I know a reputable pilot who has flown many dogs a…

I know a reputable pilot who has flown many dogs around the country to get them to safe places. His insurance does not allow him to fly outside the US. He is willing to make arrangements to take dogs should this become necessary, as long as someone can get them over the US border. Hopefully this will not be necessary, but in case it becomes so you can message me and I'll put you in touch with him.
BAD RAP Blog

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The black fox of Bassingbourn

bassingbourn black fox

The animal above was an anomalous black fox that was photographed near the village of Bassingbourn in South Cambridgeshire.  The photographer, John Moore, spotted the fox running in the fields near his home and snapped some photos.  It was late March in 2012, and it was a true rare find.

Foxes that are any color other than the typical red are extremely uncommon in the UK, so when these photos were published, speculation about where it came from were rampant. One theory was that it was one of the Belyaev “domesticated” foxes, which were then being sold as pets. Another suggestion was that it was a fur farm escapee. The problem with that theory is that fur farms had been banned in England and Wales since the year 2000, and those last remaining fur farms were mink producers, not fox producers.

Just a few days after John Moore took the photos, the black fox was found dead on the highway. Its body was sent to Anglia Ruskin University for genetic testing to determine why this particular fox was black.

Genetic testing revealed something quite unusual about it.  The vixen was found to have two genetic mutations related to fur color that were similar to those found in raccoon dogs.

Raccoon dogs are very closely related to foxes, and in Russia, they are commonly bred in fur farms that also contain (silver) red foxes and (blue) arctic foxes. Because of the similarity between this fox’s fur color genes and those of a raccoon dog, it was given as evidence that this animal was a Belyaev fox that had been turned loose.

It would make some sense. After all, this vixen was estimated to have been 18 months old, and she was apparently so unwise around roads that she soon met her demise on the highway. Further, her coat was much thicker than a typical English red fox. Maybe someone with more money than sense had ordered up one of these famed “domesticated” foxes, and soon realized they aren’t that awesome to have as pets.

And the poor thing got turned loose to live with the wild English foxes, which is about as a humane thing to do as turning out a cocker spaniel into Alaska to go live with the wolves.

So this logic is easy enough to follow.

The issue that seems to be ignored in all of the discussion about what this fox was is whether it is actually possible for a raccoon dog to hybridize with a red fox.

Ignore what you’ve read in various texts about raccoon dogs. They are actually quite close related to the true foxes. Genome-wide analyses have revealed that they are close enough to the other Vulpini to be classified with them.

They are quite unusual as wild dogs go. They can “hibernate,” which means they just sort of go to sleep during the worst of the winter (but it’s not really “true hibernation.”) They also have masks, and rather superficially resemble actual raccoons. It was not unusual for taxonomists to classify them as a sort of Old World raccoon species. We now know they are actual dogs, but the idea of them being sort of dog-like procyonids certainly captured more than a few imaginations.

So the notion that these animals could hybridize with red foxes would seem far-fetched.

But maybe they have.

The Soviet Union was really interested in fur. Historically, Russia has been a nation of fur-wearers. Furs drove them east and north into new territories, and when fur farms became a possibility, improving fur stains became an important goal. This goal went on in earnest during the Stalin years, and Belyaev, a Mendelian, was driven from his initial research post to accommodate Lysenkoist methodologies. He went to a research facility in Novosibirsk,  where he conducted his experiments on silver foxes.

The Soviet ideology believed that nature could be bent to serve mankind. Socialism in one country meant quite a bit of scarcity, even in the largest country in the world, and it was hoped that the new Soviet science could use native flora and fauna to produce abundance. This abundance would soon provision their citizens, and the Marxist ideal of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” would be possible. Then this ideal would spread to other countries of the world, leading us to a new socialist future and then full-on communism.

It never really worked out, and we all know of the ecological catastrophes that happened as a result of these plans, including the introduction of raccoon dogs to Eastern Europe.

But they made some sense with in the logic of that system.

