Dogs Help Fight Poaching in Tanzania

WWE dogs

We all know that poaching is a huge problem that needs to be stopped. According to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), “ivory poaching has reduced the elephant population in Tanzania’s oldest and largest protected area by 90%” in the last 40 years alone.. Karin Wagemann is one of the dedicated people working to stop that trend – with a little help from some four-legged barking friends!

“Training dogs, that’s always been easier for me,” Karin told The Spokesman-Review. Karin is an American Society of Canine Trainers instructor but some of her most impressive dogs are in Tanzania, not America. So far she has trained four anti-poaching dogs and returned to Tanzania in January to continue working with six Tanzanian handlers dedicated to protecting the elephants of Tanzania.

The four dogs are former rescue dogs from America named Tony, Popo, DJ, and Radar. They know how to detect hippo teeth, ammunition, rhino horns, and ivory from elephant tusks. The handlers are game scouts with the Grumeti Law Enforcement Division. Despite a language barrier, they made their love for the dogs clear to Karin.

“They really care about the dogs and have shown care I haven’t seen anywhere else,” Karin said. That helped compensate for the human language problems. They worked together for two months on canine management as well as advanced detection and tracking before the handlers worked on their own for eight weeks while Karin returned to the United States. Looking back, “I couldn’t have asked for a better group,” Karin told reporters.

Once the group is done with training, they will work with the dogs at roadblocks to detect and halt transport and trade of illegal animal goods. The dogs are not attack dogs though. “They’re not aggressive,” explained Karin. If they detect a smuggled item, they “sniff you out and think you have a toy for them.”

Karin loves working with protection dogs and helping fight poachers. Karin told reporters, “I have known I was going to this [vocation] for a long time” before adding that it is “the best job ever.” Karin’s work with the dogs isn’t just helping elephants. The WWF notes that poaching also harms local communities who depend on tourism for their livelihoods. The tourists come to see the animals, so if the animals disappear, the tourists will, too.

Halo’s mission includes our belief that each and every animal impacts our lives and ultimately plays a role in improving our collective well-being. Because of that, we’re actively challenging the long-held one?way view of animal management (purely for human benefit) for one where we take care of each other—people, animals, and planet. We applaud the dogs and people working together to prevent poaching and take care of our planet. Those are some good dogs who deserve great treats for their amazing work.

Halo Pets

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March 2018 Web Store Special

Halo pet products 2017

For our blog and newsletter subscribers, here’s a special offer!

When you order $ 100 or more this month, you’ll get:

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  2. Enter Promo Code in the Order Summary window and proceed to checkout.
  3. Hurry–limited time only. You have until March 31, 2018 to place your Halo order with this promotion!
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Hi Jim, I am reading your book, The Found Dogs. I …

Hi Jim,
I am reading your book, The Found Dogs. I love the book. As I was reading about each dog, I saw that several have crossed the Rainbow Bridge, it's sad, but it is happy that they were loved and got the chance to know real love. But I was wondering just how many of them are still living today besides Uba. I was so thrilled when Dogs Deserve Better got the Vick property and turned it into a Haven for chained and abused dogs. I personally know the TN representative of DDb and was happy when a TN dog was the first to move in at the headquarters. It's now a happy loving place for dogs. Barbara
BAD RAP Blog

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Magnificent Milestones – Why My Toddler’s Firsts Mean So Much

Why A Toddler's Milestone Mean So Much

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Carter’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

When my son Emmett was born in January of 2016, I had absolutely no idea just how profoundly the milestones he achieved as a toddler would affect me. Throughout his sister Essley’s first year (she was my first babe and is now four), I obsessively researched baby milestones, and she hit all of them at what is considered to be on track or early. I assumed Emmett would be the same way. And then, at seven months old, he was diagnosed with Infantile Spasms, the most catastrophic form of childhood epilepsy. Most children with IS go on to have severe developmental delays. And while Emmett is one of the rare few who “beat” IS – he responded quickly to medication, is one year and seven months seizure free, and has been repeatedly assessed as developmentally on track – every little thing new he does, milestone or otherwise, brings us such joy and a deep sense of gratitude. Many of you have little ones in your lives as well, and regardless of whether you’ve had unique challenges like we have or a very typical experience with your babes’ development, I know you can relate to the emotions that “firsts” trigger in us as parents. In many ways, we grow right along with our children. So today I thought I’d share some of Emmett’s recent magnificent milestones (what his big sister Essley calls it when he does something new), and a little more on why they make me so, so happy.

