RSVP for Our #PawZaar Twitter Party on Cyber Monday!

We’re excited to announce a special Twitter party on Cyber Monday, the biggest online day of the year! On Monday, Nov. 27, we’ll be hosting the #PawZaar Twitter party. For one hour,…

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Family pet dog had no police dog training, but…

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Thanks for you comment Wolfmommy. We admire your f…

Thanks for you comment Wolfmommy. We admire your fortitude in the middle of this impossible time period for true WDs. And we'll always be grateful for Karma. She showed us how bad the labeling debacle was getting in the sheltering world.

Oxo – So kind of you to send a donation today. I'll be buying some pups some fishy-good treats in your honor. Thank you!

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The “civet cat” of West Virginia

When I was a little boy, my grandmother once told me that one of her childhood dogs killed a civet cat.  I was old enough to know that civets lived in Africa and Asia, so when I got the chance, I asked my dad if grandma had ever been to Africa.  He said “No.” And the whole discussion ended.

I always wondered what grandma was talking about.

When I first started this blog, I was a little confused about the existence of spotted skunks in West Virginia. I asked if anyone had seen a spotted skunk in West Virginia, and of course, I got no response.

But it turns out there are some. It turns out that they are found only in the High Alleghenies, where the snow falls hard every winter.

This perplexed me.  I had always thought of Eastern spotted skunks as being a more or less “Southern” species, and although I often saw range maps of the species that included almost the entire state, I had never knew anyone who had seen one.

But maybe I did.

It turns out that one of the vernacular names for the spotted skunk is “civet cat.”

And that’s when the little anecdote my grandmother told me made a bit more sense. Her childhood dog had killed a “civet cat,” but it had most likely killed a spotted skunk.

As for that broad range map I linked to earlier, I think the reason the range appears to be so truncated now is that the spotted skunk was reviled in much of its range as a vector of rabies. Another common vernacular name for spotted skunk is “phoby cat”– “phoby” is short for “hyrdophobia” (often “hydrophoby” in some dialects)– it is very likely that there was massive persecution of spotted skunks in the lower elevations of the state.

It was just too hard to settle and farm in the higher mountains, and those mountains provided some sort of refuge for what is really a more subtropical species than one would typically find in such snowy country.

My grandmother’s childhood dog likely killed one of the few spotted skunks left in the lower elevations of West Virginia.

But I liked to pretend that she had gone to Africa.

Boyhood flights of fancy are tough to beat.

Natural History

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Meadow fox finds a mate

gray fox winter

It is the “dead of winter” or so the sobriquet for that time of the year goes.  It is the time when the trees stand as gray skeletons and the piercing winds come questing down from the arctic and the snow comes in storms to blanket the land. It is a time of darkness, a time when the sun seems to rise only for the purpose of setting once again with the ancillary effect of torturing sun-worshiping humanity with its sallow winter rays.

And so our kind curses the winter. Much of our natural history occurred in the tropics, so this relatively recent remove to the middle and higher latitudes means that we spent the winter yearning for the sun upon our skins.

Most of the herbivores don’t like it much either. The deer had better have built up a nice layer of fat for this time of starvation. If oaks don’t drop tons of acorns in the autumn, then the deer don’t built their fat, and the hunger sweeps through them. The does reabsorb their fetus, and the old ones die in agony.

But not all things suffer through the long winter darkness and cold.  A gray fox vixen, which we last saw mousing in the July swelter, has come to run the logging roads in search of cottontails that might be trying to graze a bit of sustenance from the dead winter forage.  They are not the dumb bunnies of high summer but predator-tested quarry that can give a fox a good course. But as winter’s famine takes its toll, they become weaker and weaker, and the coursing runs more often end with a squealing rabbit in the vixen’s jaws than a white tail diving for the impenetrable thickets.

She is a lone vixen still, but she is a master of the cottontail hunt.  She has come to know where the rabbits hang during the long winter twilight and when they likely will run when she puts pressure to them.

