Tom bird

tom bird

The early weeks of May begin the age of green pastels. The soft greenery of foliage pokes its way out of the gray smudge of the canopy, and the pastures are thickly verdant in the revived grass.

This age of green pastels is the harbinger to the age of photosynthesis, high summer, when the days steam long and hot and all living things in this temperate zone play out the business of growing, reproducing, and laying store for that long winter darkness that will return someday– but not soon.

This is the time of the cottontail doe kindling her kits in a bowl nest made from weaving the fur plucked from her belly with the furrows at the bases of the rising orchard grass. This is the time of the resplendent red cardinal cockbirds and their wild singing to ward off their rivals from the best nesting grounds. Testosterone rushes in them hard, as it does with all those of the avian kingdom, who are now at that season when procreation is the main consideration.

Just as the spring turns the “redbirds” into their state of lustful madness,  the wild turkeys turn their attention to these same carnal pursuits. Not pair-bonded in the way that most birds are, the big toms woo the hens with their gobbling and fanning and turning their light blue heads deep warrior red.  The spurs get thrown on occasion, especially for those foolish jakes who try to sneak a tryst with a hen in the undergrowth.

This time of green pastels is also a time when the shotguns go blasting.  Most other game beasts are left to alone in the spring time, but the wild turkey is one species where the hunt comes now. The camouflaged hunters, armed with their turkey calls and 12 and 20 gauges, braved the early spring snow squalls and bagged a few jakes and naive lustful toms.

But this big tom has survived the slinging of lead wads. Most of his rivals now reside in freezers or have already been fried as a fine repast.

The big bird has the hens mostly to himself, and when he hears the kelp-kelping of a hens on a distant ridge on a May morning, he lets loose a few loud gobbles.

“Come, my beauties! Behold me as your lover and protector!”

And the gormless hens kelp-kelp and wander in all directions, searching with their exquisite eyes for the big tom’s fanning form among the undergrowth.

The naive toms and young jakes will often go charging towards their calling, but the turkey hunter uses these exact same sounds to toll in the quarry.  The naive ones come in, and the shotguns have their number.

The big tom has seen his comrades dropped so many times that he hangs back and listens. He gobbles back every ten minutes or so. He walks in the opposite direction for about 20 yards then gobbles at the hens.

They kelp-kelp and meander around, but eventually, they line themselves on the right trail and wander over to meet the big tom. He fans for his girls, but none crouches before him for a bit of mating. They are just here to check the old boy out.

But sooner or later, they mate in the spring sun, and the hens will wandered to their nests in the undergrowth and tall grass. They will lay speckled eggs, which will hatch into speckled poults, which will carry the big tom’s genes into the next age of green pastels.

Someday, a skilled turkey hunter will work the old boy over with the hen calls in just the right way, and he will stand before the hunter’s shotgun blast. He will be taken to town and shown off to all the local guys, the ones who shoot jakes in the early days of the hunting season.

He will be a testament to the hunter’s skills, for real hunting is always an intellectual pursuit.  It is partly an understanding of biology and animal behavior, but it is also about the skillfulness at concealment and mimicry.

21 pounds of tom bird will be a trophy for the hunter, but they will also be the story of a bird who outwitted the guns for four good years and whose genes course through the ancestry of the young jakes gobbling and fanning in his absence.

A century ago, there were no wild turkeys in the Allegheny Plateau, but conservation organizations funded by hunters brought them back.

In the heat of July, the hens will move in trios and quartets into the tall summer grass of the pastures. They will be followed with great parades of poults, who will be charging and diving along at the rising swarms of grasshoppers and locusts. They will grow big an strong in the summer.

And someday, a few may become big old toms that will gobble on the high ridges, calling out to the hens to come and see them in their fine fanning.

And so the sun casts upon the land in the spring and summer, bringing forth the lustful pursuits among the greenery, even as mankind turns his back on the natural world more and more each year.

And fewer and fewer will feel sweet joy that one hears when a big tom gobbles in the early May rain that falls among the land dotted in green pastels.

Natural History

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May the fourth be with you…

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Towards a New Model for Dog Domestication

German shepherd mating Carpathian wolf

Original crossbreeding between a German shepherd and Carpathian wolf to found the Czechoslovakian Vlcak.

If you have been reading this blog for a long time, I used to post historical and indigenous accounts of wolves, coyotes, and dingoes being used as working animals. I also would post accounts different breeders of domestic dogs crossing their stock with wolves to improve their strains.

