Crick Coon

crick coon

The stream runs in a soft trickle over the sandstone. It doesn’t babble like any old New England brook. This is an Appalachian creek, best pronounced “crick” for the little crickety sound that it makes as it journeys down the hollow.

The minnows and crayfish dart among the stones. No bass or crappie or walleye or sauger can make its way this far up in the hills. The shallow water is a refuge from the predatory fish, and thus the little fish and “crawlcrabs” are safe from those predatory lips.

But when night falls in the hollow, the shallow water’s security features become a pretty bad liability.

In the veil of darkness, the old boar ‘coon that dens in the old white oak that has grown thick and strong on a little rise on the creek bank is leaves his day rest and saunters down to the water.

He has done this maneuver many times, and he knows which holes hold the most minnows and crayfish.  So he doesn’t go splashing the water like a maniac. He goes deliberately, wetting his feet only when he knows he is likely to put his hand-like paws into the water and catch a little midnight snack.

He finds his first hole and wades into the trickle of water. He reaches his forepaws into the creek, feeling and feeling with his fingers for the quarry.

Five minutes of feeling around and a big crayfish falls into his hands. The raccoon savors his nice little meal and then thrusts his paws back into the water.  He catches a minnow.  He devours it.

The old boar comes to hand fish in the creek every night, except for those days of frigid winter, when the ice clogs up the creek and all wise raccoons stay up in their tree dens.

In late winter, the scent of estrus from the sow raccoons draws him to wander and occasionally wage war on the other boars that come calling, and in the autumn, he mixes up his seafood dinners with a few corn patch raids and sorties through the oak lots for acorns.

And in summer, when the wild raspberries grow black on the thorn bushes, he goes slinking along the berry patches, filling his jaws with a little sweet fruit of the land.

But he is a crick coon by trade. He knows the crayfish and the minnows, and when the rains fill the creek bed and allow the odd sucker or redhorse to come swimming up his way, he tries his hand at catching a few of those, too.

Maybe he’ll get caught raiding a corn patch someday.  Or maybe the baying hounds will tree him. Or maybe an upstart young boar will fill the creek bank with enough upper cuts and growling churrs to topple the old man.

But for now, the old boar will hold his own along the trickling crick.  The snow will fall, and the summer heat will swelter.

But his night will be spent on the quest for minnows and crayfish. His kind is named Procyon, perhaps for the star that shines brightly above him on those clear nights when the barred owl’s calls are clear and piercing and the moon casts silver beams upon the skeleton trees.

He never looks up though.  The stars and their courses mean little to a beast that goes nose down sniffing the creek banks.  Feeling hands and quivering nose are how he makes his way in the world.

And he does it well.





Natural History

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From the AKC Royal Canin National Dog Show in Orlando this weekend: GCH CH Unity’s Maid an Entrance CGC, a Weimaraner known as “Gali” triumphed over more than 1,200 puppies and junior dogs to earn the title of AKC Royal Canin National All-Breed Junior of the Year, held today in Orlando, Fla. “Gali,” owned by […] Dog Blog

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Win a YEAR of Pet-Themed Jewelry!

We’re kick off our biggest PawZaar giveaway ever! One lucky community member will win a YEAR of pet jewelry. Every quarter starting in January, the winner will receive three new pieces of…

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5 Tips For Staying Connected During Long Distance Holidays

5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays

Thank you to The UPS Store for sponsoring this post. Make the holiday to-do list a little easier this season with The UPS Store!

I think my favorite Christmas of all time was when Essley was about to turn one (her birthday is three days after Christmas), and Robbie’s parents came here to Chicago from Arizona to celebrate with us. It was the first (and so far, only) time that all of the grandparents were here for the holidays, and we were all together, and everything just felt right. Real life doesn’t always allow for those storybook holidays though, and it’s just not logistically possible to repeat that magical Christmas every year. But that doesn’t stop us from doing everything we can to make it feel like we’re together. Today I thought I’d share some of the ways we stay connected as a family when we can’t be together for Christmas, in hopes it can help those of you in similar situations.

5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays

1. Phone carol. It sounds cheesy, and maybe it is, but we love it. Elf said it best: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Essley is all about the Christmas carols, and if she can’t be right in front of her grandparents to perform, singing over the phone is the next best option. Sometimes we even all chime in. It makes us feel like we’re together, even if just for a few minutes. We do it often and unapologetically throughout the season.

2. Videophone on Christmas Day. Videophone! It’s the future! (Who else remembers being a kid and dreaming of being able to see people in real time when you called them? It was right up there with flying cars, man.) Seriously though, FaceTime and Skype make being apart infinitely easier all year round, but they really make a difference on holidays. We FaceTime with the grandparents multiple times while unwrapping gifts, eating Christmas breakfast, playing with the gifts, etc. All day. It’s the next best thing to actually being together.