Why A Toddler's Milestone Mean So Much

Now that the baby “firsts” (first tooth, first solid food, first time crawling, first steps, etc.) have all been met and Emmett is in full toddler mode, the biggest developmental milestone for us is speech. While Emmett has been assessed as on track (and even ahead) developmentally in most areas, his speech, while not technically delayed, has always come in a couple of month behind his age. He is actually in speech therapy now twice a month, so we work a lot with him on repetition, short sentences, etc. He has really taken off over the last two weeks with stringing words into sentences, which has been a huge goal. (I have tears in my eyes even typing it out!) I especially love when he pretends to read books, and makes his little two word sentences along with long sentences of made up word full of the most daring inflections. I could sit there and listen to him for hours. Watching Emmett progress with his speech brings me a great sense of pride, as he’s worked so hard. It kind of feels like a miracle.

Why A Toddler's Milestone Mean So Much
Why A Toddler's Milestone Mean So Much

Emmett has also recently started counting everything (he can make it to 12, but sometimes prefers to leave out 7 and 9). His new favorite activity is playing his own special version of hide and seek, where he counts even when he is the one hiding (which is always in the same spot of our living room, right by the piano). He also loves to count each puzzle piece as he places it into a puzzle. It makes my heart so full of joy you guys. Truly. When I think back to being in the hospital with Emmett after we got the news of his epilepsy diagnosis and reading about how he would likely never even say one number, much less know how to count, I feel overcome with gratitude. It’s incredible.

Why A Toddler's Milestone Mean So Much
Why A Toddler's Milestone Mean So Much

Another milestone that has brought me such happiness is seeing Emmett move on from the parallel play stage to really socializing with other kids. He loves playing with his big sister more than anything, and watching them become best friends allows me to see our family in a new, remarkable way. When we’re at the park or one of Essley’s activities and he sees another toddler, he immediately runs up to them and initiates play. Once again I think back to our early days of his diagnosis and the uncertainty of his future in terms of social interaction, and I feel so thankful when I see him connect with others.

Why A Toddler's Milestone Mean So Much
Why A Toddler's Milestone Mean So Much

Emmett has also taken on a new love for performing, especially dancing, which is pretty freaking fantastic to watch. His sister has been taking dance since she was 18 months old and often practices at home, and now Emmett has to participate too, every time. He recently learned to jump with both feet and is quite proud of himself, so he incorporates that into his sweet dance moves. I hope the unique qualities he brings to his dancing continue into his life as he grows. It brings me such joy to see him developing a personality and his own little quirks that make him him.

Why A Toddler's Milestone Mean So Much
Why A Toddler's Milestone Mean So Much
Why A Toddler's Milestone Mean So Much

Emmett is also starting to follow in his big sister’s footsteps in terms of a desire to pick out his own clothes each day. (He even – albeit awkwardly – attempt to dress himself!) His taste in fashion isn’t quite as eclectic as Essley’s, but he knows what he likes. And if there is a dinosaur on it, that’s what he wants to wear. His current favorites are this blue jersey slub tee and this pocket tee from Carter’s – both featuring dinosaurs of course. I love pairing them both with these super cute and comfy pull-on poplin pants and denim dock shorts, and can’t wait for it to get warm enough for him to wear these flip-flops on the daily! We’re big Carter’s fans in this house. (Essley is wearing her favorite nightgown in the piano picture above, also from Carter’s, and you can see them in their matching PJ sets from this past holiday season below.) Carter’s has been with us from the start, honestly – some of the first baby gifts I received when I got pregnant with Essley back in 2013 were Carter’s baby clothes – and has been a part of our milestone journeys with both babes. I have so many pictures on my phone’s camera roll with the kids wearing Carter’s clothes. And their new video, With You From the Start, gave me all the feels – because it’s so true.

Watching Emmett progress through his own magnificent milestones has been – and continues to be – such an intensely wonderful experience for me. Each new thing he does as he grows genuinely makes me grow too, as a parent and as a human being. He and his sister are truly my hearts. I am so grateful for them, and every single experience that comes with them.

If you are a parent, and aunt/uncle, a grandparents, or have special kids in your life, I would love to hear more about your little ones’ magnificent milestones and what they’ve meant to you!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Barli’s First Week at Home!

I am so happy to report that Bärli has had such a good first week since his adoption! He is such a happy little boy and loves exploring… He’s quickly learning that the cats are his…



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DogTipper

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Simply Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas

Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas

I could start this post by professing my love for avocados, but unless this is the first time you’re stopping by here (and if it is, hi!), then you already know all about my adoration. Not a day goes by that I don’t consume them in some form. Because I eat them so often, I’m always experimenting with new ways to prepare them. (I mean, I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t eat chips and guac every single day and never get sick of them, but sometimes you have to change things up.) The other day I spotted a can of chickpeas (another of my favorites) in our pantry and had an idea to make flatbread style sandwiches with my newest obsession, Simply Avocado (more on this goodness in a minute) and pan toasted chickpeas (something we eat often in the quinoa bowls I made). Lucky for me, they turned out to be delicious, and everyone – including my 2 and 4 year olds – loved them. Best of all, it only took 10-15 (tops) minutes to prepare these babies. If you’re an avocado fan, I’m pretty confident you’ll love them too.

Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas
Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas

Serves 2 as meal, 4 as a snack

INGREDIENTS
1 package Simply Avocado spread (I like the Sea Salt variety)
1 can of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
2 multigrain pitas
Small handful baby spinach
Greek Yogurt (plain) for topping
chili powder
cumin
salt

Heat a small amount of coconut oil (or olive oil) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drain the chickpeas, then pour into the pan. Sprinkle chili powder, cumin, and salt to taste, then stir well. Cook until chickpeas are slightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool slightly. While chickpeas are cooling, place pitas in warm pan to soften, about one minute on each side. (Tip: You can also prep the chickpeas in advance and store in the fridge.) On each pita, spread about half a package of Simply Avocado. Top with a few baby spinach leaves, followed by chickpeas. (You may have some leftover depending on how many you like.) Top each pita with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and sprinkle with chili powder. Eat! (You can also cut in half to serve as a snack or appetizer.)

Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas
Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas

The key ingredient to these delightful pita treats is the Simply Avocado I mentioned above. I recently discovered this new line of avocado dips and spreads from the makers of my beloved Wholly Guacamole and was instantly smitten. This stuff is so fresh you guys. Made from hand scooped Hass avocados and containing four ingredients or less, Simply Avocado is ripe and ready to eat (unlike most of the whole avocados I buy at the store, if we’re being honest here). It also eliminates the time of having to prepare avocados, which for me (visualize two young children running around the kitchen and loudly singing repetitive nursery rhyme songs off-key while you’re trying to cook) is huge. My favorite is Sea Salt, but it’s also available in the equally tasty Chunky Avocado, Garlic & Herb, Roasted Red Pepper and Jalapeno & Lime. You can grab some of your own (trust me, you’ll be glad you did) in the produce department at Walmart stores and also online at Mexgrocer.com, with more stores coming very soon.

Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas
Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas
Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas

What are your favorite ways to enjoy the almighty avocado? Have you tried Simply Avocado yet?



This post is in partnership with Simply Avocado. 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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Buddy’s DNA Results are In!

Recently I told you about Buddy, our neighbors’ dog and, ever since he arrived, best friends with Irie and Tiki. He’s already quickly become best buddies with our new puppy Barli (and…



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DogTipper

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That was nothing short of excellent. Thank you.

That was nothing short of excellent. Thank you.
BAD RAP Blog

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Sudden Weight Loss in Dogs: Signs and Symptoms

Sudden weight loss in a dog that is not attributable to increased exercise or activity should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian. Some dogs do experience cyclical weight changes because they live in seasonal climates and are exercised and walked less during the cold winter months.

To be healthy, a dog should have sufficient fat covering the ribs. …
Dog’sHealth.com Blog

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Canis mosbachensis and the origins of the modern Canis species

African golden wolf

What we do know about the origins of Canis species is much more hotly-contested than what we know about the evolution of our own species. The earliest fossils of the genus are roughly 6 million years old, and the oldest species in the “wolf lineage” is Canis lepophagus, which lived in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico 5 million years ago.  This species is often posited as the direct ancestor of the coyote, and it may have been a direct ancestor of all the entire wolf-like canid lineage.

Of course, recent discoveries that have come from full genome comparisons make things a little complicated. With the discovery that coyotes diverged from gray wolves as recently as 50,000 years ago, the linear evolution from Canis lepophagus to Canis latrans is probably invalid.  Further another full genome study that used a single Israeli golden jackal (Canis aureus) as the outgrouping sample to determine when dogs and gray wolves split, revealed that this particular jackal diverged from gray wolves less than 400,000 years ago.

Both of these dates are far more recent that the millions of years that are assumed to separate these wolf-like canids from each other. Of course, more work must be done. We need more studies on coyote genomes, but these researchers have come across what could be the most important discovery in our understanding of the evolution of Canis species. Depending upon the study, coyotes and gray wolves were thought to have diverged between 700,000 to 1 million years ago, and this assumption is used to calculate when other Canis have diverged.

Now, this assumption always did bother me, because if Canis lepophagus leads directly to Canis latrans, where do wolves fit in?  Because in order for that model to work, gray wolves have to evolve from a very small coyote-like ancestor with very few transitions in between. It always just seemed to me like it was unworkable.

Further, there is a whole host of literature on the evolution of gray wolves in Eurasia, and in most European literature, there is a general acceptance of how gray wolves evolved from a smaller wolf called Canis mosbachensis.

