“With every damn dog I love, I learn something I didn’t know.”

Since I’ve been off the road from the West Coast Walk and perhaps what I witnessed while on it, I’ve been wondering why Hudson has had 3 mast cell tumors in less than 2 years despite favorable path reports and negative genetic indicators.  

Even though we’ve had two allergy tests on him for some odd reason I never thought to consult an allergist.  Until Tuesday.  We met with Dr. Shanley at Hope Vet Specialists in Malvern PA on our way to the Puppy Up Walk in Madison WI and our conversation confirmed that I’m not alone in my suspicions that there may be a correlation between allergy prone dogs and mast cell tumors.  

That Hudson is my third son with cancer, I always feel I’m so far behind no matter how far I walk.  


2 Dogs 2000 Miles

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Win Innovet Hemp CBD Products for Your Dog! #cbdfordogs

This holiday season, the weather outside may be frightful–but relief from arthritis pain really is delightful. As I told you in a recent post, Tiki has been taking Innovet Hemp Dog Treats and…

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How to Help Your Dog Feel Comfortable with Holiday Guests

This post is sponsored by CEVA Animal Health, makers of ADAPTIL® for dogs. All statements and opinions are entirely our own. As always, we only share products that we use with our own pets! Let’s be…

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Beagling in the Briers

November loomed over into December.  The great blood-letting known as deer season reached its peak. The big guns now fell silent, and the beaglers strolled out with for a bit of sport before Christmas.

Davy Mitchell ran two beagles, an old lemon-and-white bitch named Yeller and young tricolor named Clint. Clint was a three quarters beagle, one quarter running Walker foxhound, and he was big and rangy for a beagle. And by West Virginia standards, he was a beagle and not a mutt, though he had no papers of any kind. Clint’s eyes were light and wild-looking, almost like a coyote’s, but his nose was pure and true. When he gave tongue on the quest of the rabbit trail, it sang out like a bell ringing from some medieval cathedral, dark and melodious to the point that one would expect to hear a Gregorian chant to come wafting in the breeze as the hound let loose his spoor call. 

By contrast, Yeller had some AKC papers, and for 11 winters, she’d winded her way through the brier patches. The cottontails bolted before her screaming cries, and the shotguns did their job. The reward was simple:  Rabbit in the crock pot, or rabbit fried in ginger ale batter for the master, and rabbit hearts and offal for the hounds.

The ancient rite of man hunting with dog, exercised out on these little Anglo-Norman hounds on thorny ridge-tops on what was once the hinterlands of the British Empire.  The quarry was not the nobleman’s warren rabbits but the true wild Eastern cottontail, which scorns the digging of dens and drops its kits in fur-lined form in the tall grass every spring. 

By the time late autumn finally loomed into winter, the trees and briers were all denuded of leaves, and the red-tailed hawks and foxes had already picked off all the stupid young rabbits of the year. All that remained were the wiry ones that knew how to hide and draw themselves in close while the predators searched hard for a bit of rabbit meat.

Davy went abroad with his brace of hill-beagles.  A long day had been spent at the feed store, selling out what straw and chicken feed the patrons, but by early afternoon, he closed shop, drove home to his manse, and wandered back to his dog yard to gather the brace and head for brierlands. 

In the true South and in Kentucky, beagles are run in packs on rabbits. The dogs usually don’t live together, but every hunt, a bunch of friends get together and run their dogs in a big cluster of screaming cries. And they shoot with caution and comradeship, as if they were hunting bobwhites behind setters, for this is a social event par excellence and not the mere pursuit of the coney by gun and hound.

In West Virginia, though, the beagler is almost monastic at his level of solitude. He often goes alone with a brace or two of his not particularly thoroughbred rabbit dogs, and he goes seeking meat in the last few honey holes of rabbitdom that can still be found in the overgrowing farmlands.

And that was the quest that Davy Mitchell was doing. It was a short December afternoon’s hunting with the good dogs, and all the company he would have were their wagging tails and baying cries and his own solitary thoughts about the world and life and how it should be.

The hounds did their job well that evening. Yeller jumped the first rabbit, a svelte young buck that gave the dogs a good run before the shotgun wad ended his wild chase. The next two were Clint’s to rise, and the strapping young hound bayed with his melodies as the rabbits ran their escape circle through the brush.

Three rabbits were now in Davy’s game bag. Two more would limit him out for the day. Three were a fine meal, but he wanted to give the dogs their sport before he put them away for the night.

The two hounds worked the brier patches. The scent of rabbit wafted through their noses, but no hot scent caught their attention.

