The Finishing School by Valerie Woerner Book Review

The Finishing School by Valerie Woerner My rating: 5 of 5 stars Ironically as I was reading “The Finishing School” it was during a time when I am re-evaluating and making some life changes that included how I was doing bible studies and managing my time. Going through each chapter, I was impressed as a…



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Sunflower Faith

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Wild canid interactions in suburbia!

Pretty cool!

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Natural History

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Hey, Donna, I shared your "A New Dog in the H…

Hey, Donna, I shared your "A New Dog in the House" handout with a friend who is hoping to bring home his first dog very soon and basically he freaked out and shut down. He thought maybe the content would be better served up in a blogpost, so I tried to share blogposts, but even the title "Boot Camp" (for the story of Tater), was so upsetting to him that he couldn't read it. He promises he's pro-structure (I explained that anxious dogs need this structure every bit as much as boisterous dogs), but he refuses to use these methods on the timid little fluff muffin he's applied to adopt. So… I was wondering if you have any favorite "new dog" resources that wouldn't be quite so intimidating to a soft-hearted first time dog-owner.
BAD RAP Blog

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Israel’s Mission Discovery Guide by Laan Vander Ray (Book Review)

Israel’s Mission Discovery Guide by Laan Vander Ray My rating: 5 of 5 stars A visual stunning DVD and accompanying study guide, “Israel’s Mission Discovery Guide” really challenges the reader to discover what it means to be an ambassador for Christ. An in depth dvd from the founder of “That the World May Know” and…



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Sunflower Faith

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It’s not going to happen

russian retrievers

I’ve gotten to the point right now where I can let something go.

One of the reasons I’ve had such a rough time writing about dogs lately is that I’ve had a hard time letting something go.

The thing I’ve held onto is an ideal, a dream dog, the kind I once knew but is now pretty darn rare.

I’ve had to let go of whatever dream I had of ever having a decent working retriever. I’m not in the position where I can have such a dog, and I’m such an incompetent dog trainer that giving me such a dog would be a total waste.

I know about dogs. I appreciate dogs. But I don’t know enough and I don’t have the skills to do what I thought I would do.

Further, such a dog would be totally useless here in the hinterlands west of the Atlantic flyway and east of the Mississippi flyway. I once talked to a bird watcher from New Hampshire who was looking for West Virginia waterfowl, and he said all we seemed to have were mallards and Canada grassmuckers. Virtually all duck stamps sold in West Virginia go to stamp collectors.

I see a dog world that is in a lot of ways flawed, but I’m no position to offer any kind of challenge or critique.

For my own sanity, I’m letting all of this go. I spent a lot of time chasing lost dogs through what I’ve written on this blog, but these dogs are gone.

Golden retrievers have become a cancer-ridden, structurally unsound, and often temperamentally unsound mess. I don’t know how this mess gets fixed, but I don’t think it ever will. This is the curse of popularity, and it’s not helped by the simple fact that these dogs are perceived to be inferior to the Labrador, and over time, this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a half century, will we think of golden retrievers the way border collie people think of Old English sheepdogs now?

It’s depressing to see something that once gave you a lot of joy fall apart before your eyes. It’s even more so when you know that there is nothing you can do about it.

I have to stop torturing myself.

I have to let this go.

I’ve found I like hunting deer to wasting my time with dogs.

And there are plenty of deer around here.


Canis lupus hominis

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Latest PetArmor News

More K-9s in South Jersey receiving body armor
More K-9s in South Jersey will be protected with the addition of new body armor, the Press of Atlantic City reports. After a police dog in Egg Harbor Township was wounded during a 2013 shooting, the Pleasantville Police Department decided to make a …
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Deputy Escapes Murder Attempt Thanks To His Dog, Cops Say
A Mississippi sheriff's deputy was about to be dragged to his death when his quick-acting canine came to his rescue, authorities said. Hancock County Sheriff's Deputy Todd Frazier was attacked by three men who beat him and sliced him with a box cutter
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What an artist told us about how we view animals

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I came across this rather remarkable little documentary a few weeks ago. It features the work and ideas of John Skeaping, who made his name as a painter of horses.

It has wonderful footage of the bulls and horses of the Camargue in South of France, as well as the “cowboys” who tend them and how they rely upon the wisdom of the horses to manage the wild bulls safely and efficiently.

Skeaping was quite worried about the downgrading of animal art because artists couldn’t stop themselves from projecting their humanness onto them. He calls the “sentimentalizing,” but I would have called it something else. He talks about the domestic animals having a kind being “wild,” and if you think for just a few second, you can figure what he’s talking about.

Essentially, we’re debasing animals by turning them into humanized versions of the beast. This was the great sin of Timothy Treadwell, who sang songs and talked baby talk to Alaskan brown bears and then wound up partially consumed by one.  It’s the same sort of humanization that I see as the underpinnings of the irrational aspects of the animal rights movement.

