Protecting Your Kitties at Christmas Time

Decoration Dangers:

  1. Artificial snow spray is toxic to cats. Use it sparingly and make sure it is not accessible to a curious cat.
  2. Tinsel and other decorations can be swallowed causing abdominal blockages. Glass ornaments can break and injure a kitty. Place tempting ornaments up high. Better yet, place the dangerous ornaments in a room the cat cannot get into.
  3. Chocolate is a poison for both cats and dogs. Usually it will only make your pet ill, but it can kill. Make sure visitors know the dangers of chocolate being around your pets.
  4. Plants such as mistletoe, holly and poinsettias are poisonous to cats if eaten. Place them up high and out of reach of twitching noses. If you have a cat that generally likes to nibble the indoor plants, it is strongly recommended that you refrain from bringing these plants in to the home at all.
  5. The Christmas tree, cats love Christmas trees. The tree can be like an enormous playground for your cats. Cats can shred a tree, knock it over or destroy all of the ornaments. Buy a tree that does not shed needles. Place weights at the bottom of the tree and secure the top to something rock steady. Place dangly ornaments up high, hopefully out of paws reach. Spray the base of the tree with a diluted solution of lemon juice. Place pinecones around the base of the tree so your cats hopefully won’t get too close.

A Cat Christmas:

  1. Cats often feel left out or overwhelmed by all of the Christmas activity. Set aside special time to play and cuddle with your cat.
  1. Make a safe room for your cat to retreat to if it all gets to be too much for your cat. Place a note on the door telling others not to enter. Put the cat’s bed, favorite toys, a litter tray, and fresh water in the room.
  2. Cats need Santa to bring them toys, too. Any cat would enjoy a stocking with a few new toys.

Here’s hoping you and your loved little cat have a wonderful and safe Christmas Season!


– Written by Linzy Trueblood, owner of Passionate 4 Pets in Orange County, CA

PetsitUSA Blog

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The 10 Best Fun Books

Men with Cats by David Williams

Here are Tracie Hotchner’s year-end list of happy tales.

Need a last-minute gift?

From adorable photos, to laugh-out-loud humor, plus helpful tips: these delightful reads will capture your coffee table.

Pair one with a treat from Halo: Purely for Pets. My girls love Liv-a-Littles, high-protein snacks for dogs and cats. They come in beef, chicken, or salmon, and are the perfect size for a stocking stuffer.

Happy holidays from my pack, to yours!

  1. Neville Jacobs: I’m Marc’s Dog, by Nicholas Newbold. The world as seen through the eyes of fashion icon Marc Jacobs’ dog.
  2. Fly Dogs, by Todd Berger. Photos of exuberant canines bounding for joy.
  3. Men with Cats: Intimate Portraits of Feline Friendship, by David Williams. A photographer celebrates men and their cats in a series of portraits.
  4. How to Get Ahead In Business with Office Cat: Meownagement Guide to Purrfessional Success, by Ariana Klepac & Pete Smith. Advice from kitties on how to conquer the world.
  5. Zen Dogs, by Alex Cearns. Sweet-puppy portraits of dogs chilling out.
  6. The Shepherd’s View: Modern Photographs from an Ancient Landscape, by James Rebanks. A stunning account of a shepherd and his flock.
  7. Cat Castles: 20 Cardboard Habitats You Can Build Yourself, by Carin Oliver. Make your own cat havens.
  8. Life Works Itself Out (And Then You Nap), by Keiya Mizuno & Naoki Naganuma. Advice for happy living, plus cute pictures of cats.
  9. Dogs and Their People: Photos and Stories of Life with a Four-Legged Love, by BarkPost. Anecdotes, stories, photos, and insights from the contributors of BarkPost.
  10. The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You To Know, and The Cat Bible: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know, by Tracie Hotchner. Guides to good living for you and your best friends.



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.

Halo Pets

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In step

A happy little poodle in step with his owner. Love the boots!

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A Holiday Gift List for My Hard-to-Buy-For Guy

Holiday Gift List for the Hard-to-Buy-For Guy

I’ve done a few gift guides this season, from winter accessories to nontoxic beauty products. And, because every year I stress over what to get Robbie, who is basically the hardest person ever for whom to buy holiday presents, I started to put a guide together that featured gifts for the hard-to-buy-for for dude. In the middle of composing that post, however, I had a thought – why not make things more personal and share some of the gifts I’ll actually be giving Robbie? I mean, yes, they are specific gifts meant for his personality and the things he enjoys, but I figured sharing these items with you guys might inspire you to find the perfect last-minute gift for your own hard-to-buy-for partner, friend, or family member. (And yes, it might seem like I’m spoiling the surprise by displaying these gifts to the world days before Christmas, but let’s be honest – he and I pretty much always know what we’re giving each other in advance. I’m also hoping he’s too busy this week to read the blog. Fingers crossed!)

