The European use of terriers

They aren’t just earth dogs. These are Border terriers in Germany.


Natural History

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Small Münsterländer puppies play in the wild

Prepare for the cuteness!


Natural History

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It’s time for a toy Poodle police dog

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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What is a coyote?

coyote profile pic

I am a coyote lover. No two ways about it.  I have always been interested in wolves and dogs, but in the past couple of years, I’ve had encounters with Eastern coyotes.  And they are every bit as fascinating. Western man has thrown every single weapon he could contrive at them, and all they have done is spread all over the continent.

So it was with great joy when I got a chance to read Dan Flores’s  Coyote America. I had heard the author interviewed on Steven Rinella’s podcast a while back, and I was really fascinated about what he had to say about Pleistocene megafauna on the North American Great Plains.

I also knew he was writing a book on coyotes, and I wanted get his take on them.

I’ve just started reading the book. I really enjoy his discussion about Native American traditions with coyotes. I am a damned, no-good Easterner, so I know very little about those traditions.

But I do have a quibble. It’s a friendly quibble. In one part of the book he describes coyotes as being as genetically distinct from wolves as humans are from orangutans and that the two species split from a common ancestor some 3.2 million years ago. He uses a lot of the paleontological data from Xiaoming Wang, who is a great canid paleontologist, who posits that coyotes evolved from directly from Canis lepophagus and that they are wholly a North American lineage.

Now, this is paleontology, and it’s not exactly the best way to determine evolution relationships between very closely related canid species. The reason why is that canids have a tendency toward parallel evolution. For example, the bush dog of South America has dentition that is very much like the African wild dog and the dhole, and at one time, it was suggested that the bush dog was actually a species of dwarf dhole. We now know from genetic studies that it is actually a close relative the of the maned wolf, and it is well-nested in the South American canid clade.

It is definitely true that coyotes resemble African golden jackals, but similarities in appearance have led to error here.  Molecular geneticist have recently found that African golden jackal is actually much more closely related to coyotes and wolves than it is to the Eurasian golden jackal. That means that two animals we thought were the same species actually turned out to be two.

And when it comes to the relationship between coyotes and wolves, molecular geneticists had long assumed that the two species split around 1 million years ago.  In countless dog domestication articles, the molecular clock has been calibrated around a 1-million-year-old split between wolves and coyotes. I have always thought that was weird, because the paleontology studies suggested a much older divergence.

Well, a recent comparison of wolf and coyote genomes from across North America revealed that the actual separation time was something more like 50,000 years ago. That means the animals we’re calling coyotes now aren’t the same thing as those million-year-old fossils.  Those animals are of evolutionary dead-ends that just happened to have a very similar morphology to a coyote in much the same way that African and Eurasian jackals do. Of course, we cannot get genetic data from such old fossils, but it could be that some of these dead-end canids might be more closely related to black-backed and side-striped jackals, which really did diverge from the rest of Canis a really long time ago. They are more divergent from the rest of Canis than the African wild dog and dhole are, and the dhole and African wild dog have their own genera.

If coyotes and wolves diverged only 50,000 years ago, then this raises an interesting taxonomic question. All extant wolf lineages diverged in the past 44,400-45,900 years, as a recent study comparing wolf genomes revealed.  These means the genetic difference between a wolf and a coyote is not much more than the greatest genetic variance between wolves. (Generation time are roughly similar in both wolves and coyotes).

This means that the creatures we’re calling coyotes now actually derived from the Eurasian wolf. The reason this animal looks so much like a jackal isn’t because it represents a primitive North American Canis lineage, but because the larger, pack hunting wolf from Eurasia couldn’t live very well at middle latitudes in North America. At the time, dire wolves were occupying this niche. There were also dholes coming into North America, which means that the pack-hunting wolf of Eurasia really had some strong competition. That means that these wolves evolved more toward the generalist jackal body-type and ecological niche. They did so in parallel to the Eurasian and African jackals.

This is very similar to what happened to the first radiation of Eurasian lynx into North America. Eurasian lynx are pretty large, weighing as much as 70 pounds, but they found the mid-sized cat niche already locked up in North America. So they evolved into the smaller bobcat. It just happened millions of years before the wolves that became coyotes came into the continent.

The fact that wolves and coyotes are this closely related and have exchanged genes so much across the continent raises some important questions about what a coyote is. The comparative genome study on wolves and coyotes showed that the animals called the Eastern wolf and the red wolf, which Flores considers valid species in the book, are actually hybrids between wolves and coyotes. I’ve long been a skeptic of the red and Eastern wolf paradigm, but this study actually makes me question coyotes.

One could actually argue that coyotes are a subspecies of wolf. This is a controversial thing to say, but it was once controversial to say that dogs and wolves were the same species– and now there is growing acceptance (at least among scientists) of this fact.

It is certainly true that all wolves, jackals, African wild dogs, and dholes do descend from a coyote-like North American ancestor.  But to assume that coyotes are directly derived from this ancestor is a major error, and one that has been falsified in the molecular studies.

