I am always inspired by your work, and by the inte…

I am always inspired by your work, and by the intelligence and compassion you show for all creatures and species. It is heartbreaking to contemplate the dogs left behind, and sobering to be reminded that we, as a society, share the blame for this type of "cottage industry."

This is such difficult work, and no other group does it half as well as you do. I've made a small donation. I so wish it could it more.

Oxo in Harlem
BAD RAP Blog

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Thank you for this honest assessment. I am a wolf…

Thank you for this honest assessment. I am a wolfdog rescuer/sanctuary owner and sadly, we are in no position to help with 60 in our sanctuary now.

Education is what will save the true wolfdogs AND keep bad backyard breeders from making money.

I helped in Katrina with Pitties, and I share your pain. Prayers up for the innocents that will loose their lives.

www.fullmoonfarm.org – We rescued Karma – https://www.facebook.com/karmathemythunderstood/
BAD RAP Blog

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Final monarch of the year

Summer’s final grasp on the land is slowly but surely being released.

We had a bit of frost at the end of September. Then we had a few weeks of balmy weather.

But the weather is about to change again.

And this monarch butterfly will soon be on its way to Mexico. The leaves will be off the trees, and the deer will be in full rut.

Snow will  soon be on everyone’s mind.

IMG_5277.JPG

 


Natural History

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Brave HSUS Rescuers Risk Lives to Save Stranded Pets

HSUS Rescue Team - Hurricane HarveyOn September 1, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was coordinating with other agencies and animal welfare organizations to rescue as many animals as possible who had been affected by Hurricane Harvey. They received a request to help a Chihuahua and a cat who were stranded in a flooded home. Christopher Schindler and Tara Loller of HSUS’s Animal Rescue Team headed out with Matthew Fortenberry, the director of Beaumont Animal Services.

According to HSUS, the intrepid trio first used a rescue boat to get near the house. Then, once railroad tracks and debris from the flooding blocked the boat’s path, they continued on foot. Once they were able to view the house, it was obvious that the home had been hit hard. The windows were all broken and a fast current of deep water flooded the home.

At that time, a group came by on a narrow boat and helped Tara. As she rode toward the house in that slim boat, Tara later relayed that she was able to hear the “desperate cries” of the dog wanting someone to help. Once in the house, Tara began moving through the waist deep water, searching for the two animals. Chuck later commented on Facebook about Tara’s courage, writing “Tara braved [a] really strong current that was flowing right through the house where we rescued these two!”

Suddenly Tara saw the dog whose cries she had heard from the boat. The white and brown Chihuahua was carefully clinging to the top of a floating sofa. After sniffing Tara, the terrified dog leaped into Tara’s arms. Clinging to Tara’s shoulder it was obvious that the dog “knew she was safe and was not letting go.” During this time, Chris and Matthew had swam through the current and forced the front door open.

After safely placing the dog in a carrier, the trio still needed to find the cat reported to be in the home. They could hear the meows of a cat but couldn’t see where she might be. Eventually they found the kitten hiding in an air pocket in a small area above a closet. Unfortunately, the air pocket that had saved the kitten’s life was too high for Tara and Chris to reach.

The rescuers were undaunted. Tara stood on Chris’s shoulders. Then she stepped onto one of his hands so that he could literally toss her into the small area above the closet. Tara was covered in insects and flat on her belly in the small space. However, uncomfortable as it was, Tara was able to reach the frightened kitten and hand her down to be placed in a carrier! Now that the two pets were in carriers on a boat, it was time to bring them to a safe, dry place where they could rest until their family could be found.

It’s not known how long the animals were hiding in the flooded home, but after their rescue, the small dog and kitten were brought to safety at the Beaumont Animal Shelter, where Tara posed with the two pets she’d saved so dramatically. When that photo was shared on Facebook, Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS, praised the team, calling Tara and Chris “Life savers,” and noting that he is “so proud of [them] for this extraordinary effort.” Other commenters echoed the praise, referring to the team as “fearless heroes” and thanking them “for caring and saving” the pets.

Hurricane Harvey was horrible and the rescues are still on going. However, it’s because of compassionate animal lovers that pets like that kitten and Chihuahua are able to be saved. We bet that there’s nowhere else Tara and Chris would rather be, and nothing else they’d rather be doing than saving sweet pets and helping families separated by the fast floodwater.

