TWO Giveaways: Win a MADY Cargo Cover or a Front Seat Cover!

One of our favorite warm weather activities with Irie and Tiki is to take them swimming, either at the beach, if we can spare a couple of days for a getaway, or at the lake. Wherever we go, though,…

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Wolf problems in North America

I’m so glad these taxonomy issues are being raised on a popular science Youtube series:

Natural History

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Blind cat and disabled dog are BFF’s

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Therapy Dog Alerts School to Lead in Drinking Water

Star the Service Dog in school

We all know the horrors of lead in drinking water. How many of us would know how to recognize tap water that wasn’t safe to drink? Thankfully one smart therapy dog in San Diego noticed when something was wrong with her water bowl and ended up protecting a lot of students!

According to the San Diego Cooperative Charter School 2 Mountain View Campus (SDCC2) Staff page, Star is a hardworking “Service Dog for the Classroom” who was originally from New York. She was trained by the National Education for Assistance Dog Services before beginning her work at the school. Star’s normal work is helping students learn responsibility, compassion, self-esteem, and empathy.” Star works closely with her handler, Lindsay Curtius. The principal of the school, Anthony Villaseñor, has even praised Star on Twitter as “a great addition to our loving staff” when sharing a photo of Star reveling in pets and love from students. Star’s duties do not normally include watching the school’s water, but thankfully she didn’t seem to mind adding the task to her plate.

Read the complete story.

Halo Pets

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Win an “All My Children Have Paws” Necklace for Mother’s Day!

Do your children have paws? In honor of Mother’s Day, this week’s PawZaar giveaway is for an “All My Children Have Paws” pendant! This fair trade product is created by hand by…

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The Lupullela of Africa

lupullela adustus

As we have examined the genomes of various  dog species, one problem has become evident:   The genus Canis is paraphyletic. Two endemic African jackals, the side-striped and black-backed jackal, are actually more distantly related to the wolf-like canids than the African wild dog and dhole are.

One way to solve this problem would be to make the dhole and African wild dog part of Canis, but the problem with this classification remedy is that the paleontology on the dhole and African wild dog is quite hard to trace and still fairly controversial. Anything in their lineage needs to have different classification in order to keep those specimens distinct from the main wolf-like canid clade.

The other solution is to give the black-backed and side-striped jackals their own genus.  In the early part of the twentieth century, it was common to refer to these species within a genus called Lupullela. I’ve noticed that a few papers have popped up using this genus, like this one that examines which predatory species may have left the remains of quarry in a Late Pleistocene cave in Morocco.

I don’t think it will be very long before both the side-striped and black-backed jackal will be commonly referred to as Lupullela.

I won’t be complaining. Paraphyly is something I find annoying.  We are classifying nature in light of evolution, and making sure we have true clades in which animals are classified according to their common descent is important.

The classification of jackals is undergoing a sea change. The creature known as the golden jackal is two species, but the exact way to classify the two species is still hotly contested.  The African “golden jackal” is closer to the wolf and coyote than the Eurasian “golden jackal,” but we don’t have good full-genome data to place the African golden jackal properly. It could wind up that the African golden jackal is very close to the wolf, as the coyote was recently found to be, and this will make the actual classification really touchy.

But that current debate is nothing compared to the way we are starting to classify the two divergent jackals of Africa. These animals don’t get studied as much, but I would highly suspect that there are surprises hidden in their genomes. It could be that there are actually several species currently classified as black-backed and side-striped jackals, and it is also highly likely that there are hybrids among these forms as well as between the species classified currently as side-striped and black-backed jackals.

Neither jackal is endangered, but they are something different, something that is at least worthy of study.

These are sort of forgotten dogs, and their secrets are only now just coming to light.


Natural History

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Never Lose Your Pet Thanks to Michelson’s Found Animals Free Microchip Registry

Michelson’s Found Animals.

I received a lot of feedback about my recent blog False Confidence about Microchipping a Pet” which pointed out some of the pitfalls about micro-chipping your dog or cat, not the least of which is that most people haven’t registered that microchip properly. In the process I learned about a free national micro chip registry called Michelson’s Found Animals. This week on DOG TALK (and Kitties, Too!) I interviewed Aimee Gilbreath, the Executive Director of this animal welfare foundation, and I learned the valuable service they were providing to all of our pets. I immediately signed up both Maisie and Wanda – the website makes it super simple. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that if I was so be separated from them (heaven forbid) that a microchip scanner would tell anyone who and where I am to reclaim them.

