Give Yourself the Gift of a Portrait of All the Dogs from Your Life

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More than a decade ago, when I was still living year-round in East Hampton, I discovered a dog portraitist of uncanny skill. Her name was Carol Saxe and working only from photographs, she was able to capture the distinctive essence of every dog she put into a painting – many of which were single portraits. I went to her studio to admire her work and happened upon a painting she was doing for a family that wanted a portrait in which they could see all the Corgis they had ever owned – even from the parent’s own childhoods. It sound like something Queen Elizabeth might want!

In this case, the people commissioning the portrait asked that all the dogs be placed as if they were alive at the same time – and put them at their current beach front house, which was a delightful background with a wide porch on a shingled house, overlooking dunes with beach grass and a wide beach below. Carol had painted this setting from a series of photos that were clipped to her easel, along with old photos and newer ones of the 8 or 10 dogs. She had gathered all the dogs of this family’s life into their current life and placed the Corgis judiciously around the property, some on a chair or bench, others under an umbrella, others playing with each other.

What I noticed straight away was that each of these Corgis looked subtly different from the others. None of them was a generic Corgi- each had his own coloring, tilt of their head, and expression: they were clearly each distinctive portraits. I wanted something just like that myself and decided on the spot to give it to myself as a gift – a way to look back on the many different dogs who had graced my life, from the several generations of Bedlington Terriers that began in my childhood, to the Golden Retriever Roma and her sidekick Cocker Spaniel Amalfi, to Yogi Bear the rescued Rottweiler and the series of rescued Weimaraners who followed Lulu and Billy Blue.

Here’s that portrait – and another more impressionistic one (above) she did of my two Weimaraner boys, Teddy and Billy Blue, along with Yogi Beat the Rottie – a wonderful triumvirate of big boys sadly long gone, but whom I can still gaze upon lovingly every day.

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Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.

Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.

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Bonus Friday Funny: I Want to Play!

Have a great weekend! Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Related PostsFriday Funny: Playing FetchFriday Funny: Some Guard Dog You Are!Friday Funny: Dog FeetFriday Funny: Smart Dog!Friday Funny: A Dog Scorned…Friday Funny: Too Tired to Help With The Dishes


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The issue that never gets solved

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I didn’t think I’d do another one of these, but my conscience has been dragged back into it.

Jemima Harrison posted this morning (my time) about a friend’s flat-coated retriever who died at the age of 7. Both the dog’s parents were dead before they were 8 years old.

I used to follow this dog’s owner’s blog, way back when there was a more active dog blogosphere. I remember when she was born, and I remember when her mother died.

I’ve always admired this breed. It was once the most common retriever in Britain, and I love all those old paintings and photographs of the dogs at pheasant and partridge shoots.

At one point in my life, I thought I wanted one of these dogs. They were sleeker and more agile than golden retrievers, and I’d always preferred golden retrievers that came in that body type, even if the show ring never did.

But then I looked at the health of the dogs, and I decided that I would pass.

A golden retriever is already a notorious tumor factor. That there could be a retriever in worse shape with regard to cancer was something that really did bother me.

I used to wonder if this breed could be made more viable if they did some crossbreeding, but virtually every breeder in the breed is so opposed to it that having rational discussions with them is like talking to a creationist or someone who believes that Bush did 9/11. Their job, regardless of the facts, is to come up with ways to justify keeping the gene pool walled off.

And at that point, I knew the problem would never be solved.

It’s taken me a while to realize that no amount of explanation will change anything.

It’s that way with just about every breed of dog. If it’s not flat-coats and cancer, then it’s bulldogs and everything that’s wrong with them. Or pugs.

After doing this for years and years, I’ve stopped having any confidence that any of these problems will be solved, and I’m not wasting my time.

So we’ll hold onto closed studbooks, “linebreeding for health” or some other delusion, until we hit the eventually genetic dead-ends of several breeds.

The population of canids known as “domestic dogs” will continue on, because the vast majority of North Americans will choose things other than registered dogs. And the village, street, and pariah dog populations will still be there in other parts of the world.

But as for the Western “purebred” dog, its future is quite tenuous indeed.

And when you’re powerless to stop something, you’re better off giving yourself some distance.

That’s what I have done.

