Worried About a Positive Test for Lyme Disease?

dog-lying-in-grass

Hang on! Wait! Just because your dog tests positive for Lyme disease in the vet’s office does NOT mean you need to treat with antibiotics!

My sister and two friends of mine recently took their dogs to their vets for an annual exam. All the dogs seemed totally healthy and had no complaints at all. Their vets did a quick office SNAP blood test for Lyme disease (the tick borne disease endemic across the East Coast and much of the country) and the dogs tested positive for Lyme. All three of their vets prescribed those dogs a month’s worth of doxycycline to “treat” the Lyme disease.

But those dogs probably did not have Lyme disease!!

Dogs that do have Lyme disease show some or all signs of the illness: lameness, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, lack of appetite, lethargy.

I continue to be frustrated and baffled that so many dogs who are tested for Lyme (as they should be) are often prescribed drugs that they do not need 95% of the time.

As you will hear in the interview below, Dr. Donna Spector explains that experts in the field estimate that 70-90% of all healthy dogs in areas with the disease will test positive for it – without having Lyme disease.

Only 5% of dogs exposed to the bacteria will ever get clinical signs of it – in which case the dog would need those antibiotics to clear the bacteria from his system.

I urge you to listen to my conversation with Dr. Donna Spector – the board certified veterinary internist who is my co-host on our Radio Pet Lady Network show The Expert Vet. She came on Dog Talk last year to help clarify widespread confusion by owners and vets in how to interpret and manage test results.

Lyme Disease: What You Need to Know

Dog Talk (05-02-2015) #419: “Everything you need to know about Lyme disease and might have to educate your own vet about.” Dr. Donna Spector, Tracie’s co-host on the Radio Pet Lady network show THE EXPERT VET brings everyone up to date on the when/why/how of Lyme disease.

As you will hear in this interview, Dr. Donna explains that a positive test generally means that a dog has been exposed to the bacteria that causes Lyme (because you live in an environment that is endemic to the ticks that carry it) and their body has mounted a successful immune response to the bacteria. That’s actually a good thing!

She also explains that experts recommend that you test the urine of a dog with a positive Lyme test to make sure there is no protein in their urine. That can be the earliest sign of the illness and can actually result in kidney failure and even death if not diagnosed and treated.

Listen to Dog Talk: Lyme Disease: What You Need To Know

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RPLN-NewLogo-ProudSponsor175x197 Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.

Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.

Halo

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Stray Kitten Steals the Show on Live Newscast

Lucky Seven the cat crashes channel 7 reporter

Photo credit: WXYZ-TV

 

You never know what you’re going to see on live television, including an adorable stray kitten crashing a newscast!

According to Buzzfeed, that’s just what happened in Detroit one Monday morning when WXYZ-TV Channel 7 reporter and anchor Nima Shaffe was wrapping up a segment in front of the local sheriff’s office.

Shaffe was surprised to look down and see a tiny marmalade and white cat boldly approach him and begin meowing incessantly. “She was scurrying about underneath cars and meowing really loud,” Shaffe told Buzzfeed.

Shaffe reached down and picked up the little cat and became instantly smitten with the active roly-poly girl they named Lucky Seven. “She likes to talk,” Shaffe told Buzzfeed. “She likes to tell people her life story.”

Read more about Lucky Seven.

Halo

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Frenchy

I want a French Bulldog …!
RIVIERA DOGS

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Preparing For Our First Back-To-School Mornings

I almost can’t believe I’m saying this, but Essley starts preschool in just a few weeks. (Wait, didn’t I just give birth to the kid, like, last week?) And while I suppose I can’t really use the term “back-to-school” to apply to us, since this is technically our first school adventure and it’s not like we’re going back to anything, we’ve been getting into back-to-school mode around here. The preschool Essley is attending is part of the public school system here, so it follows the same calendar as older grades and has some of the same requirements in terms of school supplies, etc. So while it’s only a two day a week program and the students are all two-and-a-half and three year olds, it feels pretty official.

I’m admittedly both excited and nervous, as I always tend to be with “first times” when it comes to my kids, and we want Essley to look forward to going to school, so we’ve been practicing a routine that, naturally, begins with our mornings. I work from home so we’ve gotten pretty used to leisurely mornings that often involve moving slowly, making semi-elaborate breakfasts (especially when Robbie, our house chef, is home between the band’s tours), and lots of time spent in pajamas. Recently we’ve breaking out of that mold in preparation for school by getting dressed and washed up right away, and eating nutritious but simple breakfasts that take less time, like Essley’s favorite, Cheerios with organic fruit. After breakfast Essley usually runs directly to her backpack, puts it on, and loudly proclaims that it’s time to go to school. Establishing this morning routine has been beneficial for all of us. It’s actually kind of fun.

