August 15th, 2017

Mark Blazis: Save the garden, then dine well – Worcester Telegram

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Mark Blazis

I had an unforgettable wild game dinner this week. While it didnt approach the perfection of the rare Arctic char or buttery Ora king salmon I recently reveled in at the Sole Proprietor, the pan-fried woodchuck was profoundly satisfying.

Woodchuck, despite being the very favorite food of our local coyotes, is probably not on your menu. But trust me, any animal that eats down to the ground all of your wifes garden lettuce, broccoli, cucumbers, beans, peas and squash has to be nutritious, tender, sweet, juicy and deserving to die.

Yes, for the second year in a row, my wifes garden was a woodchucks dining room. I shared her frustrated emotions because I had helped plant that garden and was looking forward to many special meals from our mutual effort.

Woodchucks are problems everywhere in Massachusetts except on Marthas Vineyard or Nantucket. Since these big rodents are poor swimmers, they never colonized those fortunate islands. But everywhere else, they can be a pest, and sometimes a nightmare.

The havoc they inflict on property can be extensive, too. Woodchuck tunnels are normally deep just below frost line and about 40 feet long, complexly dug with several amenities: chambers analogous to a baby room, a bathroom and a bedroom. They even build an observation mound at their entry hole. With several escape holes, their home is difficult to eliminate.

If you can find and block all exit holes but one and put carbon dioxide in that remaining hole, you might be able to kill them all inside. Remember its illegal to use any poisons on wildlife. Unintentional secondary killings can result. Predators like foxes, coyotes, and owls that pick up poisoned rodents can later die as a result.

Trapping them can be a problem, too. If you live-trap them, as I did, remember its illegal to transfer wild animals from one area to another. That can spread diseases, like rabies. Sometimes youre just transferring your problem to someone else. Killing them is often the only reasonable alternative unless you can effectively fence your garden.

I needed a sure, simple, quick resolution and revenge. So, I immediately set out a live-capture cage trap baited with the woodchucks favorite food. These insatiable vegetarians cant resist the aroma and flavor of broccoli and cantaloupe.

I put a well-broken and highly fragrant head of it in the rear end of the trap and little fragments to linearly set a trail right into it. I finished the fatal attraction by smearing the cage with the juicy melon and putting a mashed, fragrant chunk of it at the far end of the trap, too.

I took note of our prevailing westerly winds and placed the trap where its alluring scent would carry a long distance over the stone wall and into my neighbors field from which it would surely come.

The next morning, I found the fat robber in my trap and felt the primitive joy of sweet revenge. I quickly dispatched it but couldnt bring myself to just waste it. I then went forth with the spirit, if not the skill of Julia Child, to prepare a gourmet delicacy out of a woodchuck.

I field-dressed it immediately to insure freshness. During the skinning, I made sure to remove the copious rump and thigh fat, and the seven scent glands on its back and front arms. I then proceeded to store it in my cellar refrigerator for four days to let it age and tenderize. Listening to advice that was then coming from all culinary directions, I soaked the meat one night more in a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar with a sliced onion, then drained and parboiled it in fresh water for an hour.

While most woodchuck chefs advise cutting up the meat into chunks for a slow-cook, low-heat, crock-pot stew, I wanted to experience the real, unembellished flavor of the meat. Since there was no significant back-strap, I coated just the hindquarters with egg, then Panko, pan frying them on low heat in coconut oil about 5 minutes on each side. Panko burns too quickly in hot oil.

I wanted to celebrate both the saving of our garden and the deliciousness of the animal, serving it with an appropriately elegant presentation reflecting all the complexities of bringing it to the table. I asked my much more qualified wife to arrange the presentation. Having a profoundly comedic sense of humor, she even designed a Woodchuck Wine label to place on our preferred Riesling and set our table in view of the garden from which our dinner had been richly nourished.

Our verdict was mixed. While the woodchuck was sweet, mild, and surprisingly tasty on its own without any sauces, its dark leg meat was just a bit stringy, much as what one might expect from any squirrel species.

If a second woodchuck raids our garden again, I plan to make a stew, creating a bed of onions, carrots, celery and green peppers in a crock pot, cooking it on low for about 10 hours. I would expect its sweet, tender meat to flake off the bones and take on the added flavor of herbs and spices.

Its a shame woodchucks are so destructive because otherwise theyre quite charming and even comically entertaining. Incidentally, woodchucks dont chuck any wood. Their name is a corruption of the Cree Indian word wuchak, meaning big squirrel. They are in fact our biggest squirrel and like their arboreal cousins can readily climb trees and short fences but with much less quickness and style.

Woodchucks definitely arent all bad, even though theyre costly to farmers, and occasionally their burrows result in leg injuries to cows and horses. They surprisingly can help agriculture, too. New York biologists estimate that these compulsive diggers annually aerate and excavate 1.5 million tons of subsoil, which they bring up to the surface and convert into valuable topsoil.

But you can be sure that if woodchucks move into my neighborhood again next year, Ill put out a live trap before we plant our garden and have another woodchuck recipe ready to try.

(Those who choose to shoot woodchucks must follow all hunting laws. You must be licensed and refrain from shooting without permission within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling or within 150 feet of a road.)

Contact Mark Blazis at markblazis@charter.net.

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Mark Blazis: Save the garden, then dine well – Worcester Telegram

August 15th, 2017

Coyote ugly – Clarencebee

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Concern grows toward aggressive coyote behavior

Chuck Anderson has lived on Tonawanda Creek Road for 18 years. In April, he had his closest-ever encounter with the coyotes that he hears howling on a nightly basis.

(See editorial on page four)

Anderson routinely lets his dogs out at 10:30 p.m., and they often find creatures to bark at and run after within his fenced-in yard. On that April night, Anderson remembers them barking particularly loudly as they spotted something just beyond the fence.

When Anderson looked up, he saw a coyote approaching the fence line. When one of his dogs stuck his nose through the fence, the coyote bit him underneath the right eye.

Anderson quickly collected his dogs while attempting to scare the coyote back into the wilderness.

Ive never seen one that was that confrontational and didnt care that I was standing there screaming at it from a foot away, he said.

Anderson, who worked for more than 30 years for the Erie County Sheriffs Office, says hes now armed when he accompanies his dogs outside.

Its far more prevalent now than ever, he said. On my street alone, theres been five or six dogs killed, plus a pony.

Hes not the only one ringing the alarm. The town has fielded an unusually high number of reports regarding coyote sightings this summer. So much so that it felt compelled to issue a notice to the residents of the Stonebriar neighborhood last week after a coyote attacked a small dog while its owner was outside and nearby.

Valerie Acee, a resident of Clarence Center Road, said she was sitting in her living room with her husband in broad daylight when they saw a coyote walk across their yard, only to see another one just hours later.

Ive been here since 1998. Weve never had a coyote in our yard before, she said.

Jim Braun, who lives within a cul-de-sac that backs up to Ransom Creek, has also called Clarence home since 98. Until recently, he, too, had not seen coyotes so close to his property during the day. In speaking by phone with The Clarence Bee, Braun said the sightings do seem to be occurring with greater frequency.

Its all woods behind us there he goes again! Braun interjected while describing the layout of his property, noting that theres a coyote that appears to be frequenting the woods behind his home.

He hasnt threatened anything as of yet, Braun said. Hes staying way at the back of the property, and hes not coming in close to the house.

