In Defense of Flying with an Emotional Support Animal

two beagles and an adorable child get ready to board a plane. playing in device to see if they fit in carry-on space.

Getting your dog certified as an emotional support animal seems to be the way of the future. Eventually someone will come up with a way to let airlines just charge us for a regular seat for our dogs. But for now this is the uneasy truce between dog people and the airlines. Over Christmas I flew roundtrip from New York to Chicago in a way that goes against everything airlines stand for today: I paid no extra fees and had no unnecessary paperwork despite the fact that my daughter and I flew with two beagles at our feet as Emotional Support Animals. The planes didn’t crash. The beagles didn’t unpredictably go wild. They didn’t even steal any cookies.

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Most dog (and kid) friendly beach in New England? Plymouth

Plymouth, MA, lets you bring your dog on a summer day–which sets it apart from most of New England which has taken to banning dogs during some hours, all summer or just forever.

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How to find a dog-sitter online, sorting through the DogVacay, and Yelp options

A ton of new websites promise to find you a local dog sitter. and its ilk end up inundating you with a depressing number of emails. DogVacay lets you find local dog lovers who open their homes. But I found a dog sitter I love on Yelp.

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Worst South Africa DVD ever

Kristine Pearson

Getting ready for a trip to South Africa to see wildlife, I subjected my husband to yet another travel video I found on Netflix called Destination Africa, which purports to be from 2005. What I got was easily the most awful and awkward travel documentary ever made on Africa.

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Bradt Australia Wildlife Doesn’t Send You on A Wild Platypus Chase

The latest Bradt guide, Australia Wildlife, shows why more Americans should consider this British publisher of eccentric and eco-friendly guides to big and obscure places around the planet

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50 by 50: See All the States by the Time You’re 50, a Fourth of July Pledge

For the Fourth of July I want to make a new promise, or at least a public goal that I can be mocked for if I do not meet it: I want to see all 50 states by the time I turn 50.

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See Turtles Connects Resume-Building Volunteers, Fishermen and Researchers

Baby Leatherback Turtle,Courtesy of Jennie – My Travels.

Whether you’re an aspiring biologist searching for hands-on experience or just a traveler who wants to watch a few turtles on vacation, See Turtles has an expedition for you, says Brad Nahill, marketing director and co-founder. While the See Turtle website showcases mainly the latter, a kind of turtle tourism lite for those with less time than money, the conservation group is branching out. They now connect longer term volunteers who have more time than money.

This is exactly what people are looking for in the age of the Great Recession, animal tourism and voluntourism. Recent college grads, facing 15% unemployment, are willing to take unpaid gigs in a related field. Since posting an application for volunteer opportunities in April, they’ve gotten 500 queries. Wealthier Gen Y grads latching onto the British concept of the Gap Year may be willing to pay thousands of dollars for a resume-boosting international experience. But Nahill hopes to offer the opportunity for a more reasonable fees that go directly to the community, along the lines of $20/day.

“Pretty much anyone can go down and measure a turtle and grab eggs,” says Nahill. “It’s not like darting a tiger…it’s safe.” And he should–that’s how he started out in turtle conservation after college. In many ways sea turtles–which are all either endangered or threatened–are the ideal eco-tourism target. Even the non-skilled can help–whether that’s doing research, patrolling beaches or just showing up on tours. Just the tourists

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Big Foot Tours $499

Nobody was impressed with the evidence presented at the Bigfoot press conference last week. Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer say they have a bigfoot carcass in a freezer in northern Georgia somewhere. But that’s not all! They also have video of a few live big foot or sasquatch hanging around the area.

Whitton and Dyer have alternately been described as hunters, hikers and big foot hunters. I tracked down an older story from a big foot blogger, who linked to their expedition site, Back then Whitton was were referred to as a cop and Dyer a former corrections officer. Dyer says he’s a married dad and former Army ranger. Matt calls himself Gary and says he’s a great tracker who “has associates who train bloodhounds for tracking.”

Most of their current stuff is on the site of Tom Biscardi, who is a more experienced and perhaps more oily bigfoot hawker. The sites share not only a quest for Sasquatch, but also a fondness for blaring completely unrelated music. Biscardi’s site includes field reports from around the country–but none in Georgia.

Whitton and Dyer on bigfootblogger describe getting started on the big foot hunt when being awakened by one “on the side of a mountain north of Helen, Georgia.” They claim to have sold out a trip to the Blue Ridge-Smokies in June where “there have been actual big foot sightings this year” and plan a September trip to “an even more specific area” in September. They brag that

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Visit the Bison off Route 80

Wild Winds Buffalo Ranch, Fremont, Ind. On our way to Illinois for Christmas, David and I stopped at the Wild Winds Buffalo Ranch, which is off Route 80 in Indiana, just a few miles from the Ohio border. We arrived on Christmas Eve. The guide, Three Paws, let Jolly come into the lodge, where he cooked us buffalo burgers for lunch. He explained that the ranch was started by a doctor who wanted to see the buffalo preserved and eventually opened it up to the public. David and Jolly stayed back (dogs spook buffalo), while I got to drive out to the herd with Three Paws. They keep the buffalo wild, don’t touch them. A grandmother runs the herd and decides when they are through with the pasture they’re in. She signals the humans by standing apart (in the wild she’d be off exploring), then she charges in alone to the new pasture (in the wild, she’d be looking for predators). The ranch takes to heart the native America spiritual beliefs about the buffalo. A local tribe blessed the ranch and it’s the site of primitive camps and gatherings for descendants of Native Americans. The grandma buffalo will decide when her time has come by separating herself from the herd. In the wild, she’d be taken by predators. Here she is taken by the humans, who then honor her by posting her skull in this display.

Where to See Animals in the MidwestWhere Can I See a Bison Herd

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