What’s more, she has found a good winter supplement of corn, which gets shot of out of a deer feeder every night.  Omnivory is another of her tricks.  Corn shot from deer feeders and sand pears from an ancient tree at the edge of the old meadow have been welcome additions to her diet.

But a lone vixen can only be alone for so long. By winter’s end, the estrus clouds will rise from her genitals, and the male foxes will want her.

Unlike a domestic dog, which will typically come in heat and mate with the first male she encounters, the gray fox is a bit more choosy.  She will pair up with a mate before the estrus time hits, and he will breed her and then stay with her through her pregnancy and help raise the young.

Now is the time for the pair up, but every night, the vixen goes on her hunts. She smells where people and dogs have crossed the road.  She smells where a sow raccoon and her two nearly grown kits have moseyed along the ditches in hopes of catching a hibernating frog. She smells the skunks and the deer and the wandering opossums.

But not once does she catch wind of another of her kind.

However, as she sniffs a bit of grass that she likes to mark with a few drops of urine,  the pungent odor of a dog fox’s urine rises into her nostrils.  She lifts her nose and casts it into the wind as if hoping to catch scent of his body.

Gray foxes are so territorial that the scent of a stranger would have her a raging war dog by now, but this time, she’s not in the least aggressive. Instinct and hormones are telling her to be curious and flirty.

Air scenting doesn’t reveal the stranger’s location, so she casts about, trying to pick up his trail in the leaf litter.

A great rabbit tracker like her soon finds his scent and begins trailing him along the logging road. Her receptors tell her that this dog fox is one of this year’s kits, one that has spent the autumn months trying to catch voles and chipmunks.  He will be long and lean from those days of running long and hard for such little food.

She tracks him along the edge of the multiflora rose thickets. He’s been trying his luck as a rabbit courser, but he’s had no luck at all.  He’s just been running like a fool, and the rabbits have been scared off.

If this were a normal time of the year, she would be ready to fight. But not now.  Right now, she is intrigued by this stranger.

She sniffs to inspect his urine marks, which he leaves every hundred yards or so, and she becomes almost intoxicated by them.  The smell is so good, so pure, so perfect.

She soldiers on through her long track. As she makes her way along the logging road and visits each thicket, she becomes lost in the scent.  She begins to prance with an air of cockiness, the way only truly confident animals can.  This is her domain, and this dog has her fancy.

As she sniffs along another stand of multiflora rose, a raspy gray fox bark rises from a boulder some 50 feet away. The dog fox knows the vixen is about, and he has his defenses up.

She lets loose some whines and whimpers and soft little fox chuckles. She is calling to him, telling that she comes in friendship.

The little dog fox rises from the boulder. and he is gaunt and rangy from running so much and catching so little.  He left his mother and father’s land back in August, and he has spent most of his time chasing quarry or running from coyotes or dogs or resident gray foxes that don’t want him around.

A big dog gray fox took the tip of his right ear in September when when decided to go grasshopper hunting a little too close to that mated pair’s den.

His life has been that of an urchin, a vagabond, and now when he hears the approach of another gray fox, he becomes flighty.

But it hasn’t been since those warm spring days when he suckled his mother’s teats that he’s heard another fox make those noises. He wonders if his mother is calling him, and so he runs down to the thicket to the vixen.

She hears his approach and runs toward him. They touch noses and lick faces. He instantly knows he’s not looking at his mother, but the softness of her eyes and the gentleness of her face tell him that she is all right. She is more than all right.  She is good.

They whimper and whine in the darkness. Young dog fox and wise mature vixen, now begin the process of pair bonding in the night. They lick each other’s muzzles and ears,

They are fully smitten.

That morning, they den up in the great boulder pile where the vixen has made her home. These are ancient rocks of Permian sandstone, more ancient than even the old lineage of canids from which gray foxes are derived.

The flinty wisps of snow flurries fill the air.  Bigger snow coming tomorrow.  The rabbits will be lying low in the thickets, easily caught by the fox who knows where to sniff.

The two foxes sleep near each other. They haven’t quite bonded yet, but they will soon be curled up together, a truly mated pair.