And if some enterprising Soviet fur farmer wanted to try something different, he might try crossing his silver foxes with raccoon dogs. Maybe he did in the years following the war, when scarcity was the rule, and getting new blood for foxes and raccoon dogs would have been an ordeal.

But this still doesn’t answer the question.

The fact that someone might try crossing the two species is interesting enough, but the question is whether one can produce viable offspring. And the next question whether any of the offspring would be fertile.

I have yet to find the answer to those questions, except that I am aware that red and arctic fox hybrids are sterile.

And those two species are much more closely related to each other than raccoon dogs are to red foxes.

So maybe the black fox of Bassingbourn really wasn’t a hybrid or of distant hybrid ancestry. The similarities in her genotype could have simply been the result of the fact that both red foxes and raccoon dogs share a common ancestor. This fox simply retained a few genes that she held in common with the raccoon dog.

I think that this is a bit better explanation, but the British press took the suggestion that she might have been a hybrid a bit too far. Virtually every mention of this fox online or in print says that she was a hybrid.

I wish, though, that more research had been performed this fox. If she really were the result of a hybridization on a Russian fur farm, it would be possible to detect this hybridization with more analysis of her genome.

The fact that she had just been killed when her body was donated to science meant that lots of different tests could have been performed.

If she really had been derived from hybridization between these two species, this would have been a major discovery.

I don’t think anyone would have expected it.

But Occam’s razor tells me that she wasn’t derived from hybrids.

As much as I’d like her to be, my educated guess is she wasn’t.

And the British press had a lot of fun with it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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Possibly the sweetest wedding photo ever

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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5 Things to Consider When Starting a Pet-sitting Business

Starting up a pet-sitting business isn’t as difficult as it may seem, but there
are several things to take into consideration. Time, commitment, and professionalism are at the top of the list. Essentially, you will be a small business owner, regardless if you hire employees or go it alone. Keeping that in mind, where does one begin in regards to starting up a business? Here are five things to consider before taking the leap.

Filing the Paperwork

Business License and/or “Doing Business As” (DBA)

Filing for a business license can be a daunting task for many, but it’s not as scary as it seems. Check with your state whether you need a business license to legally operate a pet-sitting business. They will let you know what paperwork to file to get your business off the ground.

Do you want to use your own name, or a business name? (ie. Pam’s Pet-sitting vs. Walk in the Park) If you choose to name your business, you’ll need to register that name with the appropriate authorities. This process is known as registering your “Doing Business As” (DBA) paperwork. Registering your DBA is done either with your county clerk’s office or with your state government, depending on where your business is located.

Protecting yourself

Insurance vs. no insurance

What if, while in your care, Fido bites another dog or a child? Or you accidentally break a client’s favorite antique? As a business owner, you’re liable. Accidents happen, so it’s a good idea to protect yourself. Pet-sitting insurance covers general liability, personal property, and employee accidents or dishonesty. There are several insurance companies that offer pet-sitting insurance. The cost will vary, but it’s worth it.

Keeping track of business finances

Personal checking account vs. business account

dog-1082307_1920Using a personal account for your business finances affects your legal liability. If you’re a sole proprietor and combine business and personal expenses, it can be difficult for the IRS to determine if you’re a viable business. If you choose to operate from your personal account, make sure to keep track of your business and personal expenses. If your business is an LLC, partnership, or corporation, it’s crucial to have separate accounts. Failure to separate business and personal expenses can result in the owner being sued for business and corporate liabilities. Check with your bank to see what they offer in terms of small business accounts.

 Privacy and professionalism

Business phone vs. personal phone

Business contacts who have access to your personal phone number can create privacy concerns. Having a separate business line gives you the ability to answer the phone and return calls in a professional manner. You can also set up business hours (although if you’re taking care of someone’s pet, I recommend being available to them at all times). If you decide to use your private number, be prepared. Clients will treat the number as a business number, and may be calling at all hours. Make sure your voice message states when you’ll be returning their calls.

