Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Have Been So Busy!

This is how I like to spend my weekends - chilling out in the family room, but Mom always finds things for me to do. I tell her that I'm tired from working all week, but it just goes in one ear and out the other. What does a pug have to do to get a day off?

So you may be asking yourself what has Stubby been doing and I can tell you in one word - LOTS! Where do I start? Some of you may remember that Mom ordered a rain barrel from the forest preserve district way back in February. Dad picked it up a couple of weeks ago and we worked on getting it hooked up last weekend. Mom thought it would be a good idea for me to autograph the concrete pad that the rain barrel will sit on and I was up for the challenge.

Dad was very careful not to press down too hard with my paw because he knows that I am very delicate. After I left my paw print, Dad wrote my name next to it and we left it to dry.

Mission accomplished! I was now on to my next project which was planting flowers. I really only agreed to help plant them because I like to pee on them. Don't tell Mom because she doesn't think my pee makes the flowers grow, but I know better.


I couldn't go to the store to pick out the flowers, so I told Mom exactly what I wanted and surprisingly enough she bought everything on my list. I love the color yellow because it is a happy color and I wanted a container full of these pretty yellow flowers at the edge of the patio so that I can see them as soon as I walk out the back door. Mom loves yellow too and we are probably the only house on the block with a yellow dining room. Dad calls it safety helmet yellow but Mom and I know that it is mellow yellow.


I needed other colors besides yellow in my flower containers, so I put this arrangement of orange, purple, and white next to the back stoop. Do you see how high that stoop is? Okay, maybe it's not that high but I can't jump up it anymore. I have to wait on the patio until someone comes and picks me up to take me inside, and I wanted something pretty to look at while I wait.


I sometimes go out the front door and I wanted my special dog planter that sits on the front stoop to be filled with red, white, and blue flowers. I hope these flowers grow big by the 4th of July so that all our party guests will like them.



Dad and I finished installing the rain barrel this week and it looks really cool. Dad had to build a wooden table for it so that you can put the watering can under the spout. Now all we need is some rain and we will be good to go. Mom is so excited that she won't have to use tap water to water the flowers, clean and fill the bird bath, and wash her car. Um, wash her car? Mom doesn't wash her car. I think she means so that Dad won't have to use tap water to wash her car.

Mom's Earthbound Farms tote came in the mail last week and she is in love with it! This is the front of the bag and that lettuce sure looks lifelike.

This is the back of the bag and because Mom didn't take a very good picture of it, I will tell you what it says. At the top it says "This bag is made from 20 oz recycled plastic bottles" and in the middle it says "We estimate that if everyone in the US used one reusable bag instead of a plastic of paper shopping bag just once a week for a year, we would keep more than 16 billion disposable bags out of our landfills. Wow! What a difference everyone can make by using reusable bags. If you are not using reusable bags what are you waiting for? You don't have to buy fancy bags since most grocery stores sell them for about one dollar, but if you don't want to spend any money on bags you can make your own out of old t-shirts.

You can't see what's inside the bag, but it's filled with goodies for our vacation. Yeah! We are leaving tomorrow morning and Mom has made sure that none of us will starve while we are on the road. I am soooo excited to be finally going on vacation that I can hardly sit still. We are taking Dad's laptop with us so I will try to post while we are gone. Barkwells - here we come!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What To Do With An Old Fur Coat

Thankfully you will not be seeing this now that the weather is getting warm. Why do people wear animal fur anyway? In the old days, people wore it to stay warm but now there are many different types of man-made materials that can keep people just as warm if not warmer. Today people generally wear fur coats to make a fashion statement. What? A fashion statement? Animal fur belongs on animals, not on people!

You may have a fur coat that was left to you by your grandma or mother and if you don't want to wear it, what will you do with it? Mom has an animal piece that her mother wore around her neck back in the day. It's not a jacket, but more like a scarf. It even has a the head and all four feet on it - yuk! Mom has it hidden away because she cannot look at it, but she never knew what to do with it until now.
There are programs out there that will make bears out of fur coats, but I really see this as promoting fur and fur products. The Humane Society of the United States has a really neat program that uses old fur coats that people no longer want. The program is called Coats for Cubs and the fur is used to aid and comfort injured and orphaned wildlife. How cool is that? Mom used to volunteer at a wildlife rescue a few years ago and they never had furs for their animals in need. Mom could have used some fur to comfort all the little squirrels and opossums that she helped rehabilitate back into the wild.

All the furs that The HSUS receives are sent to wildlife rehabilitators and more than 200 rehabilitators across the United States and Canada participate in the program. Furs are cut into sizes appropriate for the animal in need and placed inside the animal's enclosure. According to The HSUS website, the furry blanket becomes a surrogate mother to the orphaned animals, thus reducing stress and providing comfort. All types of animals have benefited from the furs including bobcats, foxes, raccoons, squirrels, and rabbits.

If you have a fur to donate, The HSUS has made it so easy for you. First, place the fur in a sturdy box and then mail it to them. In addition to coats and jackets, they also accept fur trims and fur accessories such as hats, gloves, and muffs. They will even send you a letter of thanks once they have received your fur (if you ask for one) and this letter can be used to claim the donation as a tax deduction.

I love my fur and I hope no one ever tries to take it off of me. I need it to stay warm and so do all my little animal friends. Please don't wear fur and please encourage those around you to stay fur-free. Donating old furs to The HSUS will help out my little animal friends and that will make me very happy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

An Award From My Pal Coco!

