I believe this project actually helps educate peop…

I believe this project actually helps educate people on both pitbulls and "wolfdogs" by reducing overbreeding and showing how wonderful blockheads can be as mentor dogs. Good work.
BAD RAP Blog

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What I’m Wearing Now: November

Casual Winter Wardrobe Essentials
1. Chevron Down Coat, Garnet Hill  //  2. Fan Tassel Earrings, Amazon (Only $ 7.99!)  //  3. Silver Hoop Earrings Set, H&M  //  4. Blush Oversized Scarf, H&M  //  5. Set of 3 Tassel Earrings, Revolia  //  6. Fine Knit Sweater in Gray, H&M (ON SALE!)  //  7. Loveland Wrap in Cargo Green, prAna  // 8Lily Tore Diaper Bag, Newlie   //  9. Chuck Taylor All Star Low Tops, Converse  //  10.  Beaded Chain Bracelet, Madewell  //  11. Classic Short Boots in Chestnut, Ugg  //   12. Skinny Low Jeans in Black, H&M 

Well guys, it’s full on winter here in Chicagoland. There might not be snow on the ground, but it’s brutally cold. And that means that it’s official my least favorite season for getting dressed. I mean, I can appreciate a good layered look, but a winter coat, blanket scarf, hat and gloves over a sweater over a thermal shirt, jeans, socks, and boots is a little excessive for me.

That said, I’ve been making the best of the season of excess layers and getting lots of use out of my trusty UGG Boots, favorite jeans, and a winter jacket that is, in my opinion, as cute as it is warm. Sweaters have been on major rotation, which is actually really unusual for me as I’ve never really been a sweater person. And I’ve actually had a couple of occasions to wear the amazingly affordable bell-sleeve Nordstrom dress I raved about last time, which makes me happy because I’m admittedly a little obsessed with it, even though it’s not my typical style. I’ve also been feeling the tassel earrings once again. (I mean, how about this fan pair for less than $ 8?!)

I can’t complain too much about having to bundle up right now – we leave in two days to go to the Dominican Republic. That means I’ll get to pull out all of my sweet summer favorites and wear them for a solid week in the middle of this frigid winter madness. I’m so stoked.

What have you been wearing this month?

(P.S. You can see other my other monthly What I’m Wearing Now posts from the past couple of years right here.)

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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GreaterGood.org is Hosting a Food Drive with Halo® and Freekibble.com on #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday with GreaterGood.org, Freekibble.com and Halo PetsThis #GivingTuesday, please help Freekibble.comHalo  and GreaterGood.org to deliver 5 million nutritious meals to hungry shelter pets over the holidays. One of the biggest expenses for shelters and rescue groups is feeding pets in their care. As the temperature drops this holiday season, shelters that are already overcrowded incur extra expenses. When disasters strike, the need for food becomes even more dire. That’s why for Giving Tuesday, GreaterGood is hosting a food drive for animals! The money raised today will provide nutritious meals to shelters and rescues across the country.

Right now, freezing temps and hurricane recovery has shelters and rescues in desperate need of food. Your gift will help bring high-quality pet food to shelters and rescue groups nationwide providing nourishment to rescue pets who need it most. The best part? Animals that are healthy, happy, and well-fed stand a much better chance of being adopted.

When you give $ 2.00, you will provide 80 meals for animals in shelters.

Help make this the biggest #GivingTuesday yet! Donate Today.

 

Halo Pets

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You Don’t Have to Feel Bad for the Turkeys This Year

Thanksgiving

Those of us who are not vegans or vegetarians can still have misgivings about the way animals are raised for food in this country. We’d like to be able to choose humanely raised animals in the food chain, which isn’t always easy. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has worked long and hard to improve conditions for pigs, cows, chickens and turkeys so that they are not raised in confinement cages or in otherwise cruel conditions. Halo® has teamed up with HSUS specifically around this issue, helping raise awareness.

