Billy the Cat

Here’s our foster cat Billy enjoying an offering as he embarks on his constitutional. Billy is a very playful guy who runs to the door to greet you when you come home.

He’s available through City Dog Rescue of Washington, DC

http://www.citydogsrescuedc.org/adoptable-cats.html#.WV1zJojyu00

go to Billy

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Gays, NFL, Dogs Prevent Suicide

This is a really nice article containing a few of my favorite things: football, gays and dogs

Former NFL lineman Ryan O’Callaghan comes out in moving profile

Ryan O'Callaghan

Ryan O’Callaghan played for both the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. Jeff Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former NFL lineman Ryan O’Callaghan, who played for the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, has come out of the closet in a moving interview for Outsports.

O’Callaghan, who spent five years in the NFL, never expected to have a post-football life. He was deeply closeted, unable to imagine living as an openly gay man. Instead of coming out or continuing to live with the pain of life in the closet, he planned to commit suicide after he retired from the game.

“I wrote a letter,” he said. “I was close.”

“If it wasn’t for some good friends, a couple of good dogs, I’d be gone,” he added. “I’m just glad there were people that were looking out for me, pushing me in the right direction to actually get help.”

He also struggled with drug addiction.

“I was abusing painkillers, no question,” he said. “It helped with the pain of the injuries, and with the pain of being gay. I just didn’t worry about being gay when I took the Vicodin. I just didn’t worry.”

Ryan O'CallaghanRyan

Ryan O’Callaghan with his dogs.

He credits a small group of people within the Chiefs organization with helping lead him to a better place, including the team’s general manager, Scott Pioli. He reassured O’Callaghan that he still had Pioli’s support, who shared that he had many gay people in his life and had previously counseled other gay NFL players.

Related: These NFL teams just became the first to sponsor a pride celebration

O’Callaghan said he hopes his coming out will show others that it is safe for them to do so as well, including some more recognizable names.

A handful of NFL players have come out after retirement, including running back Dave Kopay, cornerback Wade Davis, defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo, guard Roy Simmons, offensive tackle Kwame Harris, and running back Ray McDonald.

Defensive end Michael Sam was drafted into the NFL, by the St. Louis Rams, as an openly gay man, but was cut before the season began.

O’Callaghan recalled growing up in Redding, California, in an environment where gay people were not readily accepted.

“If you’re a gay kid and you hear someone you love say ‘fag,’ it makes you think that in their eyes you’re just a fag too,” he said. “That got to me a lot.”

But when he went home to come out to his family, he was pleasantly surprised.

“All the people I was most concerned about were fine. It was so much easier and better than I ever imagined,” he recalled.

He said he thinks the NFL is ready for an openly gay player.

“I think teams are ready. Guys just have to understand he’s gay. It doesn’t mean he wants to date you, he just wants to be your teammate,” he said. “It’s not a big deal, it’s really not.”

Related: NFL documentary profiles closeted gay player

He added that he hopes his story will lead to “someone else much higher profile coming out.”

He said he is in a much better place since coming out.

“I’m having a great time. I love life now, I absolutely love life now.”

He went to school at California and played for four years in the NFL. His career is captured here: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/O/OCalRy20.htm

Removing Statues — Changing Stadium Names

The officials running the city of New Orleans decided to remove the public statues of Confederate States of America figures. Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the City Council sparked both huge protests and large rallies of support. The same historic moments mean heritage to some and bondage and misery to others. The city leaders declared the statues a public nuisance and determined that the pain they inflicted outweighed the heritage they represented. The statues reminded many of their past oppression but also remind people of today’s inequality in New Orleans.

New Orleans is largely segregated. Stagnating wages and gentrification have compounded income disparity here. People in East New Orleans suffer from extremely limited economic and social opportunities and the area has not recovered from Hurricane Katrina.

In Melbourne, the tennis stadium bears the name of tennis great Margaret Court. The 74-year-old is currently a Christian pastor and has over the past several years made anti-gay statements, including personal attacks on specific players. The comments certainly represent the heritage and attitudes of a segment of the population but have also generated significant opposition and backlash. The majority of professional tennis players have made their support for same-sex marriage known.

Several interesting questions arise from this controversy. Does the Australian Tennis Federation elect to remove Court’s name from the stadium because of the public rancor and hurt she now represents? If they don’t will tennis professional elect to skip the Australian Open? Stay tuned.