And the estrus clouds will rise in the frosty air, and they will be together.

The meadow fox has found a mate once again.

She doesn’t need one to survive.

But now, she can thrive.





Natural History

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Former Stray Dog Becomes an Officer for the Marquette University Police Department

Maddie the Police Dog

Photo Credit: Wisconsin Humane Society

Cinderella had a pumpkin to help her find her fairytale ending. One stray dog in Oklahoma had an amazing multi-shelter transport program to help her go from a stray to an officer of the law attending a gala.

The beautiful tan and white dog was surviving on the streets before she was found and cared for by the Central Oklahoma Humane Society. That shelter, along with several others, participates in a transport program. Allie Christman, the Marketing Manager at the Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS), explained that WHS “partners with several other shelters across the Midwest and southern states in a lifesaving transport program that is growing. Sadly, many animal shelters are overcrowded and lack the infrastructure, staffing, and resources to help the volume of animals coming through their doors.…This is where we can help. We’re very lucky to serve a community that so readily adopts, and the majority of animals transported to us find homes within just a day or two.”

It was Allie’s shelter, WHS, that took in that tan and white dog, then known as Maddie. Dezarae Jones-Hartwig, the Youth Programs Manager at WHS shared with us, “the first thing I noticed about [Maddie] was her sweet, soft eyes. Sweet is the word that was constantly used to describe her.” Because Maddie was so sweet and loving, staff thought that she would be a great fit for their People & Animals Learning (PAL) Program. In the nationally-recognized program, students work in pairs with one dog over two weeks. Dogs who participate in the program, spend their nights with a foster family. As the shelter explained on their Facebook post about Maddie, “PAL teaches reward-based dog training techniques, helps prepare shelter dogs for life in a home, and aims to increase the participants’ self-esteem and… skills like empathy and conflict resolution.” Maddie, according to Dezarae, “was so gentle that she quickly became a group favorite.”

Photo Credit: Marquette University Police Department

Photo Credit: Marquette University Police Department

Dezarae remembers “how much both kids adored her and how she provided them with such unconditional love in return.” In the program Maddie “learned and truly excelled at all the basics: sit, down, come, etc,” according to Dezarae. Nora Hart, a Program Specialist at WHS, got to spend a lot of time with Maddie, too. She described Maddie as “the perfect ‘office foster.’ She spent her afternoons with us in our office after the PAL Program and before her foster mom picked her up. We felt like we hit the jackpot as she was such a good girl, so loving and easy.”

Maddie’s overnight foster mom, Carolina Seidl, worked for the Marquette University Police Department (MUPD), and she was falling in love with Maddie. As soon as Maddie graduated from the PAL Program, the Seidl family adopted her and gave the sweet dog her forever name, Nattie. While talking with coworkers about the new addition to her family, Carolina realized that Nattie might be exactly what her department needed.

On August 18, the same day that her mom became an officer for the MUPD, Nattie was sworn into the department in a videotaped ceremony. She earned her official police vest and badge that day. Nattie isn’t patrolling the streets of Wisconsin looking for crimes. Instead, as MUPD’s “community outreach dog” Maddie is sniffing out opportunities to help students and the community have positive experiences with MUPD, as well as to comfort crime victims as needed. As part of her community outreach duties, Nattie has an adorable Instagram account with an impressive following! Dezarae shared that during PAL “Nattie learned and truly excelled at all the basics: sit, down, come, etc. All of these will help her in her new role. Not to mention the fact that she got to meet and interact with a bunch of different people and kids during PAL, giving her some great socialization skills.”

Funny enough, Nattie isn’t the first dog to graduate from PAL and find a job. Allie shared the story of Delta who came to WHS in 2012 “from an overcrowded shelter in Tennessee when she was only nine months old.” Like Nattie, Delta also went through PAL. Immediately after Delta graduated from PAL, a woman named Carol who had seen that Delta would soon be graduating from PAL “was first in line to adopt her. She knew Delta would be a perfect companion and potential service dog for her son, Nate, and it was a truly wonderful match,” Allie told us.

