Socializing Your Older Rescue Puppy: Barli’s Checklist

Since Bärli’s adoption on March 13, we’ve been busy socializing him, exposing him to experiences that he might come across on future outings or in our daily life. Bärli, now five (and…

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Too Much Easter Candy! Dog Blog

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Urocyon with white markings

spotted urocyon

This gray fox has some white marking on its face and feet.

We can speculate about where they came from. Domestication process maybe?

We know, though, that these white marking didn’t come from crossbreeding with domestic dogs, because the gray fox lineage diverged from the rest of the dog family 10-12 million years ago.

Whatever the reasons for its white markings, it is a stunning animal nonetheless.


Natural History

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9 Subtle Statement Earrings

9 Understated Statement Earrings

I feel like hoops and tassels are all I’ve worn for earrings in the past year, so I went searching for something unique and fell in love with all of these above. I love that they’re mostly statement earrings, but they’re understated. (Does that make them Understatement Earrings? Hmmmm.) Which is your favorite?

(All of these earrings are from Madewell, but this is not a sponsored post. Just love them all!)


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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I am ethically opposed to BSL for all of the reaso…

I am ethically opposed to BSL for all of the reasons outlined above, specially that it encourages discrimination of pit bulls by other powers.
However, this article is written in such a way that it’s not outright lies, but it is certainly designed to mislead. SFACC does not put people in a position as to force them to surrender their pet bc they can’t afford to spay or neuter. The way this is written is incredibly misleading and irresponsible. SFACC will not keep someone’s pet because they cannot afford to redeem them. They work out payment plans. They have the power to refuse to give someone a pet that they can’t pay for, this is true. But it simply isn’t done (unless there are extenuating circumstances that lead them to believe this is in the dog’s best interest).
Additionally, the legislation was put into place because the mayor at that time wanted to ban pit bulls outright. While this version of BSl certainly is not great, it’s vastly better than banning these precious babies altogether.

While I too am against BSL, and understand where Bad Rap is coming from, it’s pretty hard to be against spay neuter for a dog breed that is disproportionally homeless. Personally I wish that it was mandatory spay and neuter for all dogs.

Bad Rap, you’re better than this. You have the moral high ground-don’t squander it by being misleading and misinformed. Additionally, SFACC didn’t write the law. Maybe you should be more critical of the legistlators at city hall and less critical of the men and woman working hard every day to keep the animals of San Francisco safe and who support the pet guardians of San Francisco in countless ways.

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Working for Animals Drew This Couple Together

Shawn with black cat

Photo Credit: Katherine Zenzano

We all know it’s not unusual to find love at an animal shelter. Usually it’s with an adoptable animal looking for a home. That’s part of why Halo donates more than 1.5 million bowls of nutritious food to shelter animals every year to help those dogs and cats look and feel great, so they can put their best paw forward to help them find love. However, some people find more than animals who capture their hearts at an animal shelter. For Katherine Zenzano, her heart was captured at an animal shelter by a very special Animal Control Officer!

Katherine Zenzano knew she loved animals. It was why she was excited to start as the Assistant to the President and CEO of a large urban animal shelter. She was even prepared to fall in love with lots of fuzzy creatures. She didn’t expect that the job would lead her to the love of her life and future spouse.

Katherine and Shawn

Photo Credit: Katherine Zenzano

Shawn Covington was an Animal Control Officer for that same urban shelter. “I could tell that he was a hard worker and that it was on behalf of animals was very attractive,” Katherine admitted about what first drew her to Shawn. Shawn also appreciated Katherine’s care for animals. It made him want to know her better, plus, as he put it, “it also meant that we had something in common.”

Katherine grew to love animal welfare. She eventually became a Behavior and Training Counselor as well as the Cat Behavior Manager for the always busy shelter. She also grew closer to Shawn. “When Shawn brought his two dogs, Tank and Beretta, two Boston Terriers, over to my house so I could meet them, “ was a big day, according to Katherine. “I had already heard about Tank who certainly lived up to the name,” she continued, “But Beretta was so tiny and cute and in a way it just…surprised me. Here was this big tough guy with this happy, prancing little dog. I do believe that sold me.”

Dogs continued to be a big factor in their relationship. Not only did they integrate their pack, as it were, but the couple also fostered many animals together. Eventually Shawn proposed, while their dogs milled about, and Katherine said yes. She joked at the time that there was no better way to celebrate National Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week! While preparing for their wedding, they thought about their dogs. They didn’t plan to have any of them at the ceremony to avoid stressing out the dogs or humans too much. However, Tank had other ideas.

Photo Credit: Katherine Zenzano

Photo Credit: Katherine Zenzano

According to Katherine, “On the day of our wedding, Tank escaped through an open door and Shawn had to chase him to catch him. Shawn slipped and fell, and ripped his jeans, but eventually caught Tank.” The couple discussed what was best and decided to change their plans slightly. “Our dog Tank was there for the wedding weekend, but only because we didn’t want to risk that he get away from my dad who would be taking care of our dogs,” she explained.