Halo Pets

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A big yawn in Naples.

That’s a big yawn!

RIVIERA DOGS

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You are so awesome and wonderful for what you are …

You are so awesome and wonderful for what you are doing.. THANK YOU SO VERY VERY MUCH
BAD RAP Blog

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Homage to the Syrian hamster

golden hamster

Photo by Robert Maier.

It should be little surprise to readers of this blog that I have always been a bit into animals. My childhood dogs have featured heavily on this space, but the truth is I’ve had a wide variety of animals when I was a kid.

From grades 4-6, I was a hamster fanatic. At the time, it was very difficult for North American children to buy dwarf hamsters. The mainstay of the hamster world was the golden or Syrian hamster, and there were very few people breeding for docility in pet hamster strains. The goal was to produce as many different morphs as possible with very little regard to the temperament of the hamster.

As a result, many children from my generation have horror stories about biting hamsters.  Over my years of hamster keeping, I came to accept their bites as part of keeping them.

I got into hamsters rather on a lark. I was always reading the Barron’s pet guides, many of which were translations of German pet manuals, and the one on hamsters was written by Otto von Frisch.

hamster otto von frisch

This book created my hamster obsession.

The book was not just a pet care manual. It was full of anecdotes about pet hamsters, as well as discussions of scientific studies on their behavior.  It also talked a lot about the Central European ideas about hamster, for as I learned from that book, that there are hamsters native to Germany and Austria (the very large common hamster).  The species was well-known to farmers in the region as an agricultural pest and as a rather vicious creature that shouldn’t be messed with.  As someone who predominant ancestry is from that region, I was quite fascinated by these accounts.

And I knew I had to have a pet hamster.

After much pleading, I was given permission to get a hamster, provided I kept it at my grandparents’ house. My mother was an extreme murophobe, and I had to accept her conditions.

The first hamster I got was what was called a black-eyed cream. I named her Linda, because I was a child and thought that was a nice name.  And her variety may have been black-eyed cream, but her tendency to bite led to her receiving the moniker “the black-eyed bitch.”

I soon found that it was very easy to get hamsters. People were quite literally giving me new ones, including an old long-haired female that live for about two weeks then fell over dead from old age.

I longed, though, for a true “wild type” hamster.  I wanted one that was marked just as the wild ones are in Syria, with white cheek flashes and sabled golden coats.

I never was able to purchase such an animal. The closed I got was what was called a cinnamon hamster. She was marked just like a wild type, but she had no black hair at all on her pelt.

She had come from Walmart, where she had been kept in a cage with several banded hamsters. The banded ones were wild type in color, but they had a white band going through their mid-section. I had managed to get two females from that cage:  this cinnamon one and a banded one.

Two weeks later, the cinnamon hamster dropped pink babies all over her cage. Apparently, a male hamster had been kept with her, and she was just in the early days of her pregnancy when I got her.

In five days, their fur started to grow in. 9 were wild-type but banded, but one was wild type in full!

I didn’t understand my Mendel in those days.  The banded trait is dominant over the non-banded, and the wild-type markings are dominant over the cinnamon. Cinnamon bred to a banded wild-type would produce young that were banded wild-type, but if the wild-type were a carrier for a non-banded hamster, it is possible to get at least one in the litter that lacked a white band.

That’s what this hamster was, and I was instantly transfixed. I spent my summer that year handling hamster babies, knowing fully-well the stories of mother hamsters eating their young if they were stressed.

The young wild-type hamster was a male, and he became the tamest hamster I ever knew. I named him Houdini, after a children’s book I had read, but he really didn’t live up to his namesake. He escaped a few times– always because I left a latch on the cage a little loose– but he was easily recovered.

One time, he did escape and was gone for several days. I was certain that he had wandered out of the house and had eventually fallen prey to some nocturnal predator.

I had all but given up on him, so I sat with a heavy heart in my grandparents’ guest room watching Nature on PBS.  I heard some rumbling sounds in the wall.  I thought I was hearing things, but the rumbling sound grew louder and louder.

I then caught movement out of the corner of my eye. It was Houdini crawling along the side of the wall. He stopped and sniffed the air, and he scurried right up to me and let me pick him up.

My childhood mind said that Houdini came to me because he loved me. My adult mind now recognizes that Houdini recognized me as a source for food. He had spent several days wandering around the walls of my grandparents’ house and had become famished in his freedom. He caught my scent on his evening travels, and he came to me to figure out if I might have some food.

