I decided we’d take our original Chex™ Mix recipe up a notch and create a sweet, very holiday-themed version inspired by our favorite winter drink (hot chocolate) and one of my favorite holiday movies, The Polar Express™. The kids and I had so much making this together, and the finished product is the perfect holiday movie snack; it’s like eating a mug of yummy hot chocolate with the most delicious crunch! It’s also a great snack to serve at holiday parties, or to pack up in cute cellophane bags tied with pretty ribbon to give as holiday gifts.


The Polar Express™ Hot Chocolate Chex Mix

INGREDIENTS
4 cups Rice Chex™ or Corn Chex™ cereal
4 cups Chocolate Chex™ cereal
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup hot cocoa mix
1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white vanilla baking chips
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate nonpareils
1/2 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies (optional)

Line 2 large rimmed baking pans with waxed paper. In large bowl, mix cereals. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and cocoa mix.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave semisweet chocolate chips uncovered on High 45 seconds; stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second increments, stirring after each, until chips are melted and smooth. Pour onto cereal in bowl; mix thoroughly to coat. Transfer mixture to 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag; add powdered sugar mix to bag. Seal bag; shake to coat. Spread in one of the pans to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave white vanilla baking chips uncovered on High 30 seconds; stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second increments, stirring after each, just until chips are starting to melt and can be stirred smooth. Stir in marshmallows; coat completely. Spread in remaining pan, spreading mini marshmallows into small clusters; let stand about 30 minutes or until coating is set.

In large serving bowl, mix cereal, marshmallow clusters, chocolate nonpareils, and crushed peppermint candy. Store at room temperature in covered container.

TIPS:

  • Chocolate nonpareils come in a small and larger size, and either will work in this recipe. (We used the small ones.)
  • If melted white vanilla baking chips are too hot, you may need to cool slightly before adding marshmallows to coat.

All of the delicious ingredients in this recipe combine perfectly to create what my daughter has declared to be “the yummiest holiday sweet treat snack ever,” but the key ingredients are the Rice Chex™ (or Corn Chex™, if you prefer to use that variety) and the Chocolate Chex™. Rice Chex™ has been one of my favorite cereals since I was a child, and we eat it for breakfast regularly around here. (My kids love the way it tastes. I love that it contains no artificial colors or flavors, no artificial preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, and is gluten free!) I only recently tried the Chocolate Chex™, but I was an instant fan. I love snacking on it as an after dinner treat, and it can be used for countless dessert recipes. (And like Corn and Rice Chex™, it’s free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, contains no high fructose corn syrups, and is also gluten free. Woot!)

As much as we all love eating The Polar Express™ Hot Chocolate Chex™ Mix, the best part is making it together as a family. We put on holiday music, and the four of work together to measure the ingredients, stir and mix and create, and arrange in hot chocolate mugs to eat while we watch The Polar Express™ in our pajamas. It doesn’t get much better.

Head to your local Walmart or click here and stock up on Chex™ cereals for all of your holiday snacking needs. Happy holiday snacking and tradition making, friends.

NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, THE POLAR EXPRESS © WBEI. A CHRISTMAS STORY © Turner Ent Co. ELF © New Line Prod. Inc.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Top Pet Names of 2019

It’s always fun to see the Top 10 lists that the end of the year inevitably brings–and no list is more fun than the top pet names. This year Healthy Paws Pet Insurance created a list of…



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DogTipper

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Top 6 Reasons to Walk Your Dog

Dog walking — twice a day in our house — is usually the highlight of my day. I love the peaceful time outside with our dogs and the exercise it provides me–and our dogs. Today we…



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DogTipper

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Holiday Guacamole

Festive Winter Guacamole

Christmas is a week from today guys, and while I’ve been great at making holiday cocktails, my holiday snack making has been less than stellar. Yesterday I decided to pull out an old recipe (one I’ve actually shared here in the past) and play around with it. A couple of quick changes made it better than ever, so I decided to share it here again. This makes for a really unique holiday app for parties, since, you know, most people don’t think of avocados when they think of winter. The pomegranate seeds give it the perfect hint of festive color (and truly delicious flavor), and combined with seasonal pears, turn regular old guac into holiday goodness.

Festive Winter Guacamole

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
2-3 large, ripe avocados, cubed
1 pear, cut into cubes
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 lime
salt

Peel and cube the pear, and set aside. Remove seeds from the pomegranate, and set aside. Put cubed avocado in a serving bowl and mash to desired consistency. Stir in pear and pomegranate. Squeeze half a lime over the top, add a little salt, top with a few pomegranate seeds, and serve! It’s super easy and so yummy.

Festive Winter Guacamole
Festive Winter Guacamole
Festive Winter Guacamole

My mouth is genuinely watering thinking about those juicy pomegranate seeds. I hope you enjoy this fun take on winter guacamole as much as we do!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Happy Holidays and See You Next Year!