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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Thank you for this post. Small indoor dogs may be …

Thank you for this post. Small indoor dogs may be small, but they make up for their small bodies with playfulness and great personality. Celebrities have turned these small fluffy balls into popular fashion accessories, however, they are not toys. These dogs can be great companions to your children and you. See more http://dogsaholic.com/breeds/info/best-indoor-dogs.html
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Jimmy Stewart: A Dog Named Beau

Jimmy Stewart – a national treasure! Enjoy. Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Related PostsIs your dog allowed on the bed?Saturday Survey: Don’t Eat That!!Worst-behaved dog ever!Albuquerque Dog Eats the Family JewelsSuper Dog NannyShould You Get a Dog?


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How To Age Like a Rock God

Last night I got to rock out at the last North American stop of the Guns n Roses “Not in This Lifetime” tour. In a moment that made me realize just how old I’ve gotten, I realized the last time they played San Diego- in 1992- I was also there. I was in high school, high on life (and probably a few other things unintentionally, as tended to happen at those arena shows), idealistic about the future. Guns n Roses was the biggest name in rock at the time, at the height of their fame and the zenith of their success.

Things fell apart for them shortly thereafter.

Axl Rose spent the next two decades litigating with his former bandmates, holed up in a mansion somewhere getting plastic surgery and churning out less than awesome music. While his star faded, the rest of us went on with our lives, going to school and having careers and starting families. You know, growing up. Such is life.

I had low expectations for the show, to be honest. The band fell apart due to Axl’s temperamental nature and the shows often started three hours late and ended after one or two songs. When he was on, he was ON, and the rest of the time he was a disaster. He was the rock god equivalent of the vet who burns out in a flame of glory and leaves veterinary medicine forever to hole up on a lake somewhere to nurse their wounds in solitude. (Not that I know what that urge feels like, of course.)

I was not the only one who gave this reunion short shrift. The first time he walked out on stage at a warmup show, he broke his foot and everyone said, “Oh, here we go. This is going to be a disaster.” There’s a reason Spinal Tap was a cautionary tale, they said. Once you leave something great, you’re done. You can never go back. This is no longer going to happen:

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The murmurings were nonstop: Axl’s had a ton of plastic surgery. He looks old (hint: he is, as are we all.) His voice isn’t the same. He can’t move his hips the way he did when he was 20. The band still all hates each other.

All of this is true.

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But they went out there anyway, and played a monster three hour set despite the creaky joints and the lower octaves. They came out on time and nailed everything. It was like being back in 1992 except even better because I can legally drink! When’s the last time you sat in a packed stadium arena listening to a power ballad with fireworks onstage and a 10 minute guitar solo? It was before cell phones for sure. And it was awesome. Yes, things changed, but a lot of those changes were for the better.

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There’s actually something super metal about getting old and refusing to let people stop you from all the stuff you’ve been told you can’t do any longer. About getting up in front of a PACKED stadium with your face looking exactly like what everyone said it would look like and singing about your serpentine with your hips moving exactly two inches in either direction and waiting for the cameras to zoom in on your before flipping everyone the bird- and hearing them all cheer. That takes some brass ones, my friends.

In 2012, a reporter asked him if Guns n Roses would ever get back together and he replied, “Not in this lifetime.”And yet here we are, a little older, a little wrinklier, a little wiser, and clutching our Zippo apps that won’t burn your fingers in lieu of the actual lighters.

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You can change your mind. You can go back. You can embrace what time has changed and laugh about it and refuse to apologize for it and kind of love it. It’s the only way to live, really.

I never in a million years would have thought Axl Rose would be doling out inspirational life messages at 54 years of age but I guess I was wrong too. It’s never to late to burn down the house.

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Pawcurious: With Veterinarian and Author Dr. V

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Friday Funny: Well-Protected

Guardian angels come in all forms. May yours be watching over you this weekend. Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Related PostsFriday Funny: Too Tired to Help With The DishesFriday Funny: No Worries!Friday Funny: Get Well SoonFriday Funny: Scary VisitorsFriday Funny: Some Guard Dog You Are!Friday Funny: Smart Dog!


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Canis oriens is not a good species

eastern coyote

Within Canis, there are lots of bogus species proposed. A few years back,  a team of researchers in Australia made some skull measurements of dingoes and decided that we should declare the dingo a new species distinct from the domestic dog and wolf. Never mind that every single genetic study on dingoes clearly puts them within the East Asian dog clade. A dingo is a feral dog very closely related to things like chow chows and akita inu.