We’ve also been preparing for the back-to-school mornings (and school in general) by shopping for breakfast and after school snack items at Costco. In addition to having everything we need, Costco is currently running a really cool Box Top special called the Golden Box Tops Challenge, where, by purchasing specially marked General Mills products with 8 Box Tops (like Essley’s beloved Cheerios), you can enter to win an additional 100 eBoxTops (!!!). This may be our first year but we’re already well aware of how Box Tops help raise money for and bring major classroom benefits to schools, so this is a really wonderful way for us to get ourselves prepared for getting involved, even at the Pre-K level. And if you don’t have a lot of extra time or money to devote to your kids’ schools, Box Tops are an incredible way to contribute through items that you already have on your grocery list. We’ve also been teaching Essley how Box Tops can help her school, and together we make a game out of cutting them out and putting them into a basket that she’ll be able to bring to her school later on. We have also, of course, entered the Golden Box Tops Challenge. You can enter too! Just click here to learn how, along with more about the prizes and participating products. We think it’s pretty great.

While I’m by no means a back-to-school expert (you honestly can’t get more “beginner” than me if we’re being honest here), for my fellow new-to-school preschooler moms and dads, I highly recommend getting a head start on your school mornings if you can. Even our simple routine of getting up at an established time, getting dressed, making and eating an easy but healthy breakfast, brushing teeth, and encouraging Essley as she pretends to head to school for the day, along with other back-to-school activities like participating in Costco’s Golden Box Tops Challenge, has made the whole experience feel like a something to get excited about instead of dread.

Do any of you have kids heading to preschool this fall? Who else collects Box Tops?


Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. This post is sponsored by Costco Golden Box Tops and Acorn.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Noticeable Results: New Leash On Life Donation Report

New-Leash-On-LifeNew Leash on Life, an animal welfare organization located in Lebanon, TN, is dedicated to improving the welfare of companion animals in the community through shelter, placement, spay/neuter, education and awareness. In addition, they provide pet food assistance to citizens in the community who are in need and assure their animals have what they need.

Halo is proud to partner with Freekibble.com and GreaterGood.org to achieve noticeable results for pets together.

Here’s what New Leash on Life had to say about a recent Halo Pets donation:

“We had a single mom that had been out of work and though she is back at work, she has only found part time employment. She and her daughter care deeply for their animals and without pet food assistance may have been forced to surrender their pets.”

Thank you, New Leash on Life for making a noticeable difference for pets in your community!

When you choose Halo pet food, made from natural, whole food ingredients, your pet won’t be the only one with a radiant coat, clear eyes and renewed energy. Halo feeds it forward, donating over 1.5 million meals annually. As always, Halo will donate a bowl to a shelter every time YOU buy.

Halo Pets food donation

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#PawPromise Adoptable Dogs of the Week: Charlie Brown, Angel

Hi! I’m Charlie Brown, and while I may be named after the protagonist in Peanuts, on the day I get adopted I’ll probably look a lot like Charles Schulz’s famous comic strip canine,…



[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


DogTipper

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Emmett’s Birth Story

It took me four months to share Essley’s birth story, and I remember thinking that was way too long to wait, and that I’d never wait that long if we had another babe. Well here we are, nearly seven months past Emmett’s birth, and I’m just getting around to sharing it. Sitting down and writing out the details of a baby being born is a mental and emotional commitment, and I think you really have to be in the right mind set (and have a few hours to set aside) – and that’s the simple reason for why, in my case, it’s taken a while. I should also inform you, before you even start reading it, that my labor and birth with Emmett was much less intense than with Essley (and I’d also given birth before), so the story will probably be less exciting (and certainly less dramatic). But it is, of course, just as significant to me. As with Essley’s birth story, I want to again state that hundreds of thousands of women give birth everyday, and no matter how emotional I may be in talking about my experience, the reality is that the reason my story is so special to me is that it’s mine. Each one of these women has their own story too – and each one is equally important. Thank you for choosing to take the time to read ours.