Every year when it gets to around the 20th of December, I have to stop and try to figure out what just happened. I think everyone probably feels this way. I love the holiday season so much, but it’s also just so freaking busy that it passes me by before I realize it was even here. I won’t bore you with all of the activities and work projects and birthday parties and travels we’ve been doing (or plan on doing as Robbie gets ready to go back on tour), but I will say that I desperately need to take a break from my current 12+ hour work days to spend these last few days of the holiday season with my family (and let’s face it, cram in last minute shopping and attempt to make my house look like it isn’t a garbage dump). So I will be taking my annual break from the blog to spend time with my family and catch up on non-work things, starting today. I’ll be back here after the New Year, and because I just don’t know how to completely turn off, I’m sure I’ll be popping in on Instagram.

However you celebrate (or don’t celebrate!), I wish you the happiest of holidays and a New Year full of joy, love, and peace.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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The Tragedy of Mike Tomkies and Moobli

moobli

We have a tendency to romanticize nature writers. We think of Thoreau or Edward Abbey as sages on the land, revealing profound truths about the nature that was their true muse.

I just finished a book, a dog book that I’ve been meaning to read for several years.  It is called Moobli by Mike Tomkies. Tomkies was famous for his first hand studies of Scottish wildcats, red deer, and golden eagles on the vast Highland wilderness on which he roamed.  He set himself up in an ancient crofter’s cottage on the shore of Loch Sheil and spent years chronicling its wild creatures. For nearly 9 years, his main assistant in his wildlife studies was an “Alsatian” named Moobli.

Tomkies became a wildlife writer after leaving the Coldstream Guards and spending years wandering around North America. North America, of course, is a place with much more wilderness than the island of Great Britain. He became an expert tracker of grizzly bears and cougars, and when he returned to set up his mission in Scotland, he used these skills to find wildcats and badger setts.

When one reads Tomkies’s prose about wild creatures, a profound sensitivity and tenderness is revealed. His passion for them oozes through every description, and I thought we would get an even more intimate sensibility when the subject switches to a beloved dog.

I was strangely jarred by his inability to understand dogs. If you believe in positive only dog training, this book is very difficult to read. Moobli is hit often, and in many cases, Tomkies’s description of the why he gave the punishment would lead to me think that Moobli would have had no way to understand the correction.  For example, Moobli gets hit for defecating in the cottage, even if the offense happened some time before the correction,

Knowing this breed as I do, my guess is that poor Moobli spent much of his life in constant terror of offending his beloved human, who seemed to offer very little attempts to communicate with him.  These dogs are not stubborn or recalcitrant. I’ve never known dogs that worry so much at trying make sure they are doing your bidding. It distresses them to know you’re cross with them far more than it does with even golden retrievers.

And yes, they do have an edge to them, and they must understand rules and boundaries. They just must be communicated to the dog in a way that dog understands them, and for someone with such a deep sensitivity towards animals as Tomkies, it can be distressing to read how he is utterly tone-deaf in dealing with this dog.

From my reading of Tomkies’s biography, he owned only two dogs in his lifetime. The first was a free-roaming German shepherd-Labrador cross that he owned in Canada. This dog later accompanied him to Hollywood and made an appearance in a movie as an extra, and this dog was obedient and sagacious. Though he loved this animal very much, he left the dog in Canada on his return to the UK, but his partial German shepherd heritage inspired Tomkies to get one of his own for his Scottish missions.

Tomkies didn’t know dogs. He tried to, but as I read the book, I kept wondering if he would ever understand what Moobli actually was. I laughed quite hard at his description of “Alsatians” as independent dogs, for I will tell you in all honestly that “independent” is one word I would not ascribe to this breed. I can only image what would have happened had Tomkies taken in a Siberian husky or some form of scenthound.

However, despite my reservations with Tomkies’s understanding of dogs, his honesty in the prose is almost refreshing. He confesses to hitting Moobli, even after he decides it is immoral, and he also is open about his abuse of alcohol and how lonely he becomes as the one man sage of this wilderness.

Moobli, though, is such a compelling figure. Moobli has loads of tending and warding off instinct. He finds many injured red deer and sheep on their long hikes into the wild. He also becomes a proficient tracking dog, tracing foxes to their earths and badgers to their setts.  That Moobli is able to figure out what Tomkies wants, even though Tomkies obviously had no clue how to train a dog, is a testament towards his German shepherd biddability and intelligence.

Moobli is also a contradiction. Though he is gentle with most sheep and red deer hinds and calves, he could be quite aggressive towards rams and stags that came to raid Tomkies’s sprout and cabbage patch.  Tomkies describes the great battle between Moobli and a garden raiding stage, which stands to fight the barking dog.

Further, Tomkies caught Moobli chasing a brown hare while on a visit to Southern England, and although he was able to call Moobli off, his predatory instincts are stimulated. On the returning to Scotland, Moobli gets after a roebuck, which he pursues into the water and kills in a most lupine way.