Comparative morphology once declared the Japanese chin a distinct species, complete with their own genus, Dysodes. Never that such a thing wouldn’t pass the smell test now, it is still being tried on dingoes.

Within the genus Canis, there has always been a desire for some to split up species. Morphological variation is really great in the more wide-ranging species, but thus far, every proposed new species has come out lacking. Molecular techniques have discovered one species in this genus, the golden wolf of Africa, and there might be a distinct species of wolf in the Himalayas.

But all the rest have come up short. A recent study of wolf and dog genomes revealed that if you make dogs and dingoes a species, the entire species of Canis lupus becomes paraphyletic. So unless we want to abandon cladistics as our classification model, we pretty much have to keep dogs and dingoes within the wolf species. The red and Eastern wolves have also come up short in these studies,

And, I would argue, so has the coyote. Because coyotes split from wolves only very recently, I think a case can be made to classify them as Canis lupus latrans.

But that’s not where some people want to go. In fact, as of March this year, there was a paper that came out calling for classifying the Eastern coyote as Canis oriens.

I think this is quite unwise. For one thing, this ecomorph of coyote, which does have both wolf and domestic dog ancestry, is pretty new. Further, there is no evidence that this population is fully reproductively isolated from dogs, wolves, or the original Western coyote population. There might not be a lot of crossbreeding with domestic dogs.

But Western coyotes that are free of dog or wolf blood can still come into the East.There are no massive barriers that stop these coyotes mating with coyotes that might have wolf or dog in them.

Roland Kays, who was part of one of the original genome-wide studies of North American wolves, recently wrote a piece arguing against calling the Eastern coyote “a coywolf” or a distinct species. In the piece, Kays argues that this population of coyotes is not reproductively isolated, so it really is premature to call them a species now.

I would argue that the Eastern coyote is actually an ecomorph that is evolving to live in the human-dominated world that was once woodlands of Eastern North America, and an ecomorph is not a species. It could become one, but it takes quite a bit of time and isolation in order to do so.

In fact,  I think the big take away from all the most recent study is that coyotes are a small type of wolf.

And that means that all this splitting we’ve done in Canis isn’t really all that helpful in understanding their exact biology and natural history.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t species of wild dog to be discovered. The case to split red foxes into two species is quite strong, and there is also a strong possibility that the gray foxes of the  West and of the East are distinct species. The new species of wild dog will be found in creatures in like these, not in the larger dog species.

But Canis is where the charismatic dogs are. Wolves and their kin capture our imaginations. They are the closest relatives of the domestic dogs, and the domestic dog is descended from the Old World wolf. Within domestic dogs, we’ve been splitting them up into different varieties for thousands of years, and in the last two hundred, we’ve been doing so almost insanely. This has had to have had some effect, perhaps subconsciously, on how we view their closest relatives.

At one time, people used to go nuts naming things. Clinton Hart Merriam named dozens of species of bear in North America, which we now all recognize as belonging to one species. There is a herpetologist in Australia who does much the same thing with snakes and lizards in that country.

We live in a time when most of the larger fauna have become known to science. Pretty much the only way new species can be discovered is through trying to race molecular evolution. We don’t live in those times of gentlemen naturalists taking ships up the Congo River in search of new species of leopard.

We’ve just cataloged so much nature since that time. We don’t know it all, but we know a lot more than we did in 1880 or 1920.

And while I’d argue that the term “species” has to have a subjective element to it, it can’t be so subjective that it become squishy and useless.

And that’s unfortunately what we’re getting with things like Canis dingo and Canis oriens. 

They really aren’t that much better than Dysodes pravus.

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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Noticeable Results: Surrey Animal Resource Centre Donation Report

Surrey Animal Resource Center and Halo Pets Donation

The City of Surrey Animal Resource Centre in British Columbia is a municipal animal shelter that cares for all domestic animals and occassionally livestock in the City of Surrey. Animals come into their care typically when found running at large and are housed at the facility throughout a stray hold period in hopes that their owners will contact the shelter.

When you choose Halo pet food, made from natural, whole food ingredients, your pet won’t be the only one with a radiant coat, clear eyes and renewed energy. Halo feeds it forward, donating over 1.5 million bowls of food annually. As always, Halo will donate a bowl to a shelter every time YOU buy.