Look what I received today! Can you believe it? An award from my pal Coco! I am so honored to receive such a prestigious award. If you don't know Coco, please stop by his blog and read his amazing story. He lives down in Miami with his pretty mom and handsome dad. Coco gets to go to lots of cool places in Miami because Miami is very pet friendly. If I am ever down there I am going to stop by and visit him. Thanks for the award Coco!

This award, the Noblesse Oblige, is awarded when:

(1) Blog manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervade different cultures and beliefs.
(2) The blog contents inspire...striving to encourage and offer solutions.
(3) There is a clear purpose of the blog. One that features a better understanding on social, political, economic issues, and the arts, culture, sciences and beliefs.
(4) Blog is refreshing and creative
(5) Blog promotes friendship and positive thinking.

Bloggers who receive this award should....

(1) Create a post with mention and link to the blogger who presented the award to you.
(2) Display award conditions in the post.
(3) Write some comments or a short story about what your blog has achieved..possibly citing an older post.
(4) The Noblesse Oblige award should be presented to bloggers in concurrence with the conditions.
(5) The award logo should be displayed somewhere on the blog.

Wow! Where do I start? I started this blog a year ago this month. I wanted a blog because I wanted to share my love for the environment with everyone in the blogsphere. By posting tips on how to be a better steward of Mother Earth, my blog has inspired readers to make positive changes in their lives. Bloggers have also taken action on several issues I have posted about and for this I am forever grateful.

I have also met some great friends through my blog and I can't even begin to tell you how much they have changed my life. I wake up every single day knowing that my friends are just a click away. I look forward to reading their posts - they make me laugh and cry - and I don't know what I would do without them.

I am passing this award onto my girlfriend Pearl. She is the sweetest little thing this side of the Mississippi! She is the most thoughtful girlfriend a guy could ever ask for. She is very artistic and makes beautiful birthday cards for all the puggies. Pearly Poo, you deserve this award and it is my honor to present it to you!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday Wag Out!

Doggy Soap

I am going to get a bath tomorrow, but unfortunately Mom doesn't use a cool bar of soap to clean me. When I found this soap, I told her that I wanted her to buy it for me and that I if she did I would not complain about getting a bath. Mom told me that she is only buying a 'get Stubby really clean' soap and I told her that this soap is the ticket to getting a clean pug.

This eco-friendly dog soap is all natural and is formulated with flea and tick repelling essentail oils. Maybe Mom needs to use this stuff because she is the most tick phobic person alive. With all the creepy, crawly things that Mom is exposed to on the beach and in the jungle, ticks are the one thing that she fears the most. Go figure.

Listen to the list of ingredients in this little paw print soap bar: organic vegetable glycerin, organic soy milk, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, peppermint, cedarwood, rosemary essential oils, vitamin e, organic avocado oil, organic grape seed oil, organic coconut oil. I am going to be the best smelling pug in the county! Head on over to http://www.dirtybirdy.com/ to get some cool soap for the puggy in your life.

Skoy Cloth

Mom got one of these at the Green Fest and is loving it. I told her about the cloth last year, but she didn't listen to me. Now, she is telling everyone that she discovered it and I am not getting any credit. Thanks a lot Mom.

Dad uses so many paper towels that it drives Mom crazy. The Skoy cloth is like a paper towel/cleaning rag alternative. The manufacturer claims that using it is equivalent to using 15 rolls of paper towels. Wow! Imagine saving so many trees by using just one little cloth.

The Skoy cloth can be washed in the dishwasher or the washing maching. This is why it lasts so long. It also dries quickly so bacteria does not have a chance to move in and it is 100% biodegradable because it is made from natural cotton and wood-based cellulose pulp. Water-based colors and inks give it its pretty look and it will break down completely within 4 weeks in a composter. Every household needs a Skoy cloth or two so get yours today at http://www.earthfriendlyshoppe.com/.

Organic Cotton Produce Bags

A lot of things make Mom crazy, but one way to truly push her over the edge is to use plastic produce bags. When Mom is in the store and sees someone putting a bunch of bananas in a plastic produce bag it is all she can do to keep the smoke from steaming out of her ears and from screaming at the top of her lungs. She has been known to get physically ill in stores due to the unnecessary use of plastic produce bags.

Dad was one such culprit. He would come home from the store and every single piece of produce would be in its single use plastic bag. She finally convinced him to use these great little organic cotton bags and he hasn't looked back. The cashier can see through the mesh, they are compact and lightweight, washable, fair labor/fair trade produced, and best of all reuseable. Yeah!

You can even use these bags to hold items other than produce. They are truly multi-purpose. You will want several of these handy bags when you do your produce shopping, whether you are at the store or at the farmer's market. They come in small and large sizes, so check them out today at http://www.reusablebags.com/.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Green Standards

Mom is always thinking about where the things she buys come from and how she will eventually dispose of them. She spends a long time at the grocery store because she will only buy items that are not excessively packaged. In today's world this is not that easy. Sometimes I think she overthinks things, but she says that everyone needs to think about the impact the items they buy has on the environment.I was on the BuyGreen.com website the other day when I came across their green standards. Wow! I was blown away with how detailed they are about all the products they sell. They review each product and rate it with respect to the environmental impact it has. They look at the source material used to create the product, how the product was manufactured, how the product will be used, and how the product will be disposed of when it can no longer be used. Every item has a rating along with one to four of the symbols shown below and detailed information about the rating. The people at buygreen.com have really done their homework about the products they sell and you can be sure that anything you buy from them is good for the environment. This 'cradle to grave' perspective should be the standard by which all products are produced and consumed.