The final rays of evening light began to cast upon the gray woods. A barred owl, out early for a bit of mousing or rabbiting as the situation occasioned, sailed over the brier fields. The long December night was in the offing.

The hounds still worked the coverts. They jumped on old fox squirrel, which scurried an dead and decaying red oak to squack out its warnings and its curses. The dogs ignored this distraction, though Clint did feel sorely tempted.

Baying hounds tend to scare off all game. Not a deer stirred from its bedding site, while the hounds worked the land.

But lying still as a stone in in the rocky cleft of a boulder was a big tom bobcat.  He had heard the baying hounds, but he had just eaten a big fill of venison from a gut shot fawn. He bet that the dogs would move on as the evening drew in, but as he rested, the sound of dog feet on briers grew louder and louder.

Clint caught the cat’s scent as he quartered downwind of the rocks. The hound let loose a growl and backed up from his startle. He barked and hackled up. Yeller rushed to her colleague’s side, and she, too, caught scent of the great cat.

The two dogs barked and then began baying like diminutive coonhounds, ad the bobcat tom rose from the cleft and stood on the high boulder, growling and glowering at the dogs that dared rouse him from his slumber. 

It was at that point that Davy approached the din. He glanced toward the boulder, and when his eyes came into focus at the big bobcat, man and cat found each other staring other’s eyes. They were thirty feet apart, and a mutual sense of terror combined with fascination crossed their minds.

Davy had never seen a bobcat up close, and the tom had never seen a man so close to him before. The two beings sized each other up. The sound of hound cries became totally mute. They stared at each other as if they were the only two entities upon the planet

For nearly 90 seconds they were paralyzed in that odd ecstasy of curiosity, but then the cat realized the potential peril of his situation. He gathered up his courage and leaped from the boulder, and then before the hounds could realize what was happening, he leaped again, hitting a favorite game trail that took him away from the brier lands and back into the big woods.

The two beagles raced wildly down the trail, but then they got too nervous in their advance into the big woods and turned to run back towards their master.

They came upon Davy just as the darkness fell upon the land. The rubbery soft hooting of a great horned owl rose from the big woods. A red fox barked out on a distant ridge, and both hounds danced around their beloved master. 

They had had their sport of their day, running the rabbits hard and then rousing this monster cat.  They were had done their running and singing for the day, and they were alive after their adventure. 

Yeller was particularly alive and bouncing. She was no longer the old lemon beagle that had jumped the first rabbit of the day. She was a true hound of Anglo-Norman splendor, standing tall on her beagle legs, a beast of the hunt, a beast of prey, now fully actualized and alive in this December twilight.

Davy smiled and stroked her ears. This was why he was a beagler. He felt that primal connection to the hunting dog that brings the man, the domestic beast, and the quarry into a communion. Thousands of years ago, the quarry was reindeer and wild horses, and the bobcat resting in the cleft of a boulder was a cave lion or a homotherium.

This rabbit chase in the briers was only slightly ersatz, for although lacking that wild glory of yore, it was still a greater experience than most men and dogs experience in their lifetimes.

The lives of dogs and humans is much removed from what we once were but in truth always are. We are still predatory, but our lives demand us to live so differently.

But the wild cries of hounds on the hunt still drive a few of us to wander behind them, letting them work their noses and tongues, and waiting to see what they might jump.

And the quest goes on, even as the world moves away from that organic and primal sort of existence and towards our own digitized epoch. 

From the woods and mud our kind sprang, and some of us go back to it, hounds scenting for a piece of the Eden in our minds that we know is there but can never find.

But it never stops the hunt. 

Natural History

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The Paw

Anka’s paw, extended out over the snow:

Natural History

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A Journey Without Tears

I can’t recall
a love without fear

Nor a journey
without tears

So don’t embark
unless you’re clear

On all the costs
across the years

Because love etern
bears a price that burns

A flame forever
astem. astern

2 Dogs 2000 Miles

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When Giving Lasts a Lifetime: The Gift of Trees

This post is in partnership with Arbor Day Foundation.

During this time of year, I do my best to focus on what is truly important about the holiday season. For me, a big part of this is showing my family and friends how much they mean to me. This can be through verbal reminders about how much they’re loved, through time set aside to just hang out or enjoy fun experiences together, or through more tangible means like greeting cards and gifts.