5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays
5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays

3. Make meaningful, personal gifts to send. Every single year, Essley has sat down and worked for hours on special drawings to give to her grandparents. We never go Pinterest-crazy with these gifts – she likes to do good old fashioned crayon and marker drawings on paper. She puts so much time and energy and love into them. It’s really special, guys. Then we frame them and wrap them up together. It’s so much better than giving them a store bought gift, and truly a way to send a piece of herself when she can’t actually be with them. And this year, Emmett is old enough that he was able to get in on the action too! He loves drawing and coloring more than any other activity (for real), and I can’t wait to hear what Robbie’s parents think about his masterpiece.

5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays
5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays

4. Make plans to be together in the new year. When we can’t be with the grandparents for Christmas, we always make plans during the holidays for a future visit. This year, Robbie’s mom is coming here to stay with the kids while I meet Robbie in Denver for the band’s New Years shows, and we’re also making plans now to go visit both of his parents in the spring. It’s a great way to get past the sad parts of not being able to be physically together during the holiday season, and to also have something special to look forward to as a family.

5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays
5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays

5. Send your gifts with expert care. We’ve had our fair share of gifts get damaged in the shipping process, and the disappointment can be pretty intense when in an effort to stay connected with loved ones for the holidays you send something special only to learn it didn’t make it in one piece. Since we frame the kids’ artwork in glass frames, this is especially important. We take our wrapped gifts, head over to The UPS Store, and let the professionals handle the logistics of packing and shipping our holiday gifts to the grandparents. It gives us peace of mind to know The UPS Store backs its services with the Pack & Ship Guarantee – if an item is somehow lost or damaged, The UPS Store reimburses the customer the cost of packaging materials and service, as well as shipping costs. The Guarantee applies to items packed by The UPS Store and shipped via UPS®, DHL® or USPS®. Knowing our gifts will arrive to the grandparents safe and sound is just one more way for us to feel a little closer when we can’t actually be together, and I’m grateful for that. (Bonus: Taking our gifts to The UPS Store to be packed and shipped also saves me time and alleviate stress during an insanely hectic time of year. Just saying.) Oh, and here is one more awesome thing about visiting The UPS Store during the holiday season. Through December 31st, participating The UPS Store locations will support the Toys for Tots Literacy Program with an in-center donation card drive. Every donation helps purchase books for local children in need. Pretty great, right?

And, for the second year in a row, The UPS Store is hosting the 5 Days of Giftmas, an interactive guessing game where customers have a chance to win prizes. There will be one Facebook Live game each day December 11th-15th (so its not too late!) at 2 PM ET. 2) If you follow The UPS Store on Instagram, you’ll notice a similar game where customers can “Guess the Gift” for a chance at a cool prize. The game series started back on December 4th, but is continuing until approximately three weeks after, with a new box every Monday and Wednesday. Woohoo!

5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays

For those of you who are away from loved ones during the holidays, I’d love to hear ways you stay connected!

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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Mysterious Hero Saves Two Dogs from Scottish River

Sammy Rescues from Scottish River

We might think that anonymous heroes only exist in movies, but one man in Scotland proved otherwise this fall. Not only did this mystery man go into a fast-moving river to save one dog – he then proceeded to save another dog and her owner!

According to the Daily Record, Nicola McCrory was walking her dog, Stitch, as well as her parents’ dog, Sammy around 9:30 a.m. on Monday, October 2. As the three walked beside the River Clyde near Bothwell Castle, Sammy stumbled and slid down a steep ten-foot drop to land in the river.

Nicola told reporters that she “panicked” but that someone else came to Sammy’s rescue: “the most amazing guy was there to help.” She described how the man used Nicola’s leashes to carefully descend toward the river and fish out Sammy.

Sammy’s fall and rescue gathered attention and a bit of a crowd gathered on the river’s edge. Nicola described what happened next, “as if one rescue wasn’t enough, someone else’s dog fell in and the owner jumped in after their dog!” Any pet lover can understand the instinct that drove that pet owner to dive into the water. Unfortunately, the water was moving fast and the owner wasn’t able to save the dog alone. The mystery man came to the rescue again.

“The same guy… came to the rescue yet again, pulling first the dog then the owner from the water,” according to Nicola. She said that she thanked him profusely, but the man didn’t seem to speak much English and left the area quickly. Nicola hopes to learn his identity though, and has described him as a man, over the age of 50, who walks along the river “doing exercises as he goes.” Nicola told reporters why she wants to discover the man’s identity, saying “I’d love to find out who he is so I could thank him properly.” We bet the satisfaction of knowing he saved that owner and three lives is all the mystery hero needs – although he certainly has our gratitude as well.

Halo Pets

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What is Gobi?

This little dog was discovered in the Gobi desert in China on 155-mile race.

The thinking that this dog is a “chihuahua cross” is a bit wrong, I think. I think she’s something a bit more special than that.

I think she is a landrace East Asian toy dog, the ancestral form that leads to the Pekingese, the original pug, the Japanese chin, and other dogs of this type.

I don’t there are many chihuahuas in the Gobi Desert, and she certainly should have her DNA tested.