Following are the green standards from the BuyGreen.com website. I know that this information is overwhelming at first, but take it slow. There is so much to think about that you may think that you can't buy anything if you have to follow these standards. The idea is not to turn you off of buying what you need but just to make you aware and get you thinking. You may not even realize that some things you buy every week at the store are not only bad for the environment but also bad for you. If everyone keeps these things in mind when they shop we can ensure a future for our planet. Please do your part because we are all in this together.

Source Material
:
Simply put, what is the product made from?
Toxins: Are there any Toxicants? This is a minimum standard. If there is a prohibited toxicant that is present, or that toxicant exceeds our allowable dosages, the product will NOT be sold on BuyGreen.com.
Raw material: What is the product made from? We look at three potential types of source materials and assign a percentage to each area. Each of these three sub-elements receive a proportional score based on the percentage of the content.
Natural and Organic: Is the content Natural? This is intended to be broadly interpreted. Next we ask, is the content Organic? If it meets this first requirement, it then may also receive additional credit for being Organic too. As an example, Cotton is Natural and can be Organic too.
Sustainable: Is the material from a sustainable source? To score for this element, there must be some percentage of sustainable content. As an example, bamboo is a source material that has good sustainable qualities.
Recycled: How much of the content is made of recycled material? And how much of the recycled material is Post-Consumer? These are measured as a percentage. As an example, there are a number of products that are made from recycled paper, or chopsticks or old billboards as just a few potential materials that get used again in BuyGreen.com products.

Manufacturing: How is the product manufactured?
Animal Testing: is there any testing done on animals? This is a minimum standard and is an absolute. If it fails this sub-element, it will NOT be carried on BuyGreen.com irrespective of any other attributes.
Resource Consumption: does the manufacturing process have an adverse impact on resources - as it relates specifically to the overall manufacturing process. In other words, are there additional resources required in the manufacturing process? If there are, how does this compare to traditional Manufacturing methods for like products? A good example is paper manufacturing which is resource intensive and requires the significant use of water as one example, to manufacture the product.
Energy Consumption: what is the energy required to manufacture and deliver the product? We look at this from two perspectives, Product Production, and Transportation and Shipping. As an example, we have a manufacturer that takes scrap wood from a local lumberyard and uses it to generate electricity through steam. This manufacturer has gone to considerable lengths to reduce their traditional energy consumption. There are certainly many other good, but less involved examples from suppliers we work with today.
Pollution: what is the impact of manufacturing as it relates to polluting our environment? We look at this from two perspectives, Air and Water. The comparative impact on both air and water will each receive a rating. As an example, one of our manufacturers has a closed loop water process and has essentially eliminated their water pollution. Further, they have significantly reduced their water consumption as an added benefit to adopting this process.
Packaging: how much packaging is used and what is the packaging made from? We have a number of manufacturers that have eliminated traditional packaging, or significantly reduced the amount they use today. Using recycled or sustainable materials for your packaging are good ways of creating a positive impact from a comparative perspective to traditional products.
Company Evaluation: how does the company approach what we believe are their four 'key stakeholders'; their customers, employees (including workers in their supply chain), the environment, and the communities in which they do business? This is an absolute measure and either they meet our minimum requirement, or they do not. There are a number of other organizations that provide and accreditation that also looks at all four stakeholders or portions there of. We provide information about these additional certifications when it applies to a given rating.

Usage: How is the product used and what is its effect on the environment?
Reduce or eliminate material consumption: does the use of this product reduce or eliminate consumption of other materials? Reusable water bottles are a good example of some potentially significant reduction or elimination of the massive amount of plastic bottles we use as a society today. This example can also have an impact on the next area of review, trash production.
Reduce or eliminate trash production: does the use of this product reduce or eliminate trash? As an example, we have a product that instead of needing to be disposed of, can be used as compost or fertilizer when its intended usage is finished. There can also be a qualitative component to this element. For example, corn based products that are alternatives to traditional petroleum products, have a better outcome when disposed of using traditional methods.
Reduce or eliminate toxicants in the environment: does the use of this product reduce or eliminate toxicants? As an example, we carry paints that as compared to traditional products, contain significantly less toxicants. Another example are a number of personal care products that also have significantly less, if any toxicants at all.
Reduce or eliminate energy consumption: does the use of this product reduce or eliminate energy consumption? As an example, a number of our Solar products eliminate the need to use electricity.

Disposal: How is it disposed of and what is the impact?
Bio-degradable: does the product bio-degrade after it is disposed? We have numerous products that are bio-degradable when disposed of and this is clearly better than traditional equivalent products that don't bio-degrade, or do so over significantly long periods of time. Across all the products we offer, there is a range of how long some of these products take to bio-degrade, but only in a few examples is it longer than a year, and none nearly as long as a traditional product. Further, there are a few organizations that provide their own accreditation and when those details are available, we will pass that information along to our customers.
Recyclable: can this product be recycled? This sub-element is two pronged, meaning either it can or can not be recycled. If Yes, what percentage of the product is recyclable? This element too has numerous examples of products that can be reused for either the same product, or something new. There are of course numerous potential scenarios that may create a condition where a product that can be recycled, does not actually get recycled. We provide significant weight to the characteristic that create the ability for the product to actually be recycled.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Helping the Eastern Massasauga

Many species of snakes used to live in Northeastern Illinois but over the years increasing development, non native invasive plants, and the pet trade have led to them becoming almost extinct. In an effort to save a particular species of snake from extinction, the Lake County Forest Preserve District is teaming up with a bunch of conservation agencies including Lincoln Park Zoo to capture snakes so they can be bred in captivity and returned to the wild. Mom is excited about this because she has ties with both of these organizations and she loves snakes.

