Tag Archives: Dogs

Life being somewhat complicated and challenging

at times, it is awfully good to focus on the basics: coffee, tacos, and dogs. Fortunately there is an abundance of all three in Austin, Texas, where I happen to be sojourning for several days. I knew good things were in store when I spotted the taco food truck actually inside the airport terminal. It was 11pm and the place was hopping. The millennials seemed all to be heading back from Las Vegas.

Nothing too weird yet, but I feel something could be about to spring up.

Until then, got a jump on the caffeine thing with a cosmic coffee, a spring specialty at Maud’s favorite joint that pairs cold brew with Mexican vanilla, orange honey and oat milk. Pretty decent. Next time might go for the root beer latte.

Texas mountain laurels have just come into bloom and it seems every little old fashioned bungalow has one out front.

The western redbuds are popping too.

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Now a latte and a stop at the Korean nail salon. The man getting a gel manicure next to me wants it to be known that he is getting a special design on each of his pinkies: a peace sign rendered in yellow and blue.

Not quite a Rothko, but very much in keeping with the spirit of the times.

Canines run free in the dog park except when they pause awaiting the flight of a ragged tennis ball.

I wish our lives had the simplicity of Fetch under the live oaks. Everyone here wears flip flops, so I got a pair. Ahhh, instantaneous simplicity.

Are you hungry yet? You’re in luck.

Criispy pork belly tacos with fried parsley and mandarin orange pico.

Extra fat included at no charge. Fingers are for licking.

Two of my favorites come intermixed in a dirty horchata–horchata and coffee, silly. You knew that.

Home again, home again. Baths and naps all around. The simple life.

No freak show.

Perhaps that will come later. It is Austin, after all. I feel we’re just gearing up.

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The numbers are in, and the black bear lost.

Across New York State, where I live, hunters took 1,346 black bears during 2021.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos declared, “Although they aren’t always successful, thousands of dedicated hunters venturing afield each year help keep populations [of black bears] at desired levels, maintaining healthy bear populations in the state.” Both bows and muzzleloaders came into play. The heaviest beast weighed more than 600 pounds.

The black bear has always been held sacred by the Cherokee, and a project in North Carolina displayed sculptures decorated with the symbolism of different clans: Bird, Blue, Deer, Wolf, and so on.

I’ve never been big on buffalo burgers or gravitated to goat stew, feeling something of a kinship with both animals. And I’ve never had horse, or at least knowingly. But I somehow feel even worse about the idea of shooting a bear, although the purpose of the hunt might be for meat as well as trophy. And, hunting advocates tell me, the bears are invading the suburbs! They are dangerous! They must be stopped!

Seventy-five percent of Americans think hunting wild game is a good thing. Between 40,000 to 50,000 bears are legally hunted in the U.S. each year; an unknown number are also illegally poached.

Not every hunter is what’s known as “slob hunter,” someone who hunts legally, but behaves unethically. A slob hunter will take bad shots, leave trash in the woods, damage habitat, vandalize signs, or show disrespect toward natural resources, landowners, other hunters and people in general. 

The vast majority of hunters in America (95%) eat the game animals they kill. So it’s all okay, isn’t it?

Let’s consider some other animals that are routinely killed for their meat.

Dog eating is still common in China, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and the region of Nagaland in India. An estimated 30 million dogs across Asia, including stolen family pets, are killed for human consumption every year.

In Taiwan, many people think that eating black dogs in will help you stay warm. Taiwan is the first Asian country to crack down dogs as food. The country’s Animal Protection Act fines anyone caught selling, eating or buying the animals for consumption, with a fine of up to £6,500. Those found guilty of animal cruelty could also receive a fine of £52,000 and two years in prison.

Each year in June, the city of Yulin in southern China hosts a dog meat festival, where live dogs and cats are sold specifically for eating and an estimated 10,000 are slaughtered for their meat. You can look up pictures if you like; I can’t bear to run them here.

South Koreans eat more than one million dogs per year. They consume much of it during boknal, the hottest days of the year, in July and August. Some believe it revives energy or virility sapped by the heat. They consider dog meat in bosintang stew or the drink gaesoju as “a soup form of Gatorade,” according to American food writer Joe McPherson in a 2015 UPI interview.

The most common dog breed raised for food is called nureongi — Korean for “yellow dog.” They have short, yellow fur, and are seldom adopted as pets. In other words, they are considered generic, and so expendable.

Humane Society International has been liberating canines from the farms that raise them and adopting them out to U.S. families.