The state Department of Environmental Conservations Region 9 office, which handles environmental concerns related to Western New York, states that while there are factors that could cause coyotes to become bolder during this time of year, the office has not seen an increase in reported coyote activity or attacks.

Kristen Davidson, a public affairs representative for Region 9, told The Clarence Bee that the office received two calls about a coyote in Clarence Center last week, and both were from neighbors who had only heard about the problem.

Coyotes are an integral part of New Yorks natural ecosystem, but can also come into conflict with people if they become habituated to humans and food sources, Davidson wrote in an email. With the onset of warmer weather, many of New Yorks coyotes will set up dens for pups that arrive in the spring. Coyotes are well-adapted to suburban and even urban environments, but for the most part will avoid contact with people.

Researchers at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry estimate that there are roughly 30,000 coyotes in New York. Due to the time of year, says the DEC, coyotes can become more territorial and more active during the daytime during pup-rearing season.

Making matters worse, coyotes can come to associate people with food when homeowners leave scraps outside. This is a dangerous game, the DEC notes, because the coyotes can lose their natural fear of humans, and the potential for close encounters or conflicts increases.

While the diet of coyotes naturally includes squirrels, rabbits, turkeys, mice and deer fawns, coyotes are more than willing to feast on any food that people throw away.

I think one of the main problems is the food source. People could be feeding birds, feeding their own pets out on the back porch, and coyotes are out there during the day getting dinner, said Town Supervisor Patrick Casilio. If they know theres an easy food source, theyll be out there. People also take out table scraps and dump them in the woods for the animals. All of that is going to draw the coyotes closer to homes.

Casilio said that at his house he had seen two different coyotes walk through his yard on consecutive days last week. He stated that he is planning to petition the state for a longer hunting season and is trying to amend the towns deer abatement program to include coyotes.

In the fall, trappers can get permits to trap coyotes and other small game. Hunters can shoot coyotes but not within 500 feet of a private dwelling. Casilio believes that while these options should be considered, ridding the coyotes of easy food sources needs to remain a common-sense initiative.

I think it would make it far safer for the public if we can eliminate food sources, he said. That would be more effective than any abatement program or extension of a hunting season.

The town has removed dams from the Ransom Creek area in an effort to mitigate potential coyote dens. Casilio added that the town is set on hosting an information forum for residents that will include animal advocacy groups such as the Citizen Coalition for Wildlife and Environment, though a date has not been set.

He also pointed out that private homeowners have more power than the town does when dealing with coyotes encroaching onto property.

We cannot enter private property and take a coyote, he said. The homeowner is allowed to defend their property if they feel there is a threat there.

While it remains unclear what might cause coyotes to display more aggression than usual during a particular season, the DEC notes that coyotes breeding with wolves in the eastern part of the United States and Canada could cause abnormal behavior, though the best way of minimizing conflicts between coyotes and people is to maintain the animals fear of humans.

The DEC advises residents not to feed pets outside, make garbage inaccessible to animals, eliminate the availability of birdseed and be aggressive when coming into contact with a coyote.

Stand tall and hold arms out to look large. If a coyote lingers for too long, make loud noises, wave your arms, or throw sticks and stones, Davidson wrote via email.

Like Anderson, Braun now accompanies his dog outside every night, and while hes not sure that eradicating the coyote population would be the most effective solution to the growing problem, hes no longer taking chances.

We never thought twice about letting him go out at any time in the day or night, but thats all changed now, Braun said. Were not going to take a chance on him being attacked.

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Coyote ugly – Clarencebee

August 15th, 2017

A Brief History of Traveling With Cats | Travel | Smithsonian – Smithsonian

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My three-year-old cat spends most of her time lounging by the window. It faces the high branches of the tree outside our apartment, and she stares intently out at the rusty-red wood thrushes and brown house sparrows that perch there; her eyes dilating when the occasional squirrel rustles the branches.

Shes a seventh-floor housecat who longs for the outdoors. But even if there was a feasible way of letting her go outside, I wouldnt let her loose on native wildlife on her own (if youre not familiar with the war being waged between cats and birds, my colleague Rachel Gross has chronicled it in all its gory detail here).

So, as a compromise, last year I bought her a leash. After some initial hiccups, we have settled into a rhythm where I buckle her into her harness, scoop her up and carry her down to the soft grass adjacent to a nearby duck pond. There, I let her down, and her whims dictate our path.

Often, people stare. Sometimes, theyre walking their dogs: big ones, small ones. They squint at my cat, trying to decipher if perhaps she, too, is just a poorly shaped one of them.

Shes not. Shes a cat on a leash, and shes not alone.

Earlier this summer, Laura Moss, a human at the center of a community helping introduce housecats to the outdoor world, published a book, Adventure Cats, bringing awareness to some remarkable cats who are out there hiking, campingeven surfing.

Moss, who also runs a website by the same name (adventurecats.org), explains that this kind of cat is far from a new phenomenon. People have been doing this withtheir cats long before social media existed, she tells Smithsonian.com. But in recent years, the community has received new recognition, she says, in large part thanks to people sharing photos and videosof their furry friends on various media accounts.

Its not exactly surprising that it took the internet (which, undeniably, has done much for cats) to bring new awareness to this kind of anti-Garfield feline.While cats have been arguably unfairly stereotypedas anti-social, afraid of water, lazyhistory contradicts that narrative.

From their beginnings in Egypt, the Middle East, and Europe, domestic cats have accompanied people to almost every corner of the globe, write Mel Sunquist and Fiona Sunquist in Wild Cats of the World. Wherever people have traveled, they have taken their cats with them. Geographic features such as major rivers and oceans that are barriers to most animals have the opposite effect on cats. Almost as soon as people began to move goods around on ships, cats joined ships’ crews. These cats traveled the globe, joining and leaving ships at ports along the way.

While evidence of domestication dates back at least9,500 years (originatingfrom the wild catFelis silvestris lybica), it wasn’t until the Egyptians got their hands on the felines that they became intensely documented.As early as 2000 B.C., Egyptian-made images of catsofferevidence that some of the earliest domestic cats were put on leashes. (Ancient Egyptians used cats to control their vermin population, and likely, these leashes were used so thattheir valuable pest control solutions wouldn’t escape.)

Cats proved so apt at their duties that the Egyptians linked the ratters to their religious deities. By 525 B.C., cats were so revered that legend has it the Persians were able to invade Egypt in part by having soldiers bring cats to the battlefield. TheEgyptians, the story goes, chose to flee rather than harm the animals.

Though it was illegal in ancient Egypt to export domesticated cats, people snuck a few out, andcats began to spread throughout world, with the earliest record of a domestic cat in Greece coming from a 500 B.C. marble carving of a leashed cat challenging a dog.

But the rise of Christianity signaled a sharp change in the way cats were perceived. To counter their Egyptian associations with divinity, in1233 A.D., Pope Gregory IX issued the bull Vox in Rama, which linked catsespecially black catswith Satan, writesJohn Bradshaw inCat Sense.For the next four centuries, cats faced gruesome deaths in Europe due to superstitious associations with witchcraft and bad luck. Still, despite the cat’s poor reputation, itsability to keep rodent populations at bay on ships meant that even during this turbulent time, more and moredomesticated cats were undertaking what Gloria StephensinLegacy of the Catcalls a widespread migration to seaports of the world.”