The Eastern Massasauga is a shy snake that is on the Illinois Endangered Species List and could soon find itself designated endangered on the national level. At about 2 feet in length with very distinct markings, the Eastern Massasauga is crucial to our ecosystem because it eats rodents that can carry disease and is food for hawks, owls, cranes, and other mammals. We really need these guys around. If predators cannot find prey they may start looking at me as a food source. Yikes! Their venon is also being studied to determine if it can be used in drugs and medications.

Did I mention that the Eastern Massasauga is a rattlesnake? It is a rattlesnake and it is also a pit viper, which means that it has heat-sensing pit organs between the eye and nostril on both sides of its heads. These pits sense body heat from animals and is a very effective tool used in hunting prey. The pits lead to very sensitive organs that tell the snake what type of prey it has located - prey that it can eat or prey that is too big for it to handle. They also have a pair of long hollow fangs that they use to inject venom into their prey and the really cool thing about their fangs is that each fang can be engaged simultaneously or independently. The venom uses specialized digestive enzymes that disrupt the cardiovascular system and even though the venom is more toxic than that of other rattlesnakes, it is generally regarded as less dangerous to humans because they inject less venom.

The Eastern Massasauga was once common in Illinois and other Midwest states. Officials don't know how many exist in Lake County, but they do know that the number is very low? How low? Only 11 were found between 2006 and 2008, most in one undisclosed area outside Lake County. Why is the area undisclosed? Most people are afraid of snakes and if the location of the snakes was made public, officials fear that people might track them down and kill them or use them in the pet trade.

Tracking snakes is very hard work. In 2008 researchers spent several hundred hours looking for snakes and only found two. In Lake County, there haven't been any confirmed sightings in over 15 years, with the last one being in an area south of where we live, on the southern edge of the county.

When Mom is handling a snake at the zoo, part of her presentation revolves around the conservation of snakes. Snakes are just as important as all the cute and cuddly animals you see when you go hiking. Your chances of seeing a snake when you hike in our area is rare, just ask Mom. She is constantly on the lookout for snakes and very rarely sees them. She is likely to never see an Eastern Massasauga in the wild and that makes her sad.

Even if you don't like snakes, please respect them and their place in the ecosystem. Snakes are fascinating, highly evolved reptiles that have been around for almost 150 million years. If you see a snake in the wild, please do not kill it. Snakes are not out to bite humans and most snakes shy away from areas that humans inhabit. Snakes want to do their thing and be left alone, so let them do their thing. We need snakes and they need us now more than ever to protect them and their habitat.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Good Dog. Stay.

Mom read this book last weekend and although she liked it, it made her sad. She said that the book reminded her that I am getting older and that I won't live forever. Duh! Of course I won't live forever. Nothing lives forever. Of course Mom knows this, but as I get older I am starting to slow down. One day I will slow down so much that I will stop.

Good Dog. Stay. is by one of Mom's favorite authors Anna Quindlen. This book is a quick read and is half text, half pictures. The story is about Quindlen's dog Beau and the impact he made on the Quindlen family. Even though Beau is not a pug (he's a Labrador Retriever) you fall in love with him through the stories Quindlen tells about him, from the puppy years through the years of playing with the kids. I have met some Labs throughout the years and they are really good dogs. They are good with kids, friendly, obedient, and smart. Pugs are all these things too plus we are good eaters.

Not all the pictures in the book are of Beau and in fact most are not. They are just pictures of regular dogs doing what dogs do. I find it very interesting that there were no pictures of pugs in the book, but this may have been a slight oversight by the author and/or publisher. I do not take this oversight personally, however, the book would have sold more copies had a pug been featured. This is just my opinion, but feel free to agree with me.

Beau taught Quindlen many things during his almost fifteen year life like to roll with the punches (check), to take things as they come (check), and to measure herself not in terms of the past or the future but of the present (Mom needs to be able to check this). I am always telling Mom that she could learn so much from me. I am not one to fret about things I have no control over, I embrace each day like the new adventure it is, and I always keep an open mind. These things are keys to a successful, stress-free life. Live like a pug and you will live a good life.

In the end, Beau's body just won't do what he wants it to. He can't hear, can't see, and he has a hard time getting around the house. The vet is called to the house and they put him down. Quindlen talks a lot about this phrase and about what it really means. She decides that it is the best term for the end of a dog's life and I think I agree.

I think that Quindlen summed it up best when she wrote “The life of a good dog is like the life of a good person, only shorter and more compressed." I will not live forever and I am okay with that. While I am here I know that it is my responsibility to teach everyone about how to be a good steward of Mother Earth, to teach everyone that it's okay to chill out and relax a little, and to show the world that pugs are the best dogs. I teach you these things and I ask you to pass them on. Pay it forward. Be at peace with who you are because I like being me and I like you just as you are.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Wag Out!

