For all of you celebrating Christmas with a chewy, chewy dog. Until next time, Good day, and good dog!
Here in Stark County, Ohio, we are very fortunate to have the Children’s Network, a place where children of abuse can prepare for trials and work through their trauma. Founded in 1987, the Children’s Network Child Advocacy Center of Stark County (The Network) is a community partnership of caring professionals from child protective services, local … Continue reading Meet Sheba!
Christmas is a week from today guys, and while I’ve been great at making holiday cocktails, my holiday snack making has been less than stellar. Yesterday I decided to pull out an old recipe (one I’ve actually shared here in the past) and play around with it. A couple of quick changes made it better than ever, so I decided to share it here again. This makes for a really unique holiday app for parties, since, you know, most people don’t think of avocados when they think of winter. The pomegranate seeds give it the perfect hint of festive color (and truly delicious flavor), and combined with seasonal pears, turn regular old guac into holiday goodness.
2-3 large, ripe avocados, cubed
1 pear, cut into cubes
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Peel and cube the pear, and set aside. Remove seeds from the pomegranate, and set aside. Put cubed avocado in a serving bowl and mash to desired consistency. Stir in pear and pomegranate. Squeeze half a lime over the top, add a little salt, top with a few pomegranate seeds, and serve! It’s super easy and so yummy.
My mouth is genuinely watering thinking about those juicy pomegranate seeds. I hope you enjoy this fun take on winter guacamole as much as we do!
Who says white wine is only good in the summertime? I’ve made this white sangria every holiday season for the last few years and it’s always a hit. I leave out brandy or heavy fruit juices (I just use orange juice) like you find in traditional sangrias, so it’s crisp and light, which is a nice change from heavier winter cocktails.
1 bottle prosecco or champagne, chilled
1/2 cup orange juice
2-4 tablespoons sugar (depending on level of sweetness desired)
4-6 clementines, peeled and separated into segments
1 apple (we like Fuji), cut into small cubes
1 cup of fresh cranberries
Combine prosecco or champagne, orange juice, and sugar into a large pitcher. Stir until sugar is dissolved. (You can also make a simple syrup in advance to ensure sugar is melted.) Add clementines, apples, and cranberries, and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to one hour. Pour into glasses and top with a squeeze of fresh clementine juice.
If you try it, let me know what you think.
When Europe was a wilder place, there were lots of big game animals. Bison, brown bears, aurochs, and vast sounders of wild boar were all abundant. Before the Neolithic Revolution entered Europe, these animals were often hunted for their meat and hides, but after the Neolithic, man began to consider these animals pests.
Dogs were used to hunt them, but as the Neolithic gave way to the Ancient World, the dogs began to change. For big game, heavy-headed, big-framed dogs were used to hunt this often dangerous game. The first of these dogs appeared in Assyria, but they soon spread to Europe. Drop all that nonsense you may have heard about mastiffs being the ancient Molossus or have their origins in Tibet. Their origins are in Western Eurasia, and they began as big game hunters.
Supposedly the Alans brought their own form of hunting mastiff in Europe when they wandered west into the Roman Empire. This dog gave rise to the rootstock of the various bulldog breeds.
For centuries after, various European countries had their own rough bulldogs. Spain is pretty much the only one that has held onto its alano dog. Everyone else has greatly modified this creature.
The bulldogs evolved once the big game of Europe ceased to exist. Some of them were turned into a bull and bear-baiting dog. Others were kept at butcher shops to control half wild cattle and swine. Some were still utilized as catch dogs in Medieval hunts. They became symbolic creatures that reminders of a more savage past.
But by the nineteenth century, Europeans turned against bloodsports. The bulldogs were out of a job. The British began repurposing the bulldog into a pet. The original pet bulldog was 3/4 bulldog and 1/4 pug. This “Philo-Kuon” bulldog was heavily promoted as a pet, but other strains were being developed. One was the Sourmug, which eventually replaced the Philo-Kuon as the desired bulldog in England. There were also several smaller bulldogs, which had more pug and some terrier ancestry. These eventually gave rise to the French bulldog and the Boston terrier.
This repurposing of the bulldog in England did not go unnoticed in Germany. The Germans had two rough bulldog types the Danziger and Brabanter bullenbeissers. Brabant is, of course, in Belgium, but this lither bullenbeisser was fairly common in parts of Germany. It was this breed that was crossed with the Philo-Kuon bulldog to form the modern boxer breed. The Brabanter dog was preferred in the later days of German hunting as a catch dog on wild boar and deer, and it was favored among Bavarian huntsman.