These adventurous cats didn’t just keep cargo rodent-free, they also provided companionship to sailors and explorers, the U.S. Naval Institute notes.Mrs. Chippy, a tiger-stripedtabby, for instance, witnessedErnest Shackleton’sill-fated expedition to theAntarctic in 1914. The cat belonged toHarry “Chippy” McNeish, the carpenteron board theEndurance.As the crew soon found out, Mrs. Chippy was actually a Mr., but hisname stuckandhis personality soon endeared him to the crew.Unfortunately,Mrs. Chippy met a sad end. After the Endurancewas caught in ice, Shakelton ordered that the crew reduce down to its essentialsandhadthe menshoot Mrs. Chippy. Today, a bronze monument to the cat stands inWellington, New Zealand, by McNeish’s grave.

Other ship cat stories abound. Viking sailors took cats with them on long journeys, and ifNorse mythology is any indication, Vikings enjoyed a healthy respect for their cat companions. (Freja, considered the greatest of all goddesses, employs two cats, Bygul and Trjegul,to pull her chariot. In her honor, it even becametradition among Vikings to gift a new bride with cats.)

Later, when the First World War broke out, cats found favor amongsoldiers who kept them for pest control,as well as company,on thebattlefield. An estimated 500,000 cats served on warships and in the trenches.Mark Strauss details the “brave and fluffy cats who served” over atGizmodo, highlighting felines like”Tabby,”who became the mascot for a Canadian unit.

During the Second World War, one of many cat tales involved Winston Churchill, who famouslytooka shine to Blackie, theship cat aboard HMSPrince of Wales. The large black cat with white marks, who was later renamed Churchill,kept the prime minister company across the Atlantic on his way to meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Newfoundland in 1941. (Controversially, some cat fans took issue with a shot snapped of the two, however, where the prime minister is pictured patting Blackie on his head:[Churchill] should have conformed to the etiquette demanded by the occasion, offering his hand and then awaiting a sign of approval before taking liberties, opined onecritic.)

Even today, thetradition of the ship’scat sails onthe Russian Navy sentits first caton a long-range voyageto the Syrian coast just this May. In modern times, though, ship cats are no longer are allowed towander off seaports uncheckeda situation that once proveddevastatingtoclosed ecosystems.

Not until themid-18th century,though, did the cat start clawing its way back to good graces in Europe. Bradshawnotes that Frances Queen Maria made the cat more fashionable in Parisian society, while in England, poets spoke highly of the felines, elevating their status. Then, during the late 19th century, cats found a champion: writer and cat lover Harrison Weir. Weir, considered the original Cat Fancier, created the first contemporary cat show in 1871 in England. (Its considered the first contemporary show because technicallythe very first-known cat show was held at the St. Giles Fair almost 300 years earlier, but those cats were judged solely on their mousing abilities.)

He had been distressed by the long ages of neglect, ill-treatment and absolute cruelty towards domestic cats had suffered, and his main objective in organizing the first show was promoting their welfare rather than providing an arena for competitive cat owners, writesSarah Hartwell in a Brief History of Cat Shows. One of the cats entered in the showwas his own, a 14-year-old tabby named The Old Lady. The show brought cats back into the spotlight, celebrating them and raising their status as domesticated pets.

But just because cats were put on leash in these early exhibitions, that didn’t mean they were also promenading around London.

I wouldnt say that putting cats on leashes was a particular fashionat least, not one Ive come across in my own research, Mimi Matthews, historian and author of the upcoming book The Pug Who Bit Napoleon, tells Smithsonian.com in an email. For cat shows, it was simply a practical way to restrain a cat when it was out of its cage.

Still, thanks to the success of the cat show, the first cat associationthe National Cat Club of Great Britainwas formed in 1887 (followed shortly by a national mouse club in 1895). It was around this time that the first “viral” images of cats circulated: AnEnglish photographer named Harry Pointer had graduated from shooting images of cats in natural settings to placing his”Brighton Cats” in amusing situations where the cats appeared to be riding a bicycle or drinking tea from a cup. His Victorian-era pet portraits reinforced the ideathat cats could be seen as more than just pest control.

Thetransition from ratter topampered housecat had a ways to go, though. As Abigail Tucker writes inThe Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World, until the mid-20th century, cats were still mostly used to eradicate rodents, something a journalist for theNew York Timesillustrates whilechronicling his observations on daily life abroad in Moscow in 1921.

“The queerest thing I have yet met in this land where everything is so different and topsy-turvy is cats on leashes like dogs in the streets,”he writes. That wasn’t because Russians viewed the house pets similarly. Instead, as the reporterexplains, the reason came down to rats:”There are so many rats nowadays, and cats are relatively so scarce, that they are too valuable to be allowed outside alone, so their owners give a good ratter an airing on a leash.”

For the domestic cat to become the family pet, technology had to advance. The advent of cat litter in 1947 proved crucial, as did moreeffective pest-control methods that while not retiring cats from their centuries-old job, certainly made it less pressing. Of this shift frompest control to household companion, Tucker writes, perhaps our firesides were as good a place to retire to as any.”

But why were cats treated so differently than dogs when they took on their new role as companions?

It’s true that dogs are much easier to take out for a walk. Domesticated roughly13,000 to 30,000 years ago, they have been selectively bred for companionship. Domesticated cats came on the scene relatively recently by comparison, and as a cat genome sequencing projectpublished in 2014shows, moderncats remain only semi-domesticated, and because of that, training a cat to walk outdoors isn’t as simple as snapping on a leash, somethingJim Davis’ Garfield comic strips pokes endless fun at. When Garfield’sowner,Jon,tries to take the famed feline for a walk, Garfieldrepeatedly resists his efforts, until John comes to theconclusion in 1981 that leashes just arent right for cats.

Gender stereotypes might also play a role in why more haven’t tried, though. Cats have historically read as female. In a study of greeting cards,Katharine M. Rogerslinks”[s]weet, pretty, passive kittens” with how girls and women were pressured to beinThe Cat and the Human Imagination.

“They attend on little girls on birthday cards, and they fill in the image of home, whether they sit by the rocking chairs of nineteenth-century style mothers doing embroidery (1978) or perch on a pile of laundry that Mother should leave undone on Mother’s Day (1968),” Rogers writes. Promisingly, however, she observes that contemporary cards have started to reflect a larger imagination for its subjects(“as women appear in nontraditional roles, cats are shown with men”), which could help fight the idea that the housecat’s place is only in the home.

Of course, not all cats are made to roam the great outdoors. AsMoss observes, cats are like humans. Some housecats are more than happy to spend their days relaxing by the couch, and indeedhave no desire to venture outside.

But they’re not the only cats out there.

The “adventure cats” that shechronicles, likea black-and-white feline named Vladimir, who is on his way to traveling to all 59 U.S. national parksor a polydactyl Maine Coon named Strauss von Skattebol of Rebelpaws(Skatty for short), who is sailing the Southern Atlantic ocean, show another kind of cat onethatnods back to the fierce felines of history who sailed the world, survived Europe’s crusade against themand made it all the way to Memedom.

Unlike outdoor cats and feral cats, who pose a danger to local species populations in the wild, these cats are safely exploring the world. Their stories, which today are enthusiastically shared and liked on social media verticals, break open the role of the house catand show off acommunity of cats that have long been takingthe world by the paw.

Enjoying the breeze!