Advertising & Branding

Logo, website/domain name, business cards, and flyers

Having a local and online presence is important. If you aren’t tech savvy, find someone who is that can help you. It’s also a good idea to check out your local pet-sitters to see how their websites are designed, and what they offer their clients.

Logos: Design a logo to represent your business. Your logo will brand your website, business cards, online advertising and flyers. Make sure your images aren’t copyrighted or you could be sued. You can use clip art or search for Creative Commons images online. From there, find a photo editing/designing program (PicMonkey, Fotor) and create something memorable.  The possibilities are endless, have fun with it!

Website/Domain name: Depending on your business needs, a website/domain name can be free (Weebly, WordPress, Blogger) or paid (Wix, iPage, GoDaddy). Pay careful attention to introductory web hosting prices, as they will most likely increase after the first month. Again, if designing a website isn’t your thing, find someone who can help you.

Business cards and flyers: Leaving business cards and flyers with your local veterinarians, pet shops, animal-related events, shelters, and dog parks is a great way to spread the word about your business. Don’t forget to advertise in your local online directories.

With some thought and planning, starting up your own pet-sitting business is a wonderful venture. Getting involved with a pet-sitting organization to learn from others and network is a step in the right direction. Good luck!

For more in-depth information and helpful advice about starting a small business:

SBA US Small Business Administration

https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/how-start-business

Clarissa Johal is the bestselling author of paranormal novels, Poppy, The Island, Voices, Struck, and Between. When she’s not writing and listening to the ghosts in her head, she runs her own pet-sitting business and volunteers at the SPCA. Author website: www.clarissajohal.com


PetsitUSA Blog

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Happy Birthday Sister-In-law

Sister in laws are like the best complimentary gifts that come with your husband or maybe as special someone whom your brothers marry. Wish these lovely angels on their birthday with these special greetings. we hope you send these birthday wishes and quotes for sister, You are probably the best thing that could happen to […]



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Sunflower Faith

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The Dying Pet’s Bill of Rights

As I prepare for my third year at IAAHPC, the veterinary hospice conference, I’ve taken pause to reflect on this journey and how it affects the way I view veterinary medicine. Personally, I have only euthanized a personal pet in a clinic (versus at home) one time.

It was Nuke, my vet school coonhound, and he was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma just a month after I graduated and came back home. The veterinarian was lovely and did as great a job as one can do in that situation, but so many memories still stick in my head:

-They asked me to come in at the end of the day, ostensibly to make it easier for me. It meant I had to wait all day and then sit, sobbing, in rush hour traffic. It wasn’t what I preferred, but I was too tired and sad to realize I should have asked for what I needed.

-They took him in the back to place a catheter. I get it, I did the same thing throughout my entire clinic career. It’s definitely easier for the staff. I would have preferred to be with him the whole time. After doing it by myself in people’s homes with no backup- yes, it is perfectly possible.

-After I left, they took his body and placed it in a black garbage bag in the freezer until the aftercare place arrives on their weekly rounds. I know, because we all do this. Every clinic I have worked at does it this way. It is just the way it is done.

But does it have to be?

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I know that the answer is no. I know that there are options out there that so many people want, so many ways we can better respect the dignity of our patients and clients before and after death, and we owe it to you all to let you know they are possible. Veterinarians have many reasons for not offering them, and they are not invalid concerns:

  • They are more expensive
  • They take more time to organize
  • Most people do not want them

While many if not most clients are fine with the process the way it is, it hurts me to no end to know that so many people are still unaware of the myriad additional options out there to help your pet at end of life and to ease your pain as a family through the process. You may have to advocate for yourself, prepare, and find these options on your own- trust me, after having to advocate for my mother to get into hospice when it wasn’t offered as an option, this is kind of a universal problem.

end-of-life

To that end, I’d like to share with you my End of Life Bill of Rights- the things that you as an owner have a right to ask for and, after having worked with so many like minded colleagues now for several years- I can tell you that someone out there is equipped to provide you with:

The Right to Refuse Treatment. If your pet is suffering from a terminal disease, you have the right to say no to chemo, or surgery, or radiation. I believe in my heart that most veterinarians out there support clients in that, but there seems to be a lost-in-translation moment where so many owners feel pressured into heroic measures they were not prepared to take, emotionally or financially. This does not mean I am advocating to neglect an ill pet in suffering- quite the contrary, I am advocating for aggressive and patient focused comfort care.

