Researchers have cloned the clone they cloned

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Race Route

Good thing none of these dogs are running the Iditarod! Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Dog Blog

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Important Corrections About Flying With Your Dog

Traveling with dogs

I received a most informative email today, right on the heels of the most recent podcast of the DOG TALK show in which Dr. Nick Dodman talked about the (mis)use of tranquilizers for dogs when they are traveling.

I received this detailed and well-informed rebuttal to several of the points that came up in our interview from a pet travel professional. Joe, who’d had a pet travel service for many years and transported close to 500,000 animals before selling the company, said they never had a loss or injury during that time. He wanted to dispel some of the extreme warnings made in the radio interview and thinks everyone should be reassured that there are many regulations in place to protect animals being flown.

Here are some of Joe’s points about the protections in place to fly with your dog:

  • Pet transportation regulations for both the owners and the airlines have become very tough in recent years.  Live animal compartments are inspected and verified to be in order before each flight.
  • The compartments in which the animal crates are secured are heated or air-conditioned the same as the passenger cabins;  the air is circulated to prevent air borne health issues.
  • The temperature consideration of whether an animal can be flown is not based on the live animal compartment conditions inside the plane, but rather on the outdoor temperature on the tarmac.  If the external temperatures are extreme, the airline will not allow the animals to be transported.  However, the temperature in the aircraft would nevertheless be perfectly suitable.
  • In Joe’s experience, there is only one airline that has the proper equipment for animals to travel without having concerns about temperatures on the ground, because they have climate controlled ground service equipment for the animals. That airline is United.
  • In regards to tranquilization, it is against federal law to use drugs on any animal introduced for transport, unless there is a certified licensed vet traveling with the animal. The person presenting the animal must verbally confirm and sign a statement that the animal has not been drugged.
  • If any animal dies in transit the animal will receive a necropsy.  Should they learn the animal has been drugged, US Marshals can arrest the shipper.
  • Airline employees are trained to look at the animals to check whether they are in any physical distress. For example,  a pup that has a runny nose will be rejected from the flight.   Also, each airline has emergency vets on call should they be needed.  There are also professional kennel people to care for the animals should there be travel delay etc.

Joe also pointed out there are many steps to preparing a pet to fly by having the right equipment and taking the time to introduce the pet to his crate long before flying.  My book The Dog Bible has a section on pre-flight preparations in the travel chapter like introduction to the crate and spending relaxed time in the crate at home before the flight. One of the simplest ways to do this before you know you’re going to travel is to bring the crate with a kennel pad into your living room or bedroom, prop the door open,and throw a few tasty treats in there every so often. [Halo’s beef, chicken or salmon Liv-a-Littles work really well as positive reinforcers!]

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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Halo® Donation to Help Shelter Pets is Best Loved Item in Hollywood Gift Bag

The 2018 Ocars

From left to right: Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Octavia Spencer, Daniel Day-Lewis

This year’s actor nominees like Allison Janney, Denzel Washington, Margot Robbie, Timothée Chalamet and Octavia Spencer will have an opportunity to make a big difference by redeeming Halo pet food donations to feed shelter dogs and cats. The highly coveted item is part of the “Everyone Wins” nominee gift bag and has been redeemed in the past by many A-listers, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Jeff Bridges, Ethan Hawk and Samuel L Jackson.

In celebration of Hollywood’s biggest night, the Oscar® nominees in the top five categories receive a special “Everyone Wins” nominee gift bag. For the fourth consecutive year, Halo invites celebrities to make a 10,000 bowl pet food donation to an animal shelter of their choice.

“As always, we are thrilled to have Halo join us because it adds a philanthropic component to our nominee gift bag, ” said Lash Fary, the curator of the unofficial gift bags and founder of Distinctive Assets. “So many celebrities love pets and making a difference so the Halo donation to help shelter pets remains the most redeemed item in our gift bag’s history.”

Halo is proud to partner with and to feed thousands shelter pets every year nutritious pet food through the #HaloFeeditForward campaign. Since Halo pet food is made only with real WHOLE meat never any “meat meal,” like chicken meal or by-product meal, these generous donations are often life changing for those shelter pets that receive them.

The Distinctive Assets gift bag is not affiliated with the OSCARS® or the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences; the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences does not award, sponsor, endorse or provide these gift bags. As for Halo, they are just happy to support generous nominees to show the love to shelter pets!

Halo Pets

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Why Dog Rescues Should Consider Canine DNA Testing

Yesterday we told you about Irie and Tiki’s BFF, Buddy, and his DNA test through DNA My Dog. Today we have a guest post from DNA My Dog’s founder, Mindy Tenenbaum, about how the easy-to-use…

[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


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End of Oaks

dead white oak

Dead white oak.

