May the fourth be with you…

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Barli’s Backstory! #NationalAdoptaShelterPetDay

Recently one of our community members asked me what we knew about Barli’s history…and the answer is not too much! We adopted him on March 13 and gathered all the info we could while we…



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DogTipper

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Don the Talking Dog

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Best Dog Breeds For Families With Kids

Almost 75 million dogs have been adopted into homes that already owned at least one dog. Multi-dog homes are often good for families with kids. There are other dogs to play with so a dog is not expecting constant attention from your children, or you, all the time, and there is always another dog to play with when the family …
Dog’sHealth.com Blog

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Gene flow between tazi and wolf in Kazakhstan

tazi mating with wolf

This image appeared on a Kazakh instagram account. 

The wolf appears to be a steppe wolf (Canis lupus campestris). In Kazakhstan, people keep wolves as pets and “guard dogs” fairly often, and according to Stephen Bodio, they are obsessed with wolves.

The dog is a tazi, a sighthound of the general saluki breed complex, that has quite a few wolf-like characteristics. The breed is usually monestrus, like a wolf, coyote, or a basenji, and females engage in social suppression of estrus and sometimes kill puppies that are born to lower ranking bitches.

I wonder if the wolf-like traits of this breed are somehow reinforced by occasionally crossings with captive and wandering wolves like this. As far as I know, no one has really looked into the genetics of the Kazakh tazi, but it is an unusual dog that lives in a society with a very strong tradition of keeping captive wolves.

We know that gene flows between Eurasian wolves and dogs is much higher than we initially imagined, but I don’t know if anyone is looking at breeds like these for signs of hybridization. The only study I’ve seen looked at livestock guardian dogs from the Caucasus, and it found quite a bit of gene flow-– and it was mostly unintentional.

It would be interesting to know exactly how much wolf is in Kazakh tazis. I would be shocked to learn that they had no wolf ancestry.

I seriously doubt that this is the only time a captive steppe wolf and a tazi were found in this position.

Natural History

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10 Ways to De-Stress Your Dog #AdaptilDog

This post is sponsored by CEVA Animal Health, makers of ADAPTIL® for dogs. All statements and opinions are entirely our own. As always, we only share products that we use with our own pets!…



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DogTipper

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Pet Food Recall: OC Raw Dog, LLC RECALLS one lot of Chicken, Fish & Produce

The FDA reports on a possible health risk:

OC Raw Dog, LLC of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, is recalling approximately 1,560 lbs of Chicken, Fish & Produce Raw Frozen Canine Formulation which was manufactured on 10/11/2017 with a lot number 3652 and a use by date of 10/11/18. We are voluntarily recalling because of potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause severe and potentially fatal infection in animals consuming the pet food, and the humans that handle the pet food and surfaces exposed to the product. Pets can be carriers of the bacteria and infect humans, even if the pets do not appear to be ill. Short-term symptoms may include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to Listeria monocytogenes infections, which can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Healthy people infected with Listeria monocytogenes should monitor themselves and their pets for symptoms.

Lot # 3652 of OC Raw Dog Chicken, Fish & Produce was shipped to the following states with the following associated volume with the intent to sell to Independent Specialty Retailers and in turn sold to Consumers. California – 356 lbs., Colorado – 153 lbs., Florida – 195 lbs., Maryland – 320 lbs., Minnesota – 429 lbs., Pennsylvania – 78 lbs. and Vermont – 30 lbs.

This lot of OC Raw Dog Chicken, Fish & Produce was made into 3 lb. Meaty Rox Bags, 4 lb. Slider Bags, 6.5 lb. Doggie Dozen Patty Bags and 7 lb. Meaty Rox Bags. All of which have been marked with a lot number of 3652 and a USE BY DATE of 10/11/18. Each bag has this information on a sticker located on the back lower left corner of the bag.