My pregnancy with Emmett, like my pregnancy with Essley, was fairly uneventful until the third trimester (unless you count the first trimester’s crippling fatigue and frequent barfing episodes, of course). With Essley I began having serious issues with high blood pressure in the final weeks that ultimately led to me having to be induced a week before my due date. I religiously took my blood pressure when I hit my third trimester with Emmett because I was so worried about repeating that scenario (which quite honestly, thanks to a 30 hour labor, was pretty awful). Fortunately it never rose above normal levels. I did, however, experience another complication, this time with my heart. I noticed a couple of months before my due date that I was having trouble catching my breath even walking up short flights of stairs. Sometimes I would just be leisurely grocery shopping and my heart would start pounding out of nowhere and I’d begin to feel dizzy. Every now and then, I’d even start to faint. I spoke to my OB, and after subsequent visits to both the hospital and a cardiologist, along with multiple series of tests that included EKGs, an echocardiogram, and a 24 hour Holter monitor, I was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia and PVC and PAC heart arrhythmias. Basically, my heart was both “skipping beats” and speeding up to dangerously high levels. The “best” case scenario was that it was being caused by the pregnancy and would resolve after birth (just like with my blood pressure issues in the previous pregnancy), and the worst was that the pregnancy was just opening the door to an underlying issue I already had. Either way, it could not be ignored. I was prescribed beta blockers by the cardiologist, but after talking about them with my OB (who is an incredible person; I feel ridiculously lucky to have been able to have such a compassionate, knowledgable, pro-mother doctor by my side on both of my pregnancy journeys) and learning more about how they could potentially affect the baby, I declined. Instead I was ordered to walking bedrest, which meant I could still do most daily activities on a small scale, but I couldn’t exert myself – at all. Since by the last few weeks of pregnancy I could barely make it up a few stairs without having to instantly sit (or lie) down, I was okay with taking it easy. I just didn’t want to have to be induced again.

About a week before my due date (January 9th), things started worsening with my heart. I was being woken up multiple times a night by what felt like it beating out of my chest. Even getting up to go to the bathroom would cause me to lose my breath. I’d already been experiencing contractions for a couple of weeks at this point, and I was already dilated. But after a long, emotional discussion with my OB, a decision was made to induce once again. This time the induction would not be early but on my actual due date (if, of course, I didn’t have the baby on my own before then). In truth, this was a bummer, as my induction experience with Essley was difficult, and I was really hoping to avoid it this time. Now let me digress for a minute and state that for the record, I am a firm believer that no one way of giving birth is the right way. Whether a woman has an unassisted home birth that consists of aromatherapy and floral baths and Tibetan singing bowls playing the background or a hospital birth that consists of all the pain killers and intervention one can get, that is her decision and anyone who judges anyone else for how she chooses to birth her baby (as long as it’s safe, obviously) is a jerk. Let’s also not forget that many times (probably most times) no birth plan goes exactly as one hopes (neither of mine have), and a lot of times how a baby makes its way into the world doesn’t even end up being a matter of choice. So while I had hoped for a “natural” birth with Essley, I had to be induced for both her safety and mine, and I was completely at peace with that. The reason I did not like being induced was simply that Pitocin-induced contractions are incredibly intense, and while, again, I needed to birth her immediately because of my blood pressure, my body was not ready to give birth that early – so my labor ended up being excruciatingly long. I didn’t want to repeat that scenario, so the decision to induce again was not made lightly, and I was a little sad about it. I tried to focus on the positive though – I was already in early labor, so even if Emmett didn’t come on his own before then, my body was clearly ready to give birth, even if I ended up needing a “boost” to get it going for the sake of my health.

As the days progressed, my contractions intensified and became more frequent. By the day before my due date, I was almost certain I’d have the baby that night and not need to be induced. I set my alarm for 5 AM (our appointment at the hospital was 6 AM) and crossed my fingers, but when I woke up (or more accurately, got up, since I couldn’t sleep all night) I was not in active labor. I was disappointed and incredibly nervous, but I was also overwhelmed with excitement. Robbie’s parents were in town, and plans had been made for them and my parents to take turns caring for Essley (we were in the hospital for 5 days when I had her, and we had no idea how long this stay would be), so we made our calls, ate a light breakfast, grabbed our hospital bags, and headed out to have our baby. My little sister, who was my unofficial doula during my first birth, also hit the road from Indianapolis to drive up to assist me again.

When we got to the hospital, my heart arrhythmias were out of control. I’m sure a huge part of this was due to my nerves, but it was scary nonetheless. My contractions were consistent but not close enough together to consider it active labor. I was dilated, but not much. So we got settled in and waited to see if things progressed on their own. After a couple of hours, they hadn’t, so we agreed to start on a small dose of Pitocin. Thankfully, because I was already in early labor, we didn’t need to use Cervadil or start with a high dosage of Pitocin this time. On top of that, I’d already gotten used to contractions since I’d been having them for weeks, so when they started to intensify, it didn’t feel like a shock. I walked the halls and bounced on a birthing ball incessantly, which brought some comfort from the pain and also helped speed things along. Unlike my labor with Essley, where I initially did not want an epidural (but did eventually get one), this time I planned to get one once my contractions got to be 2 minutes apart. (Because this time I knew what kind of contractions accompany Pitocin and there was no way in hell I was going through 30 hours of that kind of pain again, thank you very much.)