The Humane Society of the U.S. on “Giving Tuesday” November 28th
#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. This year, for every $ 1 you donate to The Humane Society of The United States, Halo  is donating one bowl of food to a rescued animal courtesy of Freekibble.com and GreaterGood.org. Plus, your gift directly supports the work of the Animal Rescue Team so that every dollar raised helps HSUS save animals from puppy mills, animal fighting operations and other situations where they’re suffering from extreme cruelty and neglect.

Thanksgiving Every Day for our Pets
It is possible to choose a turkey or chicken this year for our own Thanksgiving that has had a decent, more natural life. For those of us who know that high quality protein is an important part of our pets’ diets, we may have qualms about where the protein in our pet foods comes from. I’m here to celebrate a happy Thanksgiving knowing that we no longer need to worry about this issue: Halo has it covered!

My own dogs get to celebrate Thanksgiving throughout the year eating the Halo Healthy Weight kibble made from humanely sourced turkey, turkey liver and duck. It makes a difference to me – and many of my friends – to know that Halo’s turkey recipes are made from humanely-sourced turkeys, which lived a good life. Halo is a mission-driven company, working to improve the way companion animals are fed and farm animals are raised in the process of making top shelf food for our pets using only whole meat.

GAP Certification for Humanely Raised Feed Animals
Halo’s meat proteins are GAP certified., which stands for Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Certification The GAP certification label verifies that the animals have been raised following comprehensive standards focused on their care and welfare. The Global Animal Partnership is a global leader in farm animal welfare that has established a comprehensive step-by-step program for raising animals animals to be consumed, with the goal of improving the welfare of animals in agriculture. GAP makes it easier for consumers to find meat products that reflect their values.

Give Thanks for a Pet Food Company with a Conscience
There is an added bonus to choosing Halo products for your pet’s best nutrition. You get the peace of mind knowing that the management and sourcing of the ingredients for all their pet foods has been done thoughtfully and carefully, ensuring high quality whole meats without undue suffering to the animals raised for food. The “takeaway” from feeding to your pets, is that every time you open a bag or can it is reminding you of the importance of treating farm animals with dignity. Let’s hope that mindfulness spills over into many aspects of our lives and makes us better people, too.
Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

Halo Pets

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Meadow fox finds a mate

gray fox winter

It is the “dead of winter” or so the sobriquet for that time of the year goes.  It is the time when the trees stand as gray skeletons and the piercing winds come questing down from the arctic and the snow comes in storms to blanket the land. It is a time of darkness, a time when the sun seems to rise only for the purpose of setting once again with the ancillary effect of torturing sun-worshiping humanity with its sallow winter rays.

And so our kind curses the winter. Much of our natural history occurred in the tropics, so this relatively recent remove to the middle and higher latitudes means that we spent the winter yearning for the sun upon our skins.

Most of the herbivores don’t like it much either. The deer had better have built up a nice layer of fat for this time of starvation. If oaks don’t drop tons of acorns in the autumn, then the deer don’t built their fat, and the hunger sweeps through them. The does reabsorb their fetus, and the old ones die in agony.

But not all things suffer through the long winter darkness and cold.  A gray fox vixen, which we last saw mousing in the July swelter, has come to run the logging roads in search of cottontails that might be trying to graze a bit of sustenance from the dead winter forage.  They are not the dumb bunnies of high summer but predator-tested quarry that can give a fox a good course. But as winter’s famine takes its toll, they become weaker and weaker, and the coursing runs more often end with a squealing rabbit in the vixen’s jaws than a white tail diving for the impenetrable thickets.

She is a lone vixen still, but she is a master of the cottontail hunt.  She has come to know where the rabbits hang during the long winter twilight and when they likely will run when she puts pressure to them.

What’s more, she has found a good winter supplement of corn, which gets shot of out of a deer feeder every night.  Omnivory is another of her tricks.  Corn shot from deer feeders and sand pears from an ancient tree at the edge of the old meadow have been welcome additions to her diet.

But a lone vixen can only be alone for so long. By winter’s end, the estrus clouds will rise from her genitals, and the male foxes will want her.

Unlike a domestic dog, which will typically come in heat and mate with the first male she encounters, the gray fox is a bit more choosy.  She will pair up with a mate before the estrus time hits, and he will breed her and then stay with her through her pregnancy and help raise the young.