They stand as edifices on the ridge-lines.  They seem as permanent as the stony ground on which they grow, but they are not eternal. Sooner or later, boring of insects and the general rot of wood bring them into death. Then, the winds of summer storms and winter gales bring them to the ground, and their matter returns to the soil from whence they came.

The oak tree played a major role in the identity of two of my ancestral people. The German people see the oak as a national symbol, and the English had a similar position for them. It was from the oak trees that the Royal Navy’s ships were made.

The forests I know best in West Virginia are called “Appalachian Mesophytic Forests.”

“Mesophytic” means not particularly wet or dry.  The oak and the hickory are the dominant trees, which has led to their other name, “oak-hickory forest.”

But the oak predominates.  In a typical West Virginia forest, around 60 percent of the trees will be oak, and unlike Western Europe, where just a few species of oak exist, our forests will be filled a great diversity of the trees. The most common species are divided into “red oak species” and “white oak” species. but there are many other types of oak that fall under neither distinction.

One of the weird delusions one must fight against in these forests is assuming they are old, that they are the same forest primeval that existed when Europeans first arrive. However, most of these forests are regenerated from old farm pastures that were left fallow after the agrarian economy fell apart in the latter decades of the twentieth century.

Those old forests certainly had many oaks, but they also shared their growing space with massive American chestnut trees.  The deer supposedly preferred the chestnuts to acorns, and even now, one can buy chestnut feeds to bait deer.

But those deer munching prepackaged chestnuts will never have the privilege of foraging beneath those old chestnut trees. In the early 1900s, a chestnut blight came sweeping through the Northeast and the Appalachians. The indigenous American chestnuts died off. And now only the deer’s ancestral proclivity manifests itself when the bait is put out.

I knew people who were alive when the last of the chestnuts died. I knew a few old farmers who missed the trees so much that they planted the Chinese chestnut as a replacement tree.  My grandpa Westfall had a massive Chinese chestnut as the “shade tree” for his deck, and I can still see him sitting on his the deck, peeling away chestnuts with his knife that he had just collected from his favorite tree.

A big storm came one summer, and the howling winds twisted that tree down to the ground. I thought it would be there forever, but the wind had other ideas.

It was a lesson in the simple reality that trees are not permanent. They are living, and they die.

This year, a firestorm went off in West Virginia.  The governor wanted to open up some of the state parks to logging. The reason for this move was never fully mentioned, but the truth is the Chinese market wants good quality oak lumber, especially from red oaks. The Chinese are buying the logs straight out and processing them over there, and the state wanted to make a few dollars selling big oak logs.

The plan has since been abandoned.

Now, it is certainly true that oak trees do grow back, but what is not mentioned much of the discussion about oak forests in West Virginia is that oaks are also under threat.

Just as the chestnut blight brought down our native chestnut tree, the oaks are under pressure now and have been for decades. Yes, the forests are still dominated by oak trees, and acorn mast still drives the ecosystem.

But now, it is quite difficult for oaks to reproduce. Squirrels still take acorns and bury them away from their parent tree, which makes for better growing conditions for the seedlings.

But when the seedlings arise from the leaf litter, the chomping maws of white-tails rip them from their shallow little roots.

Deer have always eaten little oak seedlings. The two species have evolved together, and during the autumn, the deer rely heavily upon acorns to build up their fat reserves.

However, we now live in a time in which deer densities are high. Sportsmen expect deer to be a high densities, and during the 80s and 90s, the numbers were even higher than they are now.

The state DNR, realizing that high deer numbers were ultimately bad for forests, for agricultural interests, and for auto insurers, decided to allow hunters to take more does from the population.  The deer numbers went down a bit.

This deer number reduction coincided with a coyote population increase, and it was assumed that the coyotes were the reason why the deer numbers dropped.  Some conspiracy theorists believed that the DNR or the insurance companies turned out coyotes to reduce the deer population. The story goes that some trapper bagged a coyote in his fox trap, and on its ear was a tattoo that said “Property of State Farm.”

Of course, the coyotes do take fawns, and some coyotes do pack up and hunt them. But there is very little evidence that coyotes have an effect on deer populations, at least in this part of the country.

Coyotes aren’t like wolves in that they don’t need to kill lots of deer to survive. They can live very nicely on rabbits and mice. Those smaller species have the added advantage that they don’t fight back with sharp hooves when the predator must make a kill.

So we have sportsmen demanding higher deer numbers and lower coyote numbers, and we have oak trees that are having harder and harder time regenerating, simply because there are too many deer eating their seedlings.

