A mere thank you for all the work that you do to i…

A mere thank you for all the work that you do to improve the lives of the animals in your care seems inadequate. So many lives would have been lost without your unwavering commitment to prevent that from happening. All of your blogs have been so incredibly educational & beneficial, not only to the general public but to those of us in the rescue community as well. However, your blog about Olive deeply touched my heart. Sadly I've met a few Olives who will never have the opportunity to truly live. Exist, yes. But still shackled to their emotional pain, with no serious course of action to help free them from that anguish. Olive's 'recovery' is a testimony that the mental well-being of all animals should be a much higher priority in rescue. Please continue reminding all of us do-gooders that we have much more to learn about animal rights & welfare. PTSD isn't just a human diagnosis…
BAD RAP Blog

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The beast of the shadows

shadow-bear

It was one of those days in June when the days seem strangely endless. The land was verdant and growing. All the trees were crowned with dark, healthy green leaves, and the grass in the hayfields called for its first cutting.

But that would not happen today. About noon, the skies darkened and a hard summer rain fell. It rained for most of that afternoon.

It was a Saturday, and I wanted to be outside. These balmy late June days very quickly morph into the swelter of July, when you feel as if you’ve stepped into some stinking hot jungle in Southeast Asia and forget that this land has ever seen a subzero reading or has ever been covered in a dry, crisp arctic snow. Those are the days when the air makes the clothes stick to your body as the sweat trails down your back.

Most June days aren’t like that. They are one of times when it actually does feel like you live in actual temperate zone. The rest of the year, it is either looming towards Siberia or steaming into Vietnam.

in this way, my time as a dweller in the temperate forest was limited, and it was being limited now in the downpour.

The rain would stop soon. I knew it would. I’d seen the weather map. The rain would stop.

The length of a wet weekend is something that should be measured in eons, but a wet weekend in late June should be measured in eternities.

So when the rain finally did cease, I was more than eager to go out.

There is no other way to describe the air after a good summer rain other than to describe it as “rainwashed.”  It’s like the whole land has had a good scalding bath. There is a crispness to it that makes everything seem as if it’s been renewed.

The torrents of raindrops trickled down from the great tulip trees and oaks, and the sound of rain still filled the air, though the rain clouds had long since departed.  To walk in a forest after the rain is to listen to downpour’s ghost as canopy sheds the water.

I didn’t think to grab the camera or call the dog. I just needed to go out and be in the forest as it slowly drips dry.

I walked along the old gravel road out to the hayfield. Water gushed along the ditches and into culvert pipes, and the hayfield’s access road was a swampy, muddy mess. I was wearing crocs, which allowed the clay mud to enter through their holes and soil my feet. The summer mud feels nice against the toes, as if it calls me to a time when my kind walked barefoot over the mud, grounded in the soil with every step.

A cottontail rabbit spooked and charged long into the tail grass. I assumed it was a doe with a litter in tall grass below the road, and she was working her way down there to nurse them. My approach spoiled her plans, and I knew she would just hide out in the grass until I was long gone. Then she’d approach her nest and gently uncover the crumpled covering grass blades and stems to reveal the nest. The little rabbits would resting in a bowl of grass lined with their mother’s fur, and she would stand over the bowl while they nursed. Then, she would cover the nest again and go her merry way to graze in the dusk.

If I’d been a little more curious, I would have hunted around the tall grass in search of that nest, but I wasn’t in an exploring mood. I wanted to get to the woods.  Maybe I’d hear the barred owls calling on the opposite ridges or perhaps come across a box turtle out on a worm-hunting expedition after the rain.

Hunting for a rabbit nest in the wet, tall grass just wasn’t what I wanted to do.

So I walked on.

As I entered the woods, the rain kept dripping down the trees. It was almost a hypnotic sound. The evening sun was casting its light through the leaves, illuminating the them as if they were covered in Christmas lights.

It was perfection for a June evening.

I followed the logging road up a steep bank and then followed it along  a sharp curve.

And there before me stood the beast.

A massive black bear stood no more than 15 feet from me.

To say I was shocked would have been an understatement. I’d see bears at zoos from the side of the road, and over the years, I’ve come across bear scat on the forest floor and black hairs in the undergrowth. I’ve even caught bears on trail camera, but never before had I walked into one.

The bear was a shocked with my presence as I was of his. His eyes stared hard at me. The tan markings on his muzzle and above his eyes reminded me of the tan points on a doberman or Rottweiler. But he was like a Rottweiler built along the lines of a gorilla, shaggy fur covering bulging muscles.

His eyes were intelligent but clearly showed his terror. The raindrops dripping from the trees had muffled my footsteps, and by accident, I had approached the bear from upwind. He couldn’t have smelled me.

He was in a bad spot. Black bears have been hunted in West Virginia for as long as people have lived in West Virginia. The indigenous people at their meat and used their fat and wore their fur, and the early mountain men turned to bears as a reliable source for red meat.

He had no reason to see my kind as anything but bad news, and as soon as he realized I was a human, he launched himself through the pines. His form was nothing more than a black shadow that seemed float away at high speed. His feet tore through though leaves and twigs in a loud cacophony as the shadow form disappeared from view.

It was only a brief few seconds, but it had a certain magic to it. The Eastern states have been denuded of all our great predators. The wolves and cougars were killed off in these Allegheny foothills long ago, but the bears remained. West Virginia’s DNR protected the bears. There were only a couple of hundred of them in the state when I was born. Now, there may be as many as 10,000.