Recycled Glass Jewelry

Glass is one of the easiest things to recycle and/or upcycle. Many people make jewelry out of glass that would otherwise end up in a landfill, but this jewelry is truly unique.

This cool jewelry comes from Loot! The artist behind Loot, Genevieve Church, uses recycled, reclaimed, and vintage materials to create lovely one-of-a kind jewelry pieces. Mom especially likes the earrings and is thinking that she may buy them for herself for Memorial Day. What? That's not a gifting holiday!


There are several colors to choose from and Mom likes this one which is called El Mundo. The wires are recycled sterling silver and the disk themselves are made from broken glass fragments. No two pieces are exactly alike which is what Mom really likes about them. By purchasing jewelry from Loot you are closing the loop with recycling. So many items that end up in landfills can be used again and again. Check out all the cool jewelry and pick you favorite color at www.recycledloot.com.

Recycled Flip Flops

It truly amazes me how some people are so creative. I am not creative at all and maybe that is why I admire people who can make something out of nothing. These sandals are proof that you can buy great looking recycled sandals to show off your cute piggies!

Mom is a flip flop queen! She hates wearing regular shoes and when the warm weather rolls around she puts on her flip flops and doesn't take them off until the first snow. I know that she will have to have these Splaff flip flops because they are made from recycled and sustainable materials. The sole is made from recycled race car tires, the straps are made from recycled bike inner tubes lined with natural hemp, and the foot bed is made from recycled rubber and foam. These guys are too brilliant! Made in Baja California, this is another great product made from items destined for the landfill. The warm weather is upon us, so head on over to http://www.splaff.com/ to get a pair of totally cool recycled flip flops.

Grass Jewelry

This idea is one of the best ones I've found this month. No one will ever guess that the necklace around your neck was made from grass, but don't keep it a secret. This is another example of using sustainable resources to make beautiful things.

Zulugrass strands are so pretty that you will definitely want more than one. The strands are made from grass grown in The Rift Valley Kenya. The grass grows with a hole in it and is hard and durable. That is so cool! The grass is harvested by hand, blade by blade from tall stands and then cut by hand. It's then dyed with low-impact, colorfast dyes and interspersed with glass beads. If you are wondering how durable the necklaces are, zulugrass is water proof and colorfast. The grass is often used in the furniture industry because of its strength.


Purchasing zulugrass jewelry provides employment for rural Kenyans and trains them about business. This great jewelry is just what you need for the summer, so skip on over to http://www.zulugrass.com/ to pick up a strand or two.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Great News For Leatherbacks!

Mom is crazy about sea turtles and one of her favorite species is the leatherback. Yesterday there was some really good news about them and when I told Mom about it she did her happy dance. Hooray!

The world's largest nesting population of leatherbacks has been identified in Gabon, Africa. Researchers took land and aerial surveys during three nesting seasons between 2002 and 2007 and their findings indicate a population between 15,730 and 41,373 female leatherbacks use the nesting beaches. Wow! That's a lot of leatherbacks. Mom would be in leatherback heaven!

Aerial surveys are not easy to do, especially along a 372 mile coast like that of Gabon. The scientists used video to evaluate populations, in addition to ground based monitoring - good old school walking the beach. Mom loves walking the beach looking for sea turtles, so they should have asked her to help them.

In addition to estimating the number of nest and nesting females, researchers were also able to identify key sites for leatherback nesting. Why is this important? This data is crucial in developing conservation management plans for leatherbacks so without this data, no plans and probably no leatherbacks.

Prior to the surveys, researchers knew that Gabon was an important nesting site for leatherbacks but they had no idea how many leatherbacks used the sites The surveys also revealed that 79% of the nests occurred within National Parks and other protected areas. This just goes to show that protected areas around the world are needed to ensure the survival of leatherbacks as well as all species of sea turtles.

Mom worked with leatherbacks with these guys in Playa Grande, Costa Rica. That's Dr. Bryan Wallace on the far left and George Shillinger, second from the right. The other guys are from MINAE. They are park rangers who guard the beaches in Costa Rica. Isn't that leatherback huge?

Mom assisted Bryan, George, and a whole team of researchers attached satellite transmitters on leatherbacks like the one shown above. How cool is that? Don't even ask - of course I wasn't there. I heard all about it when Mom got back, but she doesn't have any pictures of nesting turtles because you can't take pictures at night because it scares the turtles. Mom does have pictures of the hatchlings (baby turtles) somewhere, so I will ask her if I can post some.

Leatherbacks are an important part of the ocean ecosystem. They are a keystone species which means their very presence contributes to a diversity of life and whose extinction would consequently lead to the extinction of other forms of life. The bottom line is that we need them and they need us.

There are so many threats to leatherbacks including pollution, loss of habitat (nesting beaches), exploitation, and of course fishing. Long-line fishing is the worst thing for leatherbacks and for all the other marine animals that die because of it. Longliner ships set out fishing lines up to 75 miles long, hung with thousands of hooks. Tens of thousands of sea turtles drown on longlines every year and this is why the Pacific leatherback population is estimated to be extinct in less than ten years.

My ocean buddies belong in the ocean and not washed up on some beach. Please know where the fish you eat comes from and make sure it is sustainable. Mom does not believe sustainable fish exist, but I know that people like to eat fish.