Think how many cats are lost every year – kitties slip out of their homes, without collars or tags, and are taken in by other people or by a shelter that cannot find the rightful owner because the cat doesn’t have a microchip or it hasn’t been properly registered. Michelson’s Found Animals fills a special niche in rescue because it seeks to remove from shelters those animals whose owners would reclaim them, if only they could be found. Michelson’s Found Animals identified microchipping and registry as an obvious, simple and overlooked aspect of how to reduce pets in shelters: you could reunite those pets with their heart-broken families, if only those pets were micro-chipped and the information was stored in a national database.

Based in Los Angeles, Michelson’s Found Animals was founded by the philanthropist Dr. Gary Michelson (a retired human surgeon whose specialty was spinal surgery, for which he received hundreds of patents) who clearly wanted to make a difference in animal welfare. Beyond providing surrender prevention programs and education, low cost microchips and scanners for shelters, no cost spay and neuter services to low income households and the no-fee microchip registry for everyone, Dr. Michelson thinks way outside the box, as I learned on Wikipedia:

Found Animals provides a kitten foster program which saved more than 1,000 kittens in 2015 and the Saving Pets Challenge which raised $ 1 Million for animal welfare organizations nationwide. In 2008, Michelson’s Found Animals foundation launched the Michelson Prize and Grants in Reproductive Biology[20] an international competition with a 25 million dollar prize that represents a unique experiment in innovation aimed at solving the problem of pet overpopulation. His goal is to encourage researchers from a wide variety of scientific fields to take on the challenge of non-surgical pet sterilization. Recognizing that interested parties may not have access to funds the research and testing would require, also offered is the companion Michelson Grants in Reproductive Biology that will provide up to $ 50 million in funding for promising research. The Michelson Prize seeks to make sterilization accessible and affordable worldwide and aid developing countries where this problem is even greater.”

It is therefore with pleasure and pride that I can say that Michelson’s Found Animals will be the beneficiary of the Pooch Party August 4th at the boutique Only in Beverly Hills, celebrating the 2nd Annual Dog Film Festival’s return to Los Angeles on August 5th.

Tracie 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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Dr. Claudio Sillero on Ethiopian wolves

This is “Mr. Ethiopian wolf,” pretty much the world’s leading expert on the species:

There is a very interesting discussion in the Q and A portion about the introgression of dog genes into Ethiopian wolves and why that’s not necessarily always a bad thing.

The current research is working toward a full genome sequence of the Ethiopian wolf, and if they are like coyotes and “Holarctic” wolves, I bet there will be some surprises in store.


Natural History

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I’m going fishing again


I caught this bass at a private pond in South Carolina a few weeks ago. It was one of several I caught on a Zebco Omega Spincast.

I am, however, going again for trout this weekend, and I have to say, I’ve caught one of those in ten years.

Every time I ask for advice on trout, I get told to get a spinning reel. I cannot use one of those reels without getting so frustrated with it that break it into many pieces.

I have to use the spincast technology. No discussion.  I am stuck using the reel that gives me the least amount of grief, because I cannot go down to the trout stream and have a wild cussing fit at a tangle every three to five casts. It’s supposed to be relaxing. It’s not supposed to be a war.

The Zebco reel I have comes with red “Cajun” line that is about 10-pound test line. That’s a bit much for trout, so I am thinking of just doing a leader on it. I’m not taking that 10-pound test off, because it’s much easier to get on a bass hole than a trout stream in this part of the world.

The odds of me catching a trout are extremely low.  The only way they could be lower is for me not to go or to throw rocks in the creek before I cast.

So I’m going down to play in the creek and dumb around with a stick and some fake worms that look like giant sperm.

Probably to catch jack again.

I wish this stream had other species in it, because then I could try for a smallmouth or a bluegill when I get bored and frustrated with salmonoids.

I am not much of a waterman or an angler. I’m a ridgerunner, landlubber sort.

So I am off again. Waste some time. Deposit a few yards to the miles of line that I can’t retrieve out of a snag, along with my hooks and sinkers,

And watch people who don’t even know that a rainbow trout is a Pacific salmon or that a brook trout is a char catch over their limit and hide from the game warden.

There is no meritocracy in fishing. It’s not like hunting deer, where you figure it out over the trips you take. I can call a white-tail right up to my feet,  But every time I got to the fish, it’s a different hell. The primitive rayfins with minuscule brains have me outsmarted.