“All PAL dogs get adopted into loving homes and go on to be wonderful family companions – but Nattie’s story is extra special,” said Laura Nowlin, the Corporate Giving Officer for WHS. She continued, “To know that Nattie is not only in a wonderful forever home, but that she’s also out there serving our community and bringing joy to others daily is such a special thing!”

Allie agreed about Nattie being special. “Nattie is a true ambassador for shelter dogs everywhere and she’s a walking reminder of how many incredible companions are waiting at your local shelter,” she said. “I immediately followed her on Instagram (@mupdnattie) and I still get that burst of pride each time I see a new photo of her surrounded by smiling students. She brings so much joy and unity everywhere she goes and she’ll never know just how incredibly valuable that is to our community,” Allie added.

Allie also shared that Nattie will be attending WHS’s Paws & Claws Gala on October 21 and shared that the staff “can’t wait to catch up with her and hear all about life as a gainfully employed pup!” From stray to gainfully-employed and attending a fancy gala, it sounds like a happily-ever-after ending. We’re thrilled that Nattie is proving how capable and amazing shelter pets can be. It’s obvious from everything that the staff at WHS shared that this special dog is going to be a fantastic community outreach dog.

Halo Pets

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Kenny Chesney Helps Dogs, Cats Affected by Hurricane Irma

When Hurricane Irma made landfall on the island of St. John in September as a category five storm, its 185 mph sustained winds stripped the landscape bare, tearing away homes from their foundations…

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The Veteran

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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A Toast to the Holiday Season: Staying Present and Enjoying Simple Pleasures

Staying Present During the Holidays

Thank you Cameron Hughes for sponsoring this post. Capture the celebratory spirit of the holidays, and toast to the season with Cameron Hughes wine!

I may live for summertime, but I truly believe that it’s the holiday season that is the most wonderful time of the year. That said, I tend to overwhelm myself (in a big way) during November and December, and then end up feeling disappointed when I don’t live up to my own expectations. The minute Halloween is over, I begin to compile a list in my head filled with unrealistic decor projects, endless recipe ideas, shopping outings I need to make that result in only the perfect gifts, holiday movie marathons, idealistic hot chocolate filled holiday light drives in the car and holiday musicals and caroling and on and on and on. Did I mention that there are three birthdays in our house within two weeks of Christmas and all sorts of accompanying over-the-top birthday party planning? Or that it’s by far my busiest time for work? In reality, by the time mid-December rolls around, I’ve usually only gotten about half (if that) of our decorations up, I’ve barely begun shopping, and I certainly haven’t allowed myself the time to relax and enjoy the season. I kind of have a feeling many of you can relate.

This year, however, the holiday season is going to be different for me – starting now. I made a decision back in the early fall to stay in the present as much as possible during the holidays. It may be the most hectic couple of months for work and family activities, but I’m going to make time to savor the season – without excessive planning or unrealistic expectations. I enjoy decorating, and so do my kids – but we’re going to choose a few pieces to put out and take our time, together as a family, putting them up. I also have fun holiday shopping planned, but I’ll be doing it when I can, slowly and as the season progresses, rather than putting pressure on myself to do too much at the last minute. I’m going to focus on managing my time for work projects in the most productive way, and embrace the fact that while I may take on too many jobs this time of year, it’s in the best interest of helping support my family, and that’s a good thing. If I can get out and do holiday actives together with my family, and/or alone with my husband, and/or with my girlfriends, that’s great! But I don’t need to do every single outing and party that presents itself. And most of all, I’m going to appreciate quiet moments and simple pleasures – like a few minutes in the evening, after the kids go to bed, to get comfy in my pajamas, relax, and toast to the holiday season with my husband and a glass of my favorite wines by Cameron Hughes.