Product Package Nt. Wt. UPC No. Bar Code
OC Raw Dog Chicken, Fish & Produce Meaty Rox 3 lb. 022099069171 Barcode--1
OC Raw Dog Chicken, Fish & Produce Doggie Sliders 4 lb. 095225852640 Barcode--2
OC Raw Dog Chicken, Fish & Produce Doggie Dozen Patty Bag 6.5 lb. 022099069225 Barcode--3
OC Raw Dog Chicken, Fish & Produce Meaty Rox 7 lb. 095225852756 Barcode--4

To date there have been no reported illnesses of dogs, cats or persons in any connection with this product. The contamination is still under investigation.

OC Raw was notified by the FDA of the contamination after it was reported that New Jersey Department of Food and Agriculture tested the product and found it to be positive.

The same lab who conducted the tests for Listeria also tested for Salmonella on our 3 lb. bag of Chicken, Fish & Produce Meaty Rox and the test was negative. In addition to the OC Raw Dog Chicken, Fish & Produce tests the lab conducted tests for OC Raw Dog Pumpkin Rox for Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella and the results were negative.

OC Raw Dog is a family owned and managed by passionate dog enthusiasts who take very seriously the safety and wellbeing of its consumers and clients. We are dedicated to producing a quality product that is safe. We are taking this contamination very seriously and have sent multiple samples of machines, utensils, packaging equipment and freezers to insure there is no contamination at our facility. We have also sent several individual ingredients to insure we are using safe ingredients and the food we produce is done so in a safe environment. All samples have returned negative for listeria.

There was product at two of the seven distribution locations. The product has been pulled from inventory and destroyed. It is possible there might be a few bags at retailers or at home with consumers. We strongly urge anyone who has purchased OC Raw Dog’s Chicken, Fish & Produce to check the lot number.

Consumers who have purchased product with lot 3652 are urged to return it to the Retailer where it was purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-844-215-DOGS Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm PST.


PetsitUSA Blog

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Smugglers matching wits with drug dogs

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Controlling red fox numbers to save piping plovers and red knot

red fox new jersey

New Jersey is a place I think of when I think of a place where animal rights ideology has become quite pernicious.  It is a densely-populated state that still has a lot of wild areas still left within its borders, but wildlife management decisions that include lethal control are quite controversial in that state.

For example, in my state of West Virginia, we have plenty of black bears. Black bears are state symbol, and if you go to any gift shop in the state, there will be black bears featured on so many different object. We love our bears, but we also manage them with hunting season.

New Jersey has the same species of bear, and this bear species is one of the few large carnivorans that is experiencing a population increase. Biologists know that hunting a few black bears every year doesn’t harm their populations at all, and in my state, bear tags go to promote bear conservation and to mitigate any issues between people and bears. Hunting these bears also gives the bears a healthy fear of humans, and it is virtually unknown for a bear to attack someone here. New Jersey has had a bear hunt for the past few years, but it has been met with far more controversy there than it ever would be here. Checking stations get protesters, as do wildlife management areas that are open to bear hunting.

Since the bear hunt began, human and bear conflicts have gone down dramatically. The population is thinned out a bit, and the bears learn that people aren’t to be approached.  But those potential conservation gains are likely to be erased sooner rather than later.

The animal rights people have become powerful enough in that state that no Democrat can make it through the primaries without pledging to end the bear hunt. The new Democratic governor wants to do away with the bear hunt.

But the bear hunt isn’t the only place where the animal rights people are forcing misguided policy.

A few days ago, I posted a piece about the inherent conflict between animal rights ideology and conservation, and it didn’t take me long to find an article about red foxes in Brigantine, New Jersey. Brigantine is an island off the New Jersey coast.

Like most places in the Mid-Atlantic, it has a healthy population of red foxes, but it also has a nesting shorebird population, which the foxes do endanger. One of the shorebirds that nests on the island is the piping plover, a species that is listed as “near threatened” by the IUCN.  Red knot also use the island on their migrations between South America and their Canadian arctic nesting ground. This species is also listed as near threatened, and both New Jersey and Delaware have enacted regulations and programs to protect them.