I spend a lot of time each year coming up with ideas for gifts Robbie will actually use, and then I try to throw in a few fun and/or sentimental things as well. A gift card is usually one of the first items I buy – while not necessarily the most thoughtful present, there’s no denying that it’s practical and will be appreciated. I also like to grab him a couple of wearable items. We have very different styles (translation: he couldn’t care less about fashion), so I, again, try to focus on the practical. This year I got him a pair of high quality running socks (he’s a runner) and a basic black beanie. He’s a coffee lover through and through, so I picked up a simple white mug filled with a bag of our favorite coffee from the Dominican Republic (which also has meaning, since we just visited there earlier this month). I would never attempt to buy him electronics or anything considered technological (I leave that up to him, since I admittedly have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to that stuff), but I did grab him a portable cell phone and iPad charger, since he travels so much for work and isn’t always near an outlet. Robbie works in the music industry and music is his life, so I always get him some sort of music themed gift. This year I grabbed a couple of vintage records to add to his (ridiculously massive) vinyl collection, and a just-for-fun Beatles guitar ornament. I also picked up a couple of books I know he’d appreciate.

One of the gifts I’m most excited to give Robbie this year is also the most practical of the bunch (and practicality is something that I’ve found most hard-to-buy-for dudes I know appreciate) – the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack. Essley and I picked this up at Walmart a couple of weeks ago in the Automotive Center, and it contains everything Robbie will need to keep his car all clean and shiny. In this handy bucket is 16 fl oz of Ultra Shine Wash and Wax (hello lasting shine and protection, Quicksilver wheel and tire cleaner clings for powerful cleaning, 25ct glass wipes to help keep windows and mirrors free of filmy residue and fingerprints (hi, we have 2 kids under 3), 25ct cleaning wipes that are great for the whole car, a microfiber towel and sponge which are easy on the surface of the car, and Original Protectant to help prevent cracking, fading, discoloration and premature aging, and Extreme Tire Shine to condition, nourish, and preserve the tires’ rich black look.  Oh, and the package also contains a Pro Secrets Booklet that has a coupon value of up to $ 13 off of Armor All Products, which is a fun extra bonus. Robbie is always using Armor All products on his car and I know he is going to be super stoked about this big ol’ bucket of car cleaning goodness.

Who else has a hard-to-buy-for partner? What kind of gifts are you giving him or her this year? Any other Armor All fans out there? (If you or those on your list would appreciate this awesome all-in-one bucket of joy, take advantage of the $ 3 off digital coupon offer for the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack from Walmart, while supplies last!)

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® & Armor All but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #ArmorAllGiftPack


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Gray fox with a white tail tip

White tail tips are a diagnostic feature of a red fox, but very, very rarely a gray fox will have one.

The diagnostic feature of a gray fox, which no other canid in the United States or Canada will have, is the black stripe that runs down the tail. That’s actually a hackle that can be raised when the fox is aroused.

Natural History

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Friday is Free Shipping Day!

Friday, Dec. 16 is Free Shipping Day, a day when over 900 stores celebrate with free shipping in time for Christmas Eve. We’re so excited that our PawZaar gift store is participating this…

[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


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WHOLE Lot of Difference: Morning Starr Animal Sanctuary Donation

 Morning Starr Animal Sanctuary - Halo Pets Donation

Morning Starr Animal Sanctuary‘s mission is to find the best homes for abandoned, abused and unwanted animals of all kinds. In addition, through their new spay/neuter clinic in Cottonwood, AZ, they are committed to providing affordable pet care solutions for dog and cat owners in their community.

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

Here’s what Morning Starr Animal Sanctuary had to say about a recent Halo Pets donation:

morning-starr-07“This grant was very helpful in supporting the community by assisting with food for dogs and cats. In these hard times pet owners who love their pets have to make decisions between paying bills or feeding themselves and their pets. Many tell us that they make sure the pets eat first. We gave pet food to many disabled veterans who live on very slim means. We believe that no animal should go hungry so we supply dog and cat food from time to time to help pet owners. This grant was so helpful and the pet owners were so appreciative. They came and even helped to carry bags for pet owners who came.”

 Morning Starr Animal Sanctuary - Halo Pets DonationOne individual who we helped was Russell, who is a disabled veteran. He was a welder in the Navy for 4 years and helped build many buildings in the Sedona area through the years. About 4 years ago he suffered a stroke, which left his right arm useless and had a limp in his left leg. He has two dogs named Khloe and Brandy. Morning Starr had spayed, vaccinated and microchipped his dogs for him. He explained that his dogs sleep with him and Brandy, his older dog, even helped him by running to a neighbor’s house to let them know the Russell was not well. He stated to us that his dogs at this time were his only reason to get up in the morning. He loves them so much and though he does not travel often but when he does his dogs are always by his side. They are very sweet dogs. He is on a very limited income and it helps him so much if his dog food 
needs are met by other means such as this grant!

