Happy holidays, friends! The past couple of months have admittedly been a blur, filled with a whole lot of extra work hours, house buying stuff (we close the week after next!), and general holiday craziness. Robbie leaves the day after Christmas for the band’s New Year’s run and I haven’t even started wrapping gifts (or packing our house up), which is so ridiculous it’s comical. This is actually the first time ever that I was finished shopping an entire week before Christmas, but aside from that, I’m a hot holiday mess. We also have Essley’s birthday on the 28th, mine on January 1st, and Emmett’s on January 9th. It’s a very busy time around here (as I’m sure it is for you as well!), but as long as we stay heathy this year (because last year we sure didn’t), I’m fine with that. Busy holiday seasons are the best, honestly.
Essley’s excitement level about Christmas day is off the charts. Emmett doesn’t quite get it yet, but he knows that Santa is coming. I have always loved the holiday season, but having these too has made my affinity increase exponentially. I cannot wait to see their faces when they wake up on the 25th.
I will be taking my annual break from the blog to spend time with my family and catch up on non-work things, starting today. I’ll be stopping in next week for a post, but we won’t officially be back until after the New Year. I’m sure I’ll still be active on Instagram (because I’m sure I’d, like, combust if I wasn’t on social media for an entire, like, 10 days), so in the meantime, you can come hang with me over there.
However you celebrate (or don’t celebrate!), and whatever your plans may be, I wish you the happiest of holidays!
What should a dog eat and how do you know if you’re giving your pet the best diet possible? There are so many different types of diets available for dogs today – dry food, canned food, raw meats, cooked meats, turkey, vegetables, and specialty blends.
Reeves’s muntjac is native to China and Taiwan. It is not native any place in Europe, but one of the places where it has been introduced is England. The epicenter of their population in that country is Bedfordshire, where this hunt takes place. The Dukes of Bedford were into promoting deer on their estate, Woburn Abbey, and they were instrumental in saving the Pere David’s deer from extinction. One suggestion is that the muntjac in England derived from Reeves’s muntjac that escaped Woburn Abbey, but they also could have derived from escapees from the Whipsnade Zoo.
Whatever their origin, Reeves’s muntjac have established themselves a long way from their native territory, and they do quite a bit of damage to trees.
And what usually happens is that people are encouraged to hunt the invasives, but as you can see from the selective shooting that goes on this video, the species is now being managed as a sort of game species on many estates. This development should be of no surprise, and it should be noted that island of Great Britain has only two native deer species, the red and the roe. The very common fallow deer was introduced by the Romans and then again the Normans from the European continent.
But the fallow deer is essentially managed as a native game species. The exact same thing is done with Sika deer that have been introduced to Maryland. White-tailed deer are treated the same way in the Czech Republic, as are all the deer that have been introduced to New Zealand.
Whatever their treatment as a game or invasive species, this video does provide a nice closeup of the male Reeves’s muntjac as a specimen. Of particular note are the tusks, which they use for fighting and display. It is mentioned in this clip that they are “musk deer, ” but this is in error.
This error comes from the tusks that both muntjac and musk deer possess, but musk deer are placed in their own family (Moschidae). True deer are Cervidae, and all the muntjac species are true deer that fall into the Cervinae subfamily (which includes red deer, fallow deer, and North American elk). However, they are primitive Cervinae.
Musk deer differ in some morphological characters from true deer in that they don’t have facial glands, possess only a single pair of teats, and have a gallbladder. They also never have antlers, and all species possess a scent gland on their tail.
The common ancestor of musk and true deer, though, had prominent tusks. The modern muntjac species is unique in that it still has those fangs of the earliest Cervinae.
The other true deer that is known for its tusks is the Asian water deer, which was definitely introduced to Britain thanks to escapees from Woburn Abbey. But it is not closely related to the muntjac at all.
It is also not a musk deer, even though it has much more prominent tusks than the muntjac and never has antlers. Instead, it fits within Capreolinae, the subfamily of deer that includes roe deer, moose, reindeer/caribou, and all the New World deer but the wapiti. Its prominent tusks and lack of antlers are a also primitive trait in this lineage of deer.
That muntjac and water deer are both fanged shows that more primitive animals will resemble each other more the derived forms of their respective lineages.
These cnine teeth are celebrated in North America elk lore. Their “ivory” is taken as almost as much a trophy as the antlers, and indigenous people in Canada and the US used them as jewelry. They aren’t sharp daggers like those found on muntjac and water deer, though. They are just vestigial teeth that show that the ancestor of the great bugling bull were once little fanged creatures.
Well guys, since we’re officially 1 week + 1 day away from the first day of winter, I decided it was time for our annual-ish winter inspiration post. We all know (thanks to my exhaustively excessive complaining about it) that I’m not a fan of wintertime. I’m trying to stay positive though, as you may have read about in yesterday’s post. Self pity never works, after all. And to combat a looming negative attitude, each year at the beginning of the season, I seek out beautiful images to remind me that, despite it making me feel like I’m living in a freezing, dark cave for several months, winter really can be beautiful.
Whether you’re a winter lover or someone, well, more like me, I hope these images get you in a good mindset for the new season.
Many people and pets in Puerto Rico are still recovering from the devastation Hurricane Maria caused almost two months ago. However, heroes of both the human and animal variety are showing their true colors in the aftermath. One little dog, named Agua, was named “a four-legged hero” by the U.S. Department of the Interior on Twitter.
According to KKTV, James Casey, an employee with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was working in Puerto Rico on a mission for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. James was assessing the security of a closed hospital in Humaco with about 30 others when they spotted a small dog wearing a sweater.