Check out this short video of leatherbacks in action (after the short commercial) at http://www.livescience.com/common/media/video/player.php?videoRef=LS_090518_Leatherback-Turtle. Mom always says that once you see a leatherback nesting, you will want to quit your day job and devote your life to sea turtle conservation. Umm Mom, not everyone is as crazy as you!

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Birthday Present!

My birthday was five days ago, but Mom and Dad decided to wait until today to give me my present. I thought I was getting a bunch of little presents like some Dingos, a Happy Meal, an 8 piece meal from Popeye's, a new collar, and maybe a birthday card, but this year they decided to get me something a little different. Wanna guess what I got? You'll never guess, so I'll just tell you. They're taking me on vacation!

I have never been on vacation before. Mom and Dad go away all the time and when they are gone, I go to one of several different 'vacation homes'. This is how they always spin it - "Stubby, look where you're going. You are going to (insert name here) house for the week. Isn't that great? You are going on vacation. We'll see you in a week or more, so have a good time." Nice, huh? I don't know what got into them this year, but vacationing I will go!

Don Pardo, please tell the audience what Stubby will receive:

A nice, long, twelve hour ride in Dad's car - yippee! I love car rides and I hardly ever get to go in Dad's car. There is lots of room in there to cruise around, so Mom and Dad better put some pug proof blankets down so the whole car doesn't look like me.

A four night stay at Barkwells, a pet-friendly resort in North Carolina - wow! Look at the picture of that resort. Pretty sweet looking to me. There are almost seven fenced-in acres for motoring around, laying around, and checking pee-mail.

A two bedroom, two bath cabin with a fenced-in yard - superb! Just look at this cool cabin. There is more than enough room for a little guy like me to stretch out and relax. I'm not really sure what I'm suppose to do on vacation, but I always hear Mom talking about sleeping in late and doing a whole lotta nothing. I love doing that stuff!
A one night stay in Indianapolis followed by a visit to the Indy Pug Meetup - sweet! I can finally meet some of my blogging buddies. I know that some of them are heading to Kentucky that weekend, but my good pal Salinger is going to be around. I can't wait to meet him and his family.

Barkwells is about twenty minutes south of Asheville, so Mom and Dad plan on spending lots of time there, as well as visiting the Biltmore Estate. They are taking their bikes and my buggy so that we can do some riding. Hopefully Mom will not ring her ridiculous bike horn and annoy Dad.

We are leaving for the vacation in two weeks. Mom is making all kinds of lists because she doesn't want to forget any of my stuff. What stuff? I really don't have stuff. I don't know what she's bringing, but I hope she remembers my food. Maybe I will get some special treats for the long ride. I know Mom will bring my surfboard rug and my special collar, but what else do I need? Maybe I should make a list so that I don't forget anything!

I can't wait to get my motor running, head out on the highway, looking for adventure, and whatever comes my way! I was born to be a wild vacationing pug!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Green Festival


Mom went to the Green Festival yesterday with Sashi, a fellow zoo docent. It was Mom's first time going to the festival and she was very excited to learn about new products, initiatives, and campaigns of the green movement. I, of course, could not attend the festival. The festival wasn't a pug free zone, but a dog free zone. I wasn't too upset that I got to stay home and hang out with Dad all day because I knew that Mom would fill me in on the details when she got home.

Green Festival is a joint project between Global Exchange and Green America. The Chicago festival showcased more than 350 local and national green businesses. There were also speakers who gave presentations and participated in panel discussions. Mom and Sashi went to see Alice Waters speak, but Alice could not attend the festival due to a health issue.

Green Festival is more like an expo or tradeshow than a festival. Booths were set up in a massive hall at Chicago's Navy Pier and Mom and Sashi basically walked around checking out the booths. Since it was Mom's first time at the festival, she had really high expectations. I don't want to say that she was disappointed that she attended, but it sounds like she will not go back again next year.

Mom really liked the local aspect of the festival. All the food booths were at one end of the hall like a food court. Local vegetarian and vegan restaurants featured their best fare and from what Mom could see, it all looked really good. She only sampled a couple of desserts, but Sashi had lunch and said it was really good. The festival was totally meat free and when I heard this I was glad that I couldn't attend.

There were many local NGO's spreading their messages about various causes. The ones that Mom liked most were Chicago Wilderness Magazine, celebrating the rich natural heritage of the Chicago region by telling inspiring stories of the people and organizations working to protect local nature, Great Lakes Forever, an organization protecting and conserveing the natural wonders that are the Great Lakes, Chicago Biofuels, an organization that educates schools, organizations, public officials, and the general public about alternative fuels, and The Land Connection, an education NGO with a vision of community -based food systems in the Midwest where every farmer has the opportunity to grow food in a sustainable manner, and every person has the choice to enjoy local and organic foods.

Mom said that the best part of the festival was meeting and talking with Ken Lee, co-founder of Lotus Foods, a speciality rice company. Mom and Sashi sampled different varieties of rice and then got educated about rice and about SRI, the system of rice intensification. Ken spent a lot of them, answered all their questions, and really changed how they view rice and rice production. In an effort to spare you the confusing details that emergered from Mom's scatterbrain when she tried to explain things to me, the following information is from the Lotus Foods website:

SRI – One Seed Revolution
The System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which is at the forefront of a grassroots rice revolution, is an ecologically sound method of rice production that helps resource-limited farmers in Asia, Africa and Latin America to improve their yields, health, livelihoods and environment while producing better quality and more nutritious rice.