At Brigantine, people began to discover dead red foxes in the sand dunes, and because red foxes are canids and canids are charismatic. It was speculated that the foxes were poisoned, and the state DEP was asked if the agency had been poisoning foxes there.

The state apparently answered that it had no been poisoning foxes on Brigantine’s beaches. It has been trapping and shooting red foxes.

To me, the state’s management policy makes perfect sense. North American red foxes are in no way endangered or threatened. Their numbers and range have only increased since European settlement, and they are classic mesopredators.  Mesopredators are those species of predator whose numbers would normally be checked by larger ones, but when those larger ones are removed, the smaller predators have population increases. These increased numbers of smaller predators wind up harming their own prey populations.

This phenomenon is called “mesopredator release.” It is an important hypothesis that is only now starting to gain traction in wildlife management science. What it essentially means is that without larger predators to check the population of the smaller ones, it is important to have some level of controls on these mesopredators to protect biodiversity.

Animal rights ideology refuses to consider these issues. In fact, the article I found about these Brigantine foxes is entitled “These adorable foxes are being shot to death by the state.”   The article title is clickbaitish, because the journalist interviewed a spokesperson at the DEP, who clearly explained why the fox controls were implemented.

The trappers who took the foxes probably should have come up with a better way of disposing of the bodies. One should also keep in mind that New Jersey is one of the few states that has totally banned foot-hold traps for private use, so any kind of trapping is going to be controversial in that state. So the state trappers should have been much more careful.

But I doubt that this will be the end of the story. The foxes have been named “unofficial mascots” of Brigantine, and it won’t be long before politicians hear about the complaints. The fox trapping program will probably be be pared back or abandoned altogether.

And the piping plover and red knot will not find Brigantine such a nice place to be.

And so the fox lovers force their ideology onto wildlife managers, and the protection of these near threatened species becomes so much harder.

This sign was posted in 2016 after the first dead foxes were found:

save our foxes

But I don’t think many people will be posting “Save Our Piping Plovers.” Most people don’t know what a piping plover is, but red foxes are well-known.

They get their special status because they are closely related to dogs, and people find it easy to transfer feelings about their own dogs onto these animals.

This makes sense from a human perspective, but it makes very little sense in terms of ecological understanding.

And it makes little sense for the foxes, which often die by car strikes and sarcoptic mange, especially when their population densities become too high.

Death by a trapper’s gun is far more humane than mange. The traps used are mostly off-set jawed ones, ones that cannot cut the fox as it is held. The trap is little more than a handcuff that grabs it by the foot and holds it. The traps are checked at least once a day, and the fox dies with a simple shot to the head, which kills it instantly.

And the fox numbers are reduced, and the island can hold rare shorebirds better than it could before.

In trying to make a better world for wildlife, we sometimes have to kill. This is an unpleasant truth.

And this truth becomes more unpleasant when we start conflating animal rights issues with conservation issues. Yes, we should make sure that animals are treated humanely, but we cannot make the world safe for wildlife without controlling mesopredators and invasive species.

I think that most of the fox lovers do care about wildlife, but they are so removed from wildlife issues on a grand scale that it becomes harder to understand why lethal methods sometimes must be used.

My guess is these people like seeing foxes when they are at the beach and don’t really think about these issues any more than that.

It is not just the wildlife exploiters and polluters that conservationists have to worry about. The animal lovers who extend too much animal rights ideology into conservation issues are a major problem as well.

And sadly, they are often the people that are the hardest to convince that something must be changed.

I don’t have a good answer for this problem, but it is one that conservationists must consider carefully as the future turns more and more in the favor of animal rights ideology.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural History

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Hoofbeats of the apocalypse

feral horse appalachian

Feral horses run in the wiry grass of Don Blankenship’s prairies. Once real mountains stood here, all crowned in ash and oak and hickory, but beneath them was a black rock. Over the centuries, men came and dug at the earth and sweated and died and then the bulldozers came and the mountains were gone. The state demanded that the coal operators do something to reclaim the land, so they planted some cheap grass and a couple of pine trees.  But the land was forever changed.