The black bear is a survivor, a living relic of what was once wild country filled with great predators. No more dire wolves or Smilodons. No more American lions.

All that remains is this shadow of a beast, which shuffles through the undergrowth on cautious feet.

“If you go out in the woods today. You’re sure of a big surprise,” goes the children’s rhyme about the Teddy bear picnic.

On that June evening, a bear surprised me, and I surprised him. The shadow beast was revealed to me in the clear evening sun just before the solstice.

And just as soon as we met, he slipped off into the world of thickets and shadows and deadfalls. He was hidden again to live the mysterious life of a bear.

In their mystery lies their magic, their allure, their mystique.

And thus it always should be.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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Warriors in the hollow

raccoon

It was a bad Saturday night.  My candidate was soundly defeated in the Nevada Caucuses, and I was smarting badly from loss.

Even as the night was drawing in, I knew the only way I was ever going to start feeling better was to go out into the woods for a twilight perambulation.

The Saturday before was a subzero night. Snow was on the ground and each step was hard and sharp and crunchy. This night was much warmer. It was well above freezing, and the sky was without any clouds. The stars were shining. The moon was almost full.

The squabbles out in Nevada now seemed pointless by comparison, and as I walked into the darkness of a stark February wood, I began to revel in the majesty and forget machinations of humanity. This is what I wanted anyway. Peace and quiet and a realization that this is all insignificant by comparison.

My reverie was then interrupted. In the hollow below the the logging road where I was walking came the churs and snorts of warring demons. There were screeches and squalls mixed into all the din. There was a great battle gong on below me, and I knew instantly what was happening.

February brings the raccoon mating season, and two of the local boars were sorting it out over a female in estrus. I guessed the one of them was the resident ridge-running raccoon who found him a sow to follow on this moonlit night, but the warmer weather and the intoxicating odors had brought up a challenger from the creek bed.

For five minutes, I listened to the boars fight. I debated as to whether I should wander down and see if I could get a better look.  But I was certain they would run if they heard my approach down into the hollow.

So I stayed put and listened to the war.

And as soon as the cacophony rose, the air fell silent again. The boars were not fighting now. Perhaps one had beaten the other, and now he had the sow to himself.  Or maybe they were off licking wounds and getting ready for another donnybrook.

I didn’t stay long to find out. My mind was tuned to something else besides politics, of the narcissism that is inherent in being human..

Raccoons have fought these wars long before there was a United States, long before there were Democratic Caucuses and primaries. Their wars were about passing on genes. Nothing more. Nothing less.

As I watch now, in this general election from Hell, I think back to that night in February. I think of the moonlight and the stars and the primitive war of ‘coons in a deep hollow.

The sun will rise tomorrow. The seasons will change. My life will one day end.

All around us are these parallel dramas, ones we don’t often take a time to consider.

We all live in alienation from this world to some degree.

But it’s important to break away from our world and see it in proper perspective.

In proper perspective, we can be fully humbled before the mystery.

 

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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This is disgusting! It's another great big tax…

This is disgusting! It's another great big tax scam just like in Peterborough with the new ridiculous cat law! This where all cats are NOT allowed to leave their yards, must be fixed and on leashes if outside! These laws are absolutely pathetic! This is a totally wrong way to deal with the problem. Who can afford fees they are charging to keep your dog. Who's right is it to say if you can breed your dog. I would say the owner. Another pile of liberalistic idiocy where a band aid is put on instead of dealing with the source which would just happen to be the OWNER!
BAD RAP Blog

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This is disgusting! It's another great big tax…

This is disgusting! It's another great big tax scam just like in Peterborough with the new ridiculous cat law! This where all cats are NOT allowed to leave their yards, must be fixed and on leashes if outside! These laws are absolutely pathetic! This is a totally wrong way to deal with the problem. Who can afford fees they are charging to keep your dog. Who's right is it to say if you can breed your dog. I would say the owner. Another pile of liberalistic idiocy where a band aid is put on instead of dealing with the source which would just happen to be the OWNER!
BAD RAP Blog

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Happy birthday Teacher Quotes

A child probably learns the most important and fruitful life lessons in school. One should always thank those teachers who put in so much hard work into a child’s development. Wish all your teachers out there on their birthday with these messages from their students. I hope you enjoy these lovely birthday wishes and quotes. […]



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Sunflower Faith

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I live in fla…if some of the pitties that don&#3…

I live in fla…if some of the pitties that don't have a home do end up coming 2 the states….I would take 1 into my home…would have 2 be good with cats and be a male as I have a female service dog…Praying..things don't go that far…is unfair…loving,loyal breed…humans who make them fight.. Sometimes is bad breeders… Shameful…All must pay for few… Mine, slept with me, ate off a fork, big babies…
Rev. Amanda Santangelo
BAD RAP Blog

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L’Amour

Words are not needed to explain the rapport and love between these two. This beautiful Swiss Shepherd dog is called Ghost and lives in Gorbio.
RIVIERA DOGS

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I know a reputable pilot who has flown many dogs a…

I know a reputable pilot who has flown many dogs around the country to get them to safe places. His insurance does not allow him to fly outside the US. He is willing to make arrangements to take dogs should this become necessary, as long as someone can get them over the US border. Hopefully this will not be necessary, but in case it becomes so you can message me and I'll put you in touch with him.
BAD RAP Blog

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Rescue Dog Stars in “The Durrells in Corfu”

When PBS viewers tune in to Masterpiece to watch the premiere episode of The Durrells in Corfu they will see not only the true tale of a British family embarking on a new life on a Greek island, but…



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DogTipper

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