The day actually went along without much action (I mean, aside from the fact that I was, you know, in labor and stuff). I was feeling okay, so Robbie’s parents brought Essley by in the afternoon, which was so great. I loved getting to see her for a while and get some snuggles in. She thought the hospital bed was the coolest thing ever, and she was thrilled that her baby brother was going to be coming very soon. It was a wonderful distraction for me, and also a nice break to have right before I became completely consumed by labor. My sister and Robbie were life savers again, constantly refilling my water, stealing me broth packets and jello (both of which only taste good when you’re in labor) from the nurses station, massaging me, and being my cheerleaders.

After my water broke (which once again had to be helped along by my OB but, THANK THE UNIVERSE, didn’t explode and hit him in the face like it did last time – true story), things started to progress rapidly.  I continued to walk the halls (where the remainder of my water broke all over the hallway right in front of the nurse’s station – good times!) until the pain became so unbearable I could no longer stand. My sister and Robbie took turns rubbing my lower back (we once again used the three-tennis-balls-in-a-sock apparatus and it basically saved my life, man) as I moaned and rocked on the birthing ball. I laughed a lot too (which hurt, but I couldn’t help it), mainly because they kept making fun of me for saying,”when the contractions get to 2 minutes apart, I’ll get the epidural,” over and over again, for hours. (FYI – the contractions never got to 2 minutes apart. And to this day, I get random texts from both of them saying, “Hey, when the contractions get to 2 minutes apart, you should get the epidural.”) The hours passed and eventually the shaking and involuntary crying took over, so I finally requested the anesthesiologist.

It was evening by the time I finally got the epidural. I was exhausted, hungry, and starting to fear I was in for a repeat of the 30 hour labor I had with Essley. We’d expected this to be a much shorter labor with baby being born in the afternoon. I was, after all, already in early labor when I’d gotten to the hospital that morning. It was also my due date so it wasn’t early like last time, and it was my second baby. So I was feeling a little defeated. And while the epidural helped with the pain to a degree, I’d asked for the lowest dosage and could still feel the contractions pretty intensely. I considered asking for a slightly higher dose when I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to poop. Now, my epidural with Essley must have been an incredibly well placed epidural, because I had no idea she was about to come when she did. I felt nothing (which after 30 hours is admittedly the best thing that could happen). But those of you who have given vaginal birth know what it means when you suddenly feel like you have to take a massive poop during active labor. It means you’re about to have a baby.

And just like that, here we were again. Robbie held up one leg and my sister the other. In rushed the team of nurses and my OB, and as I watched them prep the baby area of the room for Emmett’s arrival, my eyes swelled with tears (similar to the one I’m getting as I type this out). Unlike last time, where I was so delirious and physically sick from such a lengthy, strenuous labor that I was terrified to push out my baby, I was absolutely thrilled. Emmett was coming! This time I made sure to focus on every detail. I closely watched in the mirror as the top of his sweet little head, full of thick black hair, became visible. I also paid attention to all of the sensations. While I only pushed for 12 minutes (!), I felt everything. I mean everything. Holy shit does pushing a baby through your vagina hurt when the epidural isn’t effective. (According to Robbie and my sister I vocalized this pain through plenty of profanity.) And then, suddenly, there it was – that beautifully familiar high pitched cry. Our little boy was here.

Emmett Hunter Williams was born at 9:22 PM on January 9th, 2016. He was 8 pounds 10 ounces and 21.5 inches long. Just like his sister, he was swollen and purple and wet and covered in vernix. And just like his sister, he was beautiful and perfect and my dream come true in ways I could never attempt to put into words. Here he was, this tiny human who had lived inside of me for close to 10 months. It was him all along. I didn’t think I could ever possibly love anyone the way I loved Essley, but at this moment, my heart grew. I mean really guys, it did. What a wonderful, cosmic, surreal feeling it was – one that continues to this day. Emmett (which we found out after choosing the name means “complete”) was finally here, and our family was, indeed, complete.