A post shared by Strauss von Skattebol (Skatty) (@straussvonskattebol) on Mar 7, 2017 at 11:34am PST

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A Brief History of Traveling With Cats | Travel | Smithsonian – Smithsonian

August 14th, 2017

GAM Exterminating – Pest & Termite Control

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Gam Exterminating- One of The Best Exterminator NYC

One of the nations top pest control companies, GAM Exterminating is rapidly expanding. We take care of all your Commercial, Residential and Industrial pest control needs. By providing ourworld class service, we have earned the trust and respect of our clients, and seek to earn yours as well.

Please feel free to contact us for any information on pests, insects, bed bugs, rodents, or termite control. You can browse our website and read our blogs to be informed about different types of pests and how to get rid of them. Get the most accurate information about pests and their treatments from us. Utilize our services to curb the infestation of any kind of pests and feel safe.

We aim to offer a pest free environment to our customers who are tensed about the pest invasion in their apartments or homes. As pests are very destructive in nature and can even destroy the whole apartment, it is recommended to get rid of them as early as possible. We as the best exterminator in NYC aim to deliver the best services to all the Americans who are afraid of pest infestation. We offer valuable services and benefits and information to people who connect with us. Moreover, we provide a timely inspection in the apartments of our clients to make sure that they live in a pest free environment.

After years of experience, we have become one of the New Yorks leading exterminating company. And as we continue to expand and flourish, we ensure our principles and core values will remain the as it is. Our technicians are home grown, that implies they are not trained to be exterminators. They are trained to be Gam Exterminators, using all our treatments and values.

Learn more about our Eco-friendly Green Pest Control Services here.

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GAM Exterminating – Pest & Termite Control

August 14th, 2017

CINNAMON JANZER: Dogs have better manners than some children – Apalachicola Times

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Cinnamon Janzer | The Washington Post

In her 2014 New Yorker essay “Pets Allowed,” author Patricia Marx explored the proliferation of fraudulent emotional support animals (ESAs). Marx began by asking why so many pets are allowed in places they “shouldn’t be,” followed by an image of the author in a drugstore with an alpaca at her side. By telling a therapist a made-up story about her childhood, Marx obtained ESA credentials to tote “five un-cuddly, non-nurturing animals” around New York City. She took a turtle into an art museum, a pig into an airport and a snake into a fancy boutique.

Marx smartly and humorously illustrated how easy it is to game the system, blaming the phenomenon on a lack of understanding and regulation around ESA laws combined with animal lovers who have no problem bypassing their own doctors and going online to buy ESA credentials, likening transgressors to able-bodied adults whose vehicles sport handicapped license plates. Marx isn’t alone in her displeasure with pets being where they “shouldn’t be” others have railed against dogs in stores, dogs in restaurants and dogs who have a high spot on their owners’ priority lists.

I have experienced anxiety and depression for years, and I’m one of the pet owners Marx’s piece and those who share her sentiments take aim at: I’m an unmarried, childless millennial whose dog is at the center of her universe.

A 2015 study in the journal Science found that when gazing into each other’s eyes, dogs and humans bond the same way humans do with each other. The connection was evinced in dogs by increased oxytocin levels after gazing and increased gazing after sniffing oxytocin. The BBC explains that this chemically fueled bonding is the same process that creates a connection between mothers and babies.

In other words, the bonds between people and animals, especially dogs, can be just as significant and in fact very similar to those that we share with our own human family members.

Thanks to a likely combination of delayed parenthood, empty nesters and more-flexible-than-ever work arrangements, “pets are becoming a replacement for children,” San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge told The Post.

But would a decent parent consider flying with their child caged in the cargo hold? Of course not. Yet buying seats for pets isn’t allowed, and in any number of public places where one might happily take a child, pets are banned except where ESA credentials are available. If people especially young people are increasingly relying on pets to serve as family members, it’s time to rethink how we integrate animals into our daily lives, especially considering current research on pet allergies suggests pet hair and dander are unavoidable thanks to transfer via clothing.

While having control of our pets and training them to be well behaved is essential, there are a variety of places that ban pets but allow children regardless of their behavior, which can border on tyrannical (think of a toddler running and screaming through a restaurant). While Cadillac strollers the size of a small car are allowed on public transportation, dogs larger than purse-size usually are not. In bars and other places where pets don’t pose hazards to food safety, people should be able to spend time with their pets but often aren’t permitted to.

Renting should also be a more pet friendly experience refundable deposits are reasonable, but if landlords don’t charge toddlers rent, it seems unfair to charge pet rent, especially since toddlers and well-behaved pets pose similar risks to walls and floors. Likewise, the lack of pet-friendly hotels are also an issue, something that once drove the cost of a move across the country up by hundreds of dollars for me a cost that no parent would or should ever incur.

As Peter Singer explains in his book “Animal Liberation,” the rights of women was a notion so laughable in the 1700s that it was satirically likened to the equally audacious idea of animal rights. We now understand the former to be a gross misinterpretation of reality. What should the future hold for the latter?

Janzer is a writer and editor living in Minneapolis whose work stems from the intersection of travel, culture and social justice.

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CINNAMON JANZER: Dogs have better manners than some children – Apalachicola Times

August 13th, 2017

Sign up now for hunter education – Plattsburgh Press Republican

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Hunting and trapping licenses went on sale Aug. 1, and with the start of the new sporting license year that begins on September 1 comes the beginning of small game hunting with the opening of squirrel season.

Several other seasons for big and small game alike also open in September and by October hunting is in full swing.

So it is crucial now for new hunters out there to get their hunter education courses under their belts.

Those of us in the hunting community are always complaining about the fact that hunter numbers are dwindling. Yet, each year finding a seat in a hunter education class becomes a waiting game for many aspiring hunters.

FILL UP QUICKLY

Once announced to the public, these courses fill up quickly and often there are last minute sessions organized by sporting clubs to accommodate more.

The completion of a hunter education course is required for those planning to hunt with any type firearm (rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader), crossbow and archery as well.

There is also a trapper education course, which is required to obtain a trapping license.

There is an additional bowhunter education requirement for archery, which at this time does not include crossbow.

The hunter education courses are a minimum of seven hours in length and the student must be age 11 or older.

The biggest change in recent years is the home study requirement prior to the instructor portion of the course.

Students can either download the course study material from the Department of Environmental Conservations website at dec.ny.gov/outdoor/92267.html or obtain a copy at a regional DEC office, such as that in Ray Brook.

There is no cost for this course or materials.

DON’T GIVE UP

A second option is to take an online course provided by a separate entity which does charge a $15 fee upon completion of the course.

A company called Kalkomey Enterprises, LLC manages the hunter-ed.com website and the New York course is offered.

Getting back to the standard method, the best course of action for new hunters looking to complete the course is to start with DECs aforementioned website, where there is a list of courses to scroll through.

It doesnt hurt to check any local fish and game clubs you may be aware of, but most courses should be listed online.

If a course is listed as full, dont fret. Hunter education instructors are constantly frustrated by the fact that people sign up for courses and then fail to show up.In many cases they havent done the homework.

My advice is to get serious about your hunter education, obtain the course material now and be prepared.

Dont be afraid to contact an instructor and let them know youre serious and are taking the initiative to do the homework. They may just oblige and let you in.

The course is fun, informative and it works. Our safest hunters out there are the most recently educated.

So, start doing the legwork now and well see you in the woods this fall.

BASSMASTERS RETURN

A few weeks ago, I attended the Bassmasters Elite Series bass tournament on Lake Champlain and was happy to see this tournament trail return after a 10-year hiatus.