I have long been critical of the Raymond Coppinger model of dog domestication, which posits that wolves scavenging from Neolithic dumps created the dog as an obligate scavenger that then became selectively bred for human uses. In this model, the tropical village dog is the ancestral form of all canines, a position that has emboldened the “Dogs are not wolves” theorists to suggest some tropical Asian Canis x is the actual ancestor of the domestic dog.

This model also posits that all dogs are just obligate scavengers, and unfortunately, this obligate scavenger designation means that what could be otherwise good books and research on dogs essentially denies their predatory behavior.

Last year, I kept hearing about a book that took on Coppinger’s model head-on. This book took Coppinger’s task for having distinct Eurocentric biases and that Coppinger essentially ignored vast amounts anthropological data on how different human societies relate to wild and semi-domestic canids.

So I finally ordered a copy of this book, which is called The First Domestication: How Wolves and Humans Coevolved by Raymond Pierotti and Brandy Fogg. I do recommend this book, but I readily admit that I don’t agree with quite a bit of it. I agree with it more than Coppinger, though, because they rather clearly show massive holes in Coppinger’s model.

Pierotti and Fogg have produced a model that relies heavily upon humans and wolves encountering and then benefiting from a hunting mutualism. Humans have a long history as scavengers, and even today, there are people who follow large predators, including lions, to rob them of their kills. Dholes are targeted by certain people as well, and it is very likely that humans entering Eurasia would have done the same with wolves.

The difference between the lions and the dholes and ancient wolves is that the lions and dholes resent having humans come near their kills.  The ancient wolves, however, came to work with people to bring down more prey. These wolves and humans came to be the dominant predators in Eurasia.

Pierotti and Fogg’s model posits the domestication process as beginning with ancient hunter-gather societies. It relies upon the wolf’s predatory nature as an important catalyst in allowing this partnership to thrive.

Further, the authors are rather clear in that our Eurocentric understanding of a clear delineation between wolves and dogs is a rather recent creation. Most cultures who have existed where there are wolves and dogs have a much more plastic understanding of the differences that separate the two or they have no separation of all.

The most compelling analogies in the work are the discussions about the relationships among hunters in Siberia, their laikas, and wild wolves and the relationships between indigenous Australians and dingoes.

In the Siberian laika culture, the dogs have extensively exchanged genes with wild wolves, enough that laikas and wolves do share mitochondrial DNA haplotypes. The laikas (or laiki, as they are known in Russia) do hunt the sable and other small game. They also protect the camps from bears, and in some areas, the laikas are used as not particularly specialized livestock guardian dogs. The authors see these dogs a very good analogy to describe how the earliest people and dogs would have lived. These dogs would have been cultured to humans, but they would still be getting an influx of wild genes as they lived in the wild.

In the dingo example, the authors discuss how these hunter-gather cultures would keep dingo pups and treat them almost exactly as we would our own domestic dogs. They also would use the dingoes to hunt kangaroos, but during mating season, they would allow their companions to leave the camps or stay.  They often would leave, but some would go off for a time in the bush and return. This suggests that early humans might not have forced their socialized wolves to stay in camp and that relationship could have been a lot more libertarian than we might have assumed.

These relationships are very different from the scavenging village dogs that Coppinger contends were like the original dogs. These animals are not obligate scavengers. They are hunters, and what’s more, it is their hunting prowess that makes the relationship work.

Further, the authors make a convincing argument that we can no longer use the scientific name Canis familiaris, because many cultures have relied upon wolf-like dogs and dog-like wolves for survival.  These animals are virtually impossible to distinguish from each other, and therefore, it would make sense that we would have to allow dogs to be part of Canis lupus.

The authors contend, though I think rather weakly, that dogs derive from multiple domestication events from different wolves. I remain fully agnostic to this question, but I will say that full-genome comparisons of wolves and three dogs that represent three distinct dog lineages suggest that dogs represent a clade. They are still very closely related to extant Canis lupus, especially Eurasian ones, and still must be regarded as  part of Canis lupus.  Therefore, one does not need multiple origins for domestic dogs from wolves to make the case that they are a subspecies of Canis lupus.

I am, however, quite glad to see that the authors reject this Canis familiaris classification, even if I think the reasoning is better explained through an analysis that shows how dogs fit within a clade called Canis lupus than one that relies upon multiple origins.