After Emmett and I had a chance to nurse and snuggle and kiss and bond, I devoured two sandwiches, a bag of chips, two cookies, and a candy bar. Then I took a few minutes, before we were moved out of the labor/delivery room into our recovery room, to reflect on what had just happened. While the pain had been even more brutal than with Essley thanks to what was admittedly a pretty crappy epidural, both the labor and delivery were so much shorter that it felt like nothing in comparison. I also, unlike with my first birth, did not vomit or poop on the delivery table (bonus!). But more than anything, I felt very grateful to have been able to feel coherent and alert enough to watch myself giving birth – something I didn’t get to experience the first time around, and something that was intensely powerful.

I could sit here and spend even more hours writing about the days that followed. I could compose an entire post about the moment when Essley got to meet her baby brother for the first time. I could probably write a full novel about when we first brought Emmett home (after only two short nights in the hospital this time) and spent the next week completely blissed out as a family of four. I could also devote several posts to the hard stuff, like how Essley decided that throwing books at her new brother’s head was the best way to react to this transition, or how Robbie had to go back on the road for work when Emmett was two weeks old and I was suddenly taking care of a newborn and toddler on my own, day and night. But instead I’ll end things here and just say that I am grateful, and I am happy. The love I feel for my babes is beyond comprehension. It’s a love that is so far beyond worth the horror of pregnancy complications and the excruciating pain of labor and birth and the hard days/nights when we all end up in tears that it’s almost not even worth mentioning any “bad” parts.

Essley and Emmett, thank you for making me a mother, and for making me your mother. It is the greatest thing I have ever done, and everyday with you is the best day of my life. I love you with all my heart.

Oh, and speaking of hearts, my heartbeat almost immediately went back to normal, my heart issues disappeared, and I haven’t had any problems since. I went back to my cardiologist for a six month postpartum follow-up a couple of weeks ago and my heart, for now, appears to be perfectly fine. Pregnancy is strange.

Wow. That was long. Thank you for reading, friends, and letting me share the story of one of the two best days of my life. If you’ve shared a birthing story, please leave a link in the comments. I’d love to read yours too!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Hey From Our Weekend Getaway

Happy almost Friday guys. (It just sounds better to say that than “Happy Thursday,” ya know?) As this post goes lives, the kids and I will be on another road trip down to Indianapolis to spend some QT with their auntie/my sister one last time before she starts up teaching for the school year again (on Monday – how is that possible?) and to hang with Robbie at work tomorrow. The band is playing at White River State Park which is right downtown and one of my favorite venues. This will be Emmett’s first show (thank you for all the kind words on his birth story post by the way; it’s been the most viewed post on the blog in the last month!), and probably the first show that Essley actually gets and is excited about. She can’t wait to help daddy at work! I’ll be snapping from backstage and during the show, so if you’re into that, come visit me on Snapchat (and/or Instagram because their new IG Stories feature is basically Snapchat, right?) under username bubbyandbean. And if you’re going to be at the show (I know a few of you are fans of the band!), please say hi if you see me! Unfortunately Robbie has to hop back on the tour bus right after the show but he’ll be joining us back in Indianapolis on Sunday, and on Monday we’ll all drive home together before he hits the road again for late summer and early fall tour. Things will be really intense after that for me with work and the babes so I’m looking forward to enjoying this final long summer weekend with friends and fam. I know things have been chiller than normal here on the blog the last couple of weeks, but that’s about to end. The editorial calendar for the rest of August is almost completely full, so look forward to a whole lot of posts.

What are your plans for the weekend? Whatever they are, I hope you enjoy them. See you Monday!

P.S. That top image is (obviously) not from our trip, nor does it look anything like what it will be (I am traveling with a baby and a toddler – so yeah, not even close). Nope. But I liked it, and it made me think of summertime travel. So there you go. Here’s the source.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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The coyote gets thrown in for free

 

 

 

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The other evening, I was at an sporting goods store in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At the checkout line, the attendant noticed that I was purchasing some coyote attractant and began to bash them.

“Somebody set ’em out.”

This is not dissimilar to the reaction I would get in virtually any place in West Virginia.

Coyotes are reviled virtually anywhere they are found. If they aren’t being blamed for killing calves and sheep, then they are being blamed for killing all the fawns or trophy bucks or are implicated in disappearances of beloved outdoor cats.

Coyotes were once found only the prairies and mountains of the West. Their old name was “prairie wolf,” but now it is often called the “brush wolf.”  In my part of the world, you pretty much see coyotes when they burst out of some thicket or dive down a logging road into roughest, brushiest terrain they can find.

This is an animal that fears our kind. We have long since killed off any that were less than paranoid about people.Their lives are harrowing. Death stalks at every corner.