Every pro-angler Ive ever spoken to loved fishing on Lake Champlain, including Aaron Martens who won the tournament in dramatic fashion by coming back from 19th place on the final day.

I also liked the fact that the Plattsburgh City Beach in Cumblerland Bay was used as headquarters, although I think there would be more spectators without the parking fee.

I remember when the Elites were here in 2006 and 2007 and had their fishing expo and staging set up in what is now the completed boat launch at the Plattsburgh Boat Basin. Back then it was under construction.

High winds canceled the first of what wouldve been a four-day tournament, which actually allowed Martens to pursue his comeback as typically the final day is limited to the final 12 anglers.

When fishing resumed several anglers brought in bags of 20 pounds or more.

TV coverage will take place in early September on ESPN2, and will showcase what a great resource we have here.

Dan Laddis the author of Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks, outdoors editor for the Glens Falls Chronicle, columnist for Outdoors Magazine and contributor to New York Outdoor News. Contact him at http://www.adkhunter.com.

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August 12th, 2017

Exterminators :: Manhattan :: NYC :: Squirrels Gallery

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Squirrels

The squirrel is a small or medium-sized rodent of the family Sciuridae. In the English-speaking world, it commonly refers to members of this family’s genera Sciurus and Tamiasciurus, which are tree squirrels that have large bushy tails, and are indigenous to Europe (but not Ireland), Asia and the Americas. Similar genera are found in Africa. The Sciuridae family also include flying squirrels, as well as ground squirrels such as the chipmunks, prairie dogs, and woodchucks. Members of the family Anomaluridae are sometimes misleadingly referred to as “scaly-tailed flying squirrels” although they are not closely related to the true squirrels.

The word squirrel, first attested in 1327, comes via Anglo-Norman esquirel from the Old French escurel, the reflex of a Latin word which was itself borrowed from Greek.[1] The native Old English word, acweorna, only survived into Middle English (as aquerna) before being replaced.

Common squirrels include the Fox Squirrel (S. niger); the Western Gray Squirrel (S. griseus); the Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii); the American Red Squirrel T. hudsonicus; and the Eastern Grey Squirrel (S. carolinensis), of which the “Black Squirrel” is a variant.

Unlike rabbits or deer, squirrels cannot digest cellulose and must rely on foods rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Early spring is the hardest time of year for squirrels, since buried nuts begin to sprout and are no longer available for the squirrel to eat, and new food sources have not become available yet. During these times squirrels rely heavily on the buds of trees, in particular, those of the Silver Maple. Squirrels are omnivores; they eat a wide variety of plant food, including nuts, seeds, conifer cones, fruits, fungi, and green vegetation, and eat insects. Ground and tree squirrels are typically diurnal, while flying squirrels tend to be nocturnal — except for lactating flying squirrels and their offspring, who have a period of diurnality during the summer.

Predatory behavior by various species of ground squirrels, particularly the thirteen-lined ground squirrel, has been noted. Bailey (1923), for example, observed a thirteen-lined ground squirrel preying upon a young chicken. Wistrand (1972) reported seeing this same species eating a freshly-killed snake. Whitaker (1972) examined the stomachs of 139 thirteen-lined ground squirrels, and found bird flesh in four of the specimens and the remains of a short-tailed shrew in one; Bradley (1968), examining white-tailed antelope squirrels’ stomachs, found at least 10% of his 609 specimens’ stomachs contained some type of vertebrate mostly lizards and rodents. Morgart (1985) observed a white-tailed antelope squirrel capturing and eating a silky pocket mouse.

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August 11th, 2017

Film Review: ‘The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature’ – Variety

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The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature opens with the closest thing youve seen at least, in an animated movie aimed at five-year-olds to a nut orgy. Were in the basement of Nibblers Nut Shop, where Surly (Will Arnett), the purple squirrel with the grouchiness of a 1970s cab driver from Queens, is leading his band of fellow squirrels in an over-the-top midnight pig-out. And why not? Theyre surrounded by burlap bags stuffed with artisanal nuts (already shelled!), which they scarf down with such hungry abandon theres a frenzied nut-eating contest, as well as a grinder shooting out peanut butter like a beer bong that its as if were watching an action sequence. Let it be proclaimed: Cal Brunker, the director of The Nut Job 2, gives good havoc.

Theres a school of animated filmmaking that says the more havoc the better, and The Nut Job 2 is very much of that school. If you want to laugh out loud the way you do at the wit of Pixar films or the LEGO movies or Sausage Party or Despicable Me 3, then dont get your hopes up. But if you want to see a relentless piece of slapstick bedlam that features a rolling Ferris wheel on fire and an actual mole playing whack-a-mole (The very existence of this game offends me!followed by a great big smiling whack!), then this is the movie for you.

Early on, theres a sequence of highly choreographed commotion in which Liberty Park, the lush and decorous public garden thats home to Surly and his crew, gets wiped off the map by Mayor Muldoon (Bobby Moynihan), a drawling portly corrupt despot with a mustache-twirling leer who suggests Strom Thurmond as played by Chris Farley. His plan is to convert the expanse into Liberty Land, a profiteering amusement park that will eliminate every last inch of green. The mayor needs to get rid of the squirrels, too, so he stages a party of destruction with bulldozers and squirrel traps. Surly and his friends do their best to scamper out of the way, but that only adds to the mayhem.

As an animated entertainment, The Nut Job 2 lacks several key factors: memorable characters, a fun story, jokes that will appeal to adults as well as little kids. But one thing it does not lack is visual momentum (if you boil out the nuts, momentum is its principal subject), and the cityscape images, with their lavish picture-book clarity, remind you that the level of visual accomplishment in todays digitally animated features has now reached a point where the animation can seduce your eye into distracting your ear from what would otherwise seem a rote and witless enterprise.

In some animated films, of course, the wit is in the images in their mercurial speed and dazzle. But not always. The Nut Job 2 is a serviceable kiddie ride thats at heart a rather repetitive chase comedy, with characters who rarely threaten to tickle the imagination. The result, by animation standards, will likely prove to be a so-so, one-weekend-and-then-down performer at the box office.

The film extends the cantankerous japery of The Nut Job (2014), a Canadian-South Korean co-production that, like this one, coasted along on more energy than flair. Once again, Will Arnett is the voice of Surly, and though you can tell how hard the talented Arnett is working to create a character, his dialogue consists of nonstop grousing; the result is that he comes off sounding like Ray Romano with a digestion problem. Katherine Heigl returns as Andie, the goody-two-shoes whos become the sweet voice of culinary sanity, urging the squirrels to drop their nut-shop gluttony and return to hunting down honest acorns.

The rest of the squirrels (who include a few groundhogs and chipmunks) form a peanut gallery of background chatter that rarely allows them to distinguish themselves as characters. In one of the few bits that sparks the comedy to life, Maya Rudolph returns as the voice of Precious, the spunky pug who now has a love interest: Frankie (Bobby Cannavale), a bulldog whos like a mook from the neighborhood. Hes got a heart of gold, but hes also a crude customer who woos her by lapping up her regurgitated food (What are you, vegan? Its got no taste!).

You know youre watching an animated film thats behind the curve when it tries to pass off another meta joke about cartoon animals breaking into song as if it were cutting edge. Surly and his best squirrel pal, whos actually a rescue rat named Buddy (Tom Kenny), flee through Oakton City, down alleyways and on the bumpers of taxi cabs, trying to improvise a plan for how to undermine the Mayor. As soon as they come upon Mr. Feng, a white-furred mouse with adorable Walter Keane eyes who erupts into a martial-arts fury whenever anyone calls him cute (which is, of course, every time somebody sees him), you know exactly whos going to save the day.