Cameron Hughes Pinot Noir, Cabernet (my fave!), and Chardonnay wines are perfect for my goal of staying present for the holiday season this year and enjoying simple pleasures – because I’m able to get truly delicious bottles of wine that my husband, my friends and family, and I all love for a great price. Instead of pressuring myself to buy the most expensive wine to serve and enjoy this time of year, I’ve made the conscious decision to choose what I consider to be an exceptional wine at an extraordinary value. I’ve learned that just like the holiday season doesn’t need to be excessive and over-the-top in order to be a success, great wine doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, I told my husband that I’ve declared Cameron Hughes my official holiday beverage for my new-and-improved holiday season attitude (ha!).

So here’s my toast to the holiday season, friends. May yours be filled with realistic expectations, small but meaningful moments to enjoy, memories made with loved ones, a mindset to stay in the present, and a delicious glass of wine (that won’t break the bank) with family and/or friends. Happy Holidays!

Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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The Best (and Last) Dog Bowl You’ll Ever Buy

I had a “light bulb” moment recently about the cleanest, most comfortable and healthy way to feed my dogs – one of those “Ah duh!” moments where you hit your forehead with the bottom of your palm and say, “Why didn’t I think of this sooner?!”

Like me, you may be one of those dog owners whose house (and basement) are full of many different styles and types of dog beds your dog doesn’t really like – and just as many types of rejected dog bowls, too. It’s my belief that many dogs would lodge a complaint about their feeding bowl if you put up a Suggestion Box.

Do You have a Pug or Bulldog?
If you have one of the bracephalic breeds – a Boxer, English Bulldog, Pug or Puggle, French Bulldog or an Affenpinscher – those short-snorted dogs have additional challenges in trying to get their flat little faces into deep bowls with high sides. And my dog bowl solution suits them best of all!

The Long List of Discarded Bowls
Do you have bowls which are gathering dust under a cabinet because your dog wasn’t all that comfortable using it – or you weren’t?

The too-light aluminum bowls that skitter around (and the dog’s collar tags jangle against it bothering you and him) (plus it turns out a lot of stainless bowls were made unsafely in China and have some sort of toxicity)?

Or the heavy ceramic bowls you need two hands to lift once filled, plus they are shaped like a casserole baking dish, with an inner shape that bears no resemblance to how a dog’s snout and mouth function, so she has to travel all around the bowl to get at the food stuck in the crevice…or just give up?

Or a plastic bowl that has gotten scratched over time and now you cannot reliably get it really clean because bacteria lingers in the scratched surface?

Or one of the many variations on raised feeders in decorative platforms – only to discover that raised feeders can actually be dangerous to proper digestion because it interferes with the way a dog naturally eats, putting her head down to the ground, the way a horse and many other animals naturally eat.

So What’s The Magic Solution?
You may laugh when I tell you what I figured out – because it seems too easy and obvious. Buy an ordinary glass pie pan! It can be Pyrex or another brand; it can have a plain edge or a fluted one. Every supermarket or kitchen store sells them and it will cost under $ 10. Get a size that is appropriate to the size of your dog – anything from small (intended for making individual quiches or tarts) to the large circumference for big pooches like my Weimaraners. And glass pie pans are indestructible: I have a soapstone sink and even if the dish slips it doesn’t break. You can see perfectly when they are clean – and every so often they pop right into the dish washer where their agreeable shape fits nicely. Your dog will find the pie pan’s flat surface lovely for comfortably slurping up food, and if your dog is a wolf-it-down type, the spread out surface actually can slow them down.

Best Dog Bowl

My Dogs’ Dinner
Maisie and Wanda each get a smorgasbord for their meals. The basis of their diet starts with a scoop (or 1 1/12) of their Halo kibble (they appreciate the earth and animal friendly new recipes!) and then there is a scoop of low fat cottage cheese (or sometimes it is scrambled eggs instead) and a spoonful either of home-cooked ground turkey or chicken, string beans and oats (as you see here) or for their second meal of the day I use a big spoon of canned Halo food – the salmon (wild caught), chicken (cage free) or (hormone-free) beef.

Get yourself a glass pie plate and it will be the last “dog bowl” you ever need to buy!

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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