But a child’s mind saw Houdini as the Lassie of the hamsters. He’d come home out of the walls just because he loved me.

Despite that childhood flight of fancy, the hamsters taught me much. I learned what it was like to be around an animal that utterly has no use for humanity.  Dogs and horses are personable animals, but a hamster is solitary, remote, and mostly nocturnal (at least in captivity).

The world they reveal is a world in which territory matters the most. The males have greasy scent glands on their hips that they rub along their tunnels to mark their realms.  The females have a musty odor, and when they are receptive to males– every four days if not bred–they get quite stinky indeed.

I got to where I could tell if a female hamster was receptive just by the intensity of the odor. This odor is an adaptation to a species with such hyper territorial behavior that they are forced to live pretty far from each other. The strong estrus odor of a female hamster is necessary to announce to the male that it is okay for him to enter her territory and mate with her. When she is not receptive, she will attack any hamster, male or female, that comes near. In this species the females are bigger and fatter than the males, and males that don’t heed the odors wind up with a dangerous situation indeed.

These captive hamsters– all derived from a single litter captured near Aleppo in the 1930s– opened my eyes to another world.

The solitary Syrian hamster lives and breeds well in captivity, but it is still mostly a wild animal. In the past few years, breeders have produced truly more docile strains of hamster, but I knew them in the raw.

In fact, I think that if I were ever to be a hamster keeper again, I would try to get a little more of the more rugged strain. I would not be buying a cute pet for the kids. I would be be buying an animal that I wish to appreciate as a wild being with its own instincts and drives and desires.  I would want to be the naturalist hamster lover again. I would keep them with the cool detachment of an adult who understands animal behavior and not the childhood anthropomorphism or “cynomorphism” that turned them into furry people or severely debased dogs.

The Syrian hamster will always mean a lot to me. They were terrible pets for the typical child, but they were the ideal subjects for a budding young naturalist who needed to know animals that weren’t dogs or horses.

They opened my mind to something else, and I will always appreciate them for their indifference and their solitary grumpiness and their general remoteness.

***

This is my contribution to Rodent Week.

 

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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Comforting victims of tragedies

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids

Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids
Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids
Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids

I’m a sucker for good ol’ fashioned classic kids’ Halloween costumes. There are so many options available these days in comparison to when I was growing up, especially character-themed ones – and that’s great, because it makes things a lot easier for parents. But I am just so drawn to simple, classic costumes. Maybe that’s because my mom made most of ours, so I feel nostalgic about more traditional costumes with homemade vibes. And I have such wonderful, vivid memories of dressing up as a very handmade Little Bo Peep, and of my baby sister pretending to fly around the room as a truly adorable toddler bat. There’s just something I find so endearing about those kinds of costumes.

Last year, Essley asked repeatedly to be a pumpkin (as seen in the photos above). I found her this pumpkin costume for $ 29 and absolutely adored it – it’s so well made and I think Emmett will be able to wear it next year if he wants to be a pumpkin. I found a comfy pair of simple skeleton jammies (here’s a similar set for $ 14) and a little black beanie for Emmett to wear. I thought they looked so sweet together in their no fuss, classic costumes.

This year, Essley wants to be a mermaid, and I think we’re going to do a cute, no frills dinosaur for Emmett. I’m fully aware of the fact that sooner than later, my kids are going to want to pick out costumes that will likely be store bought and character-themed. (This could possibly even occur this year; if the dinosaur doesn’t work out, we’re going for Emmett’s second favorite thing: Elmo.) And that’s wonderful! But for now, I’m going to continue swooning over the more classic varieties. If you’re on the same page as I am, here is a list of ideas for simple, traditional costumes.

  • Pumpkin
  • Ghost
  • Witch
  • Bat
  • Skeleton
  • Black Cat
  • Scarecrow
  • Angel
  • Devil
  • Mummy
  • Simple Princess or Prince
  • Simple Superhero
  • Ballet Dancer
  • Ladybug or Bee
  • Pirate
  • Fairy
  • Vampire
  • Frankenstein 
  • Clown
  • Animal (Lion, Dog, Bear, etc.)

If you have kids, what are they wearing this year? Do you have a costume picked out for yourself yet?

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Welcome the hockey season

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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