Now is the time for the pair up, but every night, the vixen goes on her hunts. She smells where people and dogs have crossed the road.  She smells where a sow raccoon and her two nearly grown kits have moseyed along the ditches in hopes of catching a hibernating frog. She smells the skunks and the deer and the wandering opossums.

But not once does she catch wind of another of her kind.

However, as she sniffs a bit of grass that she likes to mark with a few drops of urine,  the pungent odor of a dog fox’s urine rises into her nostrils.  She lifts her nose and casts it into the wind as if hoping to catch scent of his body.

Gray foxes are so territorial that the scent of a stranger would have her a raging war dog by now, but this time, she’s not in the least aggressive. Instinct and hormones are telling her to be curious and flirty.

Air scenting doesn’t reveal the stranger’s location, so she casts about, trying to pick up his trail in the leaf litter.

A great rabbit tracker like her soon finds his scent and begins trailing him along the logging road. Her receptors tell her that this dog fox is one of this year’s kits, one that has spent the autumn months trying to catch voles and chipmunks.  He will be long and lean from those days of running long and hard for such little food.

She tracks him along the edge of the multiflora rose thickets. He’s been trying his luck as a rabbit courser, but he’s had no luck at all.  He’s just been running like a fool, and the rabbits have been scared off.

If this were a normal time of the year, she would be ready to fight. But not now.  Right now, she is intrigued by this stranger.

She sniffs to inspect his urine marks, which he leaves every hundred yards or so, and she becomes almost intoxicated by them.  The smell is so good, so pure, so perfect.

She soldiers on through her long track. As she makes her way along the logging road and visits each thicket, she becomes lost in the scent.  She begins to prance with an air of cockiness, the way only truly confident animals can.  This is her domain, and this dog has her fancy.

As she sniffs along another stand of multiflora rose, a raspy gray fox bark rises from a boulder some 50 feet away. The dog fox knows the vixen is about, and he has his defenses up.

She lets loose some whines and whimpers and soft little fox chuckles. She is calling to him, telling that she comes in friendship.

The little dog fox rises from the boulder. and he is gaunt and rangy from running so much and catching so little.  He left his mother and father’s land back in August, and he has spent most of his time chasing quarry or running from coyotes or dogs or resident gray foxes that don’t want him around.

A big dog gray fox took the tip of his right ear in September when when decided to go grasshopper hunting a little too close to that mated pair’s den.

His life has been that of an urchin, a vagabond, and now when he hears the approach of another gray fox, he becomes flighty.

But it hasn’t been since those warm spring days when he suckled his mother’s teats that he’s heard another fox make those noises. He wonders if his mother is calling him, and so he runs down to the thicket to the vixen.

She hears his approach and runs toward him. They touch noses and lick faces. He instantly knows he’s not looking at his mother, but the softness of her eyes and the gentleness of her face tell him that she is all right. She is more than all right.  She is good.

They whimper and whine in the darkness. Young dog fox and wise mature vixen, now begin the process of pair bonding in the night. They lick each other’s muzzles and ears,

They are fully smitten.

That morning, they den up in the great boulder pile where the vixen has made her home. These are ancient rocks of Permian sandstone, more ancient than even the old lineage of canids from which gray foxes are derived.

The flinty wisps of snow flurries fill the air.  Bigger snow coming tomorrow.  The rabbits will be lying low in the thickets, easily caught by the fox who knows where to sniff.

The two foxes sleep near each other. They haven’t quite bonded yet, but they will soon be curled up together, a truly mated pair.

And the estrus clouds will rise in the frosty air, and they will be together.

The meadow fox has found a mate once again.

She doesn’t need one to survive.

But now, she can thrive.

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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White black-backed jackals

Corrections: arctic foxes are born in brown or bluish black summer pelts and arctic wolves are born gray.

These are of the Cape species or subspecies (depending upon how you accept the most recent genetic studies on them), and yellow ones have also been spotted in the Kalahari.

 


Natural History

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The Great West Virginia Deer Cull

buck white antler

The second Thursday in November has just passed. In most of the country, thoughts will be about the big feast that comes exactly seven days later, but not in my part of the world.