If my interpretation of the genetic studies is correct, the coyote should be called the “thriving wolf.” Unlike the bigger ones, it was able to survive all that we threw at it. The more we persecuted it, the greater its numbers became, as did the vastness of its range. It is an adaptable, resourceful survivor, and that makes it the perfect “American avatar” to use Flores’s construction.

So that is what a coyote is.  It is the wolf that thrives.

 

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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In Bestia

The boys and I are back from a brief jaunt down to Texas to support the Puppy Up walk in the Woodlands and for a short visit with my family.  Quite happy to be back as I have missed my friend.  Crap, I still haven’t named him.  Um let’s go with…
I know some of you are saying, he’s talking about himself again – why does he do that?  And where’s the cancer blog? Like any capable contestant, I’ll take the second part first.  Trying to reduce, distill and refine all that I have learned over a decade of  travels in a few mere blogs is not only dreadfully difficult, it’s daunting, too, and on this I want to get it right.  Or mostly right which is more kin to my nature.  
In the past, there have been blogs I’ve powered through in just a few minutes with a fire and forget mentality.  Others haven taken days and even weeks for a paragraph or less.  And that’s not to mention that for every blog I publish, there are at least ten I don’t.  
But if it’s a sneak peak you want then I’ll give you a little taste of part 1:  Cancer is You.  You are Cancer.  From just the title alone perhaps you can estimate the enormity of the undertaking now.
Next, I used to get irritated by people – and there have been many – who want me to remove myself entirely from this story and stick to topic whatever that means.  Not only is that an odd request since it was me - ex animo - who created all of this – but I rather think I matter.  And I’m far from being done.  But as The Dude would say, that’s, like, only my opinion, man (Heads up for the F Bomb).  
Besides as I hinted at in the previous two blogs, all of these ‘distracting little posts’ about me are going somewhere and I suggest now would be the time to start paying attention if’n you want to begin this stretch of the journey alongside me.    
——–
Renwick 
That’s what I’ll call my friend!  Sounds a little pretentious and overly caricatured, too, but I’ll stick with it. Anyway back to the beginning – it’s good to see him again and we have continued our work together and this is what I wanted to share with you.  It’s important to note that I’m merely a student at this point but it’s pretty powerful stuff.  Especially altered states which I intend on speaking separately about.  
Whilst down at my folks house I came across an old photo album – actually I sought it out.  In part to retrace the tracks of my life and for another reason that will soon become evident.  And in it I discovered the above photo of a half naked me facing a bull cross fence at Big Momma’s house (that’s what we called my 80 lb grandmother cause man could she wield a skillet like a battle axe).  What struck me, other than how large my bollocks must’ve been but also how at peace I seem.  Maybe it was two beasts regarding each other and that’s why I was unafraid and perhaps even comforted by his presence.

I never have taken a liking to the term ‘beast’ or what I sense is its social nuance.  Its implication is negative and connotations derogatory.  To me it means true to ones nature; it is base, fundamental and instinctive.  From my research the etymology of the word remains unclear however, the root of ‘animal’ is Latin meaning breath or spirit. I suppose the distinction between the two words ‘beast’ and ‘animal’ is essence versus being but I’ll leave that one up to the scholarly sorts who have a ton of disposable time.  

To me and for now, they are synonymous.  I am reminded of a story I once read of a boy who, all alone and lost in the woods, becomes a beast to protect himself from the perils of the night and fight his way to safety.  But upon emerging from the forest unscathed the boy learns that he cannot unbecome.

So what’s the point of all of this?  What’s the purpose?  Somewhere along my journey I stopped asking the fundamental questions that preoccupied my youth.  Like tears in rain they became lost in life’s torrent of distractions, inanities and wasteful activities.

Renwick has helped me find who I am again and to truly know it for the first time.  I am a beast of a man.

What’s next – it’s damn time I learn how to train it.

——–

YBD’s Notes:  Interestingly in writing this blog I came across a Latin phrase of unknown origin –  cum vir se bestiam facitrelinquit dolorem humanitatis which means, ‘When a man makes himself a beast, he leaves behind the pain of humanity’.  Perhaps true.  Perhaps humanity is the problem. 

2 Dogs 2000 Miles

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Jackal feeding frenzy

This is from a documentary about brown hyenas on the Skeleton Coast of Namibia, but the black-backed jackals stole the scene here!

They are like piranhas in canid form!


Natural History

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WHOLE Lot of Difference: San Diego Humane Society

San Diego Humane Society logo

The San Diego Humane Society has been serving the San Diego County community since 1880 and has campuses in San Diego, Escondido, and Oceanside. They provide vital services to animals and people by sheltering and adopting animals, providing positive reinforcement training classes, investigating animal cruelty and neglect, presenting education programs for youth and adults, and much more.

Halo is proud to partner with Freekibble.com and GreaterGood.org to make a WHOLE lot of difference for shelter pets together.

Here’s what The San Diego Humane Society had to say about a recent Halo Pets donation:

“The food donation has helped keep hundreds of families together by providing nutritious food for our clients’ pets.”

The food donation has helped keep hundreds of families together by providing nutritious food for our clients’ pets. The In-Home Service currently provides food and support services to 520 people and 657 pets and the Pantry Service helps more than 2,000 people and 3,000 animals by providing supplemental bags of pet food during times of need. It has made it possible for PAWS San Diego to keep these deserving pet families together in the face of hardship. 