Natural History

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Students buy their teacher a puppy after his beloved dog dies

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Irie and Tiki Enjoy a Taste of Iceland #IcelandicPlusDogs

This post is sponsored by Icelandic+™ and the BlogPaws® Pet Influencer Network™. I am being compensated to help share information about Icelandic+™ and their all-natural dog chews and treats, but…

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I believe this project actually helps educate peop…

I believe this project actually helps educate people on both pitbulls and "wolfdogs" by reducing overbreeding and showing how wonderful blockheads can be as mentor dogs. Good work.

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Congress could end red wolf recovery

Canis rufus

It should be noted that the bulk of the genomic data show that the creature called a “red wolf” is actually a hybrid between some now extinct population of wolves and coyotes. Indeed, the most in depth genome comparison study performed on wolves and coyotes not only revealed that “red” and “Eastern” wolves are hybrids, it also revealed that coyotes were recent derivatives from Eurasian wolves and not ancient North American jackals.  Thus, the whole population of wild Canis in North America is much more closely related than we assumed.

Most of the data supporting the red wolf’s validity as a species are based upon fossil and subfossil evidence, which tended to show that the creatures being bred for introduction in the wild look an awful lot like ancient North American wolves.

But it now seems that the animals running loose in North Carolina are actually wolves with lots of coyote ancestry.

That’s what the science is telling us, and as I noted back in 2011, when this evidence from genome-wide analyses was being published, that it wouldn’t be long before politicians noticed a problem and began to use red wolves to chip away at the ESA.

I support the ESA, but I’ve long thought that adhering to red and Eastern wolf paradigms could cause real problems with the act’s long-term viability.

I recently had the pleasure of reading Nate Blakeslee’s American Wolf, which is a biography of a Yellowstone wolf named “O-Six.”  O-Six was the breeding female of the Lamar Valley pack, a wolf widely photographed in the park. She was a great elk hunter and mother, and because she was so well-known in the park, she became a sort of celebrity.

O-Six died from a hunter’s bullet, and her death never would have happened had the Democratic-controlled Senate not allowed a provision in a government funding bill to pass, which overturned a federal judge’s ruling that stopped a proposal that would have allowed Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming to regulate wolves as a state matter.  It was allowed to pass in order to provide immunity to Montana’s incumbent Democratic Senator, Jon Tester, who was facing a tough re-election.

This political drama is carefully described in Blakeslee’s work, and although little was made of it at the time, this provision was the first time congress had intervened on ESA listing in this manner.

Flash forward to 2017, and it looks like the Republican-controlled congress is about to do the something similar to red wolves. Senator Lisa Murkowski has introduced a provision the bill funding the interior department that declares the red wolf extinct in the wild and cuts all funding for its recovery.

This is problematic on many fronts.

First of all, the Endangered Species Act was designed to use scientific evidence for listing and recovery efforts. For most of its existence, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has been left to use science for these efforts, but now congress has begun to intervene to affect endangered species policy citing political concerns only.

Part of the reason why congress is doing such a thing is that the US Fish and Wildlife service has pretty much been impervious to the growing data on what red wolves actually are. The bureaucracy still maintains Canis rufus as a species, but the evidence that it is a recently derived hybrid between the wolf and the coyote is pretty hard to ignore.

Whenever I’ve pointed out these problems, I’ve been called a wolf-hater and a right-winger and a Republican. I’m none of the three.

The problem is that wolves are political symbols.  Every wildlife conservation organization in the country uses wolves for fundraising. Wolves have two things going for them: they are the wild ancestors of dogs and they tend to recovery fairly quickly when not persecuted.  It is easy to turn the wolf into sort of the canine equivalent of the noble savage, a dog that lives in nature, wild and free, and with greater wisdom and intelligence than any mere cur of the street.

To others, the wolf is the federal government coming for your hunting rights, your farming enterprises, and your guns.

So we now have this dynamic in which our political issues with each other are being meted out over an animal.

This says much more about us than it does the actual biology of wolves and coyotes. We are fractious. We are at war with each other.

The romantic notions of a unique Southern wolf species has been racked convincing in depth genomic data that show it is hybrid have come to pass just at the same time that a resurgent right wing has taken over the US government at all three branches. This is a perfect storm for disaster for the Endangered Species Act.

Until the Republican majorities in congress are reduced significantly, the red wolf will ultimately be used to undermine the act.

It is a very sad state of affairs, but the US Fish and Wildlife Service clearly did a lot to anger sportsmen in Eastern North Carolina, as this thread clearly shows, and the Endangered Species Act will not last if this sort of implementation is ever repeated again.

No real solution for this problem exists. I would put money on the red wolf being delisted. I should be glad that the ESA has gone onto preserve other predators, like the Mexican wolf and Florida panther, but because it is happening in this fashion, it could be a real disaster.

And all because of this wolf, not a real species at all, but one in which many lines of nonsense on both sides have been written.






Natural History

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