Halo is proud to partner with Freekibble.com and GreaterGood.org to achieve noticeable results for shelter pets together.

Here is a recent report from Surrey Animal Resource Centre:

Surrey-Kitten“This year we launched our foster program for moms and kittens. The Halo Food donation has been a lifesaver, allowing us to have just one food type to send with the foster homes, and being an all-life stages food no transition was needed. Since these fosters are out of the shelter for up to 9 weeks, it would have been

a challenge to find enough of one food to send with the foster, and then transition the animals again when they arrive back for adoption. Our fosters are able to exclusively feed the Halo Salmon food, and the kibble is a great size for when the kittens start to wean. It also appeals to our adopters as Halo is readily available at PetSmart Canada and is a food they can feel happy continuing to feed their new family member.

This grant is fantastic and really came at a great time for us, as we had just transitioned staff over at the shelter, and were (and still are) just building our programs. We really appreciate the food from Halo, and the support from PetSmart.” 

Thank you Surrey Animal Resource Centre for making a noticeable difference for pets in your community!

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Dieting on the Buddy System- Losing Weight with Your Dog

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You know how much better it is to embark on a project with a friend? Especially a task that isn’t so much fun – like cleaning out your basement…or going on a diet?!

I had a light bulb moment when I realized how hard it is to get the weight off your dog – fat that you have put on there with over feeding.

Weight loss has been proven to work really well when you have someone going through it with you – which is why Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and similar programs have given people satisfying results. The trick, of course, isn’t just to drop the weight, but to do it slowly, surely, and then maintain that lower weight with careful eating choices and habits. By having a diet buddy in your dog, you can watch her weight drop down little by little, and be encouraged to keep at it yourself- or vice-versa.

Even if you stop giving constant treats, you still may not see any weight loss from cutting out the snacks. For some dogs, the problem has to do with eating a totally carbohydrate heavy diet – all kibble – which can leave a dog hungry enough to beg pitifully while packing on the pounds!

Most of us eat too many carbs, too. We all have some weight we’d be happy to shed. So why not go on a gentle, manageable weight loss regime alongside your dog!

The first change you can make is to substitute half a can of a good quality dog food like Spot’s Stew (or a ½ cup of cooked meat, chicken or fish) for ½ cup of the kibble you’ve been giving. The real meat protein and the natural fat in fresh food can keep a dog feeling satisfied for longer.

That’s what we did in the Halo Healthy Weight Challenge and not only helped take the weight off our participants but they changed their eating habits forever and are proud of it! John’s Xena the Pomeranian continues to stay in touch about never having gained back the weight she happily shed.

For yourself, substitute low-carb vegetables (and hold the butter or sauce) for the rice, potatoes or pasta you might usually eat alongside your protein. Simply lightening the carb load can make a change in metabolism,. Once you get a greater awareness of how many biscuits you give your dog throughout the day (and chips or cookies for yourself) you can switch to some vegetable snacks for you and your dog in between two satisfying, meat-inclusive meals.

It’s great to have someone to turn to when you crave a doughnut instead of a carrot stick, and your buddy system can help you past that moment. It’s usually the belly bulge or the handful of fat on either side that we want to lose. It takes determination and patience for a change in food choices to slowly have their effect, for us and our canine pals.

We all know that our dogs are generally too heavy- they are carrying pounds of extra fat around their necks, shoulders, waists and chests. That extra fat on dogs has been scientifically proven to take as much as two years off a Labrador-type dog’s life – as well as lowering her quality of life because running and playing are much harder when you are lugging around extra weight.

It’s always advised to check with your vet to make sure your dog is “healthy enough to go on a gentle weight loss program” but I can pretty much assure you that any vet would be thrilled to know his clients are working to manage the most serious pet health problem we have in this country: fat cats and pudgy dogs!

Baby carrots to the rescue! Lightly steamed green beans! Strips of red pepper! Stalks of celery! Keep a bowl of them in the fridge (sprinkled with water to keep them appealing) and share them with your dog, making it a game for her by tossing it into her mouth or thrown for her to chase.

Change what goes in your dog’s bowl – change your own meal habits – and before long you’ll both have a lighter spring in your step!

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RPLN-NewLogo-ProudSponsor175x197 Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.

Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.

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