It is wrong to say that animals are just mindless automatons with no feelings or no insight, but it is just as wrong to assume that those feelings and insights are the same sort that we have.

And although Skeaping’s main concerns were with art, these ideas can be extended into how we view animals in general. Much of what is totally wrong in the domestic dog is really removing them from their “wildness.” This is why I think my aesthetics are more strongly influence by dogs bred solely for their purpose than over dogs bred for show. A dog bred for show has been bred for appearance and movement, which may or may not have any kind of evaluation in the actual world.  It comes across as an overly sentimentalized portrait of a horse does. I see the “wilder” aspects of a dark-colored working golden retriever as infinitely more stunning that any dog winning at Westminster or Crufts. The former still largely exists within the milieu that created it. It might not be exactly like white horses of the Camargue, but it still approaches them more in their dignity than the dog bred solely for conformation.

He was able to point out, nearly 50 years ago, where the human and animal relationship would go awry. It’s as we’ve begun to alienate ourselves from the processes that produced those animals, we’ve allowed our human tendency to project cuteness and emotion to get the better of us. The working English cocker has more feral eyes than the round-eyed, shagged-up American cocker, and although one is certainly more useful than the other, the aesthetics of working dog are just so much more pleasant to my eye than the other.

There is a scene in the documentary where Skeaping allows his two very roughly cut standard poodles run loose in a bit of marshland, and they move with such grace and power. He gets some of the history of poodles and French herding breeds messed up in his commentary, but he very eloquently describes poodle as the raw water dog of yore.

This animal is outside our popular understanding of the poodle. We see it as the canine topiary, even though many of the standards retain this essence of their ancestors. It is hard to explain the uninitiated what a poodle and what it can be.

As I think what this means for the future of the human and animal bond, I shudder a bit. We don’t see the horse’s gait the way we once did.  It was once as important how the horse gaited as how smooth a family sedan rides. Now, it’s only as important as much as one gets pleasure from riding it. The conformation of dogs and horses were not esoteric theories that were debated by only those in the cliques and clubs. It was once essential knowledge.

We have the luxury now to have this knowledge drawn out in the abstraction. Horses are still largely owned by only people who use them, but dogs can go any direction our flights of fancy demand.

Each breed moves on deeper into the realm of caricature of its ancestors. Some, like the bulldog and the pug, may be removed from all hope of ever having even a glimmer that former animalistic glory. They have become the living caricatures of what once was and never shall be.

And the same can be seen in the wedge-head Siamese and the brachycephalic exotic short-hair. It was the same with chickens and pigeons and Rouen ducks with keels that drag the ground. We’re now seeing it with rats and mice, and any other small fluffy things that we’ve managed to domesticate.

We are the sculptors of animal flesh and bone now. We were once limited by the climate and the simple utility of the animal. But as we come to rely less and less upon the work of some many domestic species, they become subject to our whimsy.

And this whimsy moves us further along into the abstract. What we’re leaving behind is the domestic animal as an art-form.

They will exist, but they will be so modified that they will cease to be.


Canis lupus hominis

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TRACIE HOTCHNER: WHAT WE LEARNED AT THE MOVIES

DFF-logo-ProudSponsor175x166The inaugural DOG FILM FESTIVAL that my Radio Pet Lady Network produced last weekend in New York City was a rousing success. What had been a crazy idea amazed me by taking wing – with the New York Times devoting half a page in the Weekend Arts section to the festival, Time Out magazine picking it as their top feature for the weekend, and Good Day New York on Fox News welcoming me and a few adoptable puppies from our beneficiary, Bideawee.

People and their dogs braved semi-hurricane conditions to crowd into the Festival kick-off Pooch Party on the Friday night and got great enjoyment simply from being surrounded by other dogs and dog-lovers, along with a creative doggy fashion show. The movies I had chosen for the program felt different when seen in a huge theater surrounded by devoted dog lovers: I could feel their joy and tears as they were moved by the films. It reminded me of the various ways that dogs are important in our lives and how deeply moving it is to see the remarkable bond between us depicted in films.

Halo was my presenting sponsor, along with VCA Hospitals, so it was natural for me to include some of the marvelous films Halo has created to tell the story of what matters most to this philanthropic company: shelters and the animals and people who care for them. I picked one of the Halo films made by director Peter Mcevilley – “Le Sauvetage” – which is so witty in having the rescued performing Olate dogs “speak” their thoughts about humans and how much time and effort it requires to look after them. The dogs plot to bring together two lonely humans.

Even though the film has been on YouTube for some time many of the festival-goers seemed not to be familiar with it. It felt great to hear their laughter as they heard the dogs expressing the same doubts and concerns about “adopting a human” as people often do about dogs – and realizing that any qualms we’ve had about adding a particular dog to our lives always seem fairly ridiculous in hindsight.