Over the years, the jobs all went away, and those who had a few pleasure horses took them to the new grasslands and set them free. Better to be “wild horses” on the range than dog food was the simple logic.

And the stallions round their mares in this new steppeland.  They nicker and fight the wars of that ancient Equus lambei, which a few romantics like to hope gives some sort of license to the native status of the modern horse on this continent.

At the same time, the state of West Virginia is trying its hand at restoring elk to these very same prairie lands. The elk were natives of the Eastern forests, and the ones being turned out onto these ranges are from Kentucky and Arizona. And those of Kentucky are still of the Rocky Mountain form of elk, not the long gone Eastern kind, which may now exist only in the muddled genetics of some New Zealand ranched herds.

The elk need the grass too, and worries are the horses will make the range too bare. And the elk will not make a comeback.

But the truth of the matter is neither species is native to land that never existed before. The glaciers never made it this far south, and the steepness of the terrain before the dozers came is testament to the antiquity of these mountains. They once stood like the Rockies or the Himalayas, but the millennia of erosion wore them down until the coal operators showed up to cut down their remnant. The glaciers never smoothed out the mountains, but human greed certainly did.

Meanwhile, Don Blankenship is back in politics. He is a former coal operator, a greedy, nasty one at that, the kind that was once excoriated in all those old union songs, but now as the mines employ fewer and fewer workers and UMWA is all broken and busted, he plays the working class victim.  All railroaded by “union bosses” and Obama, he didn’t do anything wrong, he tells the gullible.

He’s thrown his hat into the US Senate race. His ads call all his opponents liberals and abortion lovers. He plays up his conspiracy theory about Obama having it out for him. He feigns tears about Indiana bats that are being killed by windmills.

He says he’ll drain the swamp. Maybe, he will, but I have the idea that he might just fill it up with coal slurry. That’s what happened to poor Martin County, Kentucky.  Blankenship was CEO when his company’s slurry impoundment overflowed and filled up the Tug Fork River.

He sells the false hope that if you just get rid of a few more environmental and labor regulations, the coal industry will come roaring back.  He also says that if we just build Old Man Trump’s wall on the Mexican border, we won’t have any more problems with drugs. After all, the drug problem must surely come from brown foreigners, and not the pharmaceutical industry and those totally unscrupulous doctors who prescribed opioids for every little discomfort.

The politics he offers are the politics of the apocalypse. In land where no real hope can be found, a little false hope will do.

And the miners lose their jobs and their homes and their pleasure horses join the ranks of the feral bands.

The Bible talks about the four horsemen of the apocalypse, but in West Virginia, the hoofbeats of that sound the impending doom have no riders at all.

They are the roving bands of the abandoned, left out to sort out a new existence on Don Blankeship’s prairies.

The snakeoil of politicians rings out on the airwaves, and every year, new horses get turned out, and the mares drop their feral foals.

The coal company’s rangeland gets denuded a little bit more, and the elk might not stand much of a chance.

In this apocalypse, death will come.  Sooner or later, the horses will starve on those pastures. A few good souls might get some of them adopted, but most will either starve or wind up shot.

Perhaps, this election will be the final burlesque of Blankenship, but he’s not the only coal country caudillo in West Virginia. The current governor is a more successful sort of politico of this stripe, and the legislature if full of people like him. The long suffering of the people will go on and on, and the horses will continue to be turned out into the wild,

Already, coal towns are advertising their “wild horses” as an attraction draw tourism. It’s a more benign falsehood than the one Blankenship is offering.

But it is not so benign for the horses or the coming elk. For them, the apocalypse is coming. They cannot know it, for if they did, they would run.

And their hoofbeats would ring out the warning of our impending doom.

Natural History

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