Jackie Chan, as the voice of Mr. Feng, provides the film with a welcome snap of comic devilry, and theres a witty old-movie flashback of Feng and his army of warrior mice in formation like soldiers out of Red China. I would go so far as to say that they more than these squirrels deserve their own sequel. But if so, heres a suggestion: Please give a few of them some personality.

Reviewed at Dolby 24, New York, August 8, 2017. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 91 MIN.

An Open Road Films release of an Open Road Films, ToonBox Entertainment, Gulfstream Pictures, Red Rover International production. Producers: Bob Barlen, Jonghan Kim, Jongsoo Kim, Sunghwan Kim, Youngki Lee, Harry Linden, Lili Ma, Jun Zheng. Executive producers: William Bindley, Liang Chen, Hoe Jin Ha, Sen Jia, Myun Young Jung, Mike Karz, Hong Kim, Hyungkon Kim, Daniel Woo, Zhao Lan Wu, Guiping Zhang.

Director: Cal Brunker. Screenplay: Bob Barlen, Cal Brunker, Scott Bindley. Editor: Paul Hunter.

Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Jackie Chan, Isabela Moner, Peter Stormare, Bobby Cannavale, Bobby Moynihan, Jeff Dunham, Gabriel Iglesias, Sebastian Maniscalco, Tom Kenny.

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Film Review: ‘The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature’ – Variety

August 11th, 2017

New movie roundup: What’s opening in Eugene-Springfield this weekend, Aug. 10-17 – The Register-Guard

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Opening Thursday

Annabelle: Creation (three-and-a-half stars): So where did this creepy doll come from? Annabelle writer Gary Dauberman offers up a tale that fits like a jigsaw into the extended Conjuring cinematic universe. She was hand-crafted by a dollmaker, Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia), in the 1940s. Twelve years later, they open their home to group of young orphan girls and their guardian, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman). The thing about forbidden rooms is that they never stay closed and theyre ultimately never worth exploring, and this proves to be true in Annabelle: Creation. All it takes is some curious wandering, and soon, the glassy-eyed doll is wreaking violent psychological and physical havoc on sweet Janice (Talitha Bateman). R for horror violence and terror. 109 minutes. Regal 15, Cinemark 17, City Lights Cinemas. Read the review here.

The Glass Castle (three stars): Based on Jeannette Walls 2005 best-selling memoir, the film is both a tribute to parenting and a confessional of its absence. Like the book, it looks back without pity or sentiment. Unlike the book, its got Woody Harrelson and Brie Larson, acting spectacularly. Larson plays the adult Jeanette Walls who seems to have blocked out much of her hardscrabble youth as a rising magazine writer in New York City. The movie opens like the book, with the author in a taxi in 1989 happening to spy her parents Dumpster-diving on a street in the East Village. A series of flashbacks reveal the unique way the Walls four children were raised. PG-13 for mature thematic content involving family dysfunction, and for some language and smoking. 127 minutes. Regal 15, Cinemark 17. Read the review here.

The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature (one-and-a-half stars): Will Arnett voices Surly, a selfish squirrel who learned nothing from the previous movie, growing fat off the spoils of an abandoned nut store while would-be girlfriend Andie (Katherine Heigl) continues to forage in the nearby park. Disaster strikes for the lazier animals, just as a Boss Hogg-like mayor (Bobby Moynihan) aims to destroy the greenery and turn it into a death trap amusement park. PG for action and some rude humor. 91 minutes. Regal 15 (3-D), Cinemark 17 (3-D). Read the review here.

Opening Friday

13 Minutes (three stars): Oliver Hirschbiegels latest, 13 Minutes, is also about Hitler, though the man is scarcely in the film at all. 13 Minutes takes place six years before Hitlers demise, and documents an incident that could have thwarted Hitlers reign of terror throughout Europe in the 1940s. In 1939, a man named Georg Elser planted a bomb at the site of one of Hitlers speeches in an assassination attempt. He missed the Fuhrer by 13 minutes. Elser was tortured, imprisoned and eventually killed in the Dachau concentration camp in 1945. Hirschbiegels film attempts to answer the question of why Elser (played by Christian Friedel) did what he did, acting alone. R for disturbing violence and some sexuality. 110 minutes. Broadway Metro. Read the review here.

Landline (three stars): At the core of this film are three women at different stages of life confronting fidelity, with Jenny Slate playing a suddenly hesitant fiance, her mother (Edie Falco, superb) simmering in what seems a broken marriage and a rebellious younger daughter (played beautifully by Abby Quinn) unsure how to make lasting ties to people. Landline is also a delightful reminder of our past: Baggy jeans, Mad About You jokes, rollerblades, fuzzy toilet seat covers, floppy disks, trench coats and the sounds of a whirring dot-matrix printer and a 10,000 Maniacs song on a stereo. Hillary Clinton delivering a speech in the background of a scene on a decidedly non-high-def TV reminds us how far and yet how not far weve come. R for crude sexual content, brief nudity and language throughout. 96 minutes. Broadway Metro. Read the review here.

Person to Person (one star): Writer-director Dustin Guy Defa achieves something quite remarkable in Person to Person: A dialogue-driven film following more than a dozen characters during the course of one day in New York City, with not one convincing situation or performance. Despite plotlines that suggest dramatic conflict, Person to Person is an oddly low-key, almost gentle film with characters generating no real threat to do anything interesting. At 84 minutes, it seems padded out. No Motion Picture Association of America rating. 84 minutes. David Minor. Read the review here.

Star Ratings

Four stars Excellent

Three stars Good

Two stars Fair

One star Poor

(NR) No rating

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New movie roundup: What’s opening in Eugene-Springfield this weekend, Aug. 10-17 – The Register-Guard

August 11th, 2017

Dak Prescott Is America’s Quarterback | GQ – GQ Magazine

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Just a year after he was drafted, Dak Prescott is the leader of the most valuable franchise in the NFL. Its a job that requires more than a good arm: The Cowboys QB has to be part athlete, part CEO, and part statesman. So how is Prescott handling the pressure? Michael J. Mooney caught up with him over a pre-season round of golf to find out.

As a kid growing up in rural Louisiana, Dak Prescott never expected hed be a golfer. But here he is, not long before his second season as quarterback for the Cowboys, hitting the links with a bunch of rich white guys. He looks surprisingly comfortable among the duffers and weekend warriors.

The event, a friendly tournament at a golf course in the suburbs of Dallas, pairs players and coaches with representatives from the Cowboys corporate sponsors. Prescott is set up with five guys from Ford. Theyre all better than he isPrescott played his first round ever a month agoso theyre competing to see who can give him the best advice on how to correct his swing, which is powerful but often sends the ball deep into the woods. These men would love to impress him, to offer him the perfect tip, the kind that gets them a second date with the football hero. Who wouldnt want to be friends with the most popular man in North Texas?

The vibe is more raucous than at your average golf outing, and most of the participants are drinking. When I first find Prescott, at a concession stand between holes, he is downing a shot with the Ford guys as a DJ nearby blares pop and hip-hop. Its difficult to tell whether Prescott is genuinely enjoying the party or just fulfilling an obligation, but as he told me, A lot of quarterback business takes place on the golf course. Less than a year ago, he was a third-stringer moving into a new condo in Dallas and hoping he wouldnt be stuck on the bench the whole season. Now hes here, the focus of everyones attention and the centerpiece of the Cowboys operation, in head-to-toe golf attire. All part of his new job description.