Wolfgang Soergel, a German paleontologist at the University of Tübingen, discovered Canis mosbachensis at a site near Jockgrim in 1925. The animal is sometimes called the “Mosbach wolf,” which means it was found in the Mosbach Sands, where many fossils from the Middle Pleistocene have been found.

Mark Derr was particularly interested in this species in his How the Dog Became the Dog.  He points out that the earliest dated fossils of this species are 1.5 million years old and come from the ‘Ubeidiya excavations in Israel.  The most recent Canis mosbachensis remains in Europe are about 400,000 years old, after which time they were replaced by Canis lupus.  Derr speculated about the relationship mosbachensis might have had with early hominin species, which were also well-known from that site, and suggested that they might had some kind of relationship.

Further, there is a growing tendency among paleontologists to group Canis mosbachensis with another wolf that was its contemporary. This wolf, called Canis variabilis, was discovered at the Zhoukoudian Cave System in China in 1934. Its discoverer was Pei Wenzhong, who became respected paleontologist, archaeologist, and anthropologist in the People’s Republic of China. It was a small wolf with a proportionally smaller brain, and it has long been a subject of great speculation.

And this speculation tends to get lots of attention, for this cave system is much more famous for the discovery of a type of Homo erectus called “Peking Man.”  It is particularly popular among the people who insist that dogs are not wolves, which is about as scientifically untenable as the “birds are not dinosaurs” (BAND) clique of scholarship.

Mark Derr and as well as more established scholarship have begun to group variabilis and mosbachensis together. Variablis has also been found in Yakutia, and it may have been that varibablis nothing more than an East Asian variant of mosbachensis.

These wolves were not large animals. They varied from the size of an Eastern coyote to the size of an Indian wolf. They were not the top dogs of the Eurasian predator guild.

Indeed, they played second fiddle to a larger pack-hunting canid called Xenocyon lycaonoides, a large species that is sometimes considered ancestral to the African wild dog and the dhole, but the recent discovery of Lycaon sekoweiwhich was a much more likely ancestor of the African wild dog, suggests that it was more likely a sister species to that lineage.

Although canids resembling Canis lupus have been found in Alaska and Siberia that date to 800,000 years ago, anatomically modern wolves are not confirmed in the Eurasian faunal guild until 300,000-500,000 years before present.

I’m throwing a lot of dates at you right now, because if the modern Canis lupus species is as recent as the current scholarship suggests, then we can sort of begin to piece together how the entire genus evolved.

And we’re helped by the fact that we have an ancient DNA study on a Yakutian “Canis variablis” specimen. This specimen would have been among the latest of its species, for it has been dated to 360,000 years before present. Parts of its ancient mitochondrial DNA has been compared to other sequences from ancient wolves, and it has indeed confirmed that this animal is related to the lineage that leads to wolves and domestic dogs.  The paper detailing its findings suggests that there is a direct linkage between this specimen and modern dog lineages, but one must be careful in interpreting too much from limited mitochondrial DNA studies.

360,000 years ago is not that far from the proposed divergence between gray wolves and the Israel golden jackal in genome comparison study I mentioned at the beginning of the post.

This really could suggest something a bit controversial and bold. It make take some time for all this to be tested, but it is a hypothesis worth considering.

I suggest that all this evidence shows that Canis mosbachensis is the ancestor of all interfertile Canis, with the possible exception of the Ethiopian wolf.

If the Ethiopian wolf is not descended from that species, then it is a sister taxon. It is not really clear how divergent Ethiopian wolves are from the rest of interfertile Canis, but their divergence estimates currently suggest that it diverged from the rest of the wolf-like clade 1.6 million years ago, which is just before Canis mosbachensis appears in the fossil record.

If that more recent date holds for the split for the Eurasian golden jackal, then it is almost certain that this hypothesis is correct.  The Eurasian golden jackal may be nothing more than a sister species to a great species complex that includes the coyote, gray wolf, dingo, and domestic dog that both derived from divergent populations of Canis mosbachensis. 

The exact position of the Himalayan wolf and the African golden wolf are still not clear. We do know, though, that both are more closely related to the coyote and gray wolf than the Eurasian golden jackal is, and if its split from the gray wolf is a recent as less than 400,000 years ago, then it is very likely that all of these animals are more closely related to the main Holarctic population of gray wolves than we have assumed.

The recent divergence of all these Canis species is why there is so much interfertility among them.

And if these animals are as recently divergent as is inferred, their exact species status is going to be questioned.

And really should be, at least from a simple cladistics perspective.

More work does need to be done, but I don’t think my hypothesis is too radical.

It just seems that this is a possibility that could explored.

 

 

Natural History

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