So the same dog that would tend a starving lamb or an abandoned red deer calf could also kill a roe deer on the run.

Tomkies is more angry at Moobli for the attack. He does not take the time to marvel in this profound contradiction that exists in dogs and humans and in all species that are social hunters. We can be gentle and tender, even loving, but we can also be so savage at times.

Moobli’s relationship with the various wildcats that Tomkies raised is also worth noting. Tomkies lived with wildcats in much the same way that Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived with wolves in Idaho. He really got to understand what a European wildcat truly was in its essence, and Moobli was an expert in tracking down the cats once Tomkies gave them liberty to roam in the wild.  He also was the gentle caretaker of any kittens that Tomkies raised in the house.

Moobli is a good dog. He is active and fit, and because of his great tracking prowess, he is the ultimate naturalist’s dog.  He can get on the track of the different species on command, tearing off after wildcats and ignoring badger and fox spoor and then tracking those beasts when his master gives the appropriate command.

He is also a superb retriever. Fetching many objects just based upon their name, and when one reads Tomkies’s description of teaching the dog to do a retrieve, it is obvious that he never heard of any kind of formal retriever training. He just points at the object and gives it a name, and Moobli deduces the object by his master’s “Nahs” and haranguing.

That this dog performed so well with such inexpert handling is truly remarkable. At one point, the dog figures out how to push Tomkies’s small boat to shore when the engine gives out. After trying to look for objects to retrieve,  he begins to push boat with his paws as he swam strongly in the water.

This dog is on the move. He swims several miles a day in the loch during the warmer months, and he also spends hours traveling over the mountains with Tomkies.  The photos of Moobli in the book reveal a faded out black and tan. The dog is a sort of homely creature. His ears don’t really stand properly, even though they were posted.  Judging from the photos, he is a hair fat, even though he does get this exercise, and I wonder how much venison and sausage that Tomkies was feeding him every day.

Despite his physical defect, Moobli’s temperament and proclivities are so typical of what the best of this breed has to offer. If only he had experienced a more careful hand to mold him, Moobli would have become an even more special dog than what he became.

I suppose that my difference with Tomkies is that I am a nature writer whose dogs have always been my conduit for exploring the natural world.  Tomkies is a nature writer who happens to like the odd dog that he finds useful. Tomkies does not take much time to understand the canine condition. It is always projected through his own very human nature.

The hardest part of the book is what comes at the end. In animal biographies, we know what happens. The animal dies.

And Moobli died of degenerative myelopathy. When he was going through the disease in the early 80s, we had poor understanding of the disorder. Tomkies describes one veterinarian who calls it “the Alsatian disease,” even though other breeds get it, and in those parts of the book, he conflates it a bit with an unrelated arthritis issue that Moobli also developed.

We now know the disorder is conferred by a recessive allele. The spine degenerates when the dog is in late middle age, and in our popular understanding of the disorder, we often see a conflation between this disease and hip dysplasia.  Not all dogs that are homozygous for the recessive allele get the disorder, but it is a big problem in the breed.

Tomkies had a hard time letting Moobli go. Swimming was superb exercise for the dog, and after several months dragging his rear, the dog winds up with massive shoulders.

Tomkies writes veterinarians all over the UK, hoping that one might have a the cure. The offer only new treatments. There was no cure then. There is no cure now.

He hits Moobli for defecating in the house when the disorder hits. That was the hardest part of the book to read, but Tomkies realizes that this lack of bladder control is a symptom of the disease.  He then rearranges the cottage for ease of cleaning.

For nearly a year, Tomkies keeps Moobli alive. It is only when the dog’s dragging tail becomes infected with bottlefly maggots that he decides to alleviate his suffering through euthanasia.

In the end, Tomkies realizes what a profoundly good dog he had, and in the epilogue, he admits that he has not purchased another dog. He says that he is too full of sorrow to get another, and if he did, it would have to be a very different sort of dog. I detect a bit of remorse about how he treated the dog at times, which is why Tomkies included such horrible images in his prose.

It is just as well, for wild creatures are Tomkies’s true muse.  He had a great dog, but he lacked the expertise to understand this creature and its true potential.

The end of the book is Tomkies describing his loneliness. His father has just passed in Spain. Various commercial interests are pressing hard on invading his wilderness. The townspeople are no longer amused by his wilderness activism.  No publisher will buy his manuscript, and he is stuck living in the converted sheep shed on Loch Shiel.  Moobli’s grave lies just below the cottage, and he is forced to remember what once was and never will be.

This is the true tragedy of the nature writer.  He is alone. There is mystery and romance about such an ascetic existence, but it is not all the beauty and the glory of the wildness.  It is recognizing that one can put one’s self in exiled existence that is hard to rectify.

And then not even have a dog to care for you.

 

 

 

Natural History

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