In-Home Service client Betty and her cat, Harley, are just two of the lives that have been directly impacted by your generous food donation. Betty says that because she is an “old lady,” and her cat Harley is an “old man,” they keep each other company and that life is worth living because Harley is in it. Their story is a true testament to the human-animal bond and the many ways that pets make our lives better – something that is especially profound for the vulnerable people and pets that we help.

Joe moved to San Diego from San Francisco, where he worked full time as a web designer. He was recently diagnosed with a degenerative disease that has rendered him unable to work. He now lives on a very fixed income and relies on food stamps, yet his infectious personality still shines through. Joe says that his dog, Venus, is his reason for waking up in the morning, especially on those tough days. Joe was very relieved to learn about the PAWS Pantry Service, through which he and Venus receive supplemental pet food once per month. Joe says the support is a huge help and he is happy to have his best friend by his side.” 

Joe and Venus

Thank you San Diego Humane Society for making a WHOLE lot difference for pets in your community.

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 annually. As always, Halo will donate a bowl to a shelter every time YOU buy. Thank you for helping #HaloFeeditForward.

Halo Pets

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Hrithik Roshan Diet Chart

Hrithik Roshan Diet Chart Hrithik Roshan who does not crave to own a body like his, it has got all one desires of, the body is well carved, polished and extremely attractive and  healthy inside but it’s also demands great maintenance. Hrithik’s personal life has not been under wraps, everyone knows the challenges he faced […]



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Sunflower Faith

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The Lost Brother

While at dinner with my family in San Antonio last week Jon said grace and in his prayer he thanked God that ‘Our lost brother has come home’.  
Today I leave Memphis to return to New England to tell this story.  As you know I’ve tried in the past and either the timing or platform or partners didn’t pan out.  Events that have transpired in recent months have convinced me the time is now.  
Admittedly the problem has primarily been me or more specifically the standards I set for it.  Just as with the two walks I wanted to do something no one else has before and relegating the story to the Christian book market or a PBS special was unacceptable.  Even a film festival documentary didn’t seem sufficient.  
The epidemic of cancer in our companions demands and deserves the widest audience possible and I’ve always pushed and pushed to that end.  But one lesson I’ve learned repeatedly is you cannot depend on anyone else to realize your vision and like life on the road it’s you and you alone.  
I now know how to tell this story and the manner in which to tell it so once again I set off into uncharted waters. 
Brother, I am lost no longer.  
YBD 2.27.17

2 Dogs 2000 Miles

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No Bake SunButter Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

No Bake Sunbutter Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I initially started this post with the sentence “My kids love cookies,” and then I realized that was pretty much the least original thing I could possibly say, because duh, everyone’s kids love cookies. (So instead of saying it, I explained why I didn’t, and in the process said it anyway. Yep.)

Essley especially would eat cookies for every single meal if I let her. And while I am a big cookie fan myself and certainly don’t mind my little ones eating the occasional treat, the ingredient list that usually goes into a cookie isn’t exactly brimming with healthy foods. So I recently set out to make some cookies that were more wholesome, really delicious, and quick/easy without the mess. It seemed like a tall order, I know, but it happened. And these babies have quickly become the new favorites around here.

Makes 12 cookies

INGREDIENTS
4 tablespoons Organic SunButter Sunflower Butter
1/2-3/4 cup organic semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons organic milk (or milk substitute)
1-1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper. In a sauce pan over low to medium heat, combine SunButter and milk, mixing well. Stir in the chocolate chips until completely melted, then continue stirring while sprinkling in the oats. Remove from heat and use a cookie scoop to drop balls of batter onto your baking sheet. Slightly press each ball down, then let set in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. Eat!

These cookies are so good you guys, and I love that they’re not loaded with sugar or allegens. In fact, this recipe is peanut free, tree nut free, egg free, sesame free, and soy free, and can easily be made dairy-free using semi-sweet chocolate without milk fat, and water or soy milk in place of cow’s milk. My secret ingredient in these yummy treats is the SunButter (we love the Organic variety), which is a delectable sunflower butter that can be used in place of nut butters in almost any recipe. The flavor is amazing, and it’s also good for you. It has a distinctive, roasted sunflower seed taste and packs more nutritional benefits than traditional nut butters. (March is National Nutrition Month, which makes me even more stoked to have this better-for-you option in our pantry!) SunButter packs as much protein and more micro nutrients, like magnesium, Vitamin E, zinc and iron and also contains less saturated fat. We use SunButter spreads in SB&J sandwiches, sauces and salad dressing, smoothies, baked goods, and as a dip for apple slices. The possibilities are truly endless. And while my kids are not allergic to peanuts themselves, so many children are – so it’s nice to know that with SunButter, we’ll be able to make snacks for them to bring to school that won’t jeopardize the health of their friends. (You can find SunButter in grocery stores, specialty stores, and schools throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as online. See a full list here.)

Who else is a SunButter fan? Do you have any other easy no bake cookie recipes I should try?

This post is in partnership with SunButter. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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