Lobos: Mexican Gray Wolves

Mar 27

Because #LoboWeek: A Brief Look at the Plight of the Mexican Gray Wolf

This week 19 years ago, 11 captive-born Mexican gray wolves (aka lobos) were released into the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona for the first time since they were very nearly eradicated in the early 1970s.  In 1976, three years after the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the lobo was listed as an endangered species.  From just seven individuals, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) began a captive breeding program to save the species from extinction.  On March 29, 1998, the first individuals were reintroduced in the Blue Range Recovery Area in New Mexico and Arizona.  After more than 30 years of absence, the rarest subspecies of gray wolf returned home to the mountains of the southwest.

To commemorate this close call, ESC and many other organizations around the world are celebrating #LoboWeek by raising awareness and mobilizing activists just like you to help!

Tweet: This week is #LoboWeek! Learn more about Mexican gray wolves and take action to help save them: http://bit.ly/2n9HlCe via @endangered

Despite all this celebrating and 20 years of recovery efforts, the Mexican gray wolf is still critically endangered.  The good news is according to FWS’s latest count, there are 113 lobos in the wild, which is an increase from previous years.  The bad news is that 14 wolves were found dead- some illegally poached– in 2016, making last year the record holder for the most lobo deaths since their reintroduction in 1998.

 

More Bad News for the Lobo:

Genetic Diversity

Every lobo that exists in the wild is a descendant of the seven wolf survivors that started the captive breeding program in the late 1970s.  This means that all the wild wolves are closely related and genetic diversity is very low.  Consequently, their ability to adapt to changing conditions is extremely limited.  Reports of unusually small litters and genetic abnormalities have resulted from the inbreeding.  Until more wolves are released into the wild, these problems will continue, which leads us to our next problem.  New Mexico secured an injunction last year, giving them the power to stop FWS from reintroducing anymore Mexican wolves into the wild.  FWS is in the process of appealing that decision.  Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, and New Mexico Wilderness Alliance have all filed to intervene in the case.

S. 368

Last month, Senator Jeff Flake (AZ-R) introduced S. 368 , a piece of legislation that could drive the Mexican gray wolf to extinction.  The bill would authorize states, the livestock industry, and other special interest groups to dictate the terms of the Mexican gray wolf recovery plan, rather than scientists. It would set an arbitrary cap on the number of wolves in the wild and require removal (probably lethal removal) of all wolves over that number. It would ban wolves from areas scientists have identified as necessary to their recovery, like the Grand Canyon ecoregion and the San Juan Mountains. Worst of all, this bill would remove the Mexican wolf from the endangered species list once the terms of the politicized recovery plan have been achieved, even though they would still be biologically imperiled. This bill undermines the ESA by skipping the mandated delisting process required by Section 4 of the Act.

Social Intolerance

The Mexican gray wolf is victim to the same intolerance and scapegoating that other wolf species, as well as other carnivores, are subjected to.  In reality, wolves  are responsible for just a fraction of a percent (.2%) of livestock loss–less than that caused by illness, weather, or even dogs there’s no evidence they kill more  deer than needed to survive; and there is no statistical proof that they are a danger to humans.  All this fear rhetoric overshadows the awesome benefits of having wolves in our ecosystems.  Here are some examples: wolves keep prey populations healthy and even reduce diseases in hoofed mammals, like Chronic Wasting Disease.  They reduce overgrazing from deer and elk, which leads to decreased soil erosion and a stable environment.  They provide food and habitat for hundreds of other creatures, earning them the honorary title of keystones species.  And not to mention that tourism directly related to wolves near Yellowstone National Park contributes $35.5 million to local economies yearly.  Despite these and other benefits, social intolerance still persists and that contributes to a lack of political will.

So, that’s the bad news.  The good news is that it’s Lobo Week and YOU are reading this blog and educating yourself on the rarest and most biologically unique subspecies of gray wolf in the world.  Right now, there are around 113 lobos in the wild that need your help!  Celebrate Lobo Week with me by sharing their story!

Want more ways to help?