Crossing the Philo-Kuon bulldog with the Brabanter bullenbeisser was an attempt to create a uniquely German pet bulldog.
The modern boxer’s history began at roughly the same time as the modern German shepherd dog. The SV for German shepherds began in 1899, but earlier attempts to create a standardized shepherd dog in Germany started with the Phylax Society in 1891. The first attempts to standardize the bullenbeisser/Philo-Kuon crosses began in 1894 in Munich, and the Boxer Club was founded in 1896.
So this dog went from being a big game hunter to a pet, but by the time the First World War started, it was then shifted into a dog of war. It was the only war in which it was widely used, though.
There has been a tension in boxers about whether to maintain them as pets or working dogs. Some of these dogs have been good at protection sports, but the vast majority of them are kept as pets.
I know of no one who uses them as catch dogs, but I have heard of a few people using boxer crosses in this way. The Dogo Argentino has a lot of boxer blood.
So here, we have dogs that were used for hunting, then for various sports, then for war, and now are mostly family dogs.
We have a tendency to romanticize nature writers. We think of Thoreau or Edward Abbey as sages on the land, revealing profound truths about the nature that was their true muse.
I just finished a book, a dog book that I’ve been meaning to read for several years. It is called Moobli by Mike Tomkies. Tomkies was famous for his first hand studies of Scottish wildcats, red deer, and golden eagles on the vast Highland wilderness on which he roamed. He set himself up in an ancient crofter’s cottage on the shore of Loch Sheil and spent years chronicling its wild creatures. For nearly 9 years, his main assistant in his wildlife studies was an “Alsatian” named Moobli.
Tomkies became a wildlife writer after leaving the Coldstream Guards and spending years wandering around North America. North America, of course, is a place with much more wilderness than the island of Great Britain. He became an expert tracker of grizzly bears and cougars, and when he returned to set up his mission in Scotland, he used these skills to find wildcats and badger setts.
When one reads Tomkies’s prose about wild creatures, a profound sensitivity and tenderness is revealed. His passion for them oozes through every description, and I thought we would get an even more intimate sensibility when the subject switches to a beloved dog.
I was strangely jarred by his inability to understand dogs. If you believe in positive only dog training, this book is very difficult to read. Moobli is hit often, and in many cases, Tomkies’s description of the why he gave the punishment would lead to me think that Moobli would have had no way to understand the correction. For example, Moobli gets hit for defecating in the cottage, even if the offense happened some time before the correction,
Knowing this breed as I do, my guess is that poor Moobli spent much of his life in constant terror of offending his beloved human, who seemed to offer very little attempts to communicate with him. These dogs are not stubborn or recalcitrant. I’ve never known dogs that worry so much at trying make sure they are doing your bidding. It distresses them to know you’re cross with them far more than it does with even golden retrievers.
And yes, they do have an edge to them, and they must understand rules and boundaries. They just must be communicated to the dog in a way that dog understands them, and for someone with such a deep sensitivity towards animals as Tomkies, it can be distressing to read how he is utterly tone-deaf in dealing with this dog.
From my reading of Tomkies’s biography, he owned only two dogs in his lifetime. The first was a free-roaming German shepherd-Labrador cross that he owned in Canada. This dog later accompanied him to Hollywood and made an appearance in a movie as an extra, and this dog was obedient and sagacious. Though he loved this animal very much, he left the dog in Canada on his return to the UK, but his partial German shepherd heritage inspired Tomkies to get one of his own for his Scottish missions.
Tomkies didn’t know dogs. He tried to, but as I read the book, I kept wondering if he would ever understand what Moobli actually was. I laughed quite hard at his description of “Alsatians” as independent dogs, for I will tell you in all honestly that “independent” is one word I would not ascribe to this breed. I can only image what would have happened had Tomkies taken in a Siberian husky or some form of scenthound.
However, despite my reservations with Tomkies’s understanding of dogs, his honesty in the prose is almost refreshing. He confesses to hitting Moobli, even after he decides it is immoral, and he also is open about his abuse of alcohol and how lonely he becomes as the one man sage of this wilderness.
Moobli, though, is such a compelling figure. Moobli has loads of tending and warding off instinct. He finds many injured red deer and sheep on their long hikes into the wild. He also becomes a proficient tracking dog, tracing foxes to their earths and badgers to their setts. That Moobli is able to figure out what Tomkies wants, even though Tomkies obviously had no clue how to train a dog, is a testament towards his German shepherd biddability and intelligence.