But the thing which brings the death is also the thing that allows them to thrive. That thing is us. Modern man has made the world so much nicer for coyotes. We’ve killed off the larger wolves and most of the cougars, and we’ve allowed white-tailed deer to overpopulate our forests.  We leave out garbage and pet food for them. We let feral and outdoor cats wander about, and they are pretty easy prey for a coyote.

That brings us to the human element of the story. South Carolina natural and author John Lane spent a year traveling the South in search of the real coyote story. The Southeastern states were among the first settled by Europeans, and they were among the first to wipe out wolves.

Now, this part of the country has to deal with a new predator, one that is far more resolute and durable than the wolves that existed at the time of colonization and settlement.

And for a part of the country that has long been settled into a kind of subtropical England, this animal represents a sort of invasion, like a noxious weed in a rose garden.

Lane travels across the region, interviewing a coyote trapper in Alabama and wandering as far s the Allegheny foothills of West Virginia to track down the taxidermy of a legendary sheep-killing coyote. He listens to the sounds of the foxhounds turned into coyote dogs that now bay hard after the new quarry.

He compiles his findings into a fine piece of nature writing called Coyote Settles the SouthThe title alone is worth consideration. Americans think of ourselves as the descendants of a settler state. But in our settling, we have unsettled much. In the region Lane explores, the woods no longer hold vast flocks of passenger pigeons or Carolina parakeets (which were actually conures).  The cougar is gone, but I think that virtually everyone knows someone who has claimed to see one. Whatever wolf lived in the East or the South is long since gone, and virtually all of the indigenous people who lived in these forests have been driven off or put on reservations or intermarried into the populations of settlers and slave that inundated the land with their quests for gold, timber, indigo, rice, tobacco, and cotton.

Just as Western civilization’s settling was actually a great unsettling, the coyote’s arrival has been an unsettling. Although Lane is a defender of the coyote, he is conflicted with the coyote depredations on loggerhead sea turtle nests on South Carolina barrier islands:

I’d spent most of my life with my environmentalist sympathies building constantly for sea turtles. After all, they’ve been in the big-budget ad campaigns that come with being cute in a reptilian sort of way. Protecting their nests had become a vacation activity on southern barrier islands. There were even children’s books about them nesting. All that was good, and it has helped raise the awareness of the plight of this ancient and powerful creature, but it had not stopped the carnage. Was it really the coyotes that were keeping the sea turtles on the worldwide list of most concern? Isn’t it really industrial fishing and coastal real estate agents who should be taking the blame and leading the charge to stop the killing?  If we regulated these industries as they should be, would there be plenty of protein to go around?

I was glad that everyone was doing everything possible to give turtles a fighting chance, including “knocking back” the coyotes that had learned how to purchase a quick raw omelet on the beachfront. What I didn’t want, though, was for folks to lose sight of the beauty of the mating predators dancing on the beach. I wanted folks to stop hating the coyotes, and instead to see them as part and parcel now of this new scene (pg. 103).

There is a tendency to think of coyotes as an “invasive species.” I spent many happy weeks in the heat of summer on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been fascinated by loggerhead sea turtles. The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores was my favorite spot to visit on a beach holiday, and my grandparents allegedly took me there several times a day during these vacations. That aquarium was heavily concerned with educating the public about loggerheads, which nest on the same beaches where we sunbathed and swam. I was fascinated that the newly hatched turtles knew their way to the sea, and then the females who survive the gauntlet of predators on the beach and in the depths of the sea return to those same beaches to lay their eggs.

Such a primitive animal, yet so excellent at survival.

And to see its numbers reduced, no matter how trivially in the grand scheme of things, appears at once to be an affront to all that is decent. If this were hogs or feral cats or red foxes doing the deed, there wouldn’t be such a conflict. They simply don’t belong here, and there is no good reason for them to be there.

Lane thinks the red wolf’s historic presence on the islands might give the coyotes some license to eat turtle eggs. I think it goes beyond the red wolf. Turtles have been nesting on these islands for millions of years. If they were using not those very islands, then they were using the ones that were there before. Canids first evolved in North America some 40 million years ago, so it’s very likely that there was some kind of dog eating those sea turtle eggs long before our kind began to walk upright. As wolves evolved, there were always jackal-like and wolf-like forms in both Eurasia and North America. Paleontology has suggested that we can somehow trace the evolution of what have become wolves and coyote through examining those fossils of those canids. Genetic studies strongly suggest that we be careful of such analyses. The story of canids shows that there were many “coyotes” and “wolves” roaming this continent, even if their genetic legacy likely doesn’t exist in any extant species.