  1. Share this blog with your friends and family.  Education is one of the most powerful catalysts.  And how can someone help if they don’t know there’s a problem?
  2. Educate yourself! Learn more about lobos from Lobos of the Southwest, Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, and Wolf Conservation Center.
  3. Join the movement by using the hashtag #LoboWeek on tweets and other Mexican gray wolf related posts this week.  You can find photos, graphics, and badges on the Wolf Conservation Center’s site.
  4. Do you happen to live in Arizona? If so, you are one of Senator Flake’s constituents.  Call him and say that S. 368 is bogus!
  5. Be an ally for wolves by joining ESC’s Species Guardians! You’ll be given the information, resources, and support you need to be a leader for wolves in your state!
  6. Tell your community that it’s Lobo Week by writing a letter to the editor and submitting it to your local paper.  Make sure to include why wolves are important to you.

Passionate folks like you and me are the only thing standing between the lobo and extinction.  Make Lobo Week 2017 count.  Join the movement and get involved!

DC Environmental Film Festival

The 25th Washington DC environmental film festival is halfway through its 10 days. I’ve seen a few movies about the wilderness near the Arctic Circle, glaciers and other themes. I enjoy that the movies take you to see very unique spaces all over the world.

However, my favorite movies focus on animals. One took us only two states south of the Nation’s Capital where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)  created a success story with the development of a habitat for Red wolves. The species had been limited to a very few in the mid-1980s and the USFWS moved them into one part of their historic range in North Carolina.

Currently, the reintroduction faces cultural, economic, and biological challenges in Eastern North Carolina. Natures abhors a vacuum and coyotes moved in to the territory and pose a threat if the wolves interbreed with them. Most interesting, the area farmers have issues with the coyotes invading their farms. They want to shoot the beasts and sometimes they end up shooting red wolves instead.

This conflict between people near the wildlife reserve or national park and the animals in the park also occurred in Mozambique. After years of civil warring, the government and several other national governments along with non-profits focused on conservation worked to reestablish Gorongosa National Park. In this case, the planning has focused on the huge park and all the farmers surrounding its borders. Efforts have been made to help those people improve their living conditions by helping them earn money and farm more profitably.

As the panelists after the movie stated this is the new way of approaching conservation, taking the entire ecosystem into account, including people outside the protected area. It seems to be working and is something that the USFWS and other agencies of the US government ought to consider when they try to save species. You need to win over the local population to the effort.

Loss of a Old Pro

The Bullets, the Wizards, and Washington, DC, Basketball_cover_rev

I was fortunate enough to interview former Baltimore Bullets owner Earl Foreman for this book.

He owned the team that Dr. J started his professional career with in the early 1970s. He was very sharp and funny during the interview. He even played little games to test my knowledge. The best part of the conversation involved all the efforts he made to try and get himself a franchise in the National Basketball Association after selling his portion of the Bullets to Abe Pollin.

Foreman owned the only Washington, D.C. based American Basketball Association team and they made the playoffs.

 

I’m sure his family will miss him greatly.

Neighborhood Arts

At 410GoodBuddy an art show documents the changes in a Washington,D.C. neighborhood over 145 years.  Three artists who live in the Truxton Circle/East Shaw portion of the city have united to create a very good art show that features, maps and city plans, drawings and etchings, and a large installation piece.

Truxton Circle transitioned from a rural area with the first sets of housing developments in the beginning of the 1870s. Unlike the Italianate, Second Empire and Queen Anne mansions surrounding Logan Circle, developers built row houses for the working classes in this area west of North Capitol Street and south of Florida Avenue, the city’s northern boundary.

three_artists

One historian, an architect and a non-profit executive spent some of their spare time investigating where they lived. Their differing ways of visualizing the changes made the show very strong. They gained help in putting the show on through one of the area’s civic associations: the Bates Area Civic Association.

two_sets_f_works

The images feature maps of the neighborhood, drawings of current and former residents and the installation replicating the fountain that became a neighborhood landmark from the early 1900s through the 1940s. fountain

The opening drew a large crowd that enjoyed the variety of what they saw.

opening

There will be more to come with two neighborhood celebrations on upcoming weekends and artist talks.

Rescuing a Dog

Lori came speeding off the transport from North Carolina and ran into the grassy area where we waited to take home our foster dogs. “Who’s got Lori?” said her handler. “I do,” I responded and she handed me her leash. Immediately, the Shepard mix tried to tug me around to get a sense of where she was/

lori-4She looked sad and a little apprehensive when we got home. I tried to hand her a treat but she would not eat it from my hand. Later, we discovered that this was not unusual.