And now, fewer and fewer hunters are taking to the woods to hunt deer. State parks, of course, are off-limits to deer hunters.

So if these big oaks are taken for the Chinese market, it really could mean the end of oak trees in the state parks.

And statewide, they could become a rarity entirely.

Of course, the deer themselves will starve without acorns feeding them every September, October, and November, and maybe that crash will allow some regeneration to occur.

But it might be too late.

The truth of the matter is deer hunting is about forestry, and if more and more people see deer hunting as a cruel “sport,” then we’re going to see drastic changes to our forest ecosystem.

Our only hope is that black bears become more carnivorous and eat as many fawns as they can find, and the coyotes learn to swarm the hills like Kipling’s red dogs.

Or maybe more human hunters will take to the forests and fields in search of high quality meat.

But none of these events is likely to happen.

And in a few decades, we may very well see the end of the oak-hickory forest as we know it.

I guess it is time we thought long and hard again about selling out our natural resources to out of state concerns.  The curse of West Virginia is that we never really have, and those who dared raise the issue were either driven from office or kept as far from centers of power as possible.

Maybe times are changing.

Let’s hope they change fast enough for our forests and wildlife.





Natural History

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Links I Love, Right Now (+ A Life Update)

Happy Friday! In case you missed my post last week, I took about a week off from the blog due to what I’ll label as a seriously crappy headspace (that resulted from yet another canceled trip due to a sick kid and a general feeling of being very overwhelmed). While I did continue to work during this “break” (because as those of you who work in content creation know, it’s the emails, campaign applications, contracts, phone meetings, tax/record keeping work, and social media posts that take up the majority of your time), taking some time off from the blog alleviated some of the pressure I’d been putting on myself consistently so far in 2018 to squeeze unrealistic amounts of work into short periods of time. It honestly only took three days for me to feel good again after weeks of feeling pretty terrible. It’s amazing how easy it was. On Friday I worked in the morning and then Essley and I had a girl’s day at a children’s museum, followed by shopping. On Saturday I had a lazy morning with my family, worked on getting Essley’s bedroom redesign started, then went to a movie with Robbie that night. On Sunday I had breakfast with a dear friend, and then spent the afternoon visiting a family member who is in a residential treatment facility (and doing great), followed by a pizza party at home with the kids. Even though I did a lot and there wasn’t much relaxation involved, it felt luxurious because it wasn’t about work and deadlines and stress. And while the only reason I was able to do it was the fact that my husband was home and not on tour last week (so I had help with the kids and less pressure to get my work done in increments), and it’s not something I can do on a regular basis, it was a great reminder that sometimes just a small step back can make a massive difference.

That said, this was a great week for me to actually get to enjoy a little late night time on the internet (rather than only being here to work work work), which means I found some gems I can now share with you through a Links I Love post. So here we go.

I loved this piece on raising kind kids. So much. And honestly, I needed to read it. Lots of important reminders.

Pistachio butter, where have you been all my life?

If I had an endless supply of money to spend on shoes I’d take these gorgeous slide sandals (seen in top image) in all three colors, but because I don’t, I have my eye on the tan ones. So pretty.

The new Queer Eye on Netflix is my new late night lover (after my darling husband, of course). I can’t get enough. If you haven’t seen it yet (do it! do it!), this New Yorker piece explains it well.

I have a really exciting partnership coming up in a couple of months that involves our new backyard (which is currently in pretty bad shape). I’ve been obsessing over outdoor decor as a result. This black and white kilim pouf and rattan candle hurricane holders need to come live with us, immediately.

Theses tassel earrings are like all my favorite jewelry things rolled into one.

Pediatricians are calling for universal depression screenings in teens, which I think is absolutely wonderful. I hope it happens.

A mysterious forest full of shoes. (The things I find interesting, man.)

These are the coolest sunglasses. (And only $ 20!)

When it comes to sharing my political views (and boy do I have them) on the internet, I save them for my personal Facebook page, but I found this list of companies who have cut ties with the NRA this week quite interesting.

How about this 13 year old soon-to-be rockstar at the Olympics Closing Ceremonies?

This romper brings tears to my eyes in the best of the ways. Hurry up, summer.

Robbie is actually off again this weekend (a very rare occurrence this time of year), so we’re going on a date tonight. Tomorrow night he is taking Essley to a daddy daughter dance (I mean….), and Sunday morning she and I get to go to her good friend’s birthday party. After that, it’s one of my favorite evenings of the year – the Oscars. Ironically, the only time I have ever missed an Oscars in my life was one year when I was actually in LA and staying close to the Dolby Theatre where the Oscars take place. I have a degree in acting and love movies, so I make a whole evening out of it. As my husband says, “it’s Melissa’s Super Bowl.” I can’t wait.