Prescott is coming off a ridiculous rookie season, when at 23 years old, the fourth-round draft pick stepped in when Tony Romo went down in the pre-season. Everyone figured Romo would come back once he was healthy again, but Prescott was too good to pull. He led the Cowboys to the best record in the conferenceand picked up an Offensive Rookie of the Year award for himself along the way. Now, with Romo retired, Prescott is the new face and foundation of the biggest, most visible, most valuable sports franchise in the world. He is the freshly anointed prince of the NFL. Two different members of the Cowboys PR team told me that Prescott is a dream come true.

On the football field, the combination of Prescotts big arm and his ability to bowl men over like a fullback befuddles defensive coordinators. More than that, though, he does all the little things right. His best play may actually be a handoff: The way he follows through with his play-fake fools even the camera operators, and getting a linebacker to pause for just that millisecond can be the difference between running back Ezekiel Elliott picking up a big gain or getting stuffed at the line.

For Cowboys fansand I am one of themthis feels like the dawn of a new era, the creation of the teams next great dynasty. After suffering through two decades of promising players and teams that ultimately disappointed in the end, though, we have watched Prescotts rise with fear as well as giddiness. Is he a future championsomeone to stand up alongside Troy Aikman and Roger Staubachor a future flameout?

As the Cowboys PR team starts to pull Prescott away, [the golfer John] Daly tells him, Dont turn out like me.

Prescott tells me he thinks about the doubters all the time, the ones who say he must have some tragic flaw waiting to reveal itself. If anything, he says, its given me more motivation by them saying that.

In person, hes unfailingly upbeat and on message. He studied psychology in college and has a masters degree in workforce leadership. At times he sounds more like a management consultant than a football player. He doesnt use the words sponsorship or endorsement. Instead he talks about multi-year relationships with corporations.

Still, theres a goofiness to Prescott that can be either endearing or worrisome. There are moments when I remember that hes just a year or so out of college, like when he does shots on a golf course, or when he hops out of the cart and dances in the grass as the DJ plays No Diggity. He grins, both hands in the air, as he grinds so badly that its obvious hes trying to get a laugh. Are those warning signs of immaturity, or simply a guy having a good time?

Early in the round, when the golfers are all on the green putting, someone notices that a raccoon has wandered out of the woods and onto one of the golf carts, looking for snacks. When he sees it, Prescott walks toward the animal, which scurries under a nearby bridge.

Youve eaten raccoons bigger than him! one of the Ford guys calls out. Its a strange comment, but Prescott doesnt react.

As the quarterback moves in for a closer look, it occurs to the rest of the men in the group that raccoons are mostly nocturnal. And if its up and moving during the day, it might be rabid. And if anyone walks away from this golf course with rabies today, it definitely cannot be Dak Prescott.

By the time the group catches up to him, hes only a few feet from the raccoon, and hes feeding it salt-and-vinegar potato chips. Each time he tosses a chip, the raccoon picks it up and devours it, and Prescott smiles like a little boy.

As the Cowboys were racking up victories last yearat one point they won 11 games in a rowPrescotts overcoming-adversity creation story became a kind of echoing lore: He grew up in a trailer, the youngest of three boys living with a single mother, Peggy, who managed a truck stop. Prescott remembers that even though they didnt always have enough money to pay the electricity bill, his mother would still take care of the neighborhood kids who were having trouble at home. We could probably count on two or three hands how many of my friends and my brothers friends call her Mom, he tells me.

He learned to play football in a field near the trailer park, taught by his elder brothers, and by the time he was in high school, he was cut like an Olympic sprinter. (Hes six feet two, 238 pounds now.) Football was always a part of the familys life. Peggy, a voracious fan of the game, became a fixture in the bleachers at Haughton High School, cheering on all three of her sons.

Prescott was a freshman at Mississippi State when Peggy was diagnosed with colon cancer. She didnt tell him at first, his brothers have said, because she knew how hard he would take it. After he found out, he would come back home on holidays and long weekends to be with his mother.

When she died, in November 2013, during his sophomore year at Mississippi State, he flew home and missed two practices, but he didnt miss the next game. He went on that year to lead the Bulldogs to their first-ever number one national ranking. His performance on the field in the midst of tragedy made him a hero on campus.

Hes used his new platform with the Cowboys to advocate for cancer research, teaming up with the Ready Raise Rise campaign to support developments in immuno-oncology. During the run-up to the playoffs last year, Prescott talked about his mother frequently. He says he can hear her voice when hes not training hard enough, and its because of her that hes not worried about success changing him. I know what she would say: Get your head out of your ass.

Prescott tells me that although he grew up a Cowboys fan, one of the most memorable games he ever watched was the Monday Night Football game Brett Favre and the Packers played the day after Favres father died. Prescott remembers his mom telling him at some point that if that ever happened to her, she wanted him to do the same thing.

Let me be your story, she told him. All the greats have one.

As they progress around the course, Prescott and the other golfers stop and sample the goodies at the different sponsor tents. At one hole, theres a big Ford truck, tricked out with the Cowboys logo. The Ford guys know Prescott drives an Escalade, and theyd all like to get him to switch brands. Prescott, who now has a dip of tobacco behind his lower lip, says he likes the idea of driving a big Ford King Ranch series. There are promises to talk about it later.

At one point, a young woman who works for the clubhouse approaches in a golf cart. She sees Prescott, then looks at her phone, then back up at the quarterback.

Whats your name? she asks, squinting a bit. Prescott decides to have a little fun with her.

Wide receiver Cole Beasley says that Prescott has completely changed the culture of the Cowboys locker room. Last year, youd come in and get your work done, and youd go home as soon as you could. Now people want to stick around and hang out.

Im looking for Dak Prescott, she says.

He points to the youngest of his five golfing companions, a few feet away. Thats Dak Prescott.

The woman turns and looks incredulously at this much smaller man.

Thats Dak Prescott? she says.

Im Dak Prescott? the man asks Prescott.

The woman says that she was told by her boyfriend that she should go get a picture with the quarterback of the Cowboys. Prescott, seeming to tire of his own joke, relents and admits that hes the one shes looking for. The woman runs her hand through her hair, lifts her phonePrescott presents the perfect automated smileand off she goes.

Near the end of the golf round, Stephen Jones, the number two executive in the Cowboys organization behind his father, Jerry, stops by to see if his star player is having a good time. He shakes Prescotts hand and pats his shoulder several times and tells him that hes acquired some new toys from the most recent draft. After Jones leaves, Prescott spits out the rest of the tobacco and rinses his mouth out with a can of Dos Equis. Hes also sipping from a Styrofoam cup from time to time, but in the hours Im with him, he never seems drunk.

Alcohol has become a bit of a sensitive issue for him. Since coming to the Cowboys, Prescott has been careful not to make headlines off the field, but he had two incidents in college that almost derailed his career. Shortly after Prescott took a spring-break trip to Panama City Beach, Florida, in 2015, videos surfaced that showed him in a lopsided fight in a parking lot there. In one clip, as Prescotts attackers scatter, he has trouble standing up. Its hard to tell how intoxicated he might have been.