Also, one should be aware that every argument that one can make that says dogs are wolves can be applied to coyotes to suggest that they are wolves. Wolves and dogs do have a significant gene flow across Eurasia, but coyotes and wolves have a similar gene flow across North America. The most recent ancestor between wolves and coyotes lived 50,000 to 70,000 years ago, which is far more recent than the proposed divergence between Old World and North America red foxes and the divergence between Qinling and other giant pandas.

I really have no problem thinking of coyotes as being a form of Canis lupus in that a pug is a form of Canis lupus. All the acceptance of this classification does is allow for a positing that this species Canis lupus has thrived because it possesses both phenotypical and behavioral plasticity.

The authors, however, would have a problem with my classification. They make regular reference to red wolves, which have clearly been shown to be hybrids between coyotes and wolves, which themselves are probably better regarded as divergent forms of a phenotypically plastic species. They also contend that coyotes and people have never formed relationships like people have formed with wolves, because coyotes are too aggressive.

However, I have shown on this space that coyotes have been trained to do many of the things dogs have, including pointing behavior. They also have ignored the enigmatic Hare Indian dog, which may have been a domesticated coyote or coydog.

But that said, I think the authors have clearly shown in their text that dogs and wolves are part of the same species.

The authors also make some controversial arguments about dog paleontology and archaeology.  One argument they rely upon heavily is that wolves could have become behaviorally very much like dogs without developing all the morphological changes that are associated with most domestic dogs. Some merit certainly does exist with these arguments, but it also puts paleontology and archaeology in a position that makes it impossible to tell if a wolf-like canid found near human camps is a truly wild animal or creature on its way to domestication.

This argument does have some merit, but it still will have problems in those fields of study, because it becomes impossible to tell semi-domesticated wolves from wild ones in the fossil and subfossil record.

However, the authors do make a good case, which I have also made, that argues that the original wolf population had no reason to show fear or aggression towards people. The best analogous population of wolves to these original ones are those found on the Queen Elizabeth Islands of Northern Canada. These large arctic wolves have never experienced persecution, so they are quite curious and tolerant of the humans they encounter. Wolves like these could have easily been the basis for a mutualism that would eventually lead to domestication.

The authors also contend that the reason wolves in Europe are reviled is the result of the Western church’s propaganda that was working against traditional totemic animals of the pagans. Wolves were among those totems, and the church taught that wolves were of the devil.

However, I think this argument is a bit faulty, because Europeans are not the only people who hate wolves. Many pastoralist people in Asia are not big fans of wolves, and their hatred of wolves has nothing to do with the church. The traditional religions of the Navajo and Hopi also do not hold the wolf in very high regard, and these two cultures have been in the sheep business for centuries.

Further, we have very well-documented cases of wolves hunting and killing people in Europe. These wolf attacks were a major problem in France, where notorious man-eating wolves were often named, and they were not unknown in other parts of Europe as well.

The authors focus heavily on the benign relationship between wolves and people, including the wolf that hunted bison calves and deer to feed survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre, but they ignore the stories that do not posit the wolf in a good light.

The reason wolves in Eurasia have sometimes taking to hunting people is really quite simple:  Eurasia is a land where people focused much more on domesticating species to create animal agriculture. Agriculture has a tendency to reduce biodiversity in a region, and when people kill off all the deer in an area to make room for sheep, the wolves turn to hunting sheep. If you live in a society in which people do not have ready access to weapons, then the wolves start targeting people. Feudal societies in Europe would have been open target for wolves living in such ecosystems. By contrast, the indigenous people of North America, did not domesticate hoofed animals for agriculture. Instead, they managed the land, often with the use of fire, to create biodiversity of which they could hunt.

The authors do show that dogs and wolves are intricately linked animals. They show that dogs and wolves are the same species. They use many wonderful anecdotes of captive wolves and wolfdogs to make their case, and in making this case, they have made the case clear that dogs are the produce of hunter-gatherer societies and still are conspecific with the wolf.

I do, however, have some quibbles with some of the sources they use in the text. For example, when they discuss Queen Elizabeth Islands wolves, they focus on an account of Elizabeth Marshall Thomas on Baffin Island. She was on Baffin Island for one summer and observed one wolf pack. She is a fine observer of animals, but much of her analysis about dog and wolf behavior is still controversial. The authors also regularly make reference to Cesar Millan as a dog expert, when virtually no credentialed dog behavior expert thinks he is, and to the notorious dogsbite.org website, which is of even more contentious. These authors are making serious and well-reasoned arguments about dog and wolf behavior and relying upon these sources detracted from the work. I would have liked if they had referred to L. David Mech’s wolf observations on Ellesmere or to John Bradshaw as an expert on dog behavior.