Optimizing the Potential of Each Individual Seed with SRI
SRI is a set of concepts and practices that change the management of plants, soil, water and nutrients used in growing rice. Normally, farmers transplant seedlings 3 to 6 weeks old, randomly and closely-spaced into flooded fields. With SRI, farmers take tiny seedlings, less than 2 weeks old, and plant them into unflooded fields at wide spacing and then use simple tools to remove weeds that aerate the soil. Plants are not kept submerged in water. Fields are periodically irrigated and then dried out. Organic fertilizers replace chemical fertilizers and make pesticides unnecessary.
These alternative methods have dramatic impacts: Farmers can increase yields from their traditional varieties by 50-100%, using 25-50% less water and 80-90% less seed, with less drudgery, and few or no purchased agrichemical inputs. Nearly a third of the world's population depends upon rice for their subsistence and livelihoods, and rice production has to increase by 30-40% percent over the next 25 years. With diminishing land and water, SRI represents a significant innovation to meet these needs.

SRI Rice – Better for You, Better for the Planet
When you buy SRI-grown rice you are not only getting some of the best tasting and healthiest rice in the world, you are also helping to:
Improve local and global food security
Promote healthier people and a healthier environment
Empower small farmers and raise incomes
Alleviate poverty
Reduce water demands, leaving more water for human use and natural ecosystems
Address climate change challenges
Reduce pressure on fragile ecosystems and wildlife habitats


They were not selling any SRI rice products, but they were selling other varieties that Mom has had her eyes on for quite some time. Mom purchase three different varieties: Bhutanese Red Rice, Forbidden Rice, and Jade Pearl Rice. I don't eat rice, but Mom loves it and she is really excited to try them all really soon.

Mom got samples of Pangea Organics soap, Dr. Bronner's Magic Organic Lotion, and Glee Gum. All in all, Mom had a good time, but was happy to leave due to the crowds. I was also happy for Mom to leave so that she could come home, because I miss her. Too bad for me that I was asleep when Mom got home and shortly after she walked in the door, Mom fell into bed to get some sleep. All that greening made Mom really tired. Maybe she won't have any energy today and she will stay home with me instead of going to a craft fair. I can only hope.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Exciting News From Sun Chips

A lot of things make Mom crazy. It's true. She has a hard time buying food items that contain too much packaging because she knows that the packaging will end up in a landfill forever. Even if some packaging can be recycled she still feels guilty buying a product because so much energy was used to create the packaging. When I told Mom about the steps that they Sun Chips people were taking to create more responsible packaging, she kissed me all over!

The people at Sun Chips realized that they had to address the impact their packaging has on the Earth. Packaging accounts for most of the waste thrown away in everyone's garbage. This packaging goes from your garbage to the landfill, where it will never decompose. Mom is always telling me that we need enzymes that can break down all the packaging, but that enzymes haven't yet evolved to break down the sophisticated packaging we have created. Huh? It all seems very complicated to me because I am not a scientist, but the basic idea is that packaging lives forever. And that's a problem.

Knowing that they had to change their ways, the people at Sun Chips turned to nature. The result is that 33% of every 10.5 oz bag is made with renewable plant based materials. Yeah! Mom can feel less guilty if she buys them. I don't eat Sun Chips because they don't have a meat flavored chip. I don't know why they don't because I think it would be a big seller. Maybe I will e-mail them with my idea later today.

33% is good, but next year Sun Chips will introduce the first fully compostable chip bag of its kind. The bags will fully decompose in about 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost bin. Wow! That is so cutting edge!

Since Frito Lay makes Sun Chips, hopefully they will introduce compostable chip bags for their other chip products. Something else that you should know about they way Sun Chips does business is that they added solar energy to their plant in Modesto, Calif. The energy that isn’t used to produce its 145,000 bags of whole grain chips a day is offset by energy credits under a companywide program instituted by parent company PepsiCo. They are paving the green way for others to follow. Check out this short video of the compostable bag and remember that we can all make changes in our lives to eliminate waste, so please do your part.

video

Friday, May 15, 2009

Save Those Produce Stickers!

Don't you just hate throwing the stickers from produce into the garbage? The thought of more trash going to the landfill makes Mom crazy, which in turn makes me crazy. Then I found a guy that Mom could send the stickers to so that she can sleep peacefully at night.

Barry "Wildman" Synder uses the stickers to make mosaic artwork at his Erie, Colorado home. What a brillant idea! This guys deserves an award. Some people are just so creative.

According to his website, Barry started the S.O.S. - Save Our Stickers - Foundation to provide a new home and meaningful purpose for produce stickers. But where does he get all the stickers from? Does he just sit around eating produce all day long? Of course not. He gets them from people just like you and pugs like me. More importantly, he depends on us to keep his artwork alive.

So how can you help? Just peel the stickers from your produce and place them sticky side down on a piece of notepaper (paper only, no plastic). Once you have enough saved up to make it worthwhile to send, mail them to:

Barry “Wildman” Snyder
Stickerman Produce Art
POB 301
Erie CO 80516


Your stickers will be turned into a beautiful piece of artwork like this. Mom really likes this piece. Too bad Mother's Day just past (darn!) and her birthday is next year (shucks) or I would get it for her. Maybe this would make a good anniversary gift (next month).