This coming week does include American Thanksgiving. Big family meals will be held that day, and swarms of people will go charging out to shopping malls on Friday.

But in West Virginia, another holiday takes precedence: “buck gun season.”  This coming Monday, the woods be filled with more loud booms than the Fourth of July.  Organic protein and “horns” will be the prize, and a few more forest destroying cervids will be removed from the population before the coming winter turns them into twig chomping fiends.

When I was a child, all sort of people came into the rural districts, often people who had grown up in the area but had gone into the industrial parts of Ohio for work. Ohio’s deer season, “shotgun only,” came later in the year, but West Virginia’s came the week of Thanksgiving. If one wanted to visit the family for the holiday, why not come a few days early and drop a buck for the freezer?

It was such a big event that the school was out all week, not just Thursday and Friday. We received a truncated Christmas vacation, but school attendance during that week would have been terrible. So the district let us all out.

And the tradition continues. I don’t know of a single school district in West Virginia that stays open the week of Thanksgiving.

In fact, virtually every college or university in West Virginia has a week-long holiday this coming week. It is that big a deal.

And it’s not like the deer are massive trophies. The state has antler restrictions in only a few public hunting lands, and in most of the state, there will be many young bucks taken. Because the “antlerless” firearms season occurs at the same time, button bucks will be taken as well. When that many younger bucks are removed from the population, the number of mature deer with nice racks becomes much lower.

But this is a state that allows the hunter to take six deer a year.  If you have a family who owns land and have two hunters who have resident rights to it, you’re talking potentially twelve deer killed a year, which could feed a family of four fairly well.

I come from a family of deer hunters, but they were not venison eaters. When I was a kid, every deer that got shot was given to a relative or someone who couldn’t hunt. My grandpa, who loved to hunt everything and would have us eat cooked squirrel brains, wouldn’t even field dress a deer. That was my dad’s job, and for whatever reason, if my dad or my grandpa even smelled venison cooking, it would make their stomachs weak.

I never had this problem, and in the last few years, I’ve learned how to cook venison properly. I much prefer the meat to beef, especially when we’re talking leaving certain steak cuts rare.  These deer have been living well on acorns, and their flesh has that oaky, rich taste, which some call gamey. I call it delicious.

I’ll be in the woods early Monday morning. I don’t know if I’ll get anything.  The odds are usually against my killing anything that first week.  I don’t have access to the best deer bedding grounds, and the hunting pressure means they won’t be moving into the area where I hunt.

My favorite time to go is Thursday evening, when more than half the local hunters are at home watching football games and digesting turkey. I would rather go through waterboarding than watch a football game, so it’s not big loss for me.

I am a naturalist hunter on the quest for meat. My ancestors in Germany, the Netherlands, and Great Britain hunted the red deer and the roe thousands of years. They got their meat from the forest.

I am doing the same.

And if you really wanted to know what I think of deer, I’d have to say that I love them. They are fascinating animals.  This particular species has been roaming North America virtually unchanged for 3 million years. This animal watched the mammoths rise and fall. It was coursed by Armbruster’s wolf and the American cheetahs.  It saw the elk come down from Beringia– and the bison too. It ran the back country with primitive horses and several species of pronghorn. It quivered and blew out at jaguars and American lions that stalked in the bush, and it dodged the Clovis points of the Siberian hunters who first colonized this land.

The white-tailed deer thrives so well, but this coming week is the beginning of the great cull. Fewer deer mean less pressure on the limited winter forage, which means healthier deer in the early spring. Better winter and spring condition means that does have had a chance to carry fawns to term, and mature does usually have twins if the conditions are good.  Healthier bucks get a better chance to grow nice antlers for the coming year.

A public resource is being managed. Organic meat raised without hormones or antibiotics is easily procured, and stories and yarns are being compiled for exposition that rivals any trophy mount on the wall.

I know deer stories, including ones about the people I barely knew and are no longer with us.

For example:

My Grandpa Westfall once went on a deer drive for my great grandpa, who was getting older.  He valued his clean shot placement, as many of those old time hunters did, and he would not shoot a deer on the run.