When it comes to cards and gifts – whether specifically for the holidays or beyond – there is little I enjoy giving (or receiving!) more than those that make a difference not just in terms of showing my love, but also to a greater cause. Those who know me in real life or who have been reading this blog for a while know that environmentalism is a cause that has been dear to my heart from the time I was a little girl through the almost 15 years I spent working as the head designer for an eco-friendly clothing company through to today. If I can give gifts that help protect the earth, especially in a way that honors the recipient, I am all in.

This is why I knew the second I came across Arbor Day Foundation’s Give-A-Tree® Cards and Trees in Celebration Certificates that I’d found an incredibly special holiday card for one of the most important people in my life – my mama, and a truly meaningful 5th birthday gift for another love of my life (and budding environmentalist!) – my daughter.

From the time I was a child, my mother taught me about the importance of appreciating, respecting, and taking care of the earth – to the point that I gave her the nickname “Nature Woman” in my middle school days. (I’m pretty sure two of the highlights of her life were when I became president of my school’s ecology club and when I started my business designing eco-friendly clothing.) But even if she wasn’t your stereotypical “tree hugger,” I don’t think I could have chosen a more meaningful holiday card for her. Give-A-Tree® Cards are more than greeting cards. By sending one, you are truly giving a gift that lasts a lifetime. Whether sending holiday greetings, a thank you note, or a “just because,” every card you purchase plants a tree in honor of the recipient, which helps bring our nation’s forests that have suffered due to a natural disaster or wildfires back to life. How great is that? There is also free shipping of the cards this month and in December, and you can also personalize the cards for free, with no minimum order required. It’s so easy to choose and purchase the card too, and takes less than 5 minutes from start to finish. I chose the Parchment holiday card for my mom and added a photo of my kids, and you guys, she loved it. My daughter wanted to hand deliver it and as soon as my mom opened it, her eyes filled with tears. For only $ 5.95, we were able to give her something that touched her heart and will last a lifetime.

Just as my mom taught me how and why caring for the earth is crucial when I was growing up, I try to instill the importance of the environment in my children. Both of my little ones also have a deep love for nature outside of me encouraging it, which brings me so much joy. For my daughter’s fifth birthday in December, I wanted to get her something beyond just the regular toys and clothes she receives. I knew a Trees in Celebration Certificate from Arbor Day Foundation would be the perfect gift. For Essley’s special certificate, I just got on ADF’s website, picked a forest (I chose Chippewa National Forest because it’s the closest to us), chose the number of trees to be planted in her honor (I chose 5), and wrote a personalized message to let her know the gift would be in honor of her birthday. It couldn’t have been easier. When the certificate arrived in the mail and I read it to her, her eyes lit up and she told me it was the “most specialist gift ever.” (See top photo above for her reaction.) I wasn’t sure she’d completely understand what it meant, but she did. Later I caught her explaining to her little brother that there were 5 “Essley trees” planted in a big forest because she was turning 5 and she was going to help save the earth. Major proud mom moment! I plan on buying Trees in Celebration certificates for other upcoming birthdays and anniversaries as well. I really can’t think of a better gift than one it is living, lasting, and full of love like this.

If you’re looking for holiday cards and gifts this year that go beyond the average and truly make a difference, I can’t recommend Arbor Day’s Give-A-Tree® Cards and Trees in Celebration Certificates enough. Arbor Day Foundation itself (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation and
education organization) is wonderful and does so many positive things to help our earth through tree planting and more. (Their motto is “We inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.” Love!)  The fact that they offer such meaningful gifts to honors loved ones in such an incredible way is just one more reason for me to love them. And the fact that it’s so quick and simple to purchase the items a huge bonus. I can’t wait to order more this season and beyond.

I am also teaming up with the Arbor Day Foundation to give away a Give-A-Tree Card Holiday 10-Pack (worth $ 39.95)! Just visit my Instagram to enter (you can enter on the photo of my mama and Essley looking at the holiday card), or click here to visit the raffle page for more info.

Who else finds joy in choosing gifts that have a positive impact on the earth or greater good?


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Protecting Your Dog Against Heartworms #Vectra3DDog

Ceva Animal Health, makers of Vectra® 3D for Dogs, has sponsored this post, but all opinions and statements are my own. You’ve probably seen the coverage on the national news the past few weeks of…

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RSVP for #CevaHoliday Twitter Party!

Ceva Animal Health has sponsored this post and the upcoming party, but all opinions are my own. We all know that the holidays, for all its fun, can also be stressful for us and our pets, whether…

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Anka makes a discovery

I see her sniffing along the trail:

anka sees something

It makes the leaves rustle, and she leaps back.

it leaps

I come to look, and it’s a very late season garter snake probably out looking for a hibernaculum.

garter snake

Natural History

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