Whatever your plans, I hope you have the weekend of your dreams. See you Monday, with a post that talks a little more about my stress issues lately and how one of the ways I’ve taken care of myself is through underwear. Yep. Stay tuned.


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Slim the Orange Tabby Cat “Started Becoming More Active” Thanks To Halo Natural Cat Food

Slim the Cat

We recently received this message from Tracie Anderson in Minnesota about a cat named Slim:

“Slim is a feral orange tabby cat. He is 9 months old now. He was hurt in August 2017 and I saw it all happen. He got banged in the head right in the left tear duct. He howled so badly. I ran and quickly picked him put and help him to my chest and started praying. I could tell it was a significant brain injury. Three days I held him, only putting him down to go take care of the rest of the animals here at Triangle Acres.

Slim’s chances were slim. But that is not why he is named Slim. He is a slim physique as well. The vet just told me to be patient, if he didn’t improve in 4 to 5 days then he advised me to bring him back and humanely put him down.

Slim fought the first 3 days. He was fed canned cat food watered down. Dropper for water to give him water. His head swelled up but not as bad as the vet thought. He had tons of seizures and body tremors.

Day 4, I was dead tired from staying up the past 3 days. I picked him up gently and held him and kissed his head carefully. I asked him what he thought and he meowed and gave me a bit of a purr. When the vet saw him he said he was surprised he was still alive. He examined him and said the swelling was slowly going down but it appeared Slim couldn’t see anymore. The vet just said keep moving forward. Help him eat, teach him to eat whatever I could do. So I set up a pen for him and we started learning to do things over.

Day 30 Slim was walking but held his head to the left and walked in circles and clearly had a handicap we had to work through.

The vet was amazed but yet guarded. I hadn’t seen a seizure for a long time, but when I am sleeping and working with other animals, I don’t see everything. He was eating, but not dry cat food well. So after voicing my concerns about his weight not advancing and his coat being so rough I wondered what to do. The vet didn’t have any ideas either. Plus it seemed Slim was having a hard time with another canned cat food – processing it. So I started to look for a different food.

Slim the Cat

I came across Halo® on an Amazon Daily special and ordered a case. Slim went nuts over it. It took about three weeks of Halo chicken canned cat food before I really started to see a difference. But he started becoming more active and his coat was softening. And he was doing much better processing the food too. We tried the dry food, he likes it, but he just can’t crunch it well.

Today it has been about five weeks since we started Halo- goodness its spendy! Slim eats 2 full cans and shares another can. I put the old ladies (3-17 year old sisters whose health is failing now) on HALO as well. Slim races around his room and leaps with abandon. Actually I noticed this past week he has been gauging heights of the furniture in his room and has been clearing them just fine the past couple days.

Yes Slim is still blind. We think, the vet and I, that he has partial sight, but it would be the angled at the ground. He follows toys on the ground, but not in the air level with his head. So we know he sees something.

Today was a surprise and a first. Slim leapt into my arms. He’s been studying the height of my knees when I sit down for almost a week. He made a clean jump and I was able to catch him.

I don’t know if I would have found another cat food, I am just glad Halo is what he goes nuts over and what has helped him come up in health and I don’t mind the poop end of things either. Much easier to tolerate.

Jazz is a new kitty about 3 months old that was rescued from the cold. Jazz had 3 siblings and a neighbor brought one of his siblings over to me when it started to get cold out. They were about 5 weeks old at that time. The sibling that was brought to me did not make it, it had been cold too long and I couldn’t get it warmed up and couldn’t get it to take milk. The other 2 siblings we hunted for, but couldn’t find the same afternoon. Jazz showed up in my barn that evening. He was in between 5 other cats- they were blanketing him in a circle of fur. Cats are intelligent. However, I knew if they scattered, Jazz wouldn’t make it. So I grabbed Jazz and brought him inside. Jazz now resides in the same area of the house that Slim does and Jazz is now on Halo, too.

It’s a good cat food. Slim is living proof of how good it is. The improvement of his overall health and his coat speaks volumes.

If I were rich I would buy stock, lol.

I just wanted to share Slim’s story. If we hadn’t stumbled on that Amazon deal, I am not sure where we would be today. Thankful we stumbled on it.”

Slim the Cat

Thank you Tracie for sharing your story and we are happy to hear that Slim and Jazz are doing well on Halo!

Halo Pets

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And we’re back…

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Golden Poodle awards for February

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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