In this way, a coyote has more right to eat the eggs of loggerhead in South Carolina than an introduced red fox has a right to eat the eggs of flatbacks in Queensland.

But the line we draw in this regard as some subjectivity. After all, I’m upset at what feral cats do to songbirds, but I know that the bigger problem is what we’re doing to Neotropical forests. If these forests are felled, many of these birds have no place to go in the winter.

That doesn’t mean that we ignore that the cats are taking the birds. It just means that it’s one of the problems that so many songbirds have to face, and the socially responsible thing to do is keep cats inside.

The truth about coyotes is that even their admirers have concerns. Lane wonders if an enterprising coyote might decide to take out his beloved beagle, Murphy, a creature bred to be so docile that he wouldn’t even stand a chance.

Whether coyotes have a place in the South or not is pretty much immaterial. Their populations are so resilient that once they arrive, they pretty much can’t be removed.

Lane wonders whether coyotes would have come into the South if it hadn’t been for the controversial practice of fox-penning. With the rise of the modern highway system and the growth of the white-tailed deer population that might lead a hunting pack into oncoming cars, many blue collar foxhunting clubs have fenced off vast acreages and stocked them with red and gray foxes that can be purchased from trappers or, at one time, ordered from out-of-state companies. Sometimes, the companies would send an order of red foxes with a coyote thrown in for free.

Perhaps that is how the coyote spread through the South so quickly. In West Virginia, I pretty much have my doubts. West Virginia has a climate and forest landscape like the Northeast, and Northeastern coyotes are bigger and more wolf-like. The ones I’ve seen have had broader heads and relatively stout bodies than the coyotes I’ve seen in Arizona. Ours likely came from that great Northeastern swarm that came into Ontario, bred with with wolves, and then wandered into New York State and down the Alleghenies. The High Alleghenies towards the Pennsylvania line were the first place where coyotes became established, and just as black bears did as the forested lands spread out into the abandoned farmland to the west, coyotes did the same. I’m sure that a few coyotes came from fox pens, but I don’t think they are the main reason they came into West Virginia.

South Carolina and the Deep South might be a different story. This isn’t an easy place to be a dog. The parasite load is far, far more extreme that you’d get in the nothern or western parts of the continent. One reason why it so many descriptions of Southern wolves mention their black color is that melanism is associated with a stronger immune response, and being black in color could be a side effect of selection for stronger immune response in the wormy, wormy South. Red foxes were known in Virginia from the Pleistocene. They were unknown south of New England and New York State at the time of colonization. They only became widespread in the Deep South during the twentieth century, and a lot of their spread actually could be attributed to human introduction. So it is possible that coyotes came because of the fox pens.

But it is possible they came on their own.

The epilogue of Lane’s book is one of the finest pieces of nature writing I’ve had the pleasure of reading. At Wofford College, where Lane is a professor, a “shack ” was built as a sort of allusion to the one Aldo Leopold built in Wisconsin. It was meant for use for the college’s environmental studies program, and it needed “study skins.”

Lane managed get a coyote pelt. Some rednecks had caught a little coyote and tried to sell it on Craigsist, and the conservation officer tracked down the illegally-owned coyote from the ad. Because South Carolina law doesn’t allow coyotes to be relocated or released, the officer shot the poor coyote and donated the specimen to the college.

The coyote’s pelt is sent to a tannery in Greenville, where a man who is called “the Russian” runs the show. Russians are people of the frontier like Southerners, and they are also people who known some of the worst horrors of humanity. Both people have lived off the land and trapped and hunted. Both know about furs.

But the South is now the New South. With advent of air conditioning and the death of Jim Crow and malaria, it has been appealing part of the country to move to. No more hard winters like in Buffalo or Cleveland. It’s become a domesticated part of America. It’s no longer the Cotton Frontier. It’s the land of air conditioning and finely manicured lawns.

The coyote’s arrival in the region belies the simple fact that the land never can be fully domesticated. Black bear numbers are on the upswing, and Lane quickly notices from reading the literature on vagrant cougars that are working their way east that they are essentially using the same migration route that coyotes used to enter this part of the continent. They are moving across the Northern Plains into the Great Lakes, and it won’t be long before they enter Upstate New York and work their way into the Appalachians.

The domesticated land of the South may soon become a land of predators.