The shelter asked for money to send Lori, then named Elise, to the vet. She had burn marks on her back and was 10 pounds underweight. The people of her home area came through.

Then City Dog Rescue stepped in. The Washington, D.C. based group picked her up among many other dogs and brought them to our area so that someone might adopt them.

My husband and I fed and cared for Lori for two weeks.

lori-5lori-2

Lori began eating out of my hand after one week and she quickly adopted to her requirement to sit before getting to eat her meal. We also hired Anibal S. Apunte to walk her during the day when we weren’t home. He introduced her to other dogs that he walked as a part of her socialization.

Lori enjoyed her runs immensely! She proved to be a good member of the pack as well.

A few days later, two great human companions adopted her and rechristened her Saga after a modern heroic narrative resembling the Icelandic saga and her own long struggle. She has a happy new home and lease on life.

NHL Forward Thinking Forward

 

Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins faced an interesting choice after receiving a tweet with a homophobic slur in it. Pete Blackburn explains what the Bruins’ left winger did.usatsi_9743954-vadapt-767-high-0

Towards the beginning of his NHL career, Brad Marchand quickly developed a reputation as being a nuisance on the ice. He established himself as an effective pest and agitator, but also was labeled as “dirty” after a few controversial hits and incidents.

In his arsenal of tactics, Marchand has been known to low-bridge, sucker punch and slew foot opponents. His trash talk game is also tremendous and relentless.

While those aspects of his game haven’t completely been eradicated, in the past few years the Bruins winger has become more recognized for his elite two-way skill. He has developed into a leader for the Boston club and, this past fall, scored the clinching goal at the World Cup of Hockey while playing on Canada’s top line alongside Sidney Crosby.

Marchand, 28, credits that growth to being older and more mature, saying his “priorities have changed” over the years. But it’s not just his on-ice play that has become more admirable.

Recently, Marchand has become somewhat of a champion for people in the LGBT community. In December, the winger was attacked on a Twitter with a homophobic slur. In a since-deleted tweet, Marchand responded to the hate by publicly shaming the person who sent the vitriolic remarks his way, saying “this derogatory statement is offensive to so many people around the world, [you’re] the kind of kid parents are ashamed of.” The response prompted the user to delete his account.

Marchand was applauded for standing up for the gay community and taking a proactive approach to silencing the hate, and ESPN’s Joe McDonald recently spoke to Marchand about the exchange.

“I want to stand up for what I believe in, and I don’t think it’s right when people say things or bash people because of their sexual orientation,” said Marchand, via ESPN. “I have friends who are in gay relationships, and I don’t think it’s right for people to be against that. Everyone is allowed to find love whatever way that is, so I felt like that was a time to say something, especially nowadays. We’re in 2017, and things are a lot different than they were 100 years ago. We’re all evolving to be equal, and that’s the way things should be.”

When asked whether or not an openly gay player would be accepted in an NHL locker room, Marchand delivered a strong vote of confidence in favor of equality.

“Guys would accept that, no question,” Marchand assured. “We’re a team in the [dressing] room and a family. It doesn’t matter what different beliefs guys have, or where they come from, or whatever the case may be. Guys would accept it. Again, in the room we’re a family. That’s the way it is on a hockey team, and that’s the way it will always be.”

There has yet to be an openly gay player in the league, though Marchand says it’s “bound to happen at some point, and when it does, it will be accepted.” The NHL has had a large number of players endorse the You Can Play campaign, which is dedicated to eradicating homophobia from sports, so it certainly appears that Marchand isn’t the only star who feels this way.

Fostering Dogs

We’re starting the new year with a new house member. Lori, a two-year old Shepard mix, came into the family last night from City Dog Rescue.

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She was highly excited as she explored the first floor of our house. She had no problem climbing the stairs to join us on the second floor, but apprehensive gripped her when she could not figure out how to climb downstairs. I walked her gently down holding onto her collar. Lori immediately climbed back upstairs, then second later, she walked down the stairs herself!

We’ve noticed that she is not one for getting up on the furniture, eschewing the bed and chairs. We’ve put down a rug for her to lie on and that has pleased her.

lori-5

So far her personality is significantly different from the last foster that we had in December. He wanted to smell everything and she has hardly sniffed a thing. He thought the furniture was his throne. He was a big tug-of-war player and she has hardly put her teeth on the toy. It’s early yet but will be interesting to note what Lori does enjoy doing.