Moobli is also a contradiction. Though he is gentle with most sheep and red deer hinds and calves, he could be quite aggressive towards rams and stags that came to raid Tomkies’s sprout and cabbage patch. Tomkies describes the great battle between Moobli and a garden raiding stage, which stands to fight the barking dog.
Further, Tomkies caught Moobli chasing a brown hare while on a visit to Southern England, and although he was able to call Moobli off, his predatory instincts are stimulated. On the returning to Scotland, Moobli gets after a roebuck, which he pursues into the water and kills in a most lupine way.
So the same dog that would tend a starving lamb or an abandoned red deer calf could also kill a roe deer on the run.
Tomkies is more angry at Moobli for the attack. He does not take the time to marvel in this profound contradiction that exists in dogs and humans and in all species that are social hunters. We can be gentle and tender, even loving, but we can also be so savage at times.
Moobli’s relationship with the various wildcats that Tomkies raised is also worth noting. Tomkies lived with wildcats in much the same way that Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived with wolves in Idaho. He really got to understand what a European wildcat truly was in its essence, and Moobli was an expert in tracking down the cats once Tomkies gave them liberty to roam in the wild. He also was the gentle caretaker of any kittens that Tomkies raised in the house.
Moobli is a good dog. He is active and fit, and because of his great tracking prowess, he is the ultimate naturalist’s dog. He can get on the track of the different species on command, tearing off after wildcats and ignoring badger and fox spoor and then tracking those beasts when his master gives the appropriate command.
He is also a superb retriever. Fetching many objects just based upon their name, and when one reads Tomkies’s description of teaching the dog to do a retrieve, it is obvious that he never heard of any kind of formal retriever training. He just points at the object and gives it a name, and Moobli deduces the object by his master’s “Nahs” and haranguing.
That this dog performed so well with such inexpert handling is truly remarkable. At one point, the dog figures out how to push Tomkies’s small boat to shore when the engine gives out. After trying to look for objects to retrieve, he begins to push boat with his paws as he swam strongly in the water.
This dog is on the move. He swims several miles a day in the loch during the warmer months, and he also spends hours traveling over the mountains with Tomkies. The photos of Moobli in the book reveal a faded out black and tan. The dog is a sort of homely creature. His ears don’t really stand properly, even though they were posted. Judging from the photos, he is a hair fat, even though he does get this exercise, and I wonder how much venison and sausage that Tomkies was feeding him every day.
Despite his physical defect, Moobli’s temperament and proclivities are so typical of what the best of this breed has to offer. If only he had experienced a more careful hand to mold him, Moobli would have become an even more special dog than what he became.
I suppose that my difference with Tomkies is that I am a nature writer whose dogs have always been my conduit for exploring the natural world. Tomkies is a nature writer who happens to like the odd dog that he finds useful. Tomkies does not take much time to understand the canine condition. It is always projected through his own very human nature.
The hardest part of the book is what comes at the end. In animal biographies, we know what happens. The animal dies.
And Moobli died of degenerative myelopathy. When he was going through the disease in the early 80s, we had poor understanding of the disorder. Tomkies describes one veterinarian who calls it “the Alsatian disease,” even though other breeds get it, and in those parts of the book, he conflates it a bit with an unrelated arthritis issue that Moobli also developed.
We now know the disorder is conferred by a recessive allele. The spine degenerates when the dog is in late middle age, and in our popular understanding of the disorder, we often see a conflation between this disease and hip dysplasia. Not all dogs that are homozygous for the recessive allele get the disorder, but it is a big problem in the breed.
Tomkies had a hard time letting Moobli go. Swimming was superb exercise for the dog, and after several months dragging his rear, the dog winds up with massive shoulders.
Tomkies writes veterinarians all over the UK, hoping that one might have a the cure. The offer only new treatments. There was no cure then. There is no cure now.
He hits Moobli for defecating in the house when the disorder hits. That was the hardest part of the book to read, but Tomkies realizes that this lack of bladder control is a symptom of the disease. He then rearranges the cottage for ease of cleaning.
For nearly a year, Tomkies keeps Moobli alive. It is only when the dog’s dragging tail becomes infected with bottlefly maggots that he decides to alleviate his suffering through euthanasia.
In the end, Tomkies realizes what a profoundly good dog he had, and in the epilogue, he admits that he has not purchased another dog. He says that he is too full of sorrow to get another, and if he did, it would have to be a very different sort of dog. I detect a bit of remorse about how he treated the dog at times, which is why Tomkies included such horrible images in his prose.