The general population–obese, unaware, untrained in natural history, much less yard maintenance- won’t notice the chance until it’s too late and they’re trapped indoors thumbing their remote controls and adjusting their air conditioning. The coyotes and bears and cougars won’t be using remote controls. They’ll be settled in, operating on instincts and native intelligence, paws on the ground, checking out what opportunities the new neighborhood offers.  Cowered in their midcentury modern dens in aging suburbs backing up to greenways, undeveloped parkland, remnant agricultural land,  and railroad  right-of-ways, the denatured Homo sapiens will fear (and rightly so) for their poodles, their bird feeder, and maybe even their children rare instance the young wander out of the monitor’s shadow. In my vision, most southerners will be prisoners to the wild (pg. 169).

When Lane swings by Greenville to pick up the coyote pelt and the other study skins for the shack, he marvels at the red fox and beaver pelts, but he is still impressed with the coyote. He thinks it is a good skin, but when he goes to pay the Russian, he finds that the order cost $ 20 less than had initially been budgeted.

“No problem,” says the Russian. “I throw in coyote free.”

That’s what has happened to the New South. The land has been domesticated at a great ecological cost and social cost, but the coyote, well, it came along for free.

And it’s here to stay.

And its howls may be a harbinger of what’s to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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Noticeable Results: Austin Humane Society Donation Report

Austin Humane Society and Halo Pets donation
For three years in a row, Oscar nominees from the top 5 categories found a certificate from Halo, Purely for Pets, America’s best-loved holistic brand of pet food, and Freekibble.com for 10,000 bowls of Halo natural pet food, to donate to the animal shelter or rescue of the celebrity’s choice in their unofficial gift bag. Richard Linklater, a 2015 Oscar nominee for the category of Best Director for the film “Boyhood,” nominated the Austin Humane Society (AHS).

Here is a recent report from the AHS:

“On 1/14/16, the Austin Humane Society (AHS), received 10,000 meals of Halo cat food through the generous support of GreaterGood.org, Freekibble.com, Halo Pets, and Richard Linklater. This food enabled AHS to feed the cats in our adoption program, as well as “community cats” who had come through our preventative spay/neuter program (“Trap/Neuter/Return Program”), through mid-June 2016.

Between January – June 2016, when AHS was feeding the cats in our care Halo food, we adopted out approximately 850 cats to members of our community. While these felines waited with us for their new families to come along, AHS provided them temporary shelter, enrichment and love, and nutritious food.

Many of our cats loved Halo’s Spot’s Stew, but two in particular come to mind when thinking about how this donation positively impacted our animals.

Austin Humane Society's Harpo the Cat

Harpo is a one-year-old kitty who came to AHS in rough shape. He had suffered a dislocated hip, which inhibited his ability to walk properly, as well as stomatitis, an inflammatory condition that causes painful swelling in the gums. While in our care, Harpo underwent orthopedic surgery to fix his hip, and then was taken to a local board-certified specialist in veterinary dentistry to evaluate his mouth. After examining Harpo, this doctor stated it was the worst case of stomatitis and gingivitis she had ever seen in a cat, and confirmed that Harpo’s condition was making it extremely uncomfortable for him to eat, drink, and groom himself. In May of 2016, thanks to the generosity of our donors and the community, Harpo underwent a fully funded surgery for a full-mouth extraction, the only guaranteed way to ensure his relief from pain. Over the weeks between Harpo’s hip and mouth surgeries, he spent a lot of time in our in-house clinic, where he was eating Halo. Even after his mouth surgery – when he was supposed to be eating only wet food – Harpo preferred to continue eating Halo kibble. Our clinic staff would water it down for him to make it easier to eat, and 10/10 times, he preferred it over wet food!

Austin Humane Society - Vera the cat

Vera is another young kitty who came to AHS in need after being transferred to us from the local city shelter, the Austin Animal Center (AAC). At AAC, Vera had undergone orthopedic surgery to fix her shattered pelvis. Following the accident and surgery, Vera had lost several pounds and came to AHS underweight for

her size and age. She quickly fell in love with our Halo food and over a period of weeks, was able to regain the weight needed to help her heal and ultimately become available for adoption.

AHS is incredibly grateful to Greatergood.org, Freekibble.com, Halo Pets, and Richard Linklater for selecting us as the beneficiary for this generous grant. Thank you for joining us in saving lives!”

Thank you, Austin Humane Society for making a noticeable difference for pets in your community!

When you choose Halo pet food, made from natural, whole food ingredients, your pet won’t be the only one with a radiant coat, clear eyes and renewed energy. Halo feeds it forward, donating over 1.5 million meals annually. As always, Halo will donate a bowl to a shelter every time YOU buy.

Halo

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