I also had some issues with their contention that the Ainu people of Japan are Turkic or Altaic. No one knows exactly who these people are, but they are interesting in their relationship with wolves. Traditional Japanese society, distinct from the Ainu, was actually quite similar to the Siberian cultures that have produced laika dogs that still interbreed with wolves. However, I don’t think anyone still thinks that the Ainu are Turkic or Altaic.

Finally, the authors do make a good case against Coppinger’s model, but they go on to accept Coppinger’s fixed motor pattern dependence model to describe breed specialization. It is certainly true that Coppinger was Eurocentric in his understanding of dog domestication, but both Coppinger and the authors are Anglocentric in their understanding of dog hunting and herding behavior. The authors think this is Coppinger’s strongest argument. I think this is among his weakest.  This model states that pointing, herding, and retrieving are all just arrested development of a full predatory sequence. A dog that can point just stalks. It never learns to use its jaws to kill. A border collie stalks but also engages is a type of chasing behavior. It will also never learn to kill. A retriever will run out and grab, but it lacks the killing bite.

The biggest problem with this model is that everyone knows of border collies that have learned to hunt, kill, and eat sheep. I had a hard-driven golden retriever that would retrieve all day, but she would kill rabbits and even fawns.

The Anglo-American concept of specialized gun dogs affected Coppinger’s understanding of their behavior. He never really looked into continental HPRs. For example, Deutsch-Drathaars, the original German variant of the German wirehair, are bred to retrieve, point, track, and dispatch game. Such an animal makes no sense in this model, for it would suggests that an animal that would point would only ever be stuck in that stalking behavior. It would never be able to retrieve, and it certainly would never use its jaws to kill.

A better model says that dogs are born with a tendency to show behaviors, such as exaggerated stalking behavior that can be turned into pointing through training. There are countless stories of pointing dogs that suddenly lost their pointing behavior after running with hard-driving flushing dog. The dog may have been born with that exaggerated stalking behavior, but the behavior was lost when it entered into social interaction. Indeed, much of these specialized hunting behaviors are developed through training, so that what actually happens is the dog’s motor patterns are refined through training rather than being solely the result of being arrested in full.  This is why all the old retriever books from England tell the sportsman never to allow his dog to go ratting. As soon as that dog learns to use its jaws to kill, it is very likely that this dog will start using its jaws on the game it is sent to retrieve.

Despite my quibbles and reservations, Pierotti and Fogg have made a convincing case for the hunting mutualism between wolves and humans as the basis for the domestication of dogs. I was particularly impressed with their use of ethnography and non-Western histories to make their case. I do recommend this book for a good case that we do need a new model for dog domestication, and the questions they raise about taxonomy should be within our field of discussion.

Natural History

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Tiki + Barli Try the Purple® Pet Bed

You may very well already be familiar with Purple®, the mattress that’s scientifically designed to keep you comfortable and cool throughout the night. Now Purple has designed a product just for…



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DogTipper

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Japanese Monks Host a Funeral for Robot Dogs

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Police dogs–rural style

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Music Specially for Kitty Cats

Music Specially for Kitty Cats

A few years ago, scientists from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and the University of Maryland, wanted to study whether cats could respond to music. And so they created some music especially for feline sensibilities, as described in THIS ARTICLE outlining the whole study.  It describes how Charles Snowdon and the other researchers looked at the natural vocalisations of cats and matched music to that frequency range, which is about an octave or more higher than human voices. Upon learning that cats use sliding frequencies in their calls to each other, the team incorporated more sliding notes in the cat music composition than you’d find in human music.

In the cat music, the team replicated the tempo of things that would attract a cat’s attention – one song featured a purring tempo, and another featured a suckling tempo. You can hear a sample of one of their songs, Cozmo’s Air, which does sound like a pretty cool Hep Cats kind of tune. In the study, the cat songs were played back to 47 domestic cats. The researchers watched how the felines reacted to this music, compared to their response when they listened to two classical human songs – Johann Sebastian Bach’s Air on a G String and Gabriel Fauré’s Elegie. Publishing in the journal Applied Animal Behavioural Science, the team reported that the cats didn’t respond at all to the human music. However, when the cat music started up, the kitties became aroused and approached the speakers, often rubbing their cheek scent glands on the speakers.