The Right to Pursue Treatment. On the flip side, if you want to take your pet to the best of the best and do everything in the book possible to change things, it’s your call, not ours. We can offer you guidance and advice, but our job is to help you make an informed decision about realistic outcomes.

The Right to Have Your Family Involved. Unfortunately, some veterinarians still actively discourage families from having children present during euthanasia in the clinic. The emotion makes them uncomfortable and is disruptive. It is a clinic-focused way of thinking that is not focused on family needs. This is a once in a lifetime transition, and you need to do what you need to do. Many clients do not want their children present, which is fine- especially for kids under 5 who don’t understand what is happening- but it should be your choice. What your children see and hear- or don’t see- will live with them forever. If you don’t know how to approach the conversation- there are many, many professionals who do, and they have excellent resources to help.

The Right to Impeccably Respectful Aftercare. Most people don’t want to know what we do with a pet’s body afterwards. If they ask, I would tell them, and assure them we are as respectful as we can be. I believe in transparency. Nonetheless it is a disturbing image to many, myself included. If we can’t be honest without feeling like there’s a need to cushion the blow, why not change it? Especially when it’s such an easy thing to do?

More recently I have worked with a local business that doesn’t use bags or hold pets onsite; pets are wrapped in a clean white sheet and transported directly to the crematory facility, with the family knowing that the position their pet was last placed in is how they will remain. Yes, it costs more. And yes, many people are happy to pay it for that peace of mind. Some clients of mine transport their pet directly to an aftercare facility themselves, or have a trusted friend do it, because that chain of custody is important to them. These are all valid options.

The Right to Die at Home. The first time I went to a hospice conference, it changed everything for me. We can do so much better by our clients. In-home hospice and euthanasia veterinarians are changing the landscape of the profession, and providers exist all over the world. We are trained to offer not only medical support, but we are able to direct your family to the compassionate emotional support you may need, through chaplains, grief counselors, and support groups. We can offer palliative care options when medical treatment is discontinued- as in humans, we have a wide array of comfort care support that goes far beyond a pain pill here and there that can ease the discomfort of end of life.

And when the time comes, you will be at home, in a safe place, with those around you that you need. I bring blankets, candles, music- things that might not be practical in a busy clinic but, in a time of grief, provide small but vital bits of calm through all the senses. For those who experience euthanasia in a clinic, you also have the right to take the time you need, to make the environment what you need it to be for you. It matters. Your bond matters, too.

With love, Dr. V

Pawcurious: With Veterinarian and Author Dr. V

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Here’s one reason I will never be fashionable

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Win Our New Global DOG Bag!

In our PawZaar gift store, our newest exclusive design is the Global DOG Bag, a handy bag to hold your must-haves, whether for a doggie excursion, your own travels, or your daily jaunts around town….



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DogTipper

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Happy Birthday Grandmother Songs

Grandmother is the most loving, caring and beautiful person to a grandchild. Their presence is always peaceful and the wisdom they impart is important for the child. Wish your Grandma on their birthday with these messages. Share these lovely birthday wishes with everyone.   Dear Granny. Thank you for always picking my side when I […]



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Sunflower Faith

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Using Teas to Soothe and Fuel My Day (+ a Giveaway from Lauku!)