It is just as well, for wild creatures are Tomkies’s true muse. He had a great dog, but he lacked the expertise to understand this creature and its true potential.
The end of the book is Tomkies describing his loneliness. His father has just passed in Spain. Various commercial interests are pressing hard on invading his wilderness. The townspeople are no longer amused by his wilderness activism. No publisher will buy his manuscript, and he is stuck living in the converted sheep shed on Loch Shiel. Moobli’s grave lies just below the cottage, and he is forced to remember what once was and never will be.
This is the true tragedy of the nature writer. He is alone. There is mystery and romance about such an ascetic existence, but it is not all the beauty and the glory of the wildness. It is recognizing that one can put one’s self in exiled existence that is hard to rectify.
And then not even have a dog to care for you.
This post is sponsored by Autotrader; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
My family and I are no strangers to travel. Thanks to my husband’s job (he works for a band and travels constantly), we get to take journeys throughout the year to visit or accompany him, both by plane and by car. We also have friends and family throughout the midwest, so it’s road trips that end up being the most frequent type of travel for us. And when it comes to road trips, it’s the holiday season ones that end up being the most unforgettable. There is something especially sentimental about them (there’s a reason “home for the holidays” is such a beloved expression), but they also seem to be the most challenging (which, ultimately, also makes them the most memorable). As we prepare to go visit my sister and her family for the holiday season in a couple of weeks, I thought I’d share some of my tips (from experience!) that make holiday road tripping with kids a success.
1. Prepare your vehicle.
One of the most important tips is something I found via a great article on Autotrader with tips for long holiday road trips: ready your vehicle. This might seem like common sense, but there have been more times than I care to admit that I’ve been in a rush to hit the road and have neglected getting my car trip-ready, only to have something go wrong on the way. Make sure your vehicle is up to date on maintenance and oil changes, that coolant and windshield wiper fluids are full, and that the tire pressure is correct. Run it through the car wash and vacuum the inside as well. The trip will be so much more comfortable for your whole family in a clean vehicle, I promise. And your stress level will be infinitely lower knowing your car is in good shape for travel, especially during these winter months.
2. Bring an extra phone charger.
Yet another reminder I discovered in the holiday road trip article on Autotrader, this tip is one I wish I had years ago. When my youngest was a baby, I took a solo road trip to Indianapolis and my cell charger broke. It was during the holidays, the roads were bad, and I was in the middle of nowhere. Eventually I came across a town and found a place that carried them, but dragging a toddler and newborn out into a snowstorm to buy it was not fun. Especially in case of emergency, having an extra charger in the car is crucial.
3. Pack coloring and activity books and/or a travel journal.
Yes, screens are an easy way to keep the kids occupied, but bringing along more hands-on activities like coloring books for the little ones or travel journals for older kids will make your holiday road trip so much more memorable for them. We recently got the coolest road trip kit called Joy to the Road box from Autotrader that came with a fun Paint By Sticker book (think paint by number without the mess; perfect for the car), Color & Frame book (the kids can make frame-worthy colored art as holiday gifts for loved ones on the trip!), colored pencils, and a travel journal where my daughter can write about each day of the trip. These types of activities are the perfect way to keep the kids occupied while remaining present for the experience of the trip instead of tuning out.
4. Bring snacks. Lots of snacks.
Hell hath no fury like a child who is trapped in a car for hours with no snacks. We try to pack healthy, non-messy snacks (apples, strawberries, apple sauce pouches, crackers, and string cheese), and we also pack some fun holiday themed treats like candy canes and holiday cookies. Snacks are an easy solution to a whole lot of road-tripping-with-kids problems, I promise.
5. Take pictures to create visual memories.
We take a lot of pictures on our phones on holiday road trips (okay, so my husband doesn’t, but I take enough for both of us), and I’m always so thankful later to be able to look back through the visual memories. But there are other ways to take pictures that can make your holiday road trip even more fun. My kids were so excited to receive an Instax Mini 9 camera and film in our Joy to the Road box from Autotrader, and we can’t wait to use it on our trip. We plan to take photos along the way and make a special photo album documenting our journey when we get back.
6. Make the car ride cozy.
If you’re going to be spending hours (or even days) in the car, your might as well make sure you’re comfortable. My kids and I love creating a cozy holiday environment in our van for trips like this. We bring blankets, cozy slippers (I’m loving the comfy snowflake slippers that were included in our Joy to the Road box from Autotrader; Emmett does too, and has claimed them for his own, as seen in the image above), and hot chocolate and coffee (in my new Autotrader Titan Thermal Mug from our Joy to the Road box, which came filled with yummy holiday sweet treats for our journey). We als listen to holiday music the entire way (or at least until it drives my husband crazy).