“We were curious as to why a dog would be wearing a sweater alone in this area,” James told reporters. He added that their attention was also piqued because “the dog kept going up and down the hill.”
Intrigued, James and the others decided to follow the dog. At the bottom of the hill, they found a woman trapped under a scooter. She was Agua’s owner and had been attempting to reach the hospital. Due to the terrain, there was an accident and the scooter rolled on top of the woman. The woman was trapped and had prior medical issues that meant she desperately needed the team’s help.
James described where they found the woman as “abandoned” and “littered with debris.” He continued, “if it wasn’t for this little dog, it would have been likely she would not have been found and possibly perished.”
Because Agua not only caught the team’s attention, but led them to her owner, they were able to assist before it was too late. According to the Department of the Interior, the team radioed another official who was able to coordinate with hospital doctors so the team could immediately respond to the woman’s needs. Another member of the team was able to grab an ambulance to transport the woman to an emergency department. That evening, after the owner had been treated, Agua was able to be reunited with the woman she had saved.
James told reporters that the team was impressed by the dog’s devotion and quick actions. He said, “We all voted Agua the dog the hero of our mission.” Maybe soon Agua will have a cape to go with her sweater!
I am more excited than I was as a 3-year-old when there was a clown and pony rides at my birthday party! In 48 hours my NY Cat and Dog Film Festivals are going to take over the SVA Theatre in Chelsea and light up the hearts of pet lovers in New York City and the surrounding area.
The big difference between this and my childhood party excitement is that there are a lot more people coming to the “parties” I’m throwing this weekend in New York City. And I sure hope you will have a chance to join us for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of sharing with like-minded animal lovers the bond you feel with pets. I truly hope to share this experience with many of the people who listen to my pet talk radio shows ad meet them in person.
Leanne Italie wrote an insightful paean to the festivals for the Associated Press (AP) and the Washington Post was the first to grab her story. The separate festivals are on different days – Saturday afternoon December 9th for the premiere of the NY Cat Film Festival™ and Sunday the 10th for the 3rd Annual NY Dog Film Festival™. Both festivals consist of two separate programs of completely different short films (animated, documentary and narrative) which each have an incredible medley of short films celebrating the species of choice.
The Cats Have Their Day! For the first time ever, the NY Cat Film Festival™ will premiere with an intellectual and emotional roller-coaster ride for cat lovers, similar to what dog aficionados have experienced with the NY Dog Film Festival™for two years. The NY Cat Film Festival™is funded by Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat, a wonderful family-owned, philanthropic Colorado-based business, with all their products developed by Dr. Elsey himself, a feline-only veterinarian. The festival features two 70-minute programs of short films that explore our fascination with the felines who share our world. Gina from Dr. Elsey’s is flying in from Colorado to hand out samples and coupons from Elsey’s Precious Cat, with the help of volunteers from the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s animals, which has a Feral Cat Initiative, which is the beneficiary of a portion of every ticket.
Today in the New York Times, Laurel Graeber wrote this INCREDIBLE piece about the NY Cat Film Festival™. I am bursting with happiness and gratitude that she captured the essence of what it’s all about – two completely different programs of short films focused on cats. The programs are 70 minutes long each, one at 3:00 PM and the second at 4:30 PM. Get information about all the films and how to buy tickets (and I do recommend buying ahead of time because we are getting close to selling out and that’s even before other people read those wonderful articles I just shared with you!).
The Dogs are Going Strong for a 3rd Year The 3rd Annual NY Dog Film Festival™ will take on Sunday December 10th As I wrote last week, the initial funding for the NY Dog Film Festival™ came from Halo – who then passed the baton to the philanthropic Petco Foundation to that the festival could travel the country last year and going into 2018. Pura Naturals Pet is a sponsor of the festival and the first 300 ticket buyers to each of the two programs will get a sample of their organic shampoo and wipes. Weruva pet food is a sponsor of the dog festival and will be there distributing samples of their good-enough-for-people-to-eat food.
The Filmmakers Get Their Swag Bag of Goodies! There are so many terrific filmmakers flying in from around the country, and even abroad, that I had to do something a little special to fete them. The photos show all the lovely gifts they’ll be receiving in their very nice carry bags – CAT CHAT® baseball caps for the cat folks and a branded Dog Film festival leash and t-shirt for the canine crowd. My favorite interactive cat toy, the Nekoflies, went to every cat filmmaker as well. Halo® put freeze-dried Liv-a-Little salmon in the cat bags and the chicken Liv-a-Littles for the dogs, along with canned food for each species, as well. For the feline filmmakers, Jackson Galaxy graciously put his new book TOTAL CAT MOJO in their bags, as did Rita Mae Brown with her Mrs. Murphy mystery “Tall Tail,” while dog filmmakers receive Heather Weston’s gorgeous picture book, “Canines of New York” and “Loyal: 38 Inspiring Tales of Bravery, Heroism and the Devotion of Dogs,” by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh. Pura Naturals put in big bottles of organic, cruelty-free lavender cat or dog shampoo, and GoodNewsforPets.com has a thank-you for every filmmaker, too: flashlight flashdrives with Moleskin memo pad.
There will be volunteers from our beneficiary, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, and others from NYC Animal Care Center to let people know about how to foster and adopt, all “waving the flag about the great animals for adoption among the more than 150 rescue groups the Mayor’s Alliance supports. Student members of the Stuyvesant School Canine Appreciation Club will be on hand again, helping me greet and seat people and make sure everyone has an optimal time.
Won’t you join me for this very special weekend?
Tracie 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.
Tracie 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.