Now the couple has three dogs. “Little Bit is Katherine’s other soul mate,” shared Shawn. Little Bit “is a senior Terrier mix who loves to be near Katherine at all times. Tank is a troublemaker; he is the older male, Boston Terrier. He’s always getting into something. Beretta is the sweetest and always needs to find the coziest spot to nestle in,” Shawn continued. In addition to the dogs, the happy couple also has an adorable toddler daughter they say “definitely” shares her parents’ love of animals. “Beretta is her favorite dog if we’re naming favorites. And she loves having the foster kittens around and is very gentle and patient with them,” said Katherine.

Katherine feels that dogs are a big part of why she and Shawn fell in love, telling us “I definitely credit our love for animals with bringing us together.” Not everyone will meet their human soulmate at an animal shelter, but everyone can find an animal who needs their love. Who knows what else you’ll find?

Halo Pets

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What Can We Learn from the Puppy Who Died on United Airlines?

United Airlines

There are a lot of people who – when they learned about a puppy who died in an overhead luggage bin on a United Airlines flight last week – were filled with moral outrage against the airline. They went ballistic, telling everyone on social media that they were going to boycott United Airlines and so should everyone else to “send a message.”

What message would that be?

What could possibly be achieved by boycotting United Airlines?
An airline company did not cause the death of a puppy.

United Airlines is a huge company that (safely) puts thousands of flights in the air every week, with tens of thousands of employees helping to make that happen. United Airlines policy allowed that dog in the passenger cabin in a TSA-approved carry bag, intended to be placed under the seat in front of the woman traveling with her 11-year-old daughter and infant, flying back to New York’s LaGuardia Airport from Houston.

I think this indignation against the airline is entirely misdirected.

Why are people so quick to jump to the conclusion that an airline company would knowingly do anything to harm a pet – and should be punished? [Why would United Airlines ever want to be dealing with another public relations nightmare – not so long after Marshalls forcibly dragged a human passenger down the aisle of another United flight?]

This traveling puppy was allowed into the passenger cabin according to United’s own rules. He was traveling legitimately – in a TSA-approved bag with a paid fee. He was traveling with the same owner who had already flown the first leg of a round trip journey – with that same dog, in the same bag, on the same airline. So what went wrong this time that caused the death of that puppy? And what can we all learn as a take-away moral to the story so this kind of debacle doesn’t happen again?

The story that circulated in the New York Times and all over the country – in print and on television – was that a flight attendant told the owner of a carry bag – that wasn’t fitting fully under the seat in front of her – that she had to put the bag up in an overhead bin before takeoff. The owner later said she explained there was a dog in the bag, but regardless, the flight attendant still said it had to go in the overhead bin. The flight attendant later claimed not to have understood there was a dog in the bag.

Obviously, an overhead bin was never intended for anything but inanimate carry-on bags, It would be unimaginable that a crew member – even if rushed, distracted, overworked or thoughtless – would send a puppy to its certain death by locking it into what would become an airless tomb. Who doesn’t love puppies, after all? Would anybody knowingly suffocate a little dog for convenience?

But we have to wonder why the owner didn’t repeat herself – refuse to have the dog put up there? She’d already flown successfully with the dog in that bag underneath a seat with the dog to Houston – so she knew how it worked when it went right.

Let’s say she was frazzled traveling with two children. Let’s say she didn’t’ make herself clear enough to the flight attendant

Let’s even say she was a timid person, afraid of making a scene.

What about everybody else sitting around her? Several passengers later reported that the crew member insisted on putting the dog in the bin despite the fact a dog was in it. But why didn’t any one of them say something? Why didn’t someone stand up on behalf of the dog and the traveling family? Why did everyone wait until after the tragedy to acknowledge they saw it unfolding and did nothing?

Shouldn’t the moral outrage in this story be directed at bystanders who stood by and said and did nothing while obvious harm was being done to a puppy?

All it takes is for one good person to remain silent for something terrible to take place. And each person who remained silent on that flight – expressing their horror and outrage later – surely has some responsibility in the foreseeable tragedy.

After the flight, several fellow passengers said the dog barked for two hours of the three and a half hour flight. And then it fell silent. Without air circulation, a frightened, barking dog would have consumed whatever small amount of oxygen was in there. How many people had to sit listening to the plaintive barking of a trapped dog for two hours and do nothing?

Why didn’t one person stand up and say “Take that dog out of there?”  Why didn’t other people join that one voice of reason and say, “Take the dog out of a luggage bin. ”Why didn’t they react when the dog barked itself to death during the flight – only to express outrage on social media once they got home?

It’s a terrible tragedy that a number of otherwise presumably intelligent people allowed a young puppy to be locked inside an airless overhead bin. But why direct moral indignation at a faceless airline company as though it were the villain?

Maybe after this traumatic death we can think about how we might someday find ourselves in a position to do the “right thing” – and that’s an opportunity we should never avoid. It only takes one righteous person to speak up in order to galvanize a whole crowd of people to resist the “wrong thing.”
Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

Halo Pets

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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

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

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, 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.


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Tuesday Top Ten: Female Dog Names from 2017

From the client database of, here’s the list of the top ten names people used for their female dogs in 2017. Bella Lucy Daisy Luna Lola Sadie Molly Maggie Bailey Sophie The only one that surprises me is Bailey. How about you? Check out last week’s post to get the male perspective. Until next […] Dog 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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