Most of Barry's pieces cost between $25 - $265. This is a great way to upcycle something that would otherwise end up in a landfill. For additional information on Barry and his artwork, check out his website at http://stickermanproduceart.wordpress.com/.

In case you were wondering about those little numbers on the stickers, the most important digit is the first one.
  • Numbers beginning with a 3 or 4 denote conventionally grown, non-GMO produce. This means the produce has been grown with chemical pesticides and fertilizers, but is not genetically modified.
  • Numbers beginning with an 8 denotes genetically modified (GMO) produce.
  • Numbers beginning with a 9 denotes organic produce.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

I'm the birthday boy, boy!
Today is my birthday - yahoo! I am 12 years old today. Put on your party hats, grab some treats, and take a stroll down memory lane with me as I celebrate my special day. Yipee!

Mom likes to tell me that I was the cutest pug baby ever, but that's just Mom being Mom. You can judge for yourself, but I have to admit that I was (an am still) a cutie. This is me when I was just ten weeks old. I was a little guy believe it or not. This is my first day home (my gotcha day) and I am checking out the backyard and my bowl. This cool bowl changed colors depending on the heat of the liquid inside, but I eventually chewed it, so no more bowl. Mom and Dad always put ice cubes in it to keep me cool, but I was already cool!

Look how little I was! Mom said it seems like just yesterday and not twelve years ago that I fit into the palm of her hand. Ahhh, isn't that sweet? We didn't have a fenced yard at the old house, so my leash was hooked up to a stake in the backyard. I didn't have much freedom, but I loved it there.

I told Mom that she could trust me not to run away if I was unhooked from my stake, but she wouldn't do it. She was afraid that I would run like a crazy man into the street and get smashed by a car. Yikes! I stayed hooked on my stake because I didn't was to get smashed.

This was one of my first days home with Mom and Dad and you can see that I was really spoiled. My cage (house) is on the left and was placed just perfectly in the doorway to block me from going into the dining room. Mom and Dad were very sneaky back then and they really didn't trust me. I am laying on one of my favorite blankies. I had so many when I was a little guy and I would play tug-o-war with them, drag them around the house, and then fall to sleep all wrapped up on them.

This action shot is from that same first week and as you can see I loved to motor around the house. I was very fast and I would let Mom and Dad chase me around the house for fun. Look at my cute pug mug!I loved my new parents and I told them so as often as I could. I wasn't much of a barker, but I've always loved to give kisses, to cuddle, and to smile. A face only Mom could love!

This was my first birthday and look what Mom and Dad bought me! This bone was bigger than me, but I loved it. I chewed it for a while, but never even made a dent in it. I have always loved bones that I can hold between my paws while eating and this bone was way too big for that. I used to try to drag it around the house, but I eventually gave it to my good buddy Cody and he chewed it down to nothing.
I used to love to sit like "a little boy" and people were constantly sitting me on their laps like that. This is me with my Dad's good buddy Rock and you can see that I do look like a real baby boy on his lap. I loved this chair too and used to spin around on it all the time.

This was my version of a cloud bed, kind of like the one that Salinger has. I used to snuggle inside it and just peek my little pug out so that I could see what was going on. I was so good at hiding that Mom and Dad couldn't find me.

I used to jump a lot when I was a little guy which probably explains all my aches and pains now. I loved to jump on the bed and this picture shows me on the bed looking down at something. Mom says that I look really skinny in this picture. Notice the curly tail - it wasn't yet broken.Mostly I loved to just hang out on the furniture with Mom and Dad. I have always been a people pug, like most pugs, so wherever my peeps go, I go.

For some reason, I have baby pictures, but no mid age pictures. Hmmm. I wonder what happened. I think that maybe Mom and Dad got busy with life and just didn't take that many pictures of me.

This is me (and Dad) on Halloween when I was about four years old. I am already graying, much to my dismay. Mom said that I looked very cute as a devil. I used to run to the door when the trick-or-treaters rang the bell and I would help Mom give them candy. All the little girls would ooh and ahh over me and I loved it.

I do not like anything on my head, so I would constantly take the horns off. I know I don't look like a devil without my horns, but they just made me crazy!

I am a baby in this picture - I think it's my first Easter. Mom and Dad took me to the mall to have professional pictures taken and I can't believe that I agreed to sit in an Easter basket. I also don't have my collar on, so my neck looks big. I felt so naked, but I went along with it because it made Mom and Dad happy. This picture sits in the family room and everyone that comes over tells me how much they like it.
Here I am in a Christmas picture with my good buddies in a silly Santa sleigh. Cody is sitting in front of the sleigh, his cousin T-Bone is in the sleigh with me, and Cody's brother Rudy is standing at the front of the sleigh drooling as usual. Mom and Sandy (Cody and Rudy's mom) took all of us to the mall to have this picture taken. They did it as a gift to our dads and our dads loved it.

This last picture was my Christmas gift to Dad a few years ago and it sits in his office. Mom loves the way the canvas turned out and said that I look very sly in the picture - I think that is a compliment. The canvas is definitely an attention grabber and everyone loves to look at it.

I wish that I could tell you that I had lots of exciting plans for today, but Dad is out of town and Mom has a final exam this afternoon. I'm sure that I will be doing something later today, but for now it is a surprise. I haven't seen any presents yet and am dying to know what Mom and Dad got me.
Thanks for stopping by and spending some time with me on my birthday!