I don’t mind hooked a nasty largemouth bass and hauling in it, but that’s not something I’d want to eat.  They come in all spikes and green rage, like some sort of water monster that you’ve roused from the depths.

The one trout I’ve caught fought beautifully and angelically, like a cherub wheeling in the water before landed it. It was a rainbow, the transplanted Pacific salmon whose ocean going form is called a steelhead. It was a native to this land as people with German last names, pale skin, and blue eyes.

But it was more native than I was, more at home in the water than I ever could be in my terrestrial existence.

So humbled by a damned fish.

Who knew?






Natural History

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Thoughts On Our Mother Daughter Bond (+ a $100 Minnetonka Gift Card Giveaway!)

Our Mama Daughter Bond (+ a $  100 Minnetonka Gift Card Giveaway!)

Mother’s Day has always been one of my favorite days of the year. I have vivid childhood memories of getting indescribably excited in the days leading up, and putting together elaborate plans to surprise my mom that often involved construction paper flowers and makeshift (often to the point of being inedible) breakfasts in bed. Even into adulthood, I’ve looked forward to celebrating my mama, and the traditions have continued; although these days they manifest as taking my mom to Mother’s Day brunch with her best friend and daughter and more practical gift ideas to express my gratitude.

While showing love for my own mother is still a huge part of Mother’s Day for me, I’d be lying if I said the day didn’t became something much bigger when I became a mother myself. The fact that I am now completely responsible for the lives of other humans is often mind boggling, and it’s also often exhausting; so having a day where I get to be pampered by said humans is greatly appreciated. But it’s much more than the logistical aspects of being a mom that make this day such a big deal to me. There is something truly indescribable about the feeling of love that washes over me each time I look one of my children in the eye – one that is so intense it could bring me to my knees. Everything about them – from the way they laugh to the sounds they make when they’re sleeping to the quirks that make each of them a special, unique person – brings me profound joy. And on Mother’s Day, everything about the day-to-day that makes parenting a challenge sort of stops for a minute and I’m able to really focus on all of this, and just relish in the bliss of motherhood, my greatest gift in life.

With Mother’s Day so quickly approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about how my daughter Essley (who made me a mother!) and I have grown so close. I feel very lucky because I have equally strong bonds with both of my kids, but now that Essley is finally at an age (three and a half) where she is truly a little person with a defined personality of her own, she and I are genuinely the best of friends. We are both affectionate by nature, and when we’re together, we’re usually holding hands or snuggling. We can talk and talk, even about preschooler things like cartoons and picture books and whatever pretend games she played with her friends at school, and never get bored. When she cries, I am the one who can instantly make her feel better, and although she doesn’t know this, she is the one who can make me feel happy on sad days as well. We have our own unique styles (she loves pink and sparkles and embellishments; I’m mostly into neutral, minimalist styles with a bohemian vibe), but we share a common love for things like fringe (check out our matching Morocco Sandals and Coco Sandals) and comfy cotton summer dresses. And we enjoy so many of the same activities – from creating art to watching movies (always with a bowl of popcorn) to playing with animals to stereotypically girly stuff like shopping and painting our nails to exploring nature. Getting outside and exploring the outdoors, like we did through a walk to the park in these pictures, is probably our favorite bonding experience – and something we will undoubtedly do on Mother’s Day.

I’m grateful everyday to get to experience the bond I do with my little girl, and to be able to have what is truly the best job in the world as a mother to her and my sweet Emmett – but Mother’s Day is the best day of all when it comes to really be able to enjoy the bliss of what motherhood means. And to celebrate this glorious day, I’m teaming up with my pals at Minnetonka to give one lucky Bubby and Bean reader/follower $ 100 to spend in their online shop to get yourself and your little one matching shoes like Essley and me – or to spend any way you choose!

TO ENTER, just use form below. You can also enter and/or gain additional entries on Instagram

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will run for one week (through May 10th, 2017), and is open to Bubby and Bean with a U.S. shipping address. A winner will be randomly chosen and announced here shortly after the end of the giveaway.

I’d like to extend a big thanks to the wonderful folks over at Minnetonka for making such stylish shoes (Ess and I are wearing our beloved Morocco Sandals and Coco Sandals as I type this), and for giving away such a great prize. And to all of you who are mothers (fur babies count too!), have mothers, are aunties or godmothers or grandmothers, or just appreciate moms, Happy Mother’s Day!

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


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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