Nearly a year to the day after the spring-break beating, Prescott was arrested for DUI near the Mississippi State campus, just two days after a lackluster performance for NFL scouts. He reportedly failed a field sobriety test, and he has admitted that hed been drinking, but he swears he wasnt drunk. He went to trial in municipal court and was acquitted, but not before his stock in the upcoming NFL draft took a hit. He seemed too risky a bet for most general managers. Despite Prescotts success at Mississippi State, he was the eighth quarterback selected. Every team passed on him at least once.

Back at the clubhouse, Prescott gets an unexpected reminder of the effect that alcohol can have on an athletes career. The professional golfer John Daly is here and would like to meet him. Daly was one of golfs most promising young talents before his behavior eventually got him suspended from the PGA tour. Today hes wearing shower sandals and silver shorts with the Cowboys blue-star logo blasted over every square inch. He introduces himself to Prescott, then introduces a few of his buddies, all middle-aged chubby white men he jokingly refers to as kegs with legs.

Its not clear how much of Dalys backstory Prescott knowsthe golfer once spent a night in jail after passing out drunk at a Hootersbut the NFL handlers here look extremely uncomfortable with this meeting. As the Cowboys PR team starts to pull Prescott away, Daly tells him, Dont turn out like me.

Before he leaves the golf course for the day, Prescott makes a point of seeking out head coach Jason Garrett and inviting him to a charity fund-raiser at a jewelry store in Dallas later that night. After talking to Garrett for a minute or two, he finds running back Darren McFadden and invites him, too. You can buy your girl something, and its a write-off, Prescott says. Its for my mom.

Then he finds Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott told me he thinks of Elliott, a fellow finalist for last years Rookie of the Year award, as a little brother. (When Prescott won the award, he brought Elliott onstage with him to share the honor.) He has been careful not to publicly criticize Elliott, who is being investigated by the NFL for domestic-abuse allegations, but he told reporters recently, I take pride in helping him out [both] on and off the field.

At the golf tournament, he gives Elliott the same spiel about the fund-raiser that he gave to his other teammates. Its a testament to how highly Elliott regards Prescott that he shows up that night, with what seems like very little notice, to support his QB.

Veteran wide receiver Cole Beasley says that Prescott has completely changed the culture of the Cowboys locker room. Last year, youd come in and get your work done, and youd go home as soon as you could, he tells me. He doesnt say Romos name, but the implication seems clear. Now people want to stick around and hang out.

Prescott clearly takes his leadership role seriously. He often says teammates need to be more than merely co-workers. They need to be like brothers: A guy will play a whole lot better for his brother than he will a co-worker. When it really matters, when adversity, when success, when either one of them hits, hes going to play a whole lot better for the person who knows about his everyday life, his mom, his dad, his brothers, sisters, son, whatever it may be.

Some of what Prescott says about leadership sounds like it comes straight out of a textbook, but its also effective. For evidence, you need look no further than last years playoff matchup against Green Bay. Prescott looked like a young Tom Brady as he led the Cowboys back from an 18-point deficit. And though his team lost on a last-second field goal, nobody in the world would pin that loss on Prescott.

The teams cohesion may also explain one of Prescotts greatest virtues as quarterback: He almost never throws interceptions. He didnt throw a single pick in his first five games last season, despite throwing more than 150 passes in that timea new rookie recordand he threw only four interceptions all year.

Having Dez Bryant as a receiver helps, but Romo had Bryant and still managed, in one season, to throw a league-worst 19 picks. When Prescott does throw an interception, he immediately wonders what hes done wrongnot in football, but in life. He believes if he lives a certain way, his passes wont be intercepted and the lucky breaks will go his way.

When youre supposed to throw a pickthat is, when you miss your targetand your guy catches it? To me, that shit doesnt happen unless youre living right, he says. That means focusing on football, studying film, being good to your teammates. By contrast, he says, If youre living wrong, you throw a great pass, the receiver somehow drops it, and the other guys gonna pick it off.

If Prescott werent about to start his second season as quarterback of the Cowboys, with all of the football world watching his every move, it would be easy to dismiss the few blemishes on his record as the actions of a pretty normal young man. After all, plenty of college students get into fights, especially during spring break, and he was acquitted of the DUI. Its also true that most of the time, give or take a rowdy day on the golf course, its the disciplined version of Prescott that appears in public.

A few weeks after the golf tournament, Prescott and I meet up in New York after he appeared on Good Morning America for Ready Raise Rise. Sitting in his dressing room after a photo shoot later that day, we are, before either of us realize it, going down a list of some of the hypothetical problems that could potentially derail his young career.

I ask about his relationship with his father. With all the profiles that talk about his mother, his father almost never comes up. He tells me they have a good relationship. Hes the reason Dak grew up as a Cowboys fan, even though he lived in Saints country. He says his father recently moved to Dallas and continues to help me take care of things that I need him to.

I ask if he ever grows weary of the general awkwardness involved in being who he is, with so many people wanting to make friends. I ask if he remembers the guy yelling that hed probably eaten raccoons, and if that was weird for him. He says he wasnt offended at all.

I mean, Ive eaten squirrels and a lot of probably different things, but I hadnt eaten a raccoon, he says.

Then I ask about alcohol. I ask him what he would say, as someone who has studied psychology, about someone who had two serious alcohol-related incidents in the span of a year.

Yeah, he says, Id say more that its not necessarily the alcohol. The fight in Florida, he says, was about not being aware of his surroundings. Its knowing that Im in Panama City and Im around a bunch of people that do not have the same agenda. A second later he adds, Theres some people that dislike me for no reason whatsoever, and I cant control that.

He says on the night he got arrested for the DUIeven though he wasnt drunk and hes been fully clearedhe put himself in a bad situation and could have easily had someone else drive. As brutal as one of them was, and as almost career-threatening as one of them was, I dont regret either one of them at all, he tells me. Because they taught me something. Ill never make the same mistake in life.

I ask if hes ever considered giving up drinking. He doesnt answer directly.

It could have been more avoidable, he says. To me its about avoiding and eliminating factors that got you there.

He says hes not worried about falling into the traps of fame, because of the way his mother raised him, and because he feels like shes still with him. He says that even when hes finishing a workout, he wonders if shed find the effort he put in acceptable. He doesnt want to let her down.

As a Cowboys fan, Im ready to believe that Prescotts antics are just youthful misstepsthat they might, indeed, be evidence of a sort of exuberance that could help him handle the pressure of leading the team. But Im also nervous about anything that might tempt fate.

Prescott, though, doesnt seem worried. He keeps saying all the right things, doing what the Cowboys ask of him, acting as the face and voice of his team with no apparent anxiety. As he sits there, jacket off and arms spread wide against the back of the couch, I ask him if he ever gets tired of all of the appearances and the interviews. Hes told me before that hes actually kind of an introvertmost nights hed rather be at home playing video games with some friends. He looks over at me.

You dont want my honest answer, he says.

No, I do, I say. It feels like the ever cool prince might finally break character and actually complain. He thinks about it for just a second. Theres something on his mind, and hes quickly calculating whether he should say it out loud.

No, he says. I mean, its been just He pauses again and looks at the two PR reps sitting at the other end of the room. Then he starts his sentence over: As long as Im busy, Im good. There hasnt been too much lag time, so Im actually fine with it.

For a split second, it looked like Dak Prescott might make a mistake. But not today.

Michael J. Mooney is the author of The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle.

This story originally appeared in the September 2017 issue with the title Americas QB.

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Link:
Dak Prescott Is America’s Quarterback | GQ – GQ Magazine