Morning Starr Animal Sanctuary

Thank you Morning Starr Animal Sanctuary 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.

Halo Pets

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Gray fox swarm

This is a quite a band of gray foxes.



Natural History

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Great documentary about Indian wolves

This is now playing on Netflix:

These wolves really do remind me of coyotes, right down to their consumption of fruit when it’s available.


Natural History

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What penis bones might tell us about dire wolf behavior


Dire wolves are one of those creatures from the past that has captured the public imagination. They are conventionally dreamed of as being massive wolves, and Hollywood has created fictional ones the size of horses.

The truth of the matter is they were only slightly larger than the largest of modern North American wolves.

We know that they were closely related to modern wolves, but their exact position in the wolf family tree is still a bit contested.  The two species are close enough in appearance that it often takes a specialist to figure out whether one is looking at the skeletal remains dire or modern wolf the measurement of the skull features and limb proportions.

One feature, though, that is diagnostic of the dire wolf is its  robust and “perky” baculum.

If you don’t know what a baculum is, that’s because you’re human. In virtually ever other species, the males have a “penis bone” or os penis.  Where I grew up in West Virginia, it was not unusual for men to wear a raccoon’s baculum as talisman of both one’s virility and redneck bona fides.

The dire wolf is one of those ancient animals for which we have a lot of skeletal remains to examine.  In the famous La Brea Tar Pits, where the remains of over a million Pleistocene creatures have been found, dire wolves are the most common species to have been recovered.

The tar pits were a death trap for all sort of large herbivorous mammals, and when they became stuck in the natural asphalt tar, they were easy pickings for scavengers.  Dire wolves came to the tar pits to eat, but many, many of them died. Over 200,000 of them have been taken out of the site.

With such a big sample of dire wolf skeletal remains, paleontologists have been able to figure out quite a bit about their growth patterns, but of particular interest are the bacula of the male dire wolves.  They are shaped not the bacula of any extant canid. They are curved and robust, and when compared to modern wolves of the roughly the same size, they are 44 percent longer.

That is a unusual find, and it suggests something about dire wolf behavior that isn’t true of modern wolves.

Modern wolves generally reproduce through a mated pair. In most wolf packs living in most situations in the wild, only a single pair in a pack gets to mate and produce pups. Other wolves in the pack might mate, but their pups will either be killed or abandoned.

This doesn’t happen every time. If there is abundant prey, these young females are sometimes allowed to raise their pups alongside their mother’s litter.

But in most cases, they don’t get to raise pups.

Modern wolves spend a lot of energy making sure that the mated pair, who are usually parents of the other wolves in the pack, get to mate and get to mate with each other.  The other females in the pack might become pregnant, but they will be attacked if they try to mate with the main breeding male.  The only way they ever get pregnant is by wandering interlopers who haven’t yet formed a pair bond with a female.

During the mating season is when young wolves typically leave their parents’ pack.  They typically don’t have any mating opportunities, and the constant bickering wears on them.

The big and strangely shaped bacula of dire wolves suggests they might not have been quite like modern wolves.  These bacula are suggestive that dire wolves were “better endowed” than modern wolves, and larger genitalia is usually associated with a less physically competitive reproductive strategy.

This phenomenon is well-known in primates. Generally, if a monkey or ape has bigger testes or penis, there is going to be less physical confrontation when it comes to mating.

The competition for well-endowed monkeys is how much semen a male can produce and how far up in the female he can penetrate it. If you can produce more semen and get it deeper into the female’s reproductive tract, then you’re more likely to pass on your genes.

In less-endowed species, there is much more physical confrontation to get one’s genes passed on.

My guess is that this applied to dire wolves. They may not have even had a proper pair-bonding system, and a dire wolf bitch may have mated with many partners in much the same way female domestic dogs do.  The male dire wolves may have had very little competition for mating. They just mated and got along with each other.

It would have been an asset in a dire wolf pack for males to have gotten along with each other. More peace in a dire wolf pack means that more wolves remain in the pack for a longer period of time, and that means they would have had larger packs that would have been much more capable at hunting large prey. They also would have been better able to run off short-faced bears from their kills and to compete with Smilodons and American lions.

It’s likely that the intense competition between huge carnivorans during the dire wolf’s reign forced them into a more cooperative breeding and pack structure.

Again, no scientist has ever seen a dire wolf or observed their pack behavior, but they had this weird adaptation that sort of points to a more peaceful pack existence than exists in the modern species.

My guess is that dire wolves traveled in massive swarms, much like those seen in dholes of today. They were ruthless scavengers and dogged hunters.

When mating tame came, they bred like village dogs. Males would bunch up around a bitch in heat and each would mate with her. There would be no pair bond between the male and female.

The competition was in the semen and the implantation thereof.









Natural History

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