Those of you who read here regularly or follow me on social media know that my family and I have been going through some pretty stressful times recently. And while I am incredibly grateful for the small victories we’ve seen, the love and positive vibes we’ve received from others, and the pieces of good news that have come our way thus far, I would be lying if I told you the stress hasn’t taken its toll. I’ve been physically and mentally drained like never before, and my brain has been on overdrive thanks to worry and lack of sleep. As a result, I’ve had to stop and consciously figure out how to take care of myself along the way, and also to find new ways to enjoy simple moments in my days that I’ve set aside just for me. One of the biggest (and most effective) ways I’ve done this is through the act of drinking three very different but equally soothing cups of tea each day, all from a wonderful, inspiring little company called Lauku.

The act of drinking tea as a means of self care is nothing new, of course, and it’s something I’ve personally done for a long time. But it really took finding a conscious tea brand with a “farm-to-cup” philosophy and a talent for creating the perfect teas for different moments of the day for me to genuinely feel completely satisfied by the experience. The flavor is one of the main reasons Lauku Tea is my personal favorite, but there are a lots of other aspects of the company that make me feel good about them being such an integral part of my current daily routine. First, you can’t find their teas on grocery store shelves or even in specialty tea houses. This is because the tea travels directly from the Ozolini farm in Lativa to me (or to you!). And on this farm, the Lukina family plants, grows, harvests, picks, dries and hand-packages all the tea themselves. (Did I mention that women rule the farm? I am totally down with that!) I also love that their teas are all natural, certified organic, and 100% sustainably grown – and without a doubt the freshest teas I’ve ever tasted. I genuinely feel soothed, restored, and fueled for my day with the help of these delicious teas – which has been really important to my headspace and body during a challenging time. Oh, and the teas are absolutely gorgeous to look at too. I feel like I’m pouring dried flowers into my cup every time.

Each morning, I start out with a cup of Brigita’s Daylight Blend. The blend of dried apple and meadow clover flowers is sunny and rejuvenating and an overall great way to wake up. Sometimes I add a splash of almond milk and some honey, but I usually just drink it plain. I really like starting my day feeling like I’m doing something to take care of my mental well being, even if just through a cup of organic tea.

In the afternoon, I make myself a cup of Anna’s Heritage Blend. Crafted with forest raspberry, wild strawberry, chamomile and mint, it makes for the perfect mid-day break. The chamomile calms my mind and the mint and berries provide a subtly uplifting burst to help me feel motivated to continue with my daily tasks. I always drink this plain.

I end each day with Evita’s Twilight Blend, which I’d best describe as serene, soft, and soothing. With meadowsweet, calendula, catnip and lemon balm (also called Melissa and the herb after which my mom named me, by the way), it’s the perfect blend for winding down. I usually drink this with a splash of organic milk and some honey. (It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to, this one would likely be my choice).

Reevaluating things and reminding myself of the importance of being intentional with self care – even through something as simple as three cups of tea a day – has been incredibly helpful in getting on a path to feeling more like myself again. Whether you’re in the best place you’ve ever been in your life or you’re in some need of some serious self care like I have been, I highly recommend trying out Lauku Tea’s delicious, handcrafted blends. I’m hooked, in the best of ways. And I can’t wait to give Lauku as holiday gifts in a couple of months.

Speaking of giving, I also get to give the gift of Lauku Tea to one of you! One lucky Bubby and Bean reader is going to get a beautiful Latvian Sun Sampler package, as well as one 2 ounce package of each of the three blends: Brigita’s Daylight Blend, Anna’s Heritage Blend, and Evita’s Twilight Blend. The value of these goodies is $ 60, but the pleasure they’ll bring you is priceless. Trust me on this.


To enter, just use the form below. There are several options for extra entries as well.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will run through September 29, 2016 and is open to Bubby and Bean readers worldwide. A winner will be randomly chosen via Random.org and announced here shortly after the end of the giveaway.

Thank you to our friends at Lauku Tea for giving us such a fantastic package to give away, and for making such delicious, consciously crafted teas. I can’t wait to hear what you guys think once you try them for yourselves!

This post is in partnership with Lauku Tea. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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