My favorite comment about the film festival was someone who said she really appreciated the foreign films in the Festival – Iran, Spain, and especially the French one, “Le Sauvetage.” Those of you who have heard my interview with director Peter Mcevilley on my radio show “Dog Talk” know that he is far from French himself and the movie is a tongue-in-cheek homage to French films! The magic of the movies!

Halo and I are planning now taking the Dog Film Festival around the country, so if you live in a city and would like to help us bring the fun to your town, get in touch with me at TheDogFilmFestival@gmail.com.
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Tracie Hotchner is the author of THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know.

She is also a renowned pet radio host and producer, having spent 7 years on the Martha Stewart Channel of Sirius/XM with CAT CHAT® and even longer with her award-winning NPR radio show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) that continues to broadcast in the Hamptons and the Berkshires. Her most recent accomplishment is the pet talk radio network she has created on the Internet called The Radio Pet Lady Network.

Halo

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Eddie Money Helps Animals at Rescue Village

Belting out hits like “Take Me Home Tonight” for the sake of dogs and cats who need forever homes,  rocker Eddie Money will raise the roof for those who woof at Rock to the Rescue 2….



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DogTipper

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Amidst the ashes and embers, a veterinarian saves the day

The fire came in the night, a storm without warning.

At his home in Middletown, a small town of 1900 just north of California’s idyllic wine country, veterinarian Jeff Smith ventured outside after the worst had passed to find only 8 of the 20 homes in his neighborhood survived the firestorm. With communication centers down, there was no way to determine when help was coming.

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He had no way of knowing what he was up against, or the fact that by this time only 40% of the structures in town would still be standing. All he knew was that his community was leveled. So Dr. Smith hopped in his truck and went to work.

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The Middletown Animal Clinic, surrounded by gravel that resists catching fire, was miraculously intact. Dr. Smith pulled bales of hay from his feed storage and small buckets to place in his truck, dumping bales of hay and water wherever he could find live animals. The fencing was all gone, burned along with everything else.

Severe wildfires can create their own wind system, creating fingers of flame twirling up to the sky and blowing gales of cinders across roads to catch entire neighborhoods aflame. Dr. Grant Miller, another local veterinarian who serves as Unit Director of the California Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps, was finally allowed in to Middletown the following morning.

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“It’s apocalyptic,” Miller said. “It dissolved the entire town of Middletown. The things we saw on the way in…” he pauses. “I can’t even tell you.” With the arrival of a generator and supplies, Smith opened the doors to his clinic and vowed to treat any animal who needed it, for free.

With hundreds of miles of power lines down and roads closed to all but essential emergency personnel for days, the animals were initially left to fend for themselves. Smith treated the many burned and injured animals brought to him, but with the arrival of more veterinary volunteers, teams were able to venture into the area to look for more.

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With the small reprieve of rain one day, Miller is convinced it saved the lives of many animals the teams had yet to find. “By God’s good grace it rained an entire inch, and provided some water to these stranded animals. When they’re burned they have insensible losses through their skin. I am in awe of these animals.”

Eight days after the flames, “we’re still pulling animals in,” said Miller. “At first it was a lot of sheep and goats, then steady numbers of dogs and cats. Now we’re finding horses and cows. They’re still finding cats alive in melted cars.”

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Teams from the nearby University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine assisted with the treatment and are taking the most severely injured animals in. “UC Davis has taken in over 70 burned animals- mostly cats,” Miller said. “They are functioning as a referral center. I just arranged transport for a puppy. They’ve been amazing.”

The Valley Fire now ranks in the top 3 worst fires in California history; at last tally, almost 2000 structures were destroyed. Lake County is California’s poorest county, says Miller, with an average income of about $ 35,000. “They were economically depressed to begin with,” Miller says, “and now they’ve lost everything.”

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In the face of this disaster, Smith vowed to treat all these animals without cost for as long as their injuries require, an estimated 4-6 months.

“Burns are not easy injuries to manage,” says Miller. “His clinic is going to be the last option when everything else is gone.” When the camera crews leave and immediate disaster response withdraws, this community still will need all the support they can get.

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Miller pauses again to reflect on the long road ahead, or maybe just from the exhaustion of four hours of sleep every night for a week. “You look at these animals, and you know how much they have suffered. You just want so badly to turn things around for them, and you would move heaven and earth to make it happen.”

A GoFundMe has been set up for donations to sustain the Middletown Animal Hospital during this period. In addition, Wells Fargo is accepting donations at any location nationwide to Wells Fargo Account, #2872526005.

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All photos courtesy Dr. Grant Miller. Used with permission.

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Pawcurious: With Veterinarian and Author Dr. V

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