Cats are also considered medicinal in Asia. In Korea, cat meat was historically brewed into a tonic as a folk remedy for neuralgia and arthritis. Modern consumption has mainly been in the form of cat soup, consumed most often by middle-aged working class women for perceived health benefits. It takes ten cats to produce a small bottle of goyangi, an alcoholic elixir.

With the increase of cats as pets in China, opposition towards the traditional use of cats for food has grown. In June 2006, approximately 40 activists stormed the Fangji Cat Meatball Restaurant, forcing it to shut down.

What about bears? Are they good eating?

In Europe of the late medieval period, the consumption of bear meat was an aristocratic privilege. In Tyrol and Piedmont, villages had to fetch up a set number of bear paws to the local lord every year.

Elsewhere in the world, Kodiak Natives hunted bears for food, clothing and tools, and left bear heads in the field as a sign of respect to the ursuline spirit. 

Closer to home – in North America. Native tribes, frontiersmen and settlers ate bear meat for hundreds of years. 

The black bear has become one of the most widespread big game animals in North America, and hunting them is legal in 27 states, last I counted.

A blip occurred in the American support for bear hunting, which slackened when Teddy Roosevelt went on a hunt and refused to shoot a bear tied to a willow tree. A toy company famously marketed a stuffed bear to commemorate the incident. You know the rest.

Hunters have come to recognize Arizona as one of the nation’s greatest spots for black bear hunting. A staple of all Arizona bear diets is the prickly pear cactus, and bears can predictably stay close to a patch. Kind of like a salt lick with thorns.

New Jersey’s hunting guide offers an online bear cookbook that features “Grilled Bear Loin with Brown Sugar Baste” and “BBQ Bear Roast.” 

“Good bear meat can go toe-to-toe with any other wild game meat when prepared properly,” proffers hunter Connor Gabbott on a web site. “The best bear meat I have ever eaten was from an inland, spring-time sow that was estimated to be over twenty years old. Bear meat is slightly darker in color than beef and the grain of the meat is coarser and a touch looser. All the bear meat I have tried has been very mild and somewhat sweet. There is a distinct (not off-putting) smell to the meat, the same way raw lamb meat has a unique smell. To ensure the best table fare, it is highly recommended to remove all the fat from the meat prior to freezing. If left on, some potentially off-putting flavors from the fat can migrate into the meat while frozen.”

I feel sure that many people would get their hackles up were one to suggest we stop killing and consuming bears. Not having ever experienced the thrill of the hunt, I know I wouldn’t feel deprived of the hobby were it to be curtailed.

Sometimes considering one example helps us to focus on another.

The meat of the hyena is now a delicacy across Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Somalia, where people have developed a keen appetite for the wild animal’s meat – as long as they can afford it, as it comes at a cost. Pakistanis and Iranians also cook up hyena meat, which has been deemed halal. Don’t know about you, but the hyena is one of my favorite animals, with its keening vocals, sharp aroma and gender-fluid sex characteristics. I hate to think of them being et.

I feel the same way about the bear.

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The grand dame

that is the Grand Concourse in the Bronx has certainly seen better days.

But there is still an awful lot of life there. Crews are installing new sidewalks and new medians separating the wide boulevards (2 lanes and a service road in each direction). They need a tree inspector to make sure no harm comes to the gingkos and zelkovas lining the avenue.

You’ve got wonder about people in the city, the way they love to lean things up against trees. Why? They can be told again and again not to and still you find a clutter of debris around the base of a tree. In this case it’s actually condoned. Huh?

But if you’re in the neighborhood, why not enjoy the local scenery?

I like hand lettered wall art.

Bronx residents love fruit, judging by the number of produce stands, including this one that has the owner peeling your orange for you.

There is still some of the past. The Grand Concourse was built in the late 1800s to rival the great boulevards of Europe, and it soon became a middle class haven, before the advent of white flight and the deterioration of the Bronx in general. Once in a while you meet someone who tells you their old Jewish granny used to live on the Concourse.

Glimmers of the past exist.

And most amazing, a  hulking, barely visible grand building.

Behind the scaffolding stand, the Paradise Theater, built in 1929 and used for various types of entertainment since, even since it fell on terrible times – supposedly a church holds forth there now, though that’s hard to believe.

The ticket book evokes times gone by, as does the ceiling above it.

But really, the Concourse is contemporary.

Concerned with the important things.

Fresh.

And the home of thousands of grand pit bulls. This one snarls, then comes in for a pet.

I’m not sure about his manners, but he’s a handsome devil.

I wonder if pit bulls were the breed of choice at the turn of the century? Helen Keller had a pit bull named Sir Thomas. She was born in that era, so maybe the Grand Concourse was teeming with them.

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