It was actually several years before this university study was done that the composing team of Joshua Leeds and Lisa Spector pioneered the development of species-specific calming music. First they designed their “Through a Dog’s Ear” music series, and then followed it with their “Through a Cat’s Ear,” which was designed to have a positive calming effect for cats suffering from stress, fear. howling, loneliness and sleep disturbance.  Apparently other “animal composers” have sprung up on the internet as well, selling their feline tunes online. There are many practical applications of music composed specifically for cats, one use being to play it at home for cats left alone all day. The most compelling benefit would be to play it in the cat area of a shelter, to lower the stress that cats naturally suffer there.

And thinking about the welfare of kitties in shelters, keep in mind that for every purchase you make, Halo donates a bowl of food to a shelter to help nourish and transform shelter pets with good nutrition, giving them their very best chance at a forever home. #HaloFeedItForward.

While there’s now music that helps pets when they listen to it,  there’s also music that helps animals in a different way. Check out Halo’s jingle to benefit animal rescue (consider yourself warned, it’s very hard to stop singing it!).  

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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Shelter Dogs Prepare for Royal Wedding by Barking “Here Comes the Bride”

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is just around the corner, and romantics and royal watchers of both the two- and four-legged variety are celebrating, including an array of adorable…



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DogTipper

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Turning Your Child’s Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts

Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts

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

Next week, my little girl – the one who I vividly remember holding in my arms for the first time like it was only days ago – completes her second year of preschool. (Next year is Pre-K, and then kindergarten. I mean, what? The cliche about kids growing up in a blink is real you guys.) I have watched her grow in more ways than I could attempt to put into words since she entered that classroom last September. I am deeply proud of and impressed by her desire to learn and to work and play hard, her ability to make friends and spread kindness, her bountiful creativity, and her unique talents. I mean, every parent thinks her/his kids are brilliant and incredible, so I’ll just stop talking her up right here – but really, she is amazing. And I wanted to do something special for her for an end-of-schoolyear gift that would show her just how proud I am of her.

One of my favorite things about her teachers this year is how focused they’ve been on nurturing creativity in their students. Almost every school day, Essley comes home with an art project she made. Because I am who I am, I have kept every single one of them. If it was acceptable, I might even cover every wall in our house with them, to be honest. But instead, they rotate as a gallery displayed on our refrigerator, and when each piece’s time is up, it is moved to a tub where I store all of them. Last month, Essley wanted to look through her artwork from the school year, so we went through the tub together. She told stories about each piece and when/how she created it and made sure to tell me exactly which ones were her favorites. And that got me to thinking… What if I turned her favorite school art projects from the year into practical gifts to give her to celebrate the end of the school year and all of her achievements? I mean, what a cool way to allow her (and us!) to enjoy her artwork in a practical way, and to create tangible memories of a wonderful school year. My husband loved the idea too, so I took photos of a few pieces, opened the Snapfish website, and got to work.

Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts
Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts
Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts
Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts

There are so many options of beautiful gifts to create at Snapfish, so it took me a while to narrow down items I knew she’d love: a Custom Throw Pillow for her bedroom (which we just finished redoing in March), a Hardcover Journal where she could create more drawings and masterpieces throughout the summer, and a two Photo Coffee Mugs she could use for drinking water and juice while I have my morning coffee – one of our favorite things to do together each day. (Bonus: her daddy and I can use them too.) I love using Snapfish for projects like this because their personalization aspect is unique, and can quickly turn photos (that you can easily import from your DSLR, phone, computer, Facebook, Instagram, or Google photos) into a wonderful keepsakes. I also love (of course) that their gifts and decor items are budget-friendly but high quality.

For each keepsake I created, I use different options available for personalization on the left sidebar of the Snapfish‘s site. For Photos, I quickly uploaded the photos I’d taken from my computer. Then I chose a Layout (there are options for single or multiple photos). After that, I played around the with Design and Background variations. There are lots of pre-designed themed templates which are all really cute and make projects so easy to create (I’ve used them in the past), but I ended up designing more from scratch by putting together different individual options. I also played around quite a bit with the Text and the different fonts, colors, and sizes, and put her name and the year on each keepsake. (There are also hundreds of Embellishment options, including a special school section!) The process from start to finish for all four gifts took less than an hour (and would have taken even less had I not been so indecisive), and the items arrived quickly and looking even more beautiful in person.

Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts
Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts
Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts

I was originally going to give Essley her gifts on the last day of school, but that is already going to be such an exciting day for her that I decided to give them to her a little early. (Okay, so I was also being impatient and couldn’t wait.) She was thrilled. I mean, thrilled. She jumped up and down and hugged her special personalized submarine pillow for a good ten minutes (and slept with it that night). She screamed “thank you!” repeatedly for the mugs made with her handprints artwork and night sky artwork, and immediately filled them both with water. And she got right to work drawing in her special fox and ice-cream cone journal, creating new memories for summer break. I’m not saying I cried watching her enjoy these truly special gifts, but I’m not saying I didn’t either. It was a pretty magical way to say congratulations to my little lady, and goodbye to school year full of tremendous growth.

Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts
Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts
Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts

If you have a little one and want to create truly unique keepsakes, it is so easy to take some of their artwork from the school year and make truly beautiful gifts from it on Snapfish! I will absolutely be doing it for future years as well. Snapfish also offers hundreds of cool graduation gifts. The possibilities are endless, guys. And bonus: here is a coupon code you can use for 40% off everything on their site, now through June 30, 2018: YAYGRAD Woohoo!

Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts

Essley Morgan, you are such a light. I’m so proud of you and all you accomplished this year. It makes my heart swell to see you enjoy your special gifts so much. I can’t wait to rock this summertime with you, my girl!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Good Deeds at Cat Camp (NYC, MAY 5th & 6th)

Jackson Galaxy's Cat Camp

Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp is a two-day event in NYC that will bring together “regular” cat lovers to mingle with and hear from leaders in the field — cat experts, rescuers, and advocates — who will speak on a range of topics such as fostering kittens, behavioral issues, social media and cats, and special needs animals. There is going to be a lot of “cat merch” for sale, and while nobody is allowed to bring their own cat to Cat Camp, they are encouraged to dress up like felines themselves, to wave the flag.

Cat Camp takes place this coming Saturday and Sunday, May 5th and 6th, at the Penn Pavilion in New York City. There are a number of ticket options to get into Cat Camp each day (you can buy tickets at the door, or HERE), with separate tickets needed to attend some presentations.

Besides the entrance ticket, there are also options to buy a special ticket to have a Meet & Greet photo taken with three of the celebrity participants —  the Cat Daddy himself, Jackson Galaxy (plus you get a copy of his book, Total Cat Mojo, which you can hear him talk to me about on this episode of my NPR show DOG TALK (and Kitties, Too!), Lil BUB, and Hannah Shaw aka Kitten Lady.

I’m happy to report that Lil BUB, the famous special-needs kitty, is aligned with my sponsor Halo, who are underwriting her celebrity Meet & Greet photo op (it’s a separate ticket for $ 100 plus dollars) so that 100% of the cost to get a photo with this adorable little feline will be donated to animal charities.

Halo is actually working with Jackson on two mission-focused themes. One is that positive training can save shelter cats: Halo’s High Five / Cat Pawsitive Program trains cats to do high fives, helping them get adopted, and teaching shelters (and pet parents) that they can train their cats to do positive behaviors, helping to decrease shelter returns. The second mission is that feral cats deserve great food: Halo donated to a Jackson-inspired feral cat program in Philly (which is appearing on his TV show), and they are donating to help feral cats with Cat Camp for NYC.

Christina Ha from Meow Parlour in NYC created this event last year, and then Jackson Galaxy came on board to bring his crowd-pleasing name [and actual self!] to the event. The cherry on top is that the always beneficent Petco Foundation (I should know — they are the Presenting Sponsor of the NY Dog Film Festival which is traveling the country alongside the NY Cat Film Festival, sponsored by Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat and benefiting the WINN Feline Foundation) has come on board Cat Camp as the Presenting Sponsor of this year’s event,

The PETCO Foundation’s sponsorship has allowed for a separate adoption area, which is entirely free for the weekend for anyone to visit the kitties looking for homes — which aligns with the PETCO Foundation’s main mission, to unite pets in shelters with people eager to give them a new home.

If you’re a cat lover — and want to hang out with other feline aficionados, and rub shoulders with the Big Names in the cat advocacy world, and visit with all the cats and kittens who need new homes — you really cannot miss this extravaganza!

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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