7. Put a first aid kit in your car.
Maybe you already have one in your car (high fives for thinking ahead!), but until I received one in my Joy to the Road box from Autotrader, I never even thought about it. Mine (from Thrive; it’s so cute) is the perfect glove box size and features a whole bunch of medical grade supplies, and I will never go on a road trip without it again. Vehicle first aid kits are especially important during holiday road trips when winter weather can create unsafe road conditions. And let’s face it, the chances of a kid needing bandage on a road trip are usually pretty high (because they make even the tiniest scratch feel better, right?).
8. Keep hand sanitizer in your vehicle.
Raise you hand if your child always seems to get sick during holiday travels! It’s so easy to pick up germs during the cold months, and travel – whether by road or air – seems to up the chances even more. We keep hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes in our car at all times, and make sure we’re constantly cleaning our hands during holiday road trips.
9. Check the weather and road conditions in advance.
I tend to check the weather on my phone when we’re stopped during trips, but Autotrader’s Long Holiday Road Trip Tips article reminded me of the importance of checking ahead of time, before we hit the road. We’ve been caught off guard with road closures more than once during holiday travels, and while they’re never fun, they’re even more stressful when your little ones are with you. So check the weather before you leave, and use the Federal Highway Administration’s website (as suggested by Autotrader) for road updates.
10. Take breaks.
Another great trip from Autotrader’s Holiday Road Trip Tips article is to take regular breaks. We tend to try to get to our destination as quickly as possible, but it’s safer (and more fun!) to stop occasionally and stretch our legs. (This is also a great time to follow tip #4 and take pictures!) Autotrader suggests stopping at least once every two hours or more frequently if it’s snowing, which can have a hypnotic effect (who knew?). Autotrader also suggests taking frequent breaks during night driving to prevent fatigue and tunnel vision on the highway. Taking breaks to enjoy the journey makes it more fun for everyone as well!
Wherever your holiday road trips bring you, I hope these tips prove helpful! And for more great tips, check out Autotrader’s Holiday Road Trip Tips article and Autotrader’s Best Family-Friendly Car Features for Surviving Road Trips article. Autotrader has always been our go-to to help make car shopping easier, but now they’re also one of our go-tos for making holiday road travel easier too! From their informative articles to their seriously awesome Joy to the Road box, Autotrader is a true Santa’s helper for making holiday road trips stress-free. And as always, Autotrader makes online car buying quick, easy, and trustworthy. They have the widest variety of vehicle options in one place, and they’ve even added Kelley Blue Book Price Advisor to their car listings, so you get the most trusted pricing. The best!
If you have any tips for making holiday road trips with kids a smooth, enjoyable experience, I’d love to hear. Happy holiday travels!
The remains of an 18,000-year-old puppy might be those of a common ancestor of domestic dogs and modern gray wolves
A two-month-old puppy died 18,000 years ago, and it was preserved the permafrost near Yakutsk in Eastern Siberia. I knew about this discovery a few weeks ago, but I was waiting DNA tests to see exactly what it was. The late Pleistocene is when we start to see the beginnings of domestic dogs, and we do have some tantalizing subfossils of wolves with what might be exhibiting morphological characters suggesting domestication that date to even earlier than this puppy. So it is an interesting find.
Indeed, any of these late Pleistocene gray wolves that are found in Eurasia could hold some mysteries about dog domestication.
But the initial DNA analysisrevealed that it does not match domestic dogs or extant gray wolves. This suggests that it might come from the ancestral population that leads to both.
Or it could mean that it is of a lineage of gray wolf that has since died out.
Of course, most media coverage of the discovery hint at this puppy being from the ancestral form, but it’s more likely that the latter is the disappointing answer.
More extensive genome analysis is going to be needed to determine what this gray wolf pup was.
Whatever it was, this puppy shows that these discoveries hold many mysteries in their DNA.
The puppy has been named “Dogor,” which means “friend” in the Yakutian language. And he might have been just that– a friend to some band of Pleistocene hunters.
But for now, we can only speculate and wonder.
The tan markigns have expanded. We now have then going up the shoulder and the hip. The blanket markings are easier to see at night when you shine a flashlight on her. You can see where they will eventually be delineated.
Yes, she has some grizzling on her back. That is to be expected in females of this type.
For comparison. Here is her on October 26.