But as he grew older, deer hunting became harder for him, so my grandpa decided to jump one out to him.

My grandpa went rustling through the brush to drive one into my great grandpa’s ran, and he happened to bump a nice little buck and a few does that went running in his direction.

Expecting to hear rifle shots, my grandpa was a bit surprised to hear nothing. So when he approached the deer stand, he saw my great grandpa sitting there.

“Did you see those deer?”

“What deer?”

“I ran three out to you. A buck and two does. Why didn’t you shoot?”

“I didn’t see or hear any deer.”

“Well, you should have at least heard them.”

“Well, if there were that many deer coming my way, they must’ve had their sneakers on.”

He didn’t want to tell my grandpa that he appreciated the effort, but that deer drives were against his ethics. He shot deer cleanly, or he didn’t shoot them at all.

These old men will be with me when I’m out on Monday.  I go in their memory, participating in the Great West Virginia Deer Cull.

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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thank you for stepping up for these dogs and givin…

thank you for stepping up for these dogs and giving them a chance. regardless of bad breeding or whatever, you are giving them a chance and once again standing up for the underdog
BAD RAP Blog

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Family pet dog had no police dog training, but…

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Is that the “Look of Love” in Your Dog’s Eyes?

Dog Eyes

You know how some dog trainers caution to never look a dog directly in the eye – that it can be threatening or intimidating or send a negative message along those lines? And might even incite a dog to go after you?

Now this may be true if you run into a crazed-killer-mutant-mad dog like Cujo in a dark alley some night (in which case tiptoe slowly backwards, averting your gaze!), but I’ve found that confident, well-socialized dogs love nothing more than to have you gaze adoringly into their big brown peepers. The Look of Love!

In my case (with dogs whose eyes are actually the yellow/green color of a cat, because they are Weimaraners – whose eyes start out baby blue and then change around six months of age), Maisie and Wanda virtually insist that I look right at them when we are interacting. They sit and stare intently at me when I’m at the computer (for example right now Maisie’s eyes are boring a hole in my side, willing me to look at her and pat her!); then when I do stroke or scratch them, they always position themselves so they can look back right at me, as if to keep me engaged. And if I really lock eyes with them they just melt with happiness.

I’ve also noticed they are affected not just by my tone of voice, but by my facial expression – they are definitely studying my eyes and mouth. I have been curious if my expression affects them and to test it I have purposefully given them a big giant grin. It seems to me they respond in kind, opening their mouths slightly and, in Wanda’s case, becoming so ecstatic that she also makes a series of joyful, cup-brimming-over cooing sounds.

Now it turns out that our dogs’ expressions can reflect ours. The New York Times recently reported in an article that British researchers studied the facial expressions of dogs — in particular the muscle that raises the inner part of the eyebrows and makes their eyes look bigger. The study noted whether the person was paying attention to the dog or was turned away; at times the person was holding food and other times was empty-handed.

The study in the journal Scientific Reports showed that the dogs were more expressive when the person was paying attention to them, and that it didn’t seem to make a difference whether the person was holding food or not. The dogs reacted by sticking out their tongues and barking more when they did get attention, compared with when they were being ignored or given food.

“This simply shows that dogs produce more (but not different) facial movements when someone is looking at them,” Juliane Kaminski, the study’s lead researcher and a senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth in England, was quoted in the New York Times article. There was also an opinion from Brian Hare, a professor and director of the Canine Cognition Center at Duke University (which was not involved in the study), who told The Times that these findings should be gratifying to any dog lover who worries that his dog only cares because he’s being fed.

I would add that having your dog’s full attention is actually a ”treatable moment” – something worthy of a fine little reward. Whether their attention is freely given in a spontaneous moment of trying to decipher your intentions or mood – or when you get your dog’s full attention in response to coming when called – or simply responding with a head tilt to hearing you speak her name – these are all good occasions to pull out a super dandy treat (Halo Liv-a-Littles work nicely here – my girls are partial to the liver cubes!) and reward the dog’s focus on your face. All while smiling broadly at